Friday, September 05, 2008

A Confession

Sometimes in conversation, I instinctively nod at questions I don't know the answer to, or references I don't recognize.  When this happens, I'm stuck with a dilemma.  Do I ignore it and hope it has no more bearing on the conversation, running the risk of looking like I'm either not paying attention, or completely uninterested in the conversation?  Or do I reverse myself and inquire about the point at hand, making myself look like I'd only momentarily lapsed in concentration?

Usually it goes about 50-50.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Roller Derby

Last night Darren, Eli and I were enjoying a drink in the basement bar of the Grasshopper when "Hook" by Blues Traveler came on. I started singing along between sips of my beer, and I noticed a pretty blonde girl around the corner of the bar who was also singing along. Before long, we noticed each other, and at that point, she busted out with a challenge.

"I can beat any of you at drinking a car bomb," she said.

"No you can't," I said. "You just can't."

"If I lose, I buy the round," she said. "If you lose, you buy it. Okay?"

"Okay," I said. "You've got money on you, right? Because you're going to need it to buy the round." Understand, dear reader, that when it comes to contests of drinking things very fast, I've been nearly unmatched since college. Darren and Eli knew this and kept egging the whole situation on. Not that it really mattered.

"Pauly!" she yelled. "Three car bombs!" Darren was to be the timekeeper, and Eli, this girl and I were to partake of the Irish car bombs. Eventually the first round was poured, the time was counted, the drinks were drunk, and in the end, I beat her pretty handily. All observers agreed. It was at that point that she challenged me to another round. She implied that she'd somehow been holding back, like she was Inigo Montoya or something. I cheerfully agreed, and when the second round came, it was virtually identical to the first, though a bit splashier.

So it turned out, in talking to Pauly the bartender, that this girl was a player for the local roller derby. She was quite attractive, and she was wearing an outfit that left little to the imagination. She started to leave to use the bathroom, and as she walked by me, she started spanking me. Full-on spanking me. So I turned to her and said, "Oh, wait, I thought I was the one who spanked you." At that point, she turned around and presented, waiting for me to comply. I did, twice, confused throughout as to what was going on.

I don't have much more to say than that. It was weird, but it was also barely beyond the status quo for me and my friends.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Perils of Public Geekery

Today I went to the mall with my friend Darren for lunch. He went to Eddie Bauer to buy a shirt, and as we were standing up at the counter, I was talking to him about my last two blog entries, and about the quandary posed by the definition of Dr. Sam Beckett's lifetime. After about a minute, the clerk behind the register turned to me and spoke without preamble.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" she asked.

"Um...uh, no," I stammered, a little unnerved by how forthright her question was.

"I could tell," she said.

I stood there a little dumbfounded, not knowing whether to laugh or be insulted. After a pregnant pause, she followed up with, "I don't mean that as an insult, of course." Ever nonconfrontational, I replied with, "Oh, no, not at all." Without sarcasm, even, if you can believe it. She started going on about something inane, wherein a bunch of guys were paired with one girl tell you the truth, it didn't make a lot of sense, and I expect she was just trying to cover her ass.

It got me thinking. I understand the joke she was trying to make. I was speaking quite geekily (self-consciously, of course; as though there were any other way to refer to an aspect of Quantum Leap as "an existential quandary"), and she was trying to leverage the stereotype of geeks as socially inept. I get it. I'm not without a sense of humor. But the way that she felt comfortable berating a perfect stranger got under my skin a bit. Did she think it made it all right to say, "I don't mean that as an insult, of course"? What if I'd gone up to her and said, "People think you're ugly, right? I could tell." Would it be more acceptable if I assured her afterwards that I didn't mean it as an insult? Somehow I don't think so.

I also had a case of thinking of wonderful responses a couple of minutes after the fact, some blustery, some self-deprecating. Here's a sampling.

Clerk: Do you have a girlfriend?
Fargus: Yeah. She's in New York at the Hot Chicks Convention. She's the President.

Clerk: Do you have a girlfriend?
Fargus: Yeah. She's at a modeling show in Paris. She's running the lights.

Clerk: Do you have a girlfriend?
Fargus: It's none of your goddamn business. Give my friend his credit card back so we can get the hell out of here.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Random Thought #2.1

*Geek Alert*

In writing that last post, I recalled that Project Quantum Leap went live in 1999, according to the show's timeline. Ostensibly, Dr. Beckett can leap within his lifetime. It's an open question (so far as I know) whether the inception of Project Quantum Leap represents the end of the lifetime in which the good doctor can leap. If so, I guess the last post winds up being one level more hypothetical than otherwise.


Random Thought #2

If Dr. Sam Beckett's (de facto) mission through Project Quantum Leap is to leap "from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong," you'd think he could get a lot of mileage by leaping into Katherine Harris for the last quarter or so of the year 2000.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Confession

The first step is admitting that you have a problem. Or maybe that's just the first half of the first step. As I have no intention of taking the other eleven (or maybe it's eleven and a half), I guess it doesn't really matter. Fact is, I have an addiction.

It's nothing illicit, this addiction. But there's a reason that people are called "news junkies" or "political junkies." I can't stop reading political blogs. In between "fixes," I either obsessively check for the next one, or I hit up the comments sections to see what everybody else thought of the last one. Sometimes I'll be so hopped up on politics that I'll let fly with some comments of my own.

This addiction seeps down into other aspects of my life. Conversations with my friends and family tend toward the political, usually guided there by my hand. My current television watching habits include Lost, Weeds, Dexter, and a whole lot of CNN. I watch presidential primary debates, for Pete's sake. Even the Republican ones. Time which years ago would have been devoted to reading books is now spent reading blogs and comments. I listen to NPR nearly exclusively when I'm driving. I've donated money to a political campaign (three guesses which one, and the first two don't count).

Thing is, I don't really see this addiction as a bad thing. I don't think my life is unmanageable because of it. I see no need to subscribe to some ridiculous notion of a higher power to cure myself of it. I may occasionally lament the time not spent doing other things than getting myself worked up over politics, and I may occasionally make the offhand wish that I'd never started venturing down this rabbit hole in the first place, but I'm generally content to be more engaged with world events. I spend plenty of time on this addiction, but I'd never say that I've wasted time on it.

So don't cry for me, Argentina. I'll be doing just fine.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Life Imitates Terrible Songs

Somebody get in touch with Rupert Holmes:

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment's employees. Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town.

"I was dumfounded. I thought I was dreaming," the husband told the newspaper Wednesday.

The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported.

For those of you who don't get the reference in the link, here's the lyrics to The Rolling Stones' "Street Fighting Man," G7! (It's actually the lyrics to "The Pina Colada Song" by Rupert Holmes, and if you don't get that reference, watch Dirty Work with Norm McDonald)
I was tired of my lady
We'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording
Of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping
I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns
There was this letter I read

"If you like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
If you're not into yoga
If you have half a brain
If you'd like making love at midnight
In the dunes on the Cape
Then I'm the love that you've looked for
Write to me and escape."

I didn't think about my lady
I know that sounds kind of mean
But me and my old lady
Have fallen into the same old dull routine
So I wrote to the paper
Took out a personal ad
And though I'm nobody's poet
I thought it wasn't half bad

"Yes I like Pina Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
I'm not much into health food
I am into champagne
I've got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red-tape
At a bar called O'Malley's
Where we'll plan our escape."

So I waited with high hopes
And she walked in the place
I knew her smile in an instant
I knew the curve of her face
It was my own lovely lady
And she said, "Oh it's you."
Then we laughed for a moment
And I said, "I never knew."

That you like Pina Coladas
Getting caught in the rain
And the feel of the ocean
And the taste of champagne
If you'd like making love at midnight
In the dunes of the Cape
You're the lady I've looked for
Come with me and escape
Apparently, the last (unwritten) verse should include something about the crushing weight of the unbearable resentment this couple will bear toward each other forevermore for each trying to find a way out. "Oh, we both hate each other and were taking out personal ads to screw other people and run away forever! I love you!" Doesn't seem to work, does it? The Polish version makes more sense.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


OK, so New Hampshire's over. I pretty much got the Repubs down, with some ordering issues in the guys past the top two. I didn't expect Huckabee to take third in a New England state, to be honest.

But as y'all know by now, the big story is the Clinton victory. And I, as an Obama supporter, say good for her. Everybody ended up being wrong for a variety of reasons, but I'm not sure just saying "they were wrong" tells the whole story at all.

Basically, I think that the Iowa bounce for Obama was illusory at best. Sure, I fell for it just as much as anybody else, but it seems ridiculous to believe, especially in retrospect, that New Hampshire voters would have effectively ceded their decision to Iowans. What we saw, with those double-digit leads going into the primary yesterday, was probably a natural result of the super-compressed time between Iowa and New Hampshire. The swing from Obama's double-digit lead to a two or three point loss was a big one, but it wasn't as big as was the lead from Clinton's double-digit lead to Obama's double-digit lead was in the first place. If we leave aside the Iowa bounce as illusory, Obama still seems to have done pretty remarkably well in New Hampshire last night, though the last week's polls will make it seem as though this result is sounding his campaign's death knells.

Just as it was dumb as hell to dismiss Clinton's campaign as dead after the Iowa results, it's similarly premature to write off Obama after the results in New Hampshire. What we've got here is a real race, folks. Break out the popcorn.


Monday, January 07, 2008


Obviously, I'm an Obama supporter. I buy his schtick, regardless of how many times critics call it his "kum ba yah" strategy, or "bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake," or the ever-more-odious "Lieberman lite." The truth is, Obama's tapped into a wellspring of support that's not delineated strictly along partisan lines in a time when hyperpartisanship rules the day.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not one to shy away from partisanship, and I'll say that again and again. But I don't know how anybody can refuse to see the value in expanding the progressive coalition to include people who normally wouldn't self-identify as progressive. Obama's great at throwing a little bit of rhetorical red meat the way of independents and disaffected Republicans while simultaneously not changing the progressivity of his platform at all. That's a strategy that I truly believe is ultimately best able to win a mandate, and to sweep progressive legislators into office on Obama's coattails.

I've never actively disliked Hillary Clinton, and I've never specifically been a fan. I'd vote for her over any of the Republicans if she were the Democratic nominee, but I've always thought that I'd much rather see it go to Obama or Edwards. That having been said, I understand and sympathize with those bloggers who say she's been getting a raw deal largely because she's a woman. She doesn't get emotional, she's a robot. She gets emotional, she's shrill. Etc. Double standards abound, and I don't like it any more than anyone else.

That having been said, though, I was quite taken aback during Saturday's debate to hear her explicitly cite her gender as a reason that she's a "change" candidate. It's always seemed to me that Hillary's gender and Obama's race were self-evident, and things that didn't need to be explicitly stated. Obama's a presidential candidate who happens to be black. Seems to me that with her paean to people that her gender implicitly makes her an agent of change, Hillary Clinton's become not a presidential candidate who happens to be a woman, but a woman who happens to be a presidential candidate. I think Obama's got the right strategy (obviously). Only by downplaying the issues of race and gender can we get past them. Obama's is a candidacy, not a black candidacy. But Hillary's is explicitly a woman's candidacy. And while I have no problem with a woman being President, I don't think that someone's gender should at all be a reason to vote for or against them. I wonder if Hillary would argue that Condoleezza Rice would be an agent of change.

I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow night in New Hampshire, but I have a feeling I already know. I was pretty dead-on with my predictions last time, so I'll make some again today (one day early, and even with percentages!), and see how I fare this time.


  1. Barack Obama - 40%
  2. Hillary Clinton - 28%
  3. John Edwards - 22%
  4. Bill Richardson - 3%
  1. John McCain - 34%
  2. Mitt Romney - 26%
  3. Rudy Giuliani - 14%
  4. Ron Paul - 10%
  5. Mike Huckabee - 7%
  6. Fred Thompson - 2%
I feel OK about the orderings, but this is my first time playing with percentages, so don't hold me to them so strictly.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Predictions

I'm not really in any place to be playing the prediction game in a serious way, which is why I don't put money into such things as those Intrade prediction markets, fascinating though they may be. Still, I have my hypotheses about how things will turn out tonight in the Hawkeye State, and I'm gonna man up and share them with you, dear readers, and let my powers of prediction be judged by time.


  1. Barack Obama
  2. John Edwards
  3. Hillary Clinton
Why that ordering? Well, it feels right to me. Obama's got the lead in Iowa right now, though opinions vary on how wide that lead is (or whether it exists at all, actually). The latest Des Moines Register poll shows him seven points ahead of Clinton and eight points ahead of Edwards, but that's just one poll, and could be an outlier. And all of this says nothing of the fact that these polls may not end up having sample populations that are truly representative of the tiny, tiny percentage of people who will actually show up tonight to caucus. Regardless, the three are running at least neck and neck by any reckoning, and I put Clinton at third place because I don't think that she's almost anyone's second choice, which counts significantly in Iowa. Add to that the fact that Kucinich has explicitly suggested that his supporters put Obama second, and the additional fact that the Biden and Richardson campaigns have been making motions in the same direction, and I come away with Obama taking the thing.

  1. Mike Huckabee
  2. Mitt Romney
  3. John McCain
The Republican process doesn't involve second choices, so the race is slightly easier to predict, but with all the volatility in the terrible, terrible Republican field, predictions are dicey at best. Romney and Huckabee seem like locks for first and second places, in some order, and McCain seems to be resurgent, especially with the promised support of Fred Thompson.

I'm no professional, and I'm certainly not a political insider, so take these predictions with the grain of salt they deserve. It's fun to play, though, isn't it?


P.S. Though I think that there's a lot about the Iowa Caucus, and about the Presidential Primary process in general, that's silly, as an Obama supporter, I can't help but be happy that it's there in this case, as it represents the absolute best chance he's got to gain the momentum he needs to catch Clinton. If we had a national primary, the contest would likely be over.

Happy New Year!

A new year is upon us, and with it, new hope. At least, that's the toast that I drank in Philadelphia early Tuesday morning. Hope for the world, for the country, for myself. Hope that this year will be better than the last. I don't want for hope. So what of it?

Well, I know the quote is a cliche by now, but Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I've believed in that sentiment for a long time, but I haven't gone about putting it into practice in my life. Well, that's my new year's resolution. I want to start being the change I want to see in the world. But first, as I've always realized (and never done anything about), I've got to be the change I want to see in myself.

For me, the first step in that process is the establishment of a routine. Of a lot of routines, actually, fitting into an overarching routine. This may seem trivial or easy to some people, but it's never been either for me. I've gotten good at doing the bare minimum of what I need to do in a lot of situations, and I've developed the bad habit of doing whatever I feel like doing whenever I feel like doing it. Example: "Boy, I should go grocery shopping, but it'd probably be easier to run down to the drive-thru and then pop in a movie." Needless to say, when that kind of logic works, it works tomorrow and next week, too.

Mundane as it sounds, the establishment of an ironclad routine for such everyday tasks as grocery shopping, laundry, housecleaning and exercise would be a big step for me. These changes may not represent the totality of the change I want to see in the world, but they're what's necessary for me to change in my life in order for me to even begin thinking about living up to a set of lofty ideals.


P.S. One bit of routine that went unmentioned above, but which I still intend to implement, is at least one blog post a day. And this one doesn't count.