Sunday, January 31, 2010

Watch Your Ass Online

Funny story. As many of you know, some of us more...narcissistic bloggers put trackers on our pages to get the skinny on who's visiting. Now before you panic over your obsessive refreshing of a pretty blogger's site, there aren't any names associated with the program. We basically see your city and what brought you. Basically. Creepy, I know, but once you know that they know that someone from your city is repeatedly viewing their busty self-portraits (see "Boob Envy" by I Shoulda Been a Stripper), a profound calm replaces any sleaze-bag anxieties.
A few weeks ago, I was routinely checking my stats when I noticed a surge in traffic from Facebook. Not so unusual. All my posts are routed to Facebook, and a lot of folks view the ol' blog from there. The only problem was that I hadn't published anything that day, and the post they were visiting was rather old. My initial reaction was dreaded alarm. Something I'd written must have finally come back to haunt me, and in a way, it did. I was already considering damage control. A little sleuthing uncovered anchor man Fred Cantú's Facebook profile as the source of my new visitors. Some of you might remember a picture I had shared of Cantú's floating head for one of my Austin Pictorials. It was a sticker on the rear window of someone's car I was idling behind. Uncle Fred had seen it, uploaded it to a Facebook album, and kindly linked to my blog. Thanks, hoss. I immediately befriended him, and found, much to my amusement, his quick return to my blog in what my most malicious fantasies determined as a "how the shit did he find me?" sort of perplexity. Now you know, Freddy.
The story's not over though.
Shortly after my and Fred's virtual spotlit dance, the driver of the vehicle with the Fred Head sticker left a comment on the Pictorial post. Normally, I'd simply be amazed with the smallness of this world or more concisely, Austin, but I distinctly remember weighing the ethical dilemma of posting a photo of a stranger's car with a stranger's license plate online for the world to see. And the world does indeed see it. You'd be surprised how many international visitors an insignificant blog receives. So anyway, the scales tipped, and I chose the Dark Side with an affirmative, "Fuck it. I don't know this guy." Who cares if some anonymous Fred Cantú aficionado gets axed to death by a crazed blog reader? Not me. He was a good sport about it, but his information never showed on my statistics, so like I am to Fred, "Sluggo" is to me, and I am perplexed by his whereabouts. Except for this morning. Apparently the man lives nearby, for once again, I was caught behind him at a stoplight, only this time, I uncomfortably squirmed at the notion that he might recognized me, pull me screeching from my car, and pound the potpourri-scented shit from my precious body. The light greened without incident, and Sluggo and his Fred Head left me reflecting on the moral of this story: watch your ass online.

If you want a Fred Head sticker, visit Fred's Facebook profile. Proceeds go to Haiti.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Public Speaking Deux

Ah, another semester, and I am able to exercise my favorite discomfort: public speaking.
It's not really my favorite. In fact, I hate it. I ran into a regular student a few days after a class visitation, and without bringing up the subject, she volunteered that everyone in her class began making fun of me as soon as I exited the room.
"Everyone laughed at you when you left," she said as I stepped into the crowded elevator. "It was, like, so weird."
She was joking of course, but she confirmed my all along fears that I appear uncomfortable to students. Why else would she choose my one irrational weakness (besides zombies) to attack? I only have 15 classes to suffer through this Spring, two of which are at 7:45 in the sleepy-eyed morning. Suggestions? I've got the regular breathing thing down. I don't fidget, and I speak with authority, but inside, inside I am an anxious disaster. Sigh.

Friday, January 22, 2010

An Organic Rant sans logic

I've been reading The Family: the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet, and in doing so, I've realized a terrible, terrible truth: me an' my kind (that's you) are all pillars for a greater scheme that has tricked us into both complacency and outrage. Let me explain. Reality TV, social networks (blogs included (unfortunately)), and sensational media = dull-eyed lethargy. We're drugged by alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and fast food. We're seduced by product, product, product. Buy, buy, buy. And we do. All the while, makers of these poisons, be they moral or chemical, swim in the profits of our victimization, which leads me to my next point of trickery: outrage. Some of us awaken to this molestation of wellness and snarl and spit at it via angry blogs or just general bitching. Some of us write what many would consider paranoid or subversive or radical literature through the very means of distribution we are picketing. Others are more practical and organize juggernaut groups that become the interested process which initially turned angry chins. Some become hippies. These are, of course, my own conclusions, my own experiences which I am applying to what Sharlet published. The Family, according to Sharlet, is a vast network of very influential Jesus enthusiasts who think that said deity is a capitalist who loves most and works through His most successful vessels to establish a theocratic new world order of total Christian control. In doing this, these lawmakers, CEOs, and foreign dignitaries can iron out any wrinkle of society in any way they see fit. Think national socialism (aka, Nazis). I know the rule of losing the argument at first comparison to Nazis, but fascism is a clear influence for the Family, and their leader, Doug Coe (Jesus' main man), has used Nazi Germany as not a moral model, but an example of achieved totalitarianism. Anyway, my outrage is a farce best represented when applying the information from this post to a little number I wrote on what I call "social capitalism" a few months back. There I was celebrating my social innovation* by suggesting that the prosperity of a few could do wonderful things for us, the huddled masses, and all I've done is fall in line with the Family's ideology that the elite should govern over all the rest. The only thing I didn't touch on is that Jesus wants it that way. Folks, the implications are huge! Am I the perfect citizen for a world being controlled by a powerful...cult, for lack of a better word? How did I come to be an advocate for covert religious force? How was I programed without realizing it? Was it through the conditioning of my parents? My grandparents? Maybe I'm just not appreciating that modern times have granted us the luxury of over-thinking, of paranoia. Or maybe I am appreciating the opportunity afforded to me by simply stepping back, looking at my place in society and realizing, "What the fuck?!" I don't know.
I'm only halfway through Sharlet's book. If it's worth having an opinion by the end, perhaps I'll bring it up again.



*In rereading my social capitalism post, I was pleased to see the irony of my mention of "the Fuhrer." The pieces are there. Shaping them into a greater picture is the challenge, and it takes time.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Consumerism

Do you ever want to choke people? I do. Sometimes I think I’d enjoy life better finger painting in a cave, my only possessions a club and bone flute. Naturally, I’d have to drag my girlfriend in there with me, but she’d adjust.

HEB (grocery store)
“Did you find everything okay?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Would you like any of our basket items?”
“No.”
“Everything’s just a dollar.”
“No.”

Regal Arbor Theater
“Are you a Regal Card Club member?”
“No.”
“That’ll be seven dollars.”
Regal Arbor Theater concessions counter
“I’ll have a 20oz bottle of water.”
“That’ll be four dollars and 25 cents.”
“Four dollars and 25 cents?!”
“Yeah, I think that’s our biggest rip off.”

Barnes and Noble
“Yes, I’ll have a large black coffee.”
“Would you like anything to eat with that, a cookie or a scone?”
“No.”
“Are you a Barnes and Noble Card member?”
“No.”
“Would you like to become one and save 10% on all your purchases?”
“Just give me the goddamned coffee or I’ll murder you.”

I didn’t actually say that last part, but my heart sang it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Yeah, I Said It

Folks, I’m glad Texas lost to Alabama last night. For two reasons that fall under the umbrella of one reason. The first sub-reason is that you rarely have the opportunity to see anyone’s dreams being broken so publicly. It was quarterback Colt McCoy’s last game as a Texas Longhorn, and he was injured so quickly that he didn’t play most of the game. Not only that, during a post-game interview, he said (through a quavering, devastated voice) that his arm felt dead. This wasn’t just any game. It was the Rose Bowl, and since I’m not a fan of sports, the crazies tell me it’s a pretty big deal. The last big deal of Colt McCoy’s college career. So when I said I was glad that Texas lost, I didn’t mean I was glad that the whole team lost. I’m just glad that they lost, so that I could be a part of someone else’s expression utter despair. It’s a rarity to see such a passionate demonstration of emotion. Had Texas won, McCoy would have been all smiles for the cameras, but that would have been only slightly more enthusiastic than any other hard-won game. But this way, he didn’t get to play (probably a huge reason why they lost) and his future in futbol is uncertain with his dead arm. Do you think a superstar of college football gives a crap about his studies? That good ol’ boy is a shit-kickin’ ball player, and walking the graduation stage at the University of Texas is second to kissing a championship ring at the center of a stadium of screaming fans. Yesterday was a moment that will be burned into his mind as a major loss in his life, and I observed it. That’s the first reason. The second reason is that Austin is spilling with Longhorn fanatics. Have you ever been in a place where there was hope, hope, hope and then total disappointment. It’s amazing to see. Again, I’m not gloating at UT’s loss, I’m basking in the sociological phenomenon of mob-mentality. As someone without an opinion on either team, I have the luxury of indiscrimination. Had UT won, fans would have roared and hugged one another and continued their evening in good cheer. But since Texas lost, there were only dark murmurs and the quiet dispersal of each crowd across the city. That’s much more interesting as I am completely unaffected. It reminds me of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s short poem “Casey at the Bat.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Avocado Wraslin'

First lesson of 2010: Don't use a fork to stab a slippery avocado seed. Stabbing is probably the wrong way to go, now that I think about it. And yes, that delicate curl at the end of the fork is my darling skin.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thirty Years Of Action-Packed Carlos

Well, folks, I’ve officially left my 20s behind me. New Year’s Day is also my birthday, and while that sounds cool, I’m the awkward and antisocial genius type, so the attention embarrasses me. It probably has something to do with never being able to have a birthday party since school is always on winter break during New Year’s. The anxiety of inviting a bunch of elementary school friends to my impoverished home and then worrying that they wouldn’t show up was an apprehension that was too great for my precious little mind. So every year I furiously rejected any party suggestions until the offers stopped coming. My sister threw a surprise gathering for me a couple of years ago, and I was taken so far from my comfort zone that I nearly jammed my head through a wall to hide, ostrich style. I still haven’t forgiven her for it.
Anyway, I’m thirty, but twenty-nine was much worse. It was like spending a year slowly peeling off a Band Aid, and now that it’s gone, I realized that I wasted twelve months obsessing over the inevitable. I’m better now
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