Two quick insights.

Being in a bad mood not only improves your memory, but it can even lead to better decision making and communication skills? Guess that solves that mystery.

Also, it’s like this in my head pretty much all the time.

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We meet again old friend.

As I turn 27 in this, the 27th week of the year, I can’t help but look back into the past.1

Look at this helpless fucking thing.


Life may be difficult and grim and empty sometimes, well a lot of the time, but I’m sure in the end there’s more joy than pain.

Idiot. You can bet it didn’t expect to live another 27 years. And you can be damn sure it didn’t expect for things to turn out like this.

I am not the man I thought I would be. This is not the life I thought I would lead. I am not sure what to make of that.

In case you can’t tell, I’m not really good at birthdays. Never have been. They are 24 relentless hours designed for withering introspection. To an already far too introspective person, it can get to be a bit much.

A poem:

‘Resume’

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

- Dorothy Parker


Happy Birthday to me, indeed.

There is some good news though. I’m not in yet and I don’t want to jinx it, but I just applied for membership to a very exclusive club, and so far I think it’s looking good. My preliminary meeting seemed to go really well. We all got along like a house on heroin.

Not sure how to show me how much you want me to know how much you know that I changed your life forever? May I make a suggestion?

I was planning on writing a much longer piece on life and inevitably death, a thoughful exploration into the central questions of human existence, a meditiation on how you shouldn’t wait for life to happen to you, you should happen to life, an exhortation to punch the face of God. Instead, I think I might just go try my best to get arrested.


Double True.

They say old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill2, let’s hope they’re right.

  1. “The past, Conan?” “Yes Andy, all the way to the year 1982. []
  2. I always liked to think I was young and treacherous. []

So, I don’t know if you guys have heard, but Michael Jackson died.

I actually met the man once; I was seven. I am exaggerating, but not joking. When the Jackson clan moved to Los Angeles, Michael briefly attended my elementary school. Years later, in possibly the most surreal episode of my life, it was arranged for our auditorium to be dedicated in his honor.

But more on that in a bit.

I was never honestly that much of a fan. I think I was a little too young to appreciate him at his peak. Sure, I remember Thriller, hell I remember being genuinely freaked out by it, but I didn’t really get into music until my teens, and say what you will about the impact of his career, it was pretty much over by 1994.

My cousin, on the other hand, was an admirer. At four years my elder, she was the perfect age to idolize and lionize throughout my entire childhood. Everything she did seemed so exotic and grown up and dangerous. She was also big into New Kids on the Block, so maybe I should’ve known better.

Regardless, that was my initial window into the King of Pop. Well, that and my Genesis. This was all I knew about him in the second grade: that he was more famous than the President and that all the cool kids liked him.

And so, it came to be that on October 11, 1989, I had my only skirt with fame. My memory of the event is like most twenty-year-old childhood memories: hazy and convoluted and disturbingly sexual. If I’m to be honest, I remember Jackson never actually entering the auditorium for security concerns, but who am I to argue with the Gay Lady1.

What I do remember though, is where I was sitting (roughly), that the kids I was sitting with weren’t my close friends and that kind of annoyed me, singing “We are the World”, and the short-circuiting current of excitement and terror2 that ran through the kids, and presumably the adults as well.

And it occurs to me now, though I could hardly know it at the time, that I was just about the age Michael was when he last had anything remotely resembling a normal life.

In the wake of his death, there is much talk of Jackson being the last great superstar, that his brand of fame, in the era of John & Kate and Spencer & Heidi and Pull The Trigger & The Nightmare Stops simply doesn’t exist anymore. Fame is spread too thin these days. With so many legions of grubby, scrabbling little parasites, desperate to suckle at the teat of public attention, none can grow too fat.

There is also much talk of the cycles of abuse and how those played out in the life of arguably the most famous entertainer of our age. Which raises the question of whether it was his personal life and the domestic miseries it entailed or his unprecedented3 level of fame that led to his, well, downfall. These are all worthy questions, but ones we will never have adequate answers to.

I think the most interesting thing about Michael Jackson is how he was a decades long social experiment played out in human form. Only one who soared so high could plummet so low. I cannot imagine a more chilling cautionary tale. Fame is a curse and success the poison through which it acts.

Need further proof that success is the worst thing that can happen to a person, besides failure that is? Dane Cook was a promising young comedian with an exceptional sense of physicality in his act. Thousands of douchetards later and he’s a washed up, apoplectic hack. Dave Chappelle struggled on the cusp of obscurity for years until he was finally given the platform he deserved. Now where is he?4

Of course, Jackson was not just famous or successful, he was beloved. In the first twenty or so years of his career, through his work, his position in history, musical and otherwise, he garnered as much good will as any non-magical human being ever could.5

But then as he declined in musical and cultural relevance, his madness, for what else to call it but madness, took greater hold. As thrilling6 and groundbreaking as his music was in the 80s it simply could not compete with the literal danger implied by the burgeoning rap scene. “I’m Bad. No, really, I’m quite Bad.” doesn’t have quite the same punch as “Fuck tha Police”.7

And so, with little career to speak of keeping him occupied, he became more reclusive, more extravagant, more other. Elvis, by way of Howard Hughes.8

Then came the first child molestation trial with its $22m settlement.9 And the skin bleaching. And the continued sleepovers. And the botched plastic surgery. And the botched plastic surgery trying to correct the botched plastic surgery. And the second molestation trial with its not guilty verdict.10 And the Jesus Juice. And the marriages of, if not convenience, then almost certainly confusion. And the masks and pajama pants. And in a rare moment of genuine, well placed and yet horribly misdirected anger, the baby dangling.

He became a stranger. He was no longer one of us.

And just as he was poised to either make a triumphant comeback or secure his fixture as a permanent, cheap, late night punchline, his heart gave out.

His death was, like his life, to say the least bizarre. Certainly taking the world by surprise11, he honestly seemed too famous, too weird to ever die like one of us commoners.

Coming in the midst of, and overshadowing the rest of the celebrity genocide that took place that week, his death served to throw into relief a life that was too big to parse while it was ongoing.


If you strike us down, we shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

In the end, a man died, but something else lived. Chris Onstad put it better than I ever could.

Personally, his death had no discernible effect on me until I actually listened to one of his earlier songs.

I heard the voice of a talented child forced to grow up well before his time and in that voice a promise of great and strange things to come. When you listen to him as a child you can’t help but imagine the alternate paths his life could easily have taken12.

King Of Pop Dead At 12…He had so much potential to blossom into a gracious and mature human being. As it is, the world will never know the genius Michael Jackson might have become had he grown up.”

- The Onion

Not to write out of turn or presume to out Onion The Onion, but well, here you go.

JUNE 25, 2039 — Michael Jackson, 80, died today after a long battle with heart disease. He passed away surrounded by friends and family in his surprisingly modest Bel Air mansion.

After slumping record sales in the early 90’s, Mr. Jackson faded gracefully from the public eye, only resurfacing to help produce the records of promising new singers and providing his signature baritone voice for the occasional commercial, most famously in his role as spokesman for Black Nose African American Beauty Supply.

He is survived by his sister Janet, his wife, Shondra Jackson, their three children, five grandchildren, and their beloved family dog, Blanket.


(Sources: 2 3)

Jackson’s rise and subsequent fall13 is at once tragic, mystifying and absurd. They say it’s the mystery that endures, not the explanation. But, maybe there’s no mystery to his life at all. Maybe this is simply what happens when someone is that celebrated14. The system always finds a way of correcting itself.

The auditorium as it stands today.15

  1. I guess that works better for the SF Chronicle. Still, if New York gets a nickname we want one too []
  2. Remember terrible and terrific share the same root. []
  3. Barring his late ex-father-in-law, of course. []
  4. Relaxing comfortably in his fat palatial estate, I would imagine. Let’s hope he got out in time. []
  5. Clearly, exempting Barack Obama from this back-of-the-envelope proclamation. []
  6. I’ll understand if you stop reading now. []
  7. Straight outta Gary, a crazy motherfucker named MJ. True enough, just the wrong kind of crazy. []
  8. Are we sure Hughes and Debbie Rowe aren’t related? []
  9. The court of public opinion found him not guilty by reason of we’d really rather not think about this right now. []
  10. He made ThrillerThriller. []
  11. Well, not everyone. []
  12. Sliding Butterfly Doors. []
  13. If he had just done it the other way around! []
  14. Remember celebrity and celebrate share the same root []
  15. There is talk of rededicating the auditorium. That is the most wicked stripe of hypocrisy there is. If the issue was that it was inappropriate for someone twice on trial for child molestation be honored by an elementary school, his dying did not negate those charges. They still happened. Unless everyone thought that Jackson himself was going to show up at this school and like some gay vampire (Yes, yes, aren’t they all?) was going to derive untold power from his name emblazoned upon it, and was thereby going to molest up a storm. In which case, nevermind, this makes perfect sense. Either you think he abused children or you don’t. Either you think regardless of whether or not he abused children, he should not be associated with a school or you don’t. When did elementary schools lose their balls? []

This is how I’ve felt every second of the last several months since I stopped shaving my head.

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You put the wrong em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble.

The past few weeks have been pretty exciting. In 26 years of being able to understand spoken language, I don’t think I’ve ever heard my last name said aloud as much as I have in the last twenty-some days.

There are a lot of news stories floating around out there about my ‘cuz, most of them at least somewhat warranted. Is she qualified to be on the Supreme Court? Will she overstep her role as a jurist? Is she a “reverse racist”?1 But also apparently there’s a controversy over her influence on the English language.

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Having a four syllable last name is pretty trying sometimes. I’ve heard every variation.

I usually don’t give it much thought since I always have to spell it out regardless, but now, not entirely without precedent, it’s all the rage at the water cooler. So this guy doesn’t know how to pronounce my name. Welcome to the club. He goes on to say that emphasizing the last syllable of my name, as opposed to the first, is an unnatural English pronunciation and caters too much to foreigners.

Surely, it’s not unnatural. Our mouths are fully capable of making these sounds. You don’t usually run a MAY-o-ral campaign, it’s may-O-ral.2 Just remember this handy mnemonic: Soto, may oral.

Also, hate to break it to you, but English is pretty much the whore of all languages.3 Look at her over there, a million words and counting, letting just about anyone with a trebuchet and a big enough diphthong inside her.

Normally, I agree that when English speakers go out of their way to pronounce a word more like its language of origin4 it usually comes off as silly and pretentious. This whole thing is just quickly devolving into blatant, unapologetic racism, which I actually prefer to insidious, soft-spoken racism, but still.

The New York Times had a report over the weekend on Sonia Sotomayor’s background, which noted that the judge, as a young woman at Princeton, “spent summers reading children’s classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home and ‘re-teaching’ herself to write ‘proper English’ by reading elementary grammar books.”

Pat Buchanan, at his most Pat Buchanan-esque, is not only using this anecdote to mock the judge, but he continues to push a baseless, insulting far-right line about Sotomayor’s intelligence.

“Well, I, again in that Saturday piece, she went to Princeton. She graduated first in her class it said. But she herself said she read, basically classic children’s books to read and learn the language and she read basic English grammars and she got help from tutors. I think that, I mean if you’re, frankly, if you’re in college and you’re working on Pinocchio or on the troll under the bridge, I don’t think that’s college work.”
Steve Bennen, Washington Monthly

You know what Pat? You’re right. Clearly, Princeton has become little more than a safety school. Just look at this year’s valedictorian.


Wear sunscreen!

I’ve said it before and will say it again: we take words far too seriously. Names are something you can ignore. They’re such a bizarre idea that everyone takes for granted and invests far too much of themselves in.5 6

A few years back when Adam Gadahn, the “American Al-Qaeda” first slithered onto the scene, I remember distinctly not knowing what to find more ridiculous, a Jew born to born again Christian parents who grew up to be a militant Muslim, or how the media couldn’t quite figure out how to handle something as simple as what to call him. I can’t remember what network7 aired this: “Adam Gadahn, whose real name is Adam Pearlman…”.

Oh, is that a fact? His real name? So is a name real by fiat of race, nationality, circumstance or god? A male name is more real than a female name. A white name is more real than a black or brown name. An American name is more real than a Middle Eastern name. A Jewish or Christian name is more real than a Muslim name. Am I forgetting anything? When a woman gets married but takes her husband’s last name, her maiden name becomes imaginary right?

This gets at the other issue I have with patrilineality in paritcular. We need to stop all this ancestor penis worship. With little exception, every time a black American has a British or French surname, every time a Phillipino has a European surname, every time a hispanic person exists, is evidence, circumstantial though it may be, of a rape or enslavement, and in many cases both.8 Why is everyone so eager to memorialize this?

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Reno 911!, the most erudite racial scholars around.

Speaking of segues, I mean MayOral races, I think my current mayor is one of the few people to have the right idea. I’ve always thought that as soon as two people get married both of them should choose their own new last name. Villar + Raigosa = Villaraigosa. Simple, no? Although, maybe he should have gone with his second choice, Villareallyhotspanishreporters.

It doesn’t have to be this boring though, hyphenates are fine, but go nuts, invent a new last name, borrow one from another language, possibly Klingon. Also, I think once someone reaches an appropriate age, either upon entering puberty or maybe once you turn 18, you have to choose your own first name. Names are important solely to the extent that they help us know what we are talking. They are useful and necessary, but they should also be voluntary.

It’s a common trope in fantasy stories that to know someone’s true name is to wield power over them.


Best sports documentary since Hoop Dreams.

Back to the matter at hand. The most famous Ricardo already died leaving a giant power vacuum I’m manuevering to fill. Now I just need to become the second most famous Sotomayor and I’m all set.

Sort-of-my-whore out.

  1. *Fingers crossed* []
  2. Don’t even get me started on gubernatorial. []
  3. Esparanto is more a hideous Brundlefly abomination. []
  4. Putting some ‘english’ on it, as it were. []
  5. Mr. Churchill you can take your rules and shove them…up…the place where your poo comes out…of. []
  6. Grammar jokes, folks! Obscure ones, even. That’s what’s been missing all along. Big time, here I come! []
  7. ABNBCBHBOX? []
  8. First names aren’t safe either. The same is mostly true every time a European has a Middle Eastern first name: Michael, David, Paul, John, Joshua, Rachel, Sarah, Ruth, Hannah, Deborah, you know, real foreign sounding names. []

Rickumentary

Guess who, through a intricate and completely plausible series of events, now has a documentary film crew following him around 24 hours a day? They just started filming on Friday but they’ve already whipped up a quick teaser and have graciously let me post it here.

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My computer is basically my new tv though.

I know those convertor box coupon’s cost the government more than they bargained for, but at this point, what with the hours of technical support I’ve been providing, I should really be getting a cut.

I know in 40 years I’m going to be complaining about those punk kids on their damn hoverboards who won’t get off my virtual lawn and I’ll secretly be paying one of them to teach me how to log on to the MISTernet.1

But if I ever get as inept and easily confused as, well pretty much every single one of my blood relatives well, just make it quick.

Ray Kurzweil, don’t fail me now.

  1. Just kidding, in 40 years I’ll be yelling at those damn serf kids pulling their oxen who won’t get off my patch of gravel. []

Rate Your Douchitude Today!

Take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory.

The average score is 15. I scored 15.1 This disappoints me to no end.

I know I’m not that vain and entitlement is something I find springs mostly out of religious belief, so no worries there. I am somewhat redeemed though. It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I maxed out the superiority category.2

We now return to you to your regularly scheduled MarijuanaComplex content.

  1. I let you down Papa. []
  2. OR MAYBE IT WILL SINCE YOU’RE INFERIOR, REMEMBER? OH, NEVERMIND. []

Go directly to fail.

I may suck/blow at Trivial Pursuit, but am apparently quite lucky when it comes to Monopoly. Surely, a useful skill in these tough economic times.

Now if I can just win second prize in this beauty contest, I’ll be all set.

Don’t call it a comeback

So my geriatric computing machine wasn’t working for the better part of a week, hopefully explaining my conspicuous absence.1

But, after days of tinkering with the infernal contraption and inserting and tweaking various widgets and doodads2, I finally managed to get it up and running. At three in the morning.

Now, a sensible, fully functioning adult would probably just thank Ammun-Ra and Wotan, brush their teeth, possibly rub one out3 and call it a night. An awesome motherfucker on the other hand, would just stay awake for the next 17 hours.

After spending more than six of those hours catching up on news and feeds and podcasts from the past four days, it occurred to me that I had no idea what I had done to finally fix my computer. The final solution, as it were,4 was something that I could have sworn I tried as soon as I realized there was a problem.5

In the midst of banging around firefox and laughing inconsolably at the state of reality television, I had a scary thought.

What if I never fixed anything.6

For a very uncomfortable fifth of a second, I doubted my own sanity enough to consider the possibility that I was sitting at my desk banging away at my keyboard and stifling my laughter, in front of a blank screen.

And people say computers rot your brain.

Nonsense.

  1. “He was gone?” “Yeah just play along.” []
  2. Who knew a computer’s nipples were called doodads? []
  3. As tribute to Ammun-Ra and Wotan. []
  4. Yep. I made a computer holocaust joke. []
  5. If only the same could be said for Hitler. Alright, I should probably stop. I have Jewish friend(s), I swear! []
  6. M. Night Shyamalan, you have met your match. []

Time Makes Fools Of Us All

2009 is not off to a great start. For one, I was absolutely smoked at Trivial Pursuit by a vastly inferior opponent.

For another, holy shit, it’s 2009! What’s that? January’s almost over? No, that can’t be. That would mean I wasted another lunar cycle of my life with nothing to show for it.

Crazy talk.

I’m 26, people. That’s how old Orson Welles was when he made Citizen Kane. Think about that for a second. The implications are as obvious as they are sobering.

This is the Citizen Kane of blogs.

Logic.

Let’s just hope my Huggies™ commercial is as successful as this one.

May the new year bring a much needed change in fortunes, and if all goes to plan, *fingers crossed*, the triumphant return of the Arch Deluxe.

Movers and shakers.

SkyNet knows me by name. Jealous?

The internet has already accurately guessed my sex.

And now it’s trying to get even further into my head.

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are espescially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

I resent the implication that I am some sort of unfeeling monster blithely unaware of the havoc I wreak in others’ lives.

I’m very aware.

I’m deeper than most people think. On the surface I’m carefree and happy, but deep down inside, I’m intense and moody. I’m sensitive; I feel things.

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This is not my beautiful house!

I’ve been playing house this past week, as I was left in charge of a lovely home and it’s two resident canines, and let me tell you: it’s not all that’s it cracked up to be.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certain perks that come with home ownership: the ability to pussyfoot about naked with impunity, a lush backyard to frolic in and the ability to make an ungodly racket without fear of reproach, among them. But when the actual homeowners don’t believe in curtains or drapes, valuing something as pedestrian as sunshine over an ever fleeting privacy, the freshly planted carpet of sod is too fragile to be frolicked upon, (not to mention it’s too fucking hot to even think about it anyway) and the loudest noise coming from the house is a possibly retarded dog barking at you because he forgot who you were for a second, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the plus side.

Of course, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. In fact, it gave me a much needed opportunity to reflect on my life. Plus, it’s important to remember I didn’t come away empty handed1.

Things I’ve learned from renting the American dream2:

1 Don’t worry, I got paid too. Sotomayor got to get paid. Y’all don’t know shit about this! I get this shit for just sitting around.

2 “American night terror” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

3 Obviously, there’s at least one ghost.

4 How he knew you had already gotten to the other one first, I’ll never know.

5 I measured it once6.

6 And cut it twice. Or is it the other way around? I can never keep that straight7.

7 Funnily enough, much like my penis8.

8 Because it’s crooked9.

9 How did I get here?