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Friday, July 29, 2005

Urban Survival Guide

What if you are walking along a sunny path in a local park when you notice a guy rollerblading towards you clad only in a Speedo® swimsuit, sometimes referred to as a “banana hammock?” Although it is the most effective method, there isn’t always time to stretch a piece of piano wire, neck-high across the path. Maybe he isn't listening to Cher on his headphones. Maybe the “fruit-booter” won’t bust some roller disco moves right in front of you, but why take any chances? What if he tries to do the splits? My urban survival guide will teach you how to make napalm out of common household items.

For only $28.95 you will learn secrets that, until now, were shared only by Israeli intelligence agents and bargain-happy, senior citizens. My guide will teach you to kill an attacker with an apple core, and help you save money on your monthly food bill. “Clip coupons and kick ass” is the motto of my guide.

Imagine this scenario. You are in line at the movie rental place and there is an incredibly attractive woman behind you. You don’t have time to replace the dumb movie you are about to rent with some foreign classic in order to impress her. Learn how to wait until just the right moment to ask the clerk about their Ingmar Bergman collection so he forgets to shout out, “Thank you, I hope you enjoy Sister Act II, due back by Friday.” If the beautiful woman does notice your poor taste in movies, tell her that you heard that if you play Sister Act II and Guns & Roses Appetite for Destruction at the same time, they are synchronized (only try this approach if she looks like a stoner). If she doesn’t buy that story, say that the movie is hilarious if you switch the language to Mandarin Chinese (probably true, but anything would be an improvement).

Say you are walking down a deserted street when you notice a gauntlet of crack addicts and street people who look like they are capable of nickel and dime-ing you half to death. Before they pounce, learn how to turn the tables on them by masquerading as one of those annoying Green Peace volunteers. Ask them if they’d like to fill out a questionnaire testing their knowledge of the environment. This is a more effective way to clear your path than a sawed-off shotgun.

To stretch your food budget, eat as many free samples at the grocery store as you possibly can. If the clerk politely asks you to move along, go to the kids aisle and come back disguised as a pirate or a princess, and continue eating. This isn’t a very dignified strategy, but those little meatballs on toothpicks are delicious. And they are free. “Free” is the most beautiful word in the English language. “Free drink” is more beautiful, but that’s two words.

If your luck with women could use a turn for the better, my guide can get you back on track. Right after you tell the woman at the bar what it is you do for a living, interrupt her bored stupor by adding that your dumb job is the secret identity of the crime-fighting superhero that is your full-time gig. Be sure to have a stock story prepared about how your parents were killed by villains, and how you gained your superpowers by taking a radioactive bong hit in college. This technique may sound preposterous, but let’s face it; your reproductive strategy is severely flawed and anything is worth trying at this point.

Do you want to save thousands of dollars every year? Date a meter maid. Sure, meter maids are notorious for their sadomasochism. Yes, you’ll have to take a severe beating regularly while having the whole sordid affair video taped, but the benefits of never getting a parking ticket far outweigh any physical and mental abuse you’ll have to endure. I don’t know about you, but I would consent to be bound, gagged, and dragged naked behind a meter maid cart for an entire 8-hour shift if it meant never having to worry about finding a parking space ever again. That would be better than having a credit card and never getting a bill.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mileage Check

At the beginning of this year I wrote down the mileage in my car. So far this year I have driven 1,647 miles. This came after the weekend trip described below during which I drove 352 miles. I have taken 6-7 or so trips out of Seattle already this year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Devils Gulch Mountain Bike Trail: Bring Lots of Water

When you wake up really early; and you have a couple of days off; and you look out the window and see nothing but blue sky; you have to get out of town and take advantage of all these things. And did I mention that I have a new mountain bike? I was sipping a cup of coffee and driving out of town by 8 a.m. I didn’t really know where I was going as I drove to the entrance of I-5. When the weather is this spectacular, you have nothing but options.

I was sorting out my possibilities as I took the 520 Bridge across Lake Washington. I looked over to my right and the sight of Mount Rainier startled me about as much as if I suddenly noticed a passenger in the seat beside me. This 14,000’ peak acts like a beacon around much of the state, but it only works in good weather. I took the clear morning as an auspicious sign for the rest of the trip.

I don’t drive this way over the mountains very often and I wasn’t exactly sure where I needed to go. I made one wrong turn and had to double-back. I stopped at an espresso stand on the side of the road and asked directions. I’m still not sure if this is the right way to go, but it would get me there sooner of later. I wasn’t in a hurry.

I needed to connect to US Highway 2, which was somewhere a bit north of here. I’m great with directions. I’m fairly competent at orienting map reading and wilderness orienting. I just hate urban driving and I rarely pay attention when someone else is driving. Wherever I was right now, it was a beautiful bit of road. Picture-perfect farms and the only cloud in the sky was about one hundred feet off the ground running the length of this plain at the foothills of the Cascades.

Highway 2 goes over Stevens Pass. This is one of the higher western passes at 4061’ and named after John F. Stevens, a Great Northern Railroad surveyor who charted the route in 1890. A railroad service road soon followed and the highway came along in 1925. Before I got to the pass on the western side, I stopped to take a picture of Mount Index, and as I pulled back on the highway I noticed a pool of water through a gap in the trees. I’ve been through this way dozens of times and I had never noticed this spot. One of my biggest complaints about Washington State is there aren’t enough cool places to swim. This pool beneath a series of waterfalls is the coolest, most beautiful spot that I have discovered thus far. I made a note of the directions (a secret) and I vowed to come back and camp here for a few days.

I had decided that I was going to ride the Devil’s Gulch mountain bike trail just south of Cashmere, Washington. I had printed out a map of the trail and I had it right here in my bag beside me. It’s right here in the stack of mountain bike trail maps. Where in the fuck is my map of Devil’s Gulch? Screw it; I sort of remembered where it was. I could wing it. I’m more of a “big picture” sort of guy; maps are for small-minded, detail-oriented folks.

It was a little before noon when I pulled into Cashmere. As soon as I did, I saw a car with two mountain bikes on the roof. I followed them to the trailhead. They were nice enough to let me look at their trail book which I scanned and memorized. I have a photographic memory. At least I thought I did. Maybe I’m out of film. How hard could it be? I got on my bike and started humping up the forest service road.

A lot of bikers choose to drive up to the top of the trail and just ride down. I guess there is no shame inn doing that. It’s still a pretty kick-ass trail just going down. I’m sort of old school and I like going up. Well, maybe “like” isn’t the correct word here, but I always ride up, and “up” today was 11 miles with an elevation gain of 3,300 feet. And it was over 85 degrees. And I didn’t have enough water. And then I took a few wrong turns.

Taking wrong turns when you are grinding up an 11 mile hill is a little like putting too many bullets in the gun when you are playing Russian roulette. I like going uphill as much as the next guy, but 3,300 feet is quite enough elevation gain for me for one ride. I must have added at least another 500 feet by taking a couple of detours.

I had my water pack with me, which normally is plenty to keep me hydrated for most rides. The problem was that I started the day with two cups of coffee and no water. I was going to stop in town and get a gallon of water and a sports drink, but if you remember I was following the other cyclists to the trailhead. I had nothing to eat so far and I was saving my only food, a Speed Gel pack (basically a tube of syrup), for when I reached the top of the trail. Water was sure to be an issue today.

What I couldn’t stop thinking about on the way up was what a strange way to have fun. I can’t explain why I keep doing this over and over. I suppose that there are a lot of things about biking that are fun: being out in the woods, solitude, exercise, and whatever else you want to throw in. When you are riding up an 11 mile hill, you have to throw pain into the fun mix.

At the very top, I took off my jersey to let it dry in the hot sun. I left my bike and hiked up a hundred yards to a spire with a commanding view of the entire Mission Ridge. I suited up and slurped down the Speed Gel thing. I had just enough water left to wash down the syrup, and then I headed down.

Devil’s Gulch isn’t a very technical descent. The trail is fairly smooth, which means that it is really fast. You can almost fly down many parts of it. My dehydration started to catch up with me, first with fairly severe leg cramps, and then with a clouded head. I had a hard time concentrating, which can be a bad thing when you are skimming down a trail with a few hundred feet drop inches away from your tires. Most of the time this kind of trail is a blast for me, but in my dehydrated state I found myself wishing that the trail could be a little bit wider in the some parts, the parts where is you slip you’d fall several hundred feet.

I had to get off my bike and work out a cramp I had in my right quad. I never, ever get cramps from bike riding. The upside to my pain was seeing two wild turkeys a few feet away. They were too immersed in the forest for me to get a picture, and the slope was way too steep for me to follow them into the trees—or maybe I was too tired to chase turkeys.

After taking another wrong turn, I finally reached the bottom. I didn’t even lift my head up to acknowledge a couple of other cyclists in the parking area. I just threw my bike on my car and drove away to find water and Gatorade. When I finally found a quickie-mart the clerk was giving me a long story about why he had to charge me 15 cents for a cup with ice. I had to restrain myself from screaming, “Shut up so I can put some fluids in my body before my veins start collapsing.”

Devil’s Gulch is thought to be one of the premier mountain bike trails in the state. It is beautiful, challenging, well-maintained, and it has a murderous ascent. As a bonus, when you have finished the trail, you can drive down to the Wenatchee River and go skinny dipping. It didn’t even feel cold on this day.

Afterward: I usually bring along a mini water filter for emergencies. I wouldn’t call this an emergency, but not having enough water can be fairly uncomfortable at best. I won’t make this mistake any time soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Note to Self: Get Well Soon

I got some bad news the other day. Perhaps that isn’t the correct way to phrase that. No one actually gave me the news. It’s not like I heard a knock at my door and there stood two guys in dark suits and they said, “Mr. Leftbanker, we have some terrible news.” I just looked down and I could see it for myself. At first I couldn’t tell what the hell it was because this has never happened to me before. Of course, I’ve heard about it. It’s not like I live in a vacuum. I have athlete’s foot.

Not athlete’s feet, athlete’s foot. That’s singular, one afflicted appendage. Let’s set the record straight. I just have a bit of it on the top of the two small toes on my right foot. It’s not like I’m going to die or anything. My god, I’m not going to die, am I? Can you die from athlete’s foot? I can only imagine that succumbing to a foot fungus wouldn’t be a pleasant way to go. The point is that I’m required by law to inform my readers of this condition. If you read this, could you do me a favor and let other people know? It’s pretty embarrassing to have to walk around telling people—many of whom are complete strangers—that you have something growing on your foot.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Dude, wash your damn feet once in a while.” That’s not how you get athlete’s foot, or feet (I have athlete’s foot, as I’ve said. How many times do I have to tell you that?). I wash my feet, OK? You wouldn’t make fun of someone in the hospital, would you? How about a guy in a wheelchair? So stop making fun of a guy who has shit growing on his foot.

I don’t really know how you get it. It’s not sexually transmitted, I can tell you that much, and I won’t go into details about how I know that. Let’s just say that the stuff I wrote for the personals ad about how I like romantic dinners and walks along the beach hasn’t panned out. Who cares how you get it. Where is the public outcry? Why aren’t rock stars out there doing benefit concerts to cure this debilitating affliction, and I don’t think that ‘affliction’ is too strong a word, and the affliction I am talking about is athlete’s foot, not lack of sex (although that is a crippling disease, let me tell you). Why can’t the Dave Matthews Band finally be of some use to me? Why must I suffer in silence? I’ll admit that I flew off the handle when I was first diagnosed. I was screaming at the manager for U2, asking how Bono could ignore the millions of people stricken with athlete’s foot (and athlete’s feet, the poor bastards). I was really giving that guy a piece of my mind when he informed me that there are several over-the-counter remedies.

P.S. Here is why I think that I am a better writer than Saul Bellow. It was easy for Saul Bellow to get a Nobel Prize for literature because he never had to write a 500 word essay about a foot fungus, although I think that athlete’s foot is a more compelling issue than those found in a lot of his books.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hold My Calls, Please!

I am kind of busy these days and I will be for the next couple of weeks. There is a bike race going on in France that has me completely distracted. Today is a rest day in the Tour de France so I’m not missing anything by writing this short essay. To give you some idea of my level of fanaticism I will tell you about what happened to me yesterday.

Normally the Outdoor Life Network televises the Tour at 11:30 every morning. I make a point of arriving at the gym at 11:30 on the dot. I sit on one of the exercise bikes and watch the two hour coverage of the race. This is a taped delay of the race so I have to be extra careful that I don’t accidentally catch the results of the race on the other TV that is usually tuned to CNN. If I look over and they are broadcasting news of the day’s race on CNN I literally plug my ears and start singing something. It’s not very dignified but it keeps me in suspense.

When I got to the gym yesterday I politely asked the other patrons if I could switch the TV over to the Tour. When I got to the station that broadcasts the race there was a beach volleyball game going on and it wasn’t even in France. I actually screamed like a little girl whose party dress just caught fire. I like watching girls in bikinis as much as the next middle-aged pervert but where in the FUCK was my Tour de fucking France? I looked around accusingly at the other people working out, as if one of them had stolen it. My whole day was completely out of whack. It was raining (Have I mentioned that I live in Seattle?) so I decided to continue my workout sans Tour.

When I got back home I checked the TV listings and discovered that OLN had moved Sunday’s coverage to 5 p.m. Sunday’s stage was an important one so I rearranged my entire day to include a second workout at five. I know this is a really fucking boring story but it’s almost over, I promise. When I returned to the gym I switched the TV over to the race. I was tired but I figured I could tough it out for another hour or so on the bike until I saw that the riders were still well over two hours from the finish. It seems that Sundays have extended coverage. So this is the end: I rode for an hour and then went to my pub to drink beer. I watched the end of the race from the safety and security of my barstool.

I’ll admit that you have to be a total geek to watch a bicycle race on TV. I am the biggest geek imaginable when the Tour rolls around every summer. If you can imagine one of your loved ones in emergency care then you have some idea of my relation to the TV at my gym during these three weeks in July. Some friends asked me if I wanted to go see the new Batman movie yesterday. I asked them if Lance Armstrong was in it. He isn’t in it so I decided that I would have to wait until after the Tour to see Batman Begins so as not to dilute my Tour experience.

I have taught my friends who aren’t bike geeks a set of stock phrases that they can use on me so that I will think that they give a shit about a three week bike race in France. “So, do you think Lance has what it takes to do it again this year?” “This Christophe Moreau is being rather pesky, don’t you think?” And if you really want to get on my good side try this one, “I think that you should be in the Tour de France.” That one gets me hot.

Tuesday is supposed to bring good weather to Washington. It would be an ideal day to head out of town for a mountain bike ride, except for the fact that Tuesday is also the first day in the Alps for the Tour. Let’s see, either I can ride my bike through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful scenery on this planet or I can sit on a virtual bicycle in a stuffy gym next to a bunch of sweaty, smelly people and watch a bike race on TV. My hands are tied here, people. What if I went out riding in the Washington Alps and something truly epic happened in the Tour? Like when Joseba Beloki crashed two years ago. Then I’d feel like an idiot. To take a quote from Homer Simpson, “I can’t let that happen, I won’t let that happen, and I can’t let that happen.”

I pray that it rains so I won’t feel quite as dorky sitting inside on a summer day. Like the Eskimos have over 2,000 words for ‘snow,’ Seattleites have as many words for ‘rain.’ Most of them are profane. Praying for rain in Seattle is like praying for heat in Arizona. I actually have a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains from the seat of my exercise bike at the gym which makes riding inside on beautiful days even more painful. On Tuesday I’ll draw the blinds if it’s sunny.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Skanks and the City

This essay is going to be just like Sex and the City, except instead of watching it, you read it. That’s one strike against me because reading is hard for lots of people. Other than that minor difference this will be just like the TV show. Come on, it will be fun.

So there are these four whores. What? No, calling them whores isn’t being mean. Cool, New York City girls always call each other whores. So these four skanks are out shopping and one of them tells the others that she has a really rich new boyfriend. They all high-five each other and then they go out to lunch and bring along their pet homosexuals. If you are a hip New York City woman and you don’t have a pet homosexual to take along with you so that he can bark out clever and slightly vulgar witticisms, you don’t know what you are missing. you can dress them up in colorful little sweaters just like designer dogs and if anyone criticizes this behavior you can call them homophobic.

Have you ever noticed that women always go to the bathroom in pairs? Do you know why do they do that? It’s so one of them can hold back Sarah Jessica Parker’s hair as she pukes up $65 worth of sushi—and you thought that eating disorders went out with acid-washed jeans. I can only imagine that the wasabi tickles on the way back out. At least now she has room for more apple martinis.

Skanks and the City is so empowering. I love that word. I wish that I had been the bird-brain sociologist who coined it in the first place. I also love the word “impact” used as a verb, as in, “Skanks and the City has impacted the female community with a new sense of empowerment.” That’s two made-up words in one sentence; I feel like I should have my own talk show. But let’s get back to the whole empowering thing. These four skanks have shown women that they are free to be just as moronic as men when it comes to relationships, dating, and casual sex. I don’t know if it really works that way, but you can go out shopping after you get cleaned up.

And shopping is what it is really all about in this life—at least that’s the way it has been defined for us in these early years of the 21st century. The most important things are looking good and buying shit. If you look good enough someone will surely buy you shit, and if you buy enough shit you will look good. Am I right or am I right?

I hear that there is a wonderful new plastic surgery procedure that allows doctors to remove parts of your brain and use the tissue to make your tits or pec muscles bigger. I love seeing a ninety year old woman with nice jugs. That’s so cool. Doctors can also remove men’s pride, decency, and self-respect to create new hair follicles. Why would anyone worry about the future when science is capable of miracles like these?

Friday, July 08, 2005

What’s in a Name?

Genealogy is one of the most popular uses of the internet. Millions of people around the globe are exploring their family histories. I suspect that most folks are desperately trying to find some familial link to some old queen or other, to some quasi-famous historical figure, no matter how harshly we may now judge their pseudo-ancestor. In our celebrity-obsessed world, most people would rather be related to a famous despot than a good-natured nobody. Everyone wants to be related to Charlemagne or Henry VIII or have a great-great-great grandfather who came over on the Mayflower. Good luck with your search, your Excellency.

I suppose all of this desire to have powerful ancestors can be filed under the “the apple falls close to the tree” fantasy. If you choose to believe that you have the DNA structure required for world domination just because you have some incredibly tenuous link to some European monarch--dead now for centuries--that is your business. I would just like to remind all of those out there mining the deep shafts of their genealogy with the hope of discovering gold, that most of the people who have inhabited this planet were—and continue to be—trash.

Just out of curiosity I did a bit of research into my family’s origin. As you may already know, most European names are derived from a person’s occupation. Examples that come readily to mind are Smith, Cooper, and Goldsmith. As it turns out, my name in the original German form means not the actual guy on a road construction crew who waves cars by with a flag. Not that guy, but the guy who traditionally stands next to the flag guy, leaning on a shovel and regaling the flag guy with stories about how drunk he got the night before, and how he probably could have scored with some chick except he got thrown out of the bar before he could close the deal. Then he asks the flag guy if he can sleep on his couch for a few weeks because he got evicted. The English translation, I admit, is a bit long-winded but the Germans—sticklers that they are for details—actually have a
word for this guy, and that word is my last name.

It is probably a good thing that the people in my family got thrown out of Germany in the early 1900’s. Had they been around for the Nazi era who knows where these idlers would have ended up—either in a camp or promoted straight to the top. They came to America and continued their ignoble traditions. But let’s face it; compared to Nazis, being simple white trash is a badge of honor, an honor I wear with pride and a certain degree of distinction.

I tell you this because I want people to be prepared for what they may find if they decide to climb around in their family tree. It is more likely that your European antecedents cleaned out public bathrooms than led armies across the continent. There is no reason to be ashamed of humble origins, just as there is no call for pride just because your kin once ruled over others. Before you sneer at the trash you may find in the branches of your family tree, think about how disappointed your future legacies will be when they discover that you are a relation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Advertising Genius

Perhaps instead of writing humor I should try my hand at advertising? It seems like much of what makes up the world of advertising these days is people trying to make other people feel inadequate. The message that I see in a lot of commercials and print ads is that the human body is revolting, and you need to buy a whole lot of products to keep from being quite as revolting as the next guy. I think that my juvenile sense of humor would be a tremendous asset for those looking to market anti-perspirant, mouthwash, deodorant, acne medication, dandruff shampoo, and all other products that try to undo the vile discharges of humanity.

A life-long wise-ass seems like the perfect candidate to usher in new advertising campaigns that taunt people for driving anything less than the biggest SUV on the planet. My extensive experience in mockery seems like the perfect resume for those looking to convince young men that they will never get laid unless they drink a particular brand of light beer that tastes just like regular beer with a lot of water added.

On the other hand, I know that I’m not smart or funny enough to brainwash consumers into believing that a certain brand of paper towels will make their wives boobs bigger. My humor isn’t adequately cynical to make people believe that there is any difference between laundry detergents. Even to think that you can make people care about such mundane products as soap or plastic wrap takes a certain amount of genius and audacity.

One of my favorite games to play is to pick up a magazine off of the rack at random. I page through the ads until I have created a perfect life. It usually takes less than about four ads to come up with a perfect family, pet, house, job, automobile, and whatever else “perfect” means to the average person. If all of those ads were my doing I’m sure that I’d find a way to screw up the American dream.

In the SUV ad I would have the personalized license plate read: SMLDICK. The license plate in the sexy sports car ad would be NODICK. I would go totally overboard on the use of homoeroticism to market products for the homophobic. I would love to make a light beer commercial that shows a male fashion model ogling a female fashion model sitting across the bar while he is drinking a light beer and getting a blow job under the table from one of his buddies.

How about a middle-aged fat guy getting gang raped by a team of professional basketball cheerleaders because he uses a certain brand of toilet paper to wipe his big butt? Do you think that would move some units? If sex sells, then god damn it, let’s have some sex. Let’s use so much sex that we will embarrass 60 year old German men who go to Thailand twice a year for sex tours. Let’s make toothpaste ads so graphic that porn moguls won’t allow their children to watch them. If the business of America is business, I say it’s time we stop messing around and really get down to business.

Weren’t we all taught that if you are going to do something, do it right? If you’re trying to make people feel inadequate, then why not make them feel grotesquely inadequate? Let parents know that if they aren’t willing to fork over $100 for a pair of sneakers that their child will grow out of in three months then they may as well put their kid in a weighted sack and throw them off a bridge. Your kid sits at the bottom of the river just because you wouldn’t buy him a pair of $100 sneakers made in some slave-labor camp in China. Are you happy now? You make me sick.

Come to think of it, I’d probably hire me.

References Upon Request

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On Becoming More Mexican

I have been listening to a lot of music lately. I mentioned that I bought a 300g hard drive for my laptop which allows me to store tons of new music. For the past year I haven’t been listening to music much and I was beginning to worry about myself. Music has always been a fairly bright-burning passion in my life, as it should be for everyone. I just went through a phase in which music wasn’t an important part of my life. Things are swinging back the other way.

Think back upon all of the music that you have heard in your lifetime. Think about all of the song lyrics that you have memorized. I would imagine that the average person could recite the lyrics to hundreds of popular songs. These songs represent part of a cultural heritage that you share with every other American, or every other English speaking person who also knows this music.

Part of the cultural heritage that I have learned in the course of my adult life is that of Latin America. I am fairly fluent in a lot of the music of the Spanish speaking world. I’ve decided that I need to increase my Mexican cultural literacy. The best way I know to do that is to become more familiar with one of the biggest icons of Mexican popular music, Vicente Fernandez.

I have sung the praises of Vicente Fernandez many times before. He is by far the most popular singer in Mexico. Rancheras are the staple of his music for which he is best known. Rancheras are folk songs that often tell stories, most of which turn out bad for the narrator. There seems to be a sadness that overshadows many of these songs; mostly it is of love gone bad, often ending in violence. Rancheras don’t often have happy endings. I’ll give you an example.

Mi Ranchito

Allá tras de la montaña
Donde temprano se oculta el sol
Quedó mi ranchito triste
Y abandonada ya mi labor.

Allí me pasé los años
y allí encontré mi primer amor
Y fueron los desengaños los que
Mataron a mi ilusión.

Ay…corazón que te vas
Para nunca volver
No me digas adiós,
No te despidas jamás
Si no quieres sentir
De la ausencia el dolor.

He sings of his sad little ranch across the mountain where he worked and loved. Something went to shit, however, and now all he seems to have is pain and loss and this little song to show for it. Life is often hard and never fair in Mexican Rancheras. Some of them turn into outright bloodbaths.

I figure that if I am going to cram a bunch of crappy pop music lyrics into my head, they may as well be Mexican pop music lyrics. For the next few months I’m going to memorize the lyrics to as many Vicente Fernandez songs as I can. You have to set goals for yourself—I learned that at a Tony Robbins seminar.

I have always meant to write a song so while I am at it I am going to write a ranchera. Why do I have the feeling that mine will be the bloodiest ranchera ever written? Why do I suspect that I will write the Pulp Fiction of rancheras? The more I think about this the more entertaining it sounds.