Being a Fabin is not always easy

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed the wondrous occasion of Veteran’s Day. Since I work with, but not for, the federal government, I have to work that day if I want to get paid. However, the federal holiday is the most peaceful day to work because there are no distractions. And I get to wear whatever I want. It’s that rare day when I can chuck the tie and tie on the Chucks. I love it.

So, leading up to Veteran’s Day, everyone I work with got an e-mail proclaiming November 11th as “Casual Day”, which is better than “Business Casual Day”. When the 11th arrived, I wore casual; meaning, I wore jeans, a Virginia Tech t-shirt, a long-sleeved pullover t-shirt from Old Navy (my new favorite shirt), and my favorite shoes, the blessed maroon Chucks. (Someone must be happy right now that I have an actual Favorite Pair of Shoes&#153. I digress…)

Everyone else at work wore the standard DC yuppie uniform consisting of a black shirt, stylish jeans, and hip shoes. The other four guys I work with noticed the difference. Jason said that I would “fit in on any college campus in America.” I remarked on the “uniqueness” of their clothing before thanking him for the compliment. My brother (yes, I work with my brother… quaint, no?) rolled his eyes and shook his head, a vey common reaction to my style and interests.

I don’t do stylish because I don’t care. I like what I like and that’s fine. If I catch a trend or fad, that’s a bonus that means nothing to me. If I still like it when the trend or fad is gone, I’m going to continue wearing it because I never realize that the fad is over. I’m not cool because I’m dense to shifting trends. Ain’t that just the shittiest luck?

Last weekend, I caught a lucky break. In the new issue of Details (December 2004), Whitney McNally wrote a helpful fashion article in the dossier / style section (Pages 88-90) titled “It’s Time to Chuck the Chucks”. Now I know ahead of time that I’m behind the times again. Please wait while I take a moment to cry… sniff, sniff…

After wiping away the salty bitterness, I wondered what a square 31-year-old male could do to catch up. I read the article. So that you may be style-educated, consider this useful explanation:

“It’s the same thing as the punk movement,” says Jim Merlis, former publicist for the Strokes. “Everyone wants to dress differently, and they wind up looking exactly alike. I walk down the street and I always think I’m spotting Albert or Fabrizio. And I worked with them.” Merlis himself started wearing the sneakers in the spring of 1990 but recently untied his Chucks because of their ubiquity. He’s moved on. To Puma.

After I invested all that money in Chucks, I need to toss them out and buy some Pumas? How did I miss this? And fuck, I don’t even know who Albert and Fabrizio are. I need some remedial coolness help. Now! I continued reading, only to discover that Whitney must be a superhero with a cape, because the answer is in the article. Can you believe that, the kindness of a stranger stepping in to save me from making an ass of myself? Telling me that the trend is over and then explaining what to do about it? You rule, Whitney McNally! God bless Details.

So that you may know, I present THIS:

“Having endured the saturation of trucker hats and vintage rocker tees, we all know where that ends up. “How edgy are they when you see them on 10 guys on the train?” asks Michael Bastian, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, who approves of Converse only if they’re worn with chinos in a preppy-casual way – preferably on an island, far away. And as [Ermenegildo Zegna fashion director Djordje] Stefanovic reminds us, it’s the accessories that make the man. Which means that unless you can dress them up with Drew Barrymore and a mike, lose the Chucks.

If only I had Drew Barrymore’s phone number and a bit of musical talent, I could continue wearing my Chucks. Alas, I’m screwed. Whitney makes it very clear with this sentence:

In short, Converse are fine for guys who think ramen noodles are cuisine – but they’re not for grown-ups anymore.

Wait a second… Really? Really? No, you’re kidding me? There’s a loophole in the death of the trend? Holy crap, I feel like I’ve won the lottery and I didn’t have to buy a ticket. I get an exemption because I’m not a grown-up. I’m really just a 12-year-old girl.

The early bird doesn’t get the “Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra”

He sees the light.I got a wonderful treat yesterday on my journey to work. Like every day, I rode Metro, America’s Subway Worst Mass Transit System&#153. As if up-close people-smelling-watching was insufficient, there’s occasionally a major bonus. I am, of course, speaking of The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153. That guy kicks ass.

I admit that my humor isn’t always completely politically correct. I laugh at Kim Jong-Il’s misappropriation of “R” and “L” in Team America: World Police. I laugh at the singing waiters at the end of A Christmas Story. It’s an easy stereotype, but funny is funny. The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 is funny. He brings a smile to my face.

Even more than The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153, I’m amused by everyone else on the train. The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 is the big pink elephant in the room that no one wants to admit to seeing. There is a guy breaking the morning monotony with an uninvited intrusion into our minds and everyone shifts into “stare at the floor and it’ll go away” mode. I love people-watching so much that I feel like my day has an unexpected sheen to it when I witness my fellow travellers enter this mode and avoid eye contact with The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153. It’s hilarious and stunning. Yesterday, no one disappointed me.

Taken in that context, today’s commute to work was the Christmas morning of uncomfortable denial. Two stops into my subway ride, The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 stepped on and began his routine. I didn’t see this because I was sitting at one end with my back to the center of the train. I couldn’t see The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 because he stands in the middle of the train. But I heard him when he let that first note fly. Damn, I thought. The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 is singing and I can’t watch everyone be uncomfortable. In the next moment, I heard the joy go higher.

A woman behind me started screaming “WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT UP, THERE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO READ! YOU’RE BEING VERY RUDE!” She screamed this for the next 2&#189 minutes. One-hundred-fifty spectacular “Oh my God, will this just end please” seconds. I put my book down and listened to the entire glorious debacle. I smiled my biggest Joker smile, so unabashed that I bordered on being rude. The only way this morning could’ve been better is if one of my fellow travellers had joined in the song. (Note to my fellow Washingtonians: try harder. One of you has this in you.)

I bet The Asian Guy Who Stands In The Middle Of The Train And Sings Religious Songs At The Top Of His Lungs&#153 is SO ronery when no one takes him seriousry.

Cowboy Cookies are better than Best Buy cookies

Dear Best Buy:

Your website is a disaster.

First, you require that I have cookies enabled to view any link on your weekly ad. Ignore that this will open my computer to any and all malicious attackers on the internet, this is excellent policy.

Next, when I load the weekly ad, on the rare occasions when the images load, they load the first half before stopping. I appreciate this because graphics are overrated.

Next, when the image on a page of the weekly ad fails to load, I must restart my browser. Even though clicking refresh would be easier, I appreciate that you’re looking out for the physical health of my fingers by requiring them to get that little extra exercise.

Finally, you bury the “Contact Us” link deep within the site map, leaving it off the front page. I can only assume you chose to do that because you needed the extra space for the essential “Conditions of Use” link, which is good because I don’t know how to use a webpage. This is helpful because my investigative skills were a little rusty, so having to dig around to find the link helped rejuvenate my mind.

Keep it up and I might start hiding my money in my wallet rather than handing it over to one of your wonderfully distracted cashiers. Of course, that would save the mouth-breathers the effort of putting the coins on top of the dollar bills, which I would miss. Because, you know, I really like having to juggle my change. It’s no fun if I don’t have the danger of dropping it all over the floor.


And you think I’m crazy…

I’ve mentioned in the past that I love maintaining because of the strange Google searches I receive. This afternoon, I checked my stats and found this: fucked up afghanistan pig in shit.

Serioulsy, people who use the internets are weird. What possesses someone to search for that? I realize that it hit me because I wrote something about Afghanistan in March, but who searches for that specifically? Who, I ask you?

But for anyone who may think I can’t offer practical advice, one lucky visitor found me by searching for ways of entertaining a 12 year old. Since I’m really a 12-year-old girl at heart, I suggest this for the cd player. They’ll be entertained for days upon weeks. I know. It’s working on me.

Fun with numbers (or, I promise I’ll get bored with this eventually)

Some prominent individuals are so busy swimming in Lake We Kicked Your Liberal Asses Because President Bush Is More Popular Than Even Ronald Reagan&#153 that they can’t be bothered to stop long enough to think. Here’s a perfect example from Peggy Noonan’s column in Opinion Journal:

… The president received more than 59 million votes, breaking Ronald Reagan’s old record of 54.5 million. …

It will be hard for the mainstream media to continue, in the face of these facts, the mantra that we are a deeply and completely divided country. But they’ll try!

I’ve heard that nonsense more than once since Tuesday, but that doesn’t make it any smarter. Yes, Bush received 58,978,616 votes. Good for him. (Not really, but I’m making a point here.) However, the argument doesn’t hold up under even minimal scrutiny. Here are the real numbers explained so well that I’m not going to bother pretending that I can do better. Consider:

Can both sides quit with this “more voters supported our guy than ever before” crap? The US population is 295 million. In 1992, it was 254 million. During Reagan’s landslide reelection, it was 235 million. 124 million when FDR was first elected. So if both sides could drop the meaningless fact that each candidate got more votes than any Republican/Democratic candidate in history, I’d appreciate it.

And while you’re at it– the same applies to opening weekends at the box office. More people, more screens, more expensive tickets. Hell, Gigli could probably be considered a bigger movie than Jaws if you count this way.

Just for the sake of logic, I’m going to assume that there are more eligible voters now than in 1984. Hey, imagine that… more voters equals a higher vote total for the winner. When Reagan won by 16,878,000 votes (out of 92,652,842), that’s a mandate. Bush winning by 3,594,114 votes (out of 115,427,728) is a victory, but not a mandate to run trample over the opposition.

Lest we forget, Kerry received 55,384,497 votes. Even though I attended public schools and a state university, I’m pretty sure that Kerry’s total beat Reagan’s record of 54,455,000, as well. So everybody should lose the hyperbole and just shut up.

I flip-flop… Here’s another entry about the election.

I’m breaking my promise not to write any more about the election than yesterday’s post. But there’s a good reason and it doesn’t include denouncing President Bush, not directly anyway. Allow me to explain my deep despair from yesterday and why, even when that despair dissipates, the fragile peace in my mind will still force me to never let up in defending my principles.

The Karl Rove impact on America is my issue. I’m not concerned that a majority of Americans differed from my view of President Bush as a war president or his impact on the financial health of our nation; majority will is the nature of a democracy. The minority within the majority is what concerns me. It’s the “We drank the Kool-Aid, it was really good, you must have some” crowd of the Republican Party who seem to have missed the point of freedom and democracy and decency. That small group of people makes me fret for the immediate future of our great country and the ideals we claim to hold dear. The belief that a heterogeneous society is not only what sets us apart, it’s what makes us so great.

But some among us don’t believe this. They wrap themselves in the flag and pretend that only they are the defenders of the real America. They’re the true patriots, they tell us. If we don’t like it, get the hell out. While others who didn’t vote for Kerry are proclaiming that they’re ready to move to Canada or the U.K., I’m not one of them. This wave of hysteria will pass, but only if someone defends the truth. I will play my small part in that over the next four years and beyond.

I give that introduction to lead into my primary anger at the election. I’m concerned because of the eleven state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage that passed. Marriage is a right traditionally reserved for the states, so a state’s citizens passing such an amendment is within their rights, regardless of how ridiculous and discriminatory I may find it. The citizens acted. Now same-sex couples (and singles and traditional couples and singles) know where the state’s citizens stand. They can stay and fight, stay and not fight, or move. As a tourist, I can choose not to visit the states that passed such amendments. All of that is democracy in action.

But that isn’t the whole story, is it? The argument over same-sex marriage (and homosexuality) has extended beyond ridiculous and discriminatory and slipped into hatred. Whatever causes that hatred is interesting but irrelevant. I’m ashamed at my country when I think that this is what people believe and vote into reality.

Here are two examples from e-mails received by Andrew Sullivan about the election illustrate the underbelly of Tuesday’s election. These quotes are the gist of what is wrong with how far today’s Republican Party has strayed from the core of Conservatism and how fanaticism has taken over America. Consider:

“I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message — true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I’m sure someone like yourself would consider me just an “extremist” that you don’t need to worry about. Well you are wrong — I’m not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.”


“I’ll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I’m faced with everyday in school – the American people have just shown my classmates that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a ‘friend’ at school today: ‘It’s so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out…’ Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads … I’m the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney. Herein lies a problem, I can’t bring myself to do that. Bush totally lost all my support (I know I can’t vote – but I make a hell of a campaigner) when he supported the amendment to ban gay marriages, and I felt bad that in straying from Bush, I was abandoning Cheney, who I have an amazing amount of respect for. Many would say go Democrat… but I can’t do that (that signals the absence of a spine up here), and in the next year, I’m considering dropping my membership to the party. Especially this year, despite how undercut and violated I feel as a gay person, I couldn’t be happier that I am. I’ve got a stronger will because of it, and will lead my life just as strongly.”

Contrary to what some people believe, hatred is not a family value. We’re all in this mess together. Until we accept that, not only does legitimate debate and intellectual curiosity fade away, we increase the divide between those in power and those in the minority. Intentionally creating (or refusing to work to reduce) that gap has never led to anything good. Remember the immortal words of Ximinez, from Monty Python’s Flying Circus:

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms – Oh damn! (To Cardinal Biggles) I can’t say it – you’ll have to say it.”

That’s the America I see right now. I don’t like it.

For the next four years and beyond…

We’re fucked.

That’s only my opinion, but I can’t deny my sadness at the inevitable reduction of civil liberties over the next four years. Or my desperation at the thought of this president believing that he has a mandate from the people to continue to pursue his policies of fiscal destruction. Or my sense of shame for my country at the effectiveness of his despicable campaign of fear and smear. Or my nervousness about the consequences of this president believing that his inflexible tactics in the necessary war on terror were legitimized by the American people. Or, finally, my expectation that the ramifications of this president’s hubris and unquestioned mission from God now that he has free reign and a sycophant Congress will be felt by the next generation and beyond.

It’s easy to dismiss the ranting of someone when you disagree with their opinion, but that doesn’t change the truth. A re-elected president who believes that freedom is based on his judgment commandment from God is destroying the ideals that I hold most dear as an American. But he’s not stopping with me. Now that he’s learned how effectively fear works over the American psyche, we can expect nothing less going forward. What I hold dear was attacked first when the president halted the notion of free speech and backed an amendment that would add discrimination (not to mention Christian theology) into our secular government’s most important document. As angry as I am about that, I’m not alone. He hit my ideals first, but he’s coming for everyone else next. History has shown that, but we haven’t learned. The collective wisdom of Americans failed yesterday and we’ll all pay the consequences.

There’s more nuance to it than that, I know, but I don’t have faith in nuance this morning. One day we’re going to wake up from this collective nightmare. Many of us will have great difficulty in accepting what we’ve allowed to happen, but that day is far in the future. The Conservative values of small, limited government, freedom from the control of that small, limited government, and the belief that open debate and information are dead in America. No one seems poised to revive them. Unfortunately, for now, we must all live with the consequences.

I feel like I’m living the worst movie I’ve ever seen, only that movie is 70,082 hours long and I’m stuck in the theater with the realization that the exits are locked. I hope I’m wrong, but this president has given me no reason to believe in him. Like I said, I think we’re fucked.

Funny is so easy, a child could do it

I recently wrote an entry about using ads mocking John Kerry to promote its site, a site that exists as little more than a redirect to the main site. I complained about how vehemently opposed to it I was. As I mentioned in that entry, I wrote to and received the following reply:

I will bring this to the attention of my supervisors. I looked at the link but could not find what you are refering to, but whomever made the page must know somthing about it. I personally do not consider that fair if they are singling out one canidate or the other, and im (sic) sure it was not our intent to do so. Please eccept (sic) my appologies (sic) on behalf of audible, i (sic) will deffenetly (sic) have someone look at this issue. Thank You!

I thought that might be the end, but it’s not. As I said in that entry…

I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if the only ad was the “George W. Bush is an idiot” version, but I only have the information at hand, which mocks the candidate I support. I hope I’d feel the same way if the reverse had been true. I suspect I’d disagree with the marketing plan but wouldn’t be as upset about the sentiment since it matches my own. That doesn’t make it smart.

That’s about right. I found the Cheney ad on a site that has a more liberal bent, so it’s obvious that is targeting the assumed readership of specific sites. Since I don’t stick with just my own opinion, I found both. I don’t know if I’m a rare person who comes across that or not, but it doesn’t change how vile and stupid I think the strategy is. Just as with the Kerry ad, portraying Bush supporters as “closed-minded, reactionary war-mongers” is unfair and untrue.

I’m not as angered by the Cheney ad, but I think that’s because the two ads are different in one fundamental way. Since the Cheney ad is cartoonish, the context implies a marketing tone rather than a mocking tone. Perhaps I’m clouded in my judgement, but that’s my view. I still think the ads are despicable.

(For more perspective, consider these ads featuring Hillary Clinton being elistist and
Ann Coulter fighting Al Franken.)