The Pet Peeve Petting Zoo

Insensitive advertising makes me feel like crap

This advertisement just came up on Facebook

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Superior Farms Pet Provisions should be ashamed of itself.

This ad makes me feel terrible. Look at the dog in that picture. He obviously has a better life than me, and it looks like he earns a lot more money, too.

His name is Jumpy. He likes the outdoors, water sports, and shitting on the neighbor’s lawn. In other words, he is living the life that I’ve always wanted for myself.

Thanks for taunting me Superior Farms Pet Provisions NZ. You think I’m going to buy something for my cat from you in my currently tenuous economic condition?

Vince doesn’t need gold teeth that spell THUG in diamond studs, which I imagine is the kind of thing you’d try to sell a cat.

It’s just not going to happen. Not when you instantly make your target market (me) feel shitty about their lives. I’m sure we’d all love to drop what we’re doing, head off to the beach, and water ski on all-fours and shit on somebody’s beach towel.

Some of us don’t have the time. We have too many responsibilities. We are obligated to our families, and our employers. Well, you are. I’m unemployed. If you have a job, sucks to be you.

And as for family? Jacquie counts on me. If something ever needs fixing or cleaning, I’ll get around to it eventually. Because that’s what love is. It’s anticipating what your other half wants or needs, and paying lip service to doing something about it.

The secret to a strong marriage is, if you make it look like you care what color the bedroom wall is, you’re doing fine.

Better than me, anyway.

Thanks to Superior Farms Pet Provisions NZ, I have to sit down, think about where my life is going, and drag my ass across the carpet a few times because it itches and I haven’t been wormed in weeks.

And give my regards to Jerky.

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Just play it cool, boy; real cool

Every morning I ask myself, “Am I awake, or am I stuck in one of my recurring nightmares?”

I’m not talking about the ones like where Jacquie is a slutty dolphin and we perform unspeakable acts against aquatic nature.

Nor am I talking about the ones where I look out my window and it’s Auckland.

No, what I’m talking about is, of course, the Royal Birthing, and the fact that I even know about it.

KING'S BRAND PLACENTA

I swear, news of this shit is being transmitted into our brains via satellite, continuously. You’d have to live in that bunker from Lost, and also be completely retarded, like most of the characters in Lost, to be ignorant of the fact that a likely future king of England was born this week. And even then, you probably had a gut instinct. Because it’s a fucked up crazy island. OK, maybe Lost was a bad example. But you get the picture.

Because you’ve been living the nightmare, too. Today we all thrilled over the baby’s first photo-op with the parents.

Judging by some of the pictures, Kate Middleton seems to have already gone to work on baby number two. Or maybe that’s just pregnancy fat. Whatever it is, one hopes the Duchess will remember to put on spanx before her next public appearance. I mean, just the spanx. No top. Whilst nursing.

Anyway, in case you were one of the characters from Lost, here is a picture of the young family at the public debut, right after the public burping and spanking of Prince William, but just before the bris.

Hermits, I give you the Duchess of Cambridge, a baby–which currently goes by the name NO FRILLS–and a balding man.

newborn

Here’s a closeup.

Royal baby 2

A royal pain in the fanny

Kate Middleton’s water broke, flooding the internet with excitement.

I’ve tried to ignore the hyperventilated media coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge. The wedding. The pregnancy. The identity of the real father.

But, this topic is hard to avoid, man. It’s like the world has been taken over by extraterrestrial pod-people and I’m the last real human, because I’m the only one left that doesn’t give a shit about Kate Middleton’s foo foo or the thing that is scheduled to pop out of it shortly.

Leda and the Swan, Leonardo da Vinci, between 1505 and 1510.

Leda and the Swan, Leonardo da Vinci, between 1505 and 1510.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the occasional musing over adult female genitalia as much as the next lesbian, or heterosexual male.

What I don’t understand is why so many everyday people care what enters or exits this particular no-no zone.

Is it really huge? Will they be measuring the dilation in meters? Were its contractions somehow connected to the spate of earthquakes in New Zealand the other day?

Or is it the birthing process that intrigues people? You can go to any old dairy farm to watch a calving. You could probably even perform the insemination, if you paid the farmer enough.

But you don’t see a lot people going out of their way to ogle cows dropping placentas. Because that’s kind of gross.

Nor do you see Kate Middleton’s family letting any old guy off the street come into the house to inseminate her for a small fee.  Because Kate Middleton is considered oh so special.

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Is the fascination all because of the royal thing? I’m willing to entertain the idea that royal reproduction differs from human reproduction. In fact, if I knew that the blessed day would involve, say, the baby violently bursting from its host’s abdomen, I’d be obsessed over it, too.

I know. Not likely.

So, maybe the baby is something special, not the mother? Help me out here. Is this child expected to start talking as soon as the royal meat curtains are parted? Even before the Royal Tasters can lick the afterbirth from its skin? (ie, “Hey, you missed some.”)

Will it be able to control people with its telekinetic powers?

Village of the Damned

That would be cool. But also, not very likely. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if this baby didn’t even know how to wipe its own ass when it was born. It probably won’t ever have to, just like Justin Bieber.

At least that’s what we’re told by the media.

We have been deluged by the media with this stupid pregnancy. And a lot of people around the world are eating it up.

Paparazzi, pensioners and other social leeches have been camped for weeks outside the hospital where the Duchess was to spawn.

They are making this into a tawdry spectacle.

Frankly, I find the whole the spectator aspect tasteless.

I mean, look at this guy.

the royal fanny

Out of the way, you arse. You’re blocking our shot.

And whatever the media points to, the mindless hordes consume, without question.

For example, several stories about how the Middletons didn’t want to know the baby’s gender  have come out, leading to all kinds of speculation on social media.

Come on, people. Think. This baby is special. It’s not limited to one gender. If it wants to keep both genders for a while, and decide later, that’s its Royal prerogative.

Another outlet has gone so far as to predict that Prince William and the Duchess are going to be awesome parents. I really hope so. It’s very difficult balancing parenthood with doing fuck-all all day. It’s harder, still, when you’re living on a shoe-string budget of £36.1 million a year. And with all these austerity hawks running around the globe, I’d advise the Middletons to keep a low profile.

Why, just the other day, the New Zealand government cut benefits of 3000 people after it was discovered they were receiving money they were not entitled to.

I don’t know how the welfare system works in England. But if government officials there ever found out that the Middletons’ child was not ordained by god to be third in line to the throne, there could be some investigations. After all, the last thing any government wants to do in these dire economic times is give away public tax dollars to cheats that aren’t entitled to them.

Anyway, maybe the problem isn’t people who love the royal family. I come from America. The Founding Fathers there didn’t think that destiny of a people should rest in the hands of an elite, by some antiquated notion of the Divine Rights of the King.

The Founding Fathers knew that power should be shared universally. Among all white, gentile male, well-off merchants and plantation owners.

[[first draft, lightly proofed. I’m not getting paid for this, so sue me. Photo courtesy of Jeff Gaunt, taken at Comic Con in San Diego.]]

Nice people are more than a nuisance

I’ve been on the job as a comedy writer full-time for more or less than a week now.

What a start to a wonderful new chapter in my life. Words fail.

Here is a picture to illustrate all the amazing developments so far.

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I know what you’re thinking. What did I expect? That it would be easy? That I’d just decide to become a comedy writer and presto I’d be rich and famous?

Of course I did. And between you and me, if I knew it was going to take longer than a week, I’d have gone with my original plan. DIY Family Dentistry. My motto was going to be “There’s nothing a little Number Eight wire can’t handle”. All my patients would be British expats because, let’s face it, how could I possibly make it any worse for them?

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Anyway, I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought as to why it’s taken so long for me to get a paid writing gig. It’s a complete lack of quality content on this blog.

This is obviously not my fault. Over the last week, I was forced to trash two hilarious blog posts that would have put me on the map. All because people turned out not to be the assholes I’d expected them to be. Assholes.

Yes, warm, friendly folk have found a way into my heart, thus destroying all my plans to write horrible things about them.

From now on, if you are nice and we meet, you should assume that it is my intention to write something bad about you on my blog. If you act accordingly, we’re fine. But if you are nice to me, you are actually being an asshole.

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But maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Perhaps one can get mileage out of meeting nice people. Hell, everyday assholes make it easy. Perhaps the challenge is to discover what is so galling about nice people. Let’s take a look at one case study

A kindly old man walking dog

Sunday afternoon I was outside the flat supervising Vince in the vivisection of an earthworm.

An elderly gentleman approached walking his dog, startling us. The dog sent Vince running inside.

“Thanks, mister,” I said. “My cat needs to be put in his place from time to time.”

“That is a beautiful cat,” the old dude said.

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“Thanks, mister,” I said.

But as soon as I did, I wondered why. I didn’t have anything to do with Vince being beautiful. What was this moron trying to suggest? That I had consort with a feline, begetting this fine specimen? I’m not opposed to the idea. It’s just not likely, so why is this guy trying to ruin my life by making me say thank you for something I had nothing to do with. At best, he’s complimenting me on my selection of a pet, or maybe he doesn’t mean anything by it. Maybe it’s a tick. Maybe he’s always paying compliments, regardless of who’s around. “That is a nice telephone pole….what a nice cloud.” And I just happened to be in the way.

Whatever the case is, he was an asshole and I wish I had run up to him, pet his dog, stood up and knee’d him in the nuts. “That’s for being courteous and amiable and not providing me with decent material for my blog, douche bag.”

The guy did seem to linger. It felt like maybe he was holding on for me to pay him a compliment in return.

“And your dog is beautiful, too,” I said.

Which was a flat-out lie. His dog made me want to vomit. It looked like something that crawled out of the transporter device at the end of The Fly. Like a rat crossed with an old shag carpet. But I was just being nice.

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[[Rough draft, no proofing, Getting it trite the first time]]

The veiled menace of consumer technology

If anyone ever comes up to you at a party and says, “There is more computing power in my smartphone than there was in the Apollo space program,”  just reply, “What do you want me to do about it?”

It’s a meaningless observation made by self-styled technophiles to hide the fact that they’re sick of their moribund careers. It’s the same thing as saying, “I really do love my IT help-desk job.”

But it scares me. I worry that these technophiles secretly harbor a fantasy of launching a projectile at the moon. A recent survey showed that 17 percent of smartphone users believed they already could launch a spaceship using their phone. Another 27 percent said they they already have. (53 percent said, “pistachio”). So there is some cause for concern.

Just imagine the most disgusting person you know, force-feeding themselves a hamburger (with buns made from other hamburgers), a bag of jelly donuts, and a glazed ham, over the course of 20 minutes. With that image in mind, do you really think your mother should have the capability of launching what is essentially a missile? Think about it.

The big corporations have allowed this to happen. It’s all about the bottom-line. They recklessly disseminate perilous technology for profit. It’s not their problem if you’re stupid. They don’t care. In fact, if it means you’ll buy more pointless shit, they like you just the way you are: brain-dead. Which is good, in a way, because it’s always nice to be liked. So, there’s that.

Mom no cavities

But facts are facts. Everyone you know, yourself included, is intolerably stupid. Sure, some people can stand on their hind legs longer than others. But, in the end, they’ll be back with the rest of us, grooming us for body lice, sniffing our crotches and sharing termites off the same stick. Wait and see.

I wonder if technophiles sometimes fantasize about launching the smartphone itself into outer space. I bet when they’re alone they run around holding their smartphones in the air, making spaceship sound effects with their mouths. And who can blame them? But they never bother to think the whole thing through. If these phones are so smart, why don’t they just fly themselves to the moon and leave me the fuck alone.

This is not cute. It’s dangerous. Imagine your mother again. “The moon,” she laughs, spitting foodstuffs all over her smartphone. “That’s so 1969. ICBMs: that’s what I’m talking about.”

Nuclear Norman

See why I’m scared? All we need is someone to figure out how to laser-print a nuclear weapon. Not only would it turn the traditional manufacturer supply chain on its head, but it would also kill everybody. If we let things get out of hand.

For the time being, you idiots should count yourself lucky to be allowed so much power on your phone. If this were a sane world, and we doled technology out based on some intelligence quotient, most of you would be lucky if you got a Speak & Spell.

Supermarket sociology 101

Think about the people who you admire the most.

Take your time.

They kind of suck, don’t they?

We all do. That’s what defines humanity as one big family that really, really sucks.

I’m not saying everybody sucks all the time. Far from it. But if we didn’t suck for a significant, notable portion of our waking days, would people ever have needed heroes, saints, or my blog?

This isn’t something that I just came up with. It’s from the hours and hours over the course of my life that I’ve wasted in supermarkets.

Supermarkets must circulate an airborne compound that reduces people to they way we were when we realized we had moved from the world of the simians to a new, elevated form of asshole.

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It’s not that people’s intelligence quotient, per se, drops precipitously when entering a supermarket. (Assuming they survive the passage through the automatic doors). Supermarkets want you to spend, so they will leave people with an adequate supply of brain cells to remember their PINs with. Any more stupid-compound in the air, and the supermarket would have to initiate a “special needs” aisle just to keep the lines moving.

Which is, of course, an abortive concept, when considering that a “special needs” aisle would be completely lost on the shoppers that needed that aisle the most. Pretty soon, supermarkets would have to assign staff to round them up every so often just to get them to the special needs aisle in the first place. Sort of like what they do already with the carts in the parking lot, only with a moron attached.

No supermarket is going to do that. Are you kidding me? It’s bad enough they had to surrender the choicest parking spots to the preggos and toddler-laden. Supermarkets know full well that they would turn over a lot more cash per hour if the spots closest to the doors were reserved for the right demographic. These are the people guaranteed to spend the least amount of time shopping, making room for others of their kind on a regular basis.

This segment includes men shopping by themselves, OTC drug abusers, and shoplifters. I’m getting screwed out of a good parking space in three different ways.

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You might think of a supermarket as the most reliable place to find life’s essentials. Why, you could be blindfolded, and still find the pork rinds, cheese-spread, word-search puzzle-books, and canned spaghetti, without knocking that many things or people over. Believe me.

These days I’m treating trips to the supermarket as sociological field research. As I’ve explained to the managers at Countdown over and over, I’m only trying to learn about the human condition when I follow people through the aisles, taking notes, and occasionally crashing my cart into theirs and blaming them for the collision. This isn’t some crazy stunt. It’s academic rigor.

Ultimately, the supermarket is where people go to suck the most. And wherever these assholes go, that’s where you’ll find the sociologists.

In this scientific-y light, looking upon supermarkets as dispassionately as I now do, you will come to understand that all supermarket shoppers, regardless of their class, ethnicity or gender, are assholes.

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This is not completely their fault. A supermarket is never designed as a communal space, but as a conveyor of individual selection. So if someone is blocking the aisle because they can’t decide between Schwepps Ginger Ale and Home Brand, you would be technically correct to identify your subject as an asshole. But you have to be true to the context. It is probably the first time in hours, if not days, that this person has not been in a seated position at home, in a car, or in a cubicle. Try to remember that the next time you start hitting one of these assholes upside the head with a box of Cheerios. I can’t stress this enough. If someone had only warned me about interacting with assholes out in the field, I’d be published in a journal by now.

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Don’t think that I’m excusing this behavior at all. Not everything comes down to nurture.

I’m having trouble categorizing my latest subject. It was 3:30 on a weekday afternoon. I had just pulled into the children’s parking lot to replenish my supply of word-search puzzles, before getting in the queue for the self-check out slots. There were three or four people in front of me, and it took longer than necessary to wait for a station to open, thanks to my subject. It seems that the woman decided that this was another great opportunity to teach her five-year old daughter about how the world works, and have fun doing it.

I give it up to the girl. It only took her 18 tries before she got the litre of skim milk scanned. She had a little trouble with the bananas, but after about an hour, it all worked out. As in so many cases like this, it wasn’t the child that was at fault, but the mother, who qualified under academically sound guidelines, as 100 percent asshole.

I really don’t think you can attribute this case to a differential between personal and public social spaces. After all, I’m sure this wasn’t the first time she took her child to the supermarket. Had she been paying attention all those other times, she might have noticed the line forming thanks to her sprog’s adventures in point-of-sales technology.

This is the pathology of a particularly acute asshole, one who imagines that everyone else in the world is going to love participating in her child’s personal development. Oh, fucking joy. Don’t these people understand that some people have places to go, like one of the stalls in the men’s room at the office, which is the only place where I can really get some word search puzzles done.

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Of course, without more data, it’s impossible to know why this mother behaves as she does. One theory is that she has had so many children in quick succession that some of the blood that other people normally have flowing to their brain just said “fuck it, we’re just going to end up coming down here again”, which is not an efficient distribution of oxygen to anyone’s system.

But, as I say, one can never know. But one can make an educated guess.

The misconstrued swelling

Regular visitors to this site will recall my serious brush with death several posts back.

Epidermis

The details aren’t important. I flatlined. Twice. Second time had the sense of being lifted, and joined with my paternal ancestors. I’m guessing it was them based on the amount of crazy babbling that seemed to echo all around me.

But, really, I’m fine It was nothing. Just a humungous swelling in my groin area that even had the medical community perplexed for a few hours. Needless to say, Jacquie and I had never seen anything like that anywhere near my groin region, ever. Many of the doctors wondered how that would be scientifically possible, given my grotesque physical state. One intern who arrived late wanted to call the time, until the resident proved to her that I wasn’t dead, by holding a mirror under my nose.

lymphatic_system

It was this intern, among all the staff that had a look-see around my no-no zone, who first made the observation, “what do you know? Three testicles.”

Excuse me if I’m waxing a little too puerile for your sophisticated taste. But it pales in comparison to the real 400-pound vulgarity in the room here: the New Zealand health care system. No-good pinko-commie degenerates.

When Jacquie and I went to the ED, we had no idea we were supposed to bring along proof-of-residence. New Zealand will charge you for a visit to the ED, if you’re not qualified under national insurance. And if there’s blood dripping out of every one of your orifices, screaming “I want my blankie”, they will send you packing, with a bill.

dog_lymph

But some patients who owe are given an alternative payment method. And so, when I checked out last week, I agreed to occupy an exhibit in Auckland Hospital’s Museum of Medical Oddities, Curios, and Abominations.  Under the terms of the agreement, I would be “the guy with three testicles”, until the antibiotics got rid of the infection in my lymph node, which turned out to be the problem all along, by the way.

It’s been 24 hours now, since the node returned to normal. Funny, I’m already starting to miss the gang, down there at the old curio exhibit. But I think I’m going to miss Guy Coming off Heroin the most.

Because I grew up in a hovel

Sometimes I think about what movies my life most resembles.

Selection depends on circumstance.

For example, if I have to eat dinner with Jacquie and her relatives, or if an airplane were to crash into my head, those days would be like Alien and Die Hard, respectively.

There are plenty of other parallels, though, ranging from the obvious to the oblique. When I floss my teeth, of course I’m going to see myself as Dustin Hoffman doing the interrogation scene with Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man.

But when Jacquie comes home after a difficult, endless day helping Auckland’s mentally ill community, it’s hard to say. Life then seems like a mystifying pastiche of Tina Turner’s segment in Tommy and any adaptation of Jane Eyre, take your pick. Imagine the daughter of a Victorian parvenu, in a mini-dress, overindulging on some ‘queer’ mushrooms she’d found in a cow patty, winding up eight hours later in an asylum, signing over her dad’s estate to the warden, and you’ll get the visuals. Jacquie often comes home in a foul mood, and goes straight over to open the windows because “there are bad airs” in the lounge.

So analogy by film is that handy way I chart my progress toward perfection as a human being, and away from being like Adam Sandler.

This comes easiest, most days, if I compare my life to Star Wars. It’s not just because the original epic bore witness to the final, historic transformation of cinema from theater-based entertainment to brand-based enterprise, but mostly because people tend to mistake me for Harrison Ford.

True, the comparison may strain the credulity of skeptics. Never mind the fact that, like Han Solo, I too have a pet companion that is furry and adventurous and enjoys licking his own rectum. It’s just too difficult for those die-hard fans out there to imagine Han Solo as a nasally, early middle-aged, trade magazine editor whose greatest thrill is to sleep past 8:30 on a Saturday morning. The parallel goes much deeper than that. The women in both our lives condescend to us as their social inferiors.

This manifests in my case whenever Jacquie perceives disorder in our small apartment. There is a constant battle here between tidiness and clutter and somehow I’m always on the wrong team. No matter what I do or don’t do, no matter how dirty or clean the place is, Jacquie always greets me with the same chiding statement.

“I know you grew up in a hovel in the Bronx,” it begins, “but you really need to [insert maintenance request here].”

It irks me that Jacquie uses the Bronx against me. Like she’s the frigging duchess of Kent.

I tell her, “Honey, you’re a Westie. I’m lucky the car isn’t up on cinderblocks in the driveway and I don’t have two kids, one that looks mysteriously like the milkman and another that displays virtuosity on the banjo, but can’t wipe the drool his face.”

What’s really going on? Self promotion

I have to confess that the preceding was not much more than a set-up with punch lines to a couple of jokes which weren’t even funny to begin with.

While some aspects of the back story, such as how I measure my life against my favorite movies, are indeed factual, the narrative as a whole isn’t “really true”.

This disclaimer seems important in this age of dimming. Last week, a Discovery Channel programme drew attention to the network as the fraudulent purveyor of ignorance that it is. This is the cable channel in the US that pretends to take an interest in science, then airs programmes about UFOs and Noah’s Ark. It recently aired a program called Mermaids: The Body Found. Apparently, the channel’s documentary-style “science fiction” was so indistinguishable from its “science”-style documentaries, that the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt it necessary to issue a statement to clarify that there is no evidence for the existence of mermaids.

It’s always fun to have a laugh, followed by a long sob, at American ignorance and the Americans that profit therefrom.

Like two weeks ago when Oreo Cookies launched its marketing campaign in honor of gay pride. The campaign featured a speculative cookie made from a dozen layers of colored lard corresponding to the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag.

This, of course, drew the ire of cultural conservatives who decided to “vote with their feet” away from Facebook, where the campaign appeared.

Their reaction stood in stark contrast to the majority’s enthusiasm and support for this blatant, if sensible and correct, marketing overture.

In the minority were those outraged and alarmed by “yet another liberal company destroying our religious values and teaching immorality”. What kind of people feel morally threatened by a cookie? They seem mystified and alarmed that the reality of nature, biology and civil justice has thoroughly encroached on the territory formerly held by the literature and institutions of their Neolithic reckoning. The salt of the Earth. You know. Morons.

They promised on Facebook never to buy an Oreo cookie again. But I don’t buy that. I imagine these are not the kind of people to pass up on corn syrup. I was so irritated and amused by their hollow protests that I decided to “like” the Oreo cookie Facebook page. I held out this olive branch, a “family safe joke that everyone will love: What’s dark and round and full of cream?”

Ok, I have to confess again that the only reason I mentioned the ignorance and Oreo things is because, once again, I wanted to tell more jokes I thought of recently.

So, for real. To make up for the bad jokes, I’m going to close this post with a couple amusing videos.

First, something that actually happened in Auckland

Last week, I went to pick up some takeaways from a new Thai restaurant that opened a block from us.

Soon after I got there, the most hilarious thing happened.

Actually, the funny part comes after this video ends. Basically what happens is a woman comes in after me to put in an order.

When she’s finished ordering, the cashier looks up happily at her.

“Will there be anything else, sir?” the cashier says.

The customer looks puzzled, unsure how to respond.

“No, that will be all,” she finally says.

The cashier smiled and nodded.

“That will be $14.95, sir,” he said.

Which is kind of like something that happened to me and Jacquie on our honeymoon.

And finally, something that happened in San Diego

Lastly, on July 4, there was a malfunction at the Big Bay Boom fireworks show in San Diego.

All the fireworks went off at once. Which I think wasn’t a bad thing. And neither do the hosts of the Young Turks who comment about it here.

What I like more than their commentary is the closed caption from the video. YouTube seems to be Beta Testing some kind of automatic captioning software. But the results aren’t very clear. In fact the translation of the above clip reads more like YouTube has come up with a Concrete Poet application:

right but i will say this
i would have preferred that
as opposed to what I saw last night
at the fireworks show humming different
and sometimes quicker is better um…
interested five no i don’t know
cartoon violence you’ve seen them all
after like after like two minutes I’m like
often alum got I’ve seen this fire
and that’s what I was just another analogy pioneer
that pilots i think is the greatest fireworks as in a long time
part number one i’m so tired of the fifty minute fireworks are you all there
is another log all that what’s going on
that one spread by god and i got it i’ve
seen a for forty two years trade
padega
this indulgence as i a lot
second of all
it looks like a real war
no fireworks that was like you don’t
know but like you to take this they
would get your revolution etcetera
facebook woolworth’s was this already
and there are a lot of stand that looks
like rack urself
rikki that this kind of bats
and all that story the same time
of totally be was a but added that a
bitter
civil that was my favorite fireworks and
as long as I remember
once the last time they were prescribed
by next i’d find it highly presitgious
student for like two minutes
you get over it because it’s the same
thing over and over again
stays up but i will say this and just a
little concerned about your obsession
with like how it looks like more of that
so we are
i don’t have a baptism character
now and i like him a look at a bad asses
on l.a. latest like something out of you
see every movement wants security fucked
up lisa
little concern now

Sorry. I know this blog post was rather disorderly. But you can forgive me. I grew up in a hovel in the Bronx.

Pity-party-pooper

Why do people give a crap about other people’s problems? A veterinarian gets crushed by a retired circus elephant, in her own zoo. A young gastronome develops brain damage from eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yeah, OK, fine. We all wake up on the wrong side of the bed once in a while. So deal with it and move on so people can focus on my calamities for a change. Is that really too much to ask?

I'm not sure what bothers me about this Stuff.co.nz headline about Milla, the 39-year-old circus washout that killed its keeper, Dr. Helen Schofield. Stuff might have been saving this one in the event that Kim Dotcom made a dramatic and deadly escape, while maintaining a solid journalistic insouciance toward the entire affair.

If I found out the hard way that the Colonel’s secret recipe was salmonella, and suffered brain damage for it—delicious, crispy original brain damage—do you think people would give me the time of day, at last?

Damn straight, and much, much more. I’d be rich and famous. And retarded. People would be forced to pay attention to me. Not out of respect, an aspiration I long ago abandoned due to the modest amount of effort involved, but out of a deep sense of pathos, the quality most coveted by all mankind. Or at least the mediocre segment of that cohort. A walk is as good as a single, as the Boston Red Sox might say.

I want to let KFC know that if I do manage to achieve brain damage from my now thrice-daily visits to their fine establishment, I would not sue them. In fact, I would offer myself up as a kind of “celebrity vegetable” for ribbon-cuttings and franchise promotion. They could just prop me up near the drive through window and let my day-time nurse drag my palsied, pen-bearing hand across someone’s napkin so they can show all their friends. KFC could even name a meal after me: the “Sad Sack”, consisting of a giant boiled potato, an autographed napkin, and a beaker of salmonella. Well, the KFC guys can figure out the logistics, but I guy can dream, can’t he?

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m throwing a pity party and nobody has even RSVP’d. You want to know what for?  It’s this: I had the shittiest summer. Now, a lot of people in Auckland will say their summer sucked too, what with the record number of cloudy days, the below-average temperatures and the rain. But mine was the worst because it happened to me. Besides, look how I was forced to spend mine, indoors, taking pictures of myself washing my hair.

Taking pictures of my cat washing his hair.

And taking pictures of a book I was reading while I was waiting for the cat to finish in the bathroom.

Incidentally, this was a horrendously misleading title. I will admit this “handbook” contained plenty of information for granola-shitters, such as how many people you should hug at night when you’ve reached the “confessional” stage of hypothermia, and how to construct a blind for moss-watching, and the 11 signs that you’ve just swallowed a berry. All that’s well and good. But there wasn’t one useful bit of information for stalkers. If anything, it gives that forsaken cross-section of hopeless romantics some fairly impractical advice.

“The party is moving as a unit”. How in the world are you supposed to stalk as a “unit”? It’s a dead giveaway. How would you even find a group of stalkers to go after the same target? Do they take turns? Does everybody meet at the mall with their rucksacks and bedrolls, and draw straws?  Does the winner say, “Yeah, this week we’re going to stalk my ex-wife. Everyone follow me.”? What if the target turns around all of a sudden? Is it better for the stalkers to try to hide, act casual, or should they start singing and pretend they’re a choral society and it was just a coincidence they were in the mall in the first place? And what happens when the security guard comes over and says they don’t have permission to sing in the mall? What then? You see? You finish reading this book with more questions than answers.

Anyway, that’s the kind of morass you sink into when you have a bad summer. Of course, when the autumn came, the weather started to improve.

But, by the time we took our belated summer holiday this week in Tairua—a two-hour drive south and east of Auckland, on the Coromandel Peninsula—it was shit again.

Frankly, it’s not just that the summer was bad, and that our consolation holiday was bad. It’s that any time Jacquie and I have some time off and do anything together, a few things inevitably happen.

  1. The weather turns shit.
  2. One spouse contracts a stomach virus and vomits.
  3. The other spouse laughs so much at the first spouse vomiting that it makes the second spouse vomit.
  4. The rest of the community vomits, en masse.
  5. Authorities are notified. Evacuation procedures are put into effect. Tsunami alarms are sounded
  6. We go home and pick Sunny up from the cattery.
  7. I nearly die from fur exposure.
  8. Jacquie laughs so hard that she vomits.
  9. etc. etc.

How’s that for a pitiable routine? I hope Stuff picks it up. I even have pictures they can use, along with a few scenarios, from this week’s abhorrent excuse for rest and relaxation. As I always say, when life gives you lemons, complain to as many people as possible.

Horrible Holiday Highlights

Jacquie was eager to run on the beach, in spite of the rain.

She ran ahead. Some fishermen nearby seemed to shake their heads, and leer at me.

Later we went to the supermarket to get ingredients for dinner and I saw this.

Aha. What better opportunity to draw attention my piteous than by arguing with a supermarket clerk about Tairua’s apparent treatment of women as pets. How dare they pooh-pooh my wife when she runs on the beach without a collar. What nerve of them to insinuate in their Vitapet display that my wife does not already sleep as comfortably as a dog of roughly her size and proportions. Stuff is going to hear about this. This is going to knock that salmonella story right off the splash page…etc. etc.

The clerk seemed to find all this amusing and the whole thing fizzled.

The next day, during a break in the storm, we went to Cathedral Cove about 20 kilometers north of Tairua.

Here, I found a new angle with which to generate sympathy for myself.

I would turn myself from hapless holiday-maker to infelicitous widower, due to the unfortunate combination of a precarious rock formation and a series of very loud sounds.

“Jacquie,” I said, “Sit inside the cathedral cove, and I will clap for you.”

“Why the fuck would you do that?”

“Just indulge me. I will clap and clap.”

“OK, but only because I feel sorry for you. Moron.”

So I clapped.

It came to leave and after putting my hands on ice at home, I went back to Tairua, defeated and furious that the world was so unjust, feeling sorry for myself that more people didn’t feel sorry for me.

There was only one thing for it. A secretive purchase of adult entertainment from the local video store.

Now, whose life sucks more than mine?

Summer loving, had me a blast

I’m tired of people complaining about how crappy the summer has been in New Zealand.

Sure, the Kiwi capital, Wellington, has recorded the highest number of cloudy days since the Kelburn weather station started tracking them in 1928.

And, yeah, maybe this disruption to average days of sunlight, temperature and rainfall has flipped seasonal purchasing patterns on their heads.

But why should I waste my beautiful mind on any of that?

Instead of ruing the 20 percent year-over-year drop in sun-block and ice cream purchases, I choose to celebrate the 24 percent increase in over-the-counter cold remedies. Way to go, influenza.

An important thing to keep in mind is, technically, there are still a few more weeks before the autumnal equinox. So, don’t worry, New Zealand. There’s plenty of time to catch a nasty head cold.

What I can’t gloss over with my usual optimism and Pollyanna thinking is the fact that I can’t lay blame for this inclement summer on living in New Zealand. Typically, I find it quite easy to cast all of life’s irritations and setbacks on my decision to migrate here.

From my disgusting trichotillomania to the tattered remnants of my sense of humor, there isn’t one circumstance that I can’t find a causal relationship with this frontier existence. Yet, try as I might, I can’t say this weather stuff is a function of New Zealand’s oceanic isolation or Latitude, per se. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research says we’re at the tail end of a La Niña weather pattern.

Meanwhile, back home in the US, the lower-48 states have experienced higher than average winter temperatures—the fourth warmest January in more than 100 years—and record low snowfalls. Alaska has gone the other way with record lows.

At the risk of appearing to mistake weather for climate, it is unlikely these unusual patterns are unrelated. Global Climate Disruption, (yes I’m going there), is a far better term than Global Warming, considering how easy it is for vested interests to distort science in the public imagination. But whatever you want to call it, the theory supports an increased disruption to average historic atmospheric patterns. The Royal Society climate page summarizes nicely:

It is certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use change lead to a warming of climate, and it is very likely that these green house gases are the dominant cause of the global warming that has been taking place over the last 50 years.

Whilst the extent of climate change is often expressed in a single figure – global temperature – the effects of climate change (such as temperature, precipitation and the frequency of extreme weather events) will vary greatly from place to place.

This is true regardless of how a vainglorious, hick demagogue edited his wildly popular yet utterly depressing movie, which I watched under the influence of a bottle of vodka, having just seen Children of Men the day before. (One of the few cases in cinema history where the movie is far superior to the book, especially when you watch the DVD extras with Slavoj Žižek).

That movie depressed the hell out of me, not only because Clive Owen was in it, but because of Alfonso Cuarón’s deft contextualization of contemporary crises within one of the best-made battle scenes ever.

But I was severely depressed back then. Now that I’m only mildly depressed, I spend my time looking on the bright side of life.

That video comes from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory YouTube channel, which I recommend. The SDO is a satellite fitted with cameras aimed at the sun, tuned to varying wavelengths.

The SDO’s mission is to help understand “the Sun’s influence on Earth and Near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere on small scales of space and time and in many wavelengths simultaneously”, according to the SDO website. It also provides some spectacular images.

Watching these videos, I can’t think of a better way to pass the long, cold days of summer.