Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wearing a Hawaiian shirt makes me feel like a happy fat guy.

You may not believe it, but until one month ago I did not own a Hawaiian shirt. A sad fact indeed. But one day I noticed my neighbor Peggy wearing the above shirt and complimented her so she just offered it to me. I tried to refuse but later she dropped it on my porch (I assume she did not walk over wearing only her bra).

When you wear a Hawaiian shirt --- no matter if you're skinny, medium-sized or heavyset --- you feel like a fat party animal. It's a strange and good feeling and I rolled with it all evening at the beach. I wished I was 50 pounds heavier so it would feel more authentic.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In case you're wondering what kind of people will vote for McCain/Palin

Caution: a few uses of the N word toward the end:

Never underestimate the stupidity of about 48% of voting Americans. They gave us Bush twice. I don't mean to bash the south too much because I love it in many ways, but listen to the above accents and consider that McCain/Palin are polling strongest in southern and rural states. Sometimes I wish we could have a hurricane that causes flooding to the point where the USA looks like this:

Just kidding. That would be horrible. Luckily, the polls are pointing to victory for Obama and historically, polls from now until the election have predicted the winner 95% of the time. But be vigilant and remember that the people in the above video have a vote that counts exactly as much as yours and mine. Scary.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

What it's like to catch a shark from the beach at night.

Last night I hooked a shark off the beach here in Wrightsville Beach in the pitch darkness. The feeling of reeling in an unknown fighting animal caught on the end a thick steel leader attached to a plastic line and a fiberglass pole is one of the best sensations I know. I feel sorry for people that don't understand that thrill so I'll try and convey it to the non-fisherman.

I'm staying at a friend's beautiful beachfront property that I couldn't afford to rent even if my salary tripled. I consider myself privileged to be here and owe sincere thanks to the good people that invited me.

Earlier in the day, I'd been catching bluefish near the inlet. I'd rigged up a shiny spoon and was tossing it out, snagging small bluefish along the way. The shimmer of the metal attracts those sharp-toothed buggers like mad and every third cast I'd hook a 12-incher. Loads of fun. After I filled the bucket, I had enough fish to use as bait for my desired conquest later that evening: beefy Carolina shark.

I bought a shark rig at the tackle shop for $10. It's a six-foot steel cable attached to a menacing hook --- the kind you put away when children or dogs are around. It looks like a torture device from the movie Saw --- like a weapon. Just a mean metal shark grabber.

That evening our group had settled in for board games and drinks. I was enjoying the game but couldn't keep my mind off the sound of the crashing waves in the distance and what I knew was waiting for me out underneath. I couldn't concentrate on anything except the multiple dark-n-stormys I was consuming to give me courage to wade into the breakers for the first cast.

I'll be honest, I have a slight anxiety about walking into the dark ocean and my body was already tired and aching from all the day's activities --- trying to surf for the first time, hauling in a dozen bluefish under the hot sun, and fiddling away on my yellow ukulele.

The board game continued but my mind was elsewhere. I kept looking at the clock and feeling the excitement of the possibility of a sharp-toothed catch. When midnight rolled around, I was thinking of bailing out and just hitting the sack. God, I was nearly falling asleep on the couch during the last stretch of the game. I was solidly perched on the fence about shark fishing later on.

The game wrapped up around 1AM, and I was about to mope upstairs to bed when Jim said to me what every quality male friend needs to say when a man is about to forfeit doing something really cool. At that moment Jim called out to me as he was putting away the game pieces: "Hey Lonnie, you gonna puss out on the shark catching? Ahh ... poor baby's tired." Thank god for a friend's comments like this because it got my goat. After that, I was like fuck it, I'm gonna power through the tiredness and GO.

I grabbed my ziplock bag of bluefish heads, my surf rod, a metal bucket, a small flashlight I scrounged from a kitchen drawer, my four-dollar fillet knife, four beers (all different brands), a PVC-pipe rod holder, and headed across the grassy dunes to the moon-lit beach. Somehow, I managed to coax Chris to come with me.

At 1:00 AM, the beach was devoid of people. A warm five-knot breeze was blowing off the ocean and the wave action was light. From north to south, endless water and sand, with the faint glow of the town and the mostly dark beachfront houses behind the dunes. And it was dark. Real dark.

Down by the water, I dug the rod-holder into the hard-packed sand while Chris pointed the flashlight so I could see what the heck I was doing. Then out came the bloody fish heads and I hooked one through the skull with that beastly beast of a shark hook.

In order to fish from the surf, you cannot just cast from the dry sand or the bait will land in the breaking waves and quickly come washing back to shore. The only way to get the rig in the right place is to wade into the dark water and huck it far past the breakers. From reading this blog you probably think I'm a fearless drunk idiot, but I'm also honest, so I'll say this: wading waste deep carrying a pole with an dangling animal head dripping blood at the end of a line made me cautious and --- reluctant as I am to say it --- nervous. I doubt there's any human who could walk into dark seawater without some trepidation. But the thought of the possible catch drove me onward.

The darkish white breakers rolled toward me and began soaking me to my waist. I could hear sounds and movements all around in the murky water. But my keen understanding of real risk calmed my nerves; shit, I've got more of a chance of getting hurt in a car than in this setting. Quit being a pussy, LB. Shake it off. I slogged through the waves and into deeper water until I could hurl the line the right distance.

After I cast it over my head and heard the line whizzing out, I splashed back to Chris waiting on the sand, brought in the slack, let the line hold taut, and set the butt of the rod into the plastic rod holder that was spiked and leaning into the hard wet sand.

And then we stood and waited.

I don't go fishing expecting to catch something. People who feel that they must bring home a fish set themselves up for disappointment. My desire is to sit around a rod, waiting in calm anticipation, drinking a few brews. That's the fun for me. If I catch something, that's an added bonus, sure, but it's not the driving force in my mind during an outing. This is the only way I've been able to maintain my interest in fishing since I was a kid.

Chris and I chatted and mused at how clear the stars are once you step outside the pollution in the city. It's just god damn beautiful. All the while we're keeping an eye on the end of my fishing rod and the taut line, looking for a bite. The rod tip moved a bit when the breakers would pull the line, but I reassured Chris that that kind of pull was not a fish --- just wave action.

After a while, the tiredness caught up with Chris and he walked back home to watch TV and go to bed. But I remained, enjoying my surroundings and feeling more awake than before.

After 10 minutes, I noticed that the breakers were pulling the rod a little more than normal. Or was this a fish pulling it? The end of the rod started to slowly pull toward the sea so I grabbed it and gave a jerk only to receive a long heavy pull in the opposite direction, then the drag released and the reel started to whine. Something was pulling it, shit. Something bigger than a bluefish, for certain. I gave it another pull and the rod bent hard over and the line started to peel off the reel in a sound that is one of the most beautiful on earth: the sound of a fish running with the bait in its mouth. Fish on!

And so began my fight with the shark. Actually, it's more like a tug of war; you let the fish take what he wants --- while holding the rod to keep up the resistance --- until you feel him weaken, then pull the rod back, and reel in the slack. People who don't fish don't realize that the actual line does not bear the entire load of the fish's weight. You can catch enormous fish on line that's only tested to 20 pounds. Fighting a fish is a competition for who will become exhausted first, and the odds are always with the human so it's a matter of time, not strength of line or equipment.

I pulled and reeled this fish for some time. My head was spinning with excitement and my back and arms were beginning to ache. At this point I had no idea what was on the end of my line. It could be anything. That's the thrill of the whole matter. Whatever was on my line would pull when his energy got up, and I'd pull him in a few more feet when I couldn't take it. This process went on until I could finally see splashing in the dark at the shallowest part of the breakers.

I started to run toward the shape, taking in the slack line. As I approached, I could see a three-foot shark swishing its tail back and forth so I grabbed the steel leader and hauled him onto dry sand.

God damn, I was so excited but there was no one to witness it. Screw it, I'd carry that sonuvabitch back to the house and wake them all up with this beast dangling in their faces.

As I finally cleared the dunes and made it to the house carrying the shark by its tail, I saw that Chris and Brian were still up watching TV. I trudged in without hosing the sand off my feet, screaming and shouting for everyone to get out of bed and come see my conquest.

Watching their expressions was worth all the effort. I posed for a quick photo session from three cameras, then ran back down to the beach to huck the fish back. He hit the water and swam away.

Me, at 2AM, running on dark-n-stormys and late-night excitement:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Fist City" by Loretta Lynn Proves my Wife is the Awesomest Wife Around

As I type on the computer, I can hear my wife belting out this song from the shower:

It's times like these when I re-realize that I've got a cooler wife than you do.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wrightsville Beach Tomorrow, and Possible Shark-Throwing Fun?

Damn, I've got so much to write about but it all includes too many curse words, my non-stop farting causing social problems; watching porno with two women; an embarrassing rock-rap band whose album I bought recently; my amped-up anti-religious fervor; a bit more drinking than I'm proud of (who, me?); tepid support for the American terrorist Bill Ayers; realizing I'm not as good a sailor as I thought; the early onset of my Fall blues; the time I threw a live shark at one of my drunk friends; and tomorrow's trip to the most beautiful beach house I've ever seen.

I can't write about 90% of that crap because --- how you say --- my "readership has changed" and I can't "offend" people. Call me a pussy for not elaborating, but I'll just give the details of those last bits on the shark and this vacation home --- safe subjects.

Last year at this time, I visited the Most Amazing Beach House of My Life in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina --- Jim's brother's beachfront house. I wrote a tad bit here about that experience. The place was populated with my hot wife, a Springsteen-loving dude named Chris, Jim, his harem of girlfriends, and a few flying Palmetto bugs who liked to crawl on my neck at night.

It was one of the best beach trips of my life, and not only because I converted a member of Jim's harem to eating meat. But my resulting pride was justified: shit, I was toothless at the time (left), but I suppose the image and smell of me standing at the stove cooking peppered bacon couldn't stop the primordial meat-lust in that vegan.

I was also determined to catch fish and shark from the beach at night during that trip. In case you don't know, that entails wading into dark crashing waves with a surf-casting rod slung on my back until I'm ribs deep, then flinging it past the breakers. Half the fun of such fishing is the thrill of going into the unknown to catch the unknown.

Last year, I only caught dogfish. The funnest part was drunkenly throwing the live foot-long dogfish shark at drunk-ass Chris sitting on the sand. Man, you've never seen a city boy squirm!

Here's the plan for this weekend to compete with last year: fish during the day for small fish like Spot or Croaker. Then, later than night (after drinks), I'll hook 'em in their scaly backs dangling at the end of some serious piano-wire leaders --- you know, so the big sharks don't bite through it.

I'll hurl that live fish out past the breakers and wait. Wait. I'll do it. I've only caught one seriously big shark from the beach my whole life and that feeling is worth trying to achieve again. Do you have any idea what that sensation is?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Dogs Were Fashion Models for NPR

My friend who works at the NPR online store called me yesterday saying she needed dogs to model some sweaters that they're selling online. I obliged. I loaded the car with dog treats and my two beastly beagles and drove to a bona fide photography studio in the bowels of the NPR building on New York Avenue. You can see how cute my dogs look in striped pink and blue sweaters:

It's not easy to photograph dogs because they're always darting around or not interested in the task at hand. The only thing that holds their attention are treats, which we had plenty of. I suppose some men would be embarrassed to put cute sweaters on their dogs but not me. Anything for a laugh, as far as I'm concerned. Here's a time lapse video complete with great music:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Even the most skeptical view has Obama winning at 273 electoral votes.

Here's my methodology:

1 - Polls are worth following, especially on a state-by-state basis. For all you idiots that say "I don't believe polls," I'll remind you that opinion poll averges predicted the John Kerry loss down to the 10th of a percent at 2.4% from Labor Day to Election Day.

2 - The best that McSame has done in the past three months in national polls is the bounce he got because of the RNC and Palin announcement. That bounce is already on its way down in the national polls. See this graph from Real Clear Politics:

3 - When Mondale announced Ferraro, the bounce he got over Reagan lasted several weeks, so we may not see the national polls recover to their real level until next week. It may be quicker because it seems that 98% of everything McSame and Palin have said lately are egregious lies.

4 - During McSame's bounce --- the best he's EVER done in the polls --- the state by state polls show an Obama victory at 273 electoral votes. Here are my stats below for this skeptical view of an Obama victory. This assumes that Ohio, Virginia and Florida all go for McSame (even though a poll released today shows Virginia at +4% Obama):

5 - Below are some polls for the "swing states" during McSame's best performance period --- the week of 9/4 to 9/12 from the above map. Again, this is supposed to be the BEST time McSame has done, and he's already headed back down as we speak. "RCP average" is the average of all the polls. This is the best way to find a number that's closest to reality.

Colorado (9 EVs):

New Mexico (5 EVs):

New Hampshire (4 EVs):

Michigan (17 EVs):

Pennsylvania (21 EVs):

I honestly think people should "never try and predict anything, especially the future," but it isn't looking good for the angry-ass Melanoma-laden grandpa and Caribou Barbie.

My wife will still be hot when she's over 60. Yessss ...

They say if you want to know how your woman will look when she's older, take a look at her mother. Well, it's a bit creepy for me to comment on my mother-in-law's looks, but judging by what happened this weekend, I am one lucky dude.

My mother-in-law came for a visit this weekend and while I was loading her luggage into my trunk at the train station, a well-dressed 30-something guy walks up to her and says, "Excuse me, but I wanted to tell you that you're extremely beautiful." Then he walked away.

Remember, my mother-in-law is 60 years old. And it's not like this was some homeless dude; he appeared to be well-dressed and even good-looking!

I've got it MADE.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The biggest admirers of my beagles are old black men.

I've been the owner of two beagles in DC for long enough to make this accurate generalization: African American men over the age of 60 LOVE beagle hounds.

I've walked my beagles nearly every day though Washington DC for seven years. Often, there will be a 60+ black guy out front sweeping his porch or something and he'll stop what he's doing and say, "Those beagle hounds?" I'll respond, "Yea, they are." Old black man: "Those are good rabbit huntin' dogs. Good dogs, they are." Then he'll keep looking at my dogs wistfully, I'll thank him for the compliment while dragging the hounds away from whatever crap they're trying to eat off the sidewalk.

This happens so frequently when in the presence of an elderly African American male that I can predict it while walking toward such a man. And my wife commonly has the same exact experience.

My neighborhood is 70% black and there are lots of retired folks living around here --- people that probably remember when you could take your shotgun and go rabbit hunting just down the street. And surprisingly my neighborhood is now quite urban --- a 25-minute bike ride from the White House. I can't imagine what it was like back then.

Whenever I get a compliment from an old black man about my dogs it makes my day --- like I own REAL dogs, not just distant members of some canine species that couldn't survive outside an average suburban living room.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Minor Threat, I Don't Wanna Hear It.

God damn, the 80s hardcore band Minor Threat really knew how to express true anger in the simplest way. This is an anger you don't hear in modern bands. This is an anger that could only be produced by the stagflation of the 1970s and the election of Ronald Reagan. Press play, feel the angst, and read the lyrics. Repeat until you feel better.

Minor Threat, I Don't Wanna Hear It, 1981:

I don't want to hear it
All you do is talk about you
I don't want to hear it
'Cause I know that none of it's true
I don't want to hear it
Sick and tired of all your lies
I don't want to hear it
When are you gonna realize...

That I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it

I don't want to hear it
All you do is talk about you
I don't want to hear it
'Cause I know that none of it's true
I don't want to hear it
Sick and tired of all your lies
I don't want to hear it
When are you gonna realize...

That I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it

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 ...

That I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it
Know you're full of shit
I don't want to hear it


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Donkey Liver and an Old Marxist

For the first time since I graduated college 12 years ago, I stopped by my favorite professor's office unannounced today. I knocked on his office door, and when we made eye contact, without skipping a beat, this bearded old Marxist sociology professor greeted me by my first and last names. It made my week.

How many professors remember students by their first and last names whom they have not seen for 12 years? Granted, we've exchanged 3 or 4 emails since 1996, but that's it --- and not a single one for five years back when I needed a recommendation letter.

I used to chat with this professor between classes about sociological theory, leftist politics, and the Chesapeake. I credit this man for forming my early political ideology and it is because of him that I began radical activist stuff right after graduating. The nicest part was that we picked up our conversation as if only a few days had lapsed between my previous conversation with him over a full decade ago.

After chatting for 30 minutes I was turning to go when he stopped me and said, "Donkey liver. That's what it was, 'donkey liver.'" I had no idea what he was talking about so I asked what he meant. He told me that he remembered that I'd used the term "donkey liver" in an essay about sociological institutions on a final exam 12 years ago. I had been comparing the interconnections between social institutions to the functions of organs in a donkey. Sounds odd, I know, but I'm no normal person. I can't believe he remembered such a thing.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sara Palin's town is smaller than some DUMPS I've taken. The culture war is ON.

Let's get this out of the way, because below is what all us "urban liberals" are really thinking:

On patriotism: See, we aren't so insecure about our love of country that we have to constantly prove that we're willing to hump and lick the flag over and over and over and over. How about McCain? Well, after being downed over North Viet Nam, he actually signed a statement provided by the Communists that he had committed war crimes. How about that for country loyalty? Maybe if he'd been wearing a flag pin while signing that statement he would've been more patriotic in your Wal-Mart-going eyes. Dumb-asses.

On speaking. Everyone agrees that Obama is a great orator, even McSame. By the way, you know what great leaders do? You may have forgotten this, given that you may have voted for Bush TWICE, but THEY CAN ACTUALLY SPEAK WELL. Also, let's talk about teleprompters. Sara Palin's speech was NOT her own. ALL of Obama's speeches were written by HIM. Let's see that moose-killing bitch deal with the press. Why hasn't she? Because her handlers have been making sure she doesn't because she's only been mayor of a town smaller than some shits I've taken. Fucking redneck.

Po' Folks. Obama knows more about the way middle class and poor people live than McCain has ever known. Again, how many houses does he own? Come on, he doesn't even know and has still not revealed this secret. Obama left Harvard Law School and went into public service --- the best kind of public service that the Republicans always pretend they're for: church-based community service. And now they ridicule and mock that proud American tradition? Dear all red states: I'm a middle class dude who lives next door to a Heroin Addict/HIV Positive/Ex-con/Drug Dealer/Drunk who knows more about politics than you'll ever learn from riding hours per day in an SUV, or whatever it is you do in fucking Oklahoma, etc. I've been all over the world and met hundreds of people and you (like Palin) just got a passport last year (or maybe never). Do I think I'm better than you? Hell yes, I do. Eat it.

Talkin' Shit About A Pretty Sunset: An Inward-Looking Post

For the first time, I youtube-searched Modest Mouse's song Talkin' Shit About a Pretty Sunset --- this blog's namesake. The song is here. It's better to read the lyrics as two paragraphs:
Oh ... noose. Tied myself in, tied myself too tight. Looking kind of anxious in your cross armed stance, like a bad tempered prom queen at a homecoming dance. And I claim I'm not excited with my life any more, so I blame this town, this job, these friends, but the truth is it's myself. And I'm trying to understand myself and pinpoint where I am. When I finally get it figured out, I've changed the whole damn plan.

Talking shit about a pretty sunset. Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon. I've changed my mind so much I can't even trust it; my mind changed me so much I can't even trust myself.
First time I heard that song was in 1996 when the album was new and I liked 90% of indie rock on the market. Now indie rock is gone from my list of top interests but Modest Mouse sticks around, along with My Bloody Valentine, as two of the indie bands that don't grate my eardrums like Sarah Palin's voice after a few minutes.

The lyrics fit me well. I DO change my mind all the time and despite the fact that I sound confident on this blog so often, I could be convinced otherwise in most cases. If you met me in person, you'd realize I'm not much of a boastful bon vivant (most of the time).

I called three "life coaches" (yes, a real profession) today to find the right one. Apparently, most people who do that are women, but I don't give a fuck. God damn, I hate the way psychologists ask questions without giving advice so I'm not going to one of those. Maybe I need someone to coach me along. Anyone who knows a good one should let me know.

Damn, my life is good in many ways --- own two houses, zero debt, beautiful smart wife, wonderful family, international job, etc --- but something feels missing. Man, that sounds whiny, and I know lots of folks are MUCH worse off than I'll ever be --- I've met them --- but it doesn't matter.

Careerwise, I'm a jack of all trades, I suppose. I've been to enough foreign countries and all that --- fine. Part of my uneasiness is because I'm 34 and most people my age are set in their careers and hitting their stride now --- the time that they're making a good deal of money and their skill level surpasses those around them, something to take pride in. I don't really have that yet.

What I need is a few dudes to tell me to shut the fuck up, quit whining, and start pursuing my loves and passions. Shit, I've got plenty of those --- friends and passions. I suppose I'm just one of the millions of whining, soymilk-fed Americans --- the kind that I rail against so often on this blog. Yikes!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

To Borneo in October!

I'm taking a business trip in October to help promote my product to the extensive shrimp farms in Indonesia --- Sulawesi and Borneo, specifically.

Since I'm going there, I decided to pick up a travel guide to Borneo. I was surprised to find this written on page 161:
"Although headhunting has been largely stamped out in Borneo, there is still the odd reported case once every few years."
Huh? Wait, this still goes on? What a wild world we still live in. If you read the news and live in a city, you'd get the perception that most of the world is covered in Wal-Marts or logging camps but there are still areas that haven't been touched much by civilization. And I intend to visit those places in my lifetime.

I'm going to scout out Borneo in October and figure out what spots would be fun to visit with my wife in March.

The distributor of my product in that region is a fat Indonesian-Chinese madman. He was a successful CPA at a bank in Indonesia for many years who decided he couldn't take an office job so he quit and started helping poor shrimp farmers improve their lot. It is absolutely unheard of for a Chinese (all are Christian) to do anything to help Muslims in Indonesia. He's actually gotten some media attention in Indonesia for doing it. So I'm going to follow him around and promote the product. Should be good story fodder for this blog.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Republican pundits are lying hypocrites and I hate them all.

Thank you Jon Stewart for showing the disgusitng hypocrisy:

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