Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the Road to Crazy Town

On most weekdays I wake up, get ready for work, and drive from the green dot on the map to the red dot on the map, following the purple line. This configuration diverts me from Route 66 just as I'm feeling tempted to get out of my vehicle (easy, since we're generally always stopped) and pound on the hood of the BMW next to me with a tire iron. I don't really have anything against BMWs. Being mostly German-bred myself, I'm inclined to appreciate hinky, expensive-to-maintain European automobiles, despite my better judgment. But almost always it's a BMW, or a Mercedes, or a Lexus, driven by a smug 20- (or 30-) something professional, who's either sitting back, serenely calculating how much money he's going to make this year, or weaving in and out of traffic as if the car was an actual license to act like an asshole. This makes me want to reach for the tire iron. And technically it's not my job to impart important life lessons, like why it's good to not be a smug asshole, but I think I'd be good at it. Which is why I generally opt for "the road less travelled."

My two and a half hours of daily commuting affords a lot of opportunity to contemplate the details on my route. Like "Huh--another McMansion" or "I wonder if that's a dead raccoon or a dead cat?" I also spend a lot of time deciphering northern Virginia's prolific collection of vanity plates. These are sometimes referred to as "personalized" plates, but trust me, at least around here "vanity" is a lot more accurate. One of my favorites today was "BMW 325I." Maybe you're having a hard time imagining what kind of vehicle it was attached to, so I'll just come right out and tell you. It was a BMW 325I. The plate struck me as slightly redundant, perched just below and a few inches to the left of the vehicle's BMW 325I insignia. Perhaps the plate allows the driver to rest assured that whether his fellow motorists are coming or going, gazing at his bumper or his trunk, there will be no mistake about what kind of a car he drives. What it lacks in flair it more than makes up for in, well, thoroughness at least. I'm thinking of starting a clothing line that features items like, say, red t-shirts, which will say "Red T-Shirt" on them. Or blue hats that say "Blue Hat." After I earn my first million, I'm going to publicly thank BMW 325I guy, for making it cool to state the obvious.

"BMW 325I" is just one of hundreds of fantastic and fascinating vanity plates. Other fun ones I've seen recently include "Luvnlyf" (I think it was on the back of a Geo, sitting in traffic, which made me wonder about the veracity of the assertion), "drswife" (yeah, yeah, we're all impressed), "ucantry" (try what, I don't know--illegal drugs, wife-swapping, marathons--the possibilities are endless) and on and on.

When I was reading about vanity plates online I happened across a website called "Dear Northern Virginia driver" which features letters from angry drivers, written to the people who pissed them off. One started "Dear Asshat in the Minivan with anger management issues..." For some reason this struck me as so ridiculously funny that I spent five minutes laughing hysterically, tears streaming down my face, as I tried over and over to read the line to Darren. I kept getting hung up on "asshat." I've never heard the term "asshat" before, but I intend to use it daily, and "jwolf," if you're out there somewhere, thank you for the absurdly hilarious tirade. It totally made my night.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"I'm a level 5 vegan..."

"I'm a Level 5 vegan.
I don't eat anything that casts a shadow."

Last weekend we went to the drive-in, in Stephens City, about 45 miles west and a little bit north of here. It was fun--not as cool as the fabulous nature-y drive-in we used to go to, in Twinfield, MA. This one was a little bit more wrong-side-of-the-tracks-y, with gravel instead of grass, two (smaller) screens, and an extremely, uh, varied audience. Okay, not really varied. Mostly NASCAR fans, I think.

As a professional drive-in attendee, I bring a thoroughly kick-ass selection of food, with all of the major groups represented--Entree, candy, salt, and coffee. After all, one of the best things about the drive-in is that you can eat whatever the hell you want, unlike the regular movie theatre, where it's sometimes necessary to conceal your McFlurry in your bag, and then sometimes it tips over in there and your cell phone is covered with ice cream and your bag smells like sour milk for the rest of its days. I went to Whole Foods in the morning and bought some awesome stuff, including a tofu and noodle salad, and, as it happens, sesame tofu steaks. All of it was totally delicious, a cut above the snackbar chow, for sure. While we were eating, I asked Darren if he thought anyone else at the drive-in was tucking into a big chunk of tofu. "Highly unlikely" he deemed it. We did get a few odd glances from our fellow attendees, but I don't know if that was what we were eating, or that we didn't fit into the predominant demographic.

One of the interns at our office (who is 22 and appears to be in good shape, but has a cholesterol count of OVER 300!) was saying how he loves milk and drinks it all the time, and I told him that I think it's weird for people to drink cow milk, since we're pretty much the only mammal whose practice it is to drink the mother's milk of a different species. Cow milk is for baby cows. We started talking about me being a vegetarian, particularly in light of his hereditary cholesterol problems, and though he was pleasantly open to the idea, you could still tell it was a foreign concept.

If I had a $1 for every person who's asked me "What do you eat?" over the past 18 years, I'd have a few dollars. Because I'm an obsessively meticulous grocery shopper, I organize my grocery list by meal and by aisle, so now I take out my list and read off the weekly meals when I get asked that question. Most people seem to think what we eat sounds fairly appetizing, and one day I'm going to whip up a big tofu dish for everyone at work to try, just to show them that it's not actually disgusting. I don't think I'll necessarily have a whole bunch of converts on my hands, but it's a good way to get people to think about eating less meat and, you know, hugging trees, and singing kum-bah-yah and all that junk.

Mmmmmm...movie premieres

"Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably.
The lesson is, never try. " --Homer Simpson

I admit, I let out an audible gasp of excitement last night when I read the headline on MSNBC. Darren looked over at me, maybe to see if I was having a stroke. But no, it's just that Springfield, VERMONT, has won hosting rights to the "Simpsons Movie" premiere, which will take place on July 21 in the town's tiny 100-seat theater. Vermont took 15,367 votes, to 14,634 for the next highest vote-getter, Illinois. Yay! Their movie concept was great, the kid who filmed it was only 17(!) and there could be no more perfect place for the Simpsons to live than Vermont. I couldn't be more proud.

Now, of course, the ugliness begins. Comments on USA Today (where the contest ran) range from the appropriately congratulatory to the big fat whiny loser-y. One person from Colorado wrote "Im not saying that the video sucked cause it wasn't that bad, but I honest think there were WAY better ones. The guy chased a doughnut through town. I mean come on." First of all, he "honest" thinks? Second, what was your great concept, big fat LOSER? I'm sorry. I shouldn't gloat. That's unbecoming.

Another post reads "Vermont's Springfield S.U.C.K.S!!!!!!" Umm, excuse me? "S.U.C.K.S!!!!!!"? What the hell is that? Some sort of acronym? I mean, it has to be, right? You don't spell words with punctuation between each letter, do you? If it's an acronym, I'm having a really tough time figuring out what it stands for. I'll post again when I come up with the answer.

Others, however, were gracious in defeat. The mayor of Springfield, Oregon, which would have been the only deserving alternative to Vermont, in my humble opinion, displayed an admirable sense of sportsmanship. "If it wasn't going to be us, then Vermont, to me, is a good choice," Leiken said during a news conference at City Hall. "I'm not disappointed." What a guy, right? And that's why Oregon's Springfield should be deemed runner-up, and take over the title in the event that Vermont's Springfield is unable to fulfull the duties of the position.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas (whom I've actually interviewed in person, and let's just say he's not exactly hilarious) apparently commented "To all the other Springfields, I say, 'Don't have a cow, man.'" Hee hee.

Go Vermont and congrats Springfield!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ann Coulter is a Stupid Whore

I realize this is not news to anyone. Or any sentient being, anyway. But it's interesting to think about. How is it that Ann Coulter routinely finds her way to semi-legitimate venues for political discourse, like "Hardball," despite the fact that she is an ignorant, hate-spewing twat? (Plus horse-faced, but that's probably not entirely relevant.) David Duke was often described as attractive and articulate, too, but most people didn't fail to note the rest of the equation: raging, hate-mongering idiot. You don't see Chris Matthews giving Duke a spot on "Hardball" anymore.
So what's so different about Coulter? Why does she get a free pass to call Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a "faggot" or suggest that she wishes he'd been killed in a terrorist assassination plot? That doesn't even make any goddamned sense. In terms of intelligent dialogue, it sounds a lot like when an angry five-year-old says to their mom: "I wish you would die!" Only most five-year-olds aren't highly paid and given a soapbox in national media to spout this venom. And, most five-year-olds grow out of the urge to say highly inappropriate, and frankly just plain dumb, things. Ann Coulter, apparently, has not.
On a related note, popular Republican Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter (wait, who's he again?), in a savvy campaign move, stood up for Coulter on a recent episode of "Hardball." Sadly, he says, "when conservatives talk, they are considered to talk in a mean way." Wait, it's not mean to call someone a faggot and wish for their untimely death? This really puts a whole new spin on things for me. The good news is, apparently I'm not nearly as mean as I'd previously thought.
For your enjoyment--a few of Ann Coulter's most delightful quotes:

1. “They’re [Democrats] always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment.”

2. “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’”

3. "The problem with women voting — and your Communists will back me up on this — is that, you know, women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it."

4. “I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.”

5. “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

The good news is, since it's not a mean thing to say, I feel comfortable admitting that I wish Ann Coulter was dead. God that makes me feel better!