On a lighter note…

I saw something really funny on the way in to work this morning. There was a Jeep coming up the road out of the American River canyon with one of those dark plastic sunshade-banner thingies across the top of its windshield. It looked like it was upside down, but what it said was:

If you can read this, please flip me over!!!

17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists

It’s worth a jaunt over to MichaelMoore.com. I found several things Michael said to be helpful to me, among them:

14. Bush is now a lame duck president. He will have no greater moment than the one he’s having this week. It’s all downhill for him from here on out — and, more significantly, he’s just not going to want to do all the hard work that will be expected of him. It’ll be like everyone’s last month in 12th grade — you’ve already made it, so it’s party time! Perhaps he’ll treat the next four years like a permanent Friday, spending even more time at the ranch or in Kennebunkport. And why shouldn’t he? He’s already proved his point, avenged his father and kicked our ass.

15. Should Bush decide to show up to work and take this country down a very dark road, it is also just as likely that either of the following two scenarios will happen: a) Now that he doesn’t ever need to pander to the Christian conservatives again to get elected, someone may whisper in his ear that he should spend these last four years building “a legacy” so that history will render a kinder verdict on him and thus he will not push for too aggressive a right-wing agenda; or b) He will become so cocky and arrogant — and thus, reckless — that he will commit a blunder of such major proportions that even his own party will have to remove him from office.

I’ve quoted more than I planned to because these two go together, but I figure it’s OK, since MM said it was OK to download his whole freakin’ movie.

Son of Free Elliott Smith CDs

I forgot that nobody but me cares about Elliott Smith, so I’m going to revise the rules on the contest just a bit:

I will give away three copies of From a Basement on the Hill to the first three people who ask me nicely.

I’m pretty sure you can reach me through a link on my blogger profile… just click on my picture. If that doesn’t work, leave a comment or sign my guestbook, and I promise I’ll get back to you.

Mr. Bush

I really am going to try to rally behind Mr. Bush, but I think, perhaps, the best thing I read today was, and I’m paraphrasing as well as stealing because I’m too lazy to go back and look it up, “He’s not just misunderestimated, now he’s unredefeated.”

I Will if You Will&#153

I was watching Fear Factor&#153 awhile ago, and I think I have just come up with an idea for the best “reality” show ever. It’s called I Will if You Will, and here’s how it works:

The host, like Jeff Probst from Survivor&#153 or Joe Rogan from Fear Factor&#153, asks a bunch of people to do really stupid stuff, like eating bugs or walking on glass or going to Iraq, and the rule is that at any point during a single episode, the group can confer and any contestant can say the magic words, “Hey, Jeff, I will if you will,” and the host has to do it or they all win.

It gets better.

See, the players can only pull their trump card out once, so they have to decide at each point whether it’s better to eat the bug and wait for something really bad, like walking a tightrope between two buildings, and the host has to be prepared to do this week after week. The other rule that’s absolutely necessary is that the producers file a script with some accounting firm like Earnst & Young that describes each stunt request in detail, and they can’t deviate from the script, or everybody wins.

This is, of course, an un-thinly-veiled, not-so-carefully-caged metaphor for being The President, but it’s also a reaction to listening to Joe just now telling someone walking on a bed of glass, “Oh! Dude! Don’t twist your foot! You’re gonna cut yourself, man,” and it’s also a really good idea for a reality show that you are welcome to steal freely.

See, I don’t have the resources to make it happen, but I’d love to watch it, and that’s how ideas are supposed to work.

Ennui is better than Malaise

Don't mind me, I'm just venting...“Existential Angst” has become such a clich&eacute that I’m forced to put it in quotes, but it sure describes how I’ve felt today.

One of the bad things about being relatively smart is that your vocabulary is too big to let yourself just have “the blahs,” so you spend the day wallowing in a swirling dung-heap of German, French, and Latinate roots and spouting psycho-babble and imagining you’ve developed acute anhedonia.

I’ve read a number of M. Scott Peck’s books, and since I’ve forgotten more than most people ever know, I remember very little, but two things stuck with me:

The first is that he opens The Road Less Travelled with the simple statement, “Life is hard.”

The second is that he described something called cathexis that I really identify with, pun intended. See, cathexis is the investment of psychological energy into ideas, objects, groups, and people. In simplistic terms, if something has sentimental value to you, then you cathect it. I just think of it as caring about something, the way I actually “love” my old ’89 Honda Accord, or worry about my aquarium or my vegetable garden &#150 it’s crazy! I mean, why should I care about whether other people appreciate Elliott Smith (a lot), if I don’t care about who won the last Superbowl (at all)? Here is why: I love Elliott Smith’s music, and I’ve come to identify myself with it, and taken it into myself, and I want you to love me, so you have to love Elliott too. And because I was a scrawny brainiac, football is anathema to me. (I told you this stuff was crazy.)

Here’s another way to look at it. Cathexis is kind of like the opposite of catharsis. Catharsis is how you get things out, like screaming into a pillow or kicking the dog. Cathexis is how you invite things in, and I’m a cathexis junkie.

Unfortunately, cathecting things takes time. It’s a lot faster and easier not to do something than to do it. It’s easier to have a weed patch than a garden. It’s easier to not have an aquarium than to have one. Life is hard, you don’t get something for nothing, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you really have to try, but no less a man than Homer J. Simpson said it best when he told his kids, “Trying is the first step towards failure.”

So I’m planning to take some time to rethink what I’ve chosen to identify with and care about and try.

And with that, dear reader, I believe my catharsis is complete.