Friday, June 29, 2012

Adorible Animalz!!1! Replace Air Marshalls on Flights


As I write this, I’m on an airplane, watching the in-flight entertainment: videos of animals trying to lick stuff out of the bottoms of glass containers. Everyone around me, from the annoying 5-year-old across the aisle to the gruff, tattooed biker dude to the blaze teenager is enraptured. But not me. I find this to be an insult to my aesthetic and intellectual...

...oh, wait. Those silly animals, they keep getting their heads stuck in things! A Corgi with his head deep in a jar of gravy. A kitten with her head in a tall water glass. Oh, wait, now it’s a French Bulldog pushing around a giant ball. Oh, oh!  Now it’s a cat trying to open a door, but the handle is just too high. Poor little dude!

The sad thing is, I’m not even being facetious. I absolutely LOVE videos of animals doing funny shit. As I’ve mentioned before, such videos make me so happy it’s embarrassing. And yet, I realize what I’m watching is a horrible, horrible show; one that represents the demise of narrative storytelling in our culture. The whole thing is an aesthetic nightmare—there’s even a cartoon border around the videos featuring clouds and daisies.
 
This in-flight video must’ve been mandated by the Homeland Security folks. The reasoning? Anybody, when faced with the choice of hijacking an airplane and watching overly-excited hamsters try to leap out of a habi-trail, would rather find out if he hamster video wins first prize in the Funny Rodents category.

The show even features veterinarians who, for some reason, narrate the events (professors, perhaps, at the University of the Obvious). “Boy, that little guy really wants that gravy!” Another pundit is an “Animal Lover/Comedian”(/Guy Desperate for a SAG card.) 

Why are animal videos so compelling? Is it  because I have the attention span of that zany little hamster that keeps using his hamster wheel to propel himself out of his cage?  Aww, a kitten falling asleep in someone’s hands! Why are you so cute, sleepy kitten?  Or you, arm-stretching lemur (are you a lemur?)?
 
Why can’t I stop watching?  The cute toxicity ceiling is reaching Chernobyl levels.  Oh, wait! A fluffy, white longhaired bunny has made friends with a schnauzer! They’re playing together!  Squeee!

I am so full of shame. This is irony-free, sacrcharin-sweet Sweetness is the sort of thing that normally makes me want to wretch. But I can’t, because I’m too busy smiing and  going awwwwww…

If anyone asks, I totally hate this show.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Now, it's time for Meteorology Talk, with your host, Marguerite!

It's official -- I have a stalker. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence. Sure, we show up in the same place, at the same time. Like, a LOT. But I don't ever make a big deal out of it. After all, the best way to make stalkers go away is to ignore them, right?

In these situations, the final straw is always when the stalker shows up somewhere completely inappropriate. Say, at your workplace, or your brother's wedding, or in the bedroom where you're having sex with someone else. The rain showing up in Florida, now, after what has bee a horribly dry and relentlessly sunny spring?

The Rain is totally Glenn Close-ing me. I'd better lock up my parents' cat, lest he end up in a pot of boiling water.

Last night, all night, it rained & rained, with the fury of a monsoon. It was kind of cool--like having a live-action version of one of those Rain Forest White Noise machines, without the toucan noises or whatever. As a result, the back yard is actually flooded. The last time this happened, I was in high school. So, not yesterday, if you see where I'm going with this.

Is it possible to get a restraining order on a Force of Nature (and, no, I don't mean Nathan Lane's dramatic talents, I don't care what my mom says)? Because this is getting downright scary. Last month, when Florida was suffering from brush fires due to the drought, I joked that FEMA should fly me down, just to ensure some rain. I wonder if I can bill my airfare to the Governor's office?

Anyway, Floridians: You're Welcome.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sun v. Bumper Stickers: Grudge Match


My current "office."
As much as I whine about Florida, it does have its good points. Beaches, for instance. And sun.Ohhhhhh (squeal, cry), the Sun! 

Damn, I love that hot little star. I love it the way that an 11-year-old girl loves Justin Bieber.  I love it like the average Seattle resident loves ironic fire-related sports (flaming tetherball, anyone?) and gay cupcakes (delicious, btw) and all-tuba jam bands.

Okay, you get the over-wraught analogy. I love the sun so much that it almost--almost!--makes me overlook Jacksonville's many inherent flaws. After an abysmal non-spring in Seattle, basking in the sun makes me down right giddy; my cares and neuroses melt away like a tube of lipstick left in a hot car. Add to that, the unrepentant pleasure of eating fresh--and shamelessly fried! mmmmmm! I don't care what you Seattle foodies have to say about it!--seafood, and even some of my beloved grits. For a while, I can lull myself into thinking that I could live here again, maybe, possibly, someday...

Until I get out on the highway. 

It's not so much the traffic as the bumper stickers. Today, I noticed a mammoth truck that looked like the street-ready bastard child of a Ford F-1 50 and one of those monster trucks that crush cars in those rallies that seem like a reliable sign of the apocalypse. The bumper sticker on the truck--indicative of the local bumper-sticker climate---featured the smug mug of George W. Bush, with the words, "Miss Me Yet?"

"Seriously???" I wanted to shout. "How could you miss that--"

Before I could formulate my imaginary rebuttal, said truck cut me off, then pulled onto the grassy median (which is illegal, despite what he may remember from watching The Dukes of Hazard) and drove around the slowed cars, until he eventually shoehorned his way back into traffic.

This led me back to the question I've asked myself a million times before: why are so many of the progressive, open-minded cities in the world relegated to places with such utterly abysmal weather? Yes, Seattle has unbeatable Pride parties (which I am sadly missing) and lots of organic rainbow chard and liberal media outlets. Do all of these things somehow require shitty weather?  If so, why?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Emergency Preparedness, or: Where to Get a Beer During Seattle's 78-Minute Summer

It's officially summer in Seattle, although "June-uary" weather continues to prevail.

After the endless FallWinterSpring unibrow of a season when it’s nothing but cold, wet and gray, The Sun™ has a transformative effect on those of us who live here. And it’s not always pretty. On Capitol Hill, legions of confused locals wander the streets like zombies, stunned, squinting, and pale as the day they were born. Dazed, they walk out in front of cars, and bump into things. Instead of “Braaaaaaains….”, these automatons are searching for “Beeeeeer...”
Photo via: www.seattlebeernews.com
Remember when it was all sunny and nice in Seattle for about 37 hours back in May, and everyone lost their shit? People in other parts of the world don't realize that the city practically shuts down when this happens. It's roughly analogous to a hurricane warning here in Florida, or a blizzard in New York, or pretty much any time in Greece.

The #1 Most Overheard Question on days ruled by the mysterious Glowing Sky Orb is some variation of, “Where can we go to sit outside and enjoy a refreshing beverage?” Sure, there are plenty of places with so-called “outdoor seating,” but some of them perilously stretch the definition of both “outdoors” and “seating.” So, as a Public Service Announcement, I decided to create The Short List of Outdoor and Outdoor-ish WateringHoles in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Last year, on July 18, the meteorology blog of Seattle's KOMO News reported that the city had experienced exactly 78 minutes of weather over 80 degrees all year. And "a whopping 18 hours and 48 minutes of temperatures above 75."  

So, seriously--next time the warm weather strikes, have your unflattering outdoor shoes ready, and run--don't walk!--to enjoy a beverage al fresco. It may be your only chance. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thanks to alert reader "Anonymous," I don't feel so bad about the fact that my mind wandered about 80 times while reading this article in The New Yorker, which he (she?) called to my attention.

Turns out, I can think of a LOT of uses for toothpicks and clothes hangers.Maybe it's a Southern thing, but my first thought for the clothes hanger was that it could be used as a car antennae...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Interview With a Cat

It's Sunday night, so I'm going to take the easy way out and, instead of coming up with new content, I'll just  link to a post I did for Capitol Hill Blog. In what is either a new high or a new low (or simultaneously both?) in my "writing" "career," I have interviewed a cat.
CENSORED!: This guy is a surly little bastard...
The unedited conversation with Brindle Cat, a.k.a. Zulu, was a good bit longer and more intricate and filthier (and, I have to say, funnier). However, I will freely admit that giving more air time to a cat than to humans might seem a bit...well, tacky. In other words: the story of my life...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of "Meh" Chicken

American Heroes
In the online version of the same distinguished media outlet where I came across yesterday's free advertizing article about Taco Bell's new menu options, you will also find this courageous story about a guy in a chicken suit who got flag-jacked in front of a certain fast-food chain. While I'm 100% certain that this theft was NOT staged as free advertizing for the "Grand Re-Opening" of the restaurant, I'm not going to repeat the name of the restaurant. Let's just call it BM, since those are (kinda appropriately, if you ask me) its initials.

The BM chain is primarily a purveyor of chicken products, hence the get-up. But, why is the chicken waving a flag?? Is eating chicken somehow a patriotic act? "I love America so much I can't stop eating these drumsticks!"  You'd think that "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of sub-par chicken" was written into the Declaration of Independence. Or is dressing up in a chicken suit the patriotic part? That we're sticking it to all those oppressive regimes that forbid the representation of a chicken in human-sized synthetic form?

Also, am I the only one who finds it a bit disturbing when the animal that's going to be eaten is also the one trying to get folks to come in and eat his breatheren?  It's like those BBQ joints we have in the South: the mascots are invariably a fat, smiling pig wearing an apron and holding a basting brush, or possibly a knife and fork. Is the pig supposed to be a cannibal? He wants to eat his fellow pigs?

But we're skating around the real issue, which is: what are we, as a society, going to do about the scourge of flag-jacking among people dressed like chickens? What about the brave Americans who dress as hot dogs, or submarine sandwiches, or even Statue of Liberty? Are we going to allow the ultimate symbol of our country, people dressed like fast food products the American Flag, to be treated in such a cavalier fashion? Why isn't this being discussed in the Presidential debates? Where do the candidates stand on this crucial issue?

A Peek Inside the A.P. Newsroom; Taco Bell Goes "Upscale"


As far as I can tell, The Associated Press (AP) is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yum Brands, Inc.—also the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.If that’s not the case, you really have to wonder why the AP is putting out onto the wire what appears to be a verbatim press release written by the marketing department of Taco Bell. The title? "Taco Bell Introducing Upscale Menu Items."

Reading this article, you get the feeling that the intrepid AP journalists were, perhaps, told to “cover more Latin American news.”  After all, the Mexican presidential elections are only a month away, and student uprisings, and… nevermind.

As it happens, I have been made privy to a secret transcript of a conversation recorded in the AP Newsroom on Wednesday, at 4:15 PM:

AP Journalist One (J1): Man, Latin America is SOOOOOoooo boring!
AP Journalist Two (J2): Dude, you’re totally right. Why don’t they ever have any news that involves anyone important, like that chick from The Bachelorette?
J1:  Yeah, who cares about Mexico anyway?
J2:  I like their food, tho. What are those deep-fried things? They’re like little tacos, but in a roll? Like a little deep-fried cigarette?
J1:   Jalapeno poppers?
J2:  No, but those are AWEsome….Those other things. Chalupas? Chimichangas?
J1:  Man, I could go for some jalapeno poppers right now!
J2:  Me, too. But I was supposed to write some shit about Latin America....
J1:  Hey...why don't we "think outside the bun"? By "the bun," of course, I mean, "actual news"...
J2:  Real news is for pussies.
J1: We can just re-print this crappy press release we got from Taco Bell Marketing Headquarters, and call it a day. Taco Bell, that's Mexican news, right?
J1:  Close enough. Then we can cruise on down to Chili’s for some half-price Margaritas!
J2:  Is Chili’s Mexican?
J1:  Totally. Or whatever. It's happy hour 'till 6, anyway.

And.... SCENE.
"I'd like a side of Rainbow Chard with that..."
But, regardless of how this came to be "news" that is printed in "newspaper," is there anyone who seriously thinks that Taco Bell customers are clamoring for healthy dining options? This is the place that--as noted in the Taco Bell Press Release article written by totally legitimate journalists--sold 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos (tacos with shells made out of the same crap that's in Doritos) in only ten weeks! (Some have hinted that wasn't their idea, but, rather, the U.S. Government's plan to prop up the flagging acid-indigestion medication industry, but let's leave that aside.)

If you're at Taco Bell and you're not already drunk to the point that you're hitting on the cardboard cutout of a NASCAR driver in a sombrero propped up by the entrance,  then you're in a deep chasm of self-loathing that is going to necessarily preclude healthy dietary choices.

NOTE TO TACO BELL EXECS: Nobody is going to purchase a Doritos Locos Taco "with a side of sauteed organic kale."

Not that this is an option. Instead. it's more likely to be a Doritos Locos Taco with "NEW! Non-GMO salsa packets!" But it's on the side, in opaque packaging, so patrons won't have to come into contact with anything that might evoke unpleasant memories of actual fruits or vegetables they may have seen in the past. It's one thing to be "loco," but forcing people to look at vegetables would be taking the whole thing a little bit too far....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Men Are From Mars, Seatteites Are From Venus

NOTE:  I wrote about this Ray Bradbury story the other day, but I'm going to recycle it (with my apologies to *both* my readers!) in honor of the author's passing, which, oddly enough, coincided with the transiting of Venus (read on--you'll see how that ties in!). And, because I'm super lazy.

Living in Seattle, I often think of that old Ray Bradbury story, "All Summer in a Day." I first read this story in elementary school, and it's lingered in the back of my mind ever since. Here's the elevator pitch, from Wikipedia:

The story is about a class of school children on Venus, which in this story is a world of constant rainstorms, where the sun is only visible for two hours every seven years. One of the children, Margot, moved to Venus from Earth five years earlier, and she is the only one in her class to remember sunshine, since it shone regularly on Earth.
A view of Seattle (via NASA)
 Gosh, it's kind of like Margot moved to Seattle from the East Coast...five years ago (are you following the analogy?). Anyway, on the long-awaited Day of Summer, Margot brags about the sun to the Venusians, but they're a all jealous, and the haters lock her in a closet.

As the sun is about to appear, their teacher arrives to take the class outside to enjoy their only hour of sunshine, and in their astonishment and joy, they all forget about Margot. They run, play, skip, jump, and prance about, savoring every second of their newly found freedom. "It's much better than sun lamps!" one of them cries.

Suddenly, a girl feels a raindrop on her. Thunder sounds, and they run back inside. Then, one of them remembers Margot, who is still locked in the closet. They stand frozen ashamed for what they have done, unable to "meet each other's glances."

 The past two weeks have been intolerably gloomy. I want to write a sternly worded letter to someone about how Seattle is being cheated of its tiny window of sunshine-times, but I'm not sure where to send it. It's Obama's fault, I'm sure--all that Socialism is the reason the sun doesn't have a reason to come out and do its job!

But, today, there was about an hour or so when the sun came out. It's amazing how different the world looked. Everything seemed better. Everything WAS better. Problems--mine, yours, the world's--seemed to disappear. It was like being on some weird sort of drug.

I spent most of my formative years in Florida, so I know--as does everyone who's ever turned on an episode of COPS in Jacksonville--that sunshine is not exactly a panacea that will make everyone happy all the time. Like the various pharmaceuticals people make in trailers in various parts of Jacksonville, you build up a tolerance to it. After a while, being in the sun doesn't even make you happy any more. Maybe that's why Florida has so many meth labs? They don't have those momentary glimpses of sun in the midst of darkness, so they have to turn to drugs?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Can Has Cheese? Hold the burger...

Someone decided to insert catnip into two pieces of felt that look like cheese, for some reason. 
"It's a good thing," says Seymour.



Okay, so it's a picture of my cat, and not technically a blog post. If you feel like you didn't get your money's worth, feel free to send a sternly worded letter to the editor of Cat Fancy magazine.*

If there's one thing I've learned from writing for the Internets, there's nothing that I or anyone else can write that will be even 1/1,000,000th as interesting to the masses as a picture of OMG Cute Kittehz!!1!  (Cats, and, of course, parts of the female anatomy that are sometimes synonymous with a slightly archaic vernacular for Felines...)

I used to have the modest hope that I could occasionally write something that might at least mildly amuse someone, somewhere (if only a toilet-paper-whimsy seeker from New Castle upon Tyne), and make them feel less miserable about the state of the universe or what-not. But there is absolutely nothing that I could ever say or do or write that would warm human heart-cockles even one one millionth as much as the above video has done for folks all around the world. Even those rare folks who hate both cats dressed like Tubbs from Miami Vice AND synthesizers MAGICALLY change their minds when the two circles overlap on a Venn Diagram.

It's a strangely liberating feeling when you realize that you don't even hope to achieve anything in your current incarnation that couldn't be done--and done better--by a cat and synthesizer...

*Not affiliated with Cat Fancy magazine.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ask Your Doctor if You Are Healthy Enough to Get Freaky


I am totally going to Hell.

There are many reasons why this is the case. For one, I have fraternized with men while menstruating (see Leviticus 15:19). I have used tools on the Sabbath, although “anyone who desecrates the Sabbath must die” (Exodus 31:12-15). It may come as a horrible shock to those of you whom I’ve never “known” in the Biblical sense, but (deep breath…)  I was not, in fact, a virgin on my wedding night. According to Deuteronomy  22:20-21, I should’ve thus been dragged to my father’s house and been stoned (the “to death” kind, not the “pass the bong” kind).

For the love of G-d, I’ve even worn synthetic fibers, in flagrant disregard of Leviticus 19:19!

But none of the above reasons are Why I’m Going to Hell. It’s because I caught myself giggling after reading this article about a married 31-year-old man in Georgia who died while having group sex with “a female friend and a woman who was not his wife.”

A man dying is no laughing matter, no matter how hilarious (and, until the end, no doubt enjoyable) the circumstances. Even when it happens in a state where, if I’m not mistaken, sex is more or less illegal in the first place.

What made me laugh about this story was the fact that the family of the man was awarded $3 million in damages after they sued his cardiologist for, essentially, failing to warn him that he should not have a ménage-a-trois with two women who were not his wife, as his heart might not be able to take the excitement.
Ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for a group sex
with three women dressed as "Sexy Darth Vader"!
As a preemptive strike against such litigation, I can only imagine what kind of waivers patients with chest pains are going to have to sign in the future.  My mind (being my mind) naturally leapt to all potential warnings. "You may not be healthy enough to engage in sexual relations with two hot ladies who are not your wife" is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Avoid any sexual activities involving wine coolers, green Jell-o, and/or lassos. Please refrain from dressing up in a black, crotchless wetsuit and being flogged by a female wrestler dressed as She-Ra from the He-Man cartoons." Pretty soon, it would have to get downright Dr. Seuss-ish. 

Do not have sex on a mat. 

Do not have sex with a cat!
Do not have sex in a moat, 
not even if you're on a boat.
Do not have sex with a goat …

The list goes on. And on. It's almost enough to make you want to move to Georgia and start eating a whole lot of fried chicken, so you can get clogged arteries and, eventually, get to see what this waver is going to look like...