Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Why the French really hate Americans
I was looking at a highly educational Fast Food For Children Bundled Foodproducts bag today, and was reminded that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from the French in 1886 to celebrate our centennial. Never mind that the picture was actually of a product-placed koala bear, who crushes his testicles by falling onto a fence, which my 7-year old daughter thinks is the funniest thing ever. Well, maybe not "never mind," I may actually have to come back to that.
"AHA!" I thought. Maybe it isn't mangling their language, or competing a little too successfuly in winemaking, cycling, mushroom production, moviemaking, warmongering, sex, and cheese production that has them so angry. Maybe it's something simpler. Maybe the French were expecting a nice gift in return, for their centennial a few years later. Consider the timing. We rather boldly consider our independence to begin with the Declaration in July of '76. One could certainly argue that independence didn't really begin until we had won it in October of '83, or could further argue that we can't really begin counting until we had a successful government, in '89. However you count (and I favor starting with the British surrender at Yorktown, but even my family doesn't listen to me, and besides, October already has cool holidays...), the French were probably a tad late with their gift, and you could argue that they didn't really think of it until, like the day before, or possibly, until they started thinking about their own centennial, which reminded them of ours. Then they realized a gift exchange would be in order.
The joke was on them, however, because they gave us this really cool shiny copper lady, a blazing beacon to the world. It was a great thing. We love it, to this day. It has become one of the central images of our nation, right up their with our flag. Not that we took care of it, mind you. We let it rust rather pitifully. She wasn't meant to get all green and look like the Statue of Martian Liberty. We probably should have bought a 100-meter square polishing cloth or something. Anyway, the years went by, and I assume the President or the Secretary of State or someone sent a nice thank-you note, but no return gift ever arrived off the coast of France. How rude. I mean, this is like you getting married, and your brother buys you a new car, and then a few years later he gets married and you say "Congrats, Bro!" and clap him on the back and get him absolutely diddly-squat nothing, even though you go to his wedding and get drunk and eat a ton of food and stuff, and you are in a better position to afford a really nice gift than he really was.
Yeah, maybe France is a little bitter. We should get them something nice. Hey, whatever happened to that big Saddam Hussein statue we knocked over a few years ago? Maybe we can refurbish it to look like DeGaulle or something...
Your humblest and most devoted servant,
Friday, April 07, 2006
The Almighty Does Not Want You to Ride a Bicycle
Hello. I'm back. Not from anywhere, mind you, I just haven't been motivated to do anything more mindful than read "American Gods" and play Pop & Drop lately. I get little bursts of spring fever, just like everyone else. The rain smells different now, and there was the ozony smell of lighting at one point last week, and at one point there was even - GASP - SUNSHINE! So, in between bouts of the glorious (Parental Advisory - explicit lyrics!) intestinal thing that seems to be going around and having everyone cramping and puking and shitting their collective brains out, I took out my bicycle. Here is how I found out that the current Bicycle Terror Alert Level is:
ERNIETaking out the bicycle was my first mistake. Trying to exercise is an obvious sign of spring fever, or potentially an even more serious mental illness (for me, anyway). It's like trying to talk to a pretty girl, or thinking it would be neat to take a course in something musical or artistic that requires patience, talent, confidence, and/or self-discipline. It can only end in disaster. It is important not to lose sight of oneself. Sure, you can attempt to round out your skills, try a new thing, I'm just saying not to make any life-altering decisions under the influence of the first decent weather in 6 months, or under the influence of mind-expanding drugs.
So there I was, perched as precariously as ever on this poor, innocent piece of aluminum, with neither of us having the benefit of shocks except for the crummy little thing they put in the seatpost (which, face it, is not designed for a guy in the Hundred-Kilo-Club, and is already maxed out from the moment I sit down), everything lubed, tires properly inflated, etc. Aside from being a hippo (the racing world stops at "clydesdale," meaning more than about 190 lb, I think, but I must be realistic...)
OK, gotta digress, here, sorry.
Note to self: future project:
Keep track of how much wine or beer went into the composition of each blog entry. That's the X axis. For each entry, count the pairs of parentheses. That's the Y axis. Remember that parentheses and hifins (sorry, Blogger don't spellcheck - Ooh, more parentheses, and a hifin! Did I mention that tonight's Shiraz, a product of Australia, is 13.5% alcohol by volume? Where was I? Dang.)
The nice thing about trains of thought is that if you lose one, you can just wait for the next one, up until about 1 am, anyway.
So last week, I was innocently pedaling my sorry butt down Warren Rd in Waltham, a nice little road that was repaved within this century but which has an unfortunate tendency to attract nails for some godforsaken reason, and a bug flew into my eye. OK, so I'm breaking my "no bugs" rule here, get over it. Now, I know I wasn't going that fast, because I hadn't fallen off a cliff or anything, but the little bastard wedged himself deep under my eyelid, and I couldn't get him out of there. Eventually, after blinking and shaking my head and muttering and swearing and rubbing and jumping up and down and other unhelpful maneuvers, the sensation of ENORMOUS FOREIGN OBJECT went away, and I went to work. OK. I was only moderately freaked out. Then, about 5 hours later (not exaggerating here) I found myself in the bathroom, and there was this black thing in the corner of my eye, by my nose. There he was, the little bastard! I managed to get him out of there - at least I hope there isn't a stray antenna left in or anything - and it was probably already dead, but I can't help but remember the story in the always-reliable Weekly World News about the child in India who had an entire ant colony living in his head, which came and went through his eye. There is a tube that leads from the nose-side corner of each eye down into the nasal cavity, which is why crying makes us need to blow our noses, so there is definitely a nice, warm place to lay a few gazillion eggs, if you're a bug. Needless to say, I am quite creeped out. I think my wife will have to see "Slither" with her co-workers, instead of me. I don't think I could handle it.
Really, though, with my attention focused on the impossible task of trying to dodge semi-visible insects during my ride yesterday, the bicycle's 1.125 inch wide tires naturally managed to find a nail in the road on route 27. How does that happen? Are there really that many nails in the road? I've hit nails before. Did I miss America's newest holiday, "Throw nails out your car window week?" Or do the cigarrettes that assholes routinely throw out of car windows eventually turn into rusty nails somehow? I'm baffled. It's not like the shoulders of the road are littered with construction debris; there's just random nails. Glass comes from cars and thrown bottles, sand is put on the roads in winter, trash is everywhere because of diffusion, and nails... I just don't get the #$%^ nails at all. Divine intervention, maybe. Whatever the cause, the current bicycle terror alert level is, as stated above, ERNIE.
So now I have to either patch or change another bike tube, which happens a lot when you are too heavy for your bike, nails or no. I'll get to it right after this next game of Chuzzle...
Your humblest and most devoted servant,