Thursday, October 30, 2003


I left Movie Night early yesterday so I could get an early start on throwing out a mountain of trash that's been sitting around far too long. More fool I. As I was on that little street near the Ben Franklin Parkway that connects to 676, the driver in front of me hit a pedestrian who was dressed all in black and jaywalking to boot. To be fair, the driver probably wasn't paying the attention he should, and of course pedestrians do have the right of way. I pulled over, turned on my hazards and went to lend what meager assistance was mine to lend.

The driver (who was kinda cute) was jumping-out-of-his-skin scared, and the pedestrian was insisting upon trying to get up, despite my admonitions to stay still and wait for the rescue squad. I thought about slugging him into unconsciousness but decided that the police would likely frown upon that course of action, well intentioned though it might be. The police and ambulance got there within five minutes (who says city services are bad?), and only then did I notice that one of my hazards wasn't, uh, hazarding. While officialdom took control, I sneaked over to my car and shut off the lights, hoping the officers were too focused on the matter at hand to notice (and write me a ticket for) my non-functioning light. I think the fact that I totally kept my personal interests in mind even during this crisis shows not selfishness but rather a cool head and a rapt attention to detail, don't you?

To make a long story short (too late), the pedestrian was not grievously injured, and I gave the officer my contact information so I can serve as a witness. However, my official story may vary, depending on the following:

The driver is the favored son of a mobster: "Your Honor, this pedestrian was hiding in the lack of bushes, dressed in concealing, non-reflective dark clothing, and he leapt suicidally in front of the car driven by this fine, upstanding young man. The fine, upstanding young man was so distraught by this turn of events that he wept and cried out, 'Why couldn't it have been me?'"

The pedestrian is a millionaire: "Your Honor, the driver was moving at six times the legal speed limit, and was driving with one hand on a bottle of Jack Daniel's and the other on the left breast of the skankiest Broad-Street hooker you can imagine. She fled after the accident, taking the booze with her and stepping with her six-inch spike heels right on the victim, who remarked only, 'I hope I didn't delay this young man's trip, or stain that young lady's shoe.'"

Chances are it's neither one of these, so I will wind up telling the truth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Health Care Hatred

My company is switching health care plans, which means the employees get less and pay more. This reinforces my firm belief that this nation needs some sort of universal health care system. I cannot and do not believe that there is no way to provide each and every citizen with some sort of bare bones health insurance, even if it's only catastrophic coverage. This nation designed a bomb that blew up a city (two, actually) and landed people on the frickin' moon, so I think it's capable of designing a system of universal health care that is not a total disaster.

This has got me thinking about taxes. You will never hear me complain about the amount of taxes I pay. Why? Because I am less concerned with the amount that I pay than with the use to which that amount is put. In my personal life, I am concerned less with saving money than I am with getting full value for the money I spend; therefore, I don't mind spending a dollar on X as long as I get a dollar's worth of value from X. I don't understand people who just want lower taxes, probably because these are many of the same people who complain when services are lacking. I recall a referendum in Cherry Hill earlier this year in which the school board asked to raise taxes, a request the voters predictably refused. The board then began proposing cuts to various services (like busing) and the voters went bonkers. How do they think these buses are maintained? The Bus Fairy? Tax revenue pays for these buses, and when there is a lack of revenue there will be a lack of buses. Not hard to understand, right?

I'm aware that the government is hardly tops when it comes to trimming fat and preventing waste, but at the same time people need to understand that you don't get a high level of service without higher taxes. I also notice (and this will no doubt get me into trouble) that it's often those on the higher end of the income scale who bitch the loudest. That dovetails into another observation of mine, but since this post is already too damned long I will hold off for another time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Best Boyfriend

As is widely known, I love "Carrie", just love it. One of the reasons for my affection is Tommy Ross (played by William Katt), who was the awesomest boyfriend ever. He was good-looking, funny, smart, athletic, and was willing to do the right thing even though he really didn't want to. He was also tres romantic, as he demonstrated during that spin-around dance with Carrie at the prom. Ugh. Save me.

Anyway, a few years back I wrote these song lyrics (which are still looking for music) about Tommy Ross. They are entitled, appropriately, "Be My Tommy Ross." For the ages, here they are:

That shower scene was worth it 'cause it made your girlfriend all guilty
She made you take me to the prom, a kind of adolescent apology
But she never thought the night would end up with we two crowned as king and queen
While Betty Buckley threw her out we danced around the gym and you kissed me
Just because the vote was fixed doesn't mean the crowns don't fit
If you will be my Tommy Ross I'll be your Carrie oh

Believe me when I say I'm not afraid of Nancy Allen and her beau
And I'm sorry if I freaked out when the pig's blood splattered down to drench me oh
I hope they didn't take the bulging eyes, the fires, too seriously
So okay, I'm a show-off, but I know you'd do the same to impress me
The fire hoses in mid-air, just pretend that they're not there
If you will be my Tommy Ross I'll let the seniors go

We were destined to be lovers, to be a godly pair like Mars and Venus
And think of what a girlfriend I would make, changing tires with telekinesis
I won't listen to my mother when she says that you would make a bad boyfriend
When she tells me you're a sinner I say, "Do I have to throw knives at you again?"
Tommy, I won't kill my mom, I won't destroy another prom
If you will be my Tommy Ross I'll be your Carrie oh

I know some of you will say this song is stupid and the details aren't right
'Cause life isn't a horror movie, I'm not female, and my name's not Carrie White
But I still say Tommy was the greatest boyfriend, forever, now and 'til the end
And I had been DePalma that stupid bucket would never have hit him on the head
Tommy, don't take Carrie White, dump the skirt for me tonight
If you will be my Tommy Ross you'll forget Carrie oh

Note creative placement of oh's. Now all I need is to learn an instrument, develop the ability to sing well, and land a record deal.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Pan Man

I was just looking at pics from my Halloween party, and I question the wisdom of dressing up as Pan, god of fields, meadows and shepherds. Oh, the fur pants were fun, and who doesn't like wearing tiny horns, but going shirtless...well, let's just say my chest is not my best feature. That knowledge was drilled deep into my brain at the sight of another guest who looked one billion times better in his torso-bareing outfit. Ugh. But then again, I had horns and he didn't.

Ninja Bacon played "Our Lips Are Sealed", which I was delighted to hear, and I did my darnest to make a non-ear-shattering harmony. No one heard it, which made it even better. Mike B. made an awesome Edward Scissorhands, and Star looked positively fabulous as Norma Desmond. I would have voted for her, but I was banned from voting. Unlike Florida elections, mine are fair. Well, maybe they're not, but at least I am upfront about them being unfair. As I assured Sean, everybody knew he was Nick Fury...another benefit of lots of geek friends is that your costume can be as obscure as you want and they still know who you are.

However, the highlight of the evening for me was Deirdre, who came dressed as poor Michael from "Sidney's Gift." Now that my work has been turned into a costume, I know I have truly arrived.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Dream (another) little dream.

I had another strange dream Wednesday night, but I forgot to post about it with all the SEPTA nonsense. The dream was extremely vivid, as evidenced by the fact that I still remember it two days later. Here goes.

My Center City office building was evacuated because of a false fire alarm, and we were being allowed back in en masse. Naturally, the elevators were clogged, so I decided to climb the stairs to the 21st floor, where I work. (Inconsistency #1: I actually work in an eight-floor piece of crap in Bala Cynwyd.) A bunch of people followed me, and they slowed up the progress I would have made on my own. At the seventh floor, a security guard caught us and told us to go back to the lobby, but I hid in the shadows of the fire stair and evaded her. (Inconsistency #2: Most fire stairs are narrow and lacking in any hiding spaces that would realistically accommodate me.)

Phase two of the dream involved me trying to get to the 21st Floor against all odds, and having adventures along the way. This was the weirdest office building in the world, as it contained a nightclub accessible only via the fire stairs. (Inconsistency #3: One would think that a nightclub that's prohibitively difficult to reach wouldn't stay in business long, but this one seemed solvent.) The stairs led directly through the nightclub, and the staff wouldn't let me pass, but I found this secret staircase that led to a luxurious penthouse. I even remember dream-thinking, "Who would have thought an office building would have a nightclub and a penthouse." Anyway, I was trying to creep though the penthouse without alerting the woman living there when I woke up.

I'm not very good at interpreting dreams, nor do I have much desire to do so, but with this one I felt compelled. I've come up with two theories:

1) Right now I am attempting something in my life that is much more complex than I imagined and is only bringing me trouble. Although I tend to strike out on my own, in this case it's wiser to return to basics and act more conventionally, even if I dislike doing what I feel is expected of me.

2) I definitely should not eat a Wawa-purchased cheese danish one hour before bed.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Faster than a really slow bus!

Yep...I outran a bus today. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I called off work today so I could get my hair done by Maria the Fabulous, who works on Penn campus. Today being a weekday, when parking is difficult and traffic more intense, I thought, "Why don't I take the train? That will save gasoline and therefore prevent some air pollution, and will also save me from having to hunt for parking." Big mistake. The El stopped at Spring Garden because of a roof collapse at 8th Street, so I had to transfer to a shuttle bus.

For those of you who aren't familiar with SEPTA, the term "shuttle bus" in their lexicon translates roughly to "big, loud, crowded, slow-moving waste of time." So it proved today. I thought about getting a cab for the remainder of the trip, but I'd have rotted away to dust before I'd find a cab at 2nd & Spring Garden. Anyway, off we went, and at about 10th & Market I said to the bus driver, "Can I have a transfer? I know I can beat this bus to 15th Street." Agreeably, he handed it over, and I took off. I'm not sure it's a great mark of distinction to know you outran a SEPTA bus (most cripples could probably say the same), but at 34 years of age I felt proud nonetheless. I was even more proud that I was able to run 4 blocks without pausing to rest mid-way or dropping into a heap at the end. My shins only complained mildly, too.

Anyway, I got my hair cut and highlighted (Maria did her usual great job) then I walked to the bank to cash a check. On the way I stopped to buy a hot dog from a vendor. Let me warn you that I have a simple rule about hot dogs: I don't want to know anything more about them than that they taste good with mustard and relish. You don't need to tell me how bad they are; I already know. I hadn't had a hot dog in years, and I enjoyed this one.

Summary: Hair looks great, hot dog was enjoyed, SEPTA sucks and next time I'm driving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Things That Delight Me

I thought the previous post needed a balance, so here we are. By the way, anyone who dares think of Julie Andrews singing about her favorite things should give him/herself a really hard pinch. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Now that pinching is over, on to the delightful things.

Fresh-baked bread: Nothing like a fresh loaf, warm from the oven and served up with plenty of butter. I can easily make a meal of this alone. Staff of life, indeed. I have been known to bake a mean loaf of bread in my time, which isn't exactly convenient but well worth the effort. My flour-stained "Little Chef's Bake-a-Bread" book is a close friend.

English accents: Nobody, but nobody speaks English like the English. When I was in England, I felt like a great oaf every time I spoke to one of the natives. Sometimes I wish I were British, but not if I had to eat bubble and squeak.

The Go-Go's: Vastly underrated, these gals were my first love in terms of music. I have most of their stuff, except for a few obscure things, some of it on CD, cassette and vinyl. Too bad they can't seem to either work out their problems or just get over them.

Chocolate: Easy one. Next.

Ultimate Frisbee: I can't get enough of this game, and turning down a chance to play is something I do only with great reluctance, even when my shins complain loudly.

Watership Down: Who'd have thought a book about rabbits could be so enthralling? Richard Adams, that's who, and right he was! I first read this book in high school, and I have come back to it zillions of times since. I still cheer when Keehar attacks General Woundwort during the thunderstorm.

There are more things that I really, really like, but I feel this post has reached the upper limits of positivity. More later.

Things That Annoy Me

I'd like to relate some of my pet peeves, just because I feel like it. My blog, my rules, and these are my peeves.

Hyphenated surnames: Ladies (or gentlemen), when you marry, pick a name and live with it. Hyphenation doesn't make you look feminist and independent; it makes you look pretentious.

Not signalling turns: Drivers who make signal-less turns need their own special place in hell, right beside those freaks who discard the creme and eat the rest of the Oreo.

Corporate-speak: This is a favorite peeve of mine. "Transition" is not a verb, nor is "incentivize" , and using "out of pocket" to mean "out of the office" is just plain retarded. People use these (and other) words to sound intelligent, but they wind up sounding even more retarded then they already do.

Work small talk: This category includes all those pat responses you get to the "how are you?" question including (but not limited to): "It's only Monday", "Not bad for nine o'clock", or "Is it five o'clock yet?"

Trendy-speak: Those terms that come from movie titles that everyone then feels suddenly compelled to use in conversation. "Lost in translation" is a current example of this, and another from a few years back is "waiting to exhale." Cliches are bad enough, but when they're the latest thing on top of that...well, they just suck.

Littering: Whenever I see some jerk dropping a cigarette box or cupcake wrapping on the sidewalk I have to restrain myself from transforming into a great, hideous, flaming purple wolf and tearing out his/her ignorant throat. When I become a deity, I intend to change the laws of physics so that anyone who drops refuse in an inappropriate place will find said refuse in his/her bed. And I mean all kinds of refuse. Yes.

That's all for now. To balance the slate, later I will post some of my favorite things.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Straight guys puzzle me

Although I'm well aware of the dangers of overgeneralizing here, I'm doing it anyway. My blog, my rules. Straight guys can be both completely frustrating and yet completely faith-restoring. Let's take it one at a time.

Frustrating: They've got this whole must-be-tough-and-bluff-at-all-times air that really drives me up the frickin' wall. How do straight women stand it?!? You can see it in their eyes too; my friend Ed pointed out that gay men have a certain softness around their eyes that straight men often lack, and he was dead-on. There's also this near-paranoid fear of clothes that are tighter than ridiculously baggy. NOTE TO STRAIGHT MEN: If you think oversized clothing discouraged homos from checking you out, you could not be more wrong. It only entices us to look more closely.

Faith-restoring: When straight guys are completely comfortable with their sexuality (and those of others) they are the coolest people on the whole damn planet. My brother is one of these, and so is Emmett. They don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about men making it with other men, which is the very reason why they are straight. Just like the fact that I don't spend much time worrying about the rarity of certain coins makes me a non-coin-collecting person. (Note to self: Must google proper word for those who collect coins.)

By the way, in the first sentence of the faith-restoring section, I am paraphrasing Deirdre Flint, a totally awesome folk-singer from right here in Philadelphia. Check out her Web site at and listen to some of her free stuff. Then buy some of her non-free stuff and support a wonderful local artist who's not backed by a major label. Do it. Now.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Parents: Can't live with 'em, can't trust 'em to name their kids.

I read today about a couple who used the following naming scheme for their four sons: James Michael, Michael James, Jason Matthew, and Matthew Jason. What the fuck is wrong with those people?!? Do they really think their sons are going to come back to them one day and say, "Mom, Dad, I really appreciate you using two boring combinations of four utterly common names for all of your sons"? Gee, why didn't they really get creative and name their kinds 1, 2, 3 and 4?

Something brain-damagey happens to people when they procreate, I swear it. They get this crazy idea that everyone thinks their kids are as cute as they do. They conclude that it's perfectly appropriate to bring their children to nice restaurants and movie theatres, where they can cause maximum disruption. They think that cutesy-cute names that aren't even good when the kids are babies will still be acceptable when they're twenty. Ever hang around a group of parents in a social situation? Mother of all creatures great and small, but the conversation is boring! I never thought a group of adults could actually find interesting a conversation that centers on diapers and what you might find in them. Keep in mind that many of these people are college graduates.

I'm a little over the edge on this topic, I admit it. Since I will almost certainly never have children of my own, I guess I just can't relate to the concerns of those who do. Once your married friends start reproducing, they become unavailable for most social functions/events, you rarely see them apart from child events; in short, their lives become child-oriented. That's as it should be, I suppose, and yet it doesn't make things easier for those of us who remain childless. It puts a wedge in your friendships, and I don't know how you get past it. I really don't.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Save me from the suburbs!

I work in Bala Cynwyd, an oddly titled little place whose name was most likely invented by the same annoying people who insist upon spellings like "Smyth" and "Jon" and the other assorted variants intended to make a boring name seem exciting. (I once worked with a woman who spelled her name "Sandi Whyte." Grrr.) Anyway, Bala Cynwyd is basically a giant office park with a few overpriced stores and traffic from the fifth layer of Hell. That's it. The surrounding area, however, has the same traffic problems even without the office parks. There are just too many cars on roads never designed to handle the volume.

I thought the idea behind getting out of the city was to leave the "hustle and bustle" behind, yet Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Wynnewood and Bala Cynwyd seem pretty hustly and bustly to me. Same with Blue Bell, Plymouth Meeting, and King of Prussia. Country living I understand, even if I don't desire it, but suburban life I don't get. All the traffic congestion of the city with none of the vitality. Worse, there's something unutterably bland about most suburbs, as if you barely have to squint to see the hand of the developer who made a mint demolishing farmland and replacing it with cheaply built houses for yuppies who didn't want to live near black folks. Some of those houses are cheap, too, and they all look the same.

(No, Michael Moore has not hacked into this blog. It's me. Hopefully you aren't offended by any of this, but on my blog I'm allowed to make unapologetic social commentary as desired.)