Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Touchless Massage, Energy Flows, God, the Easter Bunny, and George Bush Bombing the Towers ... Welcome to San Francisco

Today I'm in San Francisco talking to my brother's fashion model girlfriend and I have no f'n clue what the hell her mouth is saying. It's like another language.

Her: "People have blockages in their bodies which prevent energy and positive energy from flowing. Everyone has healing in their auras because of the polarity of energy from north to south in their bodies. When you're growing up, the energy is flowing in different ways ..."


What's more, she and my brother are fairly convinced that George Bush had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. No joke. I told them I'd be more apt to believe that green monkeys regularly raid the liquor store across the street.

My dad went to college in Berkeley and always made jokes about the "left coast", but when you see it with your owns eyes, the reality is blinding. He'd say, "US topography must be slanted because all the crazies slid into California." So true.

As much as I complain about DC, at least we think straight. That, and the Chesapeake is bigger and more dangerous than the pussy-ass San Francisco Bay (That's right, I said it).

I'm a scientist at heart. I lump all that fantasy into the same category as belief in god, the tooth fairy, touchless massage and the Easter Bunny. Is there security in believing irrational things? There must be. 744,230 people live in San Francisco.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"He lives on board, with a monkey."

From the Greenpeace blog:

Off the coast of West Africa lies a 'graveyard' of rusting ships, abandoned by their owners. The thing is, there's still fishermen living on board ...

"We head to another of the rusting fishing vessels, 70 nautical miles off the coast of Guinea, West Africa. We had been told this was where old pirate fishing boats were left at anchor, abandoned. We didn't expect to find living people on board the dying ships."
(Link to photo gallery and article).
Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by abandoned, rusting boats. There's something haunting and other-worldly about them. When I was in Greece, my wife and I found an old freight ship that had run aground off the coast of the southern Peloponnese. We swam out and explored the guts and cabin of the dead, hulking vessel. I could never get bored of doing that.

And to think that there are some of these Chinese fishermen who've been on board for years! Amazing. Makes me want to take a trip to visit them.

Here's to you, winter ... May you rot in hell.

All photos were taken on February 12th, 2006 in front of my apartment.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Without me, the band is turning to shit.

The latest "band practice":

My band is proving to be totally useless. I take one practice off---just one---and things turn to shit. Spankings and naked girls does not a good band practice make. WTF? As they say in the navy, a fit ship should be a benevolent dictatorship. To save this mess, I'm gonna have to step in and start cracking some skulls.

And the latest band emails prove our demise! Here's a sweet sampling:
"Hawkwind is great. They made me realize. If we really want a better band, I should play bass. Otherwise, the songs are completely jangly. I can play bass fine. I just have to pay attention. And Lemmy played bass. So it's bad ass."

"Our shit has no gusto. So someone needs to follow up with a 'What would the Misfits do?'"

"Lonnie, you're best at rocking the lead guitar. You're just a better musician. But you have to be more patient, less noodling. For fuck's sake, why can't we write a song with you alt tuning and using the slide. That's bad as shit!"

"Neither Lonnie or I should sing. It's too gay."
It's sad to say, but I don't think we're getting into the Hall of Douchebags any time soon. Sorry to disappoint.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Guide to Being a Knee-Jerk Leftist (KJL)

A true Knee-Jerk Leftist (KJL) cannot contemplate rebuttals; like a hammer to a knee, we must react quickly or the fascists will destroy us. I've been every type of leftie in the book---Marxist, Anarchist, Socialist, Liberal, Green---so if you're having a political awakening or are considering switching from right to left, consult my concise guide.

  • The US economy can never do well. The right wing has tons of info about how good the US economy is, so you must counteract it. Remember, poor people always exist in any society, so when you're losing the argument, memorize some poverty and unemployment statistics so you can prove that the economy is in the shitter. That's a sure winner. If you still feel insecure, trot out the ole no-more-American-factory-jobs horse. Works every time.

  • Things are worse than they used to be. The left and right both conjure up dreamy nostalgia for the good ole days. But as a KJL, you've gotta be on target. Things are bad now. REAL bad. And they're getting worse and worse. A real KJL is a fatalist, so create your own Ultimate Doom Prediction. Make it unique so you'll sound like an intellectual when swapping scenarios with other KJLs.

  • International business always brings ruin to the Third World. Everyone knows a sweat shop story. But as a good KJL, you've gotta have details. GORY details. And nothing works like anecdotal evidence. Bring up a specific name of a company and the exact effects it had on the down-trodden workers of a country in the global south. And don't say you read it in the New York Times or Mother Jones magazine. The best way to stick it to your right wing opponent is to say you read it in The Economist. No one will be able to dismiss it as a commie rag.

  • Poor people are more noble than rich people. Repeat this sentence ten times: When poor people do "bad things", it's because of their economic situation. It's The System, you brain-washed automaton. THE SYSTEM.

  • The USSR "had its problems", but at least it provided universal healthcare. The KJL exalts healthcare as the primary human right. When lambasting the fact that there are 40 million poor souls in the US without healthcare, bring up the old hammer and sickle. Most people of our generation think of kindly, birthmarked Gorbechev as the Soviet Union. Run with that. It's always useful in deconstructing capitalist propaganda.

  • WWCD? (What Would Chomsky Do?) My friend, you have to read more than just Noam Chomsky's booklets to be a self-respecting KJL. I'd suggest his monumental tome, The Washington Connection & Third World Fascism (Amazon link). Read it twice. You may have some difficulty poring through his dense, humorless prose, but you'll end up with an impenetrable arsenal of material if all of the above fail.
  • Saturday, March 25, 2006

    I Don't Need Any New Friends.

    The most insecure celebrities have the largest entourages. Jennifer Lopez is known to invite 70 "friends" with her to the places she frequents. And it makes sense. Actors are the geeks who were playing dress up as kids while you and I were out riding bikes and playing kickball. It's no surprise that these folks are insecure as adults.

    Many 20-somethings are like that. They've moved to a new city or are beginning their careers and need innumerable friends to avoid disappearing into a void of their own insecurity and loneliness. The result is an ongoing "friend" accumulation game that can have no limits.

    By the time you're near 30, you could give a quick fuck about all that. You've got your set of friends and there's no need to waste time trying to accumulate a plush friend-woven security blanket. If new friends come along, fine, but no effort needs to be exhausted.

    I realized I felt like this when I left my last job. A 20-something I'd been friendly with asked me if I'd come back to visit and hang out. It's one of those questions everyone is asked when they quit a job, and the answer is supposed to be, "Totally! I'm gonna miss you guys so much!! BFF!! :-)" When he asked me, I paused for a second to think and I responded, "Uh, probably not."

    Don't get me wrong; I love my friends to death. But as for new ones, if it happens, it happens. Otherwise, I don't need any new friends. Thanks.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Country Limericks

    I recently came upon this limerick:
    There once was a woman from Norway
    Who liked to hang nude in the doorway.
    She said to her beau,
    "Hey, look at me Joe --
    I think I've discovered one more way."
    This is an OK limerick, but I started thinking: could I do better than this, with the limitation that I have to use a European country as the end word in the first line? I decided to try.

    Several countries I ruled out right away because they'd be too hard to rhyme: Belgium, Switzerland, Slovakia. A few times I thought up promising opening lines, but nothing came from them: "There once was a man from Andorra" didn't get me anyplace, and "A lovely young maiden from France" seemed too obvious. I needed a clever rhyme, after all, not the France/dance/pants crap everyone knew when they were five years old.

    Finally I composed this magnum opus, and I present it here for the world (and future generations) to enjoy:
    A young lady from San Marino
    Stayed in Vegas's Venetian Casino.
    And always, while gambling
    She'd never stop rambling
    About former Dolphins quarterback and all-time NFL passing percentage leader Dan Marino.
    English isn't even my first language and look at the rhymes I'm laying down!

    --Olry Vibhor, TSAPS' Guest Blogger for a Week

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Everyone Should Have a Joke

    I'm not one of those people who says, "You haven't lived in DC unless you've..." or "Everyone should...", but in this case I'm going to make an exception. A RARE exception, so listen up: everyone should have a joke.

    I'm amazed at how often I ask a group of people if anyone's got a joke and all I get are blank stares. What do you people have against jokes? I always have one or two, and every few months I get new ones. It's my little part in keeping America strong. I shop at Wal-Mart for the same reason.

    Here's the joke I've been using lately. You can steal it if you want, but don't tell it back to me like it's yours, and if we're in the same group of people and you want to tell my joke, ask permission first. If you don't...well, need I remind you that I'm a GOLD BELT IN TAEKWONDO, MOTHERFUCKER???

    Joke: A guy's sitting in his living room watching TV when there's a knock at the door. He goes to answer it and there's no one there. Then he looks down and sees a snail. "What the hell?" the guy says. He picks the snail up and throws it across his yard, almost to the driveway. Then he goes back to watching TV.

    Three years later, the guy's in his house again, watching TV. Suddenly there's a knock at the door. He walks over and opens it, and the snail goes, "what the hell was that all about?"

    --Olry Vibhor, TSAPS' Guest Blogger for a Week

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Smashing Things with the Feet and Hands

    Hello fans of Talkin' Shit About a Pretty Sunset!

    I began taking karate about six months ago. Actually, it's taekwondo, which I'm told is Korean for "smashing things with the feet and hands". How come some languages can encompass a phrase like "smashing things with the feet and hands" in three short words? Hell if I know.

    Anyway, I take classes at Yong Studios in Tenleytown. How did I come to choose martial arts? Well, I decided I was too fucking fat and that I needed a sport. I went to the Yahoo! directory page and found an alphabetical list of about 200 sports, and began the winnowing process. Archery? No thanks, I don't do well with sharp, pointy objects. Badminton? No thanks -- those birdies are dangerous as shit! They look harmless but when they're comin' at YO FACE at like 100 mph you'll think differently. Curling? Uh, no. Not a real sport. "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep like you've never swept before!" Gimme a break.

    Finally I settled on taekwondo. It costs $109/month and I go an average of twice a week. You start off as a white belt, which I hope does not have some creepy-ass Maoist significance ("a blank sheet of paper can have the prettiest new pictures drawn on it" or whatever the fucked up quote is). Last month I graduated to gold belt, and in June, if everything goes well, I'll become a green belt.

    In short: don't fuck with me! If you see me walking on the sidewalk, I suggest you cross to the other side because I will fuck you up just for looking at me funny! I'm crazy as shit! Just kidding, you could probably still kick my ass, whoever you are.

    - Olry Vibhor, TSAPS' Guest Blogger For A Week

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Olry Vibhor, TSAPS' Guest Blogger

    This week, I'm turning my blog over to Mr. Olry Vibhor, aka "Random Libertarian". Olry spends his days waking up at 2PM, ordering KFC, and editing sodoku and crossword puzzles for cash money. The picture to the right was taken of Olry in Osaka, Japan at the 2003 World Karaoke Championships. He came in third.

    The opinions expressed by my guest bloggers do not reflect my own.


    - Lonnie Bruner

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    "Moonshine can lead to hemorrhoids."

    I was doing some spring cleaning when I came across a crumpled mess of water-stained papers in the back of my closet. These papers were a result of a game I'd played with friends a few years ago. Not sure the name of the game, but it starts when someone writes a catch phrase on the top of a piece of paper and passes it to the person to their right. That person then illustrates the catch phrase, folds the paper over the initial phrase, and passes it to the next person. This third person tries to write what phrase the person illustrated and so on ... Thoroughly confused? You should be.

    The results (below) usually descend into filth. But why are there so many references to sex with sheep?

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    75% of Bands Should Not Play Live Performances

    **DISCLAIMER: This does not apply to my friends' bands. You guys are awesome. I'd drag myself out to see you any weekday night.**

    The world of live music is similar to Washington DC's Art-o-Matic festival. Every year, the Art-o-Matic team holds a humongous exhibition for any dickwad who can throw weird-looking shit together and call it art. Seemingly, there are no credentials or taste checks involved; anyone can be an artist just by sending a submission. The result is a terrible visual cacophony of pretentious "works of art" of which less than 2% is worth viewing. This phenomenon is similar to the many people who pick up musical instruments, get together with friends, and decide to play at their local rock club. At this juncture, there are innumerable crappy bands that have no qualms about torturing the listening public, and there are thousands of venues willing to let them do it. No bar-goer is safe. But how did this happen? And when? Here are my explanations.

    Bang your head on the punk rock. The punk genre has done far more harm than good. It may leave the layperson scratching his head, but this genre actually encouraged people with no skills or talent to pick up cheap guitars, play them loudly, and play them in public regardless of the aural consequences. You'll sometimes see punk retrospectives on VH1 praising the original guitar clatterers as underground heros or some such shit, but the simple fact is that 99% of those punk bands just sucked. And punk has had effects across all genres of music. By now, it's socially acceptable for thousands of no-talent-ass-clowns to play live music of any stripe. Thank you, Sid Vicious.

    And any d-bag can get a show! If you have working hands and a telephone, you can get a show at most shitty rock venues in all the cities of the developed world. And there are as many crappy bands willing to drive for hours and play for minimal crowds and money as girls with tongue rings and lower back tatoos wanting to be in porno. Thousands of bands tour the country every day looking for people to torture and there's no end in sight. Until rock music dies, we must all suffer.

    I have no problem with people taking up an instrument. Hell, I do it. But those folks must realize that just because you play, doesn't mean you should play live. Yes, play guitar, play drums, but do everyone a favor and keep it to yourself.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    A Love Hate Love Hate Love Story

    I just found out that my friend Emily, who went to Argentina with us last November, had a front page story in last week's Baltimore City Paper about trying to quit smoking.

    Emily is the best person to smoke cigarettes with. She truly loves them. In fact, cigarettes simply taste better when smoked with Emily. In Argentina, she and I practically chain-smoked Lucky Strikes and it never felt so good. Once, we lined up a burning cigarette in an ashtray next to some freshly-cut smoked Argentine sausage and a glass of scotch. The combination of those three flavors was culinary perfection, I assure you. But now Emily's working on a 10-year habit and knows she has to quit soon.

    I can't imagine what Emily will be like without smoking. She makes it look so good, I almost don't want her to quit ... but don't tell her I said that.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Two Songs That Got Me Through Today

    I have to deal with attorneys all day at work, so these two songs made me feel better at the end of the day. I just cranked the following songs as loud as we could get away with in my office. I now feel about 25% better.

    Minor Threat, I Don't Wanna Hear It.

    I don't wanna hear it.
    All you do is talk about you.
    I don't wanna hear it.
    'Cause I know that none of it's true.

    I don't wanna hear it.
    Sick and tired of all your lies.
    I don't wanna hear it.
    When are you gonna realize...
    That I don't wanna hear it.

    Know you're full of shit.
    Shut your fucking mouth.

    I don't care what you say.
    You keep talking.
    Talking everyday. First you're telling stories. Then you're telling lies.
    When the fuck are you gonna realize...

    Misfits, Attitude

    Attitude, you got some fucking attitude.
    I can’t believe what you said to me.
    You got some attitude.

    Inside your feeble brain there’s probably a whore.
    If you don’t shut your mouth you’re gonna feel the floor.

    Attitude, the one you got, oh baby
    Attitude, the one you got, oh baby
    Attitude, attitude

    Inside your feeble brain there’s probably a whore.
    If you don’t shut your mouth you’re gonna feel the floor.

    Attitude, you got some fucking attitude
    (attitude) I can’t believe what you said to me
    You got some attitude

    Attitude, you got some fucking attitude
    (attitude) I can’t believe what you said to me
    You got some attitude

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    I went spelunking at work.

    After the Caps' game on Sunday night I took my friend a few blocks from the stadium to the 110-year-old building where I work. Bored, we snagged a few beers from the conference room fridge and toured the building. He was REALLY interested in the ancient structure that I call my office building.

    I showed him the basement where the workout room is and his eyes lit up when he spotted the entrance to the "sub basement"---another sub level with a dirt floor. I've been interested in what the hell is there because in 2002 the Assistant Director found a dead homeless man down there. We had to go.

    Toting some CVS-bought flashlights, we descended to the musty, dank sub basement. I wish I could say it looked something like this, but it was just filthy with dirt floors, old brown brick, and low ceilings.

    But I felt like a teenager again and that made it all worth it.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Dr. Strangelove vs. Tupac and Biggie

    One can learn important life skills by tracking the quotes from Stanley Kubrick's 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove, and quotes from Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. It's too obvious to ignore any longer. I've put together a quick list for your enlightenment.

    Women and Love
    Dr. Strangelove's General Jack D. Ripper: "Women, uh ... women sense my power and they seek my life essence."

    Tupac Shakur: "Since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman, and our game from a woman, I wonder why we take from women, why we rape our women, do we hate our women? I think it's time we killed for our women, be real to our women, try to heal our women, cuz if we don't, we'll have a race of babies that will hate the ladies, who make the babies."

    Notorious B.I.G.: "She starts off, 'Well I don't usually'. Then I whip it out, rubber no doubt. Step out, show me what you all about. Fingers in your mouth, open up your blouse, pull your G-string down south. Aoowww! Threw that back out, in the parking lot by a Cherokee and a green drop-top. And I don't stop until I squirt. Jeans skirt, butt-naked, it all work."

    War and Death
    Dr. Strangelove's General "Buck" Turgidson: "I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops."

    Tupac Shakur: "It always happens, all the niggaz that change the world die. They don't get to die like regular people---they die violently."

    Notorious B.I.G.: "So I grab it, never run, the outcome is usually a beatdown brutally. Fuck who you be or where you're from, West or East coast, squeeze toast. Leave most in the blood they layin' in."

    Drinking and Having Fun
    Dr. Stranglove's General Jack D. Ripper: "Please make me a drink of grain alcohol and rainwater, and help yourself to whatever you'd like."

    Tupac Shakur: "Fuck school, we was skipping, drinking drinking 5th on the curb. Me and you, no closer two, while drinking brew."

    Notorious B.I.G: "Fuck up the party before it even start. Pissy drunk, off the Henny and stuff."

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    The Wedding Present at Black Cat: Please let my genitals drop back into place soon.

    It may be news to you, but there's a British band out there called The Wedding Present that has been playing music since 1984. But their extreme longevity and subsequent lack of fame shouldn't be the only things to convince you that they suck.

    Before I went to their show I had hope. A friend played one of their songs on the CD player and I was looking forward to it. But into their third song, I realized I was watching a fifth rate Morrissey prance around on stage with silly hand gestures and contrived lyrics. Don't get me wrong; I love the Smiths and Morrissey. With flamboyant lyrics like, "I wear black on the outside cuz black is how I am on the inside", Morrissey is so over-the-top that you know he ain't faking it. But TWP are just boring, mediocre pansy-rockers who've been sluffing out songs for way too long. Boring lyrics. Boring melodies. Boring chords. Boring riffs. Enough said.

    My friend Tom put it best when we left the Black Cat: "I need to listen to some Motorhead RIGHT NOW or my genitals are not going to drop back into place any time soon."

    Monday, March 06, 2006

    How I obtained a free, fully-functioning 23-foot sailboat that was once owned by a famous jazz musician.

    It was the spring of 1999 and I was making less than $17,000 a year teaching at a language school. In my spare time, I played soccer with the Anarchist Soccer League, hosted leftist films at the American Center for Polish Culture, and loaded up rental vans full of friends for protests and drunken camping trips. Life was good. No real job, no real obligations or worries---just anarchist politics and short misadventures.

    Through these activities, I met two crazy-ass ex-pats: Ian, a British cartographer and chess champion with bad teeth, graying hair and a voice like a muppet; and Szymon, a Polish dreamer and drifter with bad eyesight and impulsive ideas.

    Szymon and Ian convinced me to help purchase a sailboat from a summer camp on the Chesapeake. Ian had worked near the camp, and had enough connections to score a cheap boat. Szymon's plan was that if the boat became too much of a burden, we would sail it to the middle of the bay at night, and set it ablaze 'til it sank. That's right, the plan was to get a boat, and if we got tired of it, we'd torch the mother fucker. Being a committed anarchist, Szymon did not consider the authority of the state when he launched that idea.

    We went to the camp and looked at a couple of beached, beat-up sailboats on sale for a couple of hundred dollars. I had no freaking clue what I was doing; I wasn't a sailor and didn't know the first thing about how to make a small yacht move forward so was reluctant to put any money down.

    The boat negotiations went on for weeks, when one day the camp director called me and said, "Hey, we just got a donated 23 footer, and if you come down now, you can have it free. We have no use for it. Oh, and it was owned by Charlie Byrd, the jazz guitarist, who's sick with cancer." I was stunned. My parents were big fans of Byrd's guitar work and had several of his albums! We sailed the boat out of the camp's dock that day.

    But what does one do with a 23 foot sailboat?, not knowing how to sail and making less than $17,000 per year. Well, since it's free to moor a boat on rivers in the Chesapeake, we tied it to some junked concrete and let her float. We hid a leaky inflatable raft in the woods nearby, and paddled out when we needed. Through trial and error---mostly error---I learned to sail.

    Ian has since gone on to become the subject of a Doonesbury cartoon and is now doing de-mining work in Cambodia. Szymon, after hacking his way through Panamanian jungle on a round-the-world trip, impregnated his high school girlfriend on a star-lit field in Siberia and now raises a family in Krakow.

    Szymon at the helm:

    Ian, with the map that got him into Doonesbury:

    My Weekend in Photos

    This is the photo that will get us into the Hall of Douchebags, I promise.

    Friday, March 03, 2006

    You know you're overtired when Jay Z makes you misty.

    Didn't sleep much last night, so I'm a zombie and my nerves are shot today. Weird shit happens when I'm like that.

    This morning, riding to work on the Metro listening to the song, December 4th, on Jay Z's Grey Album, I admit, I got watery-eyed. I blame the part when Jay Z's mother's voice comes on and sadly says of her son, "Shawn was a shy child growing up. At four, he taught himself to ride a bike. Isn't that special? But I noticed a change in him when me and my husband broke up ..."

    Holy lord, I hope no one saw me.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    A Guide to Having Hound Dogs in the City

    I've had two hounds for 4 years in DC, so if you're thinking about getting a dog and you live this side of a bridge or tunnel, refer to my brief guide:

    - Outdoors as buffet.
    Hound dogs have been bred to do three things: 1) kill small animals; 2) scavenge, and; 3) be friends with man. When humans say, "Let's go for a walk", dogs hear, "Let's go to the buffet". In the city, anything fit for a dumpster will end up in your hound's mouth. Your first instinct will be to wrestle that dead rat or used tissue loose, but it's pointless. You'll end up with stank-ass slime on your hands and the germs will still be in the dog's mouth. Before getting a hound, you must be prepared for your dog to eat or roll in homeless man's poo or dead rodents.

    - Avoid Chows and Pit Bulls like black death.
    Never trust them. Never. What's more, if the owner assures you of some bullshit about the dog's manner depending how it's raised, head for the hills; those people are even more dangerous than the local thug. Chows and Pit Bulls are hard-wired to attack until death ensues. It's a thousand years of breeding, my friend; a friendly yuppie cannot reverse that. - Ignore joggers. You'll likely want to buy a retracting leash so your hound can use its sniffer anywhere within a 20 foot diameter. Joggers hate that shit because the long leash will trip them as they're speeding by. It annoys them to no end. But as I've said before, sidewalks are not for running. Joggers can go to a fucking track. - Before you go to the pound, practice picking up feces. If your stomach turns AT ALL, do not purchase a hound. Picking up shit will become part of your life. Oh, and it's not just solid shit. Ever held soft bloody diarrhea only separated from your hand by a used plastic Safeway bag? Get used to it if you get a dog. Daily. - Dog parks and leash laws are bullshit. As soon as a dog park is created, it becomes a cesspool of mud. Plus, you can't walk around with your dog in the tiny fenced area, so you have to stand there in the cold engaging in boring-ass small talk about real estate with the fellow dog owners. Fuck all that. Just pick a spot where you think your dog won't get hit by a car, unclip the leash, and let him go nuts.

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