:: Quixotic Optimism ::

The musings of an intellectual heavyweight's stunt double.
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Part I
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Part VI.V
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Costa Rica 2004
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:: Sunday, April 11, 2004 ::

The New Home of Quixotic Optimism



What can I say? I can't be outdone by the Supreme Love Goddess (or at least can't allow myself to be so easily). She got an iPod. I got an iPod. She gets a cat. I get fish. She moves her blog. I move mine.

Quixotic Optimism Version 2.0 has been released via TypePad. I'm still tweaking with everything so expect the look to change. But that's where I'll be posting from now on, so change those hyperlinks people!

Cheers.

:: Brendon Sunday, April 11, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Friday, April 09, 2004 ::
Casual Interludes with Interesting Strangers

The Supreme Love Goddess gave notice this week that there would be a blogorama on Thursday night at a bar near our apartment. How's that for fun? A bunch of people who I don't know, but who are no doubt much more interesting than yours truly who have similar interests and want to get drunk! Let's just say there needn't have been much arm-twisting going on to get me there.

So around 7:30 I walked over to said bar and saw a group of people already neck deep in conversation, libations of choice in hand. It should be noted that I'm naturally shy and don't readily inject myself into unfamiliar groups or conversations for fear of rejection. As luck would have it, Lex (who apparently not only knows pretty much everyone, but who also pimps the slickest suits ever donned by man) introduced himself to me as soon as I ordered my beer.

And the night was on. At long last, I met Julia (who's so friendly and unassuming you wouldn't even know that she's an extremely talented and brilliant writer had it not been for people simply coming up just to meet her throughout the evening because she's so good)), who promptly introduced me to Sid (whom I can't express enough jealousy towards for moving to Tokyo next month). Then Jen (who was extremely nice and I wish I had more time to talk to AND who is moving to Chicago...lucky mother...). Then Andrew. Then Jim. All of these people who I read online all the time but I've never met!

The whole evening was like an intellectual aphrodisiac.

And if were a swooner. Yeah.

It may sound completely ridiculous (hopefully not), but it's damn hard to find people who are fun to hang out with even if you're not drunk. Conversations get tedious. Schticks get old. Creativity and spontaneity are not necessarily held in high regard around these parts, so to walk into room buzzing with conversations I was salivating over was like George W. walking into a 7-11 that sells crude oil slurpees.

Except for the fact that I didn't overrun the bar with my unparalleled military prowess, forcing these people to give themselves over to my way of thinking and steal all their ideas to boot…

:: Brendon Friday, April 09, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 ::
Quixotic Chronicles - Part VI.V

Andy sat on a stool at the corner of the bar nearest the door, slouched over a half empty pint glass which he was unconsciously tapping on while he gazed at the red glowing exit sign. The Who was playing on the jukebox, "Teenage Wasteland," and Andy was wondering where this song was a decade earlier, when it could have been weaving it's knowledge into the fabric of Andy's yet unexperienced and ignorant head. Had Andy not thrown his father's immense vinyl collection out one afternoon when he was 14 over a spat involving a gaudy and severely overpriced pair of basketball shoes that he'd believed he had to have, he would have found that LP's jacket signed by the original band members, along with another signed by a man simply known as "Hendrix." Unbeknownst to Andy, his father actually wept over the loss, so devastated he couldn't even reprimand his son over the affair, much less explain to him the significance of what Andy had done. It was one of those things his mother had told him after his father had passed away three years before, when Andy was 22. His father, Mr. Eugene Felton, had died suddenly of a brain aneurism on a business trip to Malaysia where he had literally and figuratively just completed the deal of a lifetime.

Presently, he felt a gust of air against his face and looked up to see Sean walking in, his brief case in one hand while he showed the bouncer his ID with the other. Sean had left Andy's office excited with the prospect of packing it in and moving to San Francisco, but the day had sobered him a bit and the realities associated with actually going through with it had soured his enthusiasm. Nonetheless, he strode up to Andy with his usual bonhomie.

"What's up?" Sean said extending his hand towards Andy.

"Man, what ever happened to The Who?"

"Outside of the fact that Keith Moon drown in his own vomit?" Sean was a repository of just this sort of knowledge. Things that people who are on Jeopardy! know, but don't really know how they know it.

Sean ordered a beer and they moved to a couple of over-stuffed leather chairs in a quieter corner of the bar.

"Listen man-" Sean started, looking into his beer for inspiration.

"Don't say 'Listen man' like you're going to bail on me. Come on man. Don't you ever want to get the hell out of here and do something more substantial dot i's and cross t's on legal documents?"

"All the time, but I don't do it. What's so different out there? What are we going to do that's so profoundly amazing that I'm willing to give up my life here to do it?"

"That's just it man. Give up your life here. Don't you ever wonder why we do the same shit over and over and over again? I wake up in the morning and catch the bus and grab a coffee and sit at my desk all day, maybe grab a beer after work. Then I go home and make dinner, sit around and read or watch TV, and go to bed. I walk around this place on the weekend and it's like a deserted boom town. No one in this city is permanent, why should we be? We live in one big office. People commute in all week and disappear on the weekends. Everyone our age is either in school trying to do something else, a politician climbing up the ladder, or just doesn't have a clue. We sit around at bars drinking beers talking about things that are going on in the world that we're not a part of, and I won't do it anymore. I was sitting on the bus this morning and wondering 'Is this it?' Who cares what we do out there as long as we do something different?"

"You been practicing that speech?" Sean chided, quoting "Ocean's Eleven."

"A little bit, did I rush it?" Andy sat back into the chair and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, laughing.

"You can't smoke in bars out there." Sean warned.

"It's not FUCKING cold."

"Touche." Sean took a cigarette from Andy and sat back. "What do you want to do out there anyway?"

"Not work in an office. Maybe go back to school eventually. I've got that money my dad left me and I might want to take a journalism course or something." Andy spoke through his cigarette as he tried unsuccessfully to get it lit. His father's life insurance and will had left him around fifty thousand dollars that had done nothing but accumulate interest over the last several years. "You know, we've got an office out there. You could always just transfer."

"I was thinking about that," Sean said somewhat hesitantly, "but I'm not sure that if I'm going to all the trouble to move, that I want to just do the same shit in a different place."

They tossed around bad ideas for a while. Andy suggested Sean either become a street performer juggling something, anything, on fire or get involved in the gay rights movement by getting married to a nice guy from the Castro then taking the ensuing case all the way to the Supreme Court. He argued that as long as it was flaming, it was for Sean. "Hey, gay men love me."

"Actively?"

"Yeah," he said sarcastically "I'm like 'The Little Engine that Could, errr...something."

"Uh huh. Even with the pleated khakis? They dress better than you. Haven't you seen "Queer Eye?"

"Blow me."

"Oh, that's an intelligent response," Andy said with mocked reproach, and got up to order another round.

Andy's cell phone rang and Sean got up to give it to him. "Hey, it's your mom. Ask her if she's ever been in the Mile High Club," Sean said as he handed Andy the phone. His mother was currently caught up in the excitement of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament where the UConn Huskies were playing in the Finals that evening. She worked as a loan officer at a small bank in town where for the past week they'd all been wearing their 'good luck' UConn sweatshirts and praying (as it was still Lent) daily at the local Catholic Parish that the good lord would deliver them their third straight National Championship. Andy mentioned something to the effect that praying for a sports team to win for a third consecutive year might be bordering on gluttony. To which his mother blankly replied that she hoped the victory parade would be as good as last year's.

"Yeah, I'm out at a bar right now with Sean mom. He wants to know if you like flying."

His mother was completely flummoxed after being broad-sided with a question that didn't have to do with banking or women's college basketball and after a moment she managed to stammer out "Oh. What? Why's that Andrew?"

"Because I think I'm going to move to San Francisco."

The conversation went down like the Hindenburg after that. His mother was a devout Catholic and the recent uprisings across the country, that had begun in San Francisco, involving gay marriage sent her into what could only be described as a conniption fit. By the time he'd calmed her down and explained that he was just starting to plan the trip and no, he wasn't gay, for the twelveth time, he'd exhausted himself of the conversation and simply hung up on her, winding down the conversation with a bunch of "Hey! Mom? You're breaking up! Mom?" before closing his phone and taking his seat across from Sean.

"She must have loved that." Sean said, grinning from ear to ear.

:: Brendon Tuesday, April 06, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Thursday, April 01, 2004 ::
Quixotic Chronicles - Part VI Long missing and an inauspicious return...

Andy sat in a window seat on the bus on his way to the office. The morning was chilled with gusting March winds from up north. The sun burned orange as the Earth spun toward it. This is when it was easiest to look at, and he usually did. When he'd be up all night on the Mall smoking cigarettes and walking off a deep drunk back in college, as the sun came up he would turn to it, and watch it come. Never taking his eyes off it until it was completely before him, and then he'd close his eyes and watch it all over again, the beauty of it burned into his retina for several moments. And as the #42 bus rolled down Connecticut Ave. towards Dupont Circle, his forehead against the frigid glass, he wondered if he'd wasted his time.

"I'm leaving."

"Dude, it's 9:15 and I got a meeting in 20 minutes. I can't play hooky." Sean said, in between frantic sips from a giant Starbucks cup.

"Isn't that decaf?"

He looked up from his computer, feigning hurt, "So what? I like the taste of coffee."

"Decaf defeats the entire purpose of coffee. It's like non-alcoholic beer."

"Did you come in here to lecture me on the principal of utility in relation to coffee? I'm telling you, I can't take the day off."

"I mean I'm quitting. I'm going to move."

Sean looked at his watch, got up, walked past Andy and shut the door "You've got 18 minutes to tell me what the hell you're talking about. You're not leaving because of her."

"I don't like it here anymore. I wanna go somewhere else. Try something new. I'm sick of typing code all day and going home just to sit around and wallow in boredom and self-disgust. I think I've stayed because of her."

"When the hell did this happen? What? Did you talk to some sidewalk shaman while you were waiting for the bus?"

"I'm serious man. And I want you to come."

"I'm a first year associate at one of the best firms in this city-"

"And you hate it."

"Pfft," he scoffed and reached for his decaf coffee. It was true. Sean couldn't stand it. He worked long hours and most weekends, doing crap law for crap companies. He always fancied himself as a rainmaker, and deep down he knew there wasn't any rain in the forecast at a place like this, which is why he wasn't sure what to say next.

"I know you hate it. You're always bitching about the partners pushing their shit work on you."

"That's what being a first year is all about. Look, I've gotta be upstairs in a couple minutes. I'll call you later."

"Cool."

Andy walked out and Sean sat down, looking at half-full cup of coffee in his right hand "Fucking waste of time." he muttered as he threw it in his trash can. He knew Andy was serious, and he wanted to go with him, but couldn't see it. He'd floated his way through law school on loans and needed this job or one like it to pay his bills. He'd resigned himself to being here for at least five or six years, indentured servitude in payment for the Juris Doctor certificate hanging behind him. Other than that, he was single, no family in the city. There was nothing holding him here except the responsibilities that clamped his wrists and ankles. He got up and walked to the conference room upstairs for the meeting.

Sean sat quietly in the meeting, not listening to the partners go over stratagem for handling the subtle government changes to the corporate tax code recently instituted, looking down the long teak table out the window towards the rising sun, the end of his pen between his teeth, wondering what it was like to see it extinguish itself in the Pacific. He'd grown up in Charleston, South Carolina, rooting for the Gamecocks and big tobacco. Until this morning he'd never seriously considered leaving D.C. before, but his best friend, the only one he'd ever had, was going to, and he knew that if he was ever going to live the way people dreamed of living, it was going require some chances.

"Sean, doesn't McCaulky v. Shneider require that a company disclose it's investments in foreign markets to the IRS?" Donald James, a jet-black haired partner with a bushy grey goatee asked.

Whenever Sean saw James he'd have to bite his tongue regarding the history of the goatee during the French Revolution, where imprisoned men were forced to grow it so their mouths more closely resembled a woman's vagina, the reasoning for which Sean found especially amusing when dealing with people he didn't particularly care for and who wore goatees. "It doesn't matter." Sean was still staring out the window, watching the bottom of the sun pass from view.

"It most certainly does, McCaulky-"

"was overturned by the 8th Circuit last week and is currently worthless in regard to this case. I'm sorry, I'm not feeling well. I've gotta get out of here." He got up and left.

*****


"Do you give that monitor head or something?" his mind still on felatio while he was looking over the top of Andy's computer.

"How was the meeting?"

"Sucked. They all suck. The deal is, we've got to be on the west coast. If we're going to leave, we're getting the fuck off the east coast."

"I'm not going to L.A."

"Are you kidding? The only thing Jews can do in Hollywood is be rich directors, and, since I'm obviously never going to be rich, there's no reason for me to go there."

"You'd hate it there anyway."

"I know. Too many beautiful women with large breasts who apparently think the word like is under-used. San Diego?"

"Yeah, you know what's good about San Diego?" Andy asked.

Sean shook his head quizzically.

"Nothing."

"Oregon?"

"San Franscisco. The mecca of all that is liberal and unholy. Unholy being a good thing."

Sean looked off into an imaginary horizon "My People."

"Jews or liberals?"

:: Brendon Thursday, April 01, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Tuesday, March 30, 2004 ::
Annoying incurable minor medical conditions and me

I need to get something off my chest. Namely, costochronitis. I was loafing on the couch Sunday afternoon watching tube and when I started feeling chest pains. Really minor, I thought it was indigestion or something, no big deal. It started getting a little worse as the day went on, but being someone not disposed towards admitting pain or illness, I tried ignoring it. The pain went from my left shoulder down through the left side of my ribs to my upper abdomen and was happening most when I breathed deeply or moved suddenly. It continued for the rest of the day and yesterday morning it was still there when I woke up for work. It hurt most when I was walking or sneezed or breathed very deeply, and I was getting worried.

When I got into the office it was getting more serious. I'd get up to walk to a co-worker's office and felt palsied because each step was a conduit for pain down my left side. It got so bad that I started sweating and clenching my jaw trying to ignore it. When I walked I was trying to flex my stomach muscles so that the jarring impact of my feet on the ground wouldn't rip through my torso.

"Dude, are you all right?" asked someone.

"Actually, I think I'm going to get out of here."

I walked up the street to the ER at George Washington University Hospital to see a doctor. I thought I was having a heart attack or something, which worried the shit out for any number of reasons, especially when the ice-blooded receptionist asked if I had a living will.

"Um. No."

"Well, is there someone we should call?"

"I'll call them right now."

"Then have a seat and we'll call you when a doctor's ready to see you."

Will that be before or after I collapse on the floor thrashing and wailing? I didn't ask her before I walked back and sat amongst the waiting infirm.

I called the Supreme Love Goddess to let her know what was going on and where I was and she immediately called forth upon her legions of minions to bring forth her chariot and prepare to depart. She was on her way.

While I waited, I continued reading this, which I'm sure did nothing for my symptoms, being that it's about the emergence of modern Islamist terrorism and the CIA's hunt for bin Laden, not necessarily light reading. My only other option being "The Price is Right," which I'm not very good at because I always guess wrong. So the book it was.

Soon enough, the Supreme Love Goddess's yellow chariot and rose petals tiled the entryway as she sashayed in from the brisk March winds, to be by my side, in this, my half-hour of waiting/need.

"Mr. Volp? Is there a Mr. Volp here?"

I got up and told the lovely that I'd be right back, and followed the orderly back to exam room 12, a very nice room, if do say so. I removed my shirt to hoots and hollars from a group of drunken bachelorettes, swung it around my head like a lasso, and commenced my trademark pole dance...I mean, I took off my shirt and put on the smock that was on the bed, and waited quietly for the doctor.

Two came in. A very gentle woman who was actually a doctor and a med student who didn't identify himself as such, but wasn't really much of a poker player. They proceeded with all sorts of questions. Where does it hurt? When did it start? Is it a sharp or dull pain? Boxers or briefs? Then they started in on the poking and prodding. The female (read: real) doctor led the student through their examination, taking the lead but allowing him to follow up and "concur" with what she was saying and diagnosing, as well as analyze my EKG, which they took as they asked my all sorts of questions. The word "concur" being used no less than thrice by the student, who'd apparently watched too much M.A.S.H. in his formative years.

At one point, while looking at the EKG, the doctor asked the student "Does this bother you?" pointing at what looked like the readings of a volatile stock.

Which I loved hearing.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because he's an athlete."

Then she looks at me with a big toothy grin and says "He's so smart. We're talking about your heart rate. It's slower than normal because you're an athlete."

"Not a good one." I said.

Laughing, student guy says "Your heart doesn't know that."

"You're going to need a chest X-Ray." the doctor said.

So they walked me around the corner to another room and had me pose for the camera where I gave my best "Blue Steel" pout, then walked me back to exam room 12, where they had some big pills waiting for me. A couple minutes later, two different doctors (real ones, both, they even had name tags that said so) came in and asked me a few more questions and explained that they didn't see any problems with my x-ray. One of them explained that I have what's called costochronitis, an inflammation of the cartilage of my ribcage. They don't know what's causing it, but it's totally muscular-skeletal and don't believe it has anything to do with my heart or lungs.

Whew.

Unfortunately, there's nothing they can really do for me. Since they don't know what's causing it, they can't tell if there's anything more serious going on, but it should go away within the next week or so. If not, it's back to the ER. Until then, I'm kind of fucked. I take Motrin a few times a day, and try not to move a lot, and that's about it.

And the hits just keep on coming...

:: Brendon Tuesday, March 30, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Friday, March 26, 2004 ::
And I laughed heartily as I realized that I AM all that Bush and his cronies loath.

A harrowing story of a boy and his latte…

There I was this morning, snoozing away like a wee babe a wrapped up in a comforter and pillows, dreaming whatever it is I dream, when I was jostled awake my the supreme love goddess to the tune of

"Wake up! It's 9:15! The alarm didn't go off!"

And it's moments like these, when everything is ostensibly wildly off-kilter, when I stare up at the ceiling and wonder if I'm really going to hurry up and rush around and be all frazzled about being late for work or if I'm going to call in sick or quit. It's not that I don't care about my job. I absolutely want to do everything I can to make myself and my team and our project successful. But all we're talking about now is a dash of tardiness. So I yawned. Rubbed my eyes. Strettttt-ched. Scratched myself. The usual.

Then rolled out of bed and walked around the apartment getting ready. No rush. Sure, I took a cab to work, but since I was actually sleeping when I usually like to be in the office, I figured taking a cab was the least I could do.

Then it hit me.

I wouldn't be getting coffee this morning! Oh the humanity! My body's delicate chemical equilibrium not provided with it's daily dose of grande vanilla latte. Seratonin levels plummeting! Go to Def Con Four! It's not so much that I'm addicted to coffee so much as it's like Oxygen to me. I need it. Bad. And I could tell as soon as I got to my desk and started working that something was off. My hands felt like they were trying to type in a pool of drying concrete. My mental uptake of crucial team data hindered by the fact that I was asleep drooling on my desk.

So what did I do?

Did I trudge on through the caffeine-less wasteland of this Friday morn???

Did I, through some primal superhuman effort, press on???

Nope.

I went and bought my latte.

And it was damn good. And my world is balanced once again…

P.S. I love being a latte drinking, sushi eating, gay marriage endorsing east coast liberal...the coffee's better out here...

:: Brendon Friday, March 26, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Wednesday, March 24, 2004 ::
The Blind Middle

Famous quote of unnamed blogger/best friend: "I'm a social liberal and a fiscal conservative."

Chew on that while I tell you what's going down at places where you get most of your chewables. Right now in Washington, unionized labor at Giant and Safeway supermarkets is headed for a strike as they try to negotiate with their companies for better wages and a more stable enviornment in an increasingly competitive marketplace that continues to lower prices through the "Wal-Martization" of this country's retail industries. Essentially, businesses that don't pay union wages (i.e. Wal-Mart, Food Lion) are able to supply the same products at lower prices because they're not regulated by union workers' contracts.

Of course, everyone wants to pay low prices because it makes us able to stretch our dollars just that much further. So, Hurray!!! lower prices, right?

Well, no.

Now, Wal-Mart is actually a pretty good company. From all indications, people who actually work at their stores are generally content with the environment, and there's nothing glaringly horrible about their employment practices (save the whole locking the cleaning crew in stores overnight thing…), but there's nothing binding them to these business practices. Because Wal-Mart employs non-union labor, if they decided to cut pay or benefits for their employees, they could do so to the extent that they wanted to (barring state or federal regulations regarding pay, time off, etc.) without the consent of their employees.

So now we have a situation where one competitor (Competitor A) can manipulate part of their general operating costs in a way that the other competitor (Competitor B) cannot, creating a significant advantage for "A" and eroding "B"s profits, hence it's ability to compete.

In case you weren't aware, Giant and Safeway are competitor "B" type businesses.

Where the situation stands now, is that competitors "B" are trying to compete by renegotiating union contracts, something the unions are [understandably] reluctant to do, so they are threatening to strike.

It's important to understand here that the unionized workers who work at Safeway and Giant get paid significantly more and receive better benefits than the non-unionized workers of competitor "A" type companies. These people have good medical insurance and make legitimate LIVING wages that keep them above the poverty line. AND it's Guaranteed by their union contract, something competitor "A" employees don't have.

So, getting back to that quote: "I'm a social liberal and a fiscal conservative."

How does that work, you know, being that politics is economics and vice versa? Isn't it comparatively better for people working these types of jobs to have guaranteed living wages that keep them healthy and above the poverty line than it is for you or I to get our Chicken for a dollar less?

It feels strange writing about this because our culture has been built around this vanishing idea of a middle class. We're bombarded with cost-cutting ways to "look" wealthier, because what are you really in this culture if you don't have an SUV or BMW? I wrote about "masstige" before, here. Magazines and newspapers telling us what designer Brad and J-Lo are wearing, what kind of haircut to get [implying that if it's fashionable in Hollywood, it would behoove us to try it], and which new jeans are "coolest." We've (the middle class has) become a class so consumed with elevating ourselves that we're constantly looking upward all the while forgetting about those who make less and have less than we do because we're too concerned about how much less we have compared to our wealthier counterparts, rather than who actually has the least and needs the most in this country. The politics of workers' rights and regulation of said rights exist in proportion to society's concern about those industries' employees above the disposition of the individual consumer (consumers generally being disposed towards fiscal conservatism).

So here you are, all you social liberals, but fiscal conservatives: Your social, economic, and political concerns all in one not-so-easily distinguishible package!

You want paper or plastic?

So I'm not writing this because I hate Wal-Mart. I'm writing it because as much as we want to pretend and pontificate about how we're socially conscious people, at the end of the day it's important that we act consciously. Supporting companies that pay and guarantee legitimate living wages and provide good benefits is just the right thing to do. I know it requires a sacrifice on the consumer's part, but it's unarguably a sacrifice worth making.

:: Brendon Wednesday, March 24, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Monday, March 22, 2004 ::
More Orgiastic Displays of American OR The NCAA Tournament

Lo, bow down at the altar of pomp and over-hyped Americana, for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournment is upon us, the standard by which all other sporting events are measured. And I, for one, couldn't be more deeply immersed unless I were accompanied by a breathing apparatus.

Dateline: Friday March 19, 2004

Quixotic Brother (heretofore known as "QB") and I take the day off from our respective jobs and mosey on down to the ESPN Zone at 11 in the A.M. to get ourselves a good seat for the festivities. March Madness is already a day underway and I was barely able to keep my composure in the cab on the way downtown fearing we would not be able to get one of those cushy booths with the touch-screen TVs at the table which allow you to concentrate directly on any one of the four games that are going on at any one moment, while keeping an eye on the others being shown across the room. When we get out of the cab, we see that there's a short line already in front of the door and the place hasn't even opened yet.

Me: "We better be able to get one of those booths."

QB: (slightly confused being that he's not sure what the hell I'm talking about but excited none the less) "Yeah."

A line forms behind us and goes half way down the block before the doors actually swing open and people hurry downstairs, where the line for a booth begins. Again. We're standing on the stairs and if we crouch, we can make out the "Screening Room" where the Zone has some 20+ TVs on the wall showing everything from golf to water polo, but which will all eventually be broadcasting NCAA Tournament games come 12:20 PM.

QB: (looking at me) "Dude, I don't really care if we get a booth, as long as we're at a table in there."

Me: (slightly more forceful than necessary) "We're getting a booth."

After a few more minutes of moving down the stairs and towards the reception area, I'm face to face with a solemn woman who warns us that if we want a booth, it's going to be ten dollars per person per hour to sit in a booth (sidenote: I'm wondering if this is supposed to be a deterrent because from where I was standing, I had visions of beer and greasy bar food dancing in my head.)

Me: "We'll take the booth."

As we sit down, QB blurts "You've gotta be kidding," eyeing the TV that's at the table, "this is awesome. I'm definitely coming back next year."

Soon enough, Ron, our friendly and somewhat lackadaisical waiter, shows up and warns us again that we must constantly consume (to the tune of ten dollars per person per hour) in order to continue staying in this seat, so we order our first drinks. I ordered a Bloody Mary.

And by the by, the Bloody Mary of ESPN Zone is virtually unstoppable, unless you've had seven, at which point it's actually blood from your kidneys which have unexpectedly shut down and would now only be useful as doorstops or paper weights. So stop. And switch to Guinness.

I was planning on giving all two of you a play-by-play of the festivities. A running diary of drinks and food and Ron's mysterious absence, but instead I've decided to try something a bit more interesting. A mosaic of moments, statements and quips strewn together into a quilt of blinding inebriation and debauch that will thrill and confound beyond time eternal. Feel free to try and figure out who said what and why, or just try and enjoy it.

"Damn. that might be the best Bloody Mary I've ever had."

"Another Bloody, Ron."

"I'll have one too."

"So the chili cheese fries AND the buffalo chicken tenders?"

"Does this ten dollars thing have roll-over minutes?"

"Like cell phones?"

"Yeah."

"Come ON Northern Iowa!!!"

"Dude, they suck."

"Hey, YOU suck."

"Yeah, another Bloody."

"Me too."

"Dude, we don't need to put the game on this TV, it's on the projection TV."

"Do NOT put on golf."

"Yeah, can I get another Bloody?"

"Turn off the golf."

"The latrines have little TVs so you can watch the games while you take care of business."

"I bet that makes the lines longer."

"I'll have a Guiness."

"Yeah, another Bloody Mary."

"I wanna call XXXXX and tell him how awesome this place is."

"Hey gimpy! I haven't seen you since you fucked up your leg!"

"Can I get a Bloody Mary?"

"Dude! The Golf!?"

"Talk to me about East Tennessee State."

"Tennessee sucks."

"Tennessee's not in the tournament."

"I was talking about the whole state."

"Oh."

"Boy, that went down fast. It's like crack. I gotta stop. Hey Ron! Can I get large Guinness please?"

"I'll take the ribs and chicken combo."

"I'll take just the ribs. Yeah, a whole rack."

"Come ON East Tennessee State!!!"

"Dude, they're gonna lose."

"Hey, YOU'RE gonna lose."

[Looking at the ribs] "Nice rack." [not even a chuckle] "It had to be said."

"Can you flag down Ron for me, it's like this guy doesn't respond to verbal requests, everything is a hand motion or a head shake."

"Try smoke signals."

:: Brendon Monday, March 22, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Tuesday, March 16, 2004 ::
And now for an intelligent response to violence…

By now everyone on the planet has heard about the commuter train bombings in Madrid, Spain that took the lives of some 200 people and injured more than thousand others. It's a tragedy that is just as emotionally crippling to Spaniards as September 11th was to Americans, and yet Spain's reaction to it has seemed very different from ours.

Here's the thing about terrorists acts like the one that took place in Spain last week: The situation that they present necessitates a reaction from the government, and the international situation that Spain is in, specifically it's support of the United States' occupation of Iraq, puts them squarely in check; they had to do something. And don't assume that the timing of the attacks was coincidence, as Spanish Elections were taking place in the midst of the ashen aftermath.

Generally, Spanish support for the war with Iraq was purely governmental and extremely unpopular with the populace, and the attacks seem to have been designed to either solidify Spanish support for the war and occupation (opening the country up to more attacks like the one that happened last week), or to destabilize any support the occupation might have had and force a Spanish exit from the Iraqi stage by electing new leaders. Either way, the terrorists seem to win. On one hand they get to perpetuate violence, on the other, they get exactly what they want.

Just after September 11th, Americans were angry. We wanted justice. We wanted vengeance. We got Afghanistan. Our troops were sent in to topple a government that not only sponsored, but protected, terrorist organizations. The Taliban came down faster than a house of cards in a tornado, and soon our troops were spread across the Afghan countryside searching for the elusive Osama bin Laden.

There are competing ideas as to what should have been done after September 11th, and that's not what I'm writing this about. I'm more interested in the public reaction. Whereas Americans wanted to know Who did this to us? Where are they? And how can we catch them? right after 9-11, the Spanish were asking those questions plus one: WHY did they attack us? While we were blinded by a hunger for revenge, the Spanish have been looking for a means of prevention beyond the destruction of all terrorists. Rest assured, the war on terror will most likely ultimately be won with bullets, but it will never be won with bullets alone.

It seems as good a time as any to note that no matter how someone might qualify these attacks, they're completely unjustifiable acts of cowardice. It can only be a coward who attacks innocent unarmed civilians. It's that simple. So in some sense, the last question (the Why), is moot. It doesn't matter why it happened, it just matters that it did, and that we bring those responsible to justice. This is the mindset of people like George W. Bush: No matter the motivations of the attackers, now it's time to respond.

The Spanish reaction (as it's been thus far), it's election of a liberal leader whose opposition to the Iraqi war is notable, seems to be just a little more temperate. Whereas the Bush Administration [unsurprisingly] over-reached it's moral boundaries by moving the fight from terrorist Afghanistan to a secular and non-terrorism sponsoring Iraq, the Spanish are re-evaluating their moral obligations by proposing to remove their forces from Iraq by June 1, unless some administrative changes are made in regards to the Iraqi occupation. Now, I agree that to bend to the whims of terrorists will always be an acknowledgement of defeat, but in this case it doesn't mean that the Spanish are slackening in their opposition or dedication to the fight terrorism. It simply means that the Spanish see that there are some fights that have nothing to do with stopping terrorism (no matter how they're branded by warmongering Bushites), but which still perpetuate terrorist violence. Such is the case in Iraq. A new secular democratic Iraq does nothing to combat terrorism, it's arguable whether Iraq under Saddam was sponsoring terrorism at all. So essentially, nothing is achieved in the War on Terror by instituting regime change in Iraq, and people who would call the Spanish weak for yielding to terrorism are missing the point, which is why risk and waste lives unnecessarily?

A point that the Bush Administration and the Americans who supported the Iraq war failed to see.


:: Brendon Tuesday, March 16, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
Check it out.

Our boy Steve over at Zealous.org just created a "best posts" website where bloggers can submit their best posts and have them categorized with other like-topic stuff. It should be a good way to find new bloggers and waste some serious time at work reading previously unknown talents. Check it out here.

And if you don't mind, try to get the word out because the idea will only work if lots of bloggers post there stuff.

:: Brendon Tuesday, March 16, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Friday, March 12, 2004 ::
When 8 Million People go Bump in the night...

Great story in Salon about Howard Stern and his "jihad" against the Bush Administration. I love it. I'm actually elated. As noted, I don't listen to the guy, but whew, how can I not plug him when he's lambasting Bush the way he is?

Go Howie!

:: Brendon Friday, March 12, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
Lies! And the Lying GOP Presidential Candidates Who Tell Them!

Thanks Mr. Franken...

George Bush is lying to you.

Again.

I know. You're too nauseated to care anymore. The constant torturous banal transparency of the lies can't even phase you. You've been beaten down into "So what?" shoulder shrugs and inaudible muttering when you hear about WMD, Threat Level Indicators sponsored by Crayola, and "jobless" recoveries. They're all so blatantly fabricated that you figure everyone must know and loath and spit on advertisements pertaining to the Bush Administration.

And then the Presidential race heated up when John Edwards bowed out and the whole sha-bang kicked it up a notch, Emeril style. Bush is attacking Kerry. Kerry is attacking Bush. Lynn Cheney is attacking the buffet table. Laura Bush is wearing pink. Again. It's like having your eye lids cut off and being forced to watch a loop of Bill O'Reilly and Barney for a month.

Our own personal "A Clockwork Orange."

And here's the thing: Obviously, because our country is so deeply split politically, there's going to be some venom laced tirades directed at the opposing candidate from both sides. It's the nature of the beast. But using information like origami, which the Bushites have apparently decided to do, should and could probably be called slander.

Quoth the Slate's Fred Kaplan:

Yesterday, President Bush told a crowd of supporters in Houston that, back in 1995, two years after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, Sen. John Kerry introduced legislation to cut the intelligence budget by $1.5 billion. "Once again, Sen. Kerry is trying to have it both ways," the president said. "He's for good intelligence; yet he was willing to gut the intelligence services. And that is no way to lead a nation in a time of war." Bush further charged that Kerry's bill was "so deeply irresponsible that he didn't have a single-co-sponsor in the United States Senate."

First off, as reported in the story, 1.5 billion barely amounts to 1% of the intelligence budget, which by any statistician's estimation, could not be considered gutting.

Secondly, the Washington Post reports that "the Republican-led Congress that year approved legislation that resulted in $3.8 billion being cut over five years from the budget of the National Reconnaissance Office -- the same program Kerry said he was targeting."

Thirdly, the reason the money was being cut was because the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) had accumulated over $1 billion in unspent funds and Kerry (and the Republicans who passed a similar measure) wanted to make sure that they weren't wasting money by over-funding certain offices.

This is what Bush does. He takes a seemingly innocuous piece of information, tears and folds and cuts it until it's shaped the way he wants, then presents it to America as an objective truth. He and his cronies did the same thing with intelligence leading to the Iraq war. They've tried to do the same thing in presenting the country's economic situation. And they're going to try to do it again throughout this race.

And it pisses me off. Let the mud-slinging begin…


courtesy of www.absolutad.com


:: Brendon Friday, March 12, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 ::
Please step away from the Twinkie or 'Got Triple Bypass?'

If I hurt your feelings, I apologize, but it's your own doing.

The Post reported today that "Obesity Rivals Tobacco for Most Deaths." The study was conducted to assess the preventable mortality rate among Americans, and not surprisingly, tobacco was at the top. But close behind (as if tobacco was wearing Big Mac on it's back) followed obesity.
Not sure if I've made this statement before, but morbidly obese people give me the heebie-jeebies. More acutely, they disgust every fiber of my being. Now, I know that we're all not supposed to point out or talk about how fat people are, well you know, fat, because it might hurt their feelings or make them weep and jiggle uncontrollably until the moorings of the buildings they sleep and work in rip free causing steel and concrete to rain down on entire urban populations killing thousands, but it pisses me off. No, I'm not talking about thyroid problems or people that aren't built like models but are still in good shape. I'm talking about the legitimately, unequivocally, undeniably, and inexcusably corpulent lard asses that are killing themselves at a rate that rivals and will soon surpass that of tobacco users (to the tune of more than 400,000+ per year).

There are competing ideologies regarding how to approach this burgeoning (pun intended) problem. Generally, the way Administrations have handled the issue in the past has been to encourage exercise and physical activity, essentially theorizing that those who exercise can't possibly become overweight and thereby not citing the numerous corporations feeding us and the youth of the nation sugar-filled processed unhealthy poisons. The other side of the issue is of course attacking what Americans are ingesting, and the health dangers those things pose.

I'd have to side with the government on this, at least mostly. Just as I believe it's not the government's job or right to interfere with gay marriages or drug use, I don't believe the government should legislate healthier eating. If a person doesn't care enough about themselves to read a calorie label or hit the gym, then it's that individual's problem. This is the nature of free choice. There are, however, exceptions to this position. Most notably, in schools where children might not know any better and have very limited options as to what they can choose to eat, and are being unwittingly forced to masticate on Grade D food filled with unknowable toxins. Also in the mix are the impoverished. Since most poor can't afford a home, nevermind food to cook in it, they're generally left with fast food establishments as their only option.

Children should be fed healthy, nourishing food in schools, and be required to exercise every single day, it's that simple.

The homeless issue is a lot more complex. How can we assure that they eat what they're supposed to? We really can't, but we can require that fast food restaurants have options on their menu that are low in fat and more healthy than their normal greasy fare.

In case you can't tell, this isn't an issue I've thought a lot about (and my solutions are very porous), precisely because I don't like the idea of legislating healthier lifestyles. People should want to be healthy and live long wonderful lives not burdened by the inability to climb a flight of stairs or having to purchase two adjacent seats on an airplane because they can't fit into one. It's maddening to me that people could let themselves be like that. There's no excuse for it and I don't think insurance companies should be forced to pay medical bills for people who do not have congenital defects that prevent them from being healthy, and yet run themselves into the ground physiologically simply because they couldn't be bothered to take a walk every day and have some fucking broccoli for a change.

:: Brendon Tuesday, March 09, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
And the non-existent all powerful booming voice said…

"Let there be factory outlet stores!" And s/he saw that it was good, and smiled, and promptly whipped out a credit card.

What do you do when it's your birthday weekend and you've got some spare change? You head up to Lancaster, PA (yup THAT Lancaster, home of the Dutch Wonderland!) to the outlet stores to spend some serious coin.

The girls, my brother and I woke up Saturday morning with a mission: To stave off a recent influx of liquid assets by reducing our budget surplus through some economic retail speculation that would in turn "jumpstart" the local economy.

Before my brother and I set out to do some "man" shopping on our own, the supreme love goddess gave me a piece of advice: "Be daring."

Little did I know what she had in mind.

The men set out, Louis & Clark style, donning coonskin caps and diving knee-deep into the unknown fray that is shopping at outlet stores. Making our way up narrow sidewalks crawling with wandering infants, slow-moving cane-toting elderly, and strolling couples walking abreast, hand-in-hand, we deftly weaved and side-stepped until we hit a store that looked promising. Once inside it was every man for himself, searching for sizes and styles to try on, each hoping the other wouldn't out thrift, out-buy, or in any other way, out-do them. Shopping at outlet stores isn't like shopping anywhere else. The clothes and styles are stuff you actually want, but the price tags remind you of K-Mart, and the disparity can shock a newcomer into not buying because they might think there's a catch. The trick is to buy everything and anything that you even think you might like. Forget the fact that you've never bought this much stuff at one time before, and swipe that credit card as if your life depended on it. When in doubt buy both.

I thought I'd done well. Grabbing more than a handful of shirts and some minor accoutrements. My brother grabbing a bunch of stuff as well. We made our way to all the stores we wanted and were finally ready to go, so we called the girls.

"You're where?"

"We've got a lot of stuff."

"We'll come pick you up."

We pulled the car around to where the girls were. It'd been a good three and a half hours and they'd only been to five or so stores, I was worried.

Brother's Girlfriend: "B, she bought a ton of stuff."

Me: [stupidly] "Cool. I'll go help her out."

So I walk into Banana Republic to find her in line waiting to pay for about five pairs of pants and four or five tops. She's holding two very large, heavy bags. Inside lay three pairs of shoes, two bathing suits, a fistful of hand/body lotions, a new purse, a new dress, and LOTS more clothes.

Me: [eyes bulging] "How'd you do babe?"

Her: "Pretty good."

It was an impressive showing. I actually couldn't believe it. I'd never seen anyone buy that much stuff at once who wasn't on "Sex and the City." It made me so proud. My girlfriend, selflessly doing her part to prop up a flagging economy. It was so patriotic I nearly wept.

Her: "I saw this watch at Coach that I really liked, but I didn't get it."

Me: "Well, then we'll stop by when we get out of here and I'll get it for you." I couldn't have her leave without a key accessory, could I?

:: Brendon Tuesday, March 09, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Friday, March 05, 2004 ::
I wonder if this will go down for "This Day in History" on the History Channel...

Martha Stewart is GUILTY!

Talk about good birthdays...

:: Brendon Friday, March 05, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
Shamelessly MINE

From the History Channel's "This Day in History" page:

March 5, 1770: The Boston Massacre: Five "Patriots" were killed while protesting the British occupation of Boston.

March 5, 1969: Jim Morrison is charged with lewd behavior at a Miami concert: He was charged with "simulated oral copulation" on guitarist Robbie Krieger.

March 5, 1953: Joseph Stalin dies (And there was much rejoicing: "Yay.")

So this is today. March 5, 2004. Nothing really exciting except that it's my freakin' BIRTHDAY today, and I turned 25! I know, no one really cares and it's not that special, you know, because I share this birthday with like, 16.4 million people or something as well as all those interesting historical events, but I still think it's kinda special because shit, it's another excuse to drink and debauch and, yeah, get presents!

My amazing supreme love goddess had a bunch of shiny blue cubes waiting on the coffee table when I got home from playing basketball last night and oooh was I excited. I unwrapped and got some travel books for the Phillipines and Thailand, since we're going this September for a couple weeks. I got DVDs. Man, did I ever get DVDs. I got the baseball trilogy: "Major League", "Field of Dreams", and "Bull Durham." I got the "Indiana Jones Trilogy (with a special features DVD!)." I also got "Igby goes down." And I can't even remember the rest, but there's more too. It was insane. I love it!

Then.

She unveiled le piece de la resistance: A FISH TANK! It completely rules. It's got glowing plants and a little rock with a hole in it so the fish can swim through, and it's pretty much the coolest thing ever! So we're going to be getting our first fish sometime next week. The guy at the store told her that we should get "hearty" fish because we have to get used to taking care of them. But now comes the important question: What do we name them?

We think we're going to get three at first, and since they've got to be hearty, we need hearty names, so I'm looking for suggestions. I was thinking: Huey, Duey, and Luey, but those don't give off that air of toughness I'm looking for. Maybe Boris, Ivan, and Sasquatch. Or Michael, Tito, and Jermaine. How about the 'NTANK trio of Justin, Joey, and Lance? I'm just not sure and there's tons of options. Maybe Unagi, Sake, and Wasabi? I think the sushi theme is ok because our cat already lives under the not-so-veiled threat of becoming General Tso's Chicken, you know, because I named him General Tso and all, it's probably only fair that the fish live in constant fear as well…

Anyway, I need some help with the names, so send Me some ideas! Thanks.

P.S. I'd also like to give a shout out to a certain young lass who's birthday it is tomorrow and who's been very supportive of this blog of late. Thanks, and happy birthday!

:: Brendon Friday, March 05, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
::
:: Wednesday, March 03, 2004 ::
Quixotic Chronicles - Part V

Somewhere deep in the expanse of code that to anyone else probably looked like a three year old had been mashing it's hands on a keyboard, Andy caught himself typing her name, and his recognition of it snapped at his consciousness like a bully with a wet towel in junior high gym class. He jerked his head away from the monitor and stared at it, dumbfounded and trying to reel in his concentration for about ten seconds before he cut the line and regained his now. Backspace backspace backspace backspace backspace. He picked up his phone and pushed the speed dial for Sean's extension.

"Treblinka express, Imfried speaking." He said these things out loud with his office door ajar, always making Andy wonder how he managed to not be fired on an hourly basis. And it even made less sense considering that he was Jewish.

"Yeah. That's great. Nazi jokes. That's good. Because really, what isn't funny about the Holocaust?"

"Fucking Fascists," quoting The Big Lebowski happened to be a favorite pass time, and was always good for a laugh.

Andy was feeling bad about having blown Sean off all the previous weekend, and he hadn't even told him yet about calling Celia or his "incident" at the Angry Inch. And since he'd been studiously avoiding Sean's phone calls and emails for most of this week the guilt over avoiding him was getting the best of him, not to mention that avoiding one's friends in the age of email, cell phones, and GPS was becoming immeasurably difficult and tiresome. "Indeed. Listen, you want to go to lunch?"

"Where the hell have you been all week, anyway?" This, in Sean-speak, passed as a yes.

"Uh, working, hanging out."

"Right. Yeah, what time and where?" Sean knew that he'd been avoiding him, and didn't particularly care. He was more concerned with whether or not Andy was tearing himself to shreds over his breakup. He'd always known Andy to be a little flaky about keeping in touch anyway, but now everything was different because he had no idea what Andy was up to at any given moment, and it made him a little nervous. It wasn't Celia dragging him around with her friends or keeping him in at night because she didn't "feel well," now it was a devastated Andy he worried might be pacing around his apartment all night trying to think up ways to get her back.

"Meet me downstairs at one."

"I'm there."

Andy was already downstairs smoking, leaning against one of the pillars that held up the large grey edifice known to them as Kramer & Pain, LLP and looking down L Street when Sean strolled out ten minutes late, which was pretty much early so far as he was concerned and slapped his hand on Andy's shoulder. The sky was overcast but the wintery cloud cover was starting to burn off and it made the sky look snow blind white, so if you turned your head up you'd have to squint. The lunchtime buzz of automobiles and people created a faint sizzle all around them as they walked down L, occasionally popping with the laughter or delighted squeal of surprise from a nearby woman.

Andy flicked his cigarette into a brownish grey river of slush between the curb and the street and exhaled as they stepped out into the crosswalk "What's going on man?"

"Not too much man. Working on this case for Jenkins. He's such a prick, you know, we've got to file on Monday and he's been in the Caymans all week, fucking scuba diving and balling bikini clad islanders."

"Mmmmm, bikini clad," Andy said, making a gurgling sound.

"Yeah well, I've been working my ass off on this case. It's going to be a ton of money, you know, and you'd think he gave a shit."

"I bet he's losing tons of sleep over cauterizing your asshole. And it's not like he's losing money having you do it for him."

"Fascist." Sean produced an exaggerated look of disgust that was always funny coming from his plain and peaceful face. Andy always assumed that Sean's looks and build, the serenity of his demeanor and slightness of stature, had had an inverse effect on the way he presented himself in public. When introduced, people generally got the impression that he was either too preoccupied with other pursuits to talk or simply a prick. He never simply walked, but stormed through the hallways of their office. But as soon as you started a conversation with him, the glacial facade gave way to good humored, if dry, gentleman. It was rumored that he gave his secretary a quarter of his Holiday Bonus at the end of the year, not to mention his penchant for picking up lunch and dinner tabs, and an almost religious obsession with donating blood every few months. To Andy, this contrast of perceived versus actual character was one of Sean's most interesting qualities. "So, what's up with you? You at the boiling bunnies stage yet?"

"Not quite, but I'm working on it," he said dismissively, "I can't do anything without thinking about her. Nothing. I lay down to go to bed and I think about her. I wake up and I think about her. I'm fucking writing code upstairs, right before I called you…" Andy stopped talking and looked at him.

"Yeah?" It was one of those I know what you're saying, but damn are you really saying it Yeah's. Sean, wasn't the type to pity anyone, he didn't really believe in it, but he screwed up his face in what he thought would be an earnest look of cathartic sadness.

"Yeah, I think about her man. The other day I was thinking about the night we met. Everything went great, but, you know what?" Andy was trying to figure out if Sean was even paying attention now, he had this look on his face that made Andy think he'd just had his testicles covered in Icy Hot.

"Yeah?"

"Something was just off man, even then."

"You mean besides the fact that she was the love child of Stalin and Lucifer with a dash of that really bitchy lady from '101 Dalmations'?"

"Yeah, besides that." Andy didn't elaborate because he couldn't. He didn't even know how to describe what he thought he might've thought. Stepping into that memory had been like stepping into a river, it had changed since he was last in, and now he couldn't find his way back. "My whole memory was somehow different, but not in a bad way. Well, it was kind of bad, but in no direct way."

"Sorry for being Obvious Guy, but ever think it might be a bad memory, you know, because you broke up?"

"You're really a dick sometimes." His whole memory of that night, no longer shrouded in hormonal lust, had produced an entirely different picture of their conversation. Inflection and mannerisms took a more prominent role now and he could see the threads of these mannerisms being symptomatic of a subtle and somewhat vague part of Celia's persona that he'd ignored (intentionally or not) while they had been together. He remembered now how she'd gazed across the bar at that girl, her face twisted in a way that said the whole scene was utterly beneath her, as if she were of royal blood mingling with the serfs. Only now did it seem strange, but everything was still so confused and jumbled and he couldn't honestly say he wasn't arrogant sometimes, maybe he was inventing all of this new stuff.

"You love it."

They sat down in a booth at a little Vietnamese place about four blocks from the law offices of Kramer & Pain and ordered a few drinks. The place was crowded with people, mostly waiting for take-out orders and the line went most of the length of the restaurant along wall with an inlaid fish tank.

"You'd think the people at the back of the line would just sit down and eat here. It's going to take them an hour to get their stuff anyway," said Sean.

"Especially this lady," motioning with his eyes at a corpulent jiggling behemoth who was, unbelievably, sweating through her tan overcoat while just standing in line, "she looks like she might keel over before she even orders."

"And I'm the asshole," Sean dramatized, gesturing innocently to no one in particular.

They ate in relative silence, quipping from time to time about current events or movies or the like, but mostly about the upcoming presidential election. Howard Dean and John Kerry had been sniping at each other a couple nights before during a debate and Sean thought Dean was wasting his and everyone else's time, citing, as everyone was, the McGovern/Nixon debacle as a clear indicator as to what and where idealism in America got you. Sean believing Americans adhered most fervently to the belief that they occupy a moral plain all but unattainable by any other populace, and naturally projecting that belief in piety onto their elected officials.

"Look at McGovern. He was telling everyone all along that Nixon was behind the Watergate scandal. Where did that get him? And besides, no one's going to vote for Dean even if he wins the nomination."

"How can you say no one will vote for him? He's telling us how it is. You know, the truth. You've heard of that right?"

"If people wanted to hear the truth they would've asked for it. Everyone's too narcissistic to actually, actively, want the truth. They just want to hear something good."

"People suck."

"Yeah well…" was Sean's response as he took another bite of Pad Thai.

As they resigned themselves to eating their lunch, the phonic chime of shattering glass and spilling water filled the restaurant, followed immediately by simultaneous shrieks of every pitch imaginable from women in the establishment. Andy half stood out of his chair to see what was going on while Sean had already zipped away towards the fallen and convulsing behemoth and was screaming out instructions.

"Call 9-1-1! Somebody call 9-1-1! Get me some towels. She's bleeding, hurry up!"

She'd collapsed into the inlaid wall-sized fish tank and there now was glass everywhere, if hidden in the water. The woman had stopped moving but was bleeding from several places on her right side where she'd gone into the tank. Her right arm was bent awkwardly and a piece of either her radius or ulna was pushing through the skin of her thick pasty forearms. Some of the glass had torn the pants and caused minor cuts on bare legs as the wave had push through the rest of the tank and doused nearly everyone standing in line from the waste down. Andy was frozen, half out of his chair with his right hand still clutching his fork unconsciously. Exotic fish kicked their tales in the half-inch puddle in the dining room, trying not to suffocate as their gills burned without oxygen-rich water to breath. Andy watched, jaw gaping, as one in particular was stepped on accidentally by a woman attempting to scurry out of the place in stilettos, causing a kebob effect between the heel of her shoe and the neon blue invertebrate. She slid when she planted her foot, lost her balance, and crashed to the floor, tipping a table over and planting her palm in a handful of broken glass, screaming all the way down. She was clutching the bleeding hand to her breast when she sat up, soaked and tearful. Almost no one noticed because they were standing three-deep in a circle around the unconscious woman. The proprietor of the restaurant, a short lithe Vietnamese man, had been rushing about, either barking out orders to his employees or swearing at the customers, Andy couldn't tell which. He had the telephone in one hand and always a fish in the other, which he would delicately toss into a tin bowl of water while his wife who usually worked the cash register stood still holding the bowl of water and sobbing at the entire scene. The entire restaurant had been turned inside out in the space of five minutes and when Andy completely exited the chair, he strolled across the room to the huge woman laying on the floor like a man in a park, seemingly unfazed about the entire thing, until he saw Sean.

Sean had been performing CPR on the woman, which Andy found odd being that Sean had neither formal medical training nor slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night, and had his ear to the woman's mouth checking for signs of breathing when he caught sight of Andy standing nearby. "How long until the EMTs get here?"

A balding woman wearing a midnight blue blouse with gold buttons barked like a good soldier "They'll be here in a couple minutes! They want to know how she's doing."

"Turning blue, tell them to hurry up," said Sean as he got up and stood beside Andy.

Andy was looking at him, completely stunned. "Do you know that if you perform CPR incorrectly, it can do more harm than good?" he whispered. "It might be criminal."

"Should we go then?"

Andy nodded and they were out the door before anyone even noticed they were gone. When they were at the other end of the block they saw the ambulance tear around a corner from a block away, blaring it's siren.

"You think she heard that fat joke I made?" Andy asked.

:: Brendon Wednesday, March 03, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Friday, February 27, 2004 ::
For the love of Mike, read this article

Gregg Easterbrook, true to form, cuts to the quick of the Washington Post's National Zoo "Scandal."

The might-be-quitting Lucy Spelman has been in The Washington Post repeatedly in the last two years as deaths of several zoo animals were received as ultra-shocking news--though animals die all the time in the state of nature. Post stories have implied that Spelman, a veterinarian, is some kind of sinister animal-hater. The Post has hammered at Spelman so obsessively it's tempting to suspect that this all started when she insulted some Post editor at a cocktail party or wouldn't arrange a private showing for some Post-company muckety-muck.

Easterbrook is notoriously good at researching issues and presenting them in a reasonably fair way (I know this from first-hand experience via an email debate several years back), and won't hesitate to call a spade a spade. Which, as it seems, this whole situation is.

It's not at all that I'm not up for the ethical treatment of animals, but honestly, does it merit front page coverage? Anyway, read it and you'll see what I mean.


:: Brendon Friday, February 27, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Thursday, February 26, 2004 ::
The Bleaching of America

Clear Channel is Suspending Howard Stern.

Let me start out by saying that I don't like Howard Stern's show, I'm not even sure I'd like him, but as of right now I don't know him, so that's still up in the air.

By don't like, I mean that I find him and those like him to be the lowest common denominator in American culture, completely devoid of originality and imagination and generally appealing to those of a pre-school intellect. Say it with me Howie, I know you want to, POOPIE!

No, it's not that I'm some high-brow artsy type who's got to have a metaphor in everything, some higher purpose. And it's not that he offends me, because hell, he doesn't really talk about anything all that shocking, at least not shocking to me. It's really that I find him out and out boring. His ubiquitous routine of parading strippers, pornstars, Klansmen, and other nobodies up to his studio and inanely reciting the questions only a 12 year-old virgin would ask is not only boring, but completely uninspired to boot, a combination I find to be symptomatic of almost everything going on in this country today.

And in rushes the FCC and Clear Channel and Viacom wearing suspenders and penny loafers, sweating like a team of oxen in the Georgia heat, wondering where the indecency will end, only to piss me off and offend me infinitely more than Howard Stern ever could.

Well, this one's for you, FCC:

Shitfucksatancocksuckermotherfuckercockballstitpussycuntgeorgewbush

If you care about the children, THE CHILDREN, DAMNIT, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!, you will never let them come to this site.

Ever.

Because you never know when I might spout off with another one of those, and you'll be left trying to explain to your son what a "georgewbush" is, and we all know how that goes.

I used to have a book, long since lost, called "Drinking, Smoking, and Screwing: Great Authors on Good Times," a compendium of some of the more eloquent and nostalgic stories of personal vice and reverie that our country is psychologically, for some reason, opposed. There was one story in particular, called "When the Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Shut Them," that comes to mind every time the issue of censorship rears it's head. The thing about TV and radio is, you don't have to listen or watch. Sure, if you're listening and watching something seemingly "wholesome" and Janet Jackson's tit (There I go again. Tit.) comes bursting onto the screen, like the villain in a wild west movie comes into a bar, sure, I might give you room to gripe. But only a little room. I ask you this: What is Howard Stern known for? The next incarnation of Mr. Rogers? His love of Cabbage Patch Dolls? His unyielding respect for the social tenets of decency and decorum? Cuddling Puppies?

No. He's crude, rude, coarse, and vile. That's why people listen. If you're working in the FCC and you're the guy wasting your time monitoring his show to fine him for doing exactly what he does, I want that part of my taxes that went to your salary back. At this point in his career, people tune into his show with FULL knowledge that they might be offended at what he says, if they tune in with any other belief in their heads, they're completely stupid and should be thrown in cage with starving Bengal tigers, wearing only beef underpants. Simple.

Swear all you want Howard, I may not like your style, but I'm with you.

The argument has always been: What if some kid were to tune in by accident and hear this stuff? Okay. Sure. What if? I'm not one to say here that kids should be exposed to everything, to be rounded up and bred into nascent Howard Stern offspring, but kids can turn off the radio too! If they know how to turn it on, they know how to turn it off, it's that simple. You can't tell me that a child will be indelibly scarred by listening to what Stern says. Kids forget everything once you get them a hot fudge sundae. Besides, the only thing he really talks about are body parts and bodily functions, how offensive can it really be?

But aren't there ANY things that shouldn't be said on the air?

Sure there are. And I won't post them here, but that's because they're actually more important and powerful than the size of a pornstar's, you guessed it, TITS!

:: Brendon Thursday, February 26, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 ::
Quixotic Chronicles - Part IV

Not as good as advertised

Andy lay spread across a newly stained green loveseat that was too short for him to comfortably recline in, forcing most everything below his knees to hang over the armrest and eventually fall asleep, so when he tried to get up he would immediately come crashing to the floor. The stains, for there wasn't simply one, but several of varying sizes and colors, were the result of a long foggy weekend littered with the remains of two cases of beer, two pizzas, chinese food, and potato chips, the consumption of which inevitably produced indelible drips and splatters of grease, tomato sauce, or whatever substances might fall from such items onto a relatively new couch. To his right, the direction he was facing, was a vast wasteland of crusts, boxes, empty bottles with cigarettes extinguished inside that crowded the floor and coffee table between his unkempt and stubbled person and the television, which had been on for about 38 consecutive hours, now Sunday evening.

Saturday morning, after inspecting the gash that ran about three inches from the base of his index finger diagonally across his palm and deciding that, though it was still fresh and bleeding occasionally, it did not require professional medical attention; he took the elevator downstairs and walked across the street to pick up some beer. Turning off his phone, he lowered the shades, grabbed a stack of DVDs from shelf (not even really looking to see what they were), located the bottle opener in the kitchen, and commenced binging, or more specifically, wallowing in a mix of self-loathing and pity.

During the first few beers he'd tried to be angry, outraged, at what had happened, what Celia had said the previous night. That fucking bitch! I can't believe it. After everything I've said and done for her! Something along those lines, something so natural that it was cliche. Cliche being our natural instinct when we're depressed, whether it come in the form of rage, depression, guilt, or what have you, every unbridled emotion being somehow cliche in this day and age. But as the alcohol began to course in his veins, the groggy tempo of inebriation settling upon his psyche, his thoughts pointed him further back, away from last night's confession (if that's what you could call it). As he thought about what had happened, their time together, the shuffling and dealing of significant moments that would be forever branded in his mind, he tried to understand when the relationship had fallen apart. This survey of emotional waste, the mental cartography of emotional terrain, the unsteady initial step of any real healing.

Looking out across what was now six years of, ostensibly, nothing, there had always been something wrong he guessed, not really sure, but sure all the same. He understood nothing, and his ignorance was debilitating. He tried to make himself believe that she was just a bitch, that she'd destroyed him and he'd never recover. He wanted to know things, but really didn't, so he drank, as everyone else does when their lives and emotions are turned inside out. No one can right-mindedly look back on an emotional investment as massive as a love of six years and face the memories, now ashes whipping up from towering flames, the subtle unsaid truths that will inevitably stare back, taunting. The previously tangible and forseeable future no more now than a wet dream sometime before dawn. Sobriety, under such circumstances, is seen as an extension of the cold hard reality closing in all around you, the very nature of solitude and cruelty. No, sober isn't the way to go when she takes the towels too. Not when the only genuine collateral you have in this world is your time, free of inhibition and pretense, spent with someone who you think is doing the same, only to turn off the water in the dead of winter to find you've got nothing to dry off with because the one left is now in the laundry basket. He flung another bottle cap across the room, a stretch to say in the direction of the waste basket, the bottle in hand was looking more and more like the night they met.

Truth be told, the moment Andy met Celia, he'd been infatuated. The way she flaunted her sex so delicately, a weighed and measured sexuality that most young college women never found. The majority of college-age women never finding that mysterious balance between prudish and whore, inevitably confused and off-balance in the way they move and speak that sends "Take advantage of me" pheromones off into the social aether, often characterized by intelligent women deliberately dumbing and ditzing themselves down for the benefit of their male suitors. A sexual "deer in the headlights" syndrome afflicting some deep into their twenties, and even beyond. Not so with Celia, whose cold fluid confidence radiated in every movement and utterance made, which, for those keen enough to catch on, caused a tumescent dizziness to build throughout the body, Andy being one such gentleman.

They'd been introduced through a mutual friend at a bar one night during his sophomore foray into higher education, which would turn out to be another failed attempt at scholastic endeavors. He'd been accepted to the George Washington University on scholarship, but had been promptly put on academic probation, having spent his freshman year bar and bed hopping, too enthralled by the freedom of college to actually participate in the educational process. The whole scenario played out mathematically, as he'd decided to major in philosophy, immediately taking up nihilism as his concentration. Celia had been taken not only by his looks, he was classically good looking, but also by his thoughts, for, if there was one thing Andy could do, it was talk.

They stood next to one another at one long end of an elliptical bar, watching and oily-haired twenty-something flatter and molest an attention-starved blond, who it seemed, was simply playing coy when the outcome was already a foregone conclusion.

"Kind of ridiculous, isn't it?" Andy asked.

"Yeah, it's mutually pathetic."

"Do you think he was standing in the mirror tonight holding up different outfits trying to figure out which one looked least like it had been purchased with his daddy's credit card?"

She laughed, and finally looked over at him from his right, "But what about her? It's not like she's got enough of a mind to even notice that he hasn't stopped staring at her boobs since he walked over."

"Cognitive dissonance?"

"Bimbo."

"Gotcha," laughing. "There doesn't seem to be a shortage of those here tonight."

"Isn't that why you come?" Bait set. Trap laid. Chase commenced.

At a time like this, undoubtedly a critical juncture in the male/female mating dance, the male must tread lightly, but with confidence. "It's sort of a tired situation," thinking he'd managed well.

"So you were into it, but now--?"

"Sure I was. How could any guy, when faced with such a situation, deny himself? But at some point, you know."

"It gets old."

He nodded while swallowing the last of a decidedly weak white russian. "Mmhm."

"And when did it get old for you?"

He had a mind to say When I saw you., but had a feeling jokes like that got you a wrong number at the end of the night. "I don't know, I guess when I came back for this year. Do you want another drink, by the way?"

"Cosmopolitan, please."

To the bartender, "A cosmo and a vodka tonic please. Yeah, put it on my tab."

:: Brendon Wednesday, February 25, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Friday, February 20, 2004 ::
I like the song damn it. So buy it or download it or whatever...

Besides, it's my site, so I'll put up whatever I want.

Change

I don't feel the suns comin' out today
its staying in,
its gonna find another way.
As I sit here in this misery,
I don'tthink I'll ever
see the sun from here.

And oh as I fade away,
they'll all look at me and say, and they'll say,
Hey look at him!
I'll never live that way.
But that's okay
they're just afraid to change.

When you feel life ain't worth livin'
you've got to stand up and take a look around and look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin' it's time to die.

And as we all play parts of tomorrow,
some ways we'll work and other ways we'll play.
But I know we all can't stay here forever,
so I want to write my words on the face of today.
and then they'll paint it

And oh as I fade away,
they'll all look at me and they'll say, they'll say,
Hey look at him and where he is these days.
When life is hard, you have to change.
When life is hard you have to change.

-Blind Melon

:: Brendon Friday, February 20, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 ::
Human rights, a refresher course for the chronically stupid...

I know quoting the Bill of Rights on this site isn't exactly original, but it bears on this gay marriage in San Francisco issue quite heavily, so, learn to cope.

Coincidentally enough, it's Amendment I that we're concerned with tonight (if you're reading this, Mr. President, here's a link to the rest).

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."


You might ask What does the First Amendment have to do with homosexuality? In fact, you'd better because that's where this post is going. First of all, conservatives would tell you that marriage between members of the same sex doesn't jive with our nation's [Christian] values. Democrats sitting on the fence will speak in tongues about "Civil Unions," and only Howard Dean (that I've heard) has said that legal marriage in the state (read: country) should be distinguished completely between marriage under the umbrella of any religion, and that governmental marriage contracts should be granted to any couple, regardless of sexual orientation (which SHOULD be the case).

The problem with our government's current interpretation of this issue is that, like Bush, it perceives it's laws as derivative of historically religious values, which the First Amendment should clearly discourage. Our nation's laws and the values they engender should no more come from superstitious religionists than thoughts on the Apocalypse should come from atheists. Now, I'm going to make an assumption here, and it's a fairly reasonable one, but it's an assumption none the less: Most homosexuals don't attend Christian religious ceremonies regularly (Christianity being the religion(s) most commonly described as the foundation for our nation's value's). Keeping that in mind, it's fair to say a homosexuals value system (or an atheist's, for example) are in some fundamental way, different, from these religious value systems. As such, it can be inferred that the government [in it's denying marriage rights of homosexuals] is not enacting laws that respect one religion over another, but MANY religions (Catholicism, Puritanism, Quaker-ism, Judaism, etc.), over the theological/philosophical belief systems of this minority (homosexuals, atheists), and thusly, violating the First Amendment, because what else is a religion than a value system, a way of interepreting and placing moral boundaries in the world. For, an atheist's theological perspective, though 180 degrees different than any theist's, is still a theological value system, and should be respected as such.

Which brings us back to the marriage question. In denying equal rights for homosexual couples seeking lives together, the government is not simply saying we don't like homosexuals (which it is, but that's not the point of this argument), it's saying that our Christian value system is of greater importance than your rights and theological values as an individual. Imagine a religion founded tomorrow whose tenets were solely the Ten Commandments AND the endorsement of homosexual marriage. Our current interpretation of laws in our nation would most likely scoff and turn it's nose up at these people's beliefs, essentially respecting historical Christian values over this new religion's. Now, there are Supreme Court cases that mention Rastafarianism and native american religions, religions that practice the use of controlled substances, and they have ruled that because these substances are illegal, it is illegal to practice that part of their religion. But, being a homosexual is not illegal, merely taboo (if that).

Beyond that, I can pretty much guarantee that if gay marriage is allowed, there won't be a rush on wedding bookings at the National Cathedral, because these people aren't interested in getting married in a Catholic or Protestant church. They simply want, and deserve, equal rights with heterosexual couples. And in a nation that prides itself on freedom and diversity, it's these fundamentally rigid values that need augmentation most.

:: Brendon Wednesday, February 18, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ::
Getting ready to tell a story when I get home later, but for now, see if you can knock the bird further than 593.5.


:: Brendon Tuesday, February 17, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Thursday, February 05, 2004 ::
Not really sharing the wealth

well, i'm off starting tomorrow afternoon and i just wanted to leave my readership with an idea of what i'll be looking at for the next week in Costa Rica. this is sunset in malpais, about 200 yards from where i'll be staying. don't let beautiful ocean view fool you, it's a hard life down there. there's lots of decent cheap beer. good non-factory farmed fare. [alliteration!!! it never gets old!]. warm water. buckets of sunshine. palm fronds rustling in ocean breezes. and hammocks. as you can see, we'll be roughing it...cheers.


:: Brendon Thursday, February 05, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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:: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 ::
The Quixotic Chronicles - Part III

Andy made Sean recount and confirm the story several times over the next couple hours, looking for ways it might not have been Celia that he saw that night. Are you sure it was her? How far were you from her? How much did you have to drink? The interrogation continued redundantly through six more beers until Andy seemed to drop it momentarily, then blindly throw the haymaker Sean had been dreading since he'd uncorked the truth.

"A lot of good it does me now. Why didn't you tell me eight months ago?" It should be noted that Andy wasn't really angry with Sean for not telling him. His emotions were swimming in pints of lager and he needed to vent. He was damned sure not going to break down here, in the middle of this quiet basement bar, so he did the next best thing, make himself angry.

"I didn't-I couldn't man. I don't even know if I wanted to tell you. I thought that maybe it was just a fluke-type thing."

"You thought my girlfriend cheating on me was a fluke-type thing?" His anger with her, with himself for being helplessly in love with her, with his inability to close his eyes and not see her in the arms of someone else, was causing him to clench his jaw and purse his lips as if he'd just swallowed liquid tinfoil.

"I don't know. I don't know what I thought. I thought you should at least know now though."

Andy said nothing at this. He had a pain in his gut that wound up his torso into his neck, causing him to salivate and get nauseous, and he thought if he opened his mouth, his body might turn inside out.

They ordered one more round which they drank in silence, the only noise the crackling hiss of dry tobacco incinerating and oldies rock on the juke box. Andy sat there for the duration staring at or through the graffiti carved into the corner of the table next to his beer, wondering how long it had gone on, how long she'd lied to him. Sean picked up the check while Andy continued in catatonic silence, and smoked a last cigarette.

"Come on man, it's getting late." Looking at his watch that read just after nine. He reached across the table and nudged him gently on the shoulder. By this point, both of them were fairly drunk and Sean wanted Andy to head home before his emotions bested him.

"I'm gonna call her."

"Don't call."

"I want to know what she has to say."

"No you don't. You definitely do not want to know what she has to say man."

"I want her to know that I know." Which wasn't at all true. He wanted her to say that Sean was a liar or mistaken. He wanted her to say that she was lonely and missed him and she wanted him to come get her wherever she was that instant. To throw her arms around his neck and crumple into him. He wanted this while wishing that he wanted nothing to do with her. Wishing that he could forget everything.

"Don't do it now, man. Wait til you're sober at least." Hoping Andy might think better of it in the morning.

They stepped into the winter evening with it's stinging breath at their distinctly reddened faces, said curt goodbyes, and started walking in opposite directions. The night wind was heavy and sharp as Andy walked up Connecticut Ave. towards Adam's Morgan, but he wasn't even cognizant of the weather whipping around him as he flipped open and closed the cell phone in his coat pocket. He was on the verge of tears as he pulled it out and dialed her number, alternately hoping she wouldn't answer and wishing she would.

The line connected and Andy could hear that she was out somewhere and talking with someone as she answered the phone.

[incomprehensible] "Uh, hello? Andrew?" Celia sounded surprised and a little perturbed.

It was the first time he'd heard her voice in weeks and the tears streamed down his face as the anger and sadness convulsed down his spine in tectonic tremors. Andy stopped walking and doubled over, nearly dropping the phone as he tried to formulate words from a mouth that could seemingly only utter a low moan.

"I know it's you Andrew. I saw your name on my caller id."

"How could you do this to me?" he cried almost inaudibly into the phone.

"I can't hear you? What?"

This time he shouted "How could you cheat on me, you bitch!?" He hardly believed he'd said it, never mind yelled it out wildly in public.

"I never-" Celia caught her tongue mid-lie. On the one hand she knew that what Andy hated most in the world was someone he thought he could trust lying to him. The irony being that she'd already trampled his trust in her. On the other, she'd been drinking as well and her vanity wouldn't allow her to defend herself while standing next to the man whom she had been cheating on Andy with. And knowing she would regret what she was about to say later, she went on the offensive anyway. "So what? What do you want me to say? Yes, Andrew, I was cheating on you. So what? I wasn't happy and I didn't love you. Not anymore. I couldn't stand the way you constantly needed validation of our relationship and wouldn't allow me time to myself. You were too goddamned needy and paranoid I couldn't take it anymore. Are you happy now?" She waited a moment in silence, hoping maybe he'd say something, then resolutely hung up.

Before he could say a word the line went dead. In truth, there was nothing he would have said anyway. She'd told him everything, more than he ever realistically expected. He thought she'd lie about it, or at least apologize, but never did he think she'd do that. He sat down on the steps of the First National Bank at the corner of 18th and Columbia and tried to get himself together. His hands were moist from wiping away tears and his breath was cold on them as he sat, head limply hanging down over his cell phone still open in his right hand.

All at once he resigned himself to misery and bitterness. Anger. At her. At everyone. It was as simple as a light switch. Even at Sean for telling him, though he knew that wouldn't last long. But right now, he was pissed. He got himself up and walked around the corner to the Angry Inch Pub on 18th St. As always, the place was mostly empty, with a few bouncer-looking guys hanging out at the far end of the bar. It was a long narrow two-story establishment recently opened and rarely frequented by the trendy post-collegiate crowd that generally cruised Adam's Morgan. It had a strict rotation of 80's and 90's rock, never hip-hop, and had a TV at the end of the bar seemingly designated for "The Man Show." Apparently the proprietor was doing everything in his power to keep people away. He took a stool a few chairs down from the bouncers and ordered a whiskey on the rocks with his thumb and index finger spread as far apart as they'd go, indicating he'd like tall one.

"So you want a double?" Apparently finger measurements were not acceptable with this barkeep.

"Make it a triple." He pulled out his cigarettes, laid them next to him, and reached over to grab the nearest ash tray.

The bartender slid the drink in front of him. "That'll be eleven-fifty pal," and walked back down the bar to watch TV.

He lit a cigarette, now wondering why he'd ordered a whiskey in the first place, he hated it. That bladed burn down the back of his throat when he swallowed it made him gag every time. He sat there staring at it, pulling hard and holding every drag of his Camel Light before exhaling, hoping the ice would melt a bit to cut the taste. He picked up the drink and held it at eye level for a moment then downed it in two fantastic gulps, which he could feel coming back up almost immediately. He held it down, but not with out lurching a couple times and tearing up considerably. When he looked back up, the bartender was staring at him at the end of the bar, looking either angry or stunned, and the bouncers were hooting and hollering at what they'd just seen. One of them, a massive black neckless behemoth put his beer down next to Andy.

"I ain't neva seen nothing like that in my life, man. Who taught you how to drink like that?" Jim Hammersmith was beaming at Andy.

"Legions of alcoholics." Andy said bitterly, hoping to avoid conversation.

When Andy looked at him, Jim could see the remnants of rivulets of tears running down the sides of his face, just below his puffy eyes. Jim had just completed his rookie season in the NFL with the Redskins, and unbeknownst to him, would be cut within the week for a bar room brawl, but right now he was celebrating and his jubilation wouldn't be blunted. "Well look, man, lemme pick up that round for you," he said, still smiling.

"Be my guest."

"Yo Steve-vay!" Pointing down at the slouching pouting mass of Andy, "Put my man here on my tab! Hey fellas," hollering over to the three other broad-backed men at the corner of the bar, "ten to one my man here just got sacked by his girl!" Jim was, of course, kidding, but he had no idea that what he said was like driving a knife between Andy's shoulder blades, like a killing a bull in Pamplona.

"So what happened man?" Jim turned back to Andy, who looked extremely melancholy, "She see me on the sidewalk or something?"

The ludicrous image of the huge man touching Celia flashed red in his mind's eye and before he knew what he was doing, his empty pint glass, with a small puddle of melted ice in the bottom, collided with young Jim Hammersmith's left orbital bone, causing a gash that would require twenty-some stitches, bringing him down like a fallen Zeus. He sprinted past Jim's friends before they knew what happened and was halfway up Columbia Road when he leaned against a building and vomited all over himself. He ran down the street stripping off his stinking and soaked clothes and arrived at his apartment with his jacket in hand, no shirt or tie, and yellow bile down the front of his pants.

The bartender's statement to the police would later read that the group of men were mocking and making fun of the noticeably drunk and upset six-foot caucasion that sat down next to them, and that incidentally, he thought Jim had gotten what he deserved. No arrests were ever made.

Presently, Andy stepped into his apartment convulsing from the cold and the alcohol and the pain that was cancerously spreading throughout his mind and body. His blood-soaked hand dripped like a metronome on the hardwood floor as he shut the door behind him. He walked over to his linen closet, wrapped the hand in a towel, and went to bed.

:: Brendon Tuesday, February 03, 2004 [Link to this Post] ::
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