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31 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - the streets in Disneyland are clean

The streets in Disneyland are clean.

That sounds like the first line in a song by an indie band that means it ironically.

I mean it observationally, because the last time I went to Disneyland the streets were really clean.

If I had to guess, I would bet there is a mad scientist running the street cleaning operation. He's probably self-taught in street-cleaning technology since he was too smart to pay attention in class.

He's probably on the upside of 40 because he spent his early years in some backwoods Six Flags.  As always happens, nobody understood the mad scientist's genius at first. In fact, I'll bet for a time he flirted with the idea of ditching amusement park janitation altogether in favor of a life of super crime, but then he was saved by an adorable chihuahua that showed up on his doorstep and through a series of whacky coincidences ultimately thawed his icy heart.

As an added bonus, the chihuahua got the mad scientist his first interview for the Disneyland job.

It's a timeless story. I'm glad the mad scientist didn't choose a life of crime. I wish I knew his name.

The streets of Disneyland are clean . . . eh.

29 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - that one neighbor

There's that one neighbor with the ugly children.

I mean "dogs." I don't mean children.

I mean dogs with quotation marks.

There's that one neighbor with really ugly dogs. I don't always intend to be mean to the ugly dogs but they are ugly and so it's almost like I can't help it.

Just the other day one of them was in my house playing C.O.D. with my son . . . I mean, one of the dogs was in my front yard and I didn't want it there, so I yelled at it to go away but then later I felt bad.

What is it about ugly dogs and being mean to them? They probably can't help it. Sometimes you can't even blame the parents. Ugly genes can skip generations I've heard.

Who hasn't seen an ugly dog and then looked at the mother and thought, well that sucks?

The dogs of that one neighbor, though. They put the kick in sleeping dog.

But they're ugly, so, you know.

That one neighbor . . . eh.

27 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - automatic windows

Seems like there was a time when cars didn't have automatic windows.

Back then if you wanted to speak to someone in a car you asked them to "roll down their window."

Crimes against humanity. I hear the phrase
so often, it's lost most of its meaning.
People still do that in fact. The protestors at the bottom of my street scream "roll down your window" as I pass, even though if I ever decided to stop and talk with them I wouldn't roll anything. I would just push a button.

This isn't confusing to most people because enough of us are alive who still remember the aerobic exercise it used to be to get air moving in the cab.

I just worry about the future when my kid's kids start getting their driver license. The origin of the phrase "roll down your window" will be lost to them and they will just be confused.

Picture this: Your grandson, fresh with his newly digitized driver license implanted beneath the skin of his forearm (sci fi version of the story) is speeding down the road and a robot policeman pulls him over for doing three kilometers over the speed limit (yes, the U.S. finally gives in to metrics). The police robot asks your precious grandson to roll down his window. Of course, the granson has no idea what that means, so in a panic he does nothing and the police robot shoots him with his lazer gun because he thinks the kid is doing drugs.

We could lose a whole generation of teenagers to this misunderstanding.

I was walking out of a grocery store the other day though, and there were a bunch of teenagers congregated around a vending machine. They kind of made me nervous.

Maybe losing a whole generation of teenagers would teach them a lesson.

I don't know.

Automatic windows . . . eh.

24 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - bug on the outside of my office window

You know how sometimes there's a bug on your office window and you're not sure which side the bug is on until you try and smash it? You can stare at the bug all you want. It just isn't clear what side the bug is on until your forefinger acts as judge.

People are like that.

You might be introduced to a perfectly normal-looking couple at a party who, after a few minutes of polite conversation, let it slip that they enjoyed Steve Martin's portrayal of Inspector Clouseau. That, or some other reprehensible belief.

You stare at the couple. For a few minutes you were sure they were part of your world and then - bam! You have abruptly discovered an invisible barrier that will forever separate you.

It is socially acceptable to smash bugs if they are on your office window. I think even a card-carrying PETA member would say bugs on a window are open game.

The same is not true for couples you meet at a party.

How to address this?

It is a conundrum.

There are people in the world who thought Steve Martin was great in the modern version of Pink Panther. And not all of them have sloping foreheads. That is just a fact. Should they be required to wear a scarlet letter? Maybe have something tattooed over their upper lip?

I really don't have the answer.

Bug on the outside of my office window . . . eh.

22 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - baby strollers

There was that scene in Speed where the bus hits the baby stroller but it's okay because the stroller is full of cans not babies.

It is made clear to the audience that the stroller is full of cans and not babies not only by showing cans spill all over the street but because the person shoving the baby stroller is a homeless person.

That seems bumist to me.

Why the stereotypical cans? Couldn't a homeless person be pushing a baby in the stroller?

I guess I'm a little conflicted making this argument. If in the movie Speed there had actually been a baby in the stroller instead of cans, Sandra Bullock who is driving the bus would have been hitting a baby, not cans. That might have adversely affected Sandra Bullock's career. Probably Keanu Reeve's career too, because he was standing right next to Sandra Bullock and he even kisses her at the end.

Can you imagine what life would be like if Sandra Bullock's career had ended with Speed and we never got the likes of Practical Magic or Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous?

Keanu Reeves might never have made The Matrix, which I liked. At least the first one where he flies like Superman.

You know, now that I think about it, it would have been terrible all by itself that there was a baby in the stroller. Crap, why didn't I think of that to begin with? What's wrong with me?

I guess that even though having cans be in the stroller was kind of bumist, I'm glad it wasn't babies.

Baby strollers . . . eh.

20 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - pull tabs on aluminum cans

Drinking a Coke used to make you feel dangerous and on the edge.

Back in the day, Coke cans had these pull tabs that basically gave you only two options.

Option #1
Throw the tab on the ground, which was littering, which as everyone knows leads to acid rain and the end of the world, but you didn't care because you were drinking a Coke (i.e. you were dangerous).

Option #2
Slip the pull tab through the opening of the can and drink the Coke with the lurking choke hazard somewhere inside (i.e.  you were living on the edge).

You can't really get that feeling from a Coke can anymore.

Now when I want to feel dangerous or on the edge I base jump in a  squirrel suit or book a vacation to Afghanistan and rent cars with bumper stickers that say My other ride is a drone or Bush/Cheney 2016.

You know, when I think about it, the old pull tab really wasn't all that dangerous.

Pull tabs on aluminum cans . . . eh.

17 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - lists of numbers

Four Disney characters. Count them.
Lists of numbers often confuse me.

For one, lists of numbers rarely conclude with a happy ending, not like the Disney movie Tangled.

I cry every time at the end of Tangled when the old king and his relatively hot older wife hug their daughter, even though the daughter now has a bad haircut. And then all of them hug the roguish hero, even though the roguish hero's name is Eugene Fitzherbert.

I heard a rumor that the daughter, when she finally did marry Eugene, insisted on a hyphenated last name and then quietly, some years later, got rid of the dorky half.

Come to think of it, how do you even tell when a list of numbers is over? There's no hard return followed by the words "The End." There's no soundtrack with lots of violins and brass playing major chords. What gives?

I have a list of numbers on my desk right now and it's kind of freaking me out. I hate lists of numbers.

Lists of numbers . . . eh.

15 May 2013

Friends from high school

Most of the time you only see friends from high school once every 10 years at a reunion.

The other times are usually even more inconvenient than that. Like at a supermarket, but only if you forgot to shave and are wearing mismatched clothing.

Friends from high school remember a version of you that you are able to forget about most of the time. The age-old formula of bad hair + seldom-used locker + hormone saturation/10th thru 12 grade = "pretend it never happened" is true.

It would be easy to say that many of us avoid friends from high school because the version of us they remember is a version that no longer exists.

Maybe that's true for some. Have I been changing and evolving over the years?

Or just piling layer upon layer of junk atop what I wasn't sophisticated enough in high school to hide?

13 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - coffins or caskets

Did Dracula get his day rest in a coffin or a casket?

That's the question I want answered.

There's this guy I knew in high school. He was a jerk and nobody liked him and I won't be all that sad one day when he dies.

I will for sure attend his funeral. If for nothing else than to see old friends.

But more importantly, I want to see if what's-his-name gets buried in a coffin or a casket.

I would hate for him to get buried in the same thing as Dracula. I worry about him going all undead and all. Then he'd be a jerk forever.

When I go to the funeral, I wonder if people will look at me askance if I bring a stake and a mallet to the service? Just to be sure, you know?

Coffins or caskets . . . yeah, that definitely matters.

10 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - pirates and other bad people

He's happy, because
he's a clown
Jolly Roger and Bluebeard sound like the names of clowns or people who have a great sense of humor.

To my knowledge, Bluebeard never had a successful career in stand up comedy.

As for Jolly, I guess it wouldn't be fair to expect a whole lot of comedy gold, since Jolly Roger refers to a pirate flag and not an actual pirate. Still, the name doesn't sound piratey at all.

I wonder if I could write a drama or a successful sitcom featuring Bluebeard and Jolly Roger? Bluebeard would live in New York or LA and he would always be looking for a wife (if you're not familiar with the Bluebeard legend, he killed all his wives). Jolly Roger could be a private detective trying to solve the mystery of so many ladies with the surname of "Beard" ending up dead.

Ignore at your peril
Or the sitcom could have Bluebeard and Jolly as roommates and at the end of every episode Jolly comes home from work and finds that Bluebeard has killed yet another wife. Jolly would then roll his eyes and utter some catch phrase I haven't thought up yet. This catch phrase would enter the phrasal lexicon of America and be repeated ad nauseam, ultimately making us even stupider and more insipid as a people, which of course would result in higher ratings for Entertainment Tonight.

I'd retire as head writer after ten seasons, my millions in the bank, stop bathing or cutting my hair, lock myself in my mansion, then die alone while eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich and not be found for weeks.

Whoa, that actually doesn't end well for me.

I'm going to stop writing about pirates and bad people immediately.

Pirates and other bad people . . . eh.

08 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - fluorescent lights in a long hallway

Sometimes at night when I step out of an apartment I have burglarized and into a hallway where one fluorescent light (usually on the far end) is flickering, I am taken back to that time in the mental hospital when . . .

Hold it, no, that was in a movie I watched a couple weeks ago.

I think what I'm trying to say is that if you enter a hallway and it's empty, and it happens to be nighttime, and down at the other end of the hallway one of the fluorescent lights is flickering, you should probably turn around and make sure there isn't a film crew behind you. Maybe you're the star of a horror movie right in the middle of production and you just forgot.

Quick, say something like "I think I'll go down in the basement even if the lights don't work." Odds are, that's the correct line anyway and you won't look stupid for having forgot you were in a movie.

Of course, if there is no film crew you still won't come off as stupid for saying your line. Because you're alone.

This is all very speculative and a bit confusing and a great example of why people should just use high efficiency light bulbs.

Flickering fluorescent lights in a long hallway . . . eh.

06 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - killing two birds with one stone

Sometimes someone says something that other people repeat enough that it becomes part of a society's phrasal lexicon.

The unfortunate part of this is that the originator of the saying is rarely recognized or even remembered.

Cows looking at birds
A long time ago some guy said "kill two birds with one stone," but nobody knows who that was. The guy never made any money from having said that. His descendants have no way of claiming any kind of copyright or capitalizing on this odd phrase that, in essence, results in a blood-covered rock.

In today's Daily Ambivalence I have been able to push out a post and put together the words "phrasal lexicon." I was kind of proud of that for a few minutes until I did a Google search and found that a guy named Joseph D. Becker already coined the term. I really thought I had come up with something that might get picked up by other people and then repeated until it was as ubiquitous as the two birds and a stone saying. No such luck.

Writing a post and coming up with a brand new term that would sweep the world would have been like, well, like killing two birds with one stone.

I hate Joseph D. Becker. Whoever he is.

Killing two birds with one stone . . . eh.

02 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - that road sign in South Carolina

When I was eleven I had a road sign hung on my bedroom wall with the word YIELD on its face.

Sure, the letters on the sign spelled YIELD, but what the sign on my wall really said was that I was a dangerous criminal who wasn't afraid to steal government property and then display it for the world to see.

Even though I didn't steal the sign. I found it in a vacant lot.

This memory of a YIELD sign has nothing to do with that road sign in South Carolina. In fact, I think I just made it up.

But that road sign in South Carolina was real. I took a picture of it.

That road sign in South Carolina . . . eh.

01 May 2013

Daily Ambivalence - cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a can-shaped, purple substance that Americans place in the center of a table once a year and then ignore. It has the word "sauce" in its name, which is strange.

No living person actually knows what cranberry sauce tastes like.

To ask the question "what does cranberry sauce taste like" equates to one of life's great, unanswerable questions.

Historians and anthropologists alike have combed over early Pilgrim records and even hosted archaeological digs to ascertain a sense of cranberry sauce flavor, but to no avail. 

Which is understandable. Even the greatest minds of our day struggle to describe the simple taste of salt other than to say that it tastes like salt. An accurate  appreciation  of the complex flavor of cranberry sauce without any current-day testators to draw associations, well, that might be forever out of our reach.

I for one am not enamored with can-shaped fruit so, no big whup.

Cranberry sauce . . . eh.