Saturday, May 22, 2010


I picked up this book called Pygmy at the airport the other day. The book is written by Chuck Palahniuk, who wrote Fight Club. Fight Club became a movie in which very pretty male actors beat the snot out of each other.

Fight Club: Stylized Beatings of Pretty Men.
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Pygmy said "National Bestseller" on the cover. The Washington Post said "Palahniuk is brilliant."

The blurb on the back sounded interesting: "Pygmy is one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the U.S. disguised as exchange students . . . they are planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism that will bring this big dumb country and its fat dumb inhabitants to their knees." The Baltimore City Paper said "A hilarious cover-to-cover read."

I picked it up. I started reading it. My bad.

First, Palahniuk is a gifted writer, and extremely funny. But being gifted and funny is not a magic potion that makes everything okay.

In the second chapter the little cutthroat protagonist contemplates, in some detail, the homosexual rape of a snot-nosed teenage bully he encounters at a Wal-Mart. A few pages later, the protagonist began acting out on this meditation. I put the book down.

I was about to toss it in the trash can when I remembered that I can bring the book back to the airport bookstore where I bought it and get half the price back. So I'll be making a stop there the next time I'm through the airport in Hotville.

This is what passes for great literature in my country. It is apparently okay to depict torture and rape in order to (a) be funny (b) write satire (c) serve any other artistic purpose one may have in mind.

Dipping religious icons in feces and urine, writing about sexual perversity and wallowing in descriptions of torture are considered fine art by my cohorts, the Baby Boomers. This is part of what will mark us as "The Worst Generation," when that book gets written 50 years from now.

We mistake our perversions and illnesses as something worth staring at and chatting about over cocktails. To label a novel scandalous is to ensure bestseller status.

In reality, Chuckie P's rape fantasies are just the puss that leaks out of unattended boils. I cannot imagine what degradation he has been through to arrive at the point where a detailed description of homosexual rape seemed like a brilliant idea for his novel, but I would say Chuckie P. is officially a broken unit.

Maybe he could focus on getting better, rather than helping infect other people with his afflictions.

And by the way, Chuckie P. needs to stay away from my children.

Enough said.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Mrs. Optimist and I sold our home in Big Cold Town (BCT) recently. The process was tinged with sadness, but our sadness was assuaged by the $3,000 or so per month we save from (a) not paying the big mortgage for the big old house (b) not paying the big taxes from BCT and (c) not paying the big utility bills for heating and cooling and watering and sewering the big old house.

But most of all we save the psychic pain that comes from the sudden, catastrophic "you must fix this immediately" moments that are such a charming part of home ownership. Mrs. Optimist totaled up all our out-of-pocket "fixer upper" expenses while we were fussing around getting ready for settlement. It turns out we averaged $666 per month during our 12 years. That's over and above fixed costs.

666 is, of course, the Sign of the Beast. (Revelation 13:16-18). I'm not suggesting this is significant. Just noting the coincidence.

I used to joke that I should film a TV show called "This Damn House" for PBS. Mrs. Optimist and I were compulsive "This Old House" watchers. We could relate. But then I realized that Bob and Norm and the guys were having a lot of fun. We were not having so much fun.

Bob and Norm had carpenters and plumbers and electricians and an unlimited budget. Not us.

We had a bunch of kids and not enough money.

And so when Mrs. Optimist would call me at work and say "there is water pouring through the second floor roof like a waterfall - it's running all the way down to the basement -" I would go home and go on the roof in a hurricane (yes, this happened) and hammer shingles.

Roof + Hurricane = Hurricane wins

That's what I'm talking about. Not a lot of edifying things said on the roof during the hurricane. Wish I was a better man, but there it is. I was angry, soaking wet, cold and scared out of my wits.

So as much as I loved our home, I'm feeling mighty fine right now.

I'm thinking of taking the monthly savings and purchasing us a little solace. Like a trip to Jamaica. All cash. No credit card.

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And while I'm on the beach I will dream a dream about standing on a rickety ladder holding up an 8' sheet of gypsum against the plaster ceiling with my head while I try to balance drywall screws on the tip of my screw-gun as I drive them through the sheet rock.

These guys are wimps, using their hands.

It is a cool trick, but it leaves you with permanent headaches. They don't tell you that stuff on "This Old House."

Holding drywall with head = bad headaches.
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I like renting a lot.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


With our new found fortune - derived from paying off all our debts and selling our house - we are faced with the remarkable problem of where to put our money. I've hit on a new investment scheme that is destined for greatness.

Buy Pluto.

The opportunity here is immense. Pluto was recently downgraded from planet status and de-listed from all the major exchanges. Nevertheless, Pluto has not actually changed shape or form since being downgraded. So it is severely undervalued right now, especially when you compare it to any of the planets. Pound for pound, it is even undervalued when compared against asteroids and comets.

Which makes no sense at all, since Pluto is a lot closer to Earth, on average, than any of the asteroids or comets. This is how you know that an irrational herd mentality is at work.

By the way, a guy tried to get me to buy Mars. That is crazy stuff. EVERYONE is long Mars, and it is hopelessly overvalued.

Besides, Pluto just fits for me and Mrs. Optimist. It is way out there, it has a weird, eccentric orbit, and no one can figure out exactly what it is. We feel a kind of empathy for Pluto, a real sense of solidarity.

What's great is that I've found an outfit that sells fractional shares of Pluto, so I can do this over time. The deal is I pay a regular amount each month, so I'm buying more of Pluto when the price is down, less when the price is up. Over time I undercut the average market price for my Pluto stock.

Right now there aren't many buyers for Pluto, so the price is very low. In a few years, when everyone can see the value, the price will skyrocket, and Mrs. Optimist and I will probably be on to the Tibetan yak dung futures I read about in the Wall Street Journal the other day.

That's just the way we roll.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Is it not hilarious that Al Gore and Barack Obama have both received Nobel Peace Prizes for doing nothing about peace? Gore made a documentary about global warming that rivals Reefer Madness for zany overstatement. Obama spent a year apologizing for George Bush while continuing Bush's war policies.

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I think the Swedes are doing this on purpose, to mock us. It's like the Nobel Irony Prize now.

Next up for Nobel Peace Prizes are David Cameron, for (kind of) winning the recent British elections, and Oprah Winfrey, for publishing a magazine every month about herself.

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I also predict a Nobel Peace Prize for Madonna for learning to speak with an English accent, and one for the entire State of California for going broke.

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Those Swedes think because they are tall and have blond hair that they are entitled to laugh at us. Wait until global warming hits and their country gets really hot. When President Obama refuses to send them a trillion dollars to bail out Saab and Ikea, let's see who's laughing then.