Monday, October 15, 2007

Fall Break = Blogapalooza!

Alright, my few and faithfuls, I apologize for the long silence interspersed with sporadic bursts of incoherent blogobabble. But no more! Um, at least, not for, uh, this week...

Because, my friends, this is one of those few weeks between August and May when my obligations are fewer, my responsibilities slacken, my free time becomes recognizable as both freedom and timeliness. Yes, my comrades in arms, it's...


What does this mean for you, my reader? Well, to start, it means you get to actually read something fresh for the first time since October 4th. And it also means a week in blogging that will live forever in tales, songs, poetry, and Internet folkdom. I will blog every day starting today, Monday, October 15th, through Sunday, October 21st. That's right! Just like a farmer's market, it's pulled right from the field and delivered ripe for you. Just like a fish market on the wharf in Maine, it's coming fresh off the boat and still wriggling until I chop it's head off and wrap it up for you. Just like Radiohead's approach to each and every album...we're talking fresh!

A preview, you demand? Well, who am I to withhold such a gem. Especially because there are those amongst you (the naysayers, the doomsday prophets, the skeptics, the cynics, the Libertarians perhaps?) who are reading this and laughing under your breath. "Sure, Elliot...right. You'll blog every day for a week. Yup. And you'll also get on your bicycle and ride it more often, too. And your cat will be voted sweetest cat of the year. And the Cardinals will win the world series this year. And pink elephants exist. And pigs fly on Tuesdays and odd dated Thursdays." Well...okay, my track record runs against me, but this is for reals, yo!

To start, there's this blog, today. Tomorrow, get ready for a super de duper Tuesday Excerpt Extravaganza! Wednesday, look for a well thought piece of politics emanating from this writer's fingertips to your browser! Thursday, get ready for an off-the-wall posting you may be talking about until Friday morning! And speaking of Friday, start firing up your creative juices now, because I am reinstating Free Write Fridays for this week only (and possibly again in the future, but for sure it's happening this week)! Will it be a play? Will it be a short story? Will it be about a guy with a thing? Will it be about a thing with a guy? Will it be about a girl with a thing for a guy? Will it be about a guy with a girl for a thing? Or about a thing with an eye for a guy with a thing for a girl with a thing for the thing? Or will it be even more perplexing, exhaustive, time-consuming, and mind bending than all previous Free Write Fridays put together? Tune in Friday! And don't forget to make suggestions! (Go ahead and start now!)

Saturday, I will revisit my "Your Questions, Answered!" feature (a week or two late to be sure) and on Sunday, a quiet reflection on Fall Break and how it compares to it's cooler Varsity-Captain-of-Every-Sport older brother, Spring Break.

Get ready!

Okay, to start the week off, I just have a few things to say.

You need to hobble on over to my links section and read Annie's blog. This fellow WGHS Class of 2001 member and Webster University Alumna is clever, insightful, hilarious, and also both gorgeous and adorable. I have been reading her blog and, to be honest, that is part of the reason I have not blogged myself in a while. You know how sometimes, you want to say something about a topic, and bam! All of a sudden, somebody says it better themselves? Well, that's Annie. And for the record, she and I have been friends for several years, but even if we didn't know each other (and I had found her blog) I would check it all the time. It's just that good.

And speaking of people saying what you wanted to say better than you could have said it, and also speaking of Annie (read her post for 10/15/07 "If You Want to Drive a Hummer, Join the Army), I would just like to talk about downtown Clayton, Missouri for a moment.

Clayton is a place where you are not judged merely by the car you drive, but also by how you drive it, and mainly by how you park it. Me? I drive a 2002 VW Jetta, which is a fairly small car. I yield to pedestrians. Often, if I am parked in the metered lot in front of the County offices where the Recorder of Deeds and Collector of Revenue are located, and somebody is desperately searching for a parking spot, I will wave to that person in their vehicle and point to my car. This has been met with a very gracious attitude for all concerned, at least at first. And most of the time, it continues with that (with maybe a little bit of a hardening when the person who takes my vacated parking spot sees how little time I've left on the meter, but I have become such a good judge of knowing just how much time it will take me to do a specific deed search that I have almost gotten meter-feeding down to a science). However, every once in a while this gracious person will be well placed to take my spot, only to be edged out at the last second because I pointed my car in the perfect direction to cut them off and leave my spot open to a spot-sharker from the other side of me. Now, one or two times I have caught this before it happened, and have either pointed my car in the direction to block the offender and allow my nameless parking-lot friend access to my spot or (as I did once last week) I suddenly "remember" something I forgot and pull back into my spot and get out, ready to feed the meter...the offender will invariably speed off and then I will flag down the original person and quietly reassure them with hand gestures that this is their parking spot and nobody else's. Now, nobody has ever done this for me, but that's okay. Parking in Clayton is, after all, a dog-eat-dog world, as is evidenced by the number of times I have sat with my blinker on, waiting seemingly interminable minutes while somebody who has just gotten into their car starts it, gets settled, changes CDs, makes a phone call, adjusts their mirrors, rolls down their windows and whatever else they may be doing, only to be blocked out by the way they reverse and then to subsequently lose the spot to somebody who just drove up in the last three seconds...and it is invariably a white pick-up truck with a cover over the truck bed. I am not a mean person, but I have been tempted to spit on this truck or park next to it and haphazardly open my door into it. But spitting has only ever backfired on me, and opening my door into somebody else's car damages both of those cars. I once approached him after one of this parking-space usurping moments and he made snide comments, so in retaliation, I left a note like this under his windshield wiper:

"Excuse me - I was waiting for this spot. I clearly had my blinker on. There was a line of cars behind me patiently waiting for me to pull into this spot so they could continue their trek to find a parking spot. When you swooped in, you made me incredibly angry and made it useless for those people behind me to have waited. And then, when I very rightfully approached you about it, because it was clearly a space I had been waiting patiently for-as any of the people behind me or the person who left the spot before you took it could tell you-you decided to act like more of a jerk and tell me it was too bad I didn't get into the spot, because there was an hour and a half on the meter. You're an extremely terrible person, an asshole, and I sincerely hope that one day your bad driving habits land you in a ditch. Signed, The Silver Jetta."

Since there are numerous silver Jettas that park in and around this parking lot on a daily basis, I do not fear retaliation of any kind.

Now...crossing the street is another matter I wish to address. And most of the drivers in Clayton are very good about letting pedestrians cross, even if it does make them sit for longer than the standard three seconds at the stop sign (of course, it's St. Louis, so the tradition is to actually roll the stop sign, but...). However, last week I encountered somebody so rude, so terribly rude that I actually called them on it. You see, there was a crowd of people waiting at the crosswalk to cross from Memorial Square to the aforementioned parking lot (I was parked on the street and not in the lot, but I still had to cross towards the lot to get to my car. I like to park on the street. Nobody can open their car door into mine on the street), and this jerk in a black H2 came up to the intersection. Feeling assured that this person would stop, the other pedestrians and I began crossing. I was at the front of this intrepid troupe of foot-commuters (I also try to park as far away as I can to get some exercise), when the guy did not stop but rolled right through the stop sign, it was my head that would have been taken off by his enormous rear view mirror if I had not at the last moment realized his intentions. Seriously, my nose was inches from that mirror. So, he blew by and I stormed past the back of his car as he drove on, made myself visible in the driver's side rear view mirror and raised my arms in the classic "Hey, asshole, what the hell are you doing?" pose.

And he stopped. And so did all of the people crossing the street with me, and so did all the people crossing from the opposite side. And then I shouted loud enough for the asshole to hear me through his open window, "What?" I wanted him to get out. I wanted him to come up to me and size me up and realize he could kick the crap out of me. I wanted him to do that. I was ready to sacrifice myself to the beating so that his H2 would idle for five minutes and burn twelve gallons of gas. But that wasn't about to happen. He would have to have gotten out of his H2 and sized up a round two dozen people who were stopped in the crosswalk. So he peeled off without word, without gesture. His only response was the very timid and brief squeal of his tires as he slammed on the gas pedal...and in the process, probably burned those twelve gallons I wanted him to waste. On my way back to the office, I noticed a black H2 at the gas station across Clayton Road from my office. Was it him? Unfortunately, black H2s are a dime a dozen in Clayton, so probably not. But there it was, at a gas station. Pumping an entire Saudi oil field's daily production into its tank. And I felt good about the 34 mpg I was getting driving around the city.

So I took This Quiz a couple weeks ago to help me find out who I should vote for. It's a series of questions about issues such as health care, defense, education, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, etc., and you either agree, disagree, or don't care about the issue. Then you rate it in importance, in five steps I think, from not important to very important. At the end, it tells you who your candidate is. I got Kucinich, agreed with him on everything it seems, followed by Hilary, Edwards, Obama, and then on down the line. This works great, I mean, it's not scientific or anything, but it does match you with the candidate that correlates more or less to your political ideals. However, a lot of Americans seem to vote not on the issues as a whole, but on one or two issues. I also see a lot of political apatheticness in the ranks of people who want Bush out. The attitude, it seems, is "Anybody but Bush." This hardly seems like a good deal. Do we want Cheney? I think he'd make an even worse president. I mean...if everybody took the time to think about the issues and say, "This is what I believe to be important, and this is how I feel this should be approached..." and then sat down and really took a look at the people who are in the running for the job of President of the United States...I mean, that's president of the entire country people...then I don't know that we'd have as much support for Hilary and Obama. Look, it's not like they're not strong candidates. I happen to agree with Hilary's health care stance. I happen to think that Obama is a charismatic individual with great ideas. Politically, they are both very clever. Obama's already aired his dirty laundry, so he is immune to the "Did you inhale?" attacks that plagued Clinton (however briefly). But I think both of these candidates have a lot of appeal to the masses because of attributes not related to how effectively they could do the job. Lots of people are behind these candidates because it would be a first with either one of them; a black president? A female president? Huge strides in America, yes. I want to see both of these things happen. But before I put anyone in office, I am going to look not at their race, or their gender, or their religion, but at their ideas and their ideals. And their game plan. If Kucinich could garner some of that Rock Star persona that Obama has, or some of that instant recognition that Hilary has, that would be great. I would love to have everybody I know casting their vote for Kuninich. But even that's not true, because not everybody I know agrees with his political ideals. What am I trying to say here? Take the quiz. Answer as truthfully as you can. Find out more about whoever comes out on top. Do yourself that favor. I would rather you vote for the candidate who would build the America you want to see than voting for the one who is the most popular, even if that candidate is the one I am voting for.

That having all been Kucinich.


Becca said...

Apparently I should also vote for Kucinich. However, that particular quiz didn't include an environment section, and only had democratic and republican candidates, so I remain skeptical.

BTW, I've been faithfully checking your blog for weeks now, only to repeatedly read about your French photography teacher. So I'm really excited you'll be re-living the glory days of summer blogging. Whether or not I'll have time to check and read every day is another matter (I have my first exam tomorrow. It's worth 50% of my grade for the year for the class... I need to do well!).

Anyways, my suggestion for Free write Friday (despite my brain being absolute mush from the amount of stuff I've been trying to cram into in the past 4 days -
I'll spare you the details) is to write something terribly controversial. The writing should be good, but the topic should be iffy (i.e. not everyone would agree with - maybe not even you). For example - say that in order to conserve energy (and reduce C02 emissions) and try to prevent a global disaster from global warming, the US introduced some mandatory social reforms... What if gas went up to $5 a gallon? What if it went up to $10? What about limiting the number of children people can have to curb population and the use of natural resources? What if transportation costs became so high that we could no longer ship goods, food, etc. from China and Asia? What if the US economy goes down the toilet?

Ok... I've clearly gone off the deep end here. Brain is tired. Signing off!

Becca said...

oh, btw i figured I will ask some questions, while I'm at it.

What is your stance on global warming? What are you personally willing to do to reduce your carbon footprint?

Did you finish the magic 8 ball story?

Do you think money is the root of all evil, and capitalism is the devil?

ok, i think that's enough for now... until your next blog!

Annie said...

1. I cannot stand spot sharks! Sure, there are times when you may need to park closer, but I believe that 90% of spot sharks are repeat offenders. There is a reason 1/3 of our adults are obese, people.
2. How are people so self-obsessed and distracted that they miss a gaggle of pedestrians?! Outrageous! C'mon, people... get out of yourself for a second and look around! Gah!
3. Friday Suggestions: You should probably write about the English department at WU...
4. Thank you, Elliot. I resisted the urge to giggle in my office when I read you tell readers to visit my blog. Grrrriiiin! Lookin' forward to your week of blogomaniatasticness!

Molly said...

I'm exhausted from reading just this one day's worth of blogging. I don't know if I can take a whole week! If only you'd listen to your mother and embrace brevity. Wasn't it a great writer himself who said "it's better to keep your mouth shut and appear foolish (or idiotic or stupid or something) than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Ok, that doesn't really apply here, but it's a lesson I've learned the hard way many times.

For free write Friday, here's my suggestion: Waylon, a 56 year old bachelor, meets a 78 year old woman at his mother's funeral and inexplicably falls madly in love with her. (ick)

And here's a question for you: Is Waylon gay?