Friday, September 29, 2006


Here's an online quiz for which I was woefully underprepared. If there's one thing in this world I know nothing about, it's cars. Actually, if there's one thing I know NOTHING about, it's hot man love. But if there are TWO things I know nothing about, it would be hot man love and cars.

Markie T sent me this picture quiz featuring close-up shots of classic cars and the goal is to identify as many of them as you can. I am almost embarrassed to say I got zero. None. But then, another part of me is glad to have saved that part of my brain for other things, like Bingo. What do you mean it's impossible to be good at Bingo? I studied Bingo strategy for years in Tibet. I kick ASS at Bingo.

Anyhow, if you'd like to test your knowledge of classic cars, hop on in.


A friend of mine recently asked me, "Why do we drink so much?"

I thought this question deserved serious consideration, so I resolved to formulate a long response for him and post it here. There are, after all, MANY reasons we drink. But since I haven't had a lot of time to write this week, I will share with him this short answer instead:

Beer has magical properties.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Here's something that fucking steams me.

I'm a writer by trade, so I can be hypercritical at times when reviewing the work of other professional writers, just as fellow writers likely cringe at the imperfections scattered about my meandering prose (intentionally, of course).

But one error I can forgive no longer is a faux pas in basic storytelling so prevalent it shakes me to reason's core. I'm talking about the omission of a technology that has so permanently penetrated our lives it simply cannot be ignored - and yet it IS ignored...over and over and over again.

I am talking about Caller ID.

When was the last time you actually took a call without knowing exactly who was calling? It's virtually impossible to purchase a telephone these days that doesn't come equipped with Caller ID. Business lines have them. Cell phones have them. Cordless phones have them. Most calling plans include them. Only the oldest of old people refuse to pay $3.95 for the monthly service. Caller ID has saturated the telephone service market.

So why the fuck do people on television and in movies answer the phone like they have no idea who is calling? This has always been a pet peeve of mine - a recurring oversight I figured would correct itself over time. But it hasn't. Watch television tonight and you'll know what I'm talking about. 90% of the time, when the phone rings, the caller remains unidentified until the receiver picks up. I have identified two possible reasons for this:

1.) The writer is presuming that such a level of detail is unnecessary in telling the story and leaves it out
2.) It is necessary for the story's sake that the caller remain anonymous because if the receiver knew who it was beforehand, they wouldn't pick up the phone!

To ignore the existence of Caller ID is to deny that it has changed the way people communicate in the 21st century. And it HAS changed how we communicate. We no longer blindly answer the phone with that curious up-ending "hell-O??" These days we know who it is before we say hello, and often acknowledge the caller in answering: "What's up, dickhead?" or "Did you call to apologize? Well, forget it!"

Watch how the characters in movies do it, though. The phone rings and they all look at each other as if to silently say: "Who could THAT be?" Look at the damn caller ID, moron! But either they A.) don't use their caller ID, or B.) don't have it - both of which are completely unreasonable assumptions in this day and age. Writers need to start writing caller ID into their storylines instead of pretending we're still living in the 80's - an illusion now bolstered by the ridiculous return of skinny black pants and clogs.

Further, while I'm bitching about oversights, why don't people have answering machines in the movies? Half the time the phone keeps on ringing and ringing and ringing. This is supposed to provide a bit of drama, I suppose - but in real life, good luck making it past 4 rings without an automated message intercepting your call and prompting you to leave a message. All I want is a little realism in my entertainment.

I'm onto you, Hollywood. You'd better quit being so sloppy. I hereby demand better quality!


Things could always be worse...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Last year, the City of Chicago banned the use of hand-held cellular telephones, but I don't get the feeling the law has been very effective. People continue to dial and drive on a daily basis pretty much everywhere I go. I must admit, I'm guilty of it myself - although I prefer to use the handy speakerphone feature on my Q so that my hands are free to do other things. I won't appall you with the gripping details.

I do have to say, while their intentions were good, drafting and passing a law they hadn't the means to enforce was a waste of time and taxpayer money. And in my less-than-humble opinion, they failed to address the REAL problem, which was not the phone, but rather the distracted driver.

For example, on my way in to the office this morning I observed a danger far greater than the cellphone gabber: the mobile make-up studio. In my short 12-minute commute down LaSalle Street, I saw no fewer than a dozen women in their cars applying cosmetic products of some kind WHILE DRIVING - a practice that not only requires at least one hand off the wheel, but also both eyes off the road. How is chatting on the phone any more dangerous than applying mascara and lip-liner while listening to Eric & Kathy on the Mix? I'm not saying we need to ban cosmetic commuting, or that talking on a cell phone while driving isn't a big deal - I would just like to see a little more thought and consistency from the folks making the rules instead of cherrypicking hot topics to address.

In the case of the cell phone, it's not the phone that causes accidents - it's the distracted driver. Banning the use of the cell phone doesn't prevent the driver from becoming distracted by other things. Like taking off your suit jacket while driving. Doing a sudoku puzzle. Adding sugar to your McDonald's coffee. Turning around to crack the kids in the mouth. Putting hot sauce on your Beef Meximelt. There are plenty of legal activities that distract us while driving. Singling out one lends the illusion that politicians are protecting us from harm, when they're really just protecting their jobs.

The goal here is safer roads. Why should there have to be laws itemizing all activities deemed unsafe while operating a motor vehicle? Can't there be a single law that says the driver must refrain from any activities that divert attention from the act of driving? Such a sweeping edict might irk a lot of multi-tasking commuters, but if safer roads are what we're going for, wouldn't it be better than a handful of capricious laws banning arbitrary activities? Driving is a privilege, remember...not a right. That's the first thing they teach you in Driver's Education, and the first thing everybody forgets.

If we're so interested in making the roads safer, why stop at cell phones? Why not ban smoking while driving? Dropping a cellphone in your lap seems a little less likely to cause an accident than dropping a half-smoked Marlboro. Why not ban changing CDs? It diverts your eyes from the road longer than it takes to quick dial yout friend on the phone. And applying make-up directly competes with the act of driving for visual attention. By the logic invoked in a ban on cellphones, laws prohibiting these other activities would also make the roads safer - would they not? So where do we draw the line?

Safer roads are the result of increased awareness and greater responsibility on the part of the operator. But people are people, and laws are sometimes required to legislate what should be common sense. I know that I am in constant violation of the of rules of common sense. Don't stick that knife in the toaster. Don't microwave tin foil. Don't drink that expired milk. Don't leave your apartment unlocked. But such violations are primarily threats to MY well being, not the well being of others, which is why the law leaves me alone. It's those behaviors that are dangerous to others that we feel compelled to control. And so I relent that it is probably a good idea that there are laws prohibiting certain behaviors, such as the use of hand-held mobile phones, while driving.

I just wish we could be a little more thorough if we're going to tackle safer roads, because Maybelline application at 45 miles an hour frightens me a lot more than the bloke conducting business from the comfort of his Beamer.


In this photo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sports this year's Halloween Costume for reporters outside of the National Center for Media Studies in Washington. She said her "StormKitty" outfit did a good job of capturing the spirit she brings to the Administration: a hard-nosed assassin with a touch of gratuitous femininity.


If I've learned one thing in my life, it's that people, by and large, are fucked up. Yes, you too. We're all completely nuts. Seriously, you'll be better off if you just admit it. There's no such thing as normal.

I need no further proof in support of this proposition than the following link.

It's a website where people send in video clips of themselves humping Hummers. Yes, the vehicles.

I don't know when this became a "thing," but it clearly points to the impending collapse of our civilization. Thanks to JD for sharing this wild ride...

(The one titled "Call On Me" is too hot for words)