Monday, June 27, 2005

Where's the Beef?

There are things about us--about all of us--that cannot be hidden, no matter how hard we try. There is, perhaps, some sort of natural law that provides that deviation from instinctual behavior will end badly. It can be seen in the olde timey motto, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when at first we practice to deceive." And, as luck would have it, that statement always has been, will, and should be true.

I know that I have stated in earlier posts just how important it is to actually pay attention to the world around you on a daily basis; both in the sense that "if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention" and in the sense that you may miss the broader trends and ideas that a myopic attitude would generally tune out. Case in point, there have been a lot of ideas bouncing in my skull (which is surprisingly thick but soft at the same time) lately that would lead one to make broad generalizations which can then be honed into finer--if only more focused--ideas. Deception, fronts, and any other misleading representation of one's self are nearly always misguided and regrettable, and yet seem omnipresent in today's society.

Being an avid people watcher I took lunch in the food court of a shopping mall today. It would seem that summer is upon us, because there was no lack of school age children whiling away their time in the air conditioned comfort of the local mall. A transgression that may be pardoned by the fact that the temperature nearly reached the century mark today here in the lovely suburbs of Chicago. Nonetheless, I was taken by the wide variety of outfits that were being sported in an effort by the masses to be "different". I am an absolute backer of the idea that anyone can wear anything that they want, so long as the clothing is age and body appropriate and pulled off with aplomb. However, I think the lengths being taken by some young people today to prove how unique they are simply looks exhausting. Perhaps it is because I feel that somewhere, deep down in my insides, I feel that there is an 84 year old grouch trying to get out. Or maybe it is my long-standing love of naps, but I just cannot imagine taking all the time to first think up some of these outfits, and then execute the purchase, organization, and dressing necessary to go out in public. I would be remiss if I was to put these people down for their habits. To dismiss them as a lesser person would be perfunctory and unfair seeing as they are quite possibly very nice, intelligent people. My argument is only that people should dress comfortably in styles that can transfer with ease through many social situations, because you never know when hanging-out-with-friends can turn into running-into-friend's-grandparents, who will be polite and tell you that you manner of dress is "unique" or "fun" but will secretly be wondering how your parents could have failed so miserably in your upbringing. Okay, I know this one is pretty much a dead horse, so I'll say only two more quick things about it. 1) When you try too hard for a "look" when dressing yourself, it usually shows. 2) Big ups to my cousin Molly for rockin' the popped-polo-collar and knowing that "if you're going to look good you have to be at least a little bit uncomfortable" is the first rule of fashion. (P.S.- I may not always look good, but I generally THINK I look good, which is often enough.)

The second part of this post is from an amalgamation of four separate things that happened recently, that crystallized in my mind the ideas that will be laid out to you, dear reader, here today. From a conversation at lunch today with a female co-worker, to the casual mention of a recent DVD release, to an article read today while lounging, to an exchange at a smoky basement bar this saturday past the idea of "faking-it" has come to the fore of my mind.

First I will tackle the barrom chat and the magazine article. I am a hairy man. I have come to terms with this. Anyone who has seen me without a shirt on can attest that I'd stand a good chance if lost in the arctic with only a pair of flannel P.J. bottoms. Of course, this is not to say that I'm happy that I am wooly, but rather that I have accepted it. It is part of my life. I didn't ask to get hair everywhere, but it was deemed that it should be so, and here I am. Until recently my prevailing thought on the subject was "ewww, gross", but recent shifts in attitudes--mostly mine--have lead me to think of it in a different light. This follicle situation is not a voluntary position I am in. Were it left up to me it would just disappear. And, of course, there are many ways to see that happen these days, I had to weigh those options against the fact that I shouldn't not have to endure the pain and financial loss necessary to achieve a smooth back simply to look like a pretty boy. I am charming, fun, smart, and witty and if a girl is going to discount me because of some unfortunate hair growth then it is probably best that I recognize that she is not the kind of woman I am in the market for anyway, right? Right. Some might call "sour grapes" on this kind of attitude and that is fine with me. Those are most likely those are the people who have just been spurned due to their own shallowness. That being said, a young woman reached down the back of my shirt and felt my back hair in a bar the other night. Whether she was disgusted or not is unknown to me, because the acted with grace and tact by not freaking out one way or the other. The world needs more people like that. As a final note on this bit here, I'll ask again for comments to be posted here--this time by the ladies only--stating your opinions on back hair, or hair in general, being a dealbreaker. Do not let anything I have said sway you, be honest and open, because life is more fun that way. Thanx.

The other part of being yourself that has me thinking today is the idea of acting differently than you instinctively would in any given situation. Obviously there are exceptions to this idea, such as farting at black-tie affairs, and really anything where manners should come first, but people should also try to represent themselves as true to form as they can in every day life, I think. While dining today with a female co-worker the subject of the behavior of young men came up. In asking my advice it was related that, having insisted upon this young woman taking his phone number he failed to return the ensuing call. I tried to offer advice, but the best I could do was suggest the way that I would find most humorous if accosted by a woman whom I had failed to call back. It occurred to me that this would be the natural response from the kind of girl I find interesting, but it might not be my friends automatic way of handling things. As a clarification, the way I told her to approach the young man was to say "Way to call me back, DICK!", an answer that I would find charming in its roughness, but perhaps would not work on other men. The point being that sometimes suggestions do not offer answers, and that people are better of going with their own true-blue inclinations rather than what others suggest or what they think someone else would expect. Honesty IS the best policy, so DON'T have a different act for different groups of friends or acquaintances but DO know how to handle yourself in myriad social situations--this includes being polite and charming, no matter what.

Okay, I think that's all for now. I'm really sleepy, but everybody should really get back to me on that back-hair thing. I really do want to know, and it is as easy as clicking on the little comment button at the bottom of this post. It won't take a second, and you'll barely feel a thing.

-A.R. Leith

Suggestions for today: If anybody finds themselves with a little spare time and they don't want to spend it helping me apply depillatory cream to my back they should check out these two essays that I have read lately that made me laugh out loud. The first one is by David Sedaris and is (I think) called "Six to Eight Black Men", and the other is by Dave Eggers called "Your Mother and I". Both are good, and funny, so turn off the goddamn TV for an hour and read something. Thank you, and goodnight.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

There is no way I am having "Sponge Bob" in the house of GOD!

Did you ever notice how sometimes life seems just a little bit brighter on mornings when you are hung-over? Some of the brightness is for more obvious reasons, like you forgot your sunglasses, and there is a giant ball of burning gas hanging in the sky, intent on doing you harm in a variety of ways. But there are other, more subtle, sorts of fun that come as pleasant surprises when your brain takes a little time for itself, and these will be enumerated here:

1. I woke up this a living room...on a couch...with a cute girl on the adjacent loveseat. I am in no way intoning that anything "sordid" happened between this lovely young lady and me, but rather stating that it is always nice to wake up in the same room with attractive people. Simple as that. It is especially helpful when you have recently consumed large quantities of malt liquor. Basically, my brain hurts this morning.

2. As I was gingerly making my way to the red-line this morning I happened upon a father and two small children standing in the doorway to their townhome. Ordinarily this situation would not have been all that amusing, except that the little boy in this family DID NOT want to go to church. He was trying to bring toys with him. A stance that I completely understand, because church is boring. It is like those classes where they have you read every page of the textbook and then lecture directly-out-of-the-textbook. Those classes are not fun. At any rate, the debate culminated with the father beginning to count (Does anybody else remember counting? That used to put the fear in me something fierce when I was a youngster.) and declaring "There is no way I am having 'sponge bob' in the house of god!" Which was made even more amusing by his thick Chicago accent.

3. McMotherfuckingGriddles! (Mike, buddy, you wanna stop?) I had some time to kill in Union Station this morning, and decided to indulge in the bit of bowel-flushing sin that is McDonald's breakfast. Feeling daring and more than a little loopey after my morning stroll in the summer sun I opted for the number nine breakfast...baconeggandcheese McGriddles, hashbrowns, OJ. Now, I have long been opposed to the McGriddles--mostly based on the seemingly arbitrary pluralization--and I figured that if you are going to slander something on a near daily basis you ought to at least "know your enemy" as they say. Needless to say, I feel dirty. Like I might need a long bath and absolution from a priest to get over my morning meal. Fuckingsyrupflavoredminipancakesandwich! Whoever invented this little gem should be stoned. (And not in the "hey man you want to play frisbee" sense, more in the "you have just blasphemed in early C.E. Rome" sense.) Just like I believe that catty women are the reason that a lot of young women hate themselves, and each other--well, that and shallow controlling men, but men like that are douche bags anyway--I similarly believe that McGriddles and their ilk are the reason that so many Americans are grotesquely overweight. I hate fat people. And being one, that takes a good dose of self-loathing to admit, but it's true. It is a lifestyle bred of laziness, that people should not be let off the hook for, being fat is not a disease any more than any other voluntary activity. Generally these activities are the path of least resistance, but that is hooey. That's right, hooey!

4. This is the last one--I promise. Today is gay pride parade day here in the Windy City and, while I didn't go to the parade itself per se, I did get to see some of the people who would be there as they were getting off the train this morning on their way to the festivities. So, it was a parade of sorts for me. I think it is kind of odd that I immensely enjoy watching people celebrate, but rarely enjoy celebrating myself. But it did a lad good to see all the people in full party mode this morning. Although, I don't know that so many people should have been so drunk at 10 in the morning. I think that having to set an alarm to start drinking might be one of the early signs that "you have a problem". Unless, of course, it is the last day of the ski I guess everyone has their "thing".

-A.R. Leith

p.s.- Most "peasant shirts" look like maternity wear on almost all women, so take it easy ladies, I don't care what any of the major labels are doing, it's just a bad idea. But that's just one man's opinion (if you don't count Eric, Suzanne, and some other people, who seem to share the same opinion.) Thank you, and goodnight.

Friday, June 24, 2005

In Addition

Apparently my mother got wind of the subject of today's earlier blog entry and wanted everyone to know that she, too, had a prodigeous day on the procelain. I don't know if people are going to be sad or happy about this. Most likely the emotions will be disgust, apathy, or pity, but whatever. I just want to say that sometimes it is good to go out for the evening with your family and have a good session of coctails. We only went to four bars and one house tonight, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Also I would like to mention that the temperature has crested the mid-nineties here this week, and I have had to re-incarnate a long lost tradition. Living in the "high desert" and the mountains has lead to a very low moisture lifestyle for me, where lotion is a daily application. However, being in the middle west--with it's infamous humidity--I was forced to talc up this afternoon. It is really a wonderful thing that everyone should try if they are ever faced with humid conditions in their life. It gives everything a much more loose and freewheeling atmosphere, and I think more ladies were checking me out tonight than ever before. Okay, ta ta.

-A.R. Leith

My Buttocks; Supple They Are Not...

Everybody poops. In fact, I think there is even a book by that title. But the fact is that I had to take a deuce this morning. That fact, taken on its own, is no great shakes I assure you. However, I had been a little backed up lately--a situation that I feel contributed to my recent bout of lower back pain. So, here's the recipe that always helps me in this situation:

1- 20oz. Cafe Mocha (double espresso)
2- Packets of instant oatmeal (cooked and stirred)
1- Qt of water
Mix all of these ingredients liberally in your stomach. But be sure you don't have plans for an hour or so afterwards, unless you don't concern yourself with feeling shame when defecating in your trousers. There is a bubbling sensation and everything is ready. Find yourself a sanitary porcelain mount, and go to town. Be sure to have plenty of two-ply, reading material, and a shower ready. Ta-Da!

Okay, that was kind of gross. Wasn't that gross? I think that was gross. I can't believe we just talked about it. Actually, to be fair I can absolutely believe that I typed it, but I cannot believe that YOU read it. What are you, some kind of fecalpheliac?

So, the real reason that I felt like writing today came to me when I was done with all that ugly business. I was attempting to re-assemble my outfit (which is stunning, today, by the way) and my short-pants were not cooperating. I would position them above my backside, and then quickly try to button them at the front. However, gravity and my near complete lack of a glutius conspired against me, to the point that it tood several tries before I was able to fasten the waistband.

My problem was first brought to my attention when I was pounced upon from behind in a dark concert hall by a long-time friend who was able to recognize me because, as she opined, I "have no butt". I don't really think that is a fair assessment, because I certainly have the proper muscles and there is not a simple void where the butt should be. My gluts are just on the smallish side. For this, I blame my parents. Genetics are everything in becoming a well rounded individual with a fabulously think back-side. My parents have given me everything I needed to become the man of the nineties that I am today, save for a luscious money maker. I do not really lament this, but at times it does make it uncomfortable to sit for extended periods.

I think that is all for now, but I will leave you with a list of things to think about:
1. I would make-out with Lisa Bonet (Circa The Cosby Show)
2. Artificial banana flavoring makes my skin crawl. I'm serious, it makes me want to go out and kill at night.
3. When I grow up I want to be a fire truck.
4. I want everyone who reads this to comment with a simple yes, or no, as to whether they would read a book if I wrote it, and somehow got it published. You know, just a collection of essays about everyday life. That would be fun, I think. So, please, comment.
5. Is it wrong that lately I find myself attracted to some women who are a decade my seniors?

-A.R. Leith

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

No Small Wonder?

As the judge would say, "Well, I was able to sit up and take nourishment today, so that's good." That being said I think the way these kids are going today is right down the toidy. I'm serious goddamnit, don't laugh!

Currently I am living on a block where there are no less than 15 kids at or below high school age. Now, in and of itself there is no problem with this--you know how the trends go with swinging age demographics in various neighborhoods--the kids are just fine as living breathing organisms. The first problem is that I am pretty sure that these kids are not getting enough sleep. I sleep...I think it is a well known fact by now that I am a man who enjoys a nap. The problem is that these kids, these lovable skamps, they DO NOT SLEEP! Eight in the morning is evidently time to run around screaming and jumping through sprinklers and whatnot. Then at nine or so I think they give up the auspices of playing and just stand below my bedroom window and yell a lot. You would not believe the vocabulary on these sailors they are. It's Ef this, and GD that. They're adorable, but terribly blasphemous. No one can take the lords name in vein quite like the youngest of the bunch who recently asserted that "with god as his witness" he was going to "fornicate" his older brother "with an iron rod to within an inch of his life." Touching, really.

My only solace is that the catholic gradeschool behind me is out for the summer and the all afternoon kickball games have come to an end. Naptime is safe, for the time being. I'm sure you are all pretty happy about that. I know I am.

Aaaaanyway, on to the reason for this here entry being written-
(Does it bother anyone that I used "this here" to describe the entry being written? Is it too colloquial?) (In addition to that, and recognizing the impropriety of immediately sequential parenthetical side-bars, I just got a whiff of myself and I friggin reek. My underarms have gone somewhere south of fresh, and that is not a happy time. I know nobody should really care about that--except maybe Kristen, for the obvious and previously discussed reasons--but I wanted to put everyone in the same frame of mind that I have been enjoying this morning. Namely, underslept, scared for the future, and a little stinky.) (Oh my, I got really far off track there, didn't I? I'll try harder to stay focused in the next paragraph, I promise.)

Okay, the reason I am scared for the future of america is thus: I turned on the television to some program on the Nickelodeon called "Lazy Town". The reason I titled this entry "No Small Wonder" is because I was feeling nostalgic for the good old days when there was good wholesome programming about families who adopt little girl robots, from whom we could all learn a lesson about innocence, caring, and understanding--and sometimes cheating at little league (but that is neither here nor there). Her name was Vicky, and she wore a little red dress. For many of us she was the first practical proof that Artificial Intelligence was not just some far fetched dream. That Haley Joel Osmet (sp?) is just a johnny-come-lately, and did his best work in a touching movie about senior citizens in their declining years and a pet lion. Back in my day we had Sesame Street, and I'm not talking about this borderline brain damaged Street of the modern era where they try and get kids to eat cheese and veggies by having a bilingual man and a red sock puppet (who by all accounts seems to suffer from adult infantilism). I'm talking about back-in-the-day when we had Guy Smiley, and the Count. The Motherfucking Count! The Count was pretty much the Sam Jackson of our youth and all he did was count things. What a pimp. Although I still feel that the muppets was a superior program. Where else could you find a pig spoofing Star Wars, and Sylvester Stalone singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" in duet with a Lion muppet? Nowhere, that's where.

These days the kids are watching some business where plasticised pre-teens (and one real pre-teen) solve problems caused by some subterranean super-villain and their "superhero" friend (who seems to have no super powers other than the ability to jump and do the splits at the same time, and to get super stuck in super stupid situations that the kids have to save him from). Today's lesson is that we--and by "we" I mean the youth today, even though I know this show is not directed at me--can save the day if we use teamwork. They had to save this mustachioed-so-called-Sparticus-super-hero-type because he had become dislodged from his own "super airship". Not since the nineteen forties has anybody thought it a good idea for a person who has designs on saving the day to pilot a zeppelin. Deridgables are not known for their speed, quickness, or maneuverability as a general rule. At any rate, when I turned the show on this character had somehow found himself overboard and was dangling from some sort of landing platform at the bottom of his airship. Luckily the kids were able to save the day by teaming up and using a soccer ball, the mayor, a frisbee, a golf club, and apple, a ping pong paddle, and a baseball bat in a classic frisbee opens box of soccer balls-one of which gets kicked by the mayor-to knock an apple out of a tree-which is chipped to ping pong paddler-who relays the apple to the batter-who hits a long drive to the dangling superhero-who then eats it giving him the energy to climb up and drive home. Seriously, the mayor is the only believable character in this little show. I cannot imagine what the kids are supposed to be learing from this outfit. The first time some kid tries to pass thier friend an apple using either a baseball bat OR a golf club they will learn VERY quickly that the only results this will produce will start with A and rhyme with wapple sauce. And in closing I would like to mention that this show was sponsored by neither a letter nor a number. Although it was thankfully devoid of "monsters" who have become obsessed with baked goods.

-A.R. Leith

p.s.- I would like to leave you all with a bit of christmasy summer advice in the form of a quote: "Deck the halls with drunken folly!"- The Lawrence Arms

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Okay, I had just written a very lengthy, and if I do say so myself entertaining, blog entry that was sure to delight. However, because sometimes technology works against us, like in Jurassic Park, when I went to spell check the popup blocker wouldn't allow it. So I tried a different route. The entry was completely lost. And I'm telling you, this was a REALLY good blog entry. I found myself laughing out loud as I wrote it, so if you feel you have been slighted (and you should) I would suggest writing an angry letter to whoever these clown shoes are the make things more difficult instead of easy. Oh, and also punch whomever decided that "pop-ups" were a good idea right in the kisser. Because without that asshole the "pop-up blocker" whould have even entered into it. Well fuck all...the main idea of the blog that I don't have time to rewrite now, but will get to when I have a chance was that I'm a little concerned that I might be a letcherous pervert, and that Mike and Sadie are lovely people who will undoubtedly have a long and happy life together, so happy day to them, and many more to come. Pisser! (Not to mike and sadie, to computers, bah!)

-A.R. Leith

p.s.- I don't know if this is a fluke, but every time I go to a wedding lately I get the song "not that kind of girlfriend" by the smoking popes stuck in my head. I wish someone would give it a listen and tell me if it is my psyche trying to tell me something. Werd.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The other side of the coin-

It has been said by many a person that "what you dislike in others is what you dislike in yourself." That being said I think the reason I call "bullshit" on so many people--and the reason I can tell that people are being fake or insincere--is because I myself often feel like I am insincere. I alter my behaviour to be suitable to the situation I am in. I do this because of what I view as a sense of propriety. There is a time and a place for cutting loose and being free, but there is also a time and a place to recognize that you are part of a society with a substructure of guidelines and rules which, if they were ignored all the time, would lead to a sort of chaos. Essentially, I believe in society. I believe in culture, and propriety (even though it doesn't always show.) Understanding that about myself makes me want others around me to know how to behave/act/dress for any situation in life so that it suits the situation, not a persons ability to be an individual. So many people attempt to make themselves "unique" by their outward appearance and spend little to no time making their minds and ideas unique. It's the whole "book by it's cover" thing. If you are truly your own individual it will come through, no matter what you look like on the outside, so might as well dress the part of whatever you are doing, and the singularity of who you are will find a way to shine through. It's as easy as that in my mind, if that is easy at all?

The bottom line is that I was thinking about this in the shower this morning. I could give a fuck what people think about me...deep inside. But what I don't want is people judging me on my appearance, because that keeps them from getting to know me and judging me by who I am. So I dress in the middle "Prep-core" I call the style. But I feel it's accessible. But anyone who gets to "into" one style or lifestyle or another can fornicate themselves with an iron rod, because obsessive behaviour is strange, and kind of creepy. Keep and open mind and an open heart and life will fall into place. Word up.

-A.R. Leith

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

My Prediction... that belts and sashes are going to be all the rage in Wookie fashion this season.

So, I went to the movies tonight. Actually, I went to the movies last night too, but the movie from yesterday doesn't bear mentioning here save for the fact that Iron Mike should possibly have his name mentioned when it comes time to give out statuettes.

No, no, the film experience tonight was something vastly more disappointing and upsetting. I was made to watch Star Trek Three: return of the Je...Sith, or somesuch. My reaction that is reflected here is not going to be about the movie directly--although it was both disappointing AND upsetting--but rather it shall focus on this movie, and the bevy of others like it that have surfaced lately.

What is going on in the world today that we need such rampant escapism in the theaters? Is it because they have run out of solid movie ideas in Hollywood to the point that they are just rehashing old ideas quicker than you can say thelongestyardwaroftheworldsbadnewsbearsandpeterpanwithatwist three times fast? Why all the fantasy, the science fiction, and the longing for days gone by? Is the modern world such a shitty place that we can't bear to face it? Do we need that two hour break from reality so much that any old story will do, no matter how implausible?

The biggest blockbusters of late that come to mind are: the Star Wars saga, The Lord of the Rings epic, and their ilk...including, but not limited to, Harry Potter's franchise, and some upcoming movie about a piece of furniture/dimensional portal. What, exactly, is it that we are trying to get away from? At this point I think we have all considered the fact the the world just might be a shitty place to live. Rather than owning this reality, however, everyone chooses to participate in a good deal of name calling and finger pointing, or just hide from the truth outright. It would seem that people would prefer to be whisked away to a world where the ending is most likely happy, rather than spending any time constructively coming up with a way to try and end poverty, and spread authentic liberty--rather than the liberty given out at gunpoint by heavily armed teenagers, no matter if the people were asking for it.

Take me, for a prime example. I consider myself to be well-rounded, intelligent, and at least a little bit caring. But here I am, complaining about the world (and maybe poking a little fun here and there) rather than getting off my fat ass and doing anything about it. Well that's just great. Great job, dude. But what are you gonna do, really? In a land where people are in over their heads financially just to feel "comfortable" and more than half the population will back a man based on his domestic "values" while his other hand is busy picking at a wound that would heal if left alone. (Now, this may just be me, or does it seem that if we just got our noses out of the middle east they, as a whole would not dislike us as much? I read--or heard, I forget which--somewhere the other day that something like 97% of Iraqis just want the United States to leave them alone. I don't see why we don't give it a try...what's the worst that could happen, a theocracy? That's pretty much what we have in the U.S. right now, so what gives?)

Aaaanyway, most of this came from three hours in a dark theater with a full bladder. Mostly one line in the movie struck me as interesting because I thought it relevant to modern American politics: "So this is how liberty resounding applause." I thought it touching, at least. Okay, that's all for now. Comment with any questions, comments, complaints, etc. Word.

-A.R. Leith