Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bringing Down The Oligarchy? I'll Drink To That!

I went for some lunch yesterday at a nearby fast-food establishment and, while filling up my drink, noticed something that was both sad and somewhat disturbing.

The soft drink industry has had some legendary rivalries: Coke vs. Pepsi and Sprite vs. 7-Up are probably the most well known of these (I happen to be a fan of Royal Crown Cola and Fresca, as most contrarians are), but my favorite war is that which has been waged between Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb.

This epic battle of the beverages is, in a sense, symbolic of the class war with which our nation has always struggled. The elitist pretension of the educated, born into favor, against the blue-collar honest pragmatism of the working class. And for decades, the two have squared off against one another, neither able to land that knockout blow; a microcosm of our very society.

Until now.

As I approached the soda dispensary counter, I instinctively reached for the Mr. Pibb lever, as it’s without question the ideal complement to the Burrito Mexicano (con pollo e frijol negro). I was stunned when it registered in my consciousness that I was pouring not Mr. Pibb, but ... Pibb Xtra.

Pibb fucking Xtra. Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

I can only assume that the Coca-Cola company is trying to rebrand its product and tap into the youth market, what with their Gen-X and X Games and all things X. (Luckily, the movie industry had the foresight to change the “X” rating to “NC-17,” otherwise, all these kids might be watching pornography! Crisis averted! *whew*)

My first reaction to seeing the letters “XTRA” was that it was an abbreviation acronym for “Xylophones Totally ROCK! Awesome!” - a reaction perhaps unanticipated by the marketing department. I think that the Coca Cola company may want to run a few more focus groups before making a potentially bankrupting decision such as this. They clearly haven’t learned anything from the “New Coke” disaster of the 1980s.

But beyond the lame attempt at being all hep with the youngstas, what really hit me was that Mr. Pibb seems to have given up, and in essence, has said “yes … yes, you ARE better than me, Doctor. I admit it.” But you know what? For all we know, “Dr.” Pepper may have gotten that degree off of the back of Rolling Stone magazine, or worse yet, from some “university” in the Midwest run by Jesuits. It’s certainly not a medical degree – I wouldn’t trust “Dr.” Pepper to clip my nails.

So I don’t know what to do. Maybe this battle is lost, but the struggle for class equality goes on. You’ll be missed, Mr. Pibb, but your fight won’t be forgotten. In fact, the ranks of the upper-class elites have already been infiltrated by a clandestine agent.

Godspeed, Dr. Shasta. The workers of the world are with you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure It Happened EXACTLY Like This ...

Something happened today during a lunchtime shopping excursion that happens less and less often these days (and by “less and less often”, I mean that “this is the first time it's happened EVAH”): a beautiful young woman asked for my phone number. “But Dead Acorn,” you might be saying (in which case those nearby may be concerned about your mental health, given such a bizarre utterance, so it might be to your advantage to merely think it). “You were buying a new cell phone and she needed it to access your account and activate your new SIM card.”

While technically, that’s true, still ... you weren’t there to see the slight twitch of her lips as she fought to suppress a shy smile and just the faintest hint of a blush creep into her elegant cheeks. (Ok, I guess if you were in the store, then you were there to see those things … improbable, granted, but if that’s the case, you can verify these things in comments.)

Though our romance was destined to be short-lived, Monique taught me so many things about life that I didn’t know before – where the water-damage detector was, how to transfer saved text messages from my phone to the memory chip – it was if she was looking into my soul and could divine what I needed to hear.

She literally promised me whatever I wanted:

Dead Acorn: So this camera has 1.3 megapixels and this one has 2.0 … will I notice a big difference?

Monique: Whatever.

She told me that whatever choice I made, the world would still be ours, and things would always stay fresh:

Dead Acorn: So I can get to the World Wide Web with this phone?

Monique: duh … yeah, that and every other phone made in the last 5 years. Douche.

But in the end, we both knew that the powers that be would never let us be together, even though she acknowledged that I had crept into her heart:

Dead Acorn: Hey, will you call me real quick so that I’ll know what the ring tone sounds like?

Monique: ummm … I’m pretty sure that’s against store policy. Creep.

As I left, I told her that while I genuinely felt something for her that I had never felt before, something so real and so strong that it might be necessary to stop and imbibe a dram or three of spirits before returning to work just to calm my now-racing heart, that my heart did, in fact, belong to another, and that our yearnings and desires were destined to remain unfulfilled. She seemed a bit taken aback by that, as she was shaking slightly, and seemed somehow ... frightened, for lack of a better word … frightened, no doubt, by the weighty burden of loneliness that, at that moment, she knew she would be shrouded in for the rest of her life.

Monique … sweet, precious Monique … do your heart a favor, and forget about me. Throw away my number ... erase me from your memory ... I’m no good for you, damnit! You’ll find someone someday, and you'll experience the joy and happiness that you so deserve …

… and maybe, just maybe, in a peaceful sleep on a crisp fall morning many years from now, as the morning light washes your face, you’ll see me standing in the shadows of some sweet dream, and you’ll once again show that shy wisp of a smile.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where's The Consumer Protection Agency When You Need Them?

It’s probably not illegal, but it is without doubt both immoral and unethical. I speak, of course, of the nefarious business practice of rendering obsolete time-tested and perfectly acceptable products by adding superfluous bells and whistles, forcing consumers to pay for something they neither want, nor need, nor will ever use.

This is nothing new in our greed-driven world by any means. On the contrary – I remember, as a young boy, listening to great-great-grandpa Festus ramble on about the introduction of “safety switches” on rifles. “Consarn it!” great-great-grandpa Festus would cry out, shaking his trembling fist. “If I wanted something that didn’t go ‘bang’ when I pulled the trigger, I’da got me a Winchester!” (Great-great-grandpa Festus was a notoriously devoted Smith & Wesson man.) “When them durn revenooers come around, or god forbid, Ethel catches me takin’ up with the widow Muldoon again, and some new-fangled switchy thing gets me killed or landed down to the jail, I’m-a gonna …”

Great-great-grandpa Festus was over 110 years old at that time in my life, and he never really got further than that without falling asleep. I’m not comfortable speculating on what he would have done in either of the aforementioned situations, had he been unable to discharge his weapon.

Microsoft has long done the same thing with their operating systems (please don’t belittle me for my Windows-based habit … I assume that, since you’re technically savvy enough to navigate the intertubez, you’re either on a Mac or running Linux). There was absolutely nothing wrong with Windows 3.11 (Workgroup For Windows), and even those who found it a bit unfriendly could install Microsoft Bob to make any computing experience as joyful as hugging a newborn kitten.

But just you try calling Tech Support and asking for help for it now … some 17-year-old wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn will claim he knows nothing of a product by that name and will suggest that you spend your money on a new product that has a bunch of "features" you don’t need, like being able to run two programs at once. Seriously, WTF?

My current dilemma has to do with razor blades. I’ve been a Gillette Atra user for years. It’s a simple dual-blade cartridge, and it works perfectly fine. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve got no problem with Schick customers; I’m not trying to start a flame war in comments here. It just happens to be what I started with, and I’m happy with it. The issue is that replacement blades are getting harder and harder to find, and I fear that the manufacturer is purposefully underproducing them to force me to upgrade to whatever seven-fucking-blade system is the douchebag accessory du jour.

Before my older readers call me out as a hypocrite and wax poetic about the days of single solo blades with no lubrication strip that only cost a quarter, let me state that I am fully aware of the history of the razor industry. I know they had a single blade, and I know they were cheap, so don’t accuse me of being a solo-cost denier.* But that’s how they work – they bring in entry-level users with their slick ads for the latest’n’greatest cutting edge technology, and in doing so … this is the truly evil aspect of it … create an army of new hepcat users who belittle us oldsters by shaming us for not being “with it,” thereby minimizing the effect of our righteous and well-founded outrage.

I’ll see you in hell, Gillette. I'll be the one who hasn't shaved in a while.

[UPDATE:] I've thought about it a little more, and I guess I kind of see an advantage of a bunch of blades. It's certainly not a closer shave (... the 19th blade pulls the whisker even FURTHER out ... yeah, right ...), but the blade would be so wide that you could do your whole face with just a quarter-inch stroke.** Being an extremely lazy person, I'll say that if they added a beer holder, I'm in.

*That’s poorly set up and truly horrible even by my extremely low standards, and I hope you’ll have the kindness in your hearts to one day forgive me.
** Go to town with the quarter-inch stroke jokes. This is not the Center For The Refinement Of Humor's website.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Day Weekend In The Life

While this blog exists explicitly for the purpose of chronicling my quixotic pursuit of the lovely-and-not-seen-since-2nd-grade Daisy Ann Spinnamaker (it’s in my mission statement), lulls in my progress in that grand effort occasionally necessitate me jotting down some of the things that are happening in the shorter term.

I’m certainly not deserving of such an alignment-of-the-planets type of weekend, but sweet onion chutney, here’s what’s in the queue:

The Tour de Fat (tomorrow) – a crazy-ass day of bike stuff, starting with a parade of hundreds of seriously-not-quite-right people dressed up riding bizarre bicycles, followed by music, food, and general debauchery.

John Prine (tomorrow night) – an evening with The Live Acorn listening to a legendary songwriter. She’s currently in a “my dad has really good taste in music” phase (as opposed to the “can I change this?” phase of a year ago) and is really excited for the concert (hearing her sing the Iris Dement part of “In Spite Of Ourselves,” in which she states of her male counterpart that “he ain’t got laid in a month of Sundays, I caught him once, and he was sniffin’ my undies” is, well … odd, let’s say).

The Western Idaho State Fair (starts tonight) – pygmy goats, Pronto Pups, tube tops, and more blue eye shadow than you can shake a stick at. Imagine if Picasso hung out with rednecks during his blue period.

Purty Girl coming in from out of town (tonight) – She’s purty. And a girl.

And best of all – tomorrow is National Spumoni Day.

mmMMMmmmmm pygmy goats spumoni …

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kids Today ...

We’ve come so far as a society with regard to caring for our children and providing for them a safe environment in which to grow up. You may hear someone from an older generation bemoan the fact that, for example, more kids wear bike helmets these days, as if safety precautions are somehow robbing them of a crucial element of childhood, but I think that the worry that we have as parents, as long as it isn’t taken to neurotic extremes, is generally a not-unhealthy thing. Had it occurred to someone 35 years ago that letting children ride in the rearward-facing back seat of a station wagon for 400 miles with the window down and exhaust fumes being sucked in might not be the best thing ever, well, maybe I’d be able to grasp such concepts as imaginary numbers, proper usage of who/whom, and the icing rule.

So given the current culture of (perhaps over) protecting our kids, what the hell kind of parents would let a 15-year-old girl go off to San Francisco unsupervised for a week with three of her friends? My god, do we not even have Social Services anymore?

Well, though it perhaps puts off the “Parents Of The Year” award for the EMDAMOTLA* and me for a while, The Live Acorn has been out and about in the City By The Bay since last Wednesday. I asked very nicely if she would be sure to call or at least text me twice a day just so that I could sleep at night, and that went well for the first couple of days. Since then, our phone conversations have tapered off and can be summarized thusly:

Dad, I have a blister on my finger that’s surrounded by a red ring and it’s swelling up. The internet says I’ve been bitten by a brown recluse.
Dad, I dyed my hair.

The spider conversation was fairly amusing … listening to a teen-aged girl trying to be nonchalant as she’s asking what actually happens in cases of necrotic arachnidism and if she’s going to die is a bit comical. As for the hair … well, she described her new color as “auburn,” which I assume means that she looks something like Milla Jojovich in The 5th Element.

I did buy her a journal before she left and asked that she write some thoughts and notes about the goings-on of each day. It’s not like she does anything I ask anyway, but with any luck, we’ll have our first Guest Blogger EVAH here within the week, regaling us with sordid tales of the dark underbelly of The Golden Gate City stories about how she was asleep by 9:30 every night.

Like I really want to know.

* Ex-Mrs.-Dead-Acorn-Mother-Of-The-Live-Acorn

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Drunk Post, Part I

Okay, I might be a little tipsy at this point. But I rented "The Bucket List," which is a movie.

By "movie," in this case, I mean (this is my opinion only, and I'm writing this now for the express purpose of seeing if my opinion changes) some goddamned excuse to make money by pairing Nicholson and Freeman together in a feel-good ... well, movie. I'd probably have some other way of stating that using the word "cinematic,", except, you know, I'm a little tipsy.

So I'm going to watch it, because I want to see if it actually turns out that there's some message about doing things while you're alive and having those goals as such, rather than thinking about things you want to do before you die. To me, those are really different questions. I assume that the movie will turn out that way, because, well, Hollywood people do that kind of thing well, and are smarter than me.

Me go watch. Me write later if not durnk.

[UPDATE:] Oh for hellz sake did THAT suck. I'm sorry I wasted 2 hours of my life, but I'm REALLY sorry that I ever even thought about posting about this, and I apologize whole-heartedly to my reader.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Can We Run The Video, Sal?

I’ve often written about my roomie here … the goofy dog with whom I share Casa de Acorn. To date, though, it’s been just that … simply writing (well, and the occasional photo). To truly appreciate just what a burden it is to try and coexist with her, though, really requires seeing her in her full live Indiocity. Since she’s not allowed to leave the country, however (it has to do with a failed, if ambitious, international diamond smuggling caper … the gag order prevents me from saying more than that), I’ve taken a little video of her so that my readers in the Congo can get a better idea of what I go through, day in and day out.

Above: She’s just not quite … right …

Let me point out a couple of things.

First, notice that she almost took off after I said “O.” I’ve lectured her time and time again on the dangers of making assumptions about what people are going to say, and trust me, it was a fluke that she stopped. Or maybe I was stepping on her tail. But for all she knew, I was going to say “O…..klahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain …” (I often burst out into musical numbers while shuffling about the house).

Second, it’s clear that I DID say “OK,” despite the brief inter-syllabic pause. The fact that she had forgotten the “O” part by the time I said “K” indicates to me that she has an attention span of less than a second. My god, there can’t be much more than rudimentary brain stem activity going on in that skull. I think that “breathe,” “eat,” and “literally bite the hand that feeds me” are about the extent of her functions. Not being able to avoid plowing into me upon her return is certainly evidence that there's not a lot of neural activity dedicated to motor skills.

Luckily, she’s got her undeniable beauty to get her through life.

Above: The Paris Hilton of the canine set.

I ask not for your pity, but perhaps now, when you see me sobbing softly in the corner of the pub, tears falling one-by-one from my cheek into my beer, you'll have a slightly greater sense of the world in which I reside.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Now THAT'S One Mean-Ass Deity

Something happened over the weekend that challenged my disbelief in a supreme being.

I had taken a little jaunt over to the east side of the state, a drive which by only the most fervent of imaginations can be described as “scenic.” I hope that’s not mistaken for disdain for Idaho – I dearly love this state – but I try to be honest with myself, and I see no point in pretending that 250 miles of sagebrush, interrupted only by the occasional Bovine-based Olfactory Weapon Proving Ground, is anything more than a test of strength and willpower; a natural buffer zone intended to dissuade all but the hardiest of road warriors from reaching mecca the enchanted land that is Eastern Idaho.

Among the things I use to combat the boredom on such treks is lots and lots of beer loud music, of course. Generally, I’m not one to listen to “classic” music, having at least some recognition that there is great new music being made, and that to be stuck listening to music from some point in one’s past (which, to anyone having taken Psychology 101, clearly indicates that one has lost hope in one's own life and future, and has accepted that one's time on this earth peaked decades ago, an assessment which is ironically self-fulfilling) is really quite sad.

At this point, I was going to state that “I’m not a music snob,” but it should be quite obvious that I am. The sad part is that I’m not even a good snob, since while I do enjoy listening to lesser known artists playing music that’s not generally heard on commercial radio stations, I’m too damn lazy I lack the ambition to consistently keep up the search for new artists. As a consequence, I find myself listening to music that's better/newer than 1980s schlock, but still falling into comfortable rotations of familiar CDs. Sort of like the faux beer snob who always drinks Fat Tire and ridicules the guy down the bar drinking Bud Light. Jesus Tap-Dancin’ Christ, I’m pathetic.

Where was I?

Oh, right … so there I was, making the return trip back to the City Of Trees, and I realized that I’d listened to all of the CDs I had brought, and I thought “well, let’s just give a listen to what’s on the ole Frequency Modulation radio airwaves.” As it happened, I found a station playing tunes I hadn’t heard in a great while, and I was truly enjoying myself, forgetting the desolate landscape, and singing along at the top of my lungs with The Who, The Talking Heads, and even Billy Joel (thank jeebus no one reads this blog, or I’d never have admitted that).

And then the heretofore denied God decided to make Her move.

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of These)” is inarguably one of the worst songs in recording history. Insipid lyrics, repeated ad nauseum, ear-assaultingly voiced via the wailings of the ├╝ber-pretentious Annie Lennox – I have no doubt that, if there is indeed a Hell, that that will be the song playing on the elevator that takes you there.

So there I found myself – obviously being tested by this “God” character, in the middle of that barren wasteland, tested no less than Job himself. “But Dead Acorn!” you may be asking, “why didn’t you just change the station?” Well, dear readers, Dead Acorn don’t play that game. “You want a piece of me, Old Woman?” I thought to myself. “Bring it, BEYOTCH!” I screamed aloud, and upped the volume.

For over two minutes, I clinched the wheel, muscles tensed, my brow drenched in sweat, the engine straining as I pushed the pedal to the floor, as though I could outrun the brutal cacophony emanating from the rear speakers. I could picture the singer’s red crewcut – a red certainly no less horrific than the fires of Hell themselves.

And then ... I couldn’t go on. I had given all I had, and it wasn’t enough. I reached for the “off” button, ready to acknowledge Her infinite strength, Her undeniable perfection when I came upon … King Hill.

The King Hill section of I-84 is a steep, long decline that apparently removes a vehicle from the line-of-site access required for radio reception. As I descended, the demonic voice faded, and all I could hear was sweet, sweet static. Wonderful white noise. Broadband bliss, if you will.

I wasn’t sure what She was up to, but for a moment, I felt myself overwhelmed with thankfulness at Her generosity, and nearly wept as I prepared to beg forgiveness. At that moment, though, I regained some sense of rationality, and reminded myself that the last few minutes were simply a random occurrence of several negative events, and that the cessation of the most noxious of those needn’t be attributed to the existence of some invisible sky fairy.

But as I came out of the valley and began to climb back into radio reception, I recognized with horror the song playing … Old Time Rock And Roll. Bob Fucking Segar.

If She’s real, She sure is one mean old biddy.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Seedy Post

As a caucasian, heterosexual, right-handed American male in his mid-forties, I really can’t claim to have personal experience with being the target of prejudice (being a liberal in Idaho certainly qualifies as being a member of a minority, but being disliked by a group largely consisting of backward-ass hicks is something I welcome). Nevertheless, one need not be the victim of injustice to recognize it and fight for its eradication. (Plus, I was in Mississippi in the mid-60s during the race riots … granted, I was a newborn, but when my little fists were clinched, I’m pretty sure it was in anger over the fact that my darker-skinned infant brethren had to play in a separate crib.)

It can be emotionally crushing when one discovers that one’s behaviors are not consistent with what one considers to be fair, just, and compassionate beliefs. And crushed I was, then, upon realizing that I’ve been supporting racist practices on this blog and in my life.

I recently extolled the virtues of watermelon as a breakfast food, and made mention of the seedless variety. Indeed, I generally buy the seedless melons. It has, however, recently occurred to me that the industry takes great liberties with the word “seedless,” and it is my acceptance of “seedless” as meaning something other than “without seeds” that has led to my moral failure.

Let’s take a look at some visual evidence:

Above: A traditional seeded watermelon. A true classic.

Above: A legitimate seedless watermelon. Other than the questionable science of creating a fruit that can’t reproduce, nothing too objectionable.

Now look at what I’ve been purchasing, advertised as seedless:

Above: Oh, you white seeds are fine. It’s just them other ones we’s askeered of.

While I’ll have to live with the shame of turning my back to such obvious racism, it’s never too late to try to do the right thing. I will personally return, and demand recompensation for, any “seedless” watermelons grown under the “whites only” policy, and I urge you to do the same. As Edmund Burke stated so eloquently, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Let us do something – let us work toward a more tolerant world, a world where we are judged not by the color of our seeds, but by our ripeness and flavor.

Let us begin with the melons.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Post For The Ages

The Live Acorn turned 15 a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure that all parents go through a bit of self-reflection at certain points as their children grow up, experiencing those shocking moments of clarity when the fact that “ohmyfuckinggodIhaveafifteenyearold” hits like an Ernie Shavers uppercut.

Something struck me, though, as I was pondering the passage of time, wondering where it’s all gone, and what the future holds.

When The Live Acorn was one year old, I was 31. Thirty-one times as old as her. When she was five, I was 35 – only seven times as old. When she was 10, I was 40 – four times as old. Currently, she’s 15, and I’m 45 – three times as old. In 15 years, she’ll be 30, and I’ll 60 – only twice as old.

So your pop quiz question is: How long until she and I are the same age?