Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Monday, July 31, 2006

I keep wrecking my stupid bike.

I'm not a clumsy person by nature, but I've wrecked my bike twice in the past two weeks---breaking a six year record in my biking history.

As you can see from the picture to the right, my front tire slipped into a rut while I was riding, and threw me---tits over asshole, back wheel over front wheel---onto the sidewalk. I somehow managed to land on my feet---literally hitting the ground running. Like last time I am not injured, but the bike appeared fairly fucked at first.

This picture shows how when the front wheel jammed into the rut, the fork separated from the shock absorber, splattering some kind of black fluid all over the place.

And as before, no one was concerned or stopped to ask if I was ok. I dusted myself off, wrenched the front tire out of the rut, jammed the broken shock absorber back into the holes, and rode off. Mind you, the shocks no longer work, but at least the bike is raised up by an additional four inches in front, allowing me to sit more upright and adding to my cruising comfort.

Friday, July 28, 2006

That Dreaded Question, "What do you do?", isn't asked in DC any more than other big cities.

Which is more annoying in a social setting?:

1) Being asked, "What do you do?"


2) Someone whining that he hates when people ask the question, "What do you do?"

Both are equally annoying in their own way.

Your nation's capital has a hang-up about this dreaded question. Many people who fall into the second category are from some podunk state and aren't used to life in the big city where people are interested in the various and sundry jobs that others do. Perhaps they're frustrated by their own self-perceived inadequacies, or are insulted by others' quest to find out how much money they make or how powerful they are. Either way, in DC there aren't many propane salesmen, so the question will remain.

But I find that most people ask "What do you do?" to find common ground in social situations. For christ's sake, what the hell else should strangers talk about? Finding out what one does for a living is a default conversation starter. The question is a tad gauche, but it's one of the least offensive things someone could ask me. And I usually don't fault people with poorer conversation skills than me.

Washington DC is the only place where people ask the "dreaded question" just as much as any other city, but bitch and whine about the existence of it like sorority girls waiting for a limo in the hot sun. The reason goes back to the nerdly character of the DC populace, of whom 60% have law degrees because they didn't know WTF else they wanted to do, but knew they wanted to make money. Therefore this 60% is stressed and paranoid about the money they make; hence, the obsession with that dreaded question.

Yea, that's it. All the annoyances and problems of this city can be blamed on lawyers. But be nice to them: they are the offspring of anal sex, after all, so have some pity.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

All gringos sound embarrassing speaking Spanish. Even me.

When I was learning Spanish while working at an ESL school for five years I would take any opportunity to practice. I was "that guy" who'd try and order food at a Mexican restaurant in Spanish and Spangle my way through conversations about student visas or ESL class schedules at work---all the while carrying my Spanish/English electronic translator in my pocket. Because of that, I can tell you the Spanish word for some pretty arcane vocab. Some words I learned were so obscure, that my Venezuelan friend Juan Carlos had never heard of them.

The good part is that I can now hold my own when I visit Spanish speaking countries, but the bad part is that I submitted myself to some serious douchebaggery in the process.

Nowadays, I try and avoid speaking Spanish in the US, mainly due to the cringe-inducing accents I hear from my fellow gringos. Even gringos who use proper accents are painful to listen to, not just because of how they sound, but because of the pretension that goes with it. "Hey, look at me. I'm so cultured because I speak more than one language." And the worst is when a gringo speaks Spanish to a latino who speaks English. What's the need for that? It's obvious to the rest of us that the purpose is simply to show off.

It's a mystery why a language can sound so nice spoken by one group, but so embarrassing spoken by another. ¬°Ay chihuahua!

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Guide to Going to Strip Clubs with your Wife or Girlfriend

I have a wife who likes to visit the occasional strip club, but our most recent foray into watching pretty titties dance in our faces was a learning experience for the both of us. Take my tips as cautionary tale and concise guide.

1) Your wife or girlfriend is not "one of the guys". Don't forget that your significant other is still a female, despite liking going to testosterone-filled vice dens. When she likes "guy things" it's easy to forget your place, and say or do things that will land your ass in the dog house. Remember, if your wife likes going to strip clubs, you are among the lucky 1% of the coupled male population and should consider yourself extremely privileged. She's still the lovely woman who takes an hour to get ready, wears frilly underwear and cares about celebrities; she's not your KFC-loving buddy Matt, so the rule of thumb is at least to behave like you would on a third date.

2) Only go on her recommendation. When you know your woman enjoys going to strip clubs, it's tempting to regularly suggest going. Don't. Play it cool, like you could care less, or that you really don't like strip clubs that much. That way, it'll seem like a special treat when she wants to go.

3) Be the least drunk person in your group. No matter what you do, stay two drinks behind everyone. That way, if the shit hits the fan and you end up being accused of "gawking at that skank's crotch", at least the adverb "drunkenly" can't be tacked on, making the forgiveness process easier.

4) Dollar, thong, hand = Holler, wrong, banned. Ok, horrible rhyme, but you can seeing where I'm going. Looking only requires you to answer questions like, "Do you think she has a good body?" Being eight inches from a stranger's genitals with paper currency in hand requires you to answer questions like, "What the fuck were you doing, asshole?" Yea, you get it.

5) Pay by cash, 100%. Never---and I mean never---leave your credit card with the bar to hold your tab. If you do, when your wife or girlfriend is ready to go (and by "ready to go" that means "right-the-fuck-now"), you're bound to be waiting at the bar for 15 minutes for your credit card. Meanwhile, your wife or girlfriend and friends are waiting on the street, getting progressively angrier, thinking you're inside still "gawking at that skank's crotch".

6) Always apologize. If you think you behaved like a choir boy the night before, and she says you were drooling like a dog before a bloody steak, swallow your pride and say you're sorry. Who's it going to hurt? The stripper? Your relationship with your woman is more important than the fact that you think you acted just like the rest of your group while looking some T and A. Again, as the male, you are the privileged one. The sooner you say you're sorry, the sooner you'll be able to get your strip-club-going woman back into her old routines.

Friday, July 21, 2006

It finally happened: I hit an opening car door on my bike.

Non-biking car drivers may not understand why bikers ride so far into the driving lane but it's because of what happened to me last night while biking home on 18th Street.

As I was passing a parked taxi cab, the door opened and I rode straight into it. I was thrown onto the hood of another parked car adjacent to the taxi where I landed, sprawled out, bike, helmut and all. Luckily, I wasn't riding fast and there are no serious injuries, but what was most disturbing was the reaction of the door opener: pure indifference. Someone may have said sorry, but they didn't seem to care much. I was too startled to get angry, so I just picked up my sprawled-out ass and kept going.

I've been riding around town for work and pleasure for around six years and had never been in an accident 'til last night. This is due to my deft ability to swerve around pedestrians on the sidewalks of the city, and my near fearlessness around motor vehicles.

If you're parking in the city, look back before opening your door. Most people who live in DC do this, but for those of you who live in areas where seeing a bike is like seeing a freak of nature (yes, I'm talking to you, Maryland and Virginia) be conscious. That's all I'm saying.

More Info: The Door Zone Project

Thursday, July 20, 2006

God Damn, men are ugly beasts.

As a straight man, you've probably had this fleeting thought time and again: how could any human be attracted to a human male? I won't bore you with a tired list of male disgustingisms, but you know what I'm talking about. Even male models in Vanity Fair have bodily features that remind you of a camel's knee or a midget's arm pit. It wouldn't be a stretch to imagine that model on the floor wearing a clown costume, being beaten by you and your friends wearing boots of leather-covered steel.

On the other hand, women---and the way they move, mostly---are captivating, deserving of gawkery in its crassest form. It crosses all three genders. I won't bore you with a tired list of female wonderfulisms, but I will say this: if there were no social mores or folkways, 90% of the men you know (yes, even the shy hipster guy who works at the video store) would opt to line all his female friends up, bend them over a guard rail---slobber rolling down his chin---and put it where god (or the devil) drives him to put it.

Don't believe me? Then I assume you're also the kind of person who thinks there shouldn't be a wall between the US and Mexico (or DC and Virginia, for that matter).


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lacking a top front tooth is no worse than lacking a foreskin.

Let me set the record straight on what it's like to live without a top front tooth for a month.

When I went to the dentist for repairs they told me it would be a week before I could get a mouthpiece with a tooth attached to it. Wrong. That was on June 24th, and I'm still walking around with a gapped smile and annoying lisp. The dentist fucked up the original tooth mold so the lab sent their shoddy work back. During the second mold, I came close to puking from the combination of molding goo gagging my uvula and the dental hygenist's thumb shoved deep into my mouth.

But honestly, I don't miss the tooth too much.

I get laid just as much as before, despite what you may think. Ok, it's true that I'm married and that wouldn't be an issue even if a living squid started growing out of the side of my face, but I'm happy to report that I still perform my studly duties just fine.

Somehow, people think it's ok to make country bumpkin or West Virginia jokes to me. The first person to make this type of crack was my dentist. How professional. What if I was from West Virginia? I'm not offended, but shouldn't people think twice before they flippantly start cracking jokes about entire swaths of the population and their supposed deficiencies?

When people ask how I lost the tooth, most are expecting a fight story; you can see it in their eyes. But that's not because of the tooth, necessarily. If you've never met me in person, let's just say I am---how you say---"physically intimidating" and the tooth just adds to that effect. It's a little disappointing to tell people that, no, I was not in a fight and that I lost it due to an abscess, but they seem scared nonetheless. I've walked down dark alleys and sidewalks thoughout the so-called "DC crime emergency" and have not been mugged or disrespected once. If that's not proof that I look mean, I don't know what is.

In the end, mourning the loss of your top front tooth is like longing for your foreskin. If you're circumcised, you're literally missing a piece of your body and there's no way to get it back. Acceptance is the only solution.

So fuck it, the tooth is gone. All I can do is wait while musing at people's reactions.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dear Washington DC: Shut the Hell Up About How Hot It Is.

I can't endure any more whining about the weather. Please keep it to yourself. No one likes a complainer.

Thank you.

Lonnie Bruner

The time I caught a giant catfish while on a date with Serenity.

My old friend Pete just wrote a very nice story about the time he was tripping his balls off when I showed up at his house with a giant catfish I'd just caught while on a date with a girl named Serenity.
"He dragged us out to stinging daylight to show us, thankfully parked on our lawn for easy access. He was on a date (really), fishing, and caught a big-as-frig catfish on the Wicomico river about 4 blocks away. He pulled it out and aimed its face at me and the fish gasped at me. I could almost hear it say, 'Dude, Dude.'"
That story is 100% true. On several occasions, I took different people fishing with me at that spot. The gay guy from work who had a crush on me kept asking to go fishing, so I finally obliged. I told him he wouldn't like it, but he insisted. When we got down to the water, he proceeded to squeal and complain that there were too many spiders everywhere, and he couldn't stomach the smell of the bait (chicken livers), so we left early. When I got to the car to leave, I noticed that he had written my name in the dirt over and over. I pretended not to notice, but he never got any more "dates" out of me.

The place where I caught the giant catfish was the same spot where I'd caught an eel a few weeks before. (Incidentally, eels wrap themselves around your arm while you're trying to wrangle the hook out). I took it to the roadside barbeque restaurant where I worked as a dish washer and cooked it on their outdoor smoker (chuckwagon). That eel was one of the worst tasting things I've ever put in my mouth. It tasted like the Wicomico river, which was located near a Perdue chicken processing plant. That night, Pete and I drove to Rehoboth, but on the way, I got so sick that we had to pull over for me to throw up in a cornfield on the side of the road.

Ah, summer memories ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Compared to Cambodia, DC's "crime emergency" is like the smurf village without Gargamel.

From the Phnom Penh Post:

JULY 8: The headless body of an unidentified man was found at a canal in the early morning in Prey Sar commune, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Police came to examine the corpse and said the man was murdered elsewhere and his body dumped there two days earlier after his head was cut off with a heavy knife.

JULY 3: Pich Oun, 36, was taken to a provincial hospital for medical treatment after being axed during an argument at 1:30pm in Kom Nop village, Oddar Meanchey province. Police said Oun was chopped three times in the head by Srey Yoeun, 37, who was later arrested. A bystander said the argument happened after Yoeun accused Oun of stealing his chicken.

JULY 5: Four people with an AK-47 escaped after robbing Sok Chan, 56, while he was at home with his wife at 9:30pm in Talak village, Kampong Speu province. Police said the robbers entered the couple's house and tied their arms then stole a motorbike, two damleung (75 grams) of gold, and 350,000 riel in cash.

JULY 5: Pout Khoeun, 37, was axed to death by his brother, Pout Khy, 31, at 2:10pm in Phnom Tauch village, Kampong Speu province. Police said Khy chopped Khoeun four times in the head while they were arguing, then escaped. A neighbor told police the argument happened after Khy came to stop Khoeun, who beat his daughter when he drank. The neighbor said Khoeun deserved to die because he created a problem with his family when he was drunk.
(via Details are Sketchy)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Biggest Paella on Earth

Went down to the farmer's market near my work today at 8th & E St, NW and saw a BIG f'n paella. These guys were cooking up a mix of rice, chicken and Spanish spices simply to give away to the public. The pan was at least 8 feet in diameter.

How awesome is the city I live in? There are Spanish dudes with chef's outfits handing out free food to strangers; even homeless people can participate (and they were, believe me).

Is there anything worth complaining about in this country when this type of random shit happens? Just remember: complainers = whiners = no fun. Eat paella and STFU.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Washington, Washington. Six foot eight, weighs a fucking ton.

This video about George Washington's life is so accurate, it should be shown in elementary schools. (If at work, turn the volume down -- cursing).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Five Stages of Political Ideology

Political ideologies are not inbred. There are distinct phases and forces in one's life that impart tendancies in gaining a world view, one way or other. While it's not an exact science, my concise stages will help you understand why you think the bullshit that you do.

Childhood through grade school: Very few people have political memories from this period. In fact, you're the exception if you know who the president is. If there is any shred of political ideology, it's because you have parents with opinionated politics. If so, you'll end up as either president or Charles Manson because your political consciousness began way too early.

High School: This is when most people form their first political ideologies, however, anything relating to international affairs will be limited to events like Krista Mcauliffe in the space shuttle or Reagan standing at the Berlin wall. If any high schooler can put together a political statement beyond echoing what they've heard other people say, it's a straight miracle.

College: The first signs of independent political analysis will form. Those whose politics are shaped by the influence of a university professor will come home to their parents sophomore year as committed Marxists and use the word "hegemony" in every fucking conversation. They think they're the first to figure out that US foreign policy isn't based on altruism. The number of Noam Chomsky books the student reads will kick it up a notch, and the ideology that results can be summed up thusly: United States = bad. Not United States = good. Conversely, students who hate their sociology professors and never travel abroad will become right-wingers, and stagnate that way forever.

The non-college route: If you don't go to college, there's an 80% chance you'll be a right winger. Being right wing is easy; the world is a simple place where the forces of good and evil are at constant battle. Doing what feels good is the most important thing, and any argument that contains more than two minutes of complex analysis is PC-Commie crap.

Post-college through death: The strong opinions a person had in college will soften by the mid to late 20s. The lefty from college still believes that the world is run by a cabal of Wall Street bankers, The World Bank, IMF and George Bush; that all international foreign investment is an attempt to expand the American empire; and that the US military is at the beck and call of the aforementioned conspiracy. The righty still thinks Reagan single-handedly destroyed the Soviet Union. As for what happens after one's 30s, Bukowski said it best: "When a young radical ends up an old radical the critics and the conservatives treat him as if he escaped from a mental institution. ... What hardly ever happens is a man going from being a young conservative to becoming an old wild-ass radical. However: young conservatives always seem to become old conservatives."

Such is our politics, and you can have it all.

Keep it.

Sail it up your ass.

(Please don't tell anyone I quoted Bukowski).

Monday, July 10, 2006

I hear outboard motors make good anchors.

To a sailor, a boat motor is a spiteful bitch; it's pissed off from being neglected 90% of the time, so when the wind dies, it will function on its own terms. Never trust an outboard, and always have towing insurance. Oh, and make lots of jokes about converting your outboard into an anchor in its presence. That will frighten it into starting and running every time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Ode to Lake Needwood

I spent my early teenage years a mile from Lake Needwood, so when I heard today that they're going to permanently drain the lake dry due to recent flooding, I felt a tinge of sadness and nostalgia.

When I moved to Maryland from California in 1981, my dad began taking my brother and I for hiking trips around the lake, and we would walk over the massive earthen dam that's now the source of the lake's instability. Our hikes always included a treasure hunt for lost fishing lures and arrows from the nearby archery range. My brother and father and I would drag downed trees from the water in hopes that a snagged lure was hooked on the end. It may sound like searching for trash to most people, but whenever I saw the flicker of a fishing lure on the end of a dripping branch, my eyes lit up. My brother and I had an entire collection of lures we'd pulled from that lake. At the archery range, we'd scramble behind the targeted hay bales to see if any arrows had gone all the way through and been forgotten by their shooters. Inevitably, we'd find one and go home happy kids.

In the late 80s, Lake Needwood had to be closed one weekend because there was a KKK rally inside the park's boundaries. This was the first time I'd ever heard of the "KKK" and I remember asking my dad what it was. "They hate Catholics and black people", came the answer from my father. "They used to hang people from trees". I recall not fully understanding, but in my childhood brain it was very sinister and scary.

When I got my license at age 16, my friends and I found Lake Needwood a secure venue for carrying out our various mischiefs---smoking cigars, drinking beer, lighting firecrackers. We usually got chased out by the police.

During muggy Maryland summers, we'd gather a dozen friends and rent canoes and row boats. Of course, the purpose of those trips was never to simply enjoy the serene surroundings of the lake. Oh no. We'd row or paddle the boats to a far corner, and begin a game of crash-up-derby on the water until we'd capsize.

In the summer before I went to college (1991) I scored a job at the boathouse. The head of the Needwood Boathouse was an old codger named Jack who worked every day from 6 AM until 1:30, then went home and---I was told---downed a case of Budweiser.

My job at the lake was to hold the boats while people climbed on. This job had its share of down time and, subsequently, serious flirting with co-workers. Since the afternoon manager was an all-day pot smoker, and used the boathouse office as a sanctuary for his vice, we could get away with anything. Shit, I used to bring my guitar and grill to work and relax and strum for hours on end---all the while getting paid $5.50 per hour. I had a serious crush on my co-worker, Alexa, whom I thought was SO cool. She was an artist and talked in a really high-pitched voice, which was incredibly alluring to me. I was intimidated because she was 22 and listened to bands I'd never heard of like The Cows, Mudhoney, and some band named Nirvanna who she thought had "totally sold out" (this was before they got big). During the down times on Needwood's docks, I'd try to convey my infatuation for her, but she was far more interested in the punk rock pot-smoking boathouse manager than me. One night, Alexa invited me to a show at the 9:30 Club in DC to see a punk band from Seattle. (This was when the 9:30 was at 9th & F St, NW---much cooler than now). This was the beginning of my love for the city.

One of the perks of the job was having the authority to jet around the lake "on patrol" in the motorboat. Mostly, the purpose was to catch misbehaving kids splashing one another. We even had radio codes, like 10-9 (sex on shore), 10-6 (fighting) or 10-2 (boat in need of tow). Having the motorboat also alowed us to stop and chat with pretty girls who were renting boats on the water. Man, such power and priviledge ...

I assumed the lake would always be there, but soon it'll be gone. And the Maryland governor just approved a plan to construct a massive highway a few hundred yards from Lake Needwood. When I was young, Montgomery County was beautiful and pristine. You could suck in nature with a deep breath not too far from the beltway. But no longer. The suburbs and growing "exurbs" are becoming vapid, less interesting extensions of the city---everything will be paved soon enough. Each time I visit my parents in Maryland, I see a new housing development where I used to ride bikes through woods and cornfields. Not any more. Lake Needwood's demise is just one more piece gone from the place where I grew up.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An infallible way to convert a vegetarian to meat eater: smoked peppered bacon

Case study: 25 year old female, vegetarian since age 15, master's degree in world politics, and all around good lefty---sporting a Che Guevara beach bag.

The context: I'm up at 10:30 AM, frying some delicious Safeway brand smoked peppered bacon. A thin aroma-ladden smoke fills the house as the rasher pops and sputters in its own grease in the iron skillet; the place is beginning to smell like a 1920s backwoods smokehouse. In walks said 25 year old vegetarian, getting ready to head to the beach when she becomes transfixed, saying to me: "Oh my god. That smells SO good." Then, three minutes later: "I can't believe how good that smells. It's incredible. Do you think I could have a bite?" Me: "Sure, go ahead." (Subsequent chewing, and look of pure satifaction on her face). Vegetarianism, OUT THE DOOR in five minutes flat.

In conclusion: Very few people can resist the wonderfulness of smoked peppered bacon. Its flavor is second only to that other edible perfection: raw oysters. If you have friends or loved ones who're vegetarian, think twice before cooking peppered bacon in their presence. Their life long ideals could risk being thrown by the wayside in pursuit of instant satisfaction. But satisfaction WILL be the result. Believe.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Like dog turds on a wedding cake, this beautiful beach house is crawling with cockroaches.

I never thought I cared one way or the other about two inch long brown cockroaches until I was awakened by one making its way across the back of my neck at 4:30 this morning. There's no human on earth who wouldn't have reacted like I did: shooting straight out of the bed to do the crazed-Indian-on-fire dance. I did everything except stop, drop and roll to get that little bastard off me. (SHUDDER) ... that's a feeling that has no comparison.

I'm at a friend's brother's beach house in idyllic Wrightsville Beach North Carolina, and it couldn't be more perfect: backyard of sand dunes, sea grass and ocean, Bosch appliances, trash compactor, open kitchen, and expansive living room leading to five bedrooms---mostly full of pretty young ladies. And only one drawback: the deck and garage---and sometimes bedrooms---are crawling with thick brown cockroaches. We've eaten outside each night, and every 30 minutes someone does the freakout dance as a little beastie makes its way up an unsuspecting leg. An amusing sight 'til it eventually happens to you.

Is it the high water table? The sun and heat that they crave? I have no idea. But if you ever want to launch someone into a fully awakened state, drop a big ass cockroach on the back of their neck. It sure did the trick for me.

(Side note: this blog's two year anniversay passed without mention. I guess I was supposed to say something).

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