Earthquakes and Tsunamis and Self-Loathing — oh my.

I was just about to go to bed last night when my Twitter feed informed me that an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan. Naturally I flipped over to CNN right away. For the next five or six hours the only detectable movement on my body was my thumb guiding the TV remote from one news network to the next as I watched image after horrifying image of fire, flooding, and general devastation rock the northern areas of Japan.

As a rule, I find that I personally often feel sort of helpless. It’s a byproduct of succumbing to one’s own limitations. What I mean is that I recognize that I’m not a wealthy person at the moment, so when I really feel the itch to golf an amazing course somewhere, I feel helpless. I simply can’t make it happen. Perhaps that’s less a feeling of helplessness than it is of longing. But either way, it’s a feeling of not being able to do something I’d like to do based on materialistic desires.

But the thing is, if I can’t afford to go golfing, or if I can’t break family plans to go see an Elton John concert or something, at least I don’t feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Right now that’s how I feel. I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all, in fact.

The question is clear though: why now? Why this disaster? I didn’t feel the need to drive to New Orleans and help when Katrina hit. I didn’t feel like loading up my car with supplies and heading to New York City after 9/11 occurred. Why this time?

My only guess can be that it goes back to the idea of dealing with one’s limitations. I’ve been living my life lately with a feeling of self-sympathy. I’m out of work and financial problems have forced me to live with my parents again. For months I think I’ve basically been feeling sorry for myself for letting my situation develop like this. I thought I’ve been feeling helpless.

But last night I watched a landscape literally being altered on live television. What kind of helplessness must a person feel when they’re trying to outrun a 25-foot wall of water?

So why do I feel such a stronger sense of desire to help relieve this disaster than I did in the past? It’s because I need to make up for the days I’ve spent sitting around feeling sorry for myself and feeling bad for my living situation and basically feeling like the world owes me better than I’m getting. Because no one owes me a damn thing.

The worst part of it is the simple fact that I know this feeling will pass. Of course, we’ll remember the big Japanese earthquake/tsunami of 2011, and we’ll all hope everyone is okay, sure. But speaking for myself, I know that eventually I’ll go back to feeling shitty about my life again and the world will continue to be self-absorbed — as it probably should be. And in a few months or years there’ll be another disaster and we’ll all do it all over again. Frankly, I won’t be surprised if I’m back to normal by nightfall. This is why I want to get on a plane right now and help. Commit while the feeling is strong.

But I won’t. I’ll make myself a sandwich and I’ll be pissed off that we’re out of pickles. I hate myself sometimes.

If you are able and willing to donate, this link will help you out.

 

An Open Letter to Morning People

You wake up early and get a lot done in the mornings. It’s your lunch hour and you’re excited to have some free time for yourself. You went to bed at 10:30 last night and woke up feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

Good. Great. Grand.

Lemme tell you something: I was awake until at least 5:00 AM. As such, I just woke up. And no, I do not want to go to the library with you. No, I do not want to take a walk along a gravelly trail through some pretty trees. I also don’t want to check out the new sculpture in the cute little park near your apartment. I don’t feel like hitting the gym, or the movies, or getting some ice cream, or even going to the bar.

Well, maybe I feel like going to the bar.

But I it’s noon and I just woke up. I eat cereal at noon. I didn’t buy all these blueberries to put them on my yoga lessons.

Thank you.

P.S.
This is all subject to change. (Usually in concert with the weather.)

Star Wars — Episode IV: No Hope (or: “Paging Dr. Skywalker”)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

…there was a young boy named Luke Skywalker. Like many boys his age, Luke dreamed of becoming a Jedi, just like his father. He would stare up at the sky and dream of adventures among the stars. At first, all signs seemed to indicate that Luke was on the correct path for living his dream. His skills as a pilot were increasing daily, his latest achievement being that he could bulls-eye womp rats in his T-16; and they’re no more than two meters in length. However, things quickly took an unfortunate turn for young Skywalker.

It was as normal a day as any. Luke was raking the sand at his neighbor’s house, a weekly chore assigned to him by his Aunt Beru, when he was approached by an unsavory character whose appearance was not all that dissimilar from a relatively large shanty, or bodega. The overgrown slug-like creature spoke in a language unfamiliar to Luke, but his side-kick, an albino Rastafarian, translated. “Jabba says that you must do a job for him. Or you will suffer the consequences.”

“What’s the job,” asked Luke. “Will this interfere with my plans to become a Jedi Knight like my father?”

The shack sized fellow let out a bellow, and spoke again in his odd language. The Rastaman again translated. “Jabba says that he is your father.”

“No!” exclaimed Luke. “No! That’s impossible.”

“Ah-ha-ha,” laughed the Rastaman. “Stupid kid. Of course it’s impossible. Look at this guy! He’s like a small house. Between you and me, I don’t think he even has a penis. Hell, the only way to kill the son-of-a-bitch is to choke him with the chain of an enslaved bikini girl.”

Just then, the lean-to known as Jabba spoke in perfect English, with perhaps just a bit of a New Jersey accent, “I can understand you, you know.” He turned to look at Luke. “This guy’s my brother-in-law. Favor for the wife. You know. So listen, kid, you wanna make a few thousand credits really fast? I need you to take this box, get in your T-16 over there, and deliver it to a guy I know. Think you can do that? Do it once a week and you’ll have more credits saved up than you’ll know what do with. You’ll be able to finance your own rebellion.”

Being the naive farm boy that he was, Luke accepted the job. And so it began. Every week Luke would make a pick-up at Jabba’s palace, and then make a drop at a certain location. It was pretty simple. And easy money. That is until the day the stormtroopers picked him in his landspeeder doing 77 in a 45 MPH zone.

“May I see your identification?” asked the trooper.

“You don’t need to see my identification,” responded Luke.

“Excuse me?” said the trooper.

“I’m not the anthropoid you’re looking for,” said Luke.

“Outta the car, sir,” said the stormtrooper as he removed his sidearm from its holster.

“Move along,” said Luke.

“That’s it, you’re coming with me,” said the trooper as he set his weapon to stun.

When Luke awoke, he found himself in a holding cell. He could hear the voice of his Uncle Owen bellowing somewhere in the distance, clearly trying to barter for his release. But frankly, Luke didn’t want to be released. His chances of joining the rebellion now were no better than the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field: approximately 3,720 to 1. And if he couldn’t pilot a fighter among the glimmering stars that surrounded those two magnificent suns, then life just wasn’t worth living.

But he was released. Not only that, but he was released a second time just three weeks later. After his first arrest, Luke knew he’d never be a Jedi, so instead he started mainlining Essence of Sarlaac — the trendy drug of choice among kids his age. He was back in the local lockup within a month. Things were going downhill for Luke, and they were going downhill fast.

Once he was released for the second time, Luke moved out of his Aunt and Uncle’s hole in the ground and moved into a much cheaper high-rise on the wrong side of the Sand People tracks. Down on his luck, and nearly broke, it didn’t take much for Jabba to convince young Skywalker that his T-16 skills made him the perfect candidate to transport large quantities of controlled substances across the sandy dunes of Tatooine. Jabba’s interplanetary contacts, Indiana Solo and some Wookiee named Huey or Louie, would drop the main shipment at a rendezvous point, Skywalker would pick up the merchandise and bring it to the designated warehouse. It was going to be a walk in the park.

Unfortunately for young Skywalker, it was a very short walk. Unbeknownst to Jabba, Solo, or the Wookiee, Imperial Agents had been wire-tapping Jabba for years. Luke Skywalker got caught in the middle. As you probably know, Tatooine had recently passed a 3-strikes/no-tolerance law. This meant that Luke had to serve no less than ten years in prison. There was no escaping his fate now, his destiny lay in a cell.

It was during this time of incarceration that Luke found an interest in medicine. He began meditating. He put his faith in his knowledge of an unknown force called pilates. It was with this strength of body and mind that Luke was able to transform himself from a youth-gone-astray to a full-fledged educated pre-med student. Within weeks of his release from prison, Luke was able to take his medical board exams. He passed with flying colors.

Luke encountered another setback, however, when he attempted to look for a job. Unfortunately for young Dr. Skywalker, he lived in a time when all medical professionals were actually robots. In fact, there hadn’t been a non-robotic doctor of the non-proctology practice in well over 300-billion parsecs. This left Luke with just one option: become a proctologist.

Oddly, due to many individuals’ fear of being examined rectally by a robot, business was booming for Dr. Skywalker. He became so famous throughout all of Tatooine, that people started referring to him as Dr. Luke. He even had his own self-help television show for a period.

Which brings us to the sad conclusion to our story. On one particular afternoon, Dr. Luke was treating a pair of Siamese twins. It seems that they were suffering from a pretty severe case of hemorrhoids, exacerbated by the fact that they were congenitally joined at the sphincter. These were his last patients of the day, so after treating them for their affliction, Dr. Skywalker suggested that he take them to the local cantina where he might buy them a couple drinks. In this age of disconnected robotic medical treatment, Dr. Luke found that taking the “human” approach was a nice touch that his patients always appreciated.  The twins agreed to accompany Dr. Luke to the cantina, and with their inflatable donut pillows, they set out on the short walk.

Upon entering the cantina, the trio was enveloped by the echo of the familiar music that became sort of the theme to this particular establishment. Luke always liked the tune, personally, but frankly, on karaoke night it got a little old. On this night, however, things weren’t fated to go as usual. Before they could even descend the steps into the main bar, the bartender yelled up at Luke and his companions.

“Hey, we don’t serve their kind here,” said the bartender sternly.

“Huh?” said a confused Dr. Luke.

“Your ‘roids. We don’t want them here. They’ll have to wait outside.”

That was the final straw. Dr. Luke reached beneath his white lab robe, next to his stethoscope, and he pulled out his lighted rectal examination sabre. His intention was to demonstrate to this bartender that his companions did not, in fact, have “‘roids” (as he so callously referred to them), for he had cured them of that affliction.

In a moment of tragic misunderstanding, however, Dr. Luke’s world changed in a heartbeat. First, he heard the bartender scream, “Help me Obi Wan Kenobi! You’re my only hope!” That was followed by a searing pain in his right shoulder. But when he looked down, he did not see his shoulder. Rather, Luke saw only the floor below; upon which laid his severed arm.  Standing over it was an old man in a brown robe.

Luke screamed out in pain, “My arm! What have you done, you fool?”

“Who’s the more foolish?” said Obi Wan calmly. “The fool? Or the fool who follows him?”

“What? What the hell are you talking about, old man!? You just sliced off my arm! You just sliced off my examining arm! I’m finished! Ruined!”

“Your eyes can deceive you, don’t trust them,” said Obi Wan.

“My eyes can WHAT!?” screamed Luke. “My arm is laying on the floor, just between your feet there. See it? What’s deceiving about that, you sick bastard?”

Luke moved as if to strike the old man with his remaining arm, but the old man was too quick for a weakening, one-armed doctor of proctology.

“If you strike me down, I will be become more powerful than you can imagine,” said Obi Wan.

“Shut up, psycho!” yelled Luke. “Get me to a doctor! Please! Leia! LEIA!”

Just then the sound of a blaster rang throughout the cantina, and Luke fell to the ground, dead.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid,” said the shooter. “Besides, proctology is for assholes.”

With that, the cantina band began playing again. Obi Wan returned to his bar stool and ordered another Rob Roy. The Siamese twin/former hemmorhoid sufferers quietly backed out of the bar. And as the cocky shooter headed toward the exit the bartender called his name.

“Hey! Dr. Richard Kimball! Who’s gonna clean this up?”

The man just flipped a credit coin in the direction of the bartender.

“Sorry ’bout the mess,” he deadpanned. “But it was the one-armed man’s fault.”

THE
END

William Henry Harrison — The best president ever?

For awhile I’ve been toying with the idea of changing baseball allegiances from the Cubs to the White Sox. The Cubs have been frustrating of late (and by “of late” I mean, of course, for the last 102 years). But I’ve decided that there’s simply no way I could ever become a Cubs turncoat. It’s just not possible.

However, what I can do is change my allegiance to my favorite president — naturally. Like so many others, I do admire Abraham Lincoln. He’s probably been my favorite for the longest. I even have a bust of Honest Abe in my apartment. But for years my favorite president has been Millard Fillmore. Mostly just because of his name. Millard. Fillmore.

But as of this morning, I’ve decided to switch. My new favorite president of all time is now William Henry Harrison — the 9th Commander-in-Chief of this nation. My reason for this switch is simple: he was in office for too short of a period of time to really do anything wrong. Who can criticize me for backing a president who was in office for 31 days. The biggest mistake of his presidency might have come just moments after he was sworn in when he gave the longest inaugural address in history. Had he known his actual term in office would be so short, perhaps he would have shortened his speech and gotten to work.

Of course, there are those who argue that his term was short because of his speech. It was nearly two-hours in length, and given on a cold, rainy Washington day. And Harrison ultimately died of complications from pneumonia stemming from a simple cold. It’s since been proven that weather can’t really give you a respiratory illness, but the fact remains, he didn’t wear a coat or hat as he gave his speech. He also happened to be the oldest president elected to office until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. This sort of tells me that it’s pretty unlikely that his mother was still alive to tell him to put on his wraps.

Basically, I’m backing this guy on the potential of what could’ve been. Who knows? Had he been able to go full-term, maybe he would have been the one to write the Emancipation Proclamation. Or invade Normandy. Or solve the Cuban Missile Crises. Who can really say.

But if that’s not reason enough, he was also penniless when he died. Now that’s something I can definitely relate to. In fact, Congress voted to give his wife a presidential pension. Even better, she was granted the right to mail all of her letters postage free. Sort of the precursor to email, maybe? She should’ve started her own catalog company with that pension.

There you have it. I still root for the Cubs, and now I’m gonna start shopping for a W.H. Harrison Fathead..

The Marlon Byrd, The Witch, and The Wardrobe?

Sometimes I think that names are spelled peculiarly for a reason. For example, Marlon Byrd spells his last name with a “y.” Why? Would it not make sense to be Marlon Bird? It’s a clue, you see, into his real identity. Don’t you find it disturbingly odd that the spelling of “Byrd” and the word “satyr” both have strange uses of that same letter “y?” It’s almost incomprehensible to me that this phenomenon isn’t on the lips of people nationwide. Do I have to spell it out for you?

Marlon Byrd is a satyr.

Look at him when he’s in the batter’s box. Just try and convince me this guy isn’t living in a cave in Narnia. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with the addition of Byrd to the Cubs roster. I just wish we’d gotten more half-men/half-beasts sooner. I hear Mister Tumnus has a pretty wicked screwball.

The best Mr. Tumnus picture I could find.

Marlon Byrd — A true man-beast.

Coffee? Tea? Bathroom cleanser?

The other day I was enjoying a cup of coffee. It was so good, I thought I’d have a second cup. I filled up my mug, and headed toward the computer to check some emails, but decided to hit the bathroom first. I went to set my coffee mug on the shelf that stands just inside the doorway of my bathroom. The top shelf is about five feet off the ground. As I set it down, my finger caught on the handle of the mug, shaking it violently enough to splatter half the contents of the mug over the side of the mug and down the shelves, onto the floor, and thus splashing up around the various bathroom amenities one comes used to having in American bathrooms. Specifically, the toilet, the toilet brush, a bathroom scale, a package of Scott Tissue toilet paper, and the lower shelves of the aforementioned unit.

Now I’m not sure if any of you have ever actually spilled coffee around the base and surrounding area of your toilet before, but lemme tell you this, were someone to walk into that commode before I’d cleaned up, the assumption they would make is one that I would prefer to avoid having made.

Remember the scene in the film Trainspotting where Obi Wan Kenobi, I’m sorry, Ewan McGregor, has to use the loo and he walks into the nastiest bathroom ever seen? Well my bathroom wasn’t that bad, but the way the coffee spilled and splattered lightly around the floor, the base of the walls, on the Scott Tissue toilet paper packages, on the toilet brush, up and around the base of the toilet, and on the toilet seat itself, one could easily come to the conclusion that I had a pretty unfortunate morning.

In retrospect, I should’ve taken a picture of it. Instead, I just cleaned it up. But a year from now, when you’re looking for a fresh April Fool’s prank, remember this one.