commentary

Five Things I Have Learned From Riding The Bus Three Times

ImageMe and some girl.

I know what you are going to say, “But Eric, isn’t the bus just for poor people?” No, you are wrong. The bus is for poor people AND drunk drivers who’ve lost their licenses AND crazy people who are afraid of driving. AND me! Well, I technically belong to the poor people category now, but I digress. Riding the bus has been an eye-opening experience for me. I wouldn’t recommend it.

1.The bus driver doesn’t like it when you waste time by proclaiming, “grocery store, please!” And then walking on without paying.

2. Random strangers don’t appreciate it when you sit next to them and say, “I’m riding the bus!” Apparently, there aren’t as many Simpsons fans on the bus as I would have thought. (See also: 1.)

3. The bus has a TV on it, but the times that I have ridden it, it has always been showing educational lessons. For instance, there was a grammar segment where they discouraged people from using my favorite word: irregardless.

4. Contrary to what I have heard, I didn’t see any evidence of people refusing to pay the bus driver being okay with this. I am aware that it appears I am contradicting myself with lesson 1, but I assure you, I eventually walked back and paid my fare.

5. And most importantly I have learned that I am the kind of person who will wait twenty minutes for the bus and doesn’t mind paying $1.50 to go 7/10 of a mile just to avoid six.minutes of walking, while also being the kind of person who doesn’t have the money to blow ten bucks on a cab ride to accomplish the same thing.

You (don’t really) have 2000 friends.

Here is the Facebook issue, as I see it.

I guess I am out of the loop. I didn’t know they were even changing Facebook. And I certainly didn’t know that people were upset about it. I learned that they were upset about it when I read a friend’s post complaining about everybody complaining about it.

Obviously, people don’t like the live updates in the upper right-hand corner.

And now that they have brought that feature to my attention, I don’t like it either.

It’s annoying.

But why? And what to do about it?

Complain to everybody? Set up a Facebook page to register your complaints about it?

That may work, I don’t know.

I’m going to suggest a radical solution.

Drop your “friends.”

Not your friends. Your “friends.”

I think I have figured out what is so annoying about this new feature.

if you are like me, you have hundreds, if not thousands of Facebook friends that you don’t even know. You haven’t even spoken to them once. They are complete strangers.

Not even because you’re a Facebook friend whore. You probably just added them because you saw you had 50Friends in common with them. You’re not the Facebook friend whore, they are. You just made a simple mistake.

Anyway, in the past, they were in the background. You had your real friends and it was easy to keep up with them.

Now these people are constantly being shoved in your face. You don’t care about them. You don’t care what they are up to.

So why  are they still your friends?

Drop them.

If Facebook only had your real friends information and updates to barrage you with on a constant basis, you wouldn’t mind.

Dare I say, you might like it? It would be convenient not to have to seek out what people you actually care about were doing. The only problem with it is that they get lost in the  torrent of crap. is this what this thing was really made for?

If you’re not really the kind of person who needs the self gratification that comes with a popularity contest populated by strangers, then the solution is looking you in the face.

Drop ’em.

Vanilla Ice is kind of a jerk!

 I know I promised to stay away from controversy, but I just feel something has to be said. Vanilla Ice is a mean person. I get that he is angry about people always making fun of him, but that is no excuse to be a turd burglar! If people are mean to you and you are mean to them in return, what does that accomplish? I know the Bible says, “Do unto others as you would have done to you” or something like that, but I think what that means is if you want people to be nice to you, you should be nice to them. I think what Vanilla Ice is thinking that means (being a good Christian, which I can only assume he is) is that if people are dicks to you, you should be a dick to them. Perhaps, Vanilla Ice is just confused on this point. That is probably it. Now I feel bad. 😦 I should take my own advice! Instead of going around, calling poor Vanilla Ice a jerk, I should pick a more constructive way to give him positive feedback. They should put something in the Bible about that! Boy, they really dropped the ball on that one! Shit. There I go again. 😦

Finally, some sanity.

“Osama bin Laden, mastermind behind 9/11 and countless other acts of terror is dead. Truly, this is a day that all of America has been waiting for. But as usual, the LIBERAL MEDIA is rushing in to tarnish what should be a day of celebration, with their socialist propaganda agenda. Obama this, Obama that. All hail Obama! Not a word about George Bush? Really? The New York Times would have you think that 9/11 happened, then nothing for 10 years until our Savior, Barack Obama, swooped in to save the day. This, of course, is ridiculous! Once again, the Democrats have stood on the shoulders of giants, to reach grandma’s proverbial cookie jar full of condoms, on the top shelf. This triumphant day could not have come without all the hard work George W. Bush put in over the last decade convincing Osama bin Laden that we had given up looking for him, altogether. This guy is wily! He he could have hidden in those caves for another hundred years. All the bombs in the world wouldn’t have been able to snake him out and George Bush was the only one smart enough realize this. The true credit behind the killing of this truly evil genius belongs to one person alone. The person who was willing to send the resources of the entire U.S. Army to Iraq, a country that so obviously had no ties to Al Qaeda or any of the international terrorist community. The person who was willing to make a fool of himself, by holding a big ceremony on a aircraft carrier with a banner that famously read, mission accomplished!”, Just to convince this monster that we had forgotten about him. That person is George W. Bush and he is my hero and I am not going to forget the sacrifice he made in the name of national security.”

we have not forgotten.

 I hate to give this dipshit any more views, so if you know this video, there’s no need to click on it. But I just wanted to say that what this idiot doesn’t get and that none of the people who share his sentiment don’t get is that we have never forgotten. Frankly, it is a supremely insulting sentiment to think that we have. This abomination of a song rings false on so many levels, it is hard to decide which part of it is the most personally insulting of all.  If it was me, I would have to go with the fact that this guy is manufacturing a make-believe controversy to respond to,   in order to profit off of the tragedy of 9/11. But if you want to say it’s because he lumps in 50% of the country as not being “true Americans”, just because they disagree with a war that  had nothing to do with terrorism, until it was started, that’s fine too. And, what the hell, if you just  aren’t a fan of songs that tell you not to get preachy and then proceeded to do just that for the next 3 min., that is cool with me. I don’t know who the hell this guy is and I like it that way.  I feel guilty that I might have inadvertently raised awareness of this truly colossal  abomination of  a song. I just want to say that you are a bad person and I hope you have remorse for making this song. But I’m guessing you don’t, because it probably made you a rich man.

 if you must, click here to watch the video.

Good thing I’m not like that anymore!

Well, the summer’s over. Labor Day is here and gone.

When I was a kid, this was a big deal. Not only were my carefree days of swimming and riding bikes over, I had to go back to school.

For a smart, nerdy kid, I really detested school. And contrary to what my mom would tell you, it wasn’t because I wasn’t being challenged by the curriculum, it was because I was lazy.

Good thing I’m not like that anymore!

Back then, I was a bit of a worrier. The first of June would come around and I would think, “You know, in a few weeks, they’ll start having back to school sales. The summer is almost over!”

Good thing I’m not like that anymore!

There was just something about summer.

At school, in Glastonbury, CT, I wasn’t very popular, but during the summer, at our shack we named “The House That Pip-pay Built”, I had like 5 or 6 friends!

Back before everyone was getting molested, we were free to do whatever we wanted. We’d wake up in the morning, play some Nintendo. Then we’d go swimming in the lake. We might take out a boat and go tubing. We’d ride our mountain bikes around the lake to the camp store at Burlingame State Park, or we’d cross the highway over to Ninigret, which had been a WWII airfield.

We’d trespass, we’d vandalize, we’d steal shit and light forest fires. Good clean fun.

I was the oldest of our group and sometimes my friend Chad and I would put on white khaki pants and hang out with the two older kids, by their van that they called “The Fuck Truck” because it had running lights and a retractable bed in the back. Also, a bubble window!

Back then, I was kind of a loser.

Good thing I’m not like that anymore!

So anyways, now I’m old and I live in Los Angeles where it’s basically summer all year long. I don’t have to go back to school, come September, but these kids today do and that means less people at Disneyland.

It also means less of the oppressive heat that I hate so much. It means lower electricity bills that I have to pay because I am a big boy now.

Pretty depressing, huh?

Every once in a while, I’ll catch a whiff of something on the wind. On a warm, yet cool late summer evening and it’ll take me back, just for a second. I’ll just get that feeling. The feeling of knowing you’re free, at least for a little while. No school, no job. Nothing to do but have fun and goof around.

If my girlfriend was here, she’d chime in with a sarcastic, “Good thing you’re not like that anymore!”

But if my life is so carefree and happy-go-lucky, how come I’m so miserable all the time? Why do I sit in the dark listening to Joni Mitchell songs over and over? And where the hell are my pills, anyway? Get off my lawn and get a job, you punks! When I was your age, I had to walk 12 miles to school in the snow! You kids today with your automobiles and your hair cream and your rock n’ roll.

Yes, summer’s over and in the past I would have made a big deal about it.

Good thing I’m not like that anymore.

Dear Words With Friends Cheaters

This is an open letter, not just to the cheaters I play with on Words With Friends (you know who you are), but to all the cheaters of the world.

To every male athlete who didn’t quite measure up, so he went and tucked his wiener into his shorts and competed as a woman.

To every BP exec who thought, “Eh, let’s just skip those safety inspections and go eat some baby dolphin stew instead!”

For all those kids who didn’t get enough attention from their fathers so they made up some bullshit story about these poor, innocent priests molesting them. Just kidding.

But most of all, this is for every lying, cheating, son of a bitch who decides that just because you can go on a website and look up all the possible combinations of words you can make with the letters you have, that it’s OK to do so.

Well, fuck you.

Now I’m not one for hyperbole, but you sir, are worse than Hitler.

And who the fuck do you think you’re kidding?

You didn’t graduate high school, you use the word ‘like’ fifteen times per sentence, but you know that a ‘teres’ is ‘either of two muscles passing below the shoulder joint from the scapula to the upper part of the humerus‘?

Sure you do, Hitler.

“Oh, I remember hearing that on the History Channel or something!”

Wrong.

You looked it up.

Just admit it, you lying, thieving, despicable excuse for a piece of monkey excrement.

Play the game. Or if you can’t deal with the fact that I am smarter and more well-versed than you, don’t play the game.

But don’t insult my (vastly superior) intelligence like that. At least make it believable.

You could have played ‘set’ for 23 points. That wouldn’t have aroused my suspicion, but you got greedy. So now you’ve got 42 points and my undying hatred, instead.

This might be hard to believe, but I have something of a rage problem and it is getting harder and harder for me to convince the AT&T store that my iPhones are getting smashed into a million pieces by simple, normal wear and tear and not the uncontrollable, violent spasms of a lunatic on his last nerve.

In closing, let us remember, it’s called Words With Friends. And friends don’t cheat. And the ones who do tend to get cancer and have sparsely-attended funerals.

Just saying.

The Outback Steakhouse Putsch 2010

I thought this was an interesting article about the rise of “patriot” groups in America and wanted to add my two cents.

http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/oath-keepers

The thing that struck me, both about the piece and the groups profiled therein was the disconnect in how these people saw themselves and what they were doing and how they were viewed by those on the outside.

Stewart Rhodes, a Constitutional lawyer, for instance:

(He) had been fascinated by the notion that if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could have been stopped.

Hitler and Nazis seem to be a central theme with these groups. President Obama and big government are likened to the German National Socialists a few times in this piece.

Immediately, this seems off, as the Nazis are, contrary to any connotations you might get from a name which includes the world “socialist”, a far-right group who would be at odd with many of the liberal policies of the Obama administration, let alone with the idea of a black man running the country.

But “left” or “right”, those are just ideas and the list of crimes committed in the name of each is long. But  beyond simple political affiliation, there’s a deeper truth.

The people in these groups tend to see themselves as modern-day George Washingtons, the only men brave enough to stand up to a tyrannical power and do what is right.

But, I see them much differently. I do, in fact, see them as something Hitler was. Not the Hitler of 1939 who invaded Poland, but the Hitler of 1923’s Beer Hall Putsch.

The Beer Hall Putsch involved a group of angry veterans who felt that their country was being betrayed by illegitimate leaders who didn’t have the best interests of their homeland in mind. They too, felt the “system” was broken and needed to be “fixed” by a violent uprising.

It was a spectacular failure and in the immediate aftermath, its purveyors were looked at as bumbling buffoons. Many of the comments I’ve read from people on this present-day story center around the theme of “these are just ignorant rednecks who can’t make a difference and will just end up blowing themselves up”.

Again, all of this should seem really familiar.

Knowing what we know now, history has shown what a huge mistake it can be to underestimate people like this. People whose currency is the anger of the disenfranchised.

What these angry people don’t realize is that while sometimes you do have to stand up to the government, more often than not, you have to stand up to the people who would want to stand up to the government. And not just them, but anyone who would court their votes or their viewership or their political cachet.

There’s a system of government in place in our country that is over two hundred years old. Maybe you don’t think it’s working anymore. By all means, you should feel free to voice this opinion. But just because you feel like not enough people are listening to your opinion and agreeing with you, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to push those opinions onto other people with the threat of violence.

And that’s what this is really about, all high-minded rationalizations about Constitutional Law, aside. This isn’t a promise to uphold the Constitution at all costs, this is a threat to ignore the political will of the majority of Americans and impose your own beliefs upon them. Plain and simple.

I’m not going to read your script either.

But I’m not going to be a dick about it..

When this article came out, a while back, there was something about it that didn’t seem right to me.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/i_will_not_read.php

I see where the guy’s coming from. I see that it’s at least partly tongue-in-cheek and I think he raises some valid points. I originally thought what bothered me was that the guy was arrogant, or that the people commenting on it seemed to split into two equally obnoxious categories: the “fine, fuck you, your movies suck anyway!” camp and the “right on, fellow professional writer, I hate when unprofessional writers do that to me too, because, like you, I am also a professional writer, did I mention that?” camp.

But after someone re-sent it to me last night and it stewed around in my brain a little longer, I think I finally figured it out.

It’s completely wrong.

If you’re too lazy to go and read the original, I think this sums it up pretty well:

“I will not read your fucking script.


If that seems unfair, I’ll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.”

So basically, he’s a professional writer, he makes a lot of money, he’s worked really hard to get to this point, etc., etc. Therefore, it’s unfair of you to expect him to give you all the benefit of his hard work for free. Also, he operates under the assumption that because you don’t know the etiquette of the situation, that probably means your script is terrible and will be a huge waste of time, but that’s not exactly spelled out.

Now, maybe you’re quicker than I am and you’ve already spotted the problem here. If not, I’ll lay it out for you.

This analogy is 100% wrong. He’s a writer. Not a reader. He’s not being asked to write anybody’s script, he’s just being asked to read it.

Nobody’s saying, “Hey, famous photographer, take my picture for me!”, they’re saying, “Hey, I just took this picture and I think it’s pretty good but you do this for a living and I was wondering if you would look at it and tell me what you think.”

That’s a pretty big difference, don’t you think?

Look, nobody wants to be put in an awkward situation and people resent being made to feel like they “owe it to someone” to help out, but the truth is, this isn’t that big of a deal.

Just say no. Or say yes and then lie about it later. How hard was that?

I’d like to give this guy a pass on this, but he keeps coming back to say the same thing over and over:

“You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it’s not a huge imposition. It’s not your choice to make. This needs to be clear–when you ask a professional for their take on your material, you’re not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you’re asking them to give you–gratis–the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.”

Again. Wrong. It is different. “Hey man, I just painted my living room, if you could come over and take a look at it later, that would be awesome, I really respect your opinion!”

See, in that light, the other guy doesn’t seem like such a dick, does he?

Now, there’s something worse here that he could be bitching about and he spends some time dancing around it, but doesn’t actually come out and say, which is that these people usually don’t just want your input, they want you to do all the work for them.

But why would you address that? Everybody knows that’s a ridiculous thing to expect from someone and there’s no country in the world with a social contract that would demand such a thing. Not even one of those countries where you get a free goat every time you come over to borrow some sugar. Those people are crazy, so there’s no need to write that article.

Writing isn’t easy. It is a skill. Not everybody can do it. These are the valid points I mentioned earlier. But when you start throwing around “these are the rules and all professional writers know them” you start to sound like a community college writing teacher or something. Or one of those “script doctors” who advertise in the back of literary magazines.

Also, this:

“It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you’re in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you’re dealing with someone who can’t.

(By the way, here’s a simple way to find out if you’re a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you’re not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)”

Well, I guess I just disqualified myself from being a writer!

While writers may also be readers, apparently one thing they don’t have to be is logicians, because structurally, these stipulations are on pretty shaky grounds.

Seriously though, just say no. You don’t have to go and write a whole article and throw around the term “professional” six times (yes, I counted), just because some guy you barely know told your friends you pulled a dick move.

Just say no.

Or “Oh man, I’d love to, but I’m really swamped right now,” even though you’re actually just sitting in your room in your underpants, writing out responses to blogs that were published 4 months ago.

My plea on 9/11

wtc

Dear 9/11 Conspiracists:

If a caveman were to look at a modern skyscraper and see it on fire, he would think that a giant, perhaps a god, was very angry. This is what you are doing every time you talk about how steel can’t melt at 1500 degrees or whatever. You don’t know what you are talking about. Physically being inside a tall building on a few occasions isn’t enough expertise to qualify you to theorize on what would make it fall down. Please stop. You are wrong and you are causing damage and pain to the people of this country.

Thank you.