On Being A Small Blue Dot In A Dark Red, Theocratic State

Just for fun, since I am doing some long-overdue digital housekeeping, here’s an article from 2007. This is, you’ll note, before Barack Obama was elected President. You may want to keep that part in mind when you read (that, and this is dated; I don’t get newspapers dumped on my lawn anymore–if you stop paying them, they do eventually cut it out–and those unwanted Pennysaver rags can’t be stopped by anything short of a very, VERY high wall).


I’ve also been catching up on the massive pile of newspapers–the newspapers I didn’t want and which rarely arrive (or which get swiped before I go fetch them from the puddles in the driveway, where they always end up)–and which are 90% adverts. Somehow a WTOC “news” paper ended up in the reading spot instead of being pitched, unread, into a bin. Each time I have attempted to read it, it makes me develop frown wrinkles.

WTOC 11 is one of a handful of local “news” channels, and, I’m 99% sure, they are responsible for the advert I groused about previously, which involved a rich white guy standing behind a White Baby Jesus nativity scene and reading ponderously from The Bible, which started airing in October, thus earning two frownie marks at once. October is for Hallowe’en (and my birthday), but not for pushing Christmas down my throat before I’m out of overpriced, undersized Tootsie Pops. Also, not everyone down here is Christian, though it sometimes sure seems like it. Maybe I’m grumpy, but it seems foolish for a supposedly unbiased news channel to air religious propaganda. Since they are FOX NEWS-lite, though, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

To my surprise and delight, though I couldn’t find the original article online (their website is terrible), I did find a comment from someone at Fort Stewart (military, of course) who grumped about another article Bill Cathcart (the article writer, and The Highest Muckity Muck at the station) penned wherein Cathcart misinterpreted Dennis Kucinich’s recent nay vote (unrelated to the article I’m grumping about, but intended to spark discussion about the “real” reasons behind the Iraq war and 9/11 and so on, from what I gathered) and wound up talking about Christianity for the last 2/3 or the article, which had fuck all to do with anything. The military guy patiently posted the more accurate details about the Kucinich vote and then complained that the pro-GOP and pro-Jesus stuff was really unnecessary. Word. And all the more “word” because, lo and behold, it proves that at least one of the many military d00dz in Jesusland is capable of having a lick of sense, and thinking for himself. (Imagine how popular he must be among his peers. Poor guy.)

Enjoy the article, which I have transcribed for your pleasure, and which would otherwise be lost to the mists of time (even the Wayback Machine failed me):

“Like the continual drip of a rusted faucet, ridiculous actions never cease. Two more servings of compost scooped from the heap. Several high school students in ever-progressive Boulder, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms to protest the daily recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance, which includes, of course, our much-cherished tribute to God’s guidance. These left-ward youngsters chose to recite, instead, their own secular version, claiming that ours violates the Constitution’s “separation” clause, which, as you well know, does not exist.”

ZOMG! Two teenagers not wanting to pray at school! The horror! How “ridiculous”! What “compost”!

Shall we take bets on where Cathcart stands on the Creationism v. Evolution battlelines? No?

And when did “progressive” become a BAD thing? Honestly?

“Look, you want to write your own wedding vows, have at it. But you do not edit the American citizen’s pledge of loyalty to suit your own Mother Earth needs. Chalk up another one to social studies replacing history classes, and our trendy micro-focus on self. Forget our country; it’s me that counts. And, oh, by the way, God, thanks for the earth and stuff, but we’ve got it handled, so we’re cutting you loose.” 

First, let us applaud Cathcart’s generous offer to allow people to write their own vows without his disapproval. What a great guy!

Whereas I do agree that “micro-focus on self” is a problem a lot of kids seem to be afflicted with these days, and it is something I might fuss about in the future, I disagree that it runs hand in hand with Gaea worship (or that this might be wrong, as religion is a personal thing, thanks). I also resent the constant reminder, by fundies, that they take the whole Genesis thing really, really literally.

“Colorado requires its schools to read the Pledge daily over the PA. Students may either recite or stand quietly. So, with their Constitutional objection bogus, kids opting out, or even refusing to simply listen to our Pledge, must either be confused about where they are, or prefer to commit their allegiance to some other nation or galaxy. Ah, the sweet arrogance of youth.”

You can bet that if the school recited a “Gaea pledge” every morning that Cathcart would be railing against this just as strenuously as he is railing against the students who are trying to find a middle ground where they can still pledge allegiance to America without bringing someone else’s religious beliefs into it. Because they don’t want to pledge allegiance to someone else’s God, they are automatically bad kids. I don’t agree.

Some “other nation or galaxy”? What the eff?

“And speaking of professing allegiance to a nation other than America, according to a just-released Opinion Dynamics voter poll, 5% of Republicans, 7% of Independents and 19% of Democrats feel that the world would be better off if the United States lost the war in Iraq! Incredible and despicable. Talk about being self-possessed, or more likely, just plain possessed. While they have a right to that opinion, they should be absolutely ashamed to have it, given that this foolishness is just all about punishing President Bush. Our country and its future be damned.”

Note the TINY percentage of people who disagree with Cathcart’s point of view, here, and it is STILL pissing him off, though he graciously allows that they have the right to disagree. Even so, he just knows that they feel this way because they are out to punish Bush. There could be no other reason for their opinion. Furthermore, since they are so wrong-headed, they should be ashamed! SHAME on them for holding a different opinion, because clearly that also means they don’t give a crap about Amurika and where it is going.

Or, conversely, maybe they care A LOT, and didn’t like seeing tens of thousands of people dying for a trumped-up war that has produced no WMDs and where the trigger point was ostensibly 9-11, something NO Iraqis have been tied to, ever. (But the Saudis are our political buddies, you know.)

He can NOT stand it that even a small handful of people, of all political persuasions, disagree with him (and Bush). How can they not see the WISDOM and RIGHTNESS of the war? How can they say it would be okay to LOSE? How HORRIBLE and un-American!

GAH! People like this drive me crazy.

“By the way, those ex-patriots might want to remember that wish when the center of their city is in ruins, since a loss in Iraq clearly beckons further attacks here.”

Oh, CLEARLY. Because Iraqis flew planes into buildings, you know. And killing as many of them you can get your hands on will stop the random handful of nutburgers who embarrass their less-crazed neighbors by kamikazi-ing into stuff for the promise of seventy virgins and a mess of figs and honey in the afterlife.

Maybe losing the war would be unpleasant, but since we foolishly got into that mess on false pretenses in the first place, I don’t know that sticking it out is going to magically make things all better.

“Beyond un-American and pro-terrorist, defeat-at-any-price is imbecilic. Our loss there would be catastrophic, for Iraq, for the Middle East, for Europe, for the United States. To actually embrace defeat, people have to be out of their minds. Oh, wait, that’s it. They are! And they don’t belong in this country.”


Translation: “You disagree with me? You are crazy, and you need to leave the country.” Sir, if you will pay for my relocation, I will gladly take you up on your kind non-offer.

Now, let’s discuss.

Separation of church and state is a political and legal idea usually identified with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

The phrase building a wall of separation between church and state was written by Thomas Jeffersonin a January 1, 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association. (Wikipedia)

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” (Thomas Jefferson)

… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities. (James Madison)

What Cathcart is saying (which is actually true) is that the exact phrase “separation of church and state” itself does not appear in the Constitution, but, on the other hand, he’s a bit wrong-headed as well, as it has been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.

The phrase “separation of church and state” became a definitive part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947), a case which dealt with a state law that allowed the use of government funds for transportation to religious schools.

While the ruling upheld that the state law (allowing federal funding of religious schools) as constitutional, Everson was also the first case to hold the Establishment Clause applicable to the state legislatures as well as Congress, based upon the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In 1962, the Supreme Court extended this analysis to the issue of prayer and religious readings in public schools. In Engel v. Vitale 370 U.S. 421 (1962), the Court determined it unconstitutional by a vote of 6-1 for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools, even when it is non-denominational and students may excuse themselves from participation.

As such, any teacher, faculty, or student can pray in school, in accordance with their own religion. However, they may not lead such prayers in class, or in other “official” school settings such as assemblies or programs, including even “non-sectarian” teacher-led prayers. […]

The court noted that it “is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America.”

In short, Cathcart is both right, in that the exact phrase does not appear in the particular document he cites, and wrong, in that he seems to be wilfully ignoring what our Founding Fathers intended and what more enlightened laws have underscored since.

What always boggles me is how Righty Whitey Christian Americans, generally speaking, are not in favour of other theocracies world-wide, but are all in favour of having one here. When Kennedy was running for office, a vicious tide of anti-Papist / anti-Catholic rhetoric spewed forth like sewage from a leaky pipe. Guess what? Since the majority of rich white people in charge of things at the time were not Catholic, suddenly they became more amenable to the idea of separation of Church and State, because they genuinely feared that Kennedy’s religious beliefs would interfere with his Presidential duties. They were more amenable, because their idea of religion was not shared by, arguably, the then most powerful man in the country.

Now that the arguably currently most powerful man in this country is a Born Again ex-cokehead Righty Whitey idjit who feels the need to inflict his religion on the country as a whole, the rich white dudes in power think separation of Church and State is now a BAD idea. Wonder why.

My prediction: we are going to be hearing how separation of Church and State “doesn’t really exist” or it is a bad idea UNTIL, by a miracle, some non-Protestant person is elected as President. And with the level of political corruption in this country, do you really think that will happen any time soon? Honestly? Right now, generally speaking, it supposedly “looks pretty good” for Democrats. This, I am telling you, will bring out some of the most vicious, underhanded, pro-Jesus flagwaving xenophobic mutts you ever saw during the next Presidential campaign.

What I’d love is a President who gets into office (without help from governor brothers, denying African Americans their vote, or friendship with the guy who OWNS Diebold) as a WASP-acceptable candidate and then converts to Judaism, which is a religion most of my sane friends practice, or something else that would make the rich white Jesus freaks go bananas. We might even get some “no backsies” laws that might actually stick that make it crystal clear that the State has no damn business dabbling about with religion of any stripe or type.

Last time the issue went before the Supreme Court, they punted, all the better to avoid truly clarifying the damn policy once and for all.

Sadly, I can not predict with certainty that we’ll have a Dem in office next go ’round, because the frontrunners, last I checked, are either female or black, and there are enough folks out there who are uncomfortable with both or either to potentially jigger the election for whoever the Repubz decide to nominate.

Do I personally think Jesus is “bad”? No, actually. I also know plenty of people who are devout and not hypocritical about it, and they don’t see the need to convert everyone else to their point of view, because they have the sense to understand that religious belief is deeply personal and private.

Some websites you may find interesting:

Americans, generally speaking, do not like or want to try to understand other theocracies, often nattering on about how wrong-headed and foolish those beliefs are, and comparing their own flavour of (usually) Christianity favorably to those other beliefs. As has been done for centuries, a particular type of Christian is really not into “live and let live” when it comes to competing religious beliefs. Not satisfied with their own personal salvation and religious beliefs, they feel the need to force everyone else to think and feel the same exact way, and to accept the same view of God as they have. I never understood that.

I especially don’t understand it when it involves two earnest, buzzcut-sporting, zitty teens in neckties (riding bikes) who insist on waking me up on the weekend.

I don’t understand the kind of mind that condemns the entire Muslim religion based on the actions of a handful of fanatical Muslim assrods, while conveniently neglecting to recall offenses a handful of fanatical Christian assrods have perpetrated throughout the ages.

I don’t understand the kind of mind that is so xenophobic and jingoistic as to say things like “America! Love it or leave it!” while forgetting that America is about preserving personal freedoms and rights, as long as those do not infringe upon other people’s freedoms and rights. Technically. Officially. Well, that’s what they keep telling us.

And meanwhile they are also forgetting that a lot of other countries sincerely hate our American guts, and don’t want any of the average American personality types to soil their country. Given that I don’t like the average American and average American interests (including political ignorance, dislike of reading, spelling and grammar, choices in mostly crap entertainment, their mostly crap musical preferences, their mostly crap etiquette, especially their crap dating behavior, overly indulgent or completely hands-off parenting, pro-tanorexic fashion, anti-intellectualism, false piety combind with judgmental behavior when faced with anyone who falls into the “other” category, materialism, use of animals / babies as accessories, and so on and so on) much myself, I can’t really blame them.

I guess I am incredibly angry that, say, Paris Hilton merits even one line of press, whereas actual NEWS news is considered too “unsexy” to bother with at all. (Example: I’m irritated that I even know “New York” is a person as well as a place, though what she does or contributes to the world, well, THAT I do not know.) And we’re infecting the rest of the world with the same crap values (though, to be fair, the UK has us beat where it comes to the “build ’em up then tear ’em down” trivial non-news “reporting” and publishing).

I guess if you say “we’re the best country on Earth” often enough, some folks really start to believe it. I’d say the truth somewhere in the middle: that we do a lot of things right and our intentions are generally good, but we mess up in a lot of areas, too, and you can’t acknowledge one side, the side where we do something really right, without also admitting to the other side, the one where…hoo boy!…have we ever got some work to do.

I think I need some caffeine and a lie down.



Did you catch that bit about how it would be hilarious if we got a President in office who announced he wasn’t Christian? Well, instead we got a Christian that the conservative nutbags among us keep swearing is really a Secret Muslim.

It is probably best that we didn’t enrage the crazy people by having him announce he was giving up bacon permanently and converting to Judaism, after all.





If You Can’t Draw, Maybe The ‘Draw Something’ Game Is Not For You

Question: Why do people who can’t or won’t draw something want to play Draw Something?! I’m getting annoyed with people just writing the clues out. They must be the same maroons who shoot video at concerts with a potato and upload stuff to YouTube, where the resulting video clip makes you think you have been slipped some bad acid.

Screen shot 2011-04-04 at 11.45.09 PM


Admittedly, the game has some stupid clues sometimes, some of which are irritating pop culture phrases or names, like ”blueivy,” ”ladygaga,” ”bieber,” but, FFS, if we play several rounds and you always just write the damn word out, you are playing the wrong game.

I’m just saying.

Once in a blue moon, I understand someone needs a stupid clue word to earn a badge and has no idea how to draw ”seacrest,” but writing the words each and every time? You people suck, get the F out of my drawing game.

And if you can’t spell and constantly give up because you can’t spell simple words, like trying to spell “stapler” as “stapole,” whatever the hell a stapole is, or if you are seven years old and don’t know what half the words even mean, then you can F off too. You are spoiling my fun! Grr! Argh!

I’m supposed to be relaxing, here. WTF, people. Dammit, do not play drawing games if you can’t even draw a cat, a tree, or a flippin’ stick person. You’re pissing me off. I don’t judge people who aren’t great at art if they at least TRY to draw something. Which is, may I remind you, the name of the damn game in the first place.

Just to prove that I don’t slack off myself, here are a few sketches I did. I can’t show the animations (I like to illustrate verbs by having a character do whatever the word clue says they need to do, and the game shows the steps you take when drawing stuff so you can erase and redraw and such), but I can show the end results. Once I figured out you could save the stupid things, I was on the verge of rage-quitting due to non-drawing slack-asses, so there aren’t many of them:

196318_10100243364113557_193575304_n 73310_10100243364143497_1795270291_n 321487_10100243364168447_245640258_n 19197_10100243364188407_1926690147_n 558191_10100243364233317_686581687_n 397467_10100243364258267_1246300434_n 394825_10100243364273237_58784948_n

Note that 99% of these entries are DRAWINGS.

Incidentally, though most of my opponents guessed well and drew well, SOME of my opponents missed THREE of those clues I shared above, and the game gives you, like, 12 letters to use, lets you know how long the puzzle’s word is, and even gives you a “bomb” tool that removes all the wrong letters. The game also repeats the same clues a lot, especially those for badges. You should eventually figure out some of the weirder ones from context clues.

So I’m extra-annoyed.

How do you fuck up guessing “Kermit”? Does it not look like Kermit? Jesus Christ. I need a drink.

None of you people are allowed to play Pictionary with me, either.

Help People Gift You With Nice Things By Not Being Obnoxious

Yesterday evening I spent a few glorious hours doing almost nothing. Lazy? Yes. Gleefully so.

Well, I’ve done the usual house proud things like thinking really hard about finding the broom and dustpan, washing the dishes, feeding myself, doing a hell of a lot of loads of laundry (effort that will be for naught if I don’t actually put the clean stuff away…like, today), supervising a three day long house power wash that seems to have literally knocked the old shack askew (all doors are now sticking and are a potential “will die in a fire” hazard because they are hard as hell to open and close), and trying to gently urge new-by-marriage family members I only talk to once a year (but like a lot) to please, for the love of Santa, make out a frickin’ Amazon wishlist so I don’t give up in disgust and go buy them all oven mitts and candle baskets and singing penguins to make a point.

They refuse to do this for Christmas, they refuse to do it for anniversaries, they refuse to do it for birthdays. Why is this? I know I’m poor, but I’m trying, here. (If someone is offering to get you EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT for a gift, then throw them a frickin’ bone and put at least two or three items on a frickin’ list, OKAY? Is that so wrong? It’s not gauche or vulgar if someone begs you to do it so their gift shopping is not a pain in the ass! Honest! Do you WANT a Chia Pet? Don’t make me get you a fruitcake for Christmas, because I’ll do it, people. Sigh.)

Here’s another annoying thing you shouldn’t do: My mom has this “don’t spend your money” whenever it is coming up on a gift-giving event, and says shit that translates into an “I would much prefer you to spend three weeks sweating over an original painting that will cost you $200 in supplies, not that you have that kind of cash, and will require elbow room and space in which to actually paint, space which you do not have” routine that ruins the little joy I get out of, for example, the ONLY THING I LIKE ABOUT CHRISTMAS, which is giving other people stuff they want. I like birthday giving and Valentine’s Day giving and holiday giving in general, but I don’t like not having anything to give, no money to get anything to give, and suggestions made in a combination of innocence and ignorance that basically ask me to spend hundreds of dollars and days of time on an Easter basket gift or something equally minor. I get that it is supposed to be a compliment, but when you’re told that art supplies aren’t cheap, when you have helped me buy not-cheap art supplies, and when you know it takes hours to do something half-way decent, your suggestion that I “just make something, you know, with your art skills” is thoroughly annoying.

So cut that shit out.

But I digress. What else did I not-do while enjoying a rare respite from constant stress and an over-booked schedule? Well, I’ve read a lot. And taken a nap. A nap! What luxury!

Okay, I’m not done with the gift giving thing. Bear with me.

Helpful hint: if you tell someone not to spend money on you after they already have, or you reject all offered gift item suggestions (there’s a reason you were being offered a limited list, probably due to finances or the estimated ease of getting you what you want in time for the event), or profess to hate and refuse to use “we sell everything” online wishlists (like Amazon) to suggest instead a gift that was NOT offered and which would be a huge pain in the ass, expensive, and time-consuming for the giver, you are not being courteous and polite, you are being a jerk. Stop that. Did I offer you a damn pony? No. No, I did not.

Just for that, you are getting a fruitcake, and I don’t care if it is February. (It was stale in December, it ain’t getting any less stale.)

Likewise, if someone has made a point of saying that they never, ever shop at Wal*Mart or K-Mart, do not think you’re being cute if you gift them with a $15 Wal*Mart gift card that forces them to look at all the overpriced, limited, lame items on the Wal*Mart website, because the recipient is still not going to drive across town and suffer Wal*Hell. I got one a few years ago, held onto it for months, not knowing WTF to do with it, and almost just threw it out. HOWEVER, did I complain to the giver and remind them that I’d told them (OFTEN!) that Wal*Mart is on my “never give this company a dime” list, or that their gift was thus unappreciated? I DID NOT. I was very grateful, and very appreciative. The thought, however passive-aggressive, was probably well-intentioned. I suspect that my birthday snuck up on the givers and they bundled the gift in with the weekly groceries, because they DO shop at Wal*Mart, frequently, and their Wal*Mart has a grocery section. See, as I didn’t expect anything at all, I was glad to get what I got. I just didn’t know how to use it, and that took some thinking.

This, however, is why I don’t want to just randomly run out and buy giftcards. I personally may love Target. Do you? Not everyone does. Some gift cards I get if I can afford to celebrate Christmas in Atlanta every year require that I shop IN Atlanta before driving home, because the stores DO NOT EXIST down here and the cards expire in a few months, and there’s either no website or the cards have to be used in person in a store.

Which brings me back to my earlier gripe: FILL OUT AN AMAZON WISHLIST, PLEASE. Some of us do not like going in person to a store, be it to buy something for themselves or to buy gifts for others. Don’t make us do it. I was 100% more happy when I figured out that I could do most of my Christmas shopping online and even get stuff wrapped and shipped for me. Now I can’t afford to even buy a candy cane in the penny bin for someone, but back when I could, online shopping was SO much better than dealing with parking, crowds, limited store hours, thieves trying to steal your shit, crying kids, horrible Christmas music and traffic. I will never set foot in a mall again if I can help it.


Anyway, while surfing around, struggling to figure out what these almost-strangers actually like, because they have failed to respond to my emails and calls thus far and time is running short if I want to get all this stuff shipped to me in time to wrap it and travel up there with it, I found a lot of nifty (and cranky) blogs and journals talking about holiday hell.

Not everyone enjoys the frickin’ holidays. I am often depressed and unhappy until March. I don’t enjoy all the pro-debt advertising and expectations and etiquette concerns and headaches. I struggle to be civil and positive while suffering an onslaught of holiday crap music and religious advertising from local Jesusland businesses and TV stations (!!!, no attempt whatsoever to be respectful to the large Jewish population here, for one, or to people who simply don’t want to see adverts where Le Grand Fromage of the TV station PRAYS and reads Bible verses in front of a Nativity scene during nearly every commercial break, forcing you to remember why you have cable and never watch local channels in the first place), and poorly-planned roadways that make it a pain in the butt to shift lanes, and family sulks (like how my mother is angry that I do not want to fly or drive up to Atlanta with her, even though I need my car to get from the opposite side of town to my brother and SIL’s house and back while there and am not likely to be arriving or leaving at the same time, and do not wish to be bothered with anal probes at the airport, and like how family members are often being nasty to and about my pet, and other crap).

It makes me all so tired that I get, like, TOTALLY parenthetical!!

Need MOAR semicolons. And brevity. Yup.

That said, it is nice to have the option to see family during the holidays. Since I couldn’t this year, as even buying a single tank of gas was out of my price range, my Christmas may have been a lot less stressful, but it was also really, really quiet. I didn’t hear from my family until almost 9PM Christmas night.
So, there’s that.

Mom Escapes Jury Duty

Mom was called up for jury duty, again. Right now, my days are mostly free, and I’d love to get paid to sit in a courtroom. It’d even help me with paralegal stuff. But no, I haven’t been asked to serve on a jury for over 20 years.

Anyway, Mom knows several lawyers and judges, and so chances were good that she wouldn’t have to serve, but you never know. I don’t understand jury duty. Like I said, I have never gotten a summons when I could actually participate. I’ve been several states away, in college, or in another city (please update your records, you guys), or starting a new job. When I could actually serve (like now), and have endless free time (well, not so much, but I could MAKE time for a paying gig, no matter how little it pays), I never get tapped to serve. Ridiculous. I wouldn’t mind doing my civic duty. Of course, I’m what lawyers Do Not Want. I read the news, I read true crime novels, I’m fairly bright, and I’m going to be swayed only by known and demonstrated facts, not courtroom antics and speeches.

My mom had to sit for nine hours, then–immediately upon entering the courtroom–she realized that she knew the judge (as usual; she’s lived here a long time) and had even taught the judge’s children. Dismissed! They could have saved a lot of time by asking if any of the jury pool knew the lawyers or judge right off the bat.

Another issue that bugged her was that the case was about an assault in the parking lot of a big box retail store, and the jury pool (approximately 36 people) were asked if they’d ever been assaulted. Over a third had. One had been beaten up while walking home from a frat party. Several women had been beaten by spouses or boyfriends. Some had been mugged. Another guy got into a tussle leaving a bar. My mom was a bit surprised to hear that violence was so common “these days…oh, what a world we live in.” I think we’re just lucky that statistics haven’t caught up with us yet.

The Defense wouldn’t have wanted her, anyway, because the defendant was, according to her, sitting there looking bored and smirking the whole time. She wasn’t impressed. Way to take your trial seriously and not antagonize the jury, pardner.

As a personal favour to me, can you guys refrain from mugging people or beating them up at the Wal*Mart? Thanks. Like I even have to ask, I know. Who are these people going around beating on other people? Do they have blogs? Are they on Facebook or Twitter? Probably so, as I suppose anything is possible.

Just don’t do it. Don’t assault or batter anyone. My faith in humanity is already at a low ebb. Thanks.

Childhood Outcast Horror Stories

I stumbled upon a site that shares childhood outcast horror stories and was surprised to find out that I’d apparently successfully repressed most of my childhood memories. I can remember certain culprits, and the general crappiness of the behavior, but not the dialogue. It is lost in the fogs of my memory. This is not because I was the aggressor, mind you. I had friends, but didn’t have a clue what “being popular” meant until I got to college, where, finally, as a senior, I clued in that I somehow…was.

How the hell did THAT happen?

Nowadays I’m an arsehole and no one likes me, and I cry myself to sleep every night.

Or something.

I remember just not “getting it” as a kid. I was neither cool nor uncool. I sat at a lunch table with friends, the misfit toys and artists of my high school, and anyone, be they outcast or not, was welcome to sit with us and eat in peace. I pretty much liked everyone. Well, there were people I didn’t find interesting, and people who clearly felt I was a lowly worm unworthy of their collective fantastic and super special attention, but life was too short to dwell. Frankly, since my father died and left me without an ally under my own roof (he and I were alike and understood each other and were both rather introverted artistic types, but my mother, who loves me and vice versa, still has trouble understanding me and has only in recent years toned down (a wee bit) on the “why can’t U B normal?” messages), no amount of external stupid teenage wangst and peer-gifted bullcrap could really phase me. I was in mourning, and I had to be, frankly, a bit of a drag to be around. I’m still a drag when I am sad. I’m sorry. I don’t bounce back quickly from heartbreak. Maybe I never will. Alas, my friends get the brunt of it, as they have to hear about it, and hear about it, and HEAR about it, and deal with me acting out and being, well, a big bummer. Gee, what are friends FOR?

To be fair, I return the favor when someone else has to talk about it, and talk about it, and TALK about it….

Anyhoo, I did have a few memories resurface. This is something that doesn’t happen often, and they may well disappear into the void again if I don’t write them down, so here goes. Good thing that I’m beyond embarrassment at this point in my life.

So I’m about eight or nine years old. Maybe a little older and still clueless. I’m unclear. The art building we visit on occasion is attached to The Big Kids’ Lunchroom. Somehow the information filters through my fuzzy little blonde head that the quarterback, the football star, captain of the team, is Karl Surname Not Given To Spare Him GoogHoo Harassment. I decide that I NEED the quarterback’s autograph. Yes, seriously. How uncool! So little me, armed with a deliciously stinky marker and a napkin, trot up to Karl, who was very tall (or I was very small), and pipe up that I want his autograph. To his credit, once he figures out what I want, he graciously does sign my crumply napkin, and I am DELIGHTED. What a cool guy, you know?

Then I grew up to hang out with for-real famous rockstars. It was destiny.

My peers looked at me like I had three heads when I returned to the art room, proudly brandishing my prize. I realized I had made a social faux pas and passed it off, belatedly, as a fantastic practical joke. Few were fooled. I writhed in shame. The napkin vanished, never to be seen again.


Lessee. Then there was the time, mere weeks after my father’s death, when I am back in town visiting my best childhood friend, who happened to be going to my old school, which I would end up returning to as well as a high schooler. I’m sitting with her in her classes, a privilege I honestly don’t recall anyone else ever asking for or getting later on and one I’m not sure why I had, and the class clown decides that I was absent for a year because I got pregnant and went off to have a baby.

LOLWUT. I know it isn’t impossible, but I was not even twelve years old, and pretty sheltered. So, for me, at that tender age anyway, is was impossible. I still played with a Barbie occasionally at the time. Sheesh.
The ludicrousness of this accusation just struck me as hilarious.

I tell him–and the ring of interested ears pointed our way–that I was there because my father committed suicide. Which is the truth (though there is a little doubt, because there were a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, and for a number of other reasons that are too heavy to go into at this time that involve oddities like my dad’s left-handedness and the location his body was found and so on), and Funny Guy flat out refuses to believe me. He demanded details, insisted on his baby theory, and thought he was being FUNNAY. I’m not devastated enough, or something. Thus I must be lying. In truth, I had a well-learned veneer of emotional armor by that time, and little anyone could have said would have made me show any emotion beyond polite and pleasant blankness to a tormentor.

I do have to wonder, though, if he was raised by particularly rude wolves.

In a barn.

I typically avoided being the butt of the worst pranks, but on one memorable occasion, I got caught but good. I was about thirteen, and riding the particular bus that would get me to piano lessons, and I didn’t know the slightly younger kids on this bus well enough to be wary of them. They were playing some game and I was mostly ignoring it, nose in a book, as usual, when one cute little bright-eyed child decided to tap me on the shoulder. I indulged them. It was some “fortune” game, they claimed. You take a pencil and draw around a quarter, then take the quarter and, with eyes closed, roll it down your nose and put it back down on the paper, draw another circle around it using a pencil, etcetera, and repeat this until the rube eventually realizes they have pencil marks down their face or you puke up a lung from laughing at them. Because drawing a circle with a pencil around a coin with a serrated edge rubs massive quantities of graphite into those grooves, and rolling the same coin down your face leaves dirt stripes. I arrive at my piano lesson, nose back in a book, and my piano teacher takes me by the elbow and shows me my face in a bathroom mirror. Oh my. They got me good. I would have probably laughed along with them, had I known.

Little rat bastards.

I had some arsehole teachers, too. Maths has always been my downfall. One day in class, I resolved a problem ALL BY MYSELF, using a technique different from the one taught in class. I was SO fucking proud. This maths stuff, maybe I can do it after all! The teacher listened to me after class, in his office, sipping vodka from his coffee cup, and he suggested that I demonstrate my fabulous method to his next (higher grade level) class. Oh man. I was terribly shy. Still, after he pressed, I agreed, and he told me to sit out in the hallway and he’d call me in. I sat in the hallway for about a half hour before I realized he was actually making fun of me. Then I slunk off.

Another teacher took us on a field trip. I didn’t drive then, rarely did more than sit in the backseat with my nose in a book when driven anywhere, and my grasp of math was, as noted, not the best. My understanding of cars was worse. My mother’s car had a gear shift on the steering wheel, and my older friend had a car with a shift between the front seats, and I was positive that meant she had a manual tranny, for example. Because I was Car Dumb back then, too, instead of just Maths Dumb. He announced that we’d arrive back at a certain destination at a certain time, and I couldn’t figure out how he knew this. When he did indeed get us there at the designated time, I was fucking astounded. ZOMG! Magic!! Of course, now I routinely estimate my arrival time when traveling, using that handy “miles per hour” thing. And I don’t have cruise control. Like he did. I didn’t even know what cruise control was at the time! DERP. It took me hours to figure that out, but only long after enthusiastically raving to people who knew better–because they were all rich kids with their own personal new-ish cars, all of which probably came with cruise control–about how cool his ability to predict our exact arrival time was.

A third teacher meant well, and I was always one of those kids who liked talking to her teachers. Still am. I’d make conversation like a little adult, and was generally respected by MOST of my teachers. I made the mistake of telling one (a new guy) that I’d had a nickname at my former school. It wasn’t entirely complimentary, I’m sure, but I hadn’t cared because I liked it. They’d called me “Kitty.” Now, this was a case of me sharing something as an anecdote, and not me hinting that I actually wanted to be called “Kitty” ever again. However, this man, trying to be nice, and respecting my assumed wishes, promptly addressed me as “Kitty” in class. Holy shizz! I quickly set him straight after class, but the damage had been done. I got shit for that “Kitty” comment for THREE EFFING YEARS, people. And, yes, some chick who was either taunting me (or clueless, but since she was dating one of the worst offenders, I know how I vote)  gave me a Hello Kitty something-or-other Secret Santa gift that I opened in front of the whole class, which made them all howl with derisive laughter. THREE YEARS after the original shame. Yeah, you fucks, thanks. Give it a damn rest. Christ almighty.

Imagine the struggle I went through between being polite and thanking someone for a nice gift and not thanking someone for making a laughingstock out of you yet again.

I’m sure there are more, but they haven’t been dredged up yet. Stay tuned.

I really was a tough little nut to crack, as a kid. I learned early on that paying any attention at all to bullies or people teasing you, or trying to fit in was not worth the effort. I was perfectly happy, with or without a buddy on hand, as long as I had a book or a pencil and pad, so I could read or draw. I could go selectively deaf at will. I didn’t give a crap about kiddie drama, or even, later, teenie drama. Who liked who occasionally filtered through my wall of obliviousness, but for the most part, I didn’t give a crap. And I didn’t trust my peers not to be little shits. Sometimes I guessed wrong, perhaps, and peers trying to genuinely be nice were waved off defensively, but I don’t remember that happening often.

I went through a brief phase where I made an attempt to wear the same fashions as my peers, but the fashions didn’t suit me at all. I gave it up as a bad job after about six months, but we weren’t made of money, so my outfits slowly mutated into a strange (and not much more flattering) combo-platter of the old stuff and the new stuff. I even wore my dad’s old Air Force jacket around, with tight jeans and turtlenecks and ankle boots, which is an indication I’d given up on ever being found romantically attractive while still in high school. I loved that jacket.

In short, I dressed like a sixties hippie, listened to sixties music, and a little eighties stuff, and punk, fought off the Olde Savannah pseudo-Brit accent I’d been raised around that made me so different, and ignored the world. I didn’t hate anyone. I didn’t think I was the cat’s PJs. I just had other things on my mind. Polite, distant, somewhat welcoming if you were nice, quiet except with friends, not interested in getting drunk, not attracted to any of the tards of the opposite sex I went to school with (or the same sex, actually), and either doing art stuff or reading or writing. That about sums it up. Polite loner.

I even wandered off alone when a small group of kids got tapped to go to London. I had had enough of the togetherness, my best friend was being a buttpain about being homesick (I suspect now that she had a touch of agoraphobia) and my sympathy was starting to just piss her off, which was good, because I was just about OUT of it. I had a head cold and was grumpy. The group had an outing to go see a play. I wandered off alone (not unusual for me) and wound up in SoHo. Not a good spot, really, for a naive teenager. I had the time of my life. I knew exactly where I was. Blessed silence, no chattering. No whining about wanting to go home. No casually exclusive behavior from the other girls, who all decided they were BFFs, and bonded as loudly and enthusiastically and as constantly as possible in front of me and my best friend, who were clearly not included in this buddydom. (She took it harder than I did, frankly; I was over all that shizz by then. Your loss, people. I’m pretty nifty.) So here I am, looking at naughty shops and eavesdropping on Real British People and looking at cool architecture and basically just reveling in the whole idea of being in fucking ENGLAND, man! Bliss! But, luck of the angels, my group found me, coincidentally wandering in my general direction after their evening outing, they never really noticed I’d been gone, and I had not a lick of sense, because I was more miffed than relieved.

My freedoms, let me SHO U DEM. O, never mind, I do not have any anymore.

I’m still a bit of a loner with a nose in a book, or an art project at hand. I still dress as I please. I still like stuff few other people like. I still don’t care if you like me or not, it’s really none of my business, but you’re missing out if you decide you don’t. That’s not ego, it’s fact. I’m a good friend…if you let me be one. Nowadays I force myself to be an extrovert when I have to, and I can be an opinionated cuss and alienate those who love me, but people who know me know that even if my opinion disagrees with yours, I don’t think your opinion sucks. I reserve the option to hear about your learnings on the subject: your learnings, SHO ME DEM.  I don’t take disagreement as personal dislike. I don’t understand people who do.

Thus do I stumble.

I can be a ranty grump, but I mean no harm. Besides, if you let people know what you love best, that’s your weak underbelly.  If my time in the teen warzone (and a punitive parent who frequently denied me my deepest yearnings and interests to “teach me a lesson,” and downplayed or teased me about other things) taught me anything,  it taught me to be private about what I love most.  Silly me, I keep breaking the rules in my blog.  When will I learn?

It’s okay. We’re all in the same club. My homies!

Kids Say And Do The Darndest Things

Some friends and I were having a conversation and all volunteering information about embarrassing things we (as kids) or kids we know did or said.

One anecdote about someone else’s kid: 

About ten years ago, I met an artist friend and her daughter and grandson at a performance art / poetry / art show being held in a punk rock club. The club was essentially a poured concrete cube with a few smaller concrete cubes attached for bathrooms and offices and storage. Completely lacking in aesthetics, unless you like rusty spikes, pipes and crap hanging out of every surface. It was The House of Tetanus. The concrete floor was lumpy and soiled with mysterious liquids of possible biological origin and I had on non-sensible high-heeled shoes because I had no idea I’d end up hanging out inside a giant cinderblock that evening. Being a punk club, chairs were considered to be only for wussies, so there were a total of two in the entire place. One was broken.

The grandson, little J., who was about 4-5 years old at the time, was already used to being taken to wild and wooly artist Happenings and gallery shows and was taking everything in stride, but eventually his batteries started to run down and he got tired. He was unhappy to discover that I was already sitting down in the sole functional seat when he decided to take a break. I offered to pick him up and hold him on my lap, and he agreed that this was a great plan. We could share, and thus BOTH sit down. Huzzah!

So we’re chit-chatting back and forth, watching the performances, and his mom and grandmom are chatting with both of us as well, and little J. turns his head around to look me straight in the eye and announces, “Hey, baby, I know I’m sitting in your lap and stuff, but I hope you know that this doesn’t mean we’re getting married or anything.”

ROFFLE! I just about died, right on the spot.

This still gets repeated as an anecdote whenever J. (now a teen who is old enough to drive) and I are within five feet of each other. He was FOUR! (Man, they start young these days.)

Various horrible things I said or did as a very wee child:

I normally was very quiet, but not when nice old ladies would coo over how cute I was. Imagine: “MOM!! That lady has BLUE HAIR!” Now imagine it being bellowed out in a posh lingerie department (classical music, whispering salesladies, free tea and all).

I removed the bottom-most item from can and box pyramids in grocery stores. More than once. You can imagine the result. Usually item was desirable (to me) but otherwise was not even an item my family typically purchased.

I hated my tight, blister-inducing, fugly, uncomfortable Sunday School shoes, so I often hid them somewhere and claimed not to know where they were. One Sunday I figured out a brilliant plan to be rid of the foul things and tried to flush them down the toilet. Alas, this failed, but one of the shoes was too wet to be worn. I went to church with one shoe and two socks on (and one shoe off), and OF COURSE it was a Communion Sunday, thus the whole family had to go up to the rail. The entire congregation got a view of my sock foot and apparently gossiped and bitched about how careless my parents were for not noticing my state of dishabille, and gave my mom the stink-eye as I gimped around.

I supposedly refused to talk much at all for a VERY long time, which caused my parents concern and had them thinking I might be a mute. Right as they began considering taking me to a specialist to find out why I was language-delayed, I quickly busted out with mostly grammatical, complex, full sentences. (Reminds me of the punchline to the old anecdote: “Previously, everything was satisfactory.”) I soon made up for lost time, becoming such a motormouth that my father claimed I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

I stuck a bunch of non-delicious and unwanted cooked carrots, tucked into a napkin, inside a plate hutch / display-cabinet-thing’s drawer. Then forgot about them. Hutch drawer was only opened on holidays, and had holiday placemats and linens inside. Carrots were discovered. State of mummified carrots after several months was indescribable.

I was insistent about odd things. At age 4 or 5, I was certain “reluctant” was pronounced “reLOOchant,” and was a pain in the ass when corrected. The fact that I was reading stuff with that word in it at that age was the only mitigating factor, I guess.

I fed the family dog peanut butter AND gum. (I’m sorry!)

I used overflow tunnels for forts (basically, storm drains, presumably intended to keep the island I grew up on from disappearing into the ocean should we get a lot of rain). Also swung from power lines and climbed up to the top of trees until they started to bend over. Talked to strangers. Taunted mean older kids. Picked up snakes and caught bees. Wandered around in the woods by myself. Did not look both ways crossing busy roads. In short, I had no concern about my survival at all.

I used to catch tadpoles and minnows in the creek next door by using a glass coke bottle. My brother’s claim to shame is that he actually stole the swilly tadpole bottle off the back porch steps and drank most of it as fast as he could, thinking he’d managed to steal a bottle of soda (we weren’t allowed many sweets, so a bottle of Coca-Cola was a major treat). He survived, but it is presumed that the tadpoles didn’t make it. To this day he denies it, but he was caught DOING it.

All kids are royal pains in the butt, no matter how good, on the whole, they happen to be most of the time. I know I was no exception.

The Joy Of Spam: Making The Most Out Of Something Annoying

Since I have been online for over a decade (actually much longer), it comes as no surprise that I get SPAM. About 100 a day on average, most of which spam filters hide from me, and more on weekends when the spammers really get going. I get spam in all languages. I get spam from the “President of the United States” and “Billz E. Gates”! I get spam that looks like a team of drunken monkeys typed it with their balls, and what is being sold and why is often completely undecipherable.

It’s time to celebrate the benefits of spam!

1. If you are a writer, fake names harvested from Spam make great character names. Then again, there are the unintentionally hilarious computer-generated monikers: “Schmuck G. Deriding, Iroquoian L. Biscuit, Zirconium H. Coquetted,Vealed C. Certitude, Abusiveness O. Solitude, Cursoring U. Bayonet, Disabling Condom, Kangaroo D. Castanet, Withering A. Footstool, Bombay Dyslexic, Disallows H. Bootstrap, Epidermis V. Manhunt, Frescoes S. Congo, Vegetated H. Febrile, Vacillating K. But,” just to name a few that another blogger (Phillip LaPlante) noted.

2. You can learn new 1337speak variations, especially how to spell VIAGRA and CIALIS with symbols and numbers…or, as LaPlante commented, appreciate that “subject lines can contain similar kinds of whimsy, or rely on the human brain to “i n t rp rit the c rr ct meening.”

3. You can play “Punk’d” with Nigerian scammers. There are actually entire websites that do nothing but share Nigerian 411 scammer punkings. Total strangers do not offer large sums of money, in general, to people via e-mail. I mean, would YOU do it? The only legitimate response is to string them along and ask for naked or embarrassing pictures with them wearing a shoe on their head and holding signs saying “I like tiny cupcakes” or something equally lame written on them.

4. You can keep up with the latest Urban Legends without going to snopes.com. I’m still waiting for Bill Gates to send me on an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland for filling out his way awesome survey, or for an animated Tweety Bird to walk across my screen because I responded to a total stranger’s e-mail that swore it would happen. Except I’m not. I don’t even like Disneyland or Tweety Bird.

5. You can participate in slacktivism by not signing petitions or reading chain mail. You have achieved the same result, but have expended no valuable time or attention to the problem at all! Conservation of resources is good.

6. Speaking of chain mail, you can bring 40 people bad luck by refusing to forward on their lame chain letter.

7. If you have penis envy, all the mail targeted to penis owners will cure you of that. Apparently penises are never long enough, wide enough, hard enough or functional enough, and you need all manner of pills and herbs to keep them operational. I think I’ll just stick to borrowing one once in a while from very close friends.

8. Speaking of friends, now you can meet lots of new naked friends! I get sent at least twelve porn links a day from naked people. I can’t go a day without a spammer intent upon infesting my computer with pop-ups and malware from an awesome porn site. Hold me back!

9. You can correct bad grammar, and keep your skills up to date. This is like shooting large fish in a small barrel. It is often more challenging to find a sentence in spam that is not a grammatical nightmare.

10. Word salad spam is particularly amusing, as it can often resemble William S. Burroughs-style “cut and paste” beat poetry. Enigmatic technicolour doorknob! Restless meerkat harbls! Antiquated velveteen renal foyer macadamias! Pickled milkshake Siberian antimacassar doughnuts! Constipated mongeese Cousteau sunshine wounded! Baffled fruit cocktail Batman fungoid cylinders! Rumpled nanosecond terrycloth pantaloons! Sensitized furniture millennium dentifrices!What does it all mean? I feel more wise and intellectual and artsy already.

11. You can stay informed about politics that were last relevant in 2004, or read 12 messages a day from people claiming to be Barack Obama. I still get pro-John Kerry spam. Dudes, I was really pissed off a few years ago, too, but it is time to let it go. I’m pretty sure Kerry has.

12. If you have too much money, you can buy stocks from spammers. I always trust unsolicited financial advice I get from total strangers who can’t spell!

13. If you still have too much money, you can refinance your mortgage, even if you don’t actually have a mortgage. Is that awesome or what?

14. Still looking for ways to get rid of all those pesky dollars clogging your wallet? There’s always Internet Gambling! You are guaranteed to win! Those gambling sites aren’t in it to take your money at all. Awesome!

15. I am particularly impressed by phishing attempts to scam me out of, for example, my eBay data when I haven’t used eBay in years and am no longer an account holder at the site (as far as I know). ZOMG, my non-existent account has been compromised! Maybe “I” will win some cool auctions and have interesting packages arrive at my door. Dumbasses.

16. The celebrity gossip spam is also pretty cool, especially since I rarely pay attention to celebrities and have no idea who half of these supposedly famous people are. By spamming me with celebrity gossip, I stay “in the know” without even having to glance at the tabloids when I check out at the grocery store. However, since I don’t know who most of these people are, or simply don’t give a crap, why should I click those enticing links? I don’t care who “Shia LeBoeuf” is dating. (I’d swear that was a made-up name, but it rings a bell. I don’t know if it is a he or she, though. It has no relevance to my life.)

17. The pseudo-intellectual spam is also pretty nifty. LaPlante quoted one of his favourites:”To ensure the equality of the diagonals, we make use of a little testing-rod. Thus the body has the same energy as a body of mass on a Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Continuum. The surface of a marble table is spread out in front of me.” This text is then followed by instructions to get low prices on little blue pills.

18. MySpace had its own special spam, remember? I got spam for free gift cards, fugly designer crap, and more naked people. (These people now spam pictures of awful athletic shoes and overpriced heels and try to get people to fall for ‘free gift cards’ on Facebook.) Anyway, there sure are a lot of naked people out there. I see a naked person for free every day, man.

19. Learn Spamlish! I get ten spam-mails a day that say strange crap like “Buadtzy your mmpnllhdjmreds hyhsjijtnfonline.” (An actual quote.) Say what? I think that translates to “Click on me and verify your e-mail address is legitimate! Send me all your money!”

20. Learn what not to search for via GoogHoo, and you won’t get as much cool spam. Spam works like Darwin Awards to week out the weak and gullible! If you don’t have enough spam, here’s how to get some: search for free crap online.

The 8 Most Dangerous Search Terms:

  • Free screensavers
  • Bearshare
  • Screensavers
  • Winmx
  • Limewire
  • Download Yahoo Messenger
  • Lime wire
  • Free ringtones

Across all searches, up to 6 percent of the sites were flagged as dangerous, notes the BBC. “Even a single visit to a dangerous site can have serious and lasting implications for the average internet user,” Edelman and Rosenbaum wrote in their report.

(While we’re at it, don’t be stupid and use an easily-guessed password anywhere.

The top 10 most common passwords:

  • Your user name
  • Your user name followed by 123
  • 123456
  • password
  • 1234
  • 12345
  • passwd
  • 123
  • test
  • 1

Yes, people do this. Argh! I had to keep my mother from choosing one of the variations on this list.)

21. If you have spam, you have a guaranteed hot topic to bitch about and most people will happily bitch right along with you. Spam creates unity and agreement!

22. No free lunches! You could probably rid yourself of 99% of your spam by adding a mail filter that scans for the word “free” and immediately zorches with extreme prejudice any email you get that includes that word. Of course, there would be some false positives. Train your friends to never use the word “free,” then. Or “viagra.” Or “teens.” Easy! Or you can be like me and never check your email until all your buddies get mad at you and stop emailing you. Then all you ever have in your INBOX is spam, and can just “delete all” without reading anything. What a time saver!

23. Spammers NEVER get my name right. This is an easy way to zorch the tardburgers who try to sell me pills for my non-existent penis. As a bonus, I get to collect new and improved misspellings of my real name and a bunch of wacky new aliases. Do you think I can be “Kangaroo D. Castanet”? I kind of like that one.

24. Wow, free legal software! I believe that I can get the entire Macromedia suite, or all Adobe products or MicroSmurf Vista X, on dialup, no less, just by clicking a link! Rock on! I’ll be sure to trust this unsolicited spam mail from a total stranger who wants to send me to “http://totallylegalforrealio.xxxpornware.org.” They are only thinking of my well-being and such, of course.

25. Free empty flattery and friendships! I get told via spam every day that I am someone’s friend, or a smart shopper, or clever investor, or super sexy. Wow! They really know me!

So, hey, spam is great! Love your spam.

Since all spammers are going to be poked in the eye with lemon-and-tabasco-dipped spikes and roasted over flaming pits of brimstone while boy bands serenade them for all eternity, at least once they die, you can rest assured that ignoring spam is your mission from God. Put on your sunglasses, grab your smokes, and brush up on the Blues.

The flaw with ignoring spam, alas, is that it doesn’t give up and go away. If I ignore the Jehovah’s Witnesses who traipse through my ‘hood every other week or so, and refuse to stop whatever far more interesting activity I am engaged in to get up and answer the door, they eventually stop knocking and ringing the bell and wander off to bug someone else. If only spam was as accommodating.