Giro means 'ride', not 'tasty meat sandwich.'

Third Parties, Part 1

After a swift prompting from a friend ("Nader isn't the only third party candidate, remember?"), I decided to start looking at the other guys' platforms, particularly that of the Libertarians, whom everyone thinks is great because of their "Taxes are bad" plank.

Well, it pains me to report that, going by their platform alone, I have come to the conclusion that the Libertarians are nothing more than a bunch of stoner isolationist Republicans.

I'm sorry, but I like things like the FDA and OSHA. I like the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As much as I hate paying taxes, I will gladly shell them out to make sure there's someone to tell businesses that, no, children, you can't make a buck through lethally shoddy workmanship and polluting the environment. I think that a laissez-faire economy will only work if you have an intelligent, informed consuming public, one that could all stand up say something like, "Hey, Firestone! Your tires suck! And we're not buying any more until we have proof that you've cleaned up your act and your products don't, y'know, fall apart on the goddamned highways." That requires a populace that pays attention, and I don't think we're there yet.

We need watchdogs to keep the foxes from running off with us chickens. And, sorry, Harry, but we need the feds to do so. After all, isn't it in the Constitution, under that whole "provide for the common defense" thing? Maybe the Framers had defense from foreign enemies in mind back in their day, but, as time goes on, we, the people, will need defense from those companies that would be more than happy to prey on us and our resources.

Thursday, September 7, 2000
01:53 p.m.


Ah, Ralphie...we dig ya.

Wednesday, September 6, 2000
01:35 p.m.


"In the ninth month of the year 2000," she murmured, "you must deliver to Aquarians this wonderful news: They will have a joyful opportunity to cure the ignorance that if unchecked would many years later be the source of their death."

This isn't my horoscope's way of telling me that it's time for a prostate exam, is it?

Wednesday, September 6, 2000
11:28 a.m.


Raise Some Hell!

Simple.

Just go here.

And ask Al, "Hey, Mr. Vice President...why won't you debate Ralph Nader?"

The ensuing comedy would be beautiful. Get crackin', people.

Wednesday, September 6, 2000
09:59 a.m.


Once again, those who commute by bicycle are dead sexy.

Wish I looked that cool in my helmet.

Wednesday, September 6, 2000
09:58 a.m.


Note to Self (The First in an On-Going Series)

Nobuo Uematsu will compose all of the music for the One Cool Game you will one day design, make, and sell. Do whatever it takes to get Nobuo-san on board. Unless, by some bizarre twist of fate, he suddenly sucks rocks as a composer. Then, yes, then you will go immediately to the Casiotone and do it yourself. Yes.

Tuesday, September 5, 2000
06:16 p.m.


If I never see another cannoli again, it'll be too soon.

Tuesday, September 5, 2000
06:07 p.m.


This evening was the second time this week I heard XTC's "King for a Day" in an unlikely place. The first was in Vons; tonight was at Carl's Jr. If only the people in charge of the muzak paid attention to the lyrics...

Everyone's creeping up to the Money God
Putting their tongues where they ought not to be...

Thursday, August 31, 2000
08:23 p.m.


Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh.

Thursday, August 31, 2000
07:01 p.m.


Who needs drugs when you've got words?

No one writes pop songs like Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. No one. And I'm talking about *perfect* pop songs, people; they are as catchy as a case of the clap at Miss Naughty's Co-Ed Boarding School for Nymphomaniacs, and about tough to forget as the sight of your parents in bondage gear.

Wednesday, August 30, 2000
04:37 p.m.


One of the side effects of going to the basement gym is that I have become reaquainted with American pop music.

Note how I call that a side effect, much like one would call "anal leakage" a side effect of eating Olestra.

Now, I know I shouldn't go casting stones upon pop music, because I'm not doing anything to counter it. I'm not a musician (well, not professionally), so I should save my criticism to whether I buy someone's tunes or not. In the case of what I hear in the gym, I think I would rather donate my hard-earned cash to the American Nazi Party than buy anything by Britney Spears or the latest Non-Threatening White Boy Band. It's quite different, however, when you have to hear that excrement playing overhead while lifting weights. You are then allowed to fit a pitch like nobody's business.

I know. I could buy a Walkman and listen to NPR as I exercise. I've tried it. It doesn't work. The dulcet tones of Bob Edwards are utterly destroyed the Top 40 Sound.

Maybe it's some kind of motivation: I get more pissed off, so I exercise harder. Or maybe it's just going to raise my blood pressure that much more.

Anyway, it leads to this week's quiz: who in the name of all that is Good and Holy is the group that's sampled "Jack And Diane" for their latest hit? Who is the mushmouth dork who gets sick from eating Chinese food and likes girls from Abercrombie & Fitch? Why do you know all this? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?

First one to answer all four of those questions (only the first two need to be correct...I have this perverse need to know All Things Trivial, and, if Top 40 radio ain't trivial, I don't know what is) wins a Good Beer at Father's Office. And the scorn and derision of all your peers.

Now to go get N'Sync out of my head...

Tuesday, August 29, 2000
10:54 a.m.


Confessions

-I had a mullet. In college. I'm not proud, but I've learned since then. I think.

-I look better on paper, but I dance better in person.

-I missed an election. The one where Prop. 187 passed. I forgot to mail in my absentee ballot. I hang my head in shame.

-I usually think of the best thing to say long after the fact, which why I need editors who catch my ass before I print something embarrassing.

-But I don't always listen to them.

-My apartment is not always as sexy as it should be.

-I want to be a Rock Star, but only so I can get into restaurants without waiting.

-And for the chicks. Duh.

-I liked growing up in Orange County. For the most part.

-I also like grits.

-It's been a slow day.

Monday, August 28, 2000
05:44 p.m.


All right. I will say this here and now, just to get it out of the way.

I love anime. I love manga. I love Japanese RPGs with a ridiculous passion; I'll gladly give up 80 hours of my life to finish one completely.

But, so help me God, if anyone ever sees me at an OtaKon, dressed up in costume, stop me. Grab me, haul me outside, buy me a beer and show me the error of my ways. Because, man, after seeing the pictures that Jay showed me (most too horrible to show here, even if I could upload them), I am terrified. It's one thing for adults to go and make stuff like that, but it's quite another to keep consuming it like crack when you're a grown-up. Unless it's Halloween. Or Burning Man. Or a political convention.

Monday, August 28, 2000
02:53 p.m.


Brooke Shields is the harbinger of doom.

Pass it on.

Monday, August 28, 2000
11:56 a.m.


A Fundamental Shift

One of my favorite books is Kim Stanley Robinson's "Pacific Edge," which takes place in a near-future utopian Orange County (shut up!). It's the story of a clash between cultures, one led by a Green housebuilder, and the other led by a businessman. There's talk about water rights, about the importance of fish farms, of bikes on freeways, of magnificent sailing ships, of love and respect and good beer. I like it not as much for the story but for the world Robinson creates. People have gotten tired of greed and deception and all of the bullshit that comes along with it and have decided to make a society that really works.

I was thinking about this as I biked to work this morning, past the human wreckage shambling next to the beautiful joggers in Venice, smelling the ocean water mix with the stench of processed sewage outside Hyperion, pondering the New Sanctimony and wondering: what in hell will it take? The world of "Pacific Edge," one that's clean and healthy and full of good work and joy, isn't on the way. Not by a long shot. And it's not for lack of legislation or anything like that; that kind of change requires a fundamental shift in the way people think and live. I don't see that happening yet. I don't see the world of "Ecotopia" coming true, especially in like of the way the Bay Area is (anyone who's read that book will understand. If you haven't, read the damn thing). Greed and fear cannot be legislated out of the human heart; we have to change on our own.

More to think about for the bike ride home.

Monday, August 28, 2000
11:10 a.m.


To Do

-Finally finish The Lord Of The Rings. I'm so close, what with Sam and Frodo slowly working their way out of Cirith Ungol as Elessar and Company square off with the bad guys at Minas Tirith. I started this massive piece of beauty last summer while I was still living Up The Hill, and got sidetracked by some little things like moving and changing jobs. It happens. But soon I will be able to reclaim my Geek Cred, 'cause I'll have read the book. Have you? No? For God's sake, put down the Harry Potter and get crackin' on the Tolkien!

-Organize my papers. Everything I've written on paper has been living in a milk crate in the corner of my room. It's time to sort through all of that and separate the cruft from the Good Stuff.

-Finish The Book. The one I started writing, that is. And then write the next four I have planned. I realized a long time ago that, while I may love writing, I don't think I could ever become a writer. I don't think I have the discipline, nor do I have the patience for putting up with Other People's Bullshit, which I am still convinced permeates publishing as much as it does games. Better to have six manuscripts that are tight, polished, and full of excellence than twenty crap books.

-Speaking of books, I should really plow through that pile I bought on my first date with the Green Eyed Girl. What can I say? I got sidetracked when Ken brought home that copy of Cryptonomicon.

-Finish all those games before I buy new ones! Between Final Fantasy Anthology and the Ultima Collection, I really shouldn't have to buy a new game until 2006.

-Oo, and while I'm at it, I should also be sure to learn at least three Secrets Of The Universe by 2002, seeing how it's my high school reunion and all. Might be good for lulls in conversation.

Friday, August 25, 2000
05:15 p.m.


Language Lessons

In preparation for next year's Incredible Family Journey to Europe (definite destination: Lithuania. Indefinite: wherever my friends are living at the moment), I have purchased language tapes. Whether they're going to work or not, I have no idea, but I'm quite stoked to have my very own copy of Colloquial Lithuanian. It is my goal to be fluent enough in Lithuanian to be able to order a meal, get a room, and compliment pretty girls, all in the mother tongue. At the very least, I want to understand what the little kids next door are yelling at each other.

However, I keep wondering what I'm going to sound like. I speak American English with an Orange County accent (whateverthefuck that is), but I've grown up in a very Latino part of the country. I learned French in high school, but I know how to say one naughty thing in Vietnamese. My friends speak Czech and German and Hebrew and Spanish and Cantonese, and I think it's all wonderful. Speaking another language is like singing, and especially one with all these gnarly dipthongs like Lit.

The tapes worry me, though. I think they were designed for people from the UK; the English-speaking voices sound like they're from Ireland. Does this mean I'm going to speak Lit with an English accent instead of an American one?

Friday, August 25, 2000
02:38 p.m.


Scenes from the Future, Part 6

"So, Grandpa Adam, what were you doing during the summer of '00? You were watching "Survivor" like the rest of the world, right?"

"Hell, no! I was either reading good books or having sex!"

"Jeez, Grandpa...you're weird."

"Damn straight. Now, hush up and read your Tolkien."

Thursday, August 24, 2000
09:19 a.m.


You ever have one of those days when you get all sorts of good stuff?

I love days like that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2000
04:55 p.m.


It comes and goes on its own,
Slippery as fish
Concrete as smoke
And the more I grasp
The farther away it goes.

But when it comes back,
And has something to say,
You can bet
I'll be hanging on
for dear life.

Monday, August 21, 2000
04:56 p.m.


Memory II

Time expanded and space stretched out, and I could grab neither. All I could feel was the heat of night, and the cacophany of the steel mountain in the distance. We walked right into the sound, listening to it change and bend with the rest of reality, watching the desert punks beat the living hell out of anything they could get their hands on. The riot of metal changed as we walked through and then past it. We were on our way to The Mosque.

On we walked, out across the desert, and time kept getting bigger. It should have only taken a few minutes, but it took years, and, like a fool, I kept waiting for time to contract to its normal state, all that time not realizing that the time I spent with you was all I would ever have, and that I should have enjoyed its expanded scale all that much more.

I can't even remember what your voice sounds like anymore.

Monday, August 21, 2000
03:40 p.m.


Memory I

It was a warm day in early May, a late afternoon, most of the day fed to laziness. I couldn't make it up the trail, my brain reeling in every direction except the one I wanted to go. And I collapsed under a live oak, those massive, gnarled trees that dot the foothills and are about as close to forest as we're allowed to get.

And I remember the sudden feeling in my head, like someone had gone and suddenly spun the last number in the combination, and all the tumblers lined up, and the bolt flew open with a click that made the sparrows take to their wings. And I remember suddenly feeling like my head was a pocketwatch, and someone, maybe God, maybe me, had pressed the fob and the top of my skull flew open, and then the entire Universe rushed in, warm, liquid white light gently pouring in from the top and suffusing throughout my entire life. And I knew, I understood, and I raced home as quick as I could, laughing and crying at the same time, raced home to find my friends and tell them I got it.

Monday, August 21, 2000
03:09 p.m.


Pumpity pump

I ride three days a week, totalling about 96 miles.

I lift on my off days.

I eat oatmeal and fruit and haven't had a Double Double in quite some time.

Dear God in Heaven, I am becoming a Jock.

I ride into work, go down to the gym in the basement, stretch out and do sit-ups, then pad into the shower. On the other days, I sit on a stationary rig and drive my heartrate through the roof and then grunt and sweat and play with machines that look like they were in the Torquemada household before getting shoved into a room with mirrored walls and muzak. I get cranky if I even think about not going downstairs first thing in the morning. I look forward to the oatmeal.

But do you know what makes it all worthwhile? No, it's not the weight loss or the muscle gain or the increased endurance. It's not that I'm getting that much closer to being dead sexy.

All of this gym stuff is great because of two words: clean towels. If we'd had those in high school, I'd have done this a long time ago.

Monday, August 21, 2000
12:22 p.m.


This week's quiz

What song contains the lyrics "I've got new pair of roller skates; you've got a brand new key"?

The winner gets lunch at Wahoo's. Void if you're dead and/or contributed to the Bush or Gore campaigns.

Thursday, August 17, 2000
02:44 p.m.


I have to keep telling myself that, no matter what happened last night, that things are still different. The LAPD firing pepper cans and rubber bullets is a far cry from Bull Connor opening up with the fire hoses and letting the police dogs loose.

But that doesn't make me any happier.

Tuesday, August 15, 2000
11:29 a.m.


Omens

A heavy fog is rolling in. The Democratic Convention starts today.

This does not bode well for the ride home.

Monday, August 14, 2000
05:03 p.m.


J'accuse!

So, I've been recently accused of cynicism on this here page, and I figured I should address it.

Am I cynical, especially in regards to matters of government? You bet your ever-lovin' A I am. How in heck can I not? How could anyone who takes time out to sit down and analyze the current state of American politics realize that the whole thing is a sham that's only going to make political donors (and their puppets) happy? How can I not be ticked off when I know the only way to make my voice heard is through my wallet, and even then it doesn't count because I'm not rich enough?

I'm cynical because, dammit, I think that that's all wrong. I grew up thinking that America was a good place to live. America is the land of the free. If my grandparents and dad hadn't left Lithuania after World War II, they'd have lived under Soviet rule. And we grew up knowing that that would have been a bleak, harsh existence.

As I've grown older and talked with people who lived in different parts of the world (including people who lived under the Soviet thumb), I've come to learn that things here aren't the rosiest. I started to hear about different countries where your health and education and employment were guarenteed, and that life was still pretty good. I started finding out that the great, big Soviet Bear was tottering and weak, that its people were just like us, and that the drive to crush worldwide capitalist imperialism was sucking the life out of the country, just like our crusade to Beat The Commies has been here (oh, tell me that the Reagan years were great for America. C'mon. I've got a deficit to show you).

And as I started learning more about how business and economy work, I began to get more upset. It bugs the hell out of me that so much of this nation's wealth is held by such a tiny percentage of its population, that our environment is filthy because cleaning it up would cut into the bottom line, that there are still people who want to tell you want to think and say and read and are going to get away with it because they have more money than me.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So, what can we do? What can I do? I vote. I write my representatives (there are a probably a few files out on me by now, 'cause I'm one of those weirdo freaks who thinks that drug legalization, ending the Iraqi embargo, and discontinuing the NMD system are all good ideas, and I'm not afraid to tell everyone from my Assemblyman to the Prez I think so). I ride my bike. I recycle and buy green 'n' crunchy products.

And I write and put words out for all of you to read. If I just wanted to get my frustrations out, you'd never read this. But sometimes an idea pops into my head, and I think it's a good one, so I pass it on to you, so you can pass it on to someone else, and they can pass it on, etc. etc. ad infinitum. If the "Wazzup?" meme can spread, why not the 20 Hour Work Week meme? Why not the Get Money Out Of Politics meme? Why not the We Want Our Power Back meme?

I've been lucky. I've got parents who love me and taught me lots of good things. I have the greatest brother in the world. I have a Tribe that lets me be Goofy or grumpy or whatever and they still dig me. I have a roof over my head, money in my bank account, and food in my pantry. And I think that, if you work for it, you should have those things, too. Everyone should. I want some balance, some equity. I want us all to count, 'cause I think we've only got this one shot, here and now, to make our world better.

And I know writing isn't enough. I need to do more. I need to put my money where my great, big mouth is. And I will. But, for now, I have ideas, and they become words, and they get passed on to you.

And that's why this is all going on, Mrs. Peel.

Thursday, August 10, 2000
09:20 a.m.


Press Releases You Should Ignore, Part 49

As the world changes with ever-increasing speed, it has become even more important for you to make money. Lots and lots of money. So much money that, if you wanted to, you could bathe a large elephant in it. And you could then throw all that money away, because it now smells like elephant, but you won't care because you'll still have a big pile of money left over. And then some.

That's where we come in. We're ImaqoCyte. And we're going to make you rich.

How? Simple. We have an "I" at the beginning of our nonsensical name. There's a "Q" in there, too. We paid some semiotics professor a quarter of our VC money for that name. Plus, we gave him some shares.

How will that make you rich? Simple. Our entire business plan revolves around two principles:

1) People are greedy.
2) They're also very stupid.

So, when you become an investor in ImaqoCyte, you now own a piece of dotcommerce. You're not just using the Internet to download pornography; you're now part of an exciting financial world. One built around high-speed databand acquisitions technology and really big words. And sentence fragments. Lots of 'em.

How will this make you rich? Simple. All you need to do is:

1) Find some stupid and greedy people.
2) Talk up how great ImaqoCyte is.
3) Sell 'em your shares.

And you're done.

Now, we know what you're thinking. "Hey...itsn't that fraud?" Technically, yes. But it's honest fraud. The first sentence of our prospectus clearly states that we will produce nothing. Nada. Zip. Fuck all. Except money. Lots and lots of money. For us, mostly. Maybe some for you.

So, join the business revolution, and become an investor in ImaqoCyte. We have an "I" in our name. And a "Q."

Wednesday, August 9, 2000
06:00 p.m.


Two questions:

1) Is buffalo considered red meat? How about ostrich?

2) Just what in hell kind of meat is pastrami?

Whomever has the most accurate and/or entertaining answers wins a free lunch at Wahoo's. You supply your own transportation. Offer void if you're dead or drive an SUV.

Wednesday, August 9, 2000
12:48 p.m.


So...

What do we do?

I'm already convinced that, no matter who wins in November, we all lose. Dubya (who I really shouldn't pick on, even though I know an ignoramus like me could eat a lightweight like him for lunch) won't be able to get his more moronic policies across; I don't think the American people will go for things like making abortion illegal or legalizing school prayer. I am worried about four things under the reign of Bush: a) his possible Supreme Court nominees if anyone retires or kicks the bucket (though, that might not be too catastrophic seeing how some conservative justices have taken liberal positions, especially when the A-word is bandied about), b) the reshuffling of federal monies to reglious service groups (though, seeing how private institutions still qualify for federal funds, I can't see how this is any different than things are now. Anyone who knows otherwise, please be so kind as to inform my uninformed ass), c) increased cronyism, especially in favor of Shrub and Heart Attack Man's buddies in the oil industry (yes! Higher gas prices! Crappier fuel efficiency! More pollution and less regulation! Bring on the smog, fuckers!) and d) that idiotic (and highly illegal) Rube Goldberg mechanism we call National Missile Defense. That last one worries me more than the rest because, if George and the rest of his warhead buddies in Congress have their way, it's only going to plunge us into a new Cold War as Russia and China start to figure out how to beat the system and our "allies" in the EU distance themselves as far away from us as possible. I wasn't a big fan of having nuclear nightmares as a kid, and I'll be damned if I have them as an adult. I'd rather worry about whether I'm getting enough fiber or not.

I'm not quite stoked about the Al 'n' Joe show, either. I'm not a fan of Joe Lieberman because of his attacks on violence in the media, specifically naming my industry (this, of course, is another rant for another time, but I'll give you the short version now: legislators have no business telling us what we can and cannot make, sell, or consume, media-wise. If I want to make and sell a game that features eviserations and disembowelments, that's my right. Personally, I don't like games like that because they're a) immature, b) a cheap and lazy design solution, and c) boring. I'd rather the culture of games changes from the inside, with creators realizing that the crap they're slinging isn't fun and isn't selling because of that, leading them to innovate and come up with something New And Cool. Telling us we can't have gibbing in our games is just going to lead to the already highly immature folks who make games figuring out how to crank the Blood 'N' Guts level up to eleven, and everyone will lose because games will only become more puerile and moronic. Anyway...), but I've come to realize that the Vice Presidency is a pretty worthless position. Why else do you think Teddy Roosevelt was given the job? Of course, Gore could always kick off, leaving us with a Lieberman presidency. Oy...

I do my best not to villify Al on personal matters; I could care less if he's stiff and boring. Hell, after eight years of a Rock Star President, I want someone boring. And Al also has more brains than Dubya, meaning that he won't be as embarrassing. However, I still think he's another money-grubbing swine, and, as soon as I can finish pouring through these FEC records, I'd like to see how many donors these guys have in common. I don't think I'm going to like the results.

I'd also like to see what Gore is going to do to protect abortion clinics from zealots during his administration. I'd like to see what he's going to do to make our lives better during this ecomonomic boom. I'd like to see what he's going to do to make sure we have an intelligent, informed electorate during his administration. I'd like to see if he's going to keep his Green label and do some truly innovative things, like getting America wired up to a renewable energy grid, regulating auto makers to create nothing but obscenely efficient vehicles, and take environmentally antagonistic corporations to task for their foul practices. I'd like to see what he's going to do to pander to the right, more than anything else. Are we going to knock more people off welfare? Pump up the money we're wasting on the War On Drugs? Do nothing to discourage gay-, minority-, female-, anyone-who-acts-differently-bashing? My God...what if Al leans more to the right than his present boss?

Dammit, I hate this. There's nothing worse than realizing that the feelings of power you get through an outlet like this are worthless. I can rant up a storm, but no one's going to listen. The only way to carry ideas across is by meme, and I'm just not infectious enough.

Yet.

Tuesday, August 8, 2000
5.13 p.m.


You know what I want? A twenty-hour work week.

No, really. Hear me out.

Now, this would require a few things, ie a lower cost of living (or, conversely, bigger salaries for everyone) and everyone going along with this idea. I think both of these would happen because a) if the government can shell out welfare to Corporate America, they can bloody well support us, too (or, rather, instead) and b) who in God's name wouldn't want to work 20 hours a week?

Why is this such a good idea? Simple: everyone who's always said, "Gee, I'd like to do this Cool Thing if I had more time" would suddenly have that time. That Cool Art Project you've always wanted to start? Hey, Sparky, you've got the time! Always wanted to do more volunteer work? Go for it! More school? More time with your family? More time watching tv? Now you can do it all!

And, just think about it: with all of that time on your hands, you'd be a little more relaxed, which means that you'd have a chance to think again, which means that some Wonderful Ideas might suddenly pop into your head, which might give you Inpiration to do something Innovative, which could lead to you leading a rich, fulfilling life that might also earn you a comfortable enough living so you can tell your boss, "Hey, I'm going off to do my own thing. Thanks for the paychecks."

Of course, no one's going to go for it. After all, Hard Work builds Character, and Character is what got our country where it is today! So, suck it up, kids, and keep up with that eighty-hour week! The world's stockholders are counting on your working your way into an early grave in order to put a few more pennies in their pockets! Back to work!

Tuesday, August 8, 2000
4:09 p.m.


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