"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we
would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got a thousand miles
per gallon."--Bill Gates
Recently General Motors addressed this comment by releasing the statement:
"Yes, but would you want your car to crash twice a day?"
Ho boy, lo-o-o-ng time no New. So read this one a word a day to make it last.
Halloween! What a lovely holiday! After the big turkey dinner, I set off some fireworks, mailed all my valentines, went on an egg hunt, wore green, counted down till midnight, got sloppy drunk and made a public ass of myself, and got into a car crash. I like to combine all my holidays into one big extravaganza and spend the remaining 364 days recuperating.
OK, I'm kidding (except about the car crash--I'm assuming the guy who caused it was okay, since he fuckin' fled the scene pretty adeptly). I just love Halloween, the only holiday devoted to Satan's minions. There's nothing like that magic look that comes across a child's face when they yell "Trick or treat!" and realize I've given them an individually wrapped slice of American cheese. Or cents-off coupons, they love those! "Here, 'George Clooney as Batman™! 25 cents off Hamburger Helper! Hey, 'Gender Stereotype Reinforcing Barbie™! 35 cents off of Purina Dog Chow!" Oh, how they stare in hostile joy and in their cute lil' voices snarl "Thanks, Mister! Thanks a LOT!!"
Then the next day I go into my yard, and Voila! Enough free toilet paper to last me for months!
(Finally) I'm full-time at my new job. After 6 years of pushing CDs, I'm now pushing legal drugs. Namely the bubblin' crude: Alcohol, that is--Black Label, Tennessee Tea. Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars. So as I now pass from CD seller to CD buyer, let me pass unto you a few hints on how to be a better music shopper. Or at least, how to be less of a knothead while doing it.
(I'm making none of the examples up. And yes, the people in the examples were PISSED about such pointless shit)
1. Modern Science has developed many new wonders in recent years. One is called "The Alphabet." Sadly, this new high-tech discovery has many complicated rules. Expect to be frustrated by some, such as: You cannot find "The Who" under "T." You are even less likely to find "Billy Joel" under "S" or "Q" or any other letters that don't appear anywhere in his name. Also, think before you ask "The Dirty Dancing soundtrack--Would it be in soundtracks under D?"
1A: Actual requests for "The Beatles Anthology:""Do you have:
the Beatles Analogy?"
the Beatles Archeology?"
the Beatles Anthropology?" A friend suggested it would be the Darwin's Ascent of Man parade, with the monkey at one end and the fully developed modern human at the other, except they'd be crossing Abbey Road. I nominated Ringo as the monkey.
the Beatles Theology?" I guess they really ARE bigger than Jesus!
the Beatles Anthology? Why isn't it under 'A'?"
a: New Peak?"
b: Weaver Mac?"
c: Yan Ettan? Yan Ettan! YAN ETTAN!!"
a & b: Incredibly, the first and second questions were asked independently of me and the other guy working that day at the exact same time. He got "Do you have the New Peak CD?" from some oldsters. After many minutes, he at least got New Peak's album title from them: "Jam." He thought, "The New Peak 'Jam' CD??" "Vitalogy" had come out 2 weeks before--The new Pearl Jam CD. Simultaneously, I was fighting him for Muze usage to find Weaver Mac. I asked several questions trying to find out what she wanted--Her final big clue was "She's a country singer." I stopped and said, "You mean--Reba McEntire?"
c: Why does every nationality, American or otherwise, think if they speak the local language incoherently, the only way to get That Stupid Foreigner Who Lives Here to understand their garbled blather is BY...TALKING...VERY...SLOWLY...AND...DIS-GUS-TED-LY...AND...LOUDLY? YAN ETTAN!!!
I still don't know what fucked-up European country she came from, but it took TEN...MINUTES...OF...SCREAMING from her before some unforeseen survival instinct kicked in, and I asked "Elton...John?" "YES!" shrieked the Beast. "YAN ETTAN!!"
Oh yeah, I forgot this one...
21. Being a consumer does not make you an expert in consumer law. Here's an interesting exchange I once had, regarding a sale sign that listed both CD and tape prices.
HER: This CD is on sale for $7.98!
ME: No, the cassettes are 7.98, the CD is on sale for 10.98.
HER: That's NOT what the sign says!
ME: Well, I'm pretty sure that's what the sign says, but let's go take a look.
HER: Oh...It does say cassette. But the LAW says, if I read a sign wrong, you have to give me it for that price!
Try that "law" the next time you go car shopping. "Hey! A brand new car, and it's only $19.98! Here's a twenty, keep the change!"
The classical radio station I'm listening to as I write this just announced a concert featuring narration by "Patrick Stewart, Star Trek's own Captain Jean-Luc Godard." Close enough, I guess. Coming soon: Star Trek XII: Borgless. (Or Deep Space Nine: The Alphaville Quadrant)
11/12/97: A few degrees of Bill
I was 'strapping' today (liquor store jargon for breaking up cases of brewski and making 6-packs from them with those lil' seagull-chokin' plastic straps). A weekly customer walked towards me and I thought, "Every time I see her, I'm strapping!" Then she says, "Every time I see you, you're doing that!" Hey, I'm my own psychic friend!
I don't read no superhuman X-mutie powers into this kind of thing. The Universe is the Biggest Fractal Generator of Them All, and mind-numbing coincidences are bound to happen with alarming frequency.
For example, I was telling one (Deadhead) guy I work with how I've got a cousin who followed the Dead for 20 years...Then later he mentions how happy he is that they're making a "Lost in Space" movie...Then a few days later (20 minutes ago) I remember that my uncle, the Deadhead cousin's father, once dated June Lockhart! The mommy from "Lost in Space"!
Then I thought, John F Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, and Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and I once rode in a car! Just like Kennedy did in that motorcade when he was assassinated while driving past phone booths, just like Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth! Talk about WEIRD!
Then I thought of another amazing coincidence--Elvis, Jimmy Hoffa, and Bigfoot are all mammals! SO AM I!! Makes ya think, huh?!
"Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." Hey, I just ate some bacon! I'm like 1 degree away!
War is not healthy for children and other...stuff.
That having been said, let me tell you this about that: I ain't a-scareda no war. Yeah, let them Iraqis or Iriquois or whatever come get me! Let's bomb them into to the Stone Age! (what, again?!) Wars are always started by the geezers who don't have to fight in them, and as I fast approach geezerhood, I'm safe. Hell, I didn't even have to register for the draft! I fell into a neat lil' legal loophole that saved me from slogging through the nightmare jungles of The Forgotten War--GRENADA! Fuckin' Grenadines, buildin' some airport to INVADE AMERIKER with them fuckin Cuban construction workers! Suuuure, it was to bring tourists to their island, on the lame excuse "it's a Caribbean paradise!" Ron Reagan, he knew better, and he was already listening to voices in his head! Not that it would've mattered if I had gone. My family has weird luck with major wars.
Remember the Lockhart-datin' Uncle Walter? He was drafted into the Korean War. Pretty bad, even as wars go--Trench warfare in freezing mountain valleys, gunning down human wave assaults by the Red Chinese. Except his mission was: Train South Korean officers how to ski. Because there were--uh, mountains, so they might need to--um, ski...
My father got suckered into Korea, too. He was an emergency ground crew member in the Air Force, manning a fire truck to help save the crews of crippled B29's coming through "MiG Alley." Except the air base was on Long Island, New York...He didn't see a single crippled B29 all war, probably because they would've had to fly past Korea and over the North Pole to crash in Southampton. "You are the fire truck crew," said the CO. "But we don't have a fire truck," they said. "All of the fire trucks are in Korea." The officer looked around and said, "There's a fire truck right there." "Ummm--No, sir, that's just a crappy old troop transport." "No," he said, "It's a fire truck now." So Dad spent Korea playing poker in the back of a fictional fire truck.
Another uncle was in the The Big One--World War II! He had probably the least popular job in the Air Force: flying in a B25 bomber. This plane's main claim to fame was how many were shot down in the raid on the Ploesti oil fields. Uncle Bob got an assignment different from suicidal attacks on Fortress Europe...He was sent to protect Aruba. Yeah, the vacationing Nazi hordes'll be here any day! Better reinforce Disneyland while we're at it! About 2 months before the war's end, he actually saw combat: His plane made a Uboat sink. (They're supposed to sink, but not the way he made it sink) Probably had Martin Bormann on board, headin' for Argentina. He got a medal.
Outside of the relatives like me, who were simply lucky enough to avoid any wars, (What's Viet Nam, Daddy?) the last to mention is Grandpa, who got stuck in World War One. He was shot in the trenches (which is better than being shot in the groin), and despite being Scots, was sent to England to recuperate. His nurse was a Bonnie Lass from the Highlands...
She became my Grandma.
I was digging in my desk drawer a few minutes ago, and came across an old letter of mine. 5 years ago I was unemployed for a lo-o-o-ong time. There was but nought to do, save watch cartoons on TV. It really annoyed me that as I flipped through the channels to find them, 1 desperate-for-cash independent station had started showing the dreaded 700 Club. '92 was an election year, and 1 candidate was 700's dark lord, Pat Robertson. Sure, I woulda voted for him if he was just honest enough to run for Ayatollah of the Theocracy, just like I woulda voted for Pat Buchanan if he ran for Fuehrer, or Perot if he went for Big Chief Nutball. It filled me with cranky animosity that the Club was basically a legal fund-raising/propaganda drive for Pat, and the Hell-On-Earth Fundamentalist government he would create if elected. He'd send America back to the 50s, and I mean the 1650s.
Then 1 day I'm sittin' on the toilet, and something that periodically bugged me whilst thereupon placed came front & center to my mind. What is that symbol embossed on "Angel Soft" toilet tissue? Ohhh, goes I--It's some kind of stylized angel! Man, Georgia Pacific's gonna get some deranged hate mail over that! HEY--Why not from me?
"Dear George Pacific;
I am on a limited buget and must buy what I can when its on sail. So recently I was buy your Angel Soft toilet paper brand name. Imagine if you can my shock to discover the paper actally had pictures of Angels up on it!! I angryly am refusing to wipe myself with pictures of Our Lord Gods servants!! I supose next you will be putting picturs of Pat robertson up on them!! Or our gloryous American flag and calling them "The Stars And Wipes"!!
I am suggesting you not and instead put pictures of Bill Rodham Clinton and [here I tried to think of some really nonthreatening stuff that somewhere, somehow, some senile wobble-brain might still find offensive] Canada draft dodgers and the Muppets on them!! That would make us haters of Satan happy and cleaned!! I hope you will be responding to my charges!!
Yours most sinserely, Will Young"
I kept the incoherence restrained enough that the customer service people would: 1: Think it was real, 2: Laugh at the crazy old man, and, most importantly, 3: NEVER AGAIN think of "Pat Robertson" without also thinking of "Crazy Old Man wiping his ass." They responded as I thought they would--A letter of apology with some 50 cents off coupons, as if that would inspire Crazy Guy to but the TP of Satan. Of course, that's just what I did: Waited till Edwards had Angel Soft mega-packs on sale for $1.50, then went in with a triple coupon...I had free toilet paper for 3 years.
Man, I was so proud of that "Muppets" crack--The Muppets are totally inoffensive, but I knew, out there somewhere, there were crazed, bitter old men who thought Sesame Street was the work of Lucifer.
About 2 months later the religious right--with Pat Robertson at the helm--declared that Bert & Ernie were really meant to be a gay couple, and that the evil PBS deliberately put them on Sesame Street to warp young minds.
Gay sock puppets?! Felt with ping pong ball eyes has sexual orientation? And who would want sex with a sock puppet, anyhoo? You know you'll never get anything but a hand job.
The ever-inquisitive Spottiswoode asks me: "I saw this column from a few months ago and it made me think, you could be an heir to the Absorbine Jr. aristocracy!"
Absorbine the Third?
Like Babs and Buster Bunny--"No relation."
As a kid, I asked this same question about Absorbine's maker, the W.F. Young Co. in Springfield, MA, to my father, W.F.Young, CPA, of South Windsor, CT. Nope. The Scoootish end of the family was--well, still in Scotland, until the early 30s.
Mommy's side, the Torphys of Ireland, had a different history. Great-great-etc-grandpa left during the Potato Famine. Not because he was hungry for french fries, neither. The English kept the perjurious tax rate at the same amount, despite the fact everyone in Ireland was starving to death (it's long since been proven that the Famine was a deliberate English plan to reduce Ireland's population, so it could better be colonized by loyal Englishman. See the Highland Clearances in Scotland for another example). In those days, if you had no cash, you paid your taxes in whatever else you owned, which in those days were things like the cow you kept for milk, or the goat you kept for milk, or the sheep you kept for wool for clothing. The goverment just took these away from starving people, making it only more likely that they would starve. So everyone started hiding what little they had. So the English sent out 'detectives' (first use of the word) to ferret out what people owned. They were not very popular. So great-etc killed them.
Now, this is different than the IRA. They're fuckin' idjits. Southern Ireland has self-rule because the Irish picked up guns and fought the English Army in 1916. They didn't randomly kill civilians. Terrorism has NEVER brought down any government, and never will. If Castro hadn't crawled into the swamps and took on Batista's goons, Cuba would still be owned 50/50 by the American sugar companies and the Mafia. There's a big difference in risking your life fighting people who can fight back, and running a death-Lotto that is just as likely to kill your supporters as well as your enemies, and many times more likely to kill or alienate the people who are simply neutral.
He blowed them up, great-to-the-X-power granpa did, blowed 'em up reeeal good! With gunpowder bombs. His coup-de-grace was: Three, count em three, detectives at once, plus the bridge they were standing on! Kapow!
This made him very popular with the locals. It made the Brits offer a reward for his head many, many times what the average Irishman would make in many, many years... And in a country where you didn't know whether you'd live to see tomorrow, no matter how much you hated England, that was mighty tempting...
America suddenly started lookin' mighty tempting to him.
Information from: My mom's second cousin, Thomas McGuane, the author of innumerable "loved by the critics, ignored by the book buyers" classics as 92 in the Shade and The Sporting Club. Scriptwriter to a movie no one's ever heard of, even though it starred Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando! (The Missourri Breaks--MAD magazine parodied it as: "You'll keep wondering when The Misery Breaks!") Space Ghost connection: He was such good friends in the 70s with the Brilliant # 1 Peter Fonda, they swapped wives! (he got Margot Kidder, Lois Lane in the 1st Superman movie, now a total loony)
My page received a visit from a fellow retail veteran--In fact, the guy who suffered through many of the incidents chronicled in the long list of the 11/4 rant. He mentioned what was probably the most surreal moment the music department had...Gameboy Day.
A woman asked where the New Age section of the store was. When shown our Yanni-Tesh extravaganza, she shook her head and said "New Age is spiritual. This is not. God Bless You." and left the store. Minutes later, a man was found standing and staring into space. Suddenly, he announced, "Oh, now I see. Thank you very much." and left without further comment. It was called "Gameboy Day" because it began with a guy who asked me: "Do you have any religious Gameboy games?"
Huh?? Like what, Super Messiah Brothers? Press the A button to heal the leper, press the B button to ressurrect from the dead? FINAL SCORE: 2 loaves, 3 fishes. "Gosh darn it all to HECK!! I'll pray for a Sega Genesis Book ii Chapter 7 next time!"
Boy, was I disappointed last Wednesday. "Snow accumulation: 1 inch by morning," the weathermen said, up until 4PM when it started to snow. By 5:30, we had an inch, and by midnight when it stopped, 5 inches. I wasn't disappointed in getting that much snow--Hey, I wasn't thrilled, either: It was my first full day with my new car, and I hadn't even learned how to drive it in normal weather yet. I was sad because there were no TV weatherman warning us about the impending crisis for several days, and that robbed me of the one great pleasure of a New England winter: PANIC BUYING!
Living here in the trackless, untamed wilds of the Connecticut suburbs, we shudder in the winter nights from the ever-present fear of STARVING TO DEATH before we can walk to a Dairy Mart. So, we rush to the supermarket and stock up on bread, milk, and eggs. OK--I don't rush, no one I know admits to doing it, but it happens every time there's even the slightest threat of snow. A co-worker who spent 14 years at Stop & Shop (the mortal enemy of Run & Browse) tells me it happens every storm.
WHY?! This ain't the Rockies, it's Connecticut! I'm willing to bet the roads will be plowed before you're forced to resort to cannibalism. 2 years ago I had to go to the supermarket (no milk = coffee not be drinkable). Driving around the lot, looking for a parking space, I realized "FUCK!! Snow tomorrow! AAAARRGH!!" Yep, there was no milk left but the smallest and most expensive cartons. WHY? Why do these people do this every time it snows? And why is it always milk, eggs, and bread? You know--If the power goes out, you'll have a refrigerator full of sour milk. If the power doesn't go off, you'll still have a refrigerator full of sour milk! It's not like you're gonna drink more milk because there's snow on the ground. And what's with the eggs and bread? Is the "Ultimate Survival Food" French toast? You know, if the Donner Party had only made French toast...
I hear French toast is now packed into the luggage of every South American soccer team.
Oh, yeah--My new car. Actually, it's an ex-leased car. I was looking in the trunk when I found what, at first, I thought were packages of Taco Bell hot sauce or something. They turned out to be packages of condoms. Are these standard equipment? Did I misconstrue what they meant by "dual air bags?" Hmmm, condoms--Maybe I was right about "packages of hot sauce"...
Xmas dinner with The Family was my usual Yuletide display of utter inertia. My parents, my 3 sisters, their husbands and the--um, lemme think--8 spawn of their loins. However, I did hear something amusing in the "Kids Say The Darndest Things" category. No, I'm not starting a "Family Circus" thing ("NOT ME!"). This was more like "Kids Get Damned To Hell For Saying The Darndest Things." In Sunday school, 2 of my nephews (ages 5 and 6, or maybe 12 and 37, I don't know) were told to do drawings on the subject of "Penance and Forgiveness." The older one put Satan on the Cross. I'm not sure what the "penance" connection was, unless he intended to be doing some for drawing it. The younger one did "Forgiveness." He drew himself and Jesus. He guiltily confesses to the Lamb of God, "I farted." Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, nods and says, "It smells."
The line has been crossed, and I didn't even notice.
It happened a few weeks ago, when some low-income, under-educated couple doubled-dosed the fertility pills and begat a litter of septuplets. This drug-induced crime against nature caused the whole of America to go "AAWWW! Seven lil' babies, spurted forth! How it defies nature and common-sense! Let us reward the half-wit trailer-trash for their irresponsibility!" One shithead has promised the spawn of their hyperattenuated loins college tuition for ALL the lil' monkeys! (Yeah, like Daddy ain't gonna drink that cash away by the time they're 5)
The line was crossed by Newsweek. The Earth Mother's teeth were crooked and yellow. So Newsweek fixed them, using computers to make them pearly-white, because it was a "happy story." If you don't see where "journalism" and "bald-faced lying" have become one anna same...Well, you were asleep during Our Heroic Gulf War Against Tyranny, too. (YES! Our bombs were smart enough to only kill 100,000 civilians!)
Does anyone remember those Siamese twin babies of a couple of years ago? The family (whose mother admitted she spent her pregnancy drinking) received thousands in private donations, and MILLIONS of dollars from the hospital that did the operation that separated them (they passed the cost onto every one of their other patients). Daddy took the first few thousand in donations, and, while Mommy and twins were still in the hospital, admitted that he spent it all on a cocaine binge. Did he go to jail for fraud and illegal drug use? Course not. He wasn't charged, or even investigated, for his confession. American loves irresponsible morons, so long as they give birth to mutants. Oh, the--ah, what's-their-name septuplet-spawning family (I keep wanting to sat their name's "McNichols," but that ain't right): Do you think their "example," with its Lotto-like rewards, will inspire other bottom-feeders to chug-a-lug fertility drugs, just for the promise of donated money? Of course. And Newsweek'll give them a makeover.
Hey, what if you or me, like Terry McNichols, is arrested for a crime that the Media's already decided we're guilty of, and our teeth look nice? What will Newsweek do then? Can't upset the public's preconceptions...Fangs and Satan horns, maybe?