Thursday, February 28, 2008

the great american car swap

i go running pretty much every morning before work. this usually happens between 630 and 730 each morning (i take some days off because i feel like an old too often). running in the winter months here in florence is a dangerous task (i have fallen several times - almost exclusively on my left knee, and usually return home with bear-cicles). but there is something lately that has been on my mind each morning as i drudge through the ice and snow on the streets:

in these cold climates, people will typically turn their cars on to de-ice their windows and warm up the car several minutes before they leave for work and school and such. on any given morning, there are dozens of these cars i pass by - sometimes half a dozen on a block. i have thought, on several occasions, how easy it would be to steal any number of these cars. my mind usually then wanders to where i might go and how i would not get caught in this venture (i have always belived that i am intelligent enough to get away with at least one good crime). but recently, i have come up with what seems to me to be a brilliant idea. what if we (americans? runners? heidi and i? whoever) went out one morning, jumped into a few of these cars, and switched all the "warming up" cars. what would happen? i believe that people would come out to their cars and respond in one of the following ways:

1) unknowledge (made up word). it's morning, you're not fully awake and you just don't happen to notice the sky blue mercury topaz you just crawled into is not the grey toyota camry you drive every day. (this would probably be me)

2) anger and confusion. the most expected response. this is being pissed off. the last thing you need on a cold morning is to have to take the time to figure out why there is a datsun in your driveway where there used to be a lexus.

3) joy and exuberence. the guy who gets the lexus in his driveway where there once was a datsun. this guy gets in the lexus, drives to work and prays to God the whole day that it isn't a dream.

4) appreciation. this is the enlightened individual who, after some moments of confusion and bewilderment, figures out what is going on, and grins to herself because she realizes that something incredible and meaningless has just happened.

this is how i pass my time as my legs move slowly and the breath leaves my body and dissapates into the cold morning air.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

annotated top 10 list

the chairman of MENSA (brain club for "geniuses" as identified by IQ tests) has posted his list of the 10 smartest tv shows of all time:

1. M*A*S*H
2. Cosmos
3. CSI
4. House
5. The West Wing
6. Boston Legal
7. All in the Family
8. Frasier
9. Mad About You
10. Jeopardy!

am i the only one who has some serious problems with this list?

1. M*A*S*H - whatever. i know that the world loved it, and i watched it as a kid, and yes, i probably hated it because i was too young and stupid to understand what was going on. i just didn't understand why a show about war never had any shooting and stuff (that is all i was interested in as a child)

2. Cosmos - i don't know what this is. so far i guess i am pretty dumb by MENSA standards. apparently carl sagan created and it, and from what i understand he's a smart dude. this one gets a pass from me.

3. CSI - the show that's so smart they have to have one in ever city? CSI is not smart. i've seen this show a few times, and it just isn't too brilliant. they solve everything through DNA and all this highly scientific evidence, but it's always fits together way too perfectly.

4. House - never seen it. my friend coates apparently really likes the show, but we believe that is only because he loves shows that are one syllable words (chuck, house, lost, etc)

5. The West Wing - politics are not smart. people who think they like politics and feel smart for liking politics are like people who say they like the british version of the office more than the american version... nobody believes this, they just think they are supposed to.

6. Boston Legal - i used to watch ally mcbeal from time to time. that was a strange time in my life. i can only imagine that this show is just like ally mcbeal, except that calista flockhart is replaced with william shatner. that doesn't sound too smart to me. wasn't there a show called boston public a few years ago about a high school in boston? what's up with boston and shows? everybody thinks boston is all sophisticated. have you ever met a red sox/patriots/celtics fan? about as much sophistication there as a bucket of biscuts.

7. All in the Family - only seen a bit of this one over the years. wikipedia tells me that this guy archie bunker was a "loveable biggot" so that sounds pretty smart. you know what show with family in the title is smarter than this one? family ties. alex p. keaton was brilliant. (other shows with the word 'family' in the title off the top of my head: the adams family, the partidge family, family matters, family guy... so we're not dealing with too much "genius"- level stuff here).

8. Frasier - this one makes perfect sense. the perfect "i watch frasier because i like it and it makes me laugh and if you don't watch it and laugh then you are the subject of that which i am laughing at" show. i love how the show includes the tired old dad and the british maid to represent the "simple folk" while these two blathering psychologist idiots are the pinacle of sophistication. i really do like this show. really.

9. Mad About You - really? i wouldn't have even wrote this post if not for the inclusion of ' mad about you' on a list of smartest television shows ever. this blows my mind. my parents used to watch this show when i was a kid. you know what i thought about 'mad about you' when i was a kid? i thought it was stupid. you know what i think about it now? i think it is stupid. paul reiser? helen hunt? a guy named "ira"? this is smart? i just looked it up on the internet and this show was written by nazis, squirrels and death row inmates. not too smart of a crew there.

10. Jeopardy - ahh. finally. sweet jeopardy. this should be number one on the list. alex trebek should burn down the MENSA headquarters and start TREBEK as the agency that designates the status of genius upon others. "classic concentration" could have also made this list. jeopardy is brilliant. this week is the teen tournament, which is enjoyable, and makes me feel... just a little bit smarter.

if mad about you is more intelligent than seinfeld, then i have never used my brain and i am the dumbest man alive. the simpsons aren't on this list - that seems like a gross oversight. and no love for star trek? none of the shows listed figured out how to film in space - and that is quite the smart accomplishment.

finally, my highschool typing teacher, mr hurley, was a member of MENSA. this man had the largest nostrils i have ever seen. he is actually rather famous because he can "predict earthquakes." this is true. he gets a severe headache when an earthquake is going to hit and he gets very sick. he went on opera once and was ridiculed off the stage. he often walked around with his new balances untied. if mr. hurley is a member of MENSA, and if this list is what MENSA people like to watch on tv, then i guess i can be satisfied with my life as a simpleton.

Friday, February 15, 2008

roger clemmens presents: "it's a wonderful wizard of oz life"

here's some thoughts/highlights from the last week of my life. let's see if we can relate them all and make this one big happy blog-story? i have no idea where this will take us. but it will probably too long and perhaps rather arduous.

1) roger clemens is a terrible person.
if you know me at all, i fully embrace that all of us are terrible persons. but clemens takes the cake right now as the darth vader/oj simpson/fill-in-the-blank terrible person right now. this is what is so appalling to me: how can he continue to do it? the lying i mean. now i know that i am jumping to conclusion and presuming guilt before any true sentences are handed down... but let's just be clear that this man is a dirty liar who would make his wife take the fall for him before he admits to anything that might blemish his "sterling reputation?" this is the worst kind of man. if i were in the position to rank sins, i'm putting this one toward the top (way ahead of eating two of heidi's cookies and playing it off like i only ate one)

i will say this: i have lied a few times in my life. i've told some whoppers. i mean big lies. i'm talking about lies that i never wanted anybody to ever find out about and that i went all out to ensure that those close to me would never find out. i'm not proud of this, but perhaps i can relate to roger here. once you start down that path... you just keep digging. maybe you're ankle deep after covering your ass a few times, but before you know it you're looking up from the floor of the grave you dug for yourself. and you can just keep digging. you can lie straight to the face of your best friend. you can lie to strangers. it doesn't matter who... if you have something to protect (dignity, pride, self-righteousness, sin) then "the ends justify the means" - lying is justified in the liar's mind because it protects him from that which is most dangerous and grievous - the fear of the shame of getting caught and being exposed.

one of these days clemens is going to come clean and tell the truth (after he can't fight anymore and everybody knows everything - that's the way lies work. the truth always makes itself known - just watch law and order). and it's gonna hurt him and his family real bad. and i will probably be smug in my condemnation of him at that moment, saying, "i told you so... he got what he deserves." but it's going to be devastation for the clemens family, and that makes me really sad. that makes me really angry.

2) roger clemens is no jimmy stewart and this isn't "a wonderful life."
this past weekend my lovely wife and i sat down and watched this movie.(for me, this was the first time i have ever seen it. tragic, i know.) i really enjoyed this move. i immediately catapult it toward the top of meaningful and transcendent films i have seen. but i keep thinking over and over again this week about these depictions in pop culture that offer a character the chance to see the way things could/could not, should/should not, will/won't be (wonderful life, back to the future, eternal sunshine, vanilla sky, mulholland drive, labyrinth, christmas story, weekend at bernies II, etc). this is a fascinating concept to me.

one element of fascination is this notion that "if i could just see the things that i will end up regretting, i won't do them." or "i would have lived differently if i knew that would happen." hindsight is 20/20? i don't know. but here's the reality: we all pretty much know what is right and what is wrong. every given day i have the opportunity to lie and cheat my way though life. i can lie at work and claim that i have seen clients that i have not in fact seen. i can say terrible things about my friends behind their backs. i can treat my wife life a ball-and-chain and not like the treasure she is. i know what's right. and i know what's wrong.

and so does roger clemens. clemens is going to someday admit that he wishes he could take it all back. that he could have had his "it's a wonderful life" experience. but he's already getting it. he doesn't need a clarence to show him the devastating damage that is coming from his current devious deceit. he knows this already. he's from texas. and if there is one thing i know about texans, it's that they know better than to lie (i don't really know this. i know nothing about texas). roger clemens is too proud and ignorant to admit that he did a terrible thing and that he is sorry. this is a hard thing to do... and to clemens right now i am sure he feels it the impossible task. which leads me to final point:

3) clemens is currently traversing his own yellow-brick road
perhaps all he needs is a little courage, given from the wizard of oz (heidi and i watched this movie the same night as "wonderful life" and it was delightful as well).

if i were going to make a metaphor for clemens and the wizard of oz, clemens would be the mean old lady who took dorothy's dog (the witch) because he's mean and evil (and ugly). i could see the neighborhood kids ringing roger's doorbell and asking for their baseball back that rolled into his backyard, and clemens coming unglued and yelling at the poor little kids and perhaps throwing his broom or rolling pin at them (clemens sweeps his floors regularly and is a wonderful baker).

roger has lost his way. roger, like dorothy is no longer in kansas. he's in too deep now. he wished for a long and prosperous career, and shot himself in the rump with a needle and signed multi-million dollar contracts that he didn't deserve to get there ("there" being oz and drugs in the butt being the tornado). if only he had ruby slippers instead of a neatly-pressed suit. if only he had toto as a companion instead of andy pettite. if only it was aunty em chastising him for breaking the rules, rather than george mitchell and all of congress. if only his house had landed on brian mcnamee and not the wicked witch of the east. if only...

life in oz for roger isn't so simple as just trying to get back to the "good ole days" of the simple texas life. clemens isn't just dorothy in this story. he's got many more requests for the wizard.
- roger is the lion, because he lacks the courage to tell the truth and make this whole bad dream go away.
- roger is the tin-man because he obviously has no heart, never considering any single person except himself, and because his body needed HGH and steroids like the tin-man needed oil (clemens should have rusted long ago - this picture in my mind amuses me).
- and roger is the scarecrow because he is too stupid to realize that he will never get away with it.

if roger clemens only had a brain... if he only had a heart... if he only had courage... if he could only find his way back home again...

in closing: every time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wings (fill in your own metaphor here... i got nothing)