Bad Ideas

Exhibit 1.7.19

Easily Amused By My Own Antics


So I’m traveling this week, but I thought I’d post some old tweets/links to old posts/other lazy things in order to fill the void. Also, I’m not reading anything particularly literary on the flights but the first of a series of books you might be familiar with from a certain TV show.

That’s right, it’s Two and a Half Men: the Novelization. A taste:

“O, I’ve got it maid,” Charlie said, taking a moment to pause in the cold laughter of the previous generation, laughter he always heard when he said his sorry jokes, the ones that hid his true despair, the despair the canned dead found so hilarious.

Anyway, I recently deleted two year’s worth of tweets because I don’t know why, but I figure I can repost some 10 at a time and stretch this out for a good lifetime’s worth of blogging.

So 10 tweets, some of which are funny only in how context specific they were:

*  I’m not so much a teacher as I am a guy running a scam to get all the paperclips.

*  I assume Twitter verified the Dalai Lama by showing up at his house and asking, “Which of these Tweets already belongs to you?”

*  Business plan: Ash Tuesday. The end.

*   Sometimes I think my novel “Erstwhale”–about a boy who used to be a whale–isn’t the best idea ever. Then I remember: No, it is.

*   When asked to describe the suspect, Billy Idol shrugged and said, “Eyes with a face.”

*  Take comfort in the fact that no Borders is probably what John Lennon would have wanted.

*  Can’t decide if I’d marry a girl named Dawn Draper. On the one hand, absolutely. On the other, never.

*  I don’t see any way @NewYorker can reject my submission “The Preëminent Reëlection Coördinator Coöperates.”

*  Let’s cut all military spending and just have something called The Smarmy that wears gold chains and hits on the other countries’ spouses.

*  Television person: “Look, it’s Morse code!” Real person: “That flashing light sucks.”


Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Travel, Twitter

Exhibit 1.5.20


Almost three years ago I let my facial hair grow for a couple weeks to see if it could, through some previously unseen alchemy, produce a beard. You can follow that experience along here. It was a simpler time, back when I was somehow better at both Photoshop and the decency that allowed me not to post photos of myself on the internet.

Short summary: No, no I could not grow a beard.

This year, with a couple of weeks between a moment of bored despair and the semester beginning, I decided to try again. Here’s as good as it got.

The Aubrey Beardlessly

So not good. Better than before–it was prickly, at least–but still worse than guys I knew in middle school. That said, I could at least shave it into some nearly acceptable facial hair configurations.

The Walter Notquite

The Muske-tears

The Billy D-Minus Williams

The Ask for ID

Who am I kidding, none of those are acceptable. My apologies to everyone who had to look at me for the past two weeks. So pretty much just you, Taco Truck Lady.

3 Comments / Posted in Adams, Bad Ideas, Beards

Exhibit 1.5.16

A Soundtrack to Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy

Radiohead – “Life in Glass Houses”

Hall & Oates – “Private Eyes”

Roger Eno – “Quixote”

Manfred Mann – “The Mighty Quinn”

Elvis Costello – “Watching the Detectives”

The Jam – “Ghosts”

Louis Armstrong – “Black and Blue”

The Knife – “Neverland”

Tony Toni Toné – “Still a Man”

LCD Soundsystem – “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Detectives, Soundtracks

Exhibit 1.5.11

Today In Misguided Stock Photography

O, Huffington Post, don’t ever change.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Posts, Stock Photography

Exhibit 1.5.8


So apparently popular no-effort-mom-pleaser Pandora decided to tie a marketing campaign to the NFL Draft and analyst Mel Kiper Jr. I wish I could have heard that phone call.

Over-thinking Marketing Guy: We want you to represent Pandora!
Mel Kiper Jr.: The music service?
Marketing Guy: No, the popular middle-aged-lady-Pokémon.
Mel Kiper Jr.: Are you sure my obvious and overwhelming charisma won’t out charm the charm bracelet?
Marketing Guy: Of course not!
Mel Kiper Jr.: There is serious upside potential whenever you can get a Mel Kiper Jr.

Honestly, I don’t know if this is a brilliant example of knowing the difference between one’s market and one’s actor or if this is the weirdest, dumbest thing to ever happen on an internet full of weird, dumb things. I’m leaning toward aggressively not caring after this period.

2 Comments / Posted in Advertising, Bad Ideas, Mels

Exhibit 1.5.3

Lost Tweets

Really I’d rather not ruin my least bloggy month ever by posting something, but I feel a sense of responsibility to my two loyal readers: J. Stock and Asian Casino Big Wins.

But I’ve got nothing to say, so here’s a collection of tweets I had saved on my old phone. I figure if I post them here, I will never post them on twitter which is probably for the best.

Why do I think somehow posting them here will tie them less to me than twitter? I don’t know. Why any of it? I really don’t know.

* There are only 3 people. Those who like “Dyslexic Heart,” those who like “Waiting for Somebody,” and those without the Singles soundtrack.

* Why did pizza geometry stop at the roll? I want a pizza box.

* 100% of conversations about karaoke go something like this, “Remember that time we did karaoke that we’re never going to talk about again?” “No.”

* Imagine how Delux, the company that seemingly makes all the checks, feels when all their orders are paid with debit cards.

* Nobody ever asks for a hand job. You should have subvocalized that as Job. Like the Bible guy. Then it’s funny. If not, it’s not.

(Ed note: there was a time when I really wanted to make this joke work. Then I realized I would never tweet about sex acts ever. Then I posted it here on a whim. I really, really don’t know).

* So now that David Mamet is apparently making a movie called, “I’m an Asshole,” what role is he going to cast his wife in?

* Has anyone written an essay about riding the bus for a day and learning about the people and their stories? Because don’t. Don’t write that.

* It’s a bit cumbersome to keep saying it, but Andrew Carnegie did pay to build my bathroom.

* I’ve got a lot of thoughts on the country song “Need You Now” that I’m just going to go ahead and keep right to myself.

* It’s a little misleading that YouTube didn’t stick with “”

* I like to put on headphones and listen to Megadeath at a coffeeshop because it feels illicit.

* Whoever told Netflix I like Jason Statham will be hunted down until I get my revenge for what you did to me…o, damnit.

* Going to write a modern day version of Blood Meridian about going to the mall. “See the child section of the Banana Republic…”

* The poet’s car was such a gas ghazal-er.

* Live your life like you’re making an erasure of Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs. – confusing advice.

* Whenever someone reaches my blog using Bing I feel like how the Indians felt the first time they saw ships.

* Nebraska – no longer just a Springsteen album.

* Why did indie rock find it necessary to start a sub-genre tentatively titled “Sometimes We Sing about Orphans”

* If we have HOV lanes, I don’t see why we can’t have bumper car lanes.

* When Dane says be less gauche, I always think he’s saying be less ghost and I’m like, you’re right, Dane, I probably should.

* I didn’t think this would come together but, yep, there it is, a castle. Thanks, Lego.

* I look exactly my age because eating Eggos in sweatpants is timeless.

* My least favorite modern composition is John Kale’s four minutes and thirty three seconds of salad.

* Sadly, I play basketball like I play guitar: how Dave Matthews would do it.

* When someone says it’s an oldie but a goodie, it means ‘I hope you know how to safety dance.’

* Wise men say, only fools rush into purchasing UB40’s greatest hits.

* Hey, Men at Work, I know who it can’t be: a record label.

* If you add vodka to a Shirley Temple it becomes a Lindsey Lohan.

* I’m not sure why the Catholic church taught me that “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was about masturbating.

(Ed note: See Job joke above).

* My dad’s lives every day hoping someone asks him if he likes Earl Grey so he can say “That’s my cup of tea!” It’s important to have dreams.

* I’m not afraid of robbers. I’m afraid of robbers judging the amount of dishes in my sink. Maybe they’ll steal them. That would help.

* My god, this conspiracy goes all the way to the Top Gun DVD case.

3 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Casinos, Twitter

Exhibit 1.5.2

Remember When I Had a Blog

That was weird.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Blogs, Quitters

Exhibit 1.4.14

Checking In

Let’s see what’s going on in my old hometown these days…

O for god’s sake. This is terrible!

East Fifth does not need new pavement.

2 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, North Platte, Pavement

Exhibit 1.4.8


So there’s a textbook required for the Composition One class I teach, and while normally I just ignore it if not openly disparage it, there are a few lessons I use from its opening chapters since they’re relevant to what the students will do in Comp Two. I don’t want my students to be the ones who don’t know what ethos is.

(Nobody knows what ethos is.)

Part of this involves a lesson on what the book calls angle of vision which is mostly about how writers control their messages using their perspective, etc. etc. Basic stuff. In the past, the book had a cartoon that made the point that people with different priorities could see the same issue in a variety of ways. This issue was stem cells. Fair enough, that’s an issue on which reasonable people can disagree (even if some of them are clearly much, much more reasonable).

So I open this year’s textbook expecting to find that same cartoon and instead, there’s this:


The textbook people, apparently too burned by the controversy over stem cells (in a lesson designed to prepare students to argue effectively no less), decided that this year’s issue on which reasonable people could disagree was sweatshops. And somehow they couldn’t even come up with a 50/50 split of opinions. 4 out of 6 people in their little scenario are seemingly in favor of sweatshops and only some greasy hippie objects on moral grounds.

Even the explicitly Asian sweatshop worker kid is in favor of sweatshops! Come on, Liang, you couldn’t have at least said, “I have mixed feelings on working 14 hour days for pennies.”

I really don’t know what else to say about it. None of it makes any sense to me. It might be a brilliant but cynical take down of consumer culture and modern capitalism or it might be that someone thinks sweatshops are an issue with sides.

Thank god they didn’t ask these people:

Yes, I drew those. Yes, it took more than 10 minutes. No, I will not be drawing again.

3 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Books, Sweatshop

Exhibit 1.4.5

This Happened

So I was in an airport bathroom–which always sounds like it will lead to a better story than it does–washing my hands when I hear a man behind me gasp and yell, “There’s a woman in there!”

I think, O, that’s weird, I didn’t remember seeing a woman or anyone else during any part of the urinating process, but, well, I wasn’t really looking for one and I hope she wasn’t offended or maybe I’m in the wrong bathroom but in any case I should probably look around and apologize as the gasping gentleman seems, based upon his volume, to be quite certain there is a woman here, here in this room where I’m currently standing slapping at the soap dispenser to get it to work and maybe the lady knows hot to get the soap dispenser to work I should ask her yes I will ask the lady.

I turn and scan the room, but there’s no one there except me. At this point, I think, That’s even weirder as the gentleman who I am now going to have to turn to see momentarily claimed there was a woman in here when, in fact, there was only me and no one else and maybe the lady left and now the soap dispenser is working too much and…O.

When I turn I see two guys had just turned the corner, an older one who is staring at me in horror and a younger one who is trying not to laugh.

“O God, I’m sorry,” the older guy says then looks like he wants to explain what, exactly, made him yell that I was a woman–presumably it was the flowing locks and killer blouse–but holds back.

“It’s okay,” I say, then think, I probably shouldn’t tell anyone about this but what if they hear it from the old guy first, so, no, I’ll tell everyone about this great.

Comment / Posted in Airports, Bad Ideas, Bathrooms

Exhibit 1.3.8

An Unnecessarily Obscene Letter to the Game of Thrones Universe

Look, dickholes, I’ve been loving your show. And I don’t mean to call you dickholes, but I’ve been thinking it over and you’re something like dickholes. It’s not you. It’s your civilization. Every so often a character on the show throws something out like, “We’ve been guarding this giant wall for 8,000 years,” and, you know, I get that they’re proud of their family’s commitment to standing in the snow but I’m like wait, wait, wait–these dickholes have been here for 8,000 years and haven’t invented Applebees?

I’m joking. Sort of. Just because we invented Applebees after less than 8,000 years doesn’t mean everyone should have, but is a Hardees too much to ask for? I’m joking again. That’s me joking. You guys might not even care for reasonably priced 3-course meals that serve families on a budget. I don’t know that but I know this. Your civilization has been around for more than 8,000 years and you’ve accomplished these things:

1) Giant wall
2) Training crows to carry letters

That’s it as far as I can tell. And it doesn’t make sense because I see wheels and pulleys and you must be this close to the inclined plane so it’s like, come on you shitbirds, learn how to build machines already. I’m not asking for Terminators or anything, just, you know, something more complicated than what my Tamagotchi comes up with if it lives more than a week before starving. For example: It takes your king a month to go on a ski vacation which means every trip anywhere is basically the Oregon Trail. How many jerkoffs have to die of cholera before you guys get trains?

You know how many Applebees I could visit in a month? Enough to enjoy a whole asston of their new sizzling Cajun shrimp.

So let’s think this over. I mean, you’ve got the crows. That’s pretty cool. Our crows just act like stuckup goth kids. Of course, if they get sick, we can save them with crow penicillin and make them see better using lasers. In fact, our crows might live to be 8,000 and they don’t have to stand on a wall unless they want to. Come to think of it, maybe you should make one of our crows king and save yourselves a lot of action and sex-packed intrigue.

But look, that’s really not the point here. The point is this: some of our people don’t think our entire planet is much more than 8,000 years old. And that means you guys are falling behind in all areas except incest technology. But it’s cool because it also means we’re pretty stupid sometimes, too. I mean, we don’t have an entire continent of people afraid to row across a tiny ocean, but we’ve got the Palins. They’re sort of like your Lannisters only exactly like your Lannisters.

Still, if this were a game of Civilization, even Gandhi would have ridden you down with his war elephants by now. Not because he wanted to hurt you, but because those elephants could teach you how to navigate using stars and take tenure-track positions at the universities you seemingly don’t have. You daft fucks.

But I get it. You’re too busy stabbing each other to invent the shovel and dig up all the petroleum in your soil. Maybe if we had dragons, we would have turned into a civilization run by middle school boys, too. And maybe if our winters lasted a decade, we would have also taken a few millennia off.

O, no wait, we would have eaten queso blanco nacho platters at our centrally heated Applebees until it was time to jetski.

Tighten it up,


4 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Civilizations, Television

Exhibit 1.3.3

This Exists

And you need to know about it. Look, I know it’s my fault for buying Pop-Tarts in the first place, and maybe I was wrong to expect so much of the good folks at Kellogg’s, but this crosses a line.

I don’t want to say anything controversial here, but I strongly believe this is worse than manslaughter.

My favorite part can’t even be seen here which is that the recipe–O, yes, there’s a real recipe on the inside of the box, in case you couldn’t figure it out from the picture in the moments before you had to look away–liberally uses the word ‘carefully.’ You are to carefully spread the marshmallow creme. Also the peanut better. Then you are to sprinkle the “candy-coated chocolate pieces”–carefully–before carefully transferring to a wire rack.

They were trying to warn us.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Breakfast, Sandwiches

Exhibit 1.3.1

The Blossom Possum

Takes it to another level.

Just for you, Dave.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Blossoms, Davids

Exhibit 1.2.2

Re-signed for 2011

I have once again made the foolish decision to play in a basketball league. On the roster I’m listed as G/F which I’m pretty sure is some kind of joke. As you can see in the picture above, I play in jeans and a polo. At half-time I take tea and ask after the wickets. When I do get in the game, I wear a prescription motorcycle helmet.

But I’m going to try to improve this year so I drew up some plays.

This one is called “Isosceles.” It’s where I sort of walk in a triangle around the three point line so that my own teammates are confused enough by my movements to not pass me the ball.

This one is called “Why is the whistle lady counting at me?” No, seriously, why?

This one is called, “Free Throw.” It’s where I stand while someone else makes free throws (not able to be expressed by diagramming: me clapping furiously).

This one is a defensive play called, “I Try to Have a Conversation with a Teammate While My Guy Scores.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go practice the most important play of all, “Signaling for a Sub When Too Winded to Speak or Move My Arms.”

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Basketball, Sports

Exhibit 1.1.23


I’m firmly on the side that believes violent political rhetoric is a problem because it lowers the discourse, is unworthy of the officeholders, and conflates valid philosophical disagreements with war, not because such rhetoric–no matter how reprehensible–is likely to be responsible for any particular action. Still, I think today’s Kansas City Star headline is maybe a little problematic:

I know we’re dealing with a headline written by some editor and not political speech but still–nobody saw a problem with this? And I don’t just mean because of what happened this weekend, I mean because of perhaps the biggest news story to come out of Kansas in the last decade:

Abortion Doctor Gunned Down at Kansas Church” — Fox News

Yep, that was less than two years ago, and the bill referenced in that headline is in direct response to this doctor’s practice (despite his, you know, terrible and cowardly murder by a zealot).

Shockingly, the headline has been changed to “Conservatives Push Plan to Restrict Abortion” for the online version of the article.

And so, yeah, I think some of the reaction to the Arizona shooting has been a little tasteless by some of the left (and doubly so by certain defensive voices on the right), but I don’t think we can fault anyone who says that maybe all of us–politicians, media, people who like to argue while drinking like myself–might want to step away from certain language and metaphors for a time with the hope we leave them behind altogether.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Editors, Politics

Exhibit 1.1.8

Stock Photography Review

Another great found stock photo from Maggi who also sent me this one with the hotdogs. As with that one, this photo is almost too weird to do anything with other than present. It’s so strange these exist as stock photos–and royalty-free photos–because it implies wide usage when, really, you’d think the one guy who needs this photo could just find a couple of game friends, attend an open house at a for-sale mansion, slip away from the agent, and…

Almost as good as the photo itself are the keywords you can search for to get this photo (officially titled “A Naked Woman on a Bathtub with a Naked Man Crouching over Her Head” which, frankly, seems a little cumbersome):

Agility? Dreams? Standing out from the crowd? Teamwork?

Okay, I’ll give them agility.

Still, there’s something kind of awesome in sending this into Getty as a stock photo. I don’t know if there’s a writer equivalent of this, but it probably involves getting an assignment to write about a sporting event and turning in some language poetry, just like Rae Armantrout did when asked to cover the 1984 Orange Bowl.

For what it’s worth, I would have titled the photo “The Wife of Bath’s Bath” although that maybe works better for the old-timey pornography version nobody asked me to make:

1 Comment / Posted in Action Teams, Bad Ideas, Stock Photography

Exhibit 27.25

Fantasy Football Postmortem

I know, I know, no one cares. I don’t even care. I only update the roster each week to fantasy honor the fantasy spirit of the fantasy game. But now I’m starting to care again because I think my team might be historically bad. Here are my first five picks in the draft and their ranking on the season.

Round 1, 11th overall – Ryan Matthews. Rank on the season: 152.
In other words, my assessment was only off by 140 players. Seriously, I don’t even know why I ever thought a guy named Ryan Matthews would be good. It’s a name that sounds best when said while sadly shaking your head. I know because this is the only way this name is ever said.

Round 2, 14th overall – Shonn Greene. Rank on the season: 144.
I should have known when I saw how he spelled his name. Like an idiot, that’s how. I should have learned my lesson after the whole Chone Figgins fiasco in fantasy baseball. Okay, that never happened. And now it never will.

Round 3, 35th overall – Tony Romo. Rank on the season: 75th.
This is misleading for two reasons. One, Tony Romo was actually doing fine for me until he got injured for the season after week six. Two, he got injured for the season after week 6.

Round 4, 38th overall – Beanie Wells. Rank on the season: 218th.
The worst part about him is I still expect him to turn it around despite the insistence of statistics, observation, God, and his own coach. I have no idea why I hate Ryan Matthews but love Beanie Wells. The fantasy heart is a cruel mistress. Fantasy-speaking.

Round 5, 59th overall – Wes Welker. Rank on the season: 123rd.
Yes, that’s right, my first receiver was someone who has to wear a knee brace bigger than his torso. On the plus side, he was good two years ago so between him, Barack Obama, and Fergie, my Fantasy 2008 team is looking great.

The problems here:

1. With my first five picks, all under the 60th pick overall, I managed to pick none of the top 100 players in football (Romo will fall out soon).

2. All of these players, Romo excluded, are still on my team.

3. The best player on my team–and this is not a joke–is Mike Wallace the wide receiver who ranks 38th.

4. Mike Wallace the news journalist ranks 19th and he might be dead.

5. I named my fantasy team after the real coach of my least favorite real team and somehow never thought karma would play into this.

6. My move/robbery/re-move right before the draft excuse is wearing a little thin.

7. I’ve started to just pick up random Dolphins because that way I can at least care a little. Hence, I’ll probably start Tyler Thigpen this week, something done only by me and someone named Tyler Thigpen.

8. It’s killing me because I consider myself to be kind of good at fantasy football. Then the fact that I consider myself to be kind of good at fantasy football makes it even worse. I’m caught in a shame spiral. Fantasy-speaking. In real life I’m doing great.

9. Even after a surprising offensive explosion, I am only averaging 83 points per week. For comparison purposes, the top team is averaging 125. Basically, that means they could drop 3-4 players and still beat me easily.

10. And, of course, I would not pick up those players because I’m still waiting for Beanie Wells to turn it around.

2 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Ryans, Sports

Exhibit 27.16

This Seems Relevant

Calculations by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other independent fiscal experts show that the $1.1 trillion cost over the next 10 years of the Medicare prescription drug program, which the Republican-controlled Congress adopted in 2003, by itself would add more to the deficit than the combined costs of the bailout, the stimulus and the health care law.

From this New York Times article.

It’s a little bit of a cheat as the health care bill actually reduces the deficit (due to spending cuts and tax increases) and so much of the bailout got paid back–plus the stimulus and bailouts were both one-time expenditures, not things that ostensibly benefit us for 10 years–but it seems like the sort of thing your average Democrat might want to mention every so often.

I know it’s old hat by now, but it continues to be depressing how poorly the Democrats articulate their vision and successes. Like most us of, I don’t want politics to be a debate contest instead of an arena where legitimate disagreements are resolved, but damnit if the people I (mostly) agree with are going to play this game, I suppose I at least want them to play it well.

It’s unclear if the Democrats think they still live in a world where people trust the media to correct false narratives–not that I believe there ever was such a world–or if they really are so insecure in their own opinions that they feel it necessary to respond inarticulately to the 35 to 50 percent of people who will never vote for them anyway.

I mean, is it really so hard to defend the stimulus? Your opponent says spending, you say jobs. The end.

The rhetoric is on your side (jobs beats spending beats scissors). The facts are on your side (unemployment would be higher without it). History is on your side (1932). The world is on your side (most major economies did some kind of stimulus and, not surprisingly, the more they did the better they came out of the recession).

Now, I realize you’re not going to want to stand up in front of your opponent who calls the president a socialist and say we needed to do what China did, but would it really be so much worse than the equivocating and the apologizing?

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Elections, Politics

Exhibit 27.1


For some reason, I decided to join Twitter yesterday. You can but probably shouldn’t find me here. Also, I added a clunky feed on the side of this blog in case you weren’t getting enough insight into me during your visit to this site where I share my thoughts on candy bars and puppies.

(Refresher: I’m for them).

I mostly joined because it had gotten to the point where I had 8 or 9 different Twitter feeds I checked regularly. These were, with a couple of exceptions, about sports. Yesterday with college football starting and the Royals playing and rosters being cut down…it became too much. I very reluctantly started an account and then very gleefully spent 6 hours choosing a color for my sidebar.

I settled on white.

The best part is, we now get to have this conversation:

You: Hey, how’s it going?
Me: [staring at my phone]
You: [staring at nature]
Me: Sorry, I joined Twitter.
You: You should qwitter.
Me: That should totally be a hashtag!
You: I don’t know what that is.
Me: [staring at my phone] Did you know the Seahawks cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh?

I feel like I should retroactively date this post to two years ago when everyone else wrote it.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Retroactive, Twitter

Exhibit 24.15

Bracket Math

So, I entered two NCAA brackets yet watched zero college basketball games this year. That’s okay because I have a complicated formula for determining what percentile of basketball success I will experience. First, I determine how many points I scored in my 20 most recent basketball games. So, Zero. Then, I calculate my approximate number of turnovers per 10 minutes played. So, Three. I simply add those numbers together then multiply by the number of games watched.

0 + 3 = 3 X 0 = 0

Okay, so then I divide that number by the number of brackets entered.

0/2 = ERROR


Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Basketball, Sports

Exhibit 23.27

Bad Ideas

* Having your Pulitzer Prize winning story collection include an “interview” in the discussion material between the author and the titular character. “Wait, you were following me?” the titular character says and we all die a little.

* Telling the dog that the wind is chasing us Happening style. Well, maybe this isn’t a bad idea, really.

* Writing a boring half of a story to meet the requirements of a class exercise then making a note at the end of the file that says, “Make second half good. Add monsters.”

* Thumbs.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Monsters, Wind

Exhibit 22.20

The Post Where I Paste Things from Twilight Wikipedia Pages

* “In the months that follow, Bella learns thrill-seeking activities, such as motorcycle riding…”

* “Meanwhile, a series of miscommunications leads Edward to believe that Bella has killed herself.”

* “The story opens with the revelation that Seattle, Washington is being plagued by a string of unsolved murders, which Edward suspects is caused by a new vampire that is unable to control its thirst for human blood. As Edward and Bella apply to colleges…”

* “Bella explains to Jacob that while she loves him, her love for Edward is greater. After receiving a wedding invitation from Edward, Jacob runs away in his wolf form to escape his pain…”

* “Edward, concerned for Bella’s life and convinced that the fetus is a monster as it continues to develop with unnatural rapidity, urges her to have an abortion. However, Bella feels a pull towards the child and refuses to go through with the procedure.”

* “Jacob, who was present for the birth, almost immediately ‘imprints’—an involuntary response in which a werewolf finds his soul mate—on Edward and Bella’s newborn daughter, Renesmee.”

I needed to read all of that for my teaching. Well, not all of it. I’m just, you know, dedicated.

Seriously though, I had no idea those books were about an centenarian who picks up a 14-year-old, gets her pregnant, then urges her to “take in an Astros game.” I would say the girl should have chosen the other guy, but the other guy somehow tops that by claiming her demon baby as his bride the minute it’s born. So, um, I don’t know, maybe she should try online dating. There must be some normal dude who likes motorcycles out there.

I have thought about this too much. I might need a new hobby. Or to be a worse teacher. Yeah, I’ll go with that one.

2 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Teaching, Vampires

Exhibit 22.1

Things I Would Name This Dog If This Dog Were a Novel and I Were Still Me Struggling to Name a Novel-Dog Something Pretentious/Ominous

* A Congress of Sad Jingles
* Morning in the White Horrible
* Bad Dogs, Good Falls
* Outside The Window They’re Coming, They’re Coming
* Darkness Befalls the Pug

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Brett, Titles

Exhibit 21.25

Gross Things I’m Going to Eat in Nebraska This Week

And by this week I mean every day this week. And by gross I mean gross. One of the underrated parts of living in Nebraska is that the state was neglected by franchisers for long enough that it has a couple of robust regional fast food restaurants. The Amigos “Cheesy” is such an institution that everyone has forgotten it’s just a tortilla with cheese and the faintest hint of refried beans, as if it the tortilla came into contact with a dirty table (which it probably did). Somehow this works and Amigos knows it which explains why during my lifetime the price of this particular item has nearly tripled (this leads to a lot of people, friends, parents trying to make cheesi themselves which is a complicated process involving 1) a tortilla and 2) shredded cheddar and 3) an over zealous microwave).

Now they’re taking it to the next level which means throwing bacon and ranch dressing into the mix. As horrible as that sounds, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel betrayed when I found out about this one week after I moved.

Other things I hope to do in Nebraska: watch my friend Ryan try to recreate one of these in his kitchen using only ingredients at hand. I’m not joking. Before this week is over I will watch Ryan bite into a misshapen tortilla and claim that his Hot Dog Dorothy Lynch Cheesy is just as good as anything at Amigos.

And then there’s this monstrosity from KFC which you might have read about. This is the result of another strange Nebraska dynamic–rampant product tests–which results from the state’s largest cities being fairly representative demographically.

This is a sandwich with chicken instead of bread, something that is only being test marketed in Omaha and Providence at the moment. I don’t even think I like KFC. I certainly don’t like whatever impulse led to the creation of this fried blasphemy. But, I mean, I have to try it. Just like I had to try the McDonald’s 3-and-1 one during its brief existence as an upscale alternative to, um, McDonald’s. Basically, I’ve edited my internal monologue as such: But they serve their fries in a basket and have club sandwiches made something impossibly terrible.

I don’t know why I’m posting this other than to explain to Dave N. why instead of making it to his wedding I’ll be either dead or full, probably both. God help me if Runza has some kind of new mushroom and ham Runza in the works.

Actually, the best part of all of this will be me talking about it all weekend, going to a KFC, having two bites, and then spending the rest of the day talking about how I feel sick and am going to become a vegetarian when I get home.

7 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Food, Nebraska

Exhibit 21.12

Stock Photography Review

Much thanks to Maggi for passing along this incredible piece of misguided stock photography. Honestly, I’ve been sitting on this for months because I just didn’t know what to say about it. In the end, I decided to give it a shot with various taglines to find the target market.


Way off.

I don’t think Burger King serves hotdogs. Nope, I don’t think they serve uncooked hotdogs at all. Unless that’s the way you want it.

I don’t know why I even tried this one.


And there we go.

5 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Boys, Stock Photography

Exhibit 20.27

Everything I Own

Not pictured:

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Cars, Seitzers

Exhibit 20.5

If I Twittered My Opening the Door to My Room Here

2:31 – OMG! Finally here.

2:32 – Dude, there’s totally a wasp in my room.

2:34 – @ Giant Black Wasp: Please don’t hurt me.

2:40 – I think if I turn off all the lights, leave the door open, crawl in bed, it will be go.

2:52 – No.

2:53 – I think maybe the wasp and I will be able to live in peace if I just never turn on lights…

2:53 – …or move more than arm’s length from wall.

2:55 – Watched wasp killing video

2:59 – Wasp was also in room watching video. Wasp now knows everything.

3:02 – RT @ Harry Potter: I would have totally killed that wasp.

3:08 – Testing towel snapping skills. Wasp watches, amused.

4:01 – Ready to see if I can kill it.

4:02 – Not ready.

4:09 – Ready.

4:09 – OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! LOL! OMG!

4:10 – Wasp flew outside after towel snap.

4:13 – @ Giant Dead Black Wasp: You’ve been twittered, yo.

6:00 – Wasp is outside window. Can’t leave for dinner. Will eat towel.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Insects, Losing

Exhibit 20.3

From this interview with Jeb Bush:

Does the [Republican] party need to change or de-emphasize its positions on abortion or gay marriage?
No. No, I think those are important issues to not shy away from. And I don’t think that’s the reason why suburban voters have migrated to the Democrats. I think it’s the economic issues. We have not been able to explain why these timeless conservative principles matter in 2009.

So basically Jeb Bush was asked if he was ever going to be president and answered, “No.”

My issue is not with his specific policy positions–for what it’s worth, strategically I don’t think there’s much point in Republicans capitulating on abortion and forward thinking politicians on the right should take a libertarian position toward gay marriage–but with his statement that economic issues are why these voters have migrated to the left. If Jeb Bush actually believes that, he’s a moron. And since he and almost everyone else who claims to speak for the Republican party actually does seem to believe this, I think they may have finally reached the nadir. At this point, they’ve dug so far, for so long beneath the real world it’s likely that a generation’s eyes will never readjust to the light.

These suburban voters he thinks he knows have spent the last decade buying their furniture at Pottery Barn and being told they need to shop at Whole Foods. They’ve bought houses with granite countertops in subdivisions that have names and home owners association fees. They spent the affluent years that recently ended driven–whether naturally or as the result of good marketing–toward a kind of worldly sophistication. Now, it’s obviously a very shallow sophistication, but I think it’s important to realize that this isn’t 1970s Orange County we’re talking about anymore. These suburban dwellers who used to be the most reliable Republican voters because they were financially secure, white, and were afraid someone was going to take their swimming pools away are now people who worry about the environment, work and live among (or at least watch on the television) all sorts of minority families (including gay ones), and believe shopping at Bed, Bath, & Beyond instead of Wal-Mart somehow constitutes an acceptable value system.

They eat humus.

Whatever world Jeb Bush is imagining when he talks about middle-class voters does not account for humus. When these people voted for Republicans, they knew no gay people, drove Cadillacs, and cooked out of a Betty Crocker cookbook. They were capital-A Americans and this was their power. But the desire for isolation that drove them to the suburbs is A) no longer possible and B) out of style. Now, these voters are demographically diverse, live in cities, and have the benefit of cable television and the Internet. Their world is immeasurably bigger than what Mr. Bush remembers (or imagines).

They are not going to unlearn the knowledge they’ve gained. And it is both boomers and affluent Gen-Xers here. They want good design, they want good food, they want good lives. Their primary desire seems to be comfort and there’s nothing less comfortable than hate. Hate means wars, it means pro-ignorance, it means attacking people they share a cul de sac with. And here’s the part where the former governor should pay attention: the hatred section of the Republican party’s platform makes them more uncomfortable than the economic wing of the Democratic pary’s platform. It’s not even close. Hell, after the last administration, the Democrats were nearly the pro-wealth party for economic reasons alone last election (though that party is probably over).

So the idea that economics alone can bring these people back is insane. Many are already economically incentivized to favor the Republicans (or think they are). What else can you do? Sure, being a little bit competent and actually governing by the principles the party expounds would help, but what’s done is done.

These suburban voters are educated and successful and it would take some truly radical economic policies to get them to overlook the fact that it’s acceptable for Republican presidential candidates to raise their hands and say they don’t believe in evolution (I’ll do us all a favor and not even talk about Sarah Palin). And no, returning tax rates to where they were under Reagan does not count as radical or ‘socialism’ or whatever boogeyman they want to throw out there.

Jeb Bush and Michael Steele and Mike Huckabee need to learn something from the advantage they’ve enjoyed among rural voters who vote against their economic self-interest when they vote Republican but do because of God or guns or whatever. For exactly the same reasons–though with opposite value systems–suburban voters will willingly and gladly vote for the candidate that might tax them more if it means voting for the world they want to live in. They’re picking Bed, Bath, & Beyond over Wal-Mart again, and if you think rolling back prices alone is going to bring those voters back, you don’t have any business running a party let alone a country.

Through more diverse and nuanced media and society’s inevitable and consistent movement toward a more permissive culture, we’ve entered a period where–with the exception of abortion–social issues are going to be table stakes for a majority of these voters. If you can’t pass a certain threshold of tolerance, you aren’t going to get their votes. No matter how “timeless” these conservative “principles” are, being the anti-science, -gay, -people of color, -sex education, etc. party is going to take your name off the ballot for these voters. They aren’t single-issue voters as much as they are voters who demand a base-level of decency or, at the least, an understanding of and respect for contemporary values.

But, hey, things will change. Maybe the economy stays bad or terrorism becomes a more important issue again and old-school Republicans like Jeb Bush get lucky. Maybe they can sell deficits as an evil, people will forget who took us away from a balanced budget, and these voters will again worry about protecting their own wealth. Maybe immigration can find a foothold and casual racism drives people to the right. Despite the monolithic portrait I’m painting, these highly stereotypical voters are only going to slightly favor one party over the other anyway. There will certainly be Republican presidents and congresses again. But they’re not going to come soon or be led by people like Jeb Bush unless they take off the blinders and learn from the last election. For god’s sake, the Republicans just got done proving they can’t run a country, why do they think they can stop time?

It goes without saying, but among all voters the demographics only get much, much worse as time goes by. And as voters in the next 10-20 years don’t remember Ronald Reagan, hate George W. Bush, and aren’t inclined to vote for a 1950s value system that isn’t coming back organically, how exactly is an economic philosophy that hasn’t exactly been proven to work going to change their minds?

I’m no expert, but it seems to me the obvious direction for the right is becoming socially libertarian as opposed to socially liberal (but more or less ending up in the same place) and articulating that as a philosophical difference that traces itself to the earliest days of the country and informs every aspect of their platform (small government, isolationist, socially permissive, personal responsibility, religious freedoms [but for everyone] etc.) It certainly doesn’t mean listening to nutjobs like Ron Paul, but in the right hands I think the Republicans could have a strong and simple message that places them squarely in the 21st century. The left’s philosophy will be messy by definition, and the right should take advantage by offering something coherent and clean. They’d still have problems with health care and the environment and religious conservatives would complain, but those voters are the ones holding the party back anyway. Cut them loose and they’ll come back. What you don’t do is change nothing or follow reactionaries like Glenn Beck or root for the country to fail.

What you don’t do is think what won in 1980 can win in 2012.

And on a personal level, what you shouldn’t do is write about politics. Damn it. I just can’t quit you, self-righteousness.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, High Horses, Politics

Exhibit 18.25

Now, I don’t care in the sense that I don’t have Nebraska license plates and will likely never have Nebraska license plates. I also don’t care in the sense that I can’t say I ever really notice license plates.

I just think the state’s reaction to the license plate voting has been fairly hilarious. For weeks people have been complaining about it and writing letters to the editor, all of whom seem to hold the same opinion: the choices, such as they were, were horrible and whatever misguided process excluded using actual design professionals should be scrapped.

Almost every aspect of the process has been attacked, from the use of the governor (who, despite a fairly well documented history of being a tool and no documented history of being a graphic designer, picked the finalists) to the required inclusion of (at the expense of, say, “The Good Life,” Nebraska’s awesome state motto).

And now, naturally, the worst design won and I’m as outraged as everyone else for some reason (probably boredom). The winner:

Black? Really? This for a state with two distinguishing features (wide, blue skies and flat, amber prairie)? There’s not even any indication of what the intent was here. It’s too designed to be distinctly plain (like Delaware’s plates) and is so contrary to the state itself as to actually be fairly transgressive, as if the football team played five seasons as The Corpsemongers.

More importantly, the gradients. Good lord, the gradients. It’s like someone took a two-week Creative Suite class and couldn’t help themselves. We’re just lucky we didn’t get any clip art or artificial lens flares.

And by we I mean you. I’m out of here, suckers.

[runs away laughing maniacally, returns for Christmas, feels bad]

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Governors, Nebraska

Exhibit 17.8

If you like, I have two short-short-short things up on Opium‘s website here. You probably don’t like. I’m pretty on the fence myself, but I am very grateful to Opium (which rocks).

My things are mostly notable for having truly awful titles

While writing these many months back, I remember this being a point I was trying to make. I can’t imagine why. It seemed important at the time. You know, sort of like how parents name their kids something really horrible as a statement then wake up one day to realize they have a five-year old named “Moving to Texas.”

What do you mean that’s not a thing?

I think that’s a thing.

4 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Titles, Writing

Exhibit 16.18

It’s like I’m in some horrible future where it’s too late to stop myself from doing this. Last one, I swear.

I’m back today. By which I mean I haven’t left yet.

Exhibit – GRE Literature Test study material

Exhibit 5.22 – That time my fortune cookie talked me out of learning Chinese.

Exhibit 10.12 – Okay, so this one actually isn’t so old but it’s one of the better photo ones and it hits on a relevant topic for me: hotmail has changed their interface for approximately the one millionth time in the last year. I might have to finally switch to the gmail account I’ve had for years and never use. It’s going to be hard to give up the embarrassing email address I’ve had since 1998, but this new format is killing me. And there aren’t any dogs with headsets anymore. It’s like they forgot what they were all about.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Don't., Unnecessary Scheduling

Exhibit 16.16

So, because I need to kill time before my flight leaves, I’ve decided to schedule some posts for while I’m gone. I think I’ll just link to a few older posts that, if you like, you can read in lieu of whatever it is I normally do here. These were all posts from back when four people read this blog which could be anywhere from when it started to yesterday.

(Oh, and I’d like to say hello to our new fifth reader. Hi, Mom. Thanks for reading.)

By the way, I’m doing this despite not having packed, checked into my flight, or printed out what I’m reading. So now you know where my priorities are. They’re with you, dear reader. All five of you. I look forward to seeing you at the next Thanksgiving.


Exhibit 4.7 – Proof that even the worst literary writing is better than the best business writing. Also, not-interesting is the fact that I avoided using the title of the guy’s book because I was afraid he’d google it, find me, and have a friend step on my throat.

Exhibit 2.8 – One of my favorite posts which was ruined by someone coming to their senses before I even posted. Basically, Reuters showed that file photo on an article about couples having children.

Exhibit 2.7 – Huh, this one before it isn’t bad either. Remember when every conversation was about Larry Craig and the Ninja Turtles? I do. So does Dave. Nobody else seemed interested. Also notable for featuring Dave spelling out his thoughts on the definition of gay.

Exhibit 1.11 – Here’s that time I said bad things about Julia Stiles and felt awful about it for a month. I really wanted to bring that feeling back (and use my Julia Stiles tag which has been dormant ever since, I believe). It’s odd, I can’t remember going to see very many movies, but I very distinctly remember going to see that Bourne. As I recall, much fun was had at the bar afterward.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Julia Stiles, Unnecessary Scheduling

Exhibit 15.16

Local uber-critic L. Kent has an article out today headlined, “Marijuana has taken a place in the music world.”

First line: “Marijuana may no longer be exclusive to musicians.”

Jesus, L. Kent, the rest of us are trying to have a city here. You’re making us look bad in front of the cool towns. I really hope Portland doesn’t see this.

Look, I don’t care about marijuana one way or the other, but I do care about newspapers and print media as a vital part of American democracy. Or I did. This doesn’t really seem to be upholding that (or any) standard. From now on I’m getting my news from Facebook status updates like everyone else. Speaking of which, did everyone hear Tina’s cat is sick and Adam is cold? Good.

I would actually think this was some kind of very clever anti-drug initiative–hell, after reading that article I don’t even want to listen to Bob Dylan ever again–except that L. Kent is down with the Wu-Tang Clan (or at least Ghostface Killah). Clearly the man’s got street cred.

I really want to email him to ask how he decided which Kottonmouth Kings song to use. Couldn’t he have just said ‘ALL’? Oh, or if he hears from any artists who want to protest their inclusion on his list. I’d say Tom Petty has a pretty good case for “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” not being about pot.

Note: This post is a reaction to a local news story and is in no way a statement about the use, legality, or perceived ‘coolness’ of any drug. Adam is too cold to get fired.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, L., Selling Newspapers

Exhibit 15.8

The Hustler and The Color of Money

I’ve seen The Color of Money probably five times, maybe more. It’s hard to say for sure as I’ve mostly caught ten to twenty minute segments of it on television, usually starting somewhere around Cruise and Newman splitting up before changing channels after Forest Whitacker hustles Newman (the best scene in the movie). For a few years, mostly when I was in college, television was lousy with the movie; I think I even caught it on ESPN2 once. It’s just one of those movies that works better cut up with Swiffer commercials than it does standing alone which, I suppose, is its own kind of accomplishment.

It’s not Newman’s best (even though he won his only Oscar for it) but it might be Cruise’s. Also, I’m going to do no research on this topic other than looking up how to spell her name, but I’m positive it’s Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s best (don’t even give me any of that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves nonsense). There’s also Whitaker and a coked-up John Turturro doing the movie’s finest work in their limited screen time. And as far as Scorsese goes, it certainly was a detour on the road to Goodfellas, but I think it also presaged on audience-pleasing streak that manifests itself in his recent movies.

It’s not a great movie, but I liked it. Liked.

Then I saw the movie it is ostensibly a sequel to, The Hustler, and it ends on a note that makes the existence of The Color of Money impossible. I don’t mean physically–it’s not as if someone dies and gets resurrected ala Spock–but emotionally it is inconceivable that Newman’s character in 1961 grew into the man he portrays in 1986. And even if it could happen, how he got there should be the movie not what he does once he gets there. At the end of The Hustler, Newman is disillusioned and broken, well on his way to killing himself with booze or a stubborn refusal to back down or, most likely, both. It’s a great ending. It’s a great movie.

Then, through 25 years of abstaining from pool but with great success hanging around pool–you know, sort of like how addicts do best when hanging around people consuming their drug of choice openly and without negative consequences–Newman’s Fast Eddie decides that he wants to relive his traumatic experience as a young hustler only in the role of the man who broke him.

Here’s what this is like:

It’s like if Hamlet ended right before the climactic sword fight and then, in a sequel, an old Hamlet is running around ear-poisoning his enemies.

It’s like if George, after killing Lennie, grows old and decides to become a senile, bunny-petting migrant worker because, hey, what could go wrong.

It’s like if Dr. Wayne Szalinski decided after his disastrous shrinking ray to create an enlargement ray. Um, never mind.

At the end of The Hustler, Newman’s character is essentially offered the chance to become Newman’s character in The Color of Money. He’s disgusted. He knows what he has to kill inside himself to win, and he can’t do it. Until, 25 years later, he can not only do it but wants to recruit others to do it, too. It’s not unusual to decry a sequel for its disposability but rarely is one so antagonistic toward its precursor’s ethos.

There’s a reason why Newman’s moral dilemma comes off as shallow in Color while George C. Scott is perfectly sleazy in The Hustler (was Scott always that good? I haven’t seen Patton, and can’t say I really care to, but he’s great in The Hustler). Newman can’t have internal conflict because the thing that makes his character memorable is how stark his choices are. He’s a loser or a winner. He’s got character or he doesn’t. He’s either given up his principles or he hasn’t. Either way, there doesn’t seem to be a path that leads him to where (they tell us) he is 25 years later.

That’s the problem with making sequels using indelible characters. They’re ours, not yours.

5 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Colors, Movies

Exhibit 14.18

It’s not often that someone does something in real life that is so outrageous, so preposterous, that if it were to happen in a book I would immediately stop reading. In no book with a pretense to reality would I believe a plot in which the radically corrupt governor of a state–who knows he is under federal investigation–auctions off a seat in the U.S. Senate with the cunning of a fifth-grader shaking classmates down for milk money.

So to that I say, Congratulations, Governor Blagojevich, you’ve made John Grisham blush.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Blagojevichs, Governors

Exhibit 14.17

So apparently I don’t have time to write today but I do have time to check to see if the lady from Doc Hollywood was also the lady from Tommy Boy because I thought they were different ladies but they look so similar in my memory that I started to think maybe I was wrong and that they were the same lady and, anyway, why did I have to read all of the comments on the A.V. Club’s review of the first season DVDs of Spin City when A) I’ve never seen Spin City and B) I was supposedly writing until then and now I find myself typing this this this this this this which is not at all writing it’s just this this.

Oh, and yes, they are the same actress.

In any case, I’ve been writing while this post has sat open in my browser. Here was my last sentence which starts a chapter:

“Three years pass before _________ meets _________ in the crowded vestibule of _________’s boyhood home where those lucky enough to have received this year’s invitation arrive prompt and en masse only to slide over the snow-puddled floor, entangle themselves in one another’s scarves, and apologize profusely for the unclaimed breasts they elbow while shivering off winter coats in a race to be the first to shake the billionaire’s hand on his birthday, his last.”

Yeah, I’m trying a bit too hard there, but what do you expect with Doc Hollywood on the brain. That movie is nothing but effort rewarded.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Movies, Procrastination

Exhibit 14.1

Election Post-Mortem

Imagine my surprise when I went to watch Fox’s new hit drama Fringe and instead found myself looking at Shepard Smith. Hope for change: Fulfilled. Hope for answers about a series of mysterious events known only as “The Pattern”: Dashed.

I’ll have more to say about Obama later, but I wanted to go into some of the mechanics of this election a bit on the Republican side. My question at the moment: Did McCain ever have a chance? Certainly his surrogates had been playing up the ‘nobody expected us to even be competitive in this environment’ angle in the last week, but since they weren’t competitive at all, it does beg the question. My guess: No. At least not with the flawless campaign Obama ran. In the end, McCain probably would have needed a major gaffe to derail the electorate’s clear preference for a Dem, but I do think he could have taken steps to make such a gaffe more likely or at least put Obama on the defensive. Here’s what I would have suggested to McCain:

Spend every waking moment during the extended Democratic primary shoring up your conservative base in the quietest way possible. Do whatever it takes to convince the Colorado Springs crowd that you’re one of them even if you aren’t going to be talking about their issues. Get a Jesus tattoo if you have to. Make it count because…you’re never going to talk about their issues. Put on a turtleneck to cover up the Jesus tattoo and become the McCain of 2000 just as Obama is seizing the nomination. Immediately and publicly renounce Bush while announcing a radical reform agenda and make Obama respond, especially on issues like immigration and energy independence. Name Lieberman as your running mate a week or so before the Democratic Convention to make that the topic of conversation and give conservatives time to get over it before Minneapolis. Take the aggressive move of naming some people who would be in your cabinet and use those names to shore up the base (Palin as Secretary of Energy?). Continue to hammer the agenda and make it even more radical. Promise a fundamental rewriting of the tax code, stuff like that. Hope the Obama campaign takes the bait and attacks the agenda as impossible then wait until just before the debates to announce you’ll only serve one term and will govern by doing the right thing rather than the electable thing. Frame this as part of the overall anti-Obama argument based on experience and ambition. Leave all other negative attacks alone. Leave the press alone. Hope for a gaffe.

To me that seems like a strategy that, while perhaps no more likely to win, at least allows McCain to lose not only with his legacy intact but with a clear impact on the future of his party. In any case, there was a way for McCain to be a “maverick” not with his V.P. pick and not as a hollow label, but as a man leading sweeping, bipartisan reform of government. That’s an image that plays across demographics (which McCain’s campaign was far too obsessed with) and could have created excitement to match Obama’s if not in depth than at least in scope.

I really think that the Republicans could have learned a thing or two from Ron Paul in this election (as funny as it sounds) and tried to manufacture their own grassroots movement around reforming Washington, libertarian social policies, and populist economics. Finding a coherent narrative somewhere around the bi-partisan ticket, the one-term promise, and McCain’s experience as a reformer, shouldn’t have been too hard. But by taking the low road with the silly personal attacks, an irresponsible VP pick, endless fights with the press, and a “Joe the Plumber” economic plan, McCain not only doomed himself but also his party. Instead, the fundamental transformation that is going to have to take place in order for the Republican party to stay competitive in national elections gets put off another four years. This country isn’t getting any whiter, boys, maybe it’s time to start getting real on immigration. Or, you know, find a set of policies that in any way appeals to post-Vietnam generations. I think these issues go will beyond skin color, so if conservatives are hoping Bobby Jindal is going to be their Obama in 2012, I think they’re in for disappointment but I’ve been wrong before.

In any case, we should all remember that John McCain loves his country deeply and while he ran a bad campaign, he is a good man that many on the left, including myself, admired as a politician until recently and will continue to admire as an American hero. He was on the wrong side of history last night but that doesn’t do anything to diminish his sacrifice. Personally, I hope and expect that he will be a key player in righting this country now that he’s free from capitulating to his, and his party’s, worst instincts.

And the final nail in the Republican’s coffin came this morning. Here’s a very gracious Bush on Obama’s victory.

Except for when he oddly veers into talking about protecting America, I thought this was a compelling, genuine speech from a man who doesn’t seem to understand why people don’t like him anymore but who, if nothing else, knows history when he sees it.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Elections, Politics

Exhibit 13.4

This is almost sad. I think you can actually see the moment when John McCain realizes that he’s going to go down in history as the guy who ran the race-baitin’ist campaign this side of George Wallace. Even after the unbridled and irrational anger of his last few campaign events, it’s almost like he didn’t realize that those wackos were the norm and not the exceptions.

Here’s the thing: the McCain campaign knew exactly what they were doing when they added the line “Who is the real Barack Obama?” to their stump speeches. The first time they did it, someone yelled, “Terrorist!” and the senator (who visibly winced when he heard it) didn’t bother sticking up for his opponent’s fundamental loyalty to his country. That McCain now has to convince his own crowds that Barack Obama is an American is nobody’s fault but McCain’s. These fringe elements were always present, of course, but McCain apparently decided to make the lies normally passed around in chain emails a central theme of his campaign. And so those who might have once believed in private that Obama is a “secret Muslim” (still my favorite meme of the campaign. I want to name a band Secret Muslim) now feel like they have a candidate who agrees and wants to spread the truth before it’s too late.

That McCain had to correct a woman who was a foot away from him when she called his opponent an “Arab” is very likely to be one of the indelible moments of this campaign cycle. And nobody is going to give a shit that McCain apparently felt bad when his supporters misinterpreted his covert swipes at Obama’s patriotism as overt swipes at Obama’s patriotism.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Ist, Politics

Exhibit 12.19

Well, somehow I made it through a year’s worth of blog posts without using the word placenta and now I’ve gone and ruined it. Nobody is more upset about this than I am.

Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Labels I Don't Want: Placenta, Sorry

Exhibit 10.20

For reasons I can’t even begin to conceive of, I’ve joined Facebook. By my count, I’m probably the eighth to last person in the world to take the plunge into this seedy world of walls and graduation years. I’m cold and alone. People keep poking me. I’m scared.

If you too want to be a part of this humiliating embodiment of man’s decline, join me. Or friend me. Or whatever. I don’t know. It’s probably best if we all just forget this ever happened.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Reasons, Sorry

Exhibit 4.7

Some actual lines from a book on Hypno Writing that found its way onto my desk:

  • “Here’s my famous letter…it’s considered Hypno Writing at its best. Later on you’ll get to analyze this letter, but for now, just copy it in your own handwriting. Exercise: Copy this letter in your own handwriting.”
  • “When you use similes, you can make your own words ‘fall softly as rose petals,’ ‘gush out like toothpaste,’ ‘string and creep like insects!'” [Ed note: Thanks to the book Hypno Editing, I was able to spot the typo in ‘string’. Or maybe he was referring to the Western String Beetle.]
  • “Also within you is a wiser part called Self Two, the Master.”
  • “My biggest secret: I DON’T DO THE WRITING! Shocked? What I mean is, I command or request the writing from my unconscious.”
  • “Studies show that the postscript is the most often read part of any letter.”
  • “The truth is, I did not have a fight with my neighbor.”
  • “Well, let me blow your mind. Is the image moving? Actually, it’s not moving at all.”
  • “These writers are ‘vegetarians’ because their writing lacks meat.”
  • “There is a subtle link connecting your brain with your hand that enables you to convey what you see…”
  • “What? A case against perfection? Again, I’m not urging you to crank out crap.”
  • “On the blog, I placed an actual picture of Lindsey Lohan, which helped people pay attention to my writing.”
  • “I now own those automatons.” [Ed note: Against all odds, this is referring to actual mechanical automatons.]

There is a sentence like these on every page.

Comment / Posted in Automatons, Bad Ideas, Cases Against Perfection

Exhibit 4.1

So for about two weeks now, a battle has been raging in the Lincoln Journal Star‘s letters to the editor page about an article that was published in Spanish (because it was of particular importance to the Spanish-speaking community). Most of the letters were the usual, “I don’t pay for a Spanish paper!” followed up by those outraged at the racist and xenophobic nature of the earlier letters. And so on.

The best part of all of this is, of course, the comments section where the argument has continued unabated day after day. I guess there’s not much value in pointing out the tragic hilarity of most of these comments, but these two in particular were pretty great yesterday:

  • “This is America. We speak ENGLISh here. If you don’t like it, LEAVE!! Like the Australians said, “This is OUR country, and if you don’t like they way we do things, LEAVE NOW!”

I don’t know why this cracks me up so much, but I just love the idea that the Australians all got together and issued a statement like this, especially since it is unclear what they do that newcomers might find objectionable. Could this statement have resulted after a New Zealander put too many shrimp on the barbie? Someone wasn’t up for a game of knifey-spooney? A steakhouse manager created rules, not right?

My new rhetorical strategy is to just back up every position with quotes from the Australians.

You: I think things are getting better.
Me: Like the Australians said, “Gonna be a long night.”

You: I don’t know if I want to go with you.
Me: Like the Australians said, “Least you can do is come see me get my head blown off.”

You: All you ever say to me are quotes from Crocodile Dundee II.
Me: Like the Australians said, “This Dundee likes to play games.”

You: I feel lonely.

There’s also this one:

  • “No one has come up with an answer as to why I (personal myself) have to learn Spanish. I don’t know how to play golf, speak Italian (although church services are in Italian), ballet dance etc….So unless you can come up with an important reason why I (personally) need to learn Spanish, then quit trying to tell me I do. I would rather learn cake decorating!”

There’s a lot that’s funny about that one–um, Italian?–but mostly I love how strongly it comes through that all this person really wants is to learn how to play golf, dance the ballet, and decorate cakes. Their objection isn’t at all ethnically motivated, it’s simply about how much time they have to devote to hobbies. They’ve made a personal (themselves) value judgment and decided that: Enjoyment from Spanish < Enjoyment from Ballet Dancing and Cake Decorating. Sadly, no educational opportunities, social event, or responsiblities as a parent will ever be enough fun to choose it over ballet and cake decorating. This will all end with this person’s delinquent children eating piece after piece of beautiful cake which they pluck from the spinning arms of their pirouetting parent.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Don't Go, Selling Newspapers

Exhibit 3.4

Ouch, Jon Bruning.

If you’re Bruning, should you just drop out of the race and claim you were running against Hagel but feel Johanns represents your values? I’d certainly be tempted to rather than waste money and what little remaining goodwill I had for what is almost certain to be a losing effort. Bruning’s road to the Senate would mean beating Johanns (and Hal Daub) in a primary and possibly facing (and besting) Bob Kerrey. That’s just not happening. Bruning gambled that Hagel would run, and Bruning lost. It’s probably best that he just waits his turn for the governorship (sigh). Or just moves somewhere else. In fact, I vote for that option.

Johanns vs. Kerrey, anyone?

Welcome to the national stage, Nebraska.

2 Comments / Posted in Attorneys General, Bad Ideas, Politics

Exhibit 2.25

The view from my work desk:

That’s fifteen stories up, about as tall as you can get in Lincoln due to archaic height laws passed to maintain the status of our beloved capitol building.

Now, the view from my home desk:

Sit back and watch as this already spectacularly awful blog becomes nothing but pictures of dogs and cute children I see.

1 Comment / Posted in Bad Ideas, Brett, Cathy

Exhibit 2.2

Our office gets ground coffee from Starbucks, and the one I am drinking this morning is, in all seriousness, described as “peppery.”

Unfortunately, it’s described accurately.

2 Comments / Posted in Bad Ideas, Food, Richard Tyson