Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two, if by me...

In my ongoing journey toward positive change of the personal variety (you already know of my professional struggles), I've decided to do some exercises in introspection. Below are two lists of qualities/aspects of life. The initial list was written using my memory of childhood as a perspective. It contains ten words I thought related to childhood, which is in my opinion a state of mind where a lot of happiness comes from. The other is my less positive psyche's interpretation of the first list...

Hopeful Aubrey (Inner Child)

1. Innocence: Hang-ups, Issues and prejudice be gone

2. Wonderment: Appreciating the everyday as well as the unique

3. Imagination: Magic exists where life isn't based solely on rules

4. Joy: Pure and unfettered, regardless of past or present

5. Discovery: Adventures in experience

6. Optimism: You can, and will...

7. Home: Safe, welcoming and loving

8. Holidays: Festivities, fun and enchantment for all

9. Freedom: Unchained from worldly worries and responsibility

10. Immortality: An end, so far off as to be unimaginable

Cynical Aubrey (Inner Old Man)

1. Debauchery: Boobies and doobies and booze, oh my.

2. Complacency: Nada nu: Aubreyese for sick (of) home; evil stepbrother of homesick

3. Pragmatism: Magic? How bout making these damn bills disappear, Houdini?

4. Joy: Tainted and finite; as misery, pre-experienced or anticipated, is often used to define it

5. Discovery: A television channel featuring crazy Australians getting attacked by dingoes

6. Realism: If you could have, you would have

7. Home: Double locked, close to work and affordable

8. Holidays: Crowds, fruitcake, insatiable children and the empty wallets they leave in their wake

9. Slavery: Bills, bills, bills... Can't live with em'... Won't die without them

10. Death: Aches, gray hairs and suspicious lumps...reminders of your future as compost

After reviewing the lists, I decided I must find a way to successfully marry these two states of mind. They're definitely both a part of me, but they tend to take separate turns in the control room. One allows me to experience the beautiful things that life has to offer and reflect on them in a way that has personal meaning. One keeps me safe, out of trouble and (usually) gainfully employed. Lately I feel this duality has gotten a little one-sided in favor of the cane-shaker, and is consequently making a crap situation that much more unpleasant. Scrooge is depriving me of what little joy that is available to me at this juncture in my life. He's a sour, cantankerous bastard and I wish he would learn to lighten up or go away.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thanks given

I'd like to thank everyone who expressed concern over my not-so-brief hiatus. I really appreciate everyone's concern and good advice. I'm trying to work my way back into writing shape and I'm still not very inspired. Don't fret if I lapse into longer than a day periods of inactivity...I won't bail again.

Obviously I haven't had the best start to fall. I imagine joblessness feels something like impotence. Hopefully I'll never be able to say that with certainty. They say misery loves company, and if that idiom were true, my life could currently be labeled a lovefest. I have three friends who were also laid off in the past two months with jobs ranging from real estate agent to pool cleaner. Bummerific.

Anyhow, the search continues. It would be nice if I could at least get a callback for some of these gigs. If things continue like this, I'm probably going to have to resort to kicking in company HR doors and forcing employers to screen me at butterknifepoint. I wonder if I can make the lead story on the 10 o'clock news for forcible interview.

Well there's always the circus.

Have a good weekend everyone. And don't dread Sunday. Trust me, if everyday was a Saturday, then you um, probably need a job.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Prodigal Bum...

Dear fellow bloggers,


Since August 8, 2008, much has happened in my world. In those 53 days since I last wrote anything here an infinite amount of world events, have transpired. And even while being aware of this I felt as if only one thing of note had happened. As a result of it, I lost the direction I thought I had in life. I lost my creative spark. I lost my my confidence. I was laid off, which is something I never thought would happen to me for some reason. So, I'm no longer in radio, and I just don't see any real future in journalism. Bills are piling up. Applications keep going out, and I wait for a ringtone that never comes. I know...more important things have happened in the world. Boo-hoo, right?

Since August 8, over 19 million lives began, while over 7.8 million individual stories completed their final earthly chapter. Approximately 4.24 billion barrels of oil have been consumed worldwide. A fair share of this leaked out of my Pontiac onto my landlord's driveway. Despite of, or perhaps spurred by unspeakable ugliness in a world of abject poverty and trillion dollar economies, there's always time for frivolity. An average of 3.1 gallons of beer has been consumed per person worldwide since my last entry. And in my ongoing funk, I have personally done everything possible to make sure that every man, woman and child on earth statistically looks like a suds-swilling drunk. That's not a point of pride.

Certainly not my finest days...

I'm not writing this to inspire pity; only to illustrate my mind state during what has been during a truly tough period for me. This is honestly and truthfully, the very first time I have logged into this website since the last comment I wrote back in early August. Just prior to my vanishing act, I was down about my job and spent much of the time I would spend writing to look for a better situation. Fate provided me a hilarious cure for malcontentedness. My radio station was dissolved. The news was broken unceremoniously and suddenly. And company stock jumped three quarters of a point. I always wanted to use this blog as a vehicle to inspire laughter and original thought...not to lament personal failures. I didn't want to write bummer entries like this, and that's the reason I'm literally on a digital milk carton (very impressive work, Sus).

I don't know what I want to do anymore. My boss told me this type of thing will happen again if I try to stay in radio. Much of the same is going on in the newspaper industry. I wrote a post a while back about considering other lines of work, and now I have no choice but to do just that. To be honest, it's a scary situation; not knowing what you're gonna do with your life. Everything seems different after the really big plans don't pan out. It happens to most folks, I suppose.

I promise it won't be another 53 days until I write again. I also promise this dreary edition - which is my first outright bummer post - will be my last of that sort. I'm working hard to get things going and come out of this better than before. And I will. For those of you that checked and wondered or even left comments of concern, thanks. So many of you write such wonderful stories, and believe it or not, you became as much a typically anticipated part of my day as that first cup of hot coffee. Maybe looking at life through a perspective other than my own would be good for me. I know the past 53 days have felt like a lifetime in terms of what I've been missing.

Sorry this wasn't more entertaining. I'm not quite there yet.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shrink Gangs

I played around with a Jungian personality test online this morning and got an unsurprising result. In college I took Myers- Briggs tests like this twice and got the same "ENFP" summation of my personality. It's funny how people love to classify and categorize. I mean, it almost seems silly to think that one would even try to group anything as random as the average human being.

But, I've learned to come to terms with the banal, Maxim/Cosmo side of human nature that just looooves lists and categories. So, in keeping with the current theme of human categorization, I'll call the psychoanalytical versions of these groupings "shrink gangs."

Here we are...

Jung Test Results

Extroverted (E) 63.41% Introverted (I) 36.59%Intuitive (N) 65% Sensing (S) 35%Feeling (F) 58.33% Thinking (T) 41.67%Perceiving (P) 70.27% Judging (J) 29.73% Your type is: ENFP

Accuracy: - 5 high 4 3 2 1 low

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.

Take the test for what you will. I know there are plenty of people out there who believe psychology is definitely less real than Falcor. Perhaps the tests are not quite as legitimate a process as say, guessing interpreting human events on the basis of star alignment. But at least the test collects and considers real data in making its assessment.

ENFPs are extremely empathetic, socially dynamic people. And if I may be so bold as to make an inference (using myself as an example), I'd suspect most of us are a bit cuckoo as well. Being the extremely social creature I am, I'm always looking for ways to network and connect with others. So...

How would YOU like to be a part of the ENFP team? You and your fellow ENFPs will be a part of a world-wide family of folks who love nothing more than to repeatedly whack themselves in the forehead with plastic toy hammers, then ask observers why they appear uncomfortable. Can you hack it? Let's see. Are you the type who...

  • LOVES the company of others, but can easily get so irritated with them you want to strangle them with your own underwear?

  • easily reads people's emotions, but can't hide your own to save your life (meaning you SUCK at lying...and consequently, poker)?

  • gets bored easily...but is creative enough to think up a fun activity, like painting your own skeleton onto your naked body?

  • can make friends with anyone, to include automatons and ultra-conservatives?

  • is uncomfortable with negative vibes, unless they're constructive, meaning you're the one putting them out?

  • is possibly suffering from sensory addiction? Yeah? Would you put hot sauce on a banana, or kick your own ass just to change things up?

  • can tell, almost without fail, which characters will die in the movie... or which people you meet are inwardly hating you and which ones are mentally raping you?

  • love to be surprised with new-ish, against-the-grain ideas and concepts (the actually not-so-new "backwards" movie; getting sex out of the way, then going out on the first date; the urban sombrero, etc.)?

If you answered "yes" to more than one of these questions, stop by your nearest psychoanalysing Website and take a Meyers-Briggs test for your free ENFP membership TODAY! Of course, if you're not an ENFP you suck, but there are plenty of other shrink gangs you can join including the scaredy-cat INFPs, anal retentive ISTJs or Mr./Ms. bossy-pants ENTJs.

So go examine your head today! And find out which one of the butt-load of shrink gangs out there YOU belong to.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sir Francis Food Lion, Duke of Dumbtat

The danger of telling your children they CAN'T get that fad-ish haircut...or have those $200 shoes (that don't feature velcro strapping or kangaroo logo)...or you won't buy them an authentic NFL team Starter jacket...or let them get their ears (or possibly nose) pierced is...

(see picture)

...that they'll be too immature to understand that you're trying to teach them the value of money and not spoil them with petty, needless shit...then in a fit of "I'll fix their wagon" teen exuberance, they'll go get a large tattoo of an ancient, magical creature etched prominently onto their right arm. Hope - for your child's sake - it's not a liger.

They just may end up being known as Food Lion. Or better yet...Food Dog.

Friday, August 8, 2008


I give "thanks" to everyone who wished me well during my week of foggy sickness. In an effort to painlessly ease myself back into a post, I figured I'd do something fluffy and a list. So here you anecdotal list of fun info about moi.

10 Things About me...

1) I was Baby Fat-Ass: According to my mother, I weighed about 10 lbs when I introduced myself to the world. I have a post-Balco, Barry Bonds-esque head (not always obvious to people because I have a broad upper-body). Needless to say, it was a Cesarean delivery.

2) When I lived in South Carolina for a year as a kid, I... took barbed wire to the leg running from a cow, was almost eaten alive by fire ants, and saw an entire town (Lynchburg) desperately utilize the firefighting "bucket brigade" technique in an attempt to save a building.

3) I couldn't sleep for about a week after I watched "A Nightmare on Elm Street" with some teenage cousins. I was eight at the time. My parents were never the "Poor baby! Of course you can sleep here with us" types. So, I stared for hours at a dark room full of kiddie things which had all taken on threatening, nightmare-ish forms. I've never been quite so freaked out again in my life.

4) I left my heart in Herchweiler. While waiting on a long list for base housing while my family was stationed in Germany, we lived in a little village/municipality named Herchweiler. I got into all kinds of shenanigans there to include: Stupidly grabbing an electric cow retaining wire adjacent to our flat out of curiosity. Splitting my eyebrow open (requiring stitches) after chasing my sister around a village bus stop at about 6 a.m. Launching arrows into our neighbors' front yard. And regularly stopping by a pub after school (5th grade) to sit at the bar and happily sip the free Coca-Colas that Frau what's-her-face kindly gave a bunch of us kids. (Good luck to you kids stopping by in the post-Bush era.) It was indeed, a glorious age.

5) I can sing Christmas carols in Deutsch (German). German was required to be taught in DoDDS (Department of Defense Dependents Schools) there. Being the confused person I am, I went on to take Spanish in high school (after moving to California) and French in college. Now, besides "Stille Nacht" (Silent Night) and a few other yuletide favorites, I can't remember shit.

6) I was shy, then not, then shy again... Actually, the order was reversed. I was probably the most annoying child alive, because at an early age my parents led me to believe I was a Wile-E-Coyote super genius. I read encyclopedias...for fun. Being able to beat my parents in "Jeopardy!" didn't do much for me socially once I moved to California though. So I endured a shy, dork phase in which I actually avoided a few girls who had crushes on me, because I felt so awkward and nervous, I didn't know what to say or do (sigh). Around 11th grade something "clicked", and I was well on my way to not even being able to spell "modehstee." But, what I now lack in humility, I make up for in spades with pure, unbridled awesomeness.

7) I fell asleep at the wheel in Belgium on the way to Holland (to see a girl I was dating) and almost killed myself and another motorist. I hadn't had a single sip to drink; I was just super tired. I woke up - after dozing off while traveling on icy winter roads at around 85 mph - to realize the Autobahn (freeway) had somehow merged into a cross street with a stoplight. That light was red and a motorist who was less sleepy than I had stopped there, about 150 yards ahead. I moronically slammed the breaks and skidded forever until my car went off the road into the shoulder railing; somehow only breaking my front-left parking light.

8) I have or have had celebrity crushes on: Linda Carter, Diana Ross, Vanity, Susana Hoffs from "The Bangles", Janet Jackson, Kelly LeBrock, Ally Sheedy, Elisabeth Shue, Paula Abdul, Nia Long, Kim Basinger, Cameron Diaz, Zhang Ziyi, Mya, Salma Hayek, Claire Forlani, Rhianna, Persia White, Cate Blanchett, Norah Jones, Thandie Newton, Christina Ricci, Gabrielle Union, Kirstin Davis, Scarlett Johansson...

9) In addition to some ink on my upper-back and left arm, I have an English coat-of-arms styled griffin on my right arm. Admittedly, it was something I ran out and did on my 18th birthday as a means of claiming my new-found adult independence after a soul-crushing, conservative upbringing. Little did I know, the inking would literally brand me for life with several popular nicknames including the "Lowenbrau Man" and the "Food Lion."

10) I'm terrified of heights. I don't know where it started, but I have serious issues with altitude. If I look down from anything more than a three-story building, vertigo sets in and I get all freaked out. The funny thing is I LOVE to fly. Well, at least until it's time to land. I'll never skydive. You couldn't drag me near a cliff. Despite what cartoons have taught us, falling great distances does not end with your body scrunching into an out-of-tune meat accordion or lying in an indention that perfectly outlines your body.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In which I am uninspired (sick)

Sorry it has been such a stretch between posts. I typically stay away from the computer on weekends, and I just haven't felt that good since Sunday. Have you ever had one of those weekends where everything that transpires seems fun, but by the time you hit Monday you feel broken-down and lifeless? This past weekend has done that to me, and it's left me completely uninspired...and sick.

Ray Bradbury once wrote that a person wanting to become a good writer should write EVERY day - no exceptions. I wonder if he felt that way after Tequila Tuesdays or Fountain Fridays or Sangria Sundays. Lame excuse, I know. I suppose bender fatigue never hurt Hemingway's production. But, it sure doesn't look like it did much for his stability either.

I think my lack of sleep and stratospheric BAC level over the course of the weekend gave my immune system the go-ahead to take a vacation. Then, some nasty, villainous germ waltzed into the Ole' temple control room and now sits there...cackling and twirling its mustache. My throat itches. I can't stop sneezing. I feel like (Jaundice-inflicted) Adrien Brody looked at the end of "
The Pianist."

So I have no desire to attempt wit. I feel no compunction over not entertaining. I just wanted anybody who cared to know that I'm not dead yet; there will be a proper update as soon as my mojo gets cold or hungry enough to come home; and you should never sleep beneath an open window on a chilly night. You'll end up sick, unfunny...uninspired.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


If you happen to be a vegan or are easily disturbed by the thought of your food having parents, please navigate back and enjoy one of my other entries.

As I sat on the beach with my family - watching and waiting for large waves to knock select kids off their feet - we gorged ourselves on a fabulous spread. All manner of farm beast sacrificed its life, likely while hoping that we, the world's flesh-chewing citizenry, might one day die of ruptured colons.

Lodged in an undersized folding chair, I soaked up heavenly ultraviolet radiation and watched 11-year-olds choke on salt water while I munched on mustard-soaked Bratwurst. Like a wise, old instant coffee commercial for horny moms once should celebrate these moments in your life. If it weren't for an overabundance of giggling children and typical beach distractions, the experience might have been pretty close to nirvana.

[...A mother cackles as her two, naked little boys run around wagging their naughty bits at everyone. A seagull relieves itself over a Nimitz-class middle-aged guy covered in fur (and by some miracle scores a near-miss). Seals incessantly bark in chorus...]

I tore into a half-bloody piece of Tri-tip steak; wistfully watching the water surrounding a floating platform covered in sunbathing seals. "C'mon shark, c'mon...Well, where the fuck are you?"

Meanwhile, my sister and parents had noticed that a nearby teen - no doubt motivated by a deep-seeded desire to see children break their necks - had dug a sand pit no less than five feet deep. I don't know how, but somewhere along the way, the picnic conversation deviated from...

"Ooo, ooo, please pass me a piece of, no, that one."


"Yeah, that pit reminds me of when we would have to clean the chitlins and squeeze out all that boo."

Any outside shot I had at achieving oneness with that beach instantly vanished.

For those of you unfamiliar with the horror that is a pot of chitlins, I'll explain. If you are to believe my parents and relatives back in South Carolina, chitlins (correctly and more frighteningly spelled chitterlings), are apparently something you put in your mouth and swallow. They're essentially a throwback value meal from times when having a better tan than your average Dixie cup could possibly arouse lynch mob suspicion.

Back in those days, the most delectable, tender portions of poo-covered Wilbur were reserved for folks of both greater means and lesser pigmentation. Enter chitlins.

Unwanted by the then-overclass and therefore affordable, chitlins have somehow stuck around into the 21st century. But then again, so have "tripas" and "makchang gui" and other global variations of disgusting intestinal snack-age. That doesn't mean I've got to allow others to form their own opinions on them though.

I can hear a few of my vegetarian acquaintances cutting me off at this moment. "Umm. What about hot dogs and sausages? You've still got mustard on your shirt from a meal that consisted primarily of hog lips, teeth and assholes... And they're sometimes encased in intestines."

To which I respond. "Well, do hotdogs look like lips, teeth, assholes or intestines? The grossest organ they even remotely resemble is nowhere near the intestines."

Ignorance, faked or otherwise, really is bliss.

You need a healthy imagination to mentally assemble a chicken out of a fried drumstick. But there's do denying, particularly when the kitchen smells like a truck stop restroom, that a pot of chitlins is hot-boiled-poo-pipe.

My parents, quickly snapping to the realization that the North won, cutely attempted to disown their own backwoods histories...

"That was your father's family that ate that stuff."

"Nooo, no, I didn't eat that."

"You know you did."

"So did you."

"Nah-uh...Well, I remember coming to your house for the first time, and I saw fish heads looking up at me from a pot of boiling water."

[laughing] "We didn't throw anything away."

[ laughing] "Well, that's for certain!"

Here's a bit of background on dear mum n' pa: My dad's family is centered in an area around all-too-appropriately-named, Lynchburg, South Carolina. My mother hails from somewhat-less desolate Conway, South Carolina. (If you're reading this mom, don't start dancing a victory jig. My fondest memory of dear Conway involves a HUGE black snake crawling up to the the sliding glass door and watching us during an evening meal at Grandma's house.)

Don't get me wrong, everyone out there are your average American citizens beyond the accents and an honest-to-God pleasantness in disposition. Their personalities really seem to fall in line with the notion of "southern sweetness." But, as much as I love my family, if any relative of mine offered me a hot bowl of shit-ter-lings, I would tell them I recently had my stomach removed and no longer eat. I simply can't deal with the thought of the wringing of fecal frosting from a pig's digestive tract being an integral part of meal preparation.

I adore sushi. I've eaten and enjoyed cow tongue tacos. I believe that animals, for the most part, are delicious. But... I will not eat it, Sam I Am.

As explained by mom, the story goes that my Uncle Buddy, initially shared my disdain for the stinky stew. After having dinner with a military friend (who probably still keeps a sharp lookout for Confederate soldiers), he eventually realized he enjoyed the stuff. He lovingly began referring to the putrid dish as "wrinklesteaks."



I swear whean I heard "wrinklesteak", I almost spit up chunks of spicy sausage on one of my sister's stepkids. It instantly gorilla'd its way into the VIP section of my vocabulary; flanked on the left by "shenanigans" and "dingleberry" on the right.

So, on that sunny day, I happily learned that even my parents find the idea of stinky pig intestines coursing through human entrails somewhat revolting. Well, at least in public. I also learned that for the love of God, if somebody asks you if you if you like scream "NO!"

Nothing good can come of saying anything besides that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Under the Boardwalk

Urgh, Monday...

I promised myself I wouldn't subject anyone masochistic enough to enjoy pushing through my Monday posts to yet more "I feel like crap today" exposition.

But I lie to myself all the time...and I feel like crap.

So there. That information is the key to the fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams, I'm certain.

This weekend featured little in the way of party-boy antics for yours truly, as I was engaged in the initial re-visitation of an activity that will likely become an annual family tradition...

That would be the summer beach picnic, out in Santa Cruz. Home to legions of surfers, skaters, hippies and at least one blogger, Santa Cruz is one of the most awesomely strange places in California. Combination burrito stand/head shops...a massive full-pipe for junior to play on...rabid seals (OK, I'm lying about the seals being rabid, but their never-ending barking might drive you crazy)...Santa Cruz is loaded with stuff absolutely worthy of "lookee here."

Anyhow, my immediate/extended family and friends caravaned down to the Boardwalk from San Jose Saturday morning. I swear I crack a dopey, ear-to-ear grin every time I go to Santa Cruz. It seems like the type of place where children receive school-issued jars of glow in the dark silly putty on the first day of class. As we drove toward parking near the Boardwalk Casino Arcade, I marveled at how different everything felt.

I mean, up is still up and down is down in Santa Cruz, but it has this tangible, almost-alien vibe. It feels almost like the town has a secret side only known to the locals. I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that if you stay past midnight, everyone turns into donkeys that bray at the moon - all still sporting shorts and bikini tops. Or maybe the town is full of gay-looking vampires that prowl the Boardwalk looking for beach keggers. I have an overactive imagination as it is. Combining Santa Cruz with that imagination is comparable to allowing a 10-year-old to wash down No Doze with Mountain Dew.

I must note that being the genius I am, I forgot to bring my camera. As to not take credit for pictures I didn't actually take, I'm letting you know I "Googled" these pics. They are accurate representations of what I saw though. Next time I'll be more prepared, I promise. These are things I saw and heard at the Boardwalk that are probably only interesting to me...

  • Kiddie Rides: a Boardwalk staple

These are miniature versions of rides that typically cater to boys between the ages of 16 and 16-and-a-half. All of them primarily involve spinning you around at high speeds until you either blow chunks all over the person behind you, or you're so dizzy you couldn't walk down the Golden Gate Bridge without falling over the side. Take all that fun, then work the same magic that gave the world bite-sized Snickers, and you get "Rock & Roll." Obviously, it's a music-themed ride. If you have a Peeping-Tom's eyes or a magnifying glass handy, you can see the awesome music-themed mural at the top. It features several of the hottest musical artists adored by children everywhere. That's 'tween favorite Elvis Presley rockin' out on a mean guitar on the left. To the right of Mr. Presley is the "Private Dancer" making every little boy swoon, Tina Turner. And further right are the king and queen of the kiddie Jazz and Latin pop scenes, Louis Armstrong and Gloria Estefan. Kids will no doubt know this is the ride for them. My sister's stepkids will testify.

  • Giant donuts aren't popular in Santa Cruz

I saw, about two dozen of the biggest, baddest donuts God ever allowed to grace this green Earth. I really should kick my own ass for not having a camera on-hand to document those warlocks. They were at least as big as the wheels on your average Toyota. I wondered aloud to my sister, "Why aren't people buying these bad boys? They only cost, like a nickle apiece." Then I got my answer when a saw a mosquito...imprisoned in the gooey glaze of one of the display donuts. "At least he died happy," I said. Then I spotted the ice cream stand.

  • Grandmas are apparently magic

Remember this guy? A young version of Tom Hanks makes a wish on this machine in the movie "Big" and presto...instant hairline issues. Anyhow, the Boardwalk folks, intent on one-upping Zoltar in terms of pay-for-play wisdom and mystical potency, have their own spin on this at the Casino Arcade named "Grandma Says." It featured an animatronic crone that looks like the type of old woman that would take all of the money she tricked out of everyone dumb enough to give her any, and go hit the nickle slots in Vegas. Since when do grandmas grant wishes? I mean, if you wish for fruitcake or cookies, their powers might prove quite formidable. It's when you're trying to wish away foreclosure on your home that things get tricky. Since I'm apparently a dumbass, I wished to be a kid again and waited and waited, but nothing happened. After playing video games and eating ice cream for over an hour, I gave up waiting and ran back to the beach to make a sand castle.

This is just a mere taste of last weekend's nuttiness. To be continued...

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I work with this really nice fellow that hails from the Midwest. He's sort'a my supervisor, dohn-cha-know...except not. He's a really cool dude; easygoing, affable and extremely funny. He's the type of person that's never short on interesting discussion topics or off-color jokes/remarks. I speak of the sort of guy with which you might have a serious discussion on the ramifications of Iraq troop withdrawal one moment...and what constitutes good bathroom reading material the next. As I stated earlier, he's an interesting cat.

That being said, I wish he didn't have such an affinity for walking around the office barefoot. He's of the ginormous, lumbering, Nordic persuasion; a bigg'un of no less than 6'4", 250 lbs. If you can extrapolate those dimensions into a mental picture of the peds in question, you might come up with something that looks like ten sausages wearing helmets jutting out of a pair of petrified tree stumps. Our office dress policy allows for such freedom in terms of footwear. As a matter of fact, you can pretty much wear (or not wear) whatever you choose so long as it's within reason. I wear funny-looking hats.

So weather permitting - which is the case 11 months of the year here - my colleague takes things back to an ancient time when there were no finer sneakers available than one's own crusty heels. I can't say enough how much I respect this person, but the sight of those swollen, callus-bound groundpounders can be quite disconcerting. I remember an afternoon in which a familiar voice shot out an effusive "Hey, man!" while I was washing my hands in the company restroom. Startled, I quickly looked up from the sink...only to see him, marching onto the filthy, gray tile sans footwear. He nearly met my enchiladas.

While none of my other co-workers have attempted to walk on piss water, many of them love to tromp around on our filthy office carpet as if they're on their way to a Twister tournament. At least they wear socks. Whatever makes you happy, I suppose. I guess empty Equal packets and rug fuzzies sticking to, rocks?

I'll admit I'm not a huge fan of feet. I think this dislike stems from a childhood memory that features a barefoot friend literally stomping in chunky dog shit while running towards an awaiting Slip-and-Slide. I'll never forget the sight of his mother rinsing rectal fudge from between his toes with a green garden hose. I lost my voice laughing that day and went on to read radio traffic. He has since gone on to become the CEO and majority shareholder of Raging Waters theme parks.

I currently have a buddy who doesn't feel "free" unless he's picking up loose gravel with his toes; as if doing so incites some orgy of moonwalking, dusty-footed ecstasy. He, like my favorite co-worker, is Midwestern.

So, I don't understand this need to be barefoot. And no, I don't sleep with socks on, but you can bet your sweet hindquarters I sock up before I hit the stairs. I guess I just think that feet (especially dude feet) aren't very pleasant things. They're wiggly dirt sponges that sop up germs, and grime and gone uncared for, they sometimes smell like stale bar snacks.

I remember a scene in the movie "Die Hard," in which a fellow passenger on an airplane tells Bruce Willis the secret to surviving air travel...

"You want to know the secret to surviving air travel?" asks the passenger. "After you get where you're going, take off your shoes and your socks then walk around on the rug bare foot and make fists with your toes." (see fig. 1.)

fig. 1.

"I've been doing it for nine years. Yessir, better than a shower and a hot cup of coffee. "

Maybe this guy's method of foot clenching differs from mine, but I was almost certain the best way to survive air travel was hire a competent pilot and drink lots of those little bottles of booze. But, I once accidentally mailed a letter to myself (don't drink and mail), so what the hell do I know?

I now move on to the topic of "girl feet." Girl feet, on average, are typically less revolting than "dude feet." Girl feet often are spackled with pretty pigments and designs, and they almost never smell like Funyuns. But that doesn't mean women shouldn't be looking down while running towards the Slip-and-Slide. It's been said countless times in popular culture that women's bodies (particularly their nether parts) are inherently more beautiful than men's and are therefore more artistically worthy. I have to agree. But try as I might, I can't find anything artistic about foot parasites.

When I was still in the Air Force, an acquaintance once told me (while standing barefoot on molten summer asphalt) "barefoot toughness" was "a white person thing." He was white. This didn't explain the whole East Indian walking on red-hot embers trick, but I nodded in agreement anyway. I'm a black guy - living in a presumptuous world - who speaks English in a manner that would've made Winston Churchill quite proud. Unnecessary compliments and funny looks don't even surprise me anymore. So, trust me when I say I'm very aware of the power of stereotyping and generalization.

I witnessed many people of color people going about their business while wearing nature's Nikes when I last visited my relatives in South Carolina. I can't say there was a great deal of age diversity within that group though. Not one of those footloose individuals was over the age of 12. Maybe that guy I talked to back in the military was onto something. Or perhaps because of his mumbling due to his bottom lip being chock full of chewing tobacco, I didn't hear him correctly.

So I ask those of you who are footloose and fancy free...

As well as those of you as rigid in your shoe-wearing ways as a boot camp recruit standing at attention...

If the shoe fits...

Why not wear it?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where the Boys Aren't

I have been led to believe by many friends that I, yours truly, am one the finest examples of contradictory behavior around. Of course many of these "contradictions" are based on dated stereotypes that have no place in a world where immeasurable knowledge is only a keystroke away. No neurosis, no questionable behavior could ever draw more attention to a man than actions deemed inconsistent with traditional manhood.

For example: I'm a pretty stout fellow; particularly for my height (I'm 5' 10"), and as a guy, that works for me. A fair portion of men enjoy few things more than hoisting heavy, inanimate, metal objects over their heads repeatedly while grunting. I'm especially talented in this respect. Here I am about to perform an incline dumbbell press.

Just kidding. That's former Mr. Olympia finalist Flex Wheeler about to throw up around 200 lbs...per arm. But, I do enjoy doing this type of thing; albeit with slightly less weight. I also enjoy participating in pick-up games of tackle football and scarfing mustard-drenched Polish dogs at AT&T Park. I was a better-than-average student of boxing in college, and I can consistently throw the 15-yard-out pattern with some degree of success. So when the game is won and the Heinekens have been chugged, I go home, take a shower, and if I'm in the mood... BAM! I'm slicing onions and concocting sauces and basically pretending that it's my face on the package of Uncle Ben's instant rice (I'm certain that line would go over wonderfully with the NAACP). These fits of culinary inspiration come-and-go, but I've grown progressively more focused and Zen-like in the kitchen, which has become the source of much comedy among my buddies. Meet Chef Boy-Au-brey. Charmed, I presume?

In the past I was a slave to animal impulses, and although I knew it wasn't always fair, I demanded girlfriends to paint their toes strange, bright colors and join me at the gym lest they become casualties of dreaded "girlfriend gain." I also unabashedly requested they wear shoes that probably weren't safe (let alone comfortable) from time-to-time. In short, I suffered severe bouts of douche-itis in my 20's. I've shared many a chuckle with the guys over similar Cro-Magnon antics they perpetrated on gals. But those laughs are turned squarely on me if I show up for the holiday pot-luck wearing...

That's right...a tweed charcoal blazer and button-down combination (with matching scarf, of course). Again, this is the source of a whole 'lotta snickering. Perhaps describing it as "charcoal" doesn't help. Look fellas, I understand that I don't live in Paris or London, but how does blazer + matching clothes + scarf = this guy?I mean, gimme a fuckin' break, lol. Is it the social climate in America (or more specifically Sacramento) demanding I embrace my fashion douchebag? Or could some preconceived notion; some archetypal influence be at work? I may never know for sure. One thing I do know is that if you draped a FUBU shirt over my dead body, I'd instantly resurrect and put my thumbs in your eyes. Hey, I'm just saying.

It appears I'm too mixed up and European (my boss called me that today) to know when I'm treading in "fairy-boy" territory. Now I'm even starting to question whether or not blogging is unmanly. I mean, I've searched and searched and besides Badass Geek, I've yet to find a coherent blog written by anyone with a Y-chromosome. There's literally about a 10-t0-1 female-to-male ratio of bloggers as far as I've seen. And that doesn't make me feel any more capable of ripping a phone book in half with my bare hands.

So, should I tweak things to make sure Catnip is TE (Testosterone/Estrogen) balanced? Should the title be changed to "Dogbones for Dipshits"? Maybe throw in some posts about the upcoming NFL season? I could do a comparison piece titled... New York Strip vs. Sirloin: Rage on the Grill. How about the pros and cons of Ultimate Fighting as a high school sports activity? I'm not sure, but perhaps sharing what happened during my day might be too similar to sharing my feelings...or writing poetry. And that's just gross, isn't it?

What do you guys/gals think? Are my testosterone-fueled insecurities founded?

Please share your feeli...err, thoughts on this with me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally Saw It

OK, because it's Monday, you've probably already guessed that the weekend stuffed me in a tiny hurt locker and slammed the door shut. Five coffees and four mush-mouthed news reports into my day, I still feel a bit fried. But...

It's a satisfied and happy fried, for the culmination of weeks of nerdy anticipation and speculation was a truly awesome movie experience. Yup, I finally got to see "The Dark Knight," in IMAX, no less. Nerds and geeks were plentiful, and I saw several moviegoers arguing over whether Spiderman could beat up full make-up and costume. One winner, who sprinted into the theater and claimed about 20 seats, almost got into a fistfight with another gent. Then, a happy-looking fellow with a bowl cut walked by me munching on a Butterfinger, sporting a cape that draped over his polo shirt and khakis. You had to be there.

Now, I know many of us don't like to subscribe to unsubstantiated hyperbole. Especially nerd hyperbole. Intelligent people--more specifically, your garden variety blogger--inherently value their own opinion. Most of us blog because we feel we have something interesting to say; something worth sharing. We're unique individuals. So, latching onto the pop-culture sensibilities of the masses sans supportive evidence is a no-no for most of us. I'm an especially cynical person, and have never watched an episode of Survivor or American Idol without serious reservations, and never, under any circumstances, by personal choice.

But I'm forced to venture into dangerous overly-enthusiastic territory here. And I do so while first prefacing that It's just my opinion, not written-in-stone fact. If you see the film and you think it's utter goatshit, you're probably just an awful person to begin wi...I mean, it's simply a difference of opinion.

That said, I'm here to tell you, in that theater, for the first time in quite a few years I was seriously a giddy kid again. It happened during "Pulp Fiction" and "The Matrix." A similar feeling took hold after subjecting my then-girlfriend to rebel yell-induced embarrassment during "Gladiator." And for this "comic book movie" I felt it again.

My adulation isn't the result of whiz-bang effects and pyrotechnics. It wasn't the amazing cinematography (I can't begin to describe how awesome the swooping nighttime shots of Chicago's skyline look in IMAX). It wasn't even a genuinely scary-as-hell virtuoso performance by the sadly- departed Heath Ledger (my God, what a swan song). It was the fact that the movie took something, that for most adults, represents mere pop-culture child's play, and turned it into something far more relevant and palpable.

Yessiree, I'm talkin' seriously heady, post-9/11, fear and moral duality type themes. But amazingly, it still has plenty of the less brain-taxing "THWACK!" AND "POW!" stuff that people tend to go to summer movies for. I know I'm talking about a film featuring a guy running around in cape and costume; one that has ears for that matter--but the fact it could inspire such nerve-racking tension and dread was very impressive indeed.

Attendance at the show I went to was pretty evenly split between men and women and everyone, for the most part, appeared genuinely impressed afterwards. I feel comfortable recommending this movie to most anyone. But, they should probably first watch its predecessor, "Batman Begins" which re-booted the franchise after it was nearly destroyed by George Clooney and friends. in '97.

So, at least for me, Bats rocked my world, left a mint on the pillow and hasn't called back since. And I don't mind one bit.

On a less geeky note, I ran into, and had lunch with Miss Grace in San Francisco after the movie. (Oh yeah, I traveled some 70-something miles with friends to see TDK because Sacra-"Them sure is lovely chickens you got there"-mento didn't offer it at its IMAX theater) Grace was out there for Blogher '08, which by her account, was fantastic. Stop by her blog to find out why.

Of course the weekend included obligatory 100 meter butterfly race in beer moments (hence the Monday fuzzies). And I nearly killed a guy with a well-timed comet of a throw during my social league kickball game Sunday. All-in-all it was a truly satisfying couple of days. I'll get back to more inclusive subject matter next time, but since I'd been detailing my need to see TDK for weeks, I felt it was only appropriate to fill you in on my reaction.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Job Woes

Dear readers,

I just flubbed a sponsor's ad on the air...badly. [chuckling] For some reason I find this immensely amusing when, for the sake of professionalism, I should be horrified. I mean mumbling over the airways like a deaf-mute virgin teenager who woke up to find his face smothered in vag isn't a good thing... in radio.

"Good Afternoon!" "I'm Aubrey Henry with your 12-40 K-R-J-Y news, traffic and weather update! Traffic is brought to you by the Air Quality Management District...visit them at is confusing...well, um, spare the air and your health, folks."

[shaking head] Tragic.

Apparently, the numerous gin/vodka tonics I've ingested over the past 10 years or so have pickled my brain something awful. My domesponge simply couldn't deal with the mind-boggling juxtaposition of the "dot com" portion of the ad and the period denoting the end of the sentence I was reading. It's times like these that I wonder if my parents have been hiding for years the awful secret that I'm really one-fourth mongoloid.

Anyhow, the point of today's entry is to discuss my future. As demonstrated by my obvious disregard for the finer points of radio etiquette-- I've determined, once and for all, that my talents in communicative expressionism would be better served in a written/typed medium.

I do get to write at work as I've explained earlier. It's written in a phonetic style that uses aspects of Associated Press style and blah, blah, blah. Well, take this gem of an excerpt for example:

" A wheelchair-bound woman described by police reports as "Mimi" lured the victim (blog note: victim was also in a wheelchair) to the intersection of Madison and Vine streets around midnight by pretending to need assistance. When the 59-year-old victim rolled up, a legless, black male in another wheelchair grabbed the older woman's purse and managed to take about 15-dollars from it before she pulled it away. Both suspects sped off eastbound on Vine Street."

Goddamn Shakespearean, aint it? But all of it, be it wheelchair bandits; feral kitten attacks; even Sacramento's annual summer trenchcoat flasher just, doesn't work for me anymore. So I'm considering new career options. I used to be interested in all kinds of neat-o shit before I allowed myself to get tracked into the doomed path of journalism.

At one time or another in my life I've wanted to be: a marine biologist, firefighter, Lion-O, cartoonist, food taster, bodybuilder, porn star, detective, fighter pilot, actor, lottery winner, pirate, ninja, ninja-pirate, rapper, singer, rock star, master thief, Prince of Monaco, shark fisherman, international man of mystery, political advisor, race car driver and art dealer.

If any of you would be so kind as to chime in with any great ideas for a new exciting career, I'd be in your debt. None of these other career choices have worked out so far.

Careerlessly yours,


Monday, July 14, 2008

Let there be light

I'm an autumn kinda guy so the recent dreary conditions brought on by all the fires haven't really bugged me too much. But, I have to admit it's nice to see blue skies and breath somewhat-fresh air once again. This picture was taken in my West Sacramento neighborhood at around 5 p.m. this past Friday. The gray soup blotting out the sun is not cloud cover. Apocalyptic, no?

All rejoice in your return
Free of shroud, dark and shadow
Radiance is your presence
Your warmth cradles
And lights unworn paths
Traversed in being and spirit
Inviting--daring half-open eyes
To bear witness and burn blind
In illumination
Of all things foul and fair
From heavenly perch
Life and death are brought
And time and space defined
The world lies before you
Where a universe begins and ends
Till dusk calls
And beyond where once you stood
Lie hopes and dreams and what may be
All the world an orphan pebble
Sloshed about a twilight sea
Till dawn marks your return
As dark and shadow flee

Aubrey M. Henry

Friday, July 11, 2008

Emil 2.0

I know I recently posted a "nerd" entry, but I couldn't help going there again...

My good friend Emiliano decided to do me a favor and make my "The Dark Knight" obsession look like a Congressional Medal of Honor today. Emil's inadvertent affirmation of my comparative coolness began at 8 a.m. the very back of Sacramento's Arden Fair Mall. A little past noon, my redemption was only half complete.

blog note:

virginity-(Aubreyspeak)-vir·gin·i·ty: A social state of being lending itself to an existence devoid of sexual activity despite any earlier engagement in coitus.

See Emil

See Emil maintaining

See Emil maintaining virginity

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more Apple addicts

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more Apple addicts for seven hours

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more Apple addicts for seven hours while sipping on a liter of cola

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more Apple addicts for seven hours while sipping on a liter of cola and munching a buttered pretzel

See Emil maintaining virginity with 700 more Apple addicts for seven hours while sipping on a liter of cola and munching a buttered pretzel... waiting for iPhone 2.0.

It's OK, Emil. I'll be right there with you next weekend; waiting for hours in a ridiculous line and looking dopey-faced ecstatic to be in it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Crunchy Sunshine and Cool Cats

I've been decompressing for the past couple of days, and consequently, I flat-out didn't feel like writing...anything. You see, I gotsta to cut you off now-and-again, because it's good for the reader/blogger relationship. If I bombard you, the reader, with life's trivial happenings--perhaps my inability to find alternate employment--you won't appreciate the stuff that somewhat-funny, borderline-abusive animal pictures...

Heh-heh. That cat can mix...and he purposely misspelled his message.

So that's awesome.

But, getting back to less important things...

I guess it would do no harm to fill you in on my near-death experience the other night. But first...a bit of background.

You see, I'm a radio anchor. This typically sounds really cool to the average person, but, be that as it may, it's a decidedly uncool occupation. Because of my limited adventure budget and hedonistic tendencies, I avoid unnecessary luxuries at all costs. Ya know, things like bottled water...and health care (I must have monies for Newcastles and T-bones). You gotta love the fresh, sexy aroma of Recession (also available for women).

My roommates' shared dislike of excess utility debt has created an environment where nobody wants to be the first person to turn on the A/C. I rent a room from a friend, that for the sake of anonymity, we'll call "Tim." Tim, like any stereotypically repressed male of Asian decent, was brought up not to waste; to always save for a rainy day; to generally deny himself of consumerist pleasures.

My parents were both brought up in wretchedly poor households in their youth, but both took care of business, and I reaped the benefits (and detriment) of middle-class-dom. Long ago, I pledged my undying devotion to cable television, barbecues with noodle salad, and air conditioning. And there is no shame.

So, I woke up late Tuesday night in my bedroom; covered in sweat with a woodpecker going at it inside my chest. Oh yeah, actually, that was my heart. It was (I sh*t you not) over 85 degrees in my room at about midnight. Need I mention that this week it has been, on average, 256 degrees during the daytime in Sacramento?

After I took a ice-cold shower, I walked over to the A/C unit on the wall just outside Tim's door. Hmmm...turn it on and look forward to tomorrow's utility discussion or leave it off and die? I could set the air to turn off at 82 degrees, which would only take about three or four hours...


So, I did what any self-respecting person would do under the circumstances. I downed a Heath Ledger-esque cocktail of NyQuil, melatonin tablets and beer then went back to sleep.

So Tim doesn't want to use the air. In Sudanian conditions, I typically do. But it's his house. He's a great guy, but man, is he cheap...and sometimes overly-moralistic if you ask me. He's also extremely cryptic when expressing his beliefs. These behaviors force steam out of my ears on ocassion.

Me: "Damn, dude. It's 95 degrees in here. How can you stand it?"

Tim: "Oh, I hadn't noticed. It seems cool to me."

Me: "Yeah, right."

Tim: "I guess it's just a state of mind. I just saw, ya know, while I was in the Philippines...some things aren't that important."

Me: "But, we're in California..."

Tim: [shrugs]

Me: "...and you're sweating."

Tim: ...[shrugs again] "Oh, I hadn't noticed."

"Tim" if you're reading this, I loves ya, man. But sometimes your thriftiness makes Ebeneezer look like Warren Buffet. You pinch pennies so hard, you can see boogers coming out of Lincoln's nose if you look closely enough.

Let's review, folks.

I'm broke...

California is burning down to the ground, giving the air a certain ashy-crunchiness in the process...

It feels like I'm incubating inside the devil's uterus in my room (oh yeah, I'm 92% certain the devil is a she)...

And I'm seriously considering the far more lucrative field of roadside fruit sales in lieu of (faux) journalism.

Who says everyday life isn't interesting?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weekend Wrapup

Continued Northern California cigarette flipping and whisper-like winds have once again brought toxic, cough-inducing smokiness to Sacramento. It's like Groundhog Day around here sometimes, I swear.

But anyhow, I'm in a serious state of mental and physical recovery today. This also seems to be a (weekly) recurring theme in my life. Perhaps I should go back to just burning the candle at both ends on Sundays as opposed to throwing the whole damn thing in a hot oven.

Over the course of this past weekend I endured several seemingly minor physical/mental stresses that are now manifesting themselves in an aching case of the Mondays, to include:

Helping a buddy that has already moved about 11 times in the past two years haul his various belongings (including an Olympic weight set) to his new (temporary) house Friday morning after a night in which I had...

Inflicted massive amounts of harm upon my unsuspecting kidneys and liver with a variety of tasty, liquid dehydrators (Hooray beer!)...which continued up until Sunday when I...

Became probably the first person in history to take a vicious, ESPN highlights-worthy charge at first base to help seal a hard-fought victory--in a kickball game--after which I...

Reveled in the coolness of my dubious talent for staying conscious without adequate sleep--after three wild days--while ignoring my body's desperate requests for naps the whole while. But not before I...

Was pulled over by an overzealous agent of local law enforcement, who proceeded to accuse me of driving while talking on my cell phone when I really wasn't.

And I honestly hadn't used my phone all day. I don't get that many calls. It's a simple matter of me not being that cool. I was actually resting my half-conscious, bruised and throbbing head by propping it on my hand, which of course, was supported by my elbow which itself was propped on the passengers seat. Johnny Law apparently wasn't buying this explanation...initially.

It didn't help matters that my cell phone was lying within arms length in the passengers seat, but that shouldn't matter when you REALLY WEREN'T USING YOUR CELL PHONE.

"Do you know why I pulled you over, Sir?"

"No Sir, I don't."

"I pulled you over because you were driving while talking on your cell phone."

"No Sir, I wasn't."

[Exhaling angrily] "I saw you driving with your hand up next to your ear. Are you trying to tell me I'm lying?"

"No, Sir, I wouldn't do're the law, Sir."

And I did go on to explain the head resting scenario, but apparently when he heard "you're the law, Sir" he grew a big rubbery one and all likelihood of any wrongdoing on my part was thrown right out the window. He walked back to his patrol car and made a big show of going over my licence and registration, but I knew I was cleaner than Oprah's (post) dinner plate.

"Well, I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Henry."

"I really wasn't on my phone."

[sighing] "Just keep your hand away from your ear until the new cell phone law calms down."

Maybe he should just calm down. The stress brought on by visions of a possible nightstick beating along with the various bumps and bruises I collected throughout the weekend have put me in an odd state. I'm honestly a bit elated to get back to the dull routine of work.

Finally, I can get some rest and relaxation in before I have to go back to weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The "Dork" Knight

In the past couple of years, I've finally been able to come to grips with the fact that I'm a HUGE NERD. That's not a solely figurative statement. This pic is a few years old, but I've managed to maintain this particular look in spite of going through a recent phase when beer, pizza and homework (listed in order of importance) eclipsed my need to crush unopened soda cans--with one hand. After I took this picture, I faintly recall going back to playing PlayStation games and shooting Cheez Whiz into my mouth.

Anyway, yesterday, a friend of mine was giving me grief about my advance purchase of IMAX tickets for "The Dark Knight." I responded to his playful ribbing with...

"What? I only bought them three weeks in advance, sheesh."

I was browsing through the vast array of "basement virgin" websites (rottentomatoes, 49erswebzone, Askmen, etc.) I frequent this morning, when I thought....

"Ya know, Aubrey...why don't you just admit that you've got a PhD in Goober-ology? You'll feel better if you 'out' yourself."

My logical side responded...

"Aubrey, anyone that knows you is quite aware you're the Ayatollah of unintentional virginity. There's no need to announce something that folks with functional gray matter can deduce for themselves."

But I can't help but feel like I've been keeping some horrible secret; like Morgan Freeman in the movie "Deep Impact" (which by the way, was much, much better than the craptacular "Armageddon").

OK, perhaps not advertising my love for Rocky IV, robots with lasers and kung-fu/ninja movies isn't as bad as the end of the world. But like a good friend of mine once said, I'm honest to a fault--which is especially true in terms of my own perceived shortcomings.

But why would I want to allow strangers into my geeky little world? After minutes of self-analyzing, I've produced several theories of why I feel some unprovoked need to put my uncool-ness on display...

a) I believe that people think I'm much cooler than they actually do.

b) I assume I'm much lamer than I actually am.

c) I actually am so cool that I can't reconcile with the guilt/responsibility inherent in Über-coolness (all afore-mentioned coolness is now voided due to my use of the word "Über").

d) So strong is the (nerd) force in me that I feel a need to unleash my knowledge of obscure trivia facts, martial arts cinema and aircraft specifications on the world.

I'm gonna go with "d."

I mean, I'm not really a virgin or anything (it's funny how for us guys, insertion is apparently where downtown Nerdville ends and the freeway to Cooltown begins). I know when it's appropriate to delve into the mysterious origins of the "Dracula" legend or when to commence with a "Gollum" impression. But the fact that I occasionally do these things has always worried me.

In high school, I was never one of the "cool" kids, BUT, everyone knew my name, and (I would like to believe) liked me for the most part. I played football and was OK at that (not the case in track), but honestly, I didn't excel at anything in high school beyond drawing, writing poems/short stories and shoving quarters into a Street Fighter II machine. Nevertheless, I knew deep down, that there was nothing really wrong with that. Or was there?

My closest school friends and I were always keenly self-aware, and were as pop-culture conscious as the "sheep" we pretended to despise. But I also remember more than one lunch period spent in the library where we read newspapers and compared NFL statistics. We were all--in some respect or another--artists at heart. But, as we got older--the doldrums of an anemic high school social life shrinking in our rear view mirrors, something strange happened. We became "cooler." In my case, I chalk it up to military-inspired confidence, being a late physical bloomer and obscene amounts of alcohol.

This influx of cool completely sapped my creative juices. I was always too hung over to write a story; or there was a new club to go to; or a random somebody whose name I couldn't remember needed attending to. It wasn't until I got out of the military, got my degree and got too old (or tasteful) to allow myself to be seen in "FUBU" that I started feeling that old dork gene kicking back in. I probably needn't mention that when my father (as a kid) wasn't picking tobacco out in Lynchburg, South Carolina, he was reading "Spiderman" comics (Sorry Pop, but I can't take the whole rap for this).

Which brings us to the here-and-now. I have friends that own homes, have beautiful significant others, listen to nothing but Too Short and have all the imagination of dry toast. I have buddies with the house and the cute wife who worship at the alter of "Grand Theft Auto" and can cite the genus and species of aquarium fish on demand. Each side teases the other tirelessly. Can either one really be right?

Are any of you wrestling with your inner nerd? Is there a medication I can take for nerd flare-ups? Please help!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My "Friend" The Internet

Jan 1, 1984 -- A year has passed since the first international "TCP/IP" (Transmission Control Procedure/Internet Protocol) network went online; effectually launching what would eventually become a worldwide technological and social revolution...

The date fell within Christmas vacation for students at Phillips Elementary School. I'm sure I hid behind a pine tree sometime that day--all misty breath and bad intentions--clutching a compact ball of fresh, Virginia snow. Winter's winds whistled while working my ears over mercilessly. Every gust echoed like a howl of laughter, accompanying the lashing of my icy, reddish-brown annoyances with heartbeats.

My target was in sight. Robbie--an over-bundled, blue-eyed, duck-in-a-lounger if I'd ever seen one--had waddled out into the open. He stepped slowly, unsuccessfully attempting to silence the pronounced crunch of powder crushing beneath cumbersome boots.

His breath was masked by a woolen reindeer scarf that mummified the poor boy up to his nose. Breath condensation and wayward spittle had iced over the wrapping in the area surrounding his mouth. Robbie's face remained squished up, transforming his eyes into cobalt slivers of unfettered determination. He was flawlessly Antarctic.

I wasn't sure if Robbie knew that I was behind my friend, the giant pine, which stood proudly in my front yard. In winter the old pine kindly scattered thousands of itchy needles that I would be forced to collect in spring. In summer, it yielded a child's treasure trove of molted Cicada bug exoskeletons--which were used to scare my sisters; prompting deserved beatings. Alas, I peeked out to discover Robbie had seen me and was now in full duck walk, headed in my direction. The pine had failed me.

My heart kicked against my chest cavity and my ears ceased their rhythmic throbbing. Cocking back my iced-over ammunition, I prepared myself for what would possibly be a face-numbing leap into action. I counted down in my mind towards the duel awaiting me a mere moment away. Robbie must have sensed my intentions and charged into battle. Five...Four...[crunch, crunch, crunch]...Three...Two...[Crunch, Crunch, Crunch!]...ONE!


OK, the story didn't really end like that. I really popped out from behind the old pine and pegged Robbie in the face. But he was a good sport about it, and I seem to remember the remainder of the afternoon consisting of grilled cheese sandwiches and friendly skirmishes between toy Transformers armies. But this whole convoluted story came about after I recently thought to myself "How would I be different today if I had Internet access from the time I was a child?"

My parents said it to me when we got cable television. I'm sure their parents droned similar sentiments as mom and pop basked in the awesomeness of indoor plumbing. Who am I to try and rock the USS Tradition? So, I'll just be a cliche and say it...Today's (Internet-proficient) kiddies are more than a little spoiled.

I was a kid once (yup, me too), so I understand the whole grownups vs. children dynamic. I haven't lost sight of the beauty in having what later might seem like impossibly grandiose dreams--spawned by limitless imagination; or your own secret world where adults with all of their rules, negativity and limits aren't welcome. Childhood is an amazing thing, and it saddens me that I couldn't grasp the enormous significance represented in every sunset as I journeyed towards its passing. Then again, if I could understand such things at that age, I would've been some freakish, Emo kid, I suppose.

That said, the problem I have with the Internet, is that it has blurred the imaginary line separating children (and those of childlike thought) from people who at least appreciate rationality. Most children are not rational. They come from the " I feel, therefore I'm right" school of philosophy as opposed to the "I think therefore I..." well, you know. Through my forays into this new global universe--inhabitants connected by keyboard and monitor--I've ascertained that Internet has created a world where...

- a child's ability to utilize traditional speech has an inverse relationship with the amount of his/her Internet use. Example: "This class is 'teh suck.'" (the suckiest).

- people who are probably undeserving of their freedom of speech rights (namely young children and morons) have an unlimited forum from which to spread stupidity...unchecked.

- people can shoot out snappy email or create an awesome interactive profile, but are absolutely terrified of making friendly contact with strangers in real-life.

- news writing (or writing in general for that matter) is no longer looked at as a respected art form by the masses.

- a position or argument doesn't need to be thought-out, because it's your Internet-given right to let the whole world know how you feel.

"Ah ha!" (I can practically feel you saying this now) "The journalism angle is the crux of your argument, Aubrey." Well smarty, you might be partially right. Yes, it does anger me that a good portion of Internet users truly believe that there's "nothing to" journalism or writing in general--but what really pisses me off is that by way of the Internet, these people have likely contributed to their own delusion. Comment sections, amateur news bloggers and celebrity gossip sites are all thumbtacks in my Hanes. In addition, the Internet has taught me that deep down, most of us (myself included) are just plain unlikeable in many aspects.

I can't read a controversial, hard-hitting news story on the Internet if it has a "comments" section. Why? Because like a dimwitted motorist passing a cop giving somebody a ticket, I can't mind my own business. I spin my head to check out car accidents, despite an innate desire to stray from the herd. I read rude, unfounded and just plain hateful comments penned by the wonderful Youtube community. I read the occasional gem on CBS Sportsline. I even partake in asinine commentary courtesy of the informed crowd at CNN. What reading these comments does is alert me to the presence of every English-speaking mental defective (to include racists, radicals and absolutists) with Internet access and free time.

Consequently, I've developed a rather undeserved superiority complex with regards to the average person. I know I'm not a genius or anything like that, but a steady diet of idiocy has fattened my already rotund noggin to bobble head proportions.

Perhaps, once again, I've taken a stance that (despite what I may believe) has more to do with my advancing age than any perceptible wrong. I mean, I really do love the Internet for all its wonderful advantages. It's infinite knowledge on tap, with videos of dogs riding skateboards to boot. But the fact remains that while the world has never been more informed and connected; I've never felt so isolated from the average person. Isn't all this connected-ness supposed to make me feel the opposite?

Am I simply unable to deal with what seems like minute-to-minute change in a world ruled by technology? Has the dreaded "Internet Divide" claimed another old soul? Did Robbie ever get revenge for that iceball to the face? Find out next time...on Catnip For Cuckoos.

And please chime in with your (thought-out) opinions.