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20-somethings article in the NY Times. Insulting and intellectually vapid [Aug. 19th, 2010|10:50 pm]

It's long (and wrong), but this is the original piece. I suppose it's worth reading to see what "out of touch" looks like in print:   http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=4


I don't even know where to begin with this thing. The idea the piece is exploring is the differences in behavorial patterns of 20-somethings (and early-30s types like myself, by proxy...there is a spectacularly lazy reference to "Generation X slackers" in there) now as opposed to our parents and grandparents.  The main problem is that the piece is based on one premise - which is hilariously outdated and insulting - and proceeds to miss 100% of the contributing factors that go into this discussion. It's amazing in its breadth of incompetence.


The lede - written in bold because I suppose we're too childish to pick up on the theme otherwise - is "Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?" Already, the piece is asserting a statement of fact instead of building a case one way or the other based on, you know, facts and evidence and stuff. Later on the first page, the author's accepted definition of adulthood, which is sourced by the unquestionably authoritative "Sociologists traditionally define" is as follows: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. My immediate question, having gone as far down that path as I have any desire to (60%, to be precise) is since I'm 3/5ths of an adult, does that mean I should only count as .67 of a person come Census time, as if I were African-American during Reconstruction? Sure, it's a ridiculous metaphor - but this piece does not deserve seriousness.


What's worse is that the piece is written in language that belies the author's own prejudices. To wit, this passage:


Kids don't shuffle along in unison on the road to maturity. They slouch toward adulthood at an uneven, highly individual pace. Some never achieve all five milestones, including those who are single or childless by choice, or unable to marry even if they wanted to because they're gay. Others reach the milestones completely out of order, advancing professionally before committing to a monogamous relationship, having children young and marrying later, leaving school to go to work and returning to school long after becoming financially secure.


They SLOUCH towards adulthood? This isn't remotely trying to be objective, is it? The implication seems to be that adulthood is only reached by hitting all 5 targets - thus immediately disqualifying those of same-sex orientation, those who cannot bear children due to medical reasons, those who for whatever reason college was not the right fit, etc. Even more distressing is the further implication that there is a proper order to these things. Want to become a manager at your job before getting married? This isn't Super Mario Brothers for fuck's sake - if you do Level 3 before Level 8, a fat little mushroom man doesn't tell you that the Princess is in another castle!


Beyond the thinly-veiled arrogance is something even worse - a willfully-incorrect obfuscation of fact. In the second graf, the author casually inserts the phrase: "It's a development that predates the current economic doldrums...", with no further context. On the surface, it is technically correct in one application - the current recession began (depending on who you believe) in 2006 or 2007, and the developments so bemoaned by our scribe have indeed been happening for longer - the oft-derided Generation X the most likely starting point. OK, fair enough, but tell us why! Never mind, I'll do it. For one thing, real wages - especially for entry-level jobs - have been stagnant since the 1970s. In other words, When my mother was 23-24 and giving birth to Patrick and I, her purchasing power at that age was about the same as it would be now. However, the normal course of inflation has made everything far more expensive...especially if you live in a major metropolitan area.


In the prosperous middle decades of the previous century, a single middle-class worker could - without crippling student loans, I might add - entirely support a large family, a mortgage and a car with one paycheck...and have enough left over to go on vacation every now and again. It's safe to say that such a thing is impossible in our moment of time. Secondary schooling was not required, and thus the gateway to traditional adulthood began after the completion of high school in many cases. I don't suppose those two factors could possibly be correlated to an earlier start with the whole marriage-and-kids thing?


If only that was the sole issue with this piece...trust me, there's more. The author quotes some psychologist guy who produces this nugget:


A few of these, especially identity exploration, are part of adolescencetoo, but they take on new depth and urgency in the 20s. The stakes arehigher when people are approaching the age when options tend to closeoff and lifelong commitments must be made. Arnett calls it "the age 30deadline."


Options close off at 30? Lifelong commitments "must" be made? Deadline? Says who?


It's a sad human indeed who feels like they must reach a stage by age 30 where the exposition of their life story has largely already been told. It makes me depressed just thinking about it. It would be one thing if we all lived in the Middle Ages or ancient China, where we could look forward to a short, brutal life of subsistence farming and being hacked to death on a battlefield (unless disease got you first, naturally). Back then, reaching 30 practically made you the village elder. With a life expectancy that short, there is far more incentive to get the big life events out of the way as soon as possible. Now? Most of us will hit 75, many will reach 80 and some will reach 90. Let's say you buy a house, get married and have the proverbial 1.5 kids by age 30. Congratulations! I wish you all the best, but now how are you going to fill your time for the next  16,425 - 21,900 days?  Lots of people buy houses. There are legions of good parents and, unfortunately, legions of neglectful/incompetent/absent ones. But, who are you? What makes you...well...you? What mark are you going to leave besides a kid with a stupid shaggy haircut who listens to fucking My Chemical Romance? Is none of this important or meaningful?


A single Google search finds that the ranks of the unmarried include Supreme Court justice David Souter, women's suffragist Susan B. Anthony, many composers (Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin), many scientists (Newton, Tesla, Galileo), many philosophers (Kant, Sartre, Kafka), legions of artists (Van Gogh, Descartes, Michelangelo, Delacroix, Leonardo da Vinci, Tolouse-Latrec), several economists (Locke, Hobbes, Smith)...I can go on forever.


So, were they not adults, then?


Anyway, I'm straying from my point a bit. Why is there a deadline at 30? That's fairly arbitrary, isn't it? In this day and age, why should we be limited in our options at any point in our life? The author mentions geographical movement as one of the symptoms of this supposed lack of adulthood - why on earth is increasing your field of knowledge and opening yourself to new experiences and new outlooks on life a sign of immaturity? Am I missing something here? I don't have any issue with someone who decides they really love where they were born and don't want to stray too far, but to assert that it is the only option is insane at best and criminally-stupid at worst.


Now, I'll grant that transience needs to have a purpose in order to be beneficial. Even if that purpose is simply to experience as much as possible, that is a worthy goal. If you simply drift through life due to a lack of imagination or passion for anything, that's a different story. Unless you are working off the premise that the majority of people our age are in the latter bucket, I fail to see why this is worthy of the author's time to write - or ours to read (or mine to rebut).


Is emerging adulthood a rich and varied period for self-discovery, asArnett says it is? Or is it just another term for self-indulgence?


Or, is it a result of shifting societal norms that are unquestionably all for the better?


It may be uncomfortable for some, but why do you suppose there has been such societal pressure in past times to marry and have children quickly? Isn't it telling that people from more religious areas of the country tend to do so at far younger ages than those in urban areas? Isn't it interesting how among the various races, those who tend more towards religion (Hispanics, for one) also have the highest birthrates currently?


I don't want to get into a pro-religion vs. anti-religion discussion as that misses the point. Whatever your religion (or lack thereof), whatever your take on it, it is immutable fact that organized religions throughout history have been in the business of exerting contol over people's lives. The quicker you marry, the quicker you become responsible for young lives, the more you become tied down to a certain place, a certain way of life. Frankly (and in this case I do not assign a value of good or bad to it - it works for some and not for others), you become far easier to control the less transient you are. The gradual lessening of importance of religion in our society (again, in some areas far more than others) will naturally lead to more freedoms. I'll use myself as an example, being a non-religious sort. I am single, I have no children, I have a job I tolerate but am not head-over-heels in love with, I love my city but get wanderlust from time to time, I belong to no church and am in no congregation, I have no other outside responsiblities except to my soccer teams. If the urge struck me to pick up and move to Ireland or England or Australia or the Philippines tomorrow - assuming the successful navigation of the usual immigration issues - I could do it tomorrow. Don't worry, I don't have that urge right now, but I also can't promise anything 5 or 10 years from now. 


In other words, this level of transience is not a result of immaturity - it is happening because for the first time, people have the ability to do so. Assigning a lack of adulthood to this is like saying Ferdinand Magellan was a slacker because he chose a life of exploration over family and traditional work. It's insane.


It goes on for pages and pages more - some psychological studies are looked at, some discussion on the development of the brain, etc (the last few pages are largely meaningless fluff crammed at the end because journalistic dictat decrees that you have to get a shitload of quotes for a piece like this, even if it doesn't contribute anything). Maybe someone more qualified than me can go into some of that, but if you have read down this far, I want you to come away with this: Parenthood and marriage are wonderful things if that's what you're into, and I wish you the best if that is your calling (though I hope you would find some other interests to round out your existence). My brother is a parent already, and his transformation heartens me (and my fucking god, I love those kids). My work friend Shannon desperately wants to be one, and I root for her. My other work friend Katie out in California doesn't want kids, and I respect (and relate to) that.A friend from upstate, Dave, just recently married - I wish him and his wife the best. My college friend Steve is divorced - I commiserate with him and am glad he has moved on.


But, there's other things in this world that matter. I have friends that make music, friends that make art, friends that have been on the stage. I know people who have been to Japan and those who have been to Kansas (frankly, I don't know which is more exotic). I know homebodies and I know adventurers. And magnets...how the fuck do THEY work?


I'm sorry...I had to.


The point is, adulthood is displayed in the decisions you make, the way you treat people, and the ability to be as self-sufficient as economics and natural gifts allow you to be. The dreamer, the explorer, the student, the poet and the athlete are not mutually exclusive with the adult. For that matter, neither are the husband, the wife, the parent, the grandparent, the executive and the mill worker. We are blessed to be among a generation that has not been frog-marched into parenthood or marriage before we are ready and/or before we have met the right person (if there even is one - some people may not have one). We are not expected to stay at the same job for 20 years if there is something that we like better or will give us more financial freedom. The wonders of air travel allow us to never be more than a day's soujourn away from our loved ones...no matter where on the globe they may be. Don't you get it? We're FREE. This world belongs to us, and what we do with it is our decision.


I intend to exercise that freedom to do what I want to do? Will you? I certainly hope so...and that is as adult as anything else out there.

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The Game [Oct. 26th, 2009|11:54 pm]
Rarely has any book spoken to me (and about me) like The Game, written by Ken Dryden after his final season with the Montreal Canadiens in 1978-79. For one thing, the first time I read it in high school, it illustrated that an athlete is also allowed to have a brain. It kind of allowed me to reconcile those two parts of my personality. Also, it was almost a primer on how it was OK and even expected for the goaltender to kind of be separate from the rest of the team (it's no surprise in retrospect that my only friend - actually, one of only 2 or 3 people I could stomach being around - was the other backup goaltender).

In case anyone wonders why half my Facebook statuses are talking about my game results, if people want to know why rec-league games MATTER so much to me, why I get to the point sometimes where I actually yell at teammates ("You're a fucking WALL! You stay still - that's your only job!"), I thought I'd include some quotes from the book here.

Playing goal is not fun. Behind a mask, there are no smiling faces, no timely sweaty grins of satisfaction. It is a grim, humorless position, largely uncreative, requiring little physical movement, giving little physical pleasure in return. A goalie is simply there, tied to a net and to a game; the game acts, the goalie reacts. How he reacts, how often, a hundred shots or no shots, is not up to him. Unable to initiate a game's action, unable to focus its direction, he can only do what he's given to do, what the game demands of him, and that he must do...For while a goal goes up in lights, a permanent record for the goal-scorer and the game, a save is ephemeral, important at the time, occasionally when the game is over, but able to be wiped away, undone, with the next shot. It is only when the game ends and the mask comes off, when the immense challenge of the job turns abruptly to immense satisfaction or despair, that the unsmiling grimness lifts and goes away. 

If you were to spend some time with a team, without ever watching them on the ice, it wouldn't take long before you discovered who its goalies were. Goalies are different...Predictably, a goalie is more introverted than his teammates (for team pictures, when a photographer tells me to smile, I unsmilingly tell him: "Goalies don't smile"), more sensitive and moody, more insecure. While a goalie might sometimes be gregarious and outgoing, it usually manifests itself in binges - when a game is over, or on the day of a game when he isn't playing - when he feels himself released from a game. Earlier this season, before a game against the Rangers, Robinson looked across the dressing room and asked "Who's playing?". Before I could answer, Shutt yelled back: "I'll give ya a hint, Bird...Larocque's in the shitter puking, and Kenny hasn't shut up since he got here."

Because the demands on a goalie are mostly mental, it means that for a goalie the biggest enemy is himself. Not a puck, not an opponent, not a quirk of size of style. Him. The stress and anxiety he feels when he plays, the fear of failing, the fear of being embarrassed, the fear of being physically hurt, all are symptoms of his position, in constant ebb and flow but never disappearing.

Is is why there are good "good team" goalies and good "bad team" goalies. The latter are spectacular, capable of making near-impossible saves that few others can make. They are essential for bad teams, winning them games they shouldn't win, but they are goalies that need a second chance, who need the cushion of an occasional bad goal, knowing that they can seem to earn it back later with several inspired saves. On a good team, a goalie has few near-impossible saves to make, but the rest he must make, and playing in close and critical games as he does, he gets no second chance. A good "bad team" goalie, numbed by the volume of goals he cannot prevent, can focus on brilliant saves and brilliant games, the only things that can make a difference to a poor team. A good "good team" goalie cannot. Allowing few enough goals that he feels every one, he is driven by something else - that penetrating hatred of letting in a goal. 
(Note: I am very, very, very much the latter. VERY much the latter.)

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I haven't posted in 34 weeks, so why not? [Oct. 13th, 2009|11:58 pm]
This will appear in my usual rant space in the October newsletter for my company.

…And Furthermore

by Sean Swift



How much is an hour of your time worth? When you consider the vast multitude of useful and/or enjoyable things that can be accomplished in just 60 minutes, one has to think that there is a significant dollar value that can be associated with that time. Take that value, and then further consider that the average person lives for, say, 75 years. That translates into a ballpark figure of 657,000 hours. It sounds like a lot, but just last night you lost 6-8 of them in dreamland. You spent another at lunch, at least 2 or 3 answering work e-mails, and at least another one on the phone.


The point is, 657,000 won’t seem like a lot when you’ve gone through perhaps 650,000 of them (and that assumes that nothing unfortunate happens in the interim). Life is bloody well short, and the fact that I spent even just a solitary one of those precious hours watching the pilot of The Vampire Diaries fills me with the sort of venomous rage that I usually reserve for eateries that naturally assume that you want condiments on everything, people who bring bicycles on the subway and Manchester United.


Here’s the background: every Wednesday, a group of us converge on our one friend’s palatial apartment (seriously, it’s ridiculous and inspires an unhealthy amount of jealousy in me) to consume adult beverages, order food and watch a given series on TV. In fairness, I have been introduced to series ranging from trashy-but-fun (True Blood) to the epic (Rome). Another series, Dexter, has spawned actual thoughts on the nature of morality and how it relates to society.


So, the track record of my experiences there is largely a good one. Even in the case where we watched perhaps the worst motion picture with pretensions to seriousness ever committed to celluloid (Showgirls), it was with a commentary track that eviscerated the movie (I refuse to call it a film) in the manner that it deserved.


Then, they subjected me to The Vampire Diaries.


On that day, an hour of my life – that valuable and irreplaceable hour – was brutally murdered…cudgeled to death and doomed to spend eternity in the company of characters that even the creators of Twilight (bloody, sodding TWILIGHT) would deem too vapid for their collection of movies (I refuse to call them films).


You know it’s bad when not even Warsteiner – man, do I adore German purity laws – can not rescue the experience.


Where do I even begin? Hmm…how about the evil vampire guy? Look, if you want to portray a cool-but-scary vibe, looking and dressing like Rob Lowe circa Youngblood isn’t going to cut it. I never believed it for a second when Youngblood won the fight against Racki in the third period of the final game. With that in mind, how am I supposed to believe that his doppelganger could terrorize an elementary school, let alone a town of able-bodied humans?


Of course, you have the good vampire and his little girlfriend, the two of whom are a pale imitation of the Twilight people…or, they seem like it, as I stick the Twilight series in the category that Titanic pioneered – There’s No (Bleeping) Way I’m Seeing This, I Don’t Care Who Asks Me or How Much Money Is At Stake.


Even worse, the girlfriend’s little brother (a bad-egg drug dealing type even Central Casting would reject as too derivative) is played by an actor named Steven McQueen. HOW DARE YOU, SIR? The real deal was in The Magnificent Seven, The Towering Inferno, The Getaway…the list goes on. I swear, when the zombie invasion comes, I sincerely hope that what remains of the great man jumps over a fence in a motorcycle to consume this kid’s brains.


The worst offense though has to be the dialogue. Go to IMDB and click on the link for “memorable quotes” on the series page. Actually, don’t bother…there’s nothing there. Why is that? Because there isn’t a single believable, coherent or even competent line of dialogue in the entire hour! Not one! Zero! Look, I know that this is a series with fantasy elements and you don’t want to replicate people sitting around talking about politics or doing their taxes or the Monday Night Football game. That said, it isn’t too much to ask to write two or three consecutive lines of dialogue that don’t make me want to punch every character in the show until they stop moving, is it? IS IT?


Honestly, nothing shines through quite like a show (or a band, for that matter) who comes in at the tail end of a fad and is hastily thrown together in order to capitalize on what’s left of the carcass. I don’t remember whether Twilight or True Blood came first, but either way they pretty much ushered in this vampire craze. Since then, I swear that every third show that the TV industry foists on us features fangs of some sort…if Saved by the Bell were just coming out, Mr. Belding would be wearing a cape and talking in a wacky Transylvanian accent. It’s officially ridiculous at this point…have you all no shame?


Anyway, this much is true…after the closing credits came up just in time to prevent me from flying out to Hollywood like the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, I cast my eyes across the room to the perpetrators of my suffering and said: “OK, I know I clearly did something to anger all of you, but can you just waterboard me next time?”


As I write this, I am one day removed from my 31st birthday. Using my estimate from before, that leaves me with about 297,840 hours and counting. If you think for one bleeding second that I will spend any more of them on dreck of this magnitude, think again. Life is awful short, and I don’t hate myself nearly that much.

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Fuck horror movies. [Feb. 11th, 2009|12:18 pm]

Why can’t we just admit it?

Why can’t we just admit it?

We won’t give pause until the blood is flowing…

Neither the brave nor the bold,

Nor brightest of stories told,

We won’t give pause until the blood is flowing…


I need to watch things die from a good safe distance,

Vicariously I live while the whole world dies…

You all feel the same so why can’t we just admit it?


Tool – Vicarious


Normally, I am loath to begin a piece with a song lyric. It’s pretentious enough as it is, especially so for a “rant of the month” column. However, I couldn’t resist on this occasion because it fits so perfectly with what has been on my mind lately.


Last weekend, I sat down at the table at my friend’s apartment ready to teach my opponents a serious lesson in the art of Texas Hold ‘Em. There were some people there who weren’t playing, and they put on a movie to keep themselves occupied. That’s fine…I’d prefer playing without distraction, but I’d do the same in their shoes. Unfortunately, they chose a loud, dumb and artistically-bankrupt horror movie called Stay Alive. Actually, I could have just said “horror movie” and you should have been able to infer the rest. Anyway, given my ice-cold run of cards, I was unable to concentrate and found myself watching more of the film than I normally would.  


As I watched, I devoted far more thought to the proceedings than it deserved. I wasn’t pondering the film itself (it was a bog-standard version of the well-worn formula), but rather the idea of slasher movies as it relates to storytelling as a whole. As I write this, we’re three days away from the remake of Friday the 13th opening in theaters. I fearlessly predict that it will do monster numbers at the box office, and I can’t help but wonder why. I’m trying to choose my words carefully here because I don’t want to come off as a film snob who won’t lower himself to anything other than obscure foreign films or whatever. Hell, I loved Anchorman. I saw potential in Beerfest. The first half of Wedding Crashers was legitimately brilliant. I draw the line with the horror stuff, though.


It is a basic rule of any storytelling art that the key requirement is making the audience care about the characters. There are a finite number of plots to choose from, the list of possible motivations is not a long one, and setting is just window-dressing. When a critic mentions a “flimsy plot”, they’re missing the point – it’s not the plot that failed, it was the author’s inability to make us care about their world’s inhabitants. That’s what separates the wonderful (Clerks) from the horrendous (Clerks 2).


With slasher flicks, there is no such thing as caring about the characters. The first 10 minutes will inevitably determine who lives – the rest are systematically mowed down until the designated survivors luck into some deus ex machina which dispatches the villain (temporarily, as a permanent death would deprive us of the overwhelming pleasure of a sequel). There is never any deviation from this path (except for Scream, which ironically had two sequels that consisted of little more than what it mocked in the first place), and the problem is that when you take away character, all that remains is the deplorable formula.


I’m not anti-death in movies – the distinction to me is what kind of a fighting chance the characters have to avoid it. Soldiers know the deal in war movies. The police can and usually do catch serial killers. The Joker is countered by Batman’s skill. One doesn’t join the mob for the pension plan…and so on. However, through their own mind-boggling stupidity or the invulnerability of the killer, the characters in slasher films are largely defenseless. As an example, one of the girls in Stay Alive is killed because the rules of the situation are changed halfway. We’re told the creature can be destroyed by inserting a nail into her heart and head. OK, simple enough. The girl is running through a half-built house, and happens upon a nail gun. That’s the smartest thing anyone’s done in the entire film, and should be rewarded. But, the nail passes through the ethereal form of the killer…who is then solid enough to hold a knife to kill the girl seconds later? How does that work?


This may seem like a small distinction to you, but I’m arriving at my point. The reason I’m not against violence in movies is because there are situations and stories where it would be dishonest to omit it. You can’t talk of gangsters without showing what gangsters do…you can’t give us gladiators who settle their differences with chess. But, when you loose a largely unstoppable force against a group that can’t defend themselves, that’s the equivalent of going to a slaughterhouse and rooting against the cows. I’m sorry, but I find that more than a little depraved.


I understand that in writing this, it can be interpreted as me judging people for watching horror movies. Fair enough, but in my defense I submit to the jury the case of Freddie vs. Jason. I was thumbing through some reviews of slasher flicks previous to writing this (from a website I stopped reading because the guy is a broken human being and revels in this sort of thing), and came across this gem – in the DVD for Freddie vs. Jason, there is a menu that specifically allows the viewer to jump ahead to specific deaths in the movie. It may be shameless, but I suppose it is at least honest about its degeneracy.


I believe that in many things, there is room for difference of opinion. I don’t like most modern comedies and I despise romantic comedies as a genre, but I can understand why people like them. My conception of humor is of course not the only acceptable one, and it’s not like you’re going to take a date to see The Transporter 37 (or whatever they’re up to now). With slasher flicks though, you’re expecting me to see the positives in watching kids beg for their lives before getting gruesomely murdered…you’ll forgive me if I can’t see how enjoyment can be derived from that.  


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The Wrestler [Jan. 1st, 2009|08:03 pm]
So, I saw the Wrestler today. I haven't seen the inside of a movie theater in over a year (didn't even make it out to see The Dark Knight), but on a whim I decided to head out and see if the Oscar hype about Mickey Rourke was true or not. As it turns out, the flick was great in a Saving Private Ryan kind of way: I'm very happy I've seen it, but I never want to see it again.

A while back, when the buzz for the movie was first picking up steam, it came to light that Vince McMahon was especially unhappy about proceedings to the point where he prohibited his employees from even discussing it. I thought it was over-the-top at the time, as I assumed along with many who are actually in the wrestling business that having such a high-profile entry into popular culture would bring new fans into the fold at a time when the box office is not quite what it was in the mid-to-late 1990s. Now, McMahon is a lot of things (to save time, I'll sum up as "clinically insane"), but he's not a stupid man. I'd be pissed if I were him as well, as this is going to make exactly ZERO people into wrestling fans. I'll get to this in a second, but wrestling fans have a lot to reconcile with themselves every time they buy a ticket and cheer them on or buy a PPV or watch the TV shows. The Wrestler is a note-perfect reflection on what the business is...actually, it's maybe TOO note-perfect for comfort.

The thing is, wrestling is like smoking tobacco - it almost always gets you when you're young, then you spend the rest of your life wishing you could quit. I haven't encountered that many people who, at 25 or 30, decide: "Hey, let's go watch people pretend to fight!". Hulk Hogan got me when I was young (train, say your prayers, eat your vitamins...first hit's free), and after walking away from it once I had "grown up", the athleticism and daring of a bunch of guys in WCW and especially in Japan brought be back around 1996 or 1997. And, to give credit where it's due, I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of watching wrestling. These guys can do things that normal people just can't do. If I jumped off of a height and could somehow do a 630-degree flip, I probably wouldn't get back up. If someone chopped me hard enough on the chest to make it red for two days, my natural reaction would probably be to flee as fast as possible. I don't even know how the Japanese guys can get dropped on their necks and walk around like nothing happened (until they're in wheelchairs at age 60, but I'll get to that too). I mainly fast-forward my way through WWE shows because it's a bit cartoony for my liking, but I gladly pay the money to see Ring of Honor whenever they're in NYC, as that is the kind of high-risk athletic adrenaline-rush wrestling that I like.

But, every time I'm chanting "Holy Shit! Holy Shit!" along with everyone else after a guy does something spectacular, I'm able to turn off in my mind the knowledge that the amazing dive I just saw is part of an awful cycle that basically chews these guys up and spits them out. Being a wrestling fan means I have to reconcile to myself that I'm enjoying a product that has this on its resume:

- Chris Benoit strangling his wife, his kid, then hanging himself at age 40 in a rage brought on by steroids and a long history of brain damage.
- Eddie Guerrero, dead of a heart attack at 38.
- Owen Hart, dead at 34 when a zip-line broke and he fell to his death on PPV.
- Crash Holly, dead at 32 of a drug-induced heart attack.
- Brian Pillman, dead at 35 of a drug-induced heart attack.
- The Dynamite Kid, in a wheelchair for life after injecting everything including horse steroids into his body.
- Mike Awesome, dead of a heart attack at 42.
- Road Warrior Hawk, dead at 46. Bam Bam Bigelow, dead at 45. Mr. Perfect, dead at 44. Miss Elizabeth, dead at 42. Terry Gordy, dead at 40. Johnny Grunge and John Kronus, dead at 38. The Wall, dead at 36. Louie Spicolli, dead at 27.

What I've listed here is just the tip of the iceberg, all of which happened within the last 10 years or so (and the above is not a comprehensive list of the last 10 years, either). It's not just the heart-attack deaths, either. Lex Luger is a shell of a person in his 50s. Randy "Macho Man" Savage is 50 but looks 70. It goes on and on and on and on and on...

Of course, wrestling is hardly alone in this. Rappers get shot, Muhammed Ali is a gibbering mess, actresses develop bulimia, Kurt Cobain blows his head off, etc. But, per capita, wrestling is far more of a death trap than any other entertainment industry. There is no SAG for wrestlers. There's no agents looking out for their financial welfare. There's no health insurance, and no other industry demands having the kind of physique that requires steroids, to go along with the constant physical wear and tear that requires painkillers.

Ring of Honor (before they changed bookers) made a point of bringing over legendary guys from Japan, as that is who people like me want to see. Kenta Kobashi came over here and put on the best match I've ever seen. It didn't bother me at the time that he came in obvious pain from years of doing backflips off the top rope (this is a 270-pound man, mind you). I think it hit home for me more when they brought over Mitsuharu Misawa last year. Misawa was a top guy for just about all of his career, meaning he worked in main events. Main events are longer than most matches, and require putting on a match that tops everything the crowd had seen that night so far. And, in 1990s All Japan Pro Wrestling, that meant getting constantly dropped on your neck, taking kicks to the face from Toshiaki Kawada (protected ones naturally, but I still wouldn't volunteer to take them) all for 40 minutes a night at times (but never less than 20). He limped out and looked like someone's grandfather who had mistakenly left their Zimmer frame at home. His knees are shot, he can't really land on his back now, it was awful. He worked with Takeshi Morishima, a mountain of a man who somehow had to make this guy look believable. Mori is a wonderful wrestler, but he's not a miracle worker. Here was this guy who could work wonders in a ring, and now a crowd of people who would have killed random strangers to see him wrestle in his prime couldn't even cheer this broken-down wreck that was in our hometown ring.

The Wrestler captures all of this perfectly. With the internet and the Wrestling Observer and everything else, any wrestling fan knows about the other side of it, too: divorces, estrangments from families, the whole nine. A lot of these guys work over 200 dates a year, from one city to the next. If you make it to the WWE, that first digit becomes a 3, or very close to it. Even at that point, unless you're Triple H or the Rock, the money's good but it doesn't go as far as you think.

Watching this movie is a stark reminder of all of this. I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it and would want to, but suffice to say that it is not a feel-good movie. Actually, the best way for me to describe it is it's greatness lies in the exact reasons why I thought Rocky Balboa was so dishonest. In Rocky Balboa, everything is kind of OK in the end...and, while Rocky loses by decision, he goes the distance against the young and brash champ, Mason Dixon. BULLSHIT! If that were reality, Dixon would have beaten up Rocky to pulp inside of the first round. You can't recapture past glories at that point, and the fact is those past glories are all that most of these guys have. Some of them get out at the right time, relatively intact. Many don't, and that's the uncomfortable fact that I as a wrestling fan have to deal with.

I'm not going to lie - I'll still be watching Raw on Monday. I've reconciled myself to it, for good or ill. It's still uncomfortable having such a bright spotlight shone on it, though...
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Shit ain't that bad... [Dec. 19th, 2008|08:30 pm]
I don't use Myspace that much, but I was so bored at work today that I was finally forced to go there too and see if anything interesting was up. On my brother's page, he had blogged about fearing about the world he has brought his daughter into, and was really down on humanity as a whole. Since I just spent 1500 words in my rebuttal to him (shit, when *I* am the optimist...), I'm not letting it go to waste. Enjoy.

Pat, I just saw this now (seeing as how you’re one of the 8 people left who still use Myspace with any regularity…heh). I really, really want for you to put down this burden you’re putting on yourself.

I think it would help for you to scale back your perspective a little bit. It is understandable to focus on an individual injustice (a firefighter struggling to pay bills, a soldier in Iraq for no reason) and come to the conclusions that you do in this post. Taken in a vacuum, it is indeed as horrible a thing as you say. I fervently wish that someday, humanity does get to a point where that no longer occurs…or, more realistically, a lot less than it does now.

The thing is though, it IS realistic to hope that it may happen someday. I know you like recent US history, but I’m not sure how up to speed you are on the longer-term history of the Earth. The reason I bring it up is because the vast majority of humanity’s history has essentially been the same. The amount of time it took to get from discovering fire to inventing the wheel was probably a few hundred generations (especially at the turnover rate of the population back then...yay, I made it to 25!). Poverty, ignorance and war existed at pretty much the same rate in every corner of the world. At the same time as Europe raged in war, so did China. So did Japan. So did the Middle East (the poor fuckers who lived in the current-day Iran got invaded once every 4.6 seconds from BC days to, oh, 1930 or so).

I once read in a factbook compiled by Isaac Asimov this amazing, shocking tidbit: “Based on the current rate of knowledge growth, by the time a child today becomes 50 years old, 97 percent of everything known in the world will have been learned in his lifetime.” Holy shit…I mean, HOLY FUCKING SHIT. The entirety of human existence for millions of years will not be able to hold a tiny candle to the knowledge growth and progress of 50 short years…less than a human lifetime.

The thing is, we’re heading in the right direction. We really, really are. You said to put down the controller and take out the iPod, but it’s not like humanity never distracted itself from reality. For one thing, religion exists. For another, I’m sure a Roman peasant was far more concerned with the day’s gladiatorial contests rather than what the Senate was up to (furthermore, those men were killed for the amusement of the crowd…our gladiators today tap their hand on the mat, are released, then probably get a drink bought for them at the afterparty for the guy who won…this isn’t progress?).

Anyway, yes, there are 13-year olds who are gleefully ignorant of the world around them. There’s PRESIDENTS who are much the same. But, think of the lot of life that most 13-year olds in this planet’s history have faced. It’s sad that he doesn’t know where Bangladesh is, but at least he’s not squiring a knight while limbs get hacked off around him (well, not in the civilized world, anyway…Africa has some catching up to do in that respect). Your daughter won’t be a mother at 13, halfway through her projected life expectancy. A neighboring country won’t invade us anytime soon. The 13-year old won’t have to till any fields in the hope that they can grow enough to feed him and his dozen siblings…where a simple freak of weather could shatter that for good.

We’re getting stupider? I disagree. Maybe your hypothetical 13-year old doesn’t know where Bangladesh is, but he probably has friend-requested someone there on Facebook to help grow his virtual city or to fight his virtual wrestler. He will almost inevitably grow up into an 18-year old who already has a better knowledge of computer applications than 75% of the workforce he’ll eventually have to compete with. Also, you’re kind of thinking along the lines of just the US here…you should read sometime what 13-year olds are up to in, say, Finland.

Anyway, moving on. I agree with you about the disastrous effects that religion and money can have. Well, show me a time where it’s ever been different. As bad as 9/11 was, as bad as the Iraq war is, how can it possibly compare to the Crusades? The Inquisition? As bad as the Jammu and Kashmir situation is (or Israel/Palestine, or Ireland/Northern Ireland, etc and so on), it for the most part pales in comparison to what history wrought before it. As for money and power, well, I can’t say I believe that Cao Cao tried to unify China out of the goodness of his heart. I doubt the Romans were just enthusiastic about building roads and meeting new people.

Railing at people who see a movie rather than donate to a homeless shelter kind of misses the point, primarily because one can (and often does) easily do both. So many good deeds go unreported, but they’re happening…every day. It’s funny how there is a sort of duality to it – the same company that does unethical shit will in the next breath organize a charity drive (mine has a Charity of the Month, and I know we’re hardly the only ones). Going deeper than that, we HAVE homeless shelters now. I’m gonna go ahead and guess that being homeless in 1000 sucked a lot more than it does now (not to say it’s a super-mega happy fun time now, I’m speaking in relative terms).

And, you think politicians are bad now? Here’s another one from Asimov’s book: “The Ming Emperor Hung Wu (1368-98) had so many people executed, that government officials got into the practice of saying final goodbyes to their families if they were called into an audience with Wu. They also exchanged congratulations if they lived through the day.”  Again, this isn’t to excuse sending kids off to war for no reason, but can you imagine Condi Rice or Robert Gates fearing for their life every time President Shithead called them in to the Oval Office?

A lot of this has been facetious, but what I’m trying to convey to you is that humanity is (for the most part) headed the right way. You see an individual act and assign it to the entirety of the species. It’s like saying you, Patrick Swift, are personally responsible for the Holocaust! No, our crazy little bunch of overgrown monkeys aren’t perfect. But dude, forget 1000 BC, 30 AD or even 1750. Think of the strides we’ve made just in the last 200 years (which on the overall timeline is like blinking your eye). Slavery ended…everyone can vote…we stood up to the worst tyrant the world has ever known and won…medicine and science speed forward at a dizzying pace…almost everyone is literate…I can go on and on and on. It is as if the last 2 million years were a REALLY long wick, and it finally burned down to the end, and the bomb has exploded. This is a kind of evolutionary mutation unheard of probably since some sea creatures decided it would be kind of rad to grow legs and lungs and see what was up above the surface. Lily-Marie could well be driving around in one of those Jetsons cars before you know it. Dude, this is fucking EXCITING! We may even live to see some of the REALLY good stuff…

N’ayez pas peur, Pat. Sorry, sorry…it means don’t be afraid.  :)    This is the BEST time to be bringing someone into the world. Yes, it sucks when a guy with four houses drives past someone sleeping in the street, but that is where you and Sheena come in. While Lily-Marie has her own little personality, it is up to you to guide and shape it into something better, just like Mom did with us. It is up to you to instill in her the desire to make things better. Don’t worry about the world as a whole…you can’t change that (and Carlin was wrong, by the way…he too only ever saw the bad side of things and failed to consider today’s world compared to any other point in history…it’s just not fucking healthy). What you can change is how Lily-Marie interacts with it. You’ll be fine, and she’ll be fine.

Besides, as your next post so helpfully mentioned, Obama won. As the caption of one of the bumper stickers of him on my Facebook page says: “Everyone calm down. I’ve GOT this shit!”

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The curse is over [Dec. 6th, 2008|12:40 am]
I have played soccer off and on for about 10 years. In that span, it pretty much breaks down like this:

- Years 1 and 2 were pretty much just playing intramurals in college. My teams were never in danger of winning anything.
- Years 3-6 were in between college and working at my current job, so I didn't really play.
- Years 7-8 were playing with my company team only, who were DREADFUL for ages...we went something like 30 or 40 matches without so much as earning a draw, letting alone winning. We eventually got to a point where we won a few quarterfinals, but then would get ass-raped by whoever the top seed was in the semis.
- Years 9-10 is when I got into NY Coed Soccer, and that's where the real tough ones came in.

My first season in NY Coed was Spring 2007, and my team Hasselhoff FC (yes, it was only one back then) went like 5-2 and went to the semis. Up 1-0, I had to volley away a long ball from the opposition, and it ended up going up and back and into my net. We lost on penalties (all of which I got a hand to, but couldn't keep out). I'm pretty sure there was another lost semi in there, but the next one I remember was for my second team, Shaolin United in Spring 2008. Up 1-0, I gave up a goal that to this day I wish I could have back. We lost on penalties.

Summer 2008 was even worse. Both my teams were undefeated, with identical 6-0-1 records. We annihilated everyone. Surely, the curse of the semifinals would end then, right? Well, actually, in the span of 90 awful minutes, it was all gone. It was raining bad that night, and I was drinking at a company function cause I was sure the games would be canceled. They went ahead, and the Hoff game was first. In the opening minute, I allowed a dribbler from far out to spin off my hand, and the one decent player the opposition (who we beat 4-0 in the regular season) had tapped it in. They never had another serious shot on net the whole game, but my team blew about 40 gazillion chances and we lost 1-0. Devastated, I had to play my other semi for Shaolin right after, and we got our asses kicked...5-0, and it could have been worse than that.

This year, Hoff struggled and didn't make the playoffs. Wasn't really my fault, they just kinda decided that scoring goals was something they weren't all that interested in. Shaolin went unbeaten again though, 4-0-3 this time. So, tonight was what I believe was the 7th or 8th semifinal I've played in, none of which I had won to date.

Why am I writing all this? Well, as I'm sure I alluded to before on this journal, I have a burning desire to succeed in something that I have no business doing so in. Things I can already do well (like writing) typically bore me, and I don't see the point. But, something like soccer, where I have no in-born advantages (actually, several disadvantages such as height and arm length)...if I could do well in that, then that is something tangible that I could really hang my hat on. The thing is, I've been conditioned from a very young age to have to accept defeat...to be OK with second-best, to endure the breaks always going some other way. In 30 years, I have exactly three things I can crow about - winning a 4500-player poker tournament online (play money only, sadly), unexpectedly sleeping with one woman who was miles and miles and miles out of my league, and being so untouchable at my current job that I could probably piss on my CEO's back and he'd likely laugh and ask me to kindly not do that again. That's what I've got. The first two were down to some combination of luck and circumstances, the third being not that difficult because I happened to start with the company at the right time, working in the right department for the right people.

But, if I could somehow play well enough to backstop my team to a trophy...that would be entirely mine. Sure, I always need to depend on some level on my teammates, but the above examples pretty well illustrate how a bad or unlucky keeper can cost a team, no matter how well they play. Shit, even winning a semifinal would be a major hurdle overcome...how many of you can honestly say that you've banged your head against the same wall for 10 FUCKING YEARS trying to overcome it?

Tonight, Shaolin United won 3-1, and I was the Man of the Match.

I stopped three breakaways when it was still scoreless. My distribution was damn near perfect, and I talked (screamed) my defenders through the game almost flawlessly. I've finally won in a semi, and holy fucking shit, does this feel wonderful.

Normally, before a game like this, I spend all day at work being practically useless cause I can't think of anything besides the game. Didn't happen today. Normally, right near game time, I'm almost puking out of sheer nervousness. Tonight, not so much. Sometime right before I left work, I just got a feeling...it was like my subconcious came out and said: "You're going to win."  In the first or second minute, I could only claw away at a tough shot, and it spun back behind me. Now, I'm not going to lie...from my vantage point, it looked like the entire ball crossed the line. I dived back towards it and corralled it back. The ref working this game is a fucking idiot, and his dumbass decisions have cost my teams time and time and time again. He ALWAYS gets it wrong. Tonight, he got it wrong again, and for fucking once, it hurt the other mob. Well, tough luck...swings and roundabouts, as they say. That's when I knew. Even when 2-0 became 2-1 because my team fell asleep and left a guy all alone in the penalty area (nothing I could do about that one), we/I did't panic. We went right down the other end and got a lucky goal to go up 3-1. That was the dagger...at that point, they were a dead team walking.

I really really really really really want to win in the final. It's against my friend Chung's team, and they have some level of extra motivation because they were the first D-4 team I played for, and I bailed on them to join Shaolin. If we don't though, I think I'll be OK with it...tonight went a long, long, long way towards helping me rebuild some of what was broken down far earlier in life.

Tonight was awesome.
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Shouldn't have to get mad about this shit... [Dec. 1st, 2008|09:31 pm]
So, our company does this newsletter thingy where people write about pretty much whatever they want. You'll be shocked to know that I pretty much use it as a soapbox to rant about whatever's on my mind. It's a regular feature that I call "And Futhermore...", and I figured I'd share the piece I just wrote with you all...I'm sure there is someone out there who shares my frustration.

And Furthermore…

by Sean Swift



When I was a wee lad, I was a huge fan of Denis Leary’s stand-up comedy albums. You know, before I discovered that he was a thief and poser of the highest order (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go home and Youtube Bill Hicks…you’ll thank me for it later). When ranting about something mundane, he once said the phrase: “I can’t BELIEVE I have to get mad about this (expletive deleted)!!!”. That, my friends, is the art of making an entire mountain range out of a molehill. Foreshadowing? Sure, why not?


Really, I’m just here to help. In that vein, you may be familiar with a burrito place called Chipotle (along with newer cousin Qdoba, but I prefer the former so we’ll stick with that). In my own obsessive-compulsive way, I make it a point to go there for lunch every Monday. The branch that I go to often has a line of people waiting to order that ranges between “daunting” and “you know, if I walked to the branch in Minneapolis, I’d probably get my food quicker”. While the line does move more briskly than you’d think, you’ll still hear muffled grumbling about what’s taking them so long. Actually, I hate to inform you, sunshine…it’s not them…it’s you.


It’s you, because you, oh random made-up amalgamation of the average Chipotle customer base, are a mouth-breathing toolbox. A moron. A simpleton. I can’t BELIEVE I have to do this, but for your benefit, I present to you:


The Official Guide for How to Order at Chipotle!


OK…so as mentioned, there are already enough people on line to invade a small sovereign nation. Please, for the sake of my sanity, don’t make this worse. When you get to the left end of the counter, there will be a nice man operating the tortilla machine who will ask you what you want. For the love of all that’s holy, please don’t stand there gaping up at the menu like Thomas Young trying to work out the intricacies of the Rosetta Stone. This really isn’t that hard.


First, you can get a burrito, a burrito bowl, fajitas or tacos. That’s it. Four choices. Even if you randomly guessed, you would still have a 25% chance of getting the one you wanted! I play poker, and I’ve gone all-in on lesser odds before.  You’re still probably going to give this more thought than who you voted for President, but let’s not take all day…it’s about to get a lot more complicated.


Now comes the choice of beans and meat. You can get black or pinto beans, and for the dead animal portion you have the choice of steak, pork, chicken, spicy beef (you can also just get veggies if you aren’t into the flesh of formerly-living creatures). I know what you’re saying…”But Sean, that’s four choices times two choices times five choices…that’s 40 different possibilities! That’s like, hard and stuff!”. Well, all right…you’re not actually saying that because that would require two brain cells to knock together. But still, you need to take this one at a time. Pinto beans are mushy and clearly inferior to the black beans. Problem solved. We’re down to 20 possibilities, so again, let’s make this easy. The pork is fatty and greasy, the chicken is usually fairly dry, and the spicy beef is kind of gross. We’re down to the always-tasty steak if you like meat, veggies if you’re a rabbit. See? We’re making progress!


One last hurdle before we move on, though. Don’t tell the nice man at this station that you want your order to go. I know this is pedantic and it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but this particular guy has no effect on whether you’re staying or going! It’d be like walking into Old Navy, going up to some random worker folding clothes and attempting to pay for the purchase that you haven’t even selected yet. Come on, folks…get it together!


Still with me? Excellent! Now comes the REALLY hard part, though…the salsa and toppings part. If you were awed by the amount of choice before, then this is going to be a real roller-coaster ride. I don’t mean a tame one, like the Cyclone…I mean like that one in Ohio that achieves Mach 3 while you’re upside-down and ducking low-flying aircraft.


To start, there are four kinds of salsa – two are liquid ones that are probably ridiculously spicy and not something my poor Irish stomach can handle. Those are right out. There’s another that is basically fresh tomatoes chopped up along with some other stuff. That sounds all right until you actually consider that it’s raw tomato. Never mind that scare from a few months ago where it had the Ebola virus or whatever, but have you ever eaten raw tomato? Isn’t it the most disgusting, slimy texture ever? If I were on Fear Factor blindfolded and were forced to eat tomatoes that weren’t well cooked and made into pizza sauce, I’d just immediately assume it was monkey brains. The last and best option is the corn. Good old, solid, dependable corn. They spice it up a bit, but not too much. I highly recommend that you go with this option.


Next, they will probably ask you if you want sour cream or guacamole. For your own good, politely refuse the invitation. Let’s start with sour cream. If the counter person asked you: “How about I whip up some pure saturated fat and put it in your burrito?”, what would your answer be?  Never mind that, it’s hideous in look, texture and taste. Stay far away! In some ways, the guacamole thing is even worse. I know it’s just smashed-up avocadoes, but I can’t bring myself to eat anything that looks like an alien vomited it up after too many space beers. Sorry, not happening. It’s best to just skip all of this.


Cheese, on the other hand, is something you should ask for lots of. Mmmm….cheese.


Taking ages to work through the above is excusable if this is your first time at Chipotle. After that, your newbie status is gone and you better remember. Go to the first station, say “steak burrito, black beans”. Move on down the line. Get to the second station, say “corn and cheese, that’s it.” It’s the best option, and they’ll love you for it. Move on down the line.


It has now come time to pay for your meal. If I may paraphrase from George Carlin, put the credit card down or I swear to my chosen deity (the former Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp, if you were wondering) that I’ll stab you in the jugular with my house keys. You’re holding up the line so that your bank can double-check their records to be sure that you have enough of a balance to pay for a BURRITO. Trust me, they’re a bank…they have problems of their own right now. They don’t need you taking up their time with something you could have handled on your own by fishing in the cushions of your couch. Anyway, assuming you’re a decent human being and brought cash, Chipotle is nice enough where, for the most part, you’ll get exact change back. They’ve set their prices so that it’ll either be X.00 even or at worst X.50. Keep the line moving, and give them a 10 or a 20. I know we’re talking high-rent district here, but we don’t need you taking 5 minutes to rummage around in your wallet for singles. Honestly…


If you’ve made it this far, there’s only one more thing left to do to make me not hate you with the fire of a million burning suns. If you are getting soda from the fountain, there is no need for you to stand there for an eternity. If someone you are with is getting soda from the fountain, GET OUT OF THE WAY so that someone else can get in there too. It’s basic courtesy, and it’ll increase your chances of me not clotheslining you in a fit of rage.


There you go…that’s it. It’s simple, it’s effective and it’ll keep the line moving…and you on my good side. Take care, and happy holidays!

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Just want to get this down so I remember 10 years from now... [Nov. 6th, 2008|07:39 pm]
I wanted to give it a day or two before I put my thoughts down on (virtual) paper, but not so long that I forget what the moment was really like. So yeah, three guesses what this is about, and the first two don't count.

Anyway, I spent Tuesday night with friends at one of their apartments in Chelsea. Oddly enough, that was the venue since it's our traditional True Blood night, so we jammed that in quick while the early-closing states were still voting. It's funny...I've been angst-ridden recently about turning 30, but I was the baby in the room among the five of us. They, like most of us rooting for the blue team, were horrendously nervous about the outcome. They didn't really understand when I looked at them and calmly and simply said: "We're gonna win, and this is going to be the biggest beatdown since LAPD vs. Rodney King" (funny that I used THAT for an analogy, eh?). As a matter of fact, I had free Quizno's on Wednesday because I had a similar conversation with the woman who runs the cash register there. This was months ago, even...she expressed how scared she was about Obama losing, and I was just as calm and just as sure back then. "He's gonna win. No worries. None." She promised me a free sub (my usual, 12-inch Classic Italian) if he won. I can faithfully report to you that the sub tasted just like victory.    :)

I digress, though. I'm not trying to pass myself off as some kind of political genius by saying how sure I was of his victory. Look, I was just as affected by 2000, when the better candidate won the popular vote but lost out to a stupid anachronism from the 18th century. I was just as infuriated and disenfranchised by 2004 when the better candidate had the election stolen from him by a state that I wish we could let the Spanish have back. But, all it took was reading the blogs every day to see that there was something big looming on the horizon. It's not really the bloggers themselves...for the most part they in a vacuum would be talking bollocks like the rest of us. No, it was the people writing in to the bloggers that for me was the leading indicator. When I read about the preposterously-efficient groundwork and organization that the blue side was creating...when I read the stories of African-Americans registering to vote for the first time...when I read the countless e-mails to Andrew Sullivan and others that began: "I'm a true-red Republican, but my party has abandoned me and I'm voting for the other guy"...I knew. The talking heads can break down the reasons all they want, and they can pick over the bones to their heart's content. This election was over months ago - the red guy was already dead, he just didn't know it yet.

Speaking of him - those of my family, friends and acquaintances who lean the other way would probably be surprised to know that I once held John McCain in very high esteem. People don't get that I don't automatically hate Republicans...I like Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel and other moderate, center-right ones just fine. McCain used to be firmly in that territory, and had no higher moment than collaborating with the most liberal member of the Senate, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, to co-author the campaign finance bill. It's well-trodden ground, but it also must be said that you or I would never be able to do in that Viet Cong prison what he did. If the 2000 election had been Gore vs. McCain, then I'll be honest and say that Gore would not have immediately had my vote. This version, however...the man sold his soul in an attempt to win election, and part of me can't blame him. After what that piece of shit Rove and his unholy army did to McCain in South Carolina in the 2000 primaries, I think McCain can be forgiven for resigning himself to the idea that it would be the only way to win. For those that don't remember or don't know, this is the Wikipedia section about that primary:  "An anonymous smear campaign began against McCain, delivered by push polls, faxes, e-mails, flyers, and audience plants.[126][142] The smears claimed that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock (the McCains' dark-skinned daughter was adopted from Bangladesh), that his wife Cindy was a drug addict, that he was a homosexual, and that he was a "Manchurian Candidate" who was either a traitor or mentally unstable from his North Vietnam POW days.[126][136] The Bush campaign strongly denied any involvement with the attacks.[136]   Isn't that just fucking charming? No politician is an angel, no primary is ever a clean, fair fight...but that's just beyond the goddamn pale.

But, I digress again. The point is, even in this election (against a candidate I respect and admire greatly), the 2000 McCain would have at least been in with a chance for my vote. The one from this year? No way. His choice of Sarah Palin was definitely the low-water mark of what turned out to be a hideously-run and executed campaign. Who vetted this woman? Who can honestly say that she was anything other than a blatant and craven attempt to win over women voters, ironically with a woman who is against most women's rights? Who can say that Obama is inexperienced when you have someone who was the mayor of a tiny-ass town (who started with a budget surplus and left them horribly in debt, for the record) and the governor of one of the smallest-population states out there? How can anyone reconcile voting for her on the ticket when she is clearly the most anti-intellectual, makes-Ann Coulter-seem-liberal wackjob seen at this level of politics? UGH.

Anyway, I was not nervous at all. I knew we had the better candidate, and I knew we had an army of first-time and young voters that would swarm to victory. And, that's exactly what happened. He won Pennsylvania...then Ohio (even my companions started to believe at this point)...then FLORIDA (!!!!!)....soon enough, it was called for the better candidate. 

We had heard a bit of a commotion outside of the window right when it was called, but we were still some of the first people to go out onto the streets. What I saw then, I'll never forget. There is a dorm for the New School right near my friend's apartment, and kids started POURING out of there. Cars honked their horns. People leaned out of their windows, screaming their heads off. Soon, it wasn't just the kids...it was everyone. Young, old, white, black, straight, gay, it didn't matter. Every corrner was its own little block party. First, I drank all the champagne I could find. Some girl helpfully gave me more, and I drank that too. I went back in and got the last of my beers - the same person who gave me the champagne ripped one out of my hand, saying it was a fair trade. Normally taking an Irishman's beer is dangerous, but what the hell...why not? I let it slide. We were all screaming, yelling, running out into the street to high-five drivers as they went by...it was madness. Absolute madness.

Why is that, you may ask? Well, I think there's several reasons. First off, there's a generational thing - most of these kids have gone their whole lives with either a Clinton or a Bush in the White House. Whatever the good and bad things about both (not that there was tons good about Bush, let's be honest), all four were products of and belong to another era - the 1960s culture wars were ingrained into everything they were and what they did. Obama is 47 years old...he was 17 when I was born. He was just a baby when all that was going on, and thus is a lot closer to those of us 18-35 than he is to those older. For better or for worse, this is the first President who is largely OUR guy. 

It's more than just that, though. You see, if the Republicans actually lived up to their rhetoric of small government and actual small-c conservative policies, they'd be much more palatable for many of us on the blue side. If they stayed out of our bedrooms, didn't put us under a mountain of debt, didn't try to force their values on us, they'd be more palatable. It goes even beyond that, though. While everyone blames Karl Rove for everything bad (and, well, I'm not going to stop you), a lot of the GOP's more vicious bent really stems from 1993 and the Contract for America. Newt Gingrich is the guy who is getting off scot-free here. To those of us who have only lived under Bushes and Clintons (extending out to Reagan and Carter) and who are of the blue sympathy, we have always been told that we're not patriotic. We don't care about the world around us. We live in a city, so we don't have values. Those of us who reject organized religion have no values. We're greedy and only care about ourselves. Generation X is lazy. We're out of touch with the "Real" America. If we don't think the war in Iraq was initiated for the right reasons, we hate our country (and even worse, we hate the troops). Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

WELL FUCK YOU, SUNSHINE! We love our country...we just didn't feel like a part of it!  We had to deal every day with the fact that "liberal" was somewhere between "mass murderer" and "child molester" on the conventional-wisdom evil scale. We DO have values! A study was done a year or so ago about which city was the most polite and the nicest to strangers. Guess who won? NEW YORK! Anyone who bothers to get to know most of us knows that we on the whole are good, honest, hard-working people. We love our families, we bust our asses at our jobs...we're just like you over on the red side in more ways than you bloody well want to admit. We're tired of being demonized, we're tired of being disenfranchised, and this election was a big middle finger in the direction of those who have perpetrated it for 15 long years (and honestly, probably longer than that). We have spoken loud and clear...America doesn't just belong to Christians. It's NOT a center-right nation. It's not a left nation...it's not a ANYTHING nation. It belongs to me equally as much as it belongs to you. And for all of us out there on the corner of 20th and 8th in Manhattan, that was what we were expressing and revelling in more than anything else. Finally, FINALLY...we get to be Americans too.

I know Barack Obama is no savior. He's a normal guy, like you and me and your cousin Bob. But that feeling...the feeling that we get to share in this great experiment that began in 1776 as well...that was priceless and I'll never forget it. Yes. We. Can.
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(no subject) [Nov. 4th, 2008|04:28 pm]
We're going to win.

This is our time - our generation has finally woken up and is going to the polls in amazing numbers by all accounts (sadly, I didn't register in time...but I did donate to Obama's campaign...and I live in NY, so thanks to the electoral college it doesn't mean a stream of piss anyway).

It's now our world to do with it what we can. Let's not fuck this up, guys.
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Computer issues [Aug. 24th, 2008|11:33 pm]
Well, my newer computer has absolutely shit the bed. I'm temporarily back on the old warhorse while I try and figure out what the fuck has happened here. Here's the deal, if any tech-savvy people want to be totally awesome and help me out:

I was getting some ad-ware that wasn't neutralized by Ad-Aware or Spybot. So, I ran MSCONFIG, and went to the start-up programs feature. I basically disabled everything, and then restarted the computer. What it does now is that it will load up to the point where my desktop wallpaper shows up for about 10-15 seconds, then it shuts down and goes back to the User Selection menu (where it's just Admin, since no one else uses this computer). When I select Admin again, it starts to load, then *immediately* shuts down and goes back to the User Selection Menu. I don't even have time to hit control-alt-delete to get to the Task Manager or anything. No icons load, nothing.

Here is what I've tried:

- When running with any of the 3 safe mode options, it doesn't even get to the point of showing the desktop wallpaper. It basically goes into the User Selection Menu after 2-3 seconds. It then has a choice between Admin and Administrator. Selecting Admin ends up with the same result, while selecting Administrator basically does nothing.

- I tried running the Last Known Good Config (or whatever you call it), and that does the same as the normal start-up. I've tried adjusting some of the settings from the F2 menu before the start-up begins, I've tried the F12 Boot Menu, I've tried running the Drives Diagnostic tool thingy...I basically exhausted all options from the menus available to me.

Since I bought this comp on E-Bay, I do not have the Windows XP CD. Am I proper-fucked here or what?
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OK, Questionmark23....why not? [Aug. 8th, 2008|06:40 pm]
Gotta kill a little time before my soccer games tonight, anyway.

01) Are you currently in a serious relationship?
A. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....that's pretty funny.

02) What was your dream growing up?
A. To be the starting goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. That didn't really work out, though I think I would have done a better job in the second round of the playoffs than Carey Price did. I know he's like 12 years old, but JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, CAREY.

03) What talent do you wish you had?
A. I wish I had more of a capability for understanding math - it'd help both at my job and with poker.

04) If I bought you a drink what would it be?
A. Guinness or Magner's or some other think we Irish donkeys like.

05) Favorite vegetable?
A. I actually like broccoli, believe it or not.

06) What was the last book you read?
A. The last book I completed was Gus Hansen's "Every Hand Revealed", where he talked in amazing detail about every hand he was in on his way to winning last year's Aussie Millions tournament. The book I'm reading now is A History of Iran.

07) What zodiac sign are you?
A. Libra

08) Any Tattoos and/or Piercings? Explain where.
A. No and no. The former will be addressed at some point, though.

09) Worst Habit?
A. I snore like a chainsaw.

10) If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?
A. The only way this would work is if I had a spare Metrocard. Heh.

11) What is your favorite sport?
A. Soccer and hockey, roughly equally.

12) Do you have a Negative or Optimistic attitude?
A. Depends - an attitude about what? I'm capable of both.

13) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?
A. Catch up on the last bunch of years.

14) Worst thing to ever happen to you?
A. There's no one standout thing.

15) Tell me one weird fact about you.
A. I'm mildly claustrophobic.

16) Do you have any pets?
A. No, but my roommate has a cat and I've had the same roommate for four years. Pet-by-proxy?

17) What if i showed up at your house unexpectedly?
A. Word...let's get a beer.

18) What was your first impression of me? (hmmm...careful!)
A. Who the fuck is that in my house?

19) Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
A. Oh god, do I even need to say it?

20) If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?
A. If you've seen me now vs. 2-3 years ago, what the fuck else can I change?

21) Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?
A. Depends on the crime.

22) What color eyes do you have?
A. Blue

23) Ever been arrested?
A. No

24) Bottle or can soda?
A. Bottle

25) If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?
A. Knock down some of the student loan, take about 1000 of it to Atlantic City.

26) Would you ever hug a perfect stranger?
A. No

27) What's your favorite place to hang at?
A. The soccer field.

28) Do you believe in ghosts?
A. Not really.

29) Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
A. Soccer, poker, surf the intarwebz.

30) Do you swear a lot?
A. Every fuckin' day of my life.

31) Biggest pet peeve?
A. People who bring bicycles onto the subway...it should be a capital crime.

32) In one word, how would you describe yourself?
A. Awesome.

33) Do you believe/appreciate romance?
A. About as much as I believe in ghosts.

34) Do you have "one of those faces" (i.e. you look horribly familiar to everyone)?
A. I'm a twin, so this answer writes itself.

35) Do you believe in God?
A. About as much as I believe in ghosts.

36) Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you?
A. No. You already have the questions...why would I send you something you already have? That's not a very Lean process now, is it? I think my boss would fire me for that.
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Good news from Pat's world... [Jul. 31st, 2008|09:43 pm]
Hi all.

Just got news today that one Patrick Swift just happens to be officially endorsed by DW drums. He's not up on the website yet, but he's picking out his new drumset as we speak.   :)

Figured y'all may want to know.
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Sure, I'll post. Why not? [Jul. 12th, 2008|02:44 pm]
Hi, kids!

Hmm, what's going on with me? Let's do bullet points.

- I chopped pretty much most of my hair off. I sadly don't have any pictures of it yet, but maybe someone will oblige at my friend's party tonight.

- Soccer's going awesome - after two games of the summer season, both of my teams are in first place. My D-4 team was up 6-1 at halftime, and we clung on by our fingernails to win 7-5. We didn't have many subs and it was effing hot out...they ran out of gas. I also wasn't particularly great, but I did enough, I suppose. I was using every time-wasting trick in the book by the end - taking ages to take goal kicks, clearing it into the other field instead of tapping it out of bounds, etc. My D-3 team won 7-0, and we're looking good. We got 5 new players, including some girls who can really play (in a co-ed league, good girls are often all the difference). In fact, this one goal from our girl Ingrid was the talk of the bar afterwards, a wicked curving shot from near the side of the net. Jesus tapdancing Christ, what a strike that was...I'm glad I didn't have to try and stop it.  :)     As for me, the other thing that was the talk of the bar was a save I made on my buddy Andres who was on a breakaway. His shot was a real good low one. I was able to get a toe on it and send it wide of the post. When I was playing the first game, one of our guys (a former keeper himself) noticed a pretty major technical flaw I was doing and approached me about it before our game. I tried it his way, and it worked wonders...now I can't wait to play my Sunday game and try it there, too.

- Work is going pretty awesome, too. I'm moving to a new role again, and I'm quite enjoying it. It's more to do with implementing new clients, helping create a standardized implementation procedure, etc. I'm very involved in bringing on board a major new account...probably shouldn't say who it is, but it's a very large bank. I had a chat with my boss about what the next year or so will bring, and it's looking good. He wants to get me my Project Management certification as well as a black belt in Six Sigma. Basically, having those would probably guarantee six-figure compensation. BALLIN'!

So yeah, things are OK.
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Me too... [Jul. 7th, 2008|08:18 pm]
Well, Mr. Ten Ninjas, you sparked my interest.

I too am twittering. My username is the same as this one here, if anyone is interested in adding me. Werd.
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Carlin [Jun. 23rd, 2008|09:49 pm]
I just finished this piece (for my company publication) now. I figure since it's already a fait accompli, I might as well throw it up here.   :)

This Sunday (I write this on the evening of 6/23), I had terrible insomnia for the second straight day. I tried everything, but could only toss and turn. Finally, at I’d guess 3:30 AM or so, I decided there was nothing for it. I went over to my computer, and fired up the internet. My start page is Yahoo, and the headline that greeted me shook me out of my sleep-deprived half-stupor.


George Carlin was dead.


Before I go any further, I should quantify what I’m about to say with the fact that I despise the idea of celebrity worship. I don’t feel it’s necessary to know when they’re having children, when they’re breaking or making up, who they’re cheating on each other with and all the other details of their lives that would be considered mundane and even banal if the subject were you or I. Honestly, if I ruled the world, the second thing I would do (after taking care of bicycles on the subway – explained in And Furthermore editions passim) would be to deport the entire viewing audiences of Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood to…oh, I don’t know…I hear Somalia is nice this time of year.


Anyway, the point is that it drives me up the wall when people assign so much arbitrary power and value to people who pretend to be someone else on film, or hit baseballs, or even participate in representative government. Luck and circumstance govern so much of our reality – if it didn’t, the Ruler of the Free World would most likely be a far more impressive member of our species. At the end of the day, they’re just people, that is, people who happened upon the right combinations of chromosomes to be revered in this particular speck on history’s timeline. If you carry it through to its’ logical conclusion, the paparazzi should be banging down the doors of the latest schmuck to hit his or her Powerball numbers (if you’ll indulge me this one tangent, I think it’s slightly unfortunate that humanity’s slow progression towards progress prohibits us at this point from having a national holiday where the paparazzi are ritually beaten with heavy sticks).


With that ridiculously long-winded preamble out of the way, George Carlin wasn’t someone I idolized…but he was someone I respected and admired intensely. Carlin was a voice of reason and logic that this age desperately needed. Now that I mention it, isn’t it something how the standard bearers for critical thinking in our society are comedians? Lenny Bruce suffered the most for his art – he carried the torch of daring to stare down a conformist and thought-policed society first. We tend to see the 1950s as the “good old days” and the 1960s as peace-and-love hippie times where everyone was as free as you’d like – but keep in mind that those decades, police officers routinely arrested him for the crime of telling jokes to consenting adults.


While Bruce did most of the heavy lifting in that respect, Carlin was no stranger to those that protect and serve either. You all know the “Seven Dirty Words” routine – in the 1970s, Carlin found himself arrested for (again, I have to stress this) TELLING JOKES, but finally a sea change was coming. Whereas Bruce was sentenced to four months in a workhouse (later overturned posthumously), Carlin’s charge was dismissed by the judge, citing free speech rights. Our society wasn’t quite ready for Lenny Bruce, but luckily Carlin came along at the right time.


While the subtle-as-a-taser style of the Seven Dirty Words routine was necessary at the time to incite progress on the free speech front, Carlin evolved over time to become, in my estimation, one of our most important societal commentators. Oddly, most people believe that the only opinions of worth are those of the talking-heads fraternity – the people you see chattering away on MSNBC or Fox to fill the dreary, endless march of the 24-hour news cycle. In fairness, some of that type (Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens come to mind) often do contribute positively to our national discourse, though one does have to look at it through the prism of their biases. However, these “serious commentators” tend to be handcuffed a bit by the fact that this is their profession…for example, someone like Hitchens ends up getting typecast as the “pro-war guy” or the “atheist guy”, and can seem almost a caricature of himself and what he stands for at times. But, a comedian doesn’t live under those restrictions…you can’t really typecast someone when the next thing out of their mouth is a flatulence joke.


In that sense, it’s a shame that the first thing anyone remembers about Carlin is the Seven Dirty Words. His real legacy is his relentless skewering of politics, religion, the “newspeak” tendencies of modern language and the maddening hypocrisy that often surrounds us in our American existence. For someone like me, his was a voice that was loud enough to be heard in a way that those of us who share those thoughts wouldn’t normally have access to. We certainly don’t have that in politics (even as much as I admire Barack Obama, he doesn’t entirely speak for me), and we rarely have it in any form of popular culture. Maybe, just maybe, a few average Joes and Janes went to his show for the jokes and came away at least having to think about their preconceptions. As far as I’m concerned, the importance of that small chance cannot be overestimated.


However, that’s not to say that Carlin was without his flaws. History is littered with men and women of great wisdom and knowledge who ended up bitter at the fact that the masses around them didn’t see the world with the same depth and clarity as they. Especially in his later routines, that bitterness came out to a degree that, in my opinion, likely prevented any opportunity for those he was railing against to agree. Even the world’s biggest idiot doesn’t like to be reminded of his plight – condescension rarely is an effective tactic of persuasion. His message was often on point (the Walter Reed scandal calls to mind the fact that if what we call “post-traumatic stress disorder” was still called “shell shock”, maybe our fighting men and women would get the help that they need upon coming home), but his delivery in those final performances almost ensured that those who needed to absorb it would reject it off-hand.


Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Carlin was one of the last voices around that observed our world without the pervasive and intellectually bankrupt irony of our current age. If VH-1’s “I Love (Some Decade That JUST HAPPENED)” is the best we’ve got now, then Carlin’s passing is even sadder than originally believed. I can only pray to Joe Pesci that someone takes up the mantle, and soon.

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(no subject) [Jun. 23rd, 2008|07:35 am]
RIP, George Carlin.

Had insomnia bad last night, and saw that particular news around 3 AM. That sucks.
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Holeeeee shit it's hot. [Jun. 8th, 2008|02:12 pm]
I had to play soccer in this shit today...I'm just glad it wasn't FOUR consecutive games like it was on Friday. We lost 1-0 cause a corner kick went off my forearm and in...real bullshit goal that I was 100% responsible for. That said, my goal today was to not pass out, so I at least got that done. The referee, by the way, was wearing all black. I think that qualifies as a mental illness, though he's the only one in any of my leagues that I actually like. Maybe heatstroke makes him ref better.   :)

Anyway, air conditioning is the greatest invention ever. EVER.
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Atlantic City [May. 4th, 2008|05:16 pm]
So, I'm back. In a nutshell:

- Damn, Atlantic City is a fucking hole. I can see where the "Atlantic Shitty" name comes from.

- I am absolute crap at tournament poker. I played in two "donkaments" - one at the Hilton (the worst casino I was in this weekend by a longshot), and one at the Taj Mahal. The blinds and antes go up so quickly, there's very little skill involved. Unless you pick up a few hands in the first couple of levels, all of a sudden you're short-stacked and getting blinded to death. I lasted a lot longer at the first then the second, but I was out fairly quickly both times. I had to push all-in in the first with K-6 offsuit, ran into A-10 and the 10 paired. In the second one, this one little Asian kid pushed me out of a few pots with all-in re-raises where I couldn't justify calling. Finally, with the blinds starting to get in the uncomfortable range, I got the chance to make my stand against him with 7-7. He had K-10 suited, and spiked his flush on the river. Of course. So, between the two buy-ins,. that was a $110 lesson on never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever playing in these donkey-fests again.

- On the other hand, I am absolutely the opposite crap at ring games. I played $1-$3 no-limit for, oh, about 20 hours this weekend, and finished $200 up. I've had full-time jobs where I didn't make $10/hour! This is much, much, much, much more my style. I would go 30 or even 45 minutes without playing a hand in some cases, but once I was in a pot I was making moves - raising, re-raising, really throwing some haymakers. I made about 4 or 5 fairly costly mistakes in terms of calling re-raises I probably shouldn't have, including one where I had 10-8 and limped on the button, flop came K-8-x, he bets a little, I call, turn is an 8, I raise he calls, and then on the river (river was a blank, no straight or flush possibilities), I raise, he re-raises for $55, and he shows K-8 offsuit. It was a good hand on his part, he played it beautifully, but that was $55 I should have saved by dumping my trips right there. I should have remembered that most of these guys aren't capable of a move like that unless they have a monster. I ended up losing about $175 or so, just on that hand. But, I had won about $200 one one hand from some English kid a few hands before that. Ironically, I had K-8 suited, caught a K-8-x on the flop, then pushed all in for another $82 when a third spade hit on the turn  I had him on A-K so I wasn't planning on him having the flush...admittedly, I just wanted the fucking guy to fold. But, I made that much more when he called (after AGES of thinking) with K-10, and didn't get help on the river.

- I owe my brother Dan for a bit of an assist after that first tournament. I was really down after that, I felt like I had choked a bit (and honestly, I kinda did). I texted him with how it went, and he sent about 7 messages over the next 20 minutes trying to talk me off the ledge. It worked (all I needed to hear was what he said in one of them: "You're a smart guy, and you're better than that"), and after returning to Bally's for a change (I tried wearing my suit for that tourney, and I just didn't feel right at all) and a quick listen to Eminem's "Run Rabbit Run", I got back on the horse and kicked ass at $1-$3.

- In all, I had a great time, and I honestly feel like I have nothing to fear at that particular limit of NL Hold 'Em. I already want to go back and apply what I learned here to come back with even more of a profit.
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Among the donkeys and fish... [May. 1st, 2008|07:00 pm]
I am so excited, I can't even say.

Tomorrow through Sunday, I'm making my first-ever trip to Atlantic City. Monday's post will either be a stirring tale of all the money I won sharking at the poker tables against senior citizens and drunken Rutgers frat boys, or an expletive-laden tirade about how some moron donked me with J-5 offsuit. Maybe both!

(PS - My brother Daniel in a nutshell: I asked him if there was anything I needed to watch out for or keep in mind when I was there, and his answer was simply "chicks with dicks". Sure thing, Dan...will *definitely* stay away from those.)
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Spring [Apr. 10th, 2008|08:49 pm]
Today was one of those rare "jacket-in-hand" days.

Or, put another way, on my walk from work to the 1st Avenue L stop (part of my initiative to combat winter beer-gut), it was definitely apparent who checked out the Weather Channel this morning, and who didn't. For my part, I did not.  :)
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Horrifying [Apr. 1st, 2008|11:08 pm]
I'm kinda freaked out right now, to be honest.

We lost our game tonight 3-1, but for once that isn't even the issue. Right at the end, in the act of fouling one of our guys, one of theirs ended up with a horrifically broken ankle...looked like it was a compound fracture. Seriously, the thing was at a fucking right angle.

Now I can't stop thinking about every time I've landed a little weird after making a save, or charged out of my net to save with my feet, and so on.

I have a game with my other team on Friday, and I don't know if I can keep this out of my mind...
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Not that this is a new complaint... [Mar. 29th, 2008|08:21 pm]
...but someone at Ticketmaster needs to die a slow, horrible death.

It's bad enough the ticket for Iron Maiden in June was $54...it's exorbitant, but it's Maiden...I'm prepared to pay that to see my favorite band since childhood. But, the convenience charge was over TEN FUCKING DOLLARS. All in all, the damage was $72 or something like that.

This had BETTER be the best show ever.
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Are you sure you want a girlfriend? [Mar. 19th, 2008|07:02 am]
My friend Chris has this up on his Myspace...I LOL'd. That said, I swear I will jump in front of the L train before I allow this to happen.

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He Fly High [Mar. 13th, 2008|07:21 pm]

I wear a mean dark pair of shades
Aint you cant see my eyes unless my head is bent , you dig

We fly high, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Foreign rides, outside, its like showbiz (We in the building)

We stay fly, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Hips and Thighs, Oh my, Stay focused

Ya boy gettin paper (Money), I buy big cars (Foreign)
I need fly rides to drive in my garage (Choose 1)
Stay sky high (Twisted), Fly wit the stars (Twinkle ,Twinkle)
T 4 Flights , 80 grand large (BALLIN!)
So we lean with it, pop with it (Bankhead)
'Vertible jones, mean with the top listen (Flossin)
I'm sayin clean with the bottom (Do It)
I Hop'd out saggy jeans and my rock glistenin (BALLIN!)
But I spent bout 8 grand
Mami on stage doin the rain dance (I think she like me)
She let it hit the floor, made it pop (What Else !?)
Got my pedal to the floor screamin fuck the cops(Do It!)

We fly high, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Foreign rides, outside, its like showbiz

We fly high, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Hips and Thighs, Oh my, Stay focused

Slow Down, Tonight may be gone tommorow (One Chance!)
So I speed thru life like theres no tommorow (Speedin!)
100 g's worth of ice on the Auto (Flossy)
And we in the street life until they call the law(BALLIN!)
I made the whip get naked (What Happen !?)
While I switch gears, Bitch lookin at the bracelet (Got Em)
Step out, show me what your all about
Flashbacks of last night of me ballin out (Harlem!)
1 a.m. we was at the club (What Happen !?)
2 a.m. Ten bottles of bub (Money ain't a thing)
And about 3 somethin I was thinkin about grub
So I stumbled to the car, threw the drinks and the drugs (Twisted)

We fly high, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Foreign rides, outside, its like showbiz

We stay fly, No Lie ,You know this
Hips and Thighs, Oh my, Stay focused

Nigga could you buy that
I keep 20 in the pocket (Light Change)
Talk a buck 80 If the bentley is the topic (That grey poupon)
But of course gotta fly ... (Where?)
To the hood to roll dice on the side of the curb
But I know a G Bent' may sound absurd (Get Your Money Up)
Drive 80 up Lennox cause I got an urge (Speedin)
The rap game like the crack game
Lifestyles, rich and famous livin in the fast lane (BALLIN!)
So when I bleep shorty bleep back
Lou Vuitton Belt where I'm keep all the heat strapped
I beat the trial over Rucker (Lets Do It)
All guns loaded in the back motherfucker (Dipset)

We fly high, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Foreign rides, outside, its like showbiz (We in the building) 2x

We stay fly, No Lie ,You know this (BALLIN!)
Hips and Thighs, Oh my, Stay focused

You niggas need to stay focus
When you're dealin with a motherfuckin G
You know my name, Jones, One Eye, Capo Status
Only above motherfucka
This Dipset ByrdGang We Born To Fly
Ya'll know the rules fall back or fall back
Someone tell my bitch summer I'm lookin for her
Ya dig, Another day another dollar
Fast life fucker
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Bloodbath [Mar. 3rd, 2008|08:24 pm]
[I'm rocking out to: |Kultur Shock - God is Busy...May I Help You?]

So yeah, it was like the French Revolution at work today....all in all 27 people were laid off (probably about one in ten out of our New York staff...hmm, I wonder how many it was in Mumbai? Oh, right...zero). I was not one of them, but some friends were. Then again, the ones that weren't miserable and wanting to leave anyway were, for the most part, our lowest performers. It wasn't probably much of a surprise in the end, but all at once, on a Monday morning? Really? Also, I think I will commit homicide the next time I hear the word "right-sizing". Fucking euphemisms. Anyway, you can imagine the chaos and general morale of the morning.

I've had easier first days in a new position.

Speaking of which, I'm a Business Analyst now...I know, I'm scared too. In almost four years, this is the first switch of departments for me, but I'm still in my same cube in the old department for the moment. It's just a weird, weird time.

Other than that, I seem to be listening to just two bands right now...Gogol Bordello and Kultur Shock. That's it. I've almost given up on any new metal, and we all know what rap's like these days.

I kinda want to just go to sleep now...I'm so exhausted, but the Canadiens are in San Jose tonight. Stupid West Coast swings.
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Just popping in... [Feb. 20th, 2008|07:19 pm]
I just got Dynasty Warriors 6 for the X-Box 360 today, so I'll see y'all in a few months.   :)

In the meantime, things have gotten a hell of a lot better at my job since last I posted anything here. Every time I get mad, I swear, this place finds a way to keep me. I'm going to have Tina-level tenure at this place before I know it. Heh. Anyway, I presented the training session that caused all of that rancor in the first place to the new guy brought in to manage the client-facing teams, and we got to talking afterwards. He off-handedly suggested a possible new role for me (mainly, being a part of onboarding new clients so that their expectations are managed from the beginning, rather than *after* things get fucked up). After 4 years of doing essentially the same thing, believe me, I can use a new challenge. If it gets offered to me, I'm 99.9999999999999% sure I'd take it. It was nice to have someone acknowledge my talent right away, rather than having to scratch and claw to prove something that should have been apparent from the beginning, and that I had done nothing but prove since I walked in the door (I may have forgiven, but I'll never forget).

Since Dave never has poker games anymore, I had been without a fix for a while. But, I'm now in a fairly regular game up in Astoria...it's not for any kind of serious money, but that's probably for the best. My skills have seriously eroded since I stopped playing a lot online. It's starting to come back around now, and I'm even playing for (very small amounts of) real money online again. That hasn't clicked either, but it'll get there.

Soccer's soccer...the non-company team I'm on used to be pretty good, but everyone has jobs where they have to travel, and the only guy who could consistently score goals took the winter off to get surgery (the nerve of him, right?). So, we're 0-5. There was a blip in the middle where we got really hammered once and it shot my confidence a bit, but overall this may actually be my best season so far. We've played teams TWO divisions above us twice, with a pretty much non-stop barrage of shots headed my way. I held them to just 4 goals both times, and in both games, it really should have been 3. Losing is a lot less annoying when I can say I really did my bit and more to help...I can't help being on a struggling team (in the end, it really is all about ego, and I admit to having a MASSIVE one).

So, that's that. Off to kill people now. Later.
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(no subject) [Feb. 3rd, 2008|10:47 pm]
With the caveat that I only jumped on the bandwagon after the Dallas game:

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I just got pwned [Jan. 10th, 2008|06:56 pm]
Check out what I came into today when I got into the office:

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This is a placeholder entry [Jan. 6th, 2008|03:07 pm]
I see I haven't posted anything to my general journal in a while (though your friends page might tell you that I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping newer soccer fans learn more about the game). Bullet points are probably fine here, as little is going on.

1. My job blows diseased goats. I'm looking to bounce as soon as I find something else. If you hear about anything in the NYC area, I'm all ears.

2. New Year's was rad. On one hand, part of me wishes Gogol Bordello was selling out Madison Square Garden. On the other, I kind of selfishly like being in on a secret that so many are unaware of. It also was awesome to see <lj user="steam_doll"> again - the Sean Swift World Tour doesn't come to Connecticut very often, so my chances to hang out with her (and the Monkeys, for that matter) are limited.

3. I am stoked to see Shilelagh Law on the 12th. It's always good to catch them live, but more importantly, I haven't seen the Carmel wing of my friends in ages, so it was time to put that right.

4. My "winter warrior" soccer league started on Friday night, and we opened with a fucking DREADFUL 1-0 loss to a team that's only ever won a handful of games. I personally played very well, but off a corner kick, the guy marking one of their better players fell asleep and let him have an entirely uncontested header on the back post. If you don't know much about soccer, suffice to say it's the kind of thing that gives goalkeepers severe heartburn, especially when it was the only thing standing between me and only my second-ever shutout. Insert string of expletives here. Our forwards (one of whom was the guy culpable for their goal) also missed about 4284943289243 decent chances to score, making it all the more frustrating.

5. I can now has X-Box 360, plz? Now that I have that and Elder Scrolls IV, there went a whole shitload of my free time.

6. Despite that, I'm blogging semi-regularly...the website address is a little different, it's now www.seanswift.net/wordpress.

That's about that. Not too much going on otherwise.
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Just posted to my blog... [Dec. 30th, 2007|11:53 am]
I just put this up on the blog (seanswift.net/wordpress), but thought I'd share on LJ too.

As noted previously, the US Politics application on Facebook is often quite the insight into the mindsets of what I would imagine are the many undecided and apathetic voters out there. It’s an fascinating subset of the population - they are interested enough to sign up to the application and vote in the debates, but I’m guessing that you would have a hard time getting them to actually vote in caucuses and such. Either way, the most recent debate they have on there is “Do you think a woman can be as effective of a President as a man?”.

While the “Yes” vote did get 75% out of the over 55,000 tallies, what surprises and saddens me is that it only got that many. 12,000-plus actually voted no, which comes as somewhat of a shock here on the cusp of 2008.

I read through the No responses, mainly because I wanted to see if it was just anti-Hillary bias in action (as for me, I think the right woman would be fantastic as President - I just don’t consider Hillary to be the right woman).  There didn’t seem to be much of a geographic cluster to the No answers…they came from all over the place. Of course, you get the usual percentage of idiots with responses like: “LOL get back in the kitchen!!!one!”. Surely, nothing is worse than a moron who thinks that he’s funny.

However, a stunning amount of the responses were from women. In the related comments, I saw multiple times something along the lines of: “I just don’t think we have what it takes”, or “God intended us to be servile to our men”. It’s beyond sad, isn’t it? Look, I’m not saying that I want to be President ever, but at least I wouldn’t disqualify myself because of my gender…how sad must it be to feel like you’ve lost the genetic lottery right at the moment of birth? It’s America, for fuck’s sake! It’s true that we’re nowhere near where we need to be with, say, race relations (and what the gay community faces is truly the main civil rights struggle of our generation), but at least most people are waking up to the idea that Obama just might win the whole bloody thing.

It’s true that I am actively rooting for Obama to win, but I hope that sometime in the near future, a strong (and non-divisive) woman candidate emerges that gives the women “No” voters in this debate some hope that it can happen someday…that who knows, maybe their own daughter might be President someday.

For the record, the fact that the Oval Office has been Old White Men Need Only Apply for our entire history puts us behind (to the extent that I can find): Israel, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, England,  Sri Lanka, Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, the Philippines, Mozambique, Germany, Liberia, Chile, Switzerland, Argentina, Iceland, Malta, Nicaragua, Guyana, Latvia, Panama, Central African Republic, Dominica, Norway, (the former) Yugoslavia, Bangladesh, Poland, Turkey, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe and South Korea.

You know, when a former world leader has to follow in the footsteps of Sao Tome and Principe, I think we’ve got a real problem here.

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Goodbye for now... [Dec. 1st, 2007|07:55 am]
Hey, kids.

Due to my move today, I'll be without teh intarwebz until, oh, Wednesday at the earliest. Actually, I should say I'll be without internet while not at work, but then again I anticipate it being busy next week.

So, see ya when I see ya.
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(no subject) [Nov. 16th, 2007|10:12 pm]
I haven't had a great few weeks or so, but the good news is I just signed the lease tonight for my new apartment. We actually got this done with a few weeks to spare this time, so on 12/1 I will be moving to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Nice to have one weight off the mind, anyway. 
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Frustration [Oct. 22nd, 2007|07:47 pm]
So, I've decided to be The Joker for Halloween. I've found pretty much everything I need, except for a green wig. Don't think that'll be a problem though. Anyway, I have everything else...white and red makeup, bluish-purplish jacket, awesomely garish orange button-down shirt, even more garish yellow tie...

...and there's the problem. The fucking tie.

I have looked at, oh, 8 or 9 videos on Youtube, and about 10 websites. I've tried to follow along as best I can, and I CAN'T FUCKING TIE THIS FUCKING PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT FUCKING TIE FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK FUCK. Fuck.

I must obviously be retarded. Grr.
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This is long... [Oct. 2nd, 2007|10:59 pm]
I'm not going to LJ-cut this or anything cause I'm lazy. But, this is a speech from Barack Obama that I came across on Andrew Sullivan's blog. This guy NEEDS to fucking win. If Guliani wins, I swear to fucking god I'm moving to Ireland.

We come together at a time of renewal for DePaul. A new academic year has begun. Professors are learning the names of new students, and students are reminded that you actually do have to attend class. That cold is beginning to creep into the Chicago air. The season is changing.

DePaul is now filled with students who have not spent a single day on campus without the reality of a war in Iraq. Four classes have matriculated and four classes have graduated since this war began.And we are reminded that America's sons and daughters in uniform, and their families, bear the heavy burden. The wife of one soldier from Illinois wrote to me and said that her husband "feels like he's stationed in Iraq and deploys home." That's a tragic statement. And it could be echoed by families across our country who have seen loved ones deployed to tour after tour of duty.

You are students. And the great responsibility of students is to question the world around you, to question things that don't add up. With Iraq, we must ask the question: how did we go so wrong?

There are those who offer up easy answers. They will assert that Iraq is George Bush's war, it's all his fault. Or that Iraq was botched by the arrogance and incompetence of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. Or that we would have gotten Iraq right if we went in with more troops, or if we had a different proconsul instead of Paul Bremer, or if only there were a stronger Iraqi Prime Minister.

These are the easy answers. And like most easy answers, they are partially true. But they don't tell the whole truth, because they overlook a harder and more fundamental truth. The hard truth is that the war in Iraq is not about a catalog of many mistakes - it is about one big mistake. The war in Iraq should never have been fought.

Five years ago today, I was asked to speak at a rally against going to war in Iraq. The vote to authorize the war in Congress was less than ten days away and I was a candidate for the United States Senate. Some friends of mine advised me to keep quiet. Going to war in Iraq, they pointed out, was popular. All the other major candidates were supporting the war at the time. If the war goes well, they said, you'll have thrown your political career away.

But I didn't see how Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat. I was convinced that a war would distract us from Afghanistan and the real threat from al Qaeda. I worried that Iraq's history of sectarian rivalry could leave us bogged down in a bloody conflict. And I believed the war would fan the flames of extremism and lead to new terrorism. So I went to the rally. And I argued against a "rash war" - a "war based not on reason, but on politics" - "an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences."

I was not alone. Though not a majority, millions of Americans opposed giving the President the authority to wage war in Iraq. Twenty-three Senators, including the leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, shared my concerns and resisted the march to war. For us, the war defied common sense. After all, the people who hit us on 9/11 were in Afghanistan, not Iraq.

But the conventional thinking in Washington has a way of buying into stories that make political sense even if they don't make practical sense. We were told that the only way to prevent Iraq from getting nuclear weapons was with military force. Some leading Democrats echoed the Administration's erroneous line that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. We were counseled by some of the most experienced voices in Washington that the only way for Democrats to look tough was to talk, act and vote like a Republican.

As Ted Sorensen's old boss President Kennedy once said "the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war" and frequently the words of the pursuer fall on deaf ears." In the fall of 2002, those deaf ears were in Washington. They belonged to a President who didn't tell the whole truth to the American people; who disdained diplomacy and bullied allies; and who squandered our unity and the support of the world after 9/11.

But it doesn't end there. Because the American people weren't just failed by a President - they were failed by much of Washington. By a media that too often reported spin instead of facts. By a foreign policy elite that largely boarded the bandwagon for war. And most of all by the majority of a Congress - "a coequal branch of government" - that voted to give the President the open-ended authority to wage war that he uses to this day. Let's be clear: without that vote, there would be no war.

Some seek to rewrite history. They argue that they weren't really voting for war, they were voting for inspectors, or for diplomacy. But the Congress, the Administration, the media, and the American people all understood what we were debating in the fall of 2002. This was a vote about whether or not to go to war. That's the truth as we all understood it then, and as we need to understand it now. And we need to ask those who voted for the war: how can you give the President a blank check and then act surprised when he cashes it?

With all that we know about what's gone wrong in Iraq, even today's debate is divorced from reality. We've got a surge that is somehow declared a success even though it has failed to enable the political reconciliation that was its stated purpose. The fact that violence today is only as horrific as in 2006 is held up as progress. Washington politicians and pundits trip over each other to debate a newspaper advertisement while our troops fight and die in Iraq.

And the conventional thinking today is just as entrenched as it was in 2002. This is the conventional thinking that measures experience only by the years you've been in Washington, not by your time spent serving in the wider world. This is the conventional thinking that has turned against the war, but not against the habits that got us into the war in the first place " the outdated assumptions and the refusal to talk openly to the American people.

Well I'm not running for President to conform to Washington's conventional thinking - I'm running to challenge it. I'm not running to join the kind of Washington groupthink that led us to war in Iraq - I'm running to change our politics and our policy so we can leave the world a better place than our generation has found it.

So there is a choice that has emerged in this campaign, one that the American people need to understand. They should ask themselves: who got the single most important foreign policy decision since the end of the Cold War right, and who got it wrong. This is not just a matter of debating the past. It's about who has the best judgment to make the critical decisions of the future. Because you might think that Washington would learn from Iraq. But we've seen in this campaign just how bent out of shape Washington gets when you challenge its assumptions.

When I said that as President I would lead direct diplomacy with our adversaries, I was called naïve and irresponsible. But how are we going to turn the page on the failed Bush-Cheney policy of not talking to our adversaries if we don't have a President who will lead that diplomacy?

When I said that we should take out high-level terrorists like Osama bin Laden if we have actionable intelligence about their whereabouts, I was lectured by legions of Iraq War supporters. They said we can't take out bin Laden if the country he's hiding in won't. A few weeks later, the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission - Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton - agreed with my position. But few in Washington seemed to notice. Some people made a different argument on this issue. They said we can take out bin Laden, we just can't say that we will. I reject this. I am a candidate for President of the United States, and I believe that the American people have a right to know where I stand.

And when I said that we can rule out the use of nuclear weapons to take out a terrorist training camp, it was immediately branded a "gaffe" because I did not recite the conventional Washington-speak. But is there any military planner in the world who believes that we need to drop a nuclear bomb on a terrorist training camp?

We need to question the world around us. When we have a debate about experience, we can't just debate who has the most experience scoring political points. When we have a debate about experience, we can't just talk about who fought yesterday's battles " we have to focus on who can face the challenges and seize the opportunities of tomorrow. Because no matter what we think about George Bush, he's going to be gone in January 2009. He's not on the ballot. This election is about ending the Iraq War, but even more it's about moving beyond it. And we're not going be safe in a world of unconventional threats with the same old conventional thinking that got us into Iraq. We're not going to unify a divided America to confront these threats with the same old conventional politics of just trying to beat the other side.

In 2009, we will have a window of opportunity to renew our global leadership and bring our nation together. If we don't seize that moment, we may not get another. This election is a turning point. The American people get to decide: are we going to turn back the clock, or turn the page?

I want to be straight with you. If you want conventional Washington thinking, I'm not your man. If you want rigid ideology, I'm not your man. If you think that fundamental change can wait, I'm definitely not your man. But if you want to bring this country together, if you want experience that's broader than just learning the ways of Washington, if you think that the global challenges we face are too urgent to wait, and if you think that America must offer the world a new and hopeful face, then I offer a different choice in this race and a different vision for our future.

The first thing we have to do is end this war. And the right person to end it is someone who had the judgment to oppose it from the beginning. There is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. I will begin to remove our troops from Iraq immediately. I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.

But it's also time to learn the lessons of Iraq. We're not going to defeat the threats of the 21st century on a conventional battlefield. We cannot win a fight for hearts and minds when we outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors. We're not going to win a battle of ideas with bullets alone.

Make no mistake: we must always be prepared to use force to protect America. But the best way to keep America safe is not to threaten terrorists with nuclear weapons - it's to keep nuclear weapons and nuclear materials away from terrorists. That's why I've worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law accelerating our pursuit of loose nuclear materials. And that's why I'll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials during my first term in office.

But we need to do much more. We need to change our nuclear policy and our posture, which is still focused on deterring the Soviet Union " a country that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan and North Korea have joined the club of nuclear-armed nations, and Iran is knocking on the door. More nuclear weapons and more nuclear-armed nations mean more danger to us all.

Here's what I'll say as President: America seeks a world in which there are no nuclear weapons.

We will not pursue unilateral disarmament. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong nuclear deterrent. But we'll keep our commitment under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty on the long road towards eliminating nuclear weapons. We'll work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert, and to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material. We'll start by seeking a global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons. And we'll set a goal to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global.

As we do this, we'll be in a better position to lead the world in enforcing the rules of the road if we firmly abide by those rules. It's time to stop giving countries like Iran and North Korea an excuse. It's time for America to lead. When I'm President, we'll strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty so that nations that don't comply will automatically face strong international sanctions.

This will require a new era of American diplomacy. To signal the dawn of that era, we need a President who is willing to talk to all nations, friend and foe. I'm not afraid that America will lose a propaganda battle with a petty tyrant " we need to go before the world and win those battles. If we take the attitude that the President just parachutes in for a photo-op after an agreement has already been reached, then we're only going to reach agreements with our friends. That's not the way to protect the American people. That's not the way to advance our interests.

Just look at our history. Kennedy had a direct line to Khrushchev. Nixon met with Mao. Carter did the hard work of negotiating the Camp David Accords. Reagan was negotiating arms agreements with Gorbachev even as he called on him to "tear down this wall."

It's time to make diplomacy a top priority. Instead of shuttering consulates, we need to open them in the tough and hopeless corners of the world. Instead of having more Americans serving in military bands than the diplomatic corps, we need to grow our foreign service. Instead of retreating from the world, I will personally lead a new chapter of American engagement. It is time to offer the world a message of hope to counter the prophets of hate. My experience has brought me to the hopeless places. As a boy, I lived in Indonesia and played barefoot with children who could not dream the same dreams that I did. As an adult, I've returned to be with my family in their small village in Kenya, where the promise of America is still an inspiration. As a community organizer, I worked in South Side neighborhoods that had been left behind by global change. As a Senator, I've been to refugee camps in Chad where proud and dignified people can't hope for anything beyond the next handout.

In the 21st century, progress must mean more than a vote at the ballot box " it must mean freedom from fear and freedom from want. We cannot stand for the freedom of anarchy. Nor can we support the globalization of the empty stomach. We need new approaches to help people to help themselves. The United Nations has embraced the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015. When I'm President, they will be America's goals. The Bush Administration tried to keep the UN from proclaiming these goals; the Obama Administration will double foreign assistance to $50 billion to lead the world to achieve them.

In the 21st century, we cannot stand up before the world and say that there's one set of rules for America and another for everyone else. To lead the world, we must lead by example. We must be willing to acknowledge our failings, not just trumpet our victories. And when I'm President, we'll reject torture - without exception or equivocation; we'll close Guantanamo; we'll be the country that credibly tells the dissidents in the prison camps around the world that America is your voice, America is your dream, America is your light of justice.

We cannot - we must not - let the promotion of our values be a casualty of the Iraq War. But we cannot secure America and show our best face to the world unless we change how we do business in Washington.

We all know what Iraq has cost us abroad. But these last few years we've seen an unacceptable abuse of power at home. We face real threats. Any President needs the latitude to confront them swiftly and surely. But we've paid a heavy price for having a President whose priority is expanding his own power. The Constitution is treated like a nuisance. Matters of war and peace are used as political tools to bludgeon the other side. We get subjected to endless spin to keep our troops at war, but we don't get to see the flag-draped coffins of our heroes coming home. We get secret task forces, secret budgeting, slanted intelligence, and the shameful smearing of people who speak out against the President's policies.

All of this has left us where we are today: more divided, more distrusted, more in debt, and mired in an endless war. A war to disarm a dictator has become an open-ended occupation of a foreign country. This is not America. This is not who we are. It's time for us to stand up and tell George Bush that the government in this country is not based on the whims of one person, the government is of the people, by the people and for the people.

We thought we learned this lesson. After Vietnam, Congress swore it would never again be duped into war, and even wrote a new law -- the War Powers Act -- to ensure it would not repeat its mistakes. But no law can force a Congress to stand up to the President. No law can make Senators read the intelligence that showed the President was overstating the case for war. No law can give Congress a backbone if it refuses to stand up as the co-equal branch the Constitution made it.

That is why it is not enough to change parties. It is time to change our politics. We don't need another President who puts politics and loyalty over candor. We don't need another President who thinks big but doesn't feel the need to tell the American people what they think. We don't need another President who shuts the door on the American people when they make policy. The American people are not the problem in this country" they are the answer. And it's time we had a President who acted like that.

I will always tell the American people the truth. I will always tell you where I stand. It's what I'm doing in this campaign. It's what I'll do as President. I'll lead a new era of openness. I'll give an annual "State of the World" address to the American people in which I lay out our national security policy. I'll draw on the legacy of one our greatest Presidents - Franklin Roosevelt and give regular "fireside webcasts," and I'll have members of my national security team do the same.

I'll turn the page on a growing empire of classified information, and restore the balance we've lost between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society by creating a new National Declassification Center. We'll protect sources and methods, but we won't use sources and methods as pretexts to hide the truth. Our history doesn't belong to Washington, it belongs to America.

I'll use the intelligence that I do receive to make good policy - I won't manipulate it to sell a bad policy. We don't need any more officials who tell the President what they want to hear. I will make the Director of National Intelligence an official with a fixed term, like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve - not someone who can be fired by the President. We need consistency and integrity at the top of our intelligence agencies. We don't need politics. My test won't be loyalty - it will be the truth.

And I'll turn the page on the imperial presidency that treats national security as a partisan issue - not an American issue. I will call for a standing, bipartisan Consultative Group of congressional leaders on national security. I will meet with this Consultative Group every month, and consult with them before taking major military action. The buck will stop with me. But these discussions have to take place on a bipartisan basis, and support for these decisions will be stronger if they draw on bipartisan counsel. We're not going to secure this country unless we turn the page on the conventional thinking that says politics is just about beating the other side.

It's time to unite America, because we are at an urgent and pivotal moment.

There are those who suggest that there are easy answers to the challenges we face. We can look, they say, to Washington experience - the same experience that got us into this war. Or we can turn the page to something new, to unite this country and to seize this moment.

I am not a perfect man and I won't be a perfect President. But my own American story tells me that this country moves forward when we cast off our doubts and seek new beginnings.

It's what brought my father across an ocean in search of a dream. It's what I saw in the eyes of men and women and children in Indonesia who heard the word " America" and thought of the possibility beyond the horizon. It's what I saw in the streets of the South Side, when people who had every reason to give in decided to pick themselves up. It's what I've seen in the United States Senate when Republicans and Democrats of good will do come together to take on tough issues. And it's what I've seen in this campaign, when over half a million Americans have come together to seek the change this country needs.

Now I know that some will shake their heads. It's easy to be cynical. When it comes to our foreign policy, you get it from all sides. Some folks on the right will tell you that you don't love your country if you don't support the war in Iraq. Some folks on the left will tell you that America can do no right in the world. Some shrug their shoulders because Washington says, "trust us, we'll take care of it." And we know happened the last time they said that.

Yes, it's easy to be cynical. But right now, somewhere in Iraq, there's someone about your age. He's maybe on his second or third tour. It's hot. He would rather be at home. But he's in his uniform, got his combat gear on. He's getting in a Humvee. He's going out on patrol. He's lost a buddy in this war, maybe more. He risked his life yesterday, he's risking his life today, and he's going to risk it tomorrow.

So why do we reject the cynicism? We reject it because of men and women like him. We reject it because the legacy of their sacrifice must be a better America. We reject it because they embody the spirit of those who fought to free the slaves and free a continent from a madman; who rebuilt Europe and sent Peace Corps volunteers around the globe; because they are fighting for a better America and a better world. And I reject it because I wouldn't be on this stage if, throughout our history, America had not made the right choice over the easy choice, the ambitious choice over the cautious choice. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we were ready to move past the fights of the 1960s and the 1990s. I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation " to unite this country at home, to show a new face of this country to the world. I'm running for the presidency of the United States of America so that together we can do the hard work to seek a new dawn of peace and prosperity for our children, and for the children of the world.
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... [Sep. 21st, 2007|08:48 pm]
I don't post here much cause there isn't really a whole lot of craziness going on. I work during the week, play on my two soccer teams, and go out most weekends. Pretty standard stuff there, really. I guess I only post when shit's going wrong. :) But, even soccer's been good - between my two teams, I've been to 3 semifinals in the last 3 seasons. I'm 0 for 3 there, but it's getting closer I think. The last one went to penalties after a 1-1 game (never mind the fact that their one came when I volleyed a ball and it went up and back and into my own net...it was outside my area, so I couldn't catch it with my hands).

Anyway, a neat little thing from today. I have two games actually - one was at 6:30, next one is at 10:45. Anyway, the first one was for my company team, and we're playing indoor. That shit is EXHAUSTING, even for a goalkeeper. Maybe *especially* for the keeper. It's a short field, so it's up and down and up and down...with my outdoor teams, I'll go awhile without seeing any action. To put it in perspective, the apocalypse must be coming, as I joined a gym. I did 25 minutes on a bike and afterwards thought it wasn't that bad. I played a 40-minute indoor game and I'm absolutely exhausted.

We were 5-3 down at the half, took a 7-6 lead with 3 minutes left, and it ended 7-7. The team we were playing were a playoff team in this league last season, so to match them after we sorted ourselves out at halftime (and with two top players out) was an achievement for us. They're a damn good team, and we played well too...in fact, the neat thing was that since it started late, the teams in the next game were all there and watching us as they waited to get on the court. When the final whistle left, we all were applauded off the field by the teams waiting to get on. I can literally say that's never happened in a game I've played in before. I got a pretty good cheer too when I made a key save...with my face. Luckily, the ref let me go put my contact back in.

So yeah, stuff is happening. Nothing too exciting, but that also means nothing bad, either. :)
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Twins [Jul. 17th, 2007|01:43 am]
For those unfortunate enough not to have one, I can’t possibly explain what having a twin is like. The downside, of course, is ten thousand questions of the “so, like, if I punch you, does it hurt him too?” ilk. These original and hilarious queries usually make me upset that I haven’t yet received a Nobel Peace Prize for not stabbing people in the eyes when they ask them. It’s well worth it though with everything else that is involved. Every time I have lost my way, all it takes is a midnight phone call and all of a sudden I have a signpost to follow. It’s scary…every time I need him, he’s always so fucking…right.

Sunday-into-Monday, I had a dream that caused me a great deal of confusion and worry.

My mother and I were driving somewhere, that is to say, she was driving... I don't remember the destination. It started off normal, but the road became darker. Even though her car had headlights, I was using a flashlight to point out rocks in the road. Some of them were more like boulders, to be honest. I exclaimed something like "look at those!"...she very calmly and serenely said "I know, I know." She then told me I didn't need that flashlight, because she already had headlights. But, when I turned the flashlight off, I couldn't see the road any longer.

Anyway, we drove past some houses that looked normal to her, but looked haunted to me. I also looked back several times to see a man in black and gray that she couldn't see. I either didn't see his face or don't remember it, but I was pretty sure he was draining my life from me. For some reason, I knew his name as "Sinecence". Now, I just googled that, and it isn't a word...but "senecence" is...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senescence. He'd be floating along behind me...whenever I turned around, I'd try and attack him with...it must have been a whip or a chain or something. He'd simply dematerialize, only to reappear later.

The strange thing is that I had never heard that word before in my life until the dream.

I also think I've had this dream about this man before for some reason...I think this is the first time it involved anyone else.

So, I told that to him, and I think his interpretation pretty much nailed it. I’m not happy…at all. I haven’t been for quite a long time. I don’t think I’d just disappear off the face of the planet for weeks at a time otherwise. As I’m getting closer to the big 3-0, I am disappointed across the board with where I am right now. I don’t hate my job, but perhaps even worse, it has become an endless “Groundhog Day” collection of one day after another. Currently, there is nowhere left for me to go there that I either can or want to do. It’s safe, though, and it isn’t hard for me to think of a million reasons for me to stay. A million reasons, of course, that don’t add up to the one reason why it’s time for me to go. I haven’t had the resolve to though, and I don’t know where I can find it.

Of course, it probably goes without saying that I’m not happy with being perpetually single. I’m about to take a big, stupid risk though that probably has a 215% chance of failure. That’s cool, though. I have never once died facing the enemy, and I’d quite like to say that I did that.
I’m frustrated with the fact that I have no real direction and only one passion, a passion that honestly is a longshot to turn into anything useful. I love and watch and study and play poker as much as I can, but things that are easy for good players (the math-type stuff) completely eludes me. I can’t really shake the idea that it’ll be like playing soccer is for me – something I quite like doing, but something I’ll only ever be a D+ in due to physical limitations (or, in this case, my lack of mathematical understanding). The problem is, I don’t like anything else…not enough to want to do it with any kind of regularity. If I’m not going to like anything else, then what’s the point of leaving where I am now? At least it’s familiar and safe. I’m respected and liked and can roll in 15 minutes late when I choose. Better that then any other thing I wouldn’t enjoy anyway.

He was also spot on when he said that given time enough to think, I will come up with a million reasons to take the safest path possible, whatever the situation. It’s funny…I’ve been given the awareness and the potential to do unbelievable and daring things, but I can’t find the resolve or the ability. Since the day I’ve been born, I’ve cursed my intelligence…I have often wished to trade it and the vast potential for something safer and more concrete. I laugh at how perfect the metaphor is, but I love looking at the ocean, but hate being in it. I love the view from an airplane window, but am horribly afraid of heights.

Of course, my twin is human, as is anyone else. He can’t do it all for me…but he can at least give me a piece of the map. At least temporarily, I feel like there’s a way out after having a conversation with him. It’s too bad I can’t make that feeling last longer. What can I do, though? The only option I have open to me is to figure it out somehow…before the rut becomes a ravine, before the ravine becomes a canyon.

I wish everyone had a twin. I’m glad I do...even if it's about the only thing I'm glad about these days.
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(no subject) [Jul. 14th, 2007|10:49 am]
Told to me at the bar after my soccer game last night:

Q: What happens when you play a country record backwards?

A: The wife comes back, the dog lives, and everything works out fine in the end.

I dunno...I LOL'd.
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The more you know... [Jun. 23rd, 2007|12:32 pm]
Fun fact:

Shots involving a) Tequila and b) Tabasco sauce are a menace to society and should be outlawed.

(Had to do it though...this was my first game with my new soccer team - I'm on two now - and they apparently have a drinking problem. Heh.)
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Bill Maher, for the win..... [May. 15th, 2007|10:53 pm]
"And finally, New Rule: Conservatives have to stop rolling their eyes every time they hear the word, "France." Like just calling something "French" is the ultimate argument winner. As if to say, "What can you say about a country that was too stupid to get on board with our wonderfully-conceived and brilliantly-executed war in Iraq?"

And, yet, an American politician could not survive if he uttered the simple, true statement, "France has a better health care system than we do, and we should steal it." Because here, simply dismissing an idea as French passes for an argument. "John Kerry? Couldn't vote for him; he looked French." Yeah, as opposed to the other guy who just looked stupid.

Now, last week, France had an election, and people over there approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent of them turned out. You couldn't get 85% of Americans to get off the couch if there was an election between "Tits" and "Bigger Tits," and they were handing out free samples!

Now, maybe the high turnout has something to do with the fact that the French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution, prayer in school, abortion, stem cell research or gay marriage. And if the candidate knows about a character in a book other than Jesus, it's not a drawback.

The electorate doesn't vote for the guy they want to have a croissant with; nor do they care about private lives. In the current race, Ségolène Royal has four kids, but she never got married. And she's a Socialist. In America, if a Democrat even thinks you're calling him "liberal," he grabs an orange vest and a rifle and heads into the woods to kill something!

Madame Royal's opponent is married, but they live apart and lead separate lives. And the people are okay with that for the same reason they're okay with nude beaches; because they're not a nation of six-year-olds who scream and giggle if they see pee-pee parts!

They have weird ideas about privacy. They think it should be private. In France, even the mistresses have mistresses. To not have a lady on the side says to the voters, "I'm no good at multi-tasking."

Now, like any country, France has its faults, like all that ridiculous accordion music. But, their health care is the best in the industrialized world. As is their poverty rate. And they're completely independent of Mid East oil. And they're the greenest country. And they're not fat. And they have public intellectuals in France. We have Dr. Phil!

They invented sex during the day, lingerie and the tongue. Can't we admit we could learn something from them?

So, from now on, all you high-ranking Bush Administration officials, because the French are righter than you on most things, when France comes up in conversation, you are not allowed to roll your eyes. The only time you get to do that is when your hooker from Ms. Julia is blowing you."

- Bill Maher
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I (heart) xkcd [May. 13th, 2007|08:34 pm]
[Mood this second is: |lethargiclethargic]
[I'm rocking out to: |Pearl Jam - "Rearviewmirror"]

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Gutted. [Apr. 7th, 2007|09:44 pm]
This team needs to be blown up. The veterans need to go, and we need to rebuild around Huet/Halak and the kids.

Thanks, Kovalev. Thanks, Begin. Thanks, Johnson. No, really....bang-up job, guys. Hopefully we can ship you to Phoenix or Florida or somewhere.
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Please help! [Mar. 20th, 2007|08:01 pm]
Hey everyone...I have a weird question for you.

I just had someone ask me to put a text ad on my website, and ask what the monthly/yearly rate would be for such a thing. The site seems legit (it's www.tickco.com - they sell concert tickets and whatnot), but I have no fucking idea what one should charge for such a thing.

For the last 3 months, my site's averaging about 2000 hits per month (sadly, I don't know how many are unique page views...my guess would be in the 300 range or so). If anyone has any idea what would be a fair monthly price for that, please let me know...otherwise, I'll probably low-ball it when I tell them it's cool tomorrow or the next day.

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(no subject) [Mar. 17th, 2007|12:00 am]
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net
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That number I don't want to think about... [Mar. 7th, 2007|08:13 am]
Sure, it's still a year and a half away or so, but I laughed and cringed when I came across this edition of a comic I discovered recently.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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Wow, I posted last in January? [Mar. 4th, 2007|11:55 pm]
Well, I am still alive.

I have had quite a turbulent month-and-a-half, personally and professionally. It looks like things have resolved themselves though...one in a good way, and one not.

I have learned quite a bit from both, though. True to my userpic, I gambled with one and succeeded, and gambled with one and crashed and burned. Both were necessary though, and I'm glad both happened (to some extent, anyway).

In better news, I'm going back on tour with Powderburn in April...what's Spanish for "lock up your daughters, Texas?". As you may have guessed, I'm sick of being a nice guy and I won't fucking do it anymore.

Word is bond,

- Sean
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(no subject) [Jan. 27th, 2007|08:14 pm]
The owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, has a blog over at www.blogmaverick.com. If an incredibly successful businessman can come to this conclusion, I feel better about having done the same. Here it is!

When I started MicroSolutions I was 24 years old. I had just gotten fired from my job and was sleeping on the floor of a 3 bedroom apartment with 5 other guys living there. I didn't have a closet or a bed, but I had 2 suits.

I bought both of those polyester wonders, one Grey pinstripe, the other blue pinstripe for a total of $99 dollars plus tax. To go with those fashion forward wonders, I had several white polo button downs that I had purchased used from a re-sale shop, and a couple ties that I had bought on sale or had gotten as hand me downs from friends.

I wore those babies when it was cold. I wore them when it was 100 degrees plus. I ironed them and when I could I got them dry cleaned. MicroSolutions was started in June and over the next 7 years , starting with those first 2 suits, I wore a suit every work day. I bought new suits as the business grew. I bought shirts and ties and shoes new instead of used. I went 7 years without a vacation to make that company work, but I didn't go a work day without a suit.

Someone had once told me that you wear to work what your customers wear to work. That seemed to make sense to me, so I followed it, and expected those who worked for me to follow it as well.

After I sold MicroSolutions I decided that I never would wear a suit again. I was able to hold true to that while I was making a lot of money trading stocks for the next 5 years, but then Todd and I started AudioNet which would morph into Broadcast.com.

With our new business, I decided that I would have to wear a suit, but would modify the rule so that I would only wear a suit when someone I was selling to was wearing a suit. If they were selling to me, I didn't care if they were wearing a tux. I was going to go comfortable and not wear a suit.

When Broadcast.com was sold, the suit went out the window completely. I vowed to never wear one again other than weddings and funerals, and only then because it wasn't worth the hassle to deal with people asking why you didn't wear a suit. I'm certain the people getting married dint care, and I don't think anyone is going to be looking down at me wondering why I showed up at their funeral without a suit. Suits make no sense whatsoever.

Why am I such a suit hater ? I'm not a suit hater, I just could never think of any good reason for any sane person to wear a suit in the first place.

Exactly what purpose does a suit serve ? Why in the world are so many people required to wear a suit to work ? Do the clothes make the man or woman in the western world today ? Does wearing a tie make us work harder or smarter ? Is this a conspiracy by the clothing, fabric or dry cleaning industry to take our money ?

Or are we all just lemmings following a standard we all know makes zero sense, but we follow because we are afraid not to ?

If you are a CEO , are there not better things your employees could spend money on than multiple suits, ties, dress shirts, dress shoes, dress socks, dry cleaning, and all the other associated costs ? Gee, no suits would be the same as giving your employees a tax free raise. Think that might make them happy ? Or do employees consider having to spend money on suits a perk ?

Now I understand some people think wearing a suit provides them with a certain level of stature. It gives them confidence. It helps them feel good about themselves. Well let me be the first to tell you that if you feel like you need a suit to gain that confidence, you got problems. The minute you open your mouth, all those people who might think you have a great suit, forget about the suit and have to deal with the person wearing it.

Is there a reason other than "thats just the way it is" ? Haven't you looked at someone in a suit, trying to look important and just thought how stupid and out of place it is ? Why do we do this to ourselves ?

I know this all is a crazy rant, but come on now. If you have had to wear a suit to work every day, haven't you wondered why ? If you are the CEO or in charge of a company, haven't you wondered yourself why you are making your employees waste all that money and come to work and spend the day in uncomfortable clothing ?

Give your suit wearing employees a raise. Tell them every day is casual day.
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(no subject) [Jan. 16th, 2007|11:40 pm]
Things are going pretty well at the moment, thanks for asking. :)

I'm probably not going to be a manager at work much longer - I've asked for and almost certainly will get a role change towards being the department's trainer/subject matter expert. I'll get paid the same and will have less responsibility. Yes, please!

Also, my site is nearing 16,000 hits since its birth in June 2006. Either that means there are 16,000 wonderful, intelligent and beautiful people out there, or my mother has logged on 16,000 times. Thanks, Mom!

I mention that, of course, because Part II of the When I Rule the World series is now up. Enjoy!
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Keith Olbermann on "sacrifice" [Jan. 13th, 2007|10:41 pm]
If you think our president is anything other than a lobotomized, gibbering baboon, you might want to skip this one.

Otherwise, Keith Olbermann on MSNBC a week before the hare-brained "surge" policy was announced:

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Two in a row... [Jan. 8th, 2007|12:39 am]
...won Dave's game a few weeks back, won the first session at Morgan's game tonight (and finished second in the second session). Again, I'm very pleased with how I played. I think I made good decisions and probably should have won the second one, too.

I have to see if they still want to do it, but there's a weekly $45 buy-in tournament (I think it's around that much, anyway) that some of my CT friends play in. If they're interested, I'm off the week of the 22nd and so want to do it. I'm curious to see how I do now that I'm playing with a little swagger.

If it falls through, then, well, I'm off the week of the 22nd. No reason, just a mental-health break. Anyone doing anything? Holla at your boy. :)
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