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Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Things that I and only I are interested in.

Jahidi white*, I am excited, because I just learned that the great Sufjan Stevens is continuing his 50 states project with an album about Illinois. Check out this track list and tell me you're not excited too:

01 Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, IL
02 The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience But You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, "I have fought the Big Knives and will continue to fight them until they are off our lands!"
03 Come on! Feel the Illinoise!
-Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition
-Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream
04 John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
05 Jacksonville
06 A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, But for Very Good Reasons
07 Decatur, or, Round of Applause for Your Step Mother!
08 One Last "Woo-hoo!" for the Pullman
09 Chicago
10 Casimir Pulaski Day
11 To the Workers of the Rockford River Valley Region, I have an Idea Concerning Your Predicament, and it involves shoe string, a lavender garland, and twelve strong women
12 The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts
13 Prairie Fire That Wanders About
14 A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze
15 The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!
16 They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhhh!
17 Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All the Way Out in Bushnell
18 In This Temple, as in the Hearts of Man, for Whom He Saved the Earth
19 The Seer's Tower
20 The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders
-Part I: The Great Frontier
-Part II: Come to Me Only With Playthings Now
21 Riffs and Variations on a Single Note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to Name a Few
22 Out of Egypt, into the Great Laugh of Mankind, and I shake the dirt from my sandals as I run

Things mentioned I am most pumped about include: Bushnell (site of Cornerstone Music Festival), Rockford (where my wife is from and where I lived for a couple of years), Casimir Pulaski Day (for which Illinois schoolchildren get a day off), and references to Abe Lincoln and Superman. It should be a great disk. i'm looking into ways to download it now, since it comes out on July 5. Don't worry, Mr. Stevens, I will purchase it straight away, and probably buy more copies for friends. Jahidi white, get off my back.

Also, David Lynch has put down his positive-vibe machine long enough to make a new movie. Really, if you're David Lynch, how can you be doing anything but making movies now? His website and Baghwan Rajneesh have hijacked him! It's a travesty!

Also, the new Hoop Dreams special edition should arrive from Netflix today. If not for American Movie, it would be best.documentary.ever.

*Think of it as meaning "Mercy, me!" or "Whoa Nellie". I put this in here because I spontaneously said this to myself when I got the good news. And yes, I'm going to try desperately to cram it into common English usage.

One Post a Day Keeps Yo Mama Away

This post is simply a look behind and a look ahead.

I was not able to attend that computer vendor training event on the 24th of May. That bit, but I had to work at Papa John's that night. At the event, apparently our HR manager was picked to win $1000, but he had gone home for the evening and so forfeited the prize. Poor guy.

I saw the premiere of Beauty and the Geek last night. The show has promise, let me tell you. Not Super Sweet Sixteen promise, but you take what you can get these days.

This week at real job has been dinosaur hell. They keep making me do the thing that brings me to the dark place in my mind with the inverted-color trees like in the opening to Tales From the Darkside. It's been so bad I have made a rule with myself to not think about work when I'm not here (I'm at work right now). I don't usually go for coping mechanisms (they being the gateway drug to things like alcoholism and watching soap operas), but this one seems appropriate. If I don't do this, I'll be a grumpy gus all day.

The other night at Papa John's it was totally dead, and the Assistant Manager (who just got back from fighting in Iraq) had us cleaning all sorts of things. This was horrible, but kinda fun since I got to scrub this one cutting board for basically the whole night. When I was done, what had been a drab discolored mess was white as a Mormon church. But that's not the super fun part.

You see, we were cleaning because the store manager had had his job threatened by the Area Manager, Man Bob Bill (MBB). MBB had clandestinely come to the store in the middle of the night the previous week just to look for stuff that was dirty. He gave the store manager a list of things to get clean. Store Manager waited until the night before MBB was supposed to come back and re-check everything, handed the assistant manager the list, and told him to get it done. Isn't that nice? The Assistant Manager got all the stuff done, but not before Store Manager called him at like 10pm and told him to send people home because he was wasting labor. The Assistant Manager had a problem with this, understandably.

There are 2 things the previous story demonstrates: 1) when your job is on the line you should probably care enough to at least supervise the work that is needed to be done and 2) MBB's emphasis on clandestine checkups and cleaning goes a long way toward explaining why we're so dead at night.

I probably won't get to many more "Things To Do to Become a Dallasite" or whatever. I've got like 12 in my car that I might post, but those who said that coming up with 53 non-redundant things to do would be hard were right-on.

Comments on the first Beauty and the Geek episode, a State of the Milwaukee Bucks address, a long-overdue analysis of the last Survivor season, and much, much more.

I gotta go -- work is taking me to the dark place again, and I have to find some way to cope.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The System We Have in Place to Keep Ugly People Off of TV Is Failing.

A Special Opinion by Guest Blogger, Sarcastic Mike.
(From time to time we have to provide a forum for others outside the Epth Nation to write their minds about the issues of the day. We do this to provide balance to our normally pleasant and well-thought-out opinions in accordance with the upcoming Everyone's Gotta Be Fair Act that's not in Congress now but probably will be soon. It is our plan to be retroactively compliant to this future piece of First-Amendment-Squashing legislation, and so avoid any retroactive fines Congress might impose. We here at Epth Nation apologize if the following makes no sense to you but also feel obliged to point out that there's at least a 50% chance that it's your fault.)

As a human being named Sarcastic Mike, I have dedicated myself to the study of sarcasm in its many forms. I have been all over this globe on which we breathe trying to find the most wonderfully sarcastic things of all time. Today, however, I've decided to branch out of my comfortable tree a bit and tackle a critical issue facing America. There comes a time for every man to grow up, grab a shovel, and beat supposed progress back. My friends, today is our shovel-beating day.

I'm speaking, of course, about the breaking of the Unwritten Rule that keeps ugly people off of television. If you turn on a USA TV right this second, any TV at all, you are liable to find some less than attractive people on it. Is this what we want our kids to see? We thought the six inexplicably smoking-hot Friends solved this problem once and for all, but apparently we were wrong.

Do I need to remind you TV executives how far we have come? We can't give up now! The future of TV, America, and dare I say your jobs all depend on what we do about this problem.

In the olden days before the Unwritten Rule, ugly people filled our TV screens and we didn't care because we didn't realize they were ugly. They looked like us, and we looked like them. It never occurred to us that TV could be better than this -- better than us. We just accepted it because we had no time to watch TV. With all the farming, cleaning, and walking we had to do, we were so tired at the end of the day we barely noticed the superficial quality of the people on our screens. Or should I say, the lack of superficial quality. The picture was black-and-white and staticky, and old man, Milton Berle, dressed himself as an incredibly ugly woman and entertained America for free. It seems unthinkable today, but that's what happened.

Gradually, and as technology gave us more free time, TV watching became more important and nuanced for USA humans. As people watched more network TV, they began to subtly change the looks of people on TV through the Rule of Hotness (the proper name for the Unwritten Rule), which states:
If people on show A are hotter than people on show B, then (all other factors being equal) more viewers will watch show A.

But just as producers began to see the results of applying the Rule of Hotness to television schedules, feminism took hold and forced women to feel guilty if they looked hot. This only delayed the inevitable, and by the late 1980s Feminism had conceded that it had been wrong about the whole looking hot being a bad thing. In an elaborate ceremony at a Motley Crue concert, Gloria Steinem recanted and flashed the crowd. This only happened figuratively by the way, but it definitely did happen. It was at this moment that the TV Revolution truly began. The Figurative Flashing of Feminism was the 95 Theses nailed to the Church Door of ugly sweaters and unshaven legs.

During the 90s, the revolution took shape in all sorts of interesting ways: moderately hot Jane Pauley was replaced by the more hot Deborah Norville who was replaced by the merely cute Katie Couric (who since then has succombed to the Rule of Hotness, dyed her hair blonde, got professionally tan, started showing off her guns, and tried to become America's sexy schoolteacher); fat people (defined as those who merely aren't skinny) were gradually eradicated from the face of television; every reality show had to have sexy contestants; every cable show had to have a sexy host and/or hostess; every sitcom had to involve a hot skinny girl and a fat or dorky but totally cute guy; Friends ruled the airwaves despite not being funny in the least; Spike TV was born; Fox News introduced the world to Laurie Dhue's stupefyingly glossed lips and Shepherd Smith's bland but affable good looks; CNN and MSNBC followed suit with literal armies of hot anchors; local news got rid of most of their olds and uglies and replaced them with beauty queens and Ken dolls who could barely read the teleprompter; it became impossible for pop singers to have hits on MTV if they weren't young and attractive; and Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful woman on TV and whose audience consists largely (ahem) of unemployed housefraus, was forced to lose weight and get hot. If the viewing habits of the Cult of Oprah obeyed the Rule of Hotness, it was assumed the Rule would never be stopped. How wrong we were.

The Rule of Hotness provided us with the golden age of TV, but we are dangerously close to getting in a Dodge Dart, driving away, and seeing those days in our rear-view mirror. Seemingly overnight, reality TV hit a bump in the road and became slightly passe', Janet's boob set ancient and long-forgotten forces in motion to "clean up" TV, CBS replaced Dan Rather with an even older dude, Elisabeth Filarski got pregnant and took a leave of absence from The View, Sam Cassell and the Minnesota Timberwolves almost made the NBA Finals, and (most disturbingly) David Caruso and his creepy pastiness started to show up on network shows again. In the past year, both the botoxed-up and the naturally ugly have started making a comeback. I half-expect to see a 300lb Oprah again. This, my friends, is unacceptable. Does progress have to stop when the winds of change start blowing? I hope not. If it does, we have to build a giant wind machine that blows those winds of change back into the happy stasis they were in before.

The really insidious thing is you never know when these uglies are going to pop up. I like to flip channels very quickly, but you can never flip channels quickly enough to avoid seeing a brain-branding flash of leathery Barbara Walters or some puffy puke playing poker. Finding something to watch on TV is becoming more and more like a horror movie, where the next scare is just around the corner.

What makes this time unique and critical is the slow proliferation of HD TV's, which deliver a much clearer picture than our old tubular TV sets. If we don't apply the Rule now, we could be cursed with a super-clear picture but nobody on TV worth that great clarity. Who wants to see Sam Cassell in High Definition? We prefer him in Very Low Definition, like with a bag over his head. HDTV + Ugliness = massive amounts of despair and rampant nausea.

But there is good news -- we have the power to stop this trend right now. We have the remotes. We deliver the ratings. The next time you see an "old" delivering the local news, turn it to a "hot" and complain to the station's management. The next time you see a non-cute fat man on a sitcom, change the channel to a cute fat man like Jim from According to Jim. The next time someone comments on how unhealthily skinny and anorexic the people on TV look, remind them that those people are better than us, so they must look better. We must reclaim the ground we've lost in the past year, or we'll go back to Uncle Miltie and grainy footage of him in a dress. Ugliness, not Carthago, Delenda Est!

(ed. note -- The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect anything. Speaking of reflection, are those reflective pants you're wearing?)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stories That Are Interesting to Me.

You think judges don't matter? Somehow, this guy in Indianapolis got to be a judge. My brother-in-law and his family are moving to that yellow and flat city this summer, and they should be put on alert that the judges of Indianapolis aren't going to stand for parents teaching their children in the religion of their choice. I really urge you to read the linked-to article, because at times when I was reading it I felt like I was reading something out of the Onion (especially when the Wiccan father described the holidays the son was missing out on, such as Pagan Pride Day and "Ostara"). Go read the article. I'll be here when you get back. If you get a registration screen, try username: cjh034 and password: 11211970. Password courtesy of

Judges are completely out of control. Is there something in the constitution that allows them to micromanage everyone's lives? I don't remember reading that in there. This is so obviously wrong, I won't belabor the point. All I want to say is the Bonhoefferian "First they told the pagans they couldn't teach their children, and I stood idly by. Then went the Unitarians, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the NORML weed-worshippers, and those people with the tattoos, and I stood idly by. Am I going to stand idly by as they take my rights away, too? Huh? Answer me!"

The answer is no. Now, when pagans and other anti-Christian zealots get mad about this story and ask where all the Christian outrage is over the scaling back of religious freedoms for non-mainstream religions, you can point them to This ruling is bad and must be overturned -- this was in divorce court? It is unthinkable that a judge could tell parents they couldn't raise their kids in whichever religion they choose. It's not like Wicca is illegal or deadly.

However, I do believe that all this exposure Wicca is harming the child mentally (and possibly physically, if he goes to school spouting off that quasi-religious nature-worshipping nothing-speak Wiccans are famous for), and that these people are going to totally ruin the child. That doesn't mean their rights should be taken away. Again, if these people don't get constitutional freedoms, then we all are susceptible to judicial insanity. The judges must be stopped!

Every quote from the father made me snicker. "There's a male and female force to everything," says the man in generic pagan-speak. What does that mean? Obviously, this man hasn't seen Oprah. That force is 100% female, and it is bad a__.

Headline of the day: (from Hecklerspray):

Christian Slater Arrested For Groping Someone’s Buttocks.

If I would have known you could be arrested for that, I would have done high school a little differently.

Here's what I don't get: If France already rejected the European constitution, and all 25 member states have to vote it in, why are the Dutch voting today? And if it doesn't matter, why do I consider it news? (note: the Dutch are expected to follow the French and reject the constitution. Does anyone really think this unified europe thing isn't going to get pushed through somehow? Number of the beast, people. Just kidding. Sorta.)

I have to do the unmentionable job today at work, which I don't want to talk about, because its unmentionable. I had planned on posting another thing, but I doubt I will have time or be in the proper state of mind to compose meaningful words on any subject when I'm done. But maybe a customer will make me mad enough to rant. You never know.

Oh, yeah, and "Deep Throat" revealed himself, and Charles Colson is witnessing to the love of Jesus by ripping him for helping bring down a corrupt administration. Avoid the appearance of evil, Chuck. Just a suggestion. The debate he brings up is being a covert whistleblower vs. being a protocol-following whistleblower, and how you come down in that debate depands on whether or not you're the one whose bad deeds are being exposed. Take heed, those who do evil. Your comeuppance is always just around the corner.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

If You're Wondering What They're Talking About on Air America Today

I would point out that the Supreme Court just overturned the judgment against Arthur Andersen Accounting. If you remember, those were the accountants that shredded all those Enron documents. The Court felt the instructions given to the jury were too vague and broad. This means two things:

1) Liberals will see this as the Agent of The Man helping out the Fat Cats.
2) The Supreme Court is probably right about this. I don't know anything about the case, but neither does anyone else. I mean, people who follow this stuff know about it, but I certainly don't know about what was said to the jury in the trial. I have no doubt the people involved are guilty -- the Media has convinced me of that -- but I think the justice system has to be preserved and improved in this case. For every Arthur Andersen there will be 3 poor guys accused wrongfully of murder that get their convictions overturned by this. Of course, some of them may actually be guilty. On second thought, I don't know how I feel about this.

Happy Post-Memorial Day Everybody

So all of you are moving on today, just content to have had your 3-day weekend and some turkey burgers? These people died. That's all I'm saying. Every day is Memorial Day to me. Is that sanctimonious enough for May 31? Probably, since I've never gone to war, unless you count my undeclared war against cats.

Maybe the fact that it's still Memorial Day for me explains why I'm so relaxed. I've decided not to think about my job at the computer store when I'm not working anymore. It just makes me worry too much. While I'm here in the store, I'll think about it the same way they think of me -- merely a means to an end (the end being avoiding poverty). It's great, this economic system of ours that makes us hate our jobs. Maybe we need some balance -- a little job security here and there, a little antitrust legislation on occasion, a 35-hour work week, etc. America is losing steam because many people feel oppressed. We come up with names for it (The Man, Crime, etc.), this thing that oppresses us, but the problem is really just a lack of concern for others. This starts at the top and flows down to you and me. We're all part of it. Or maybe it's just me.

The weekend itself was great and relaxing -- almost chillaxing, if that can be used as an adjective. We tried to see a Rangers/White Sox game on Saturday but it was rained out. That was strangely relaxing as the rain kept coming down on our umbrellas for two hours and people kept retreating up under the awnings and into the concourse and everybody knew it was going to be a rain-out even after the voice on the loudspeaker told us that they just spoke with the "National Weather Service" and it was going to clear up in just a sec. It was over 3 hours after the 3:05 start time when they finally called it. Greedy leeches. See? Lack of concern for others is the problem. But still, it was relaxing.

Sunday was the day of my wife's class' 6th grade graduation/church service. Everything about this was cute, right down to the miniaturized sandwiches at the reception and the miniaturized adults who graduated. I'm sure the kids that graduated will remember what they've been taught. I did. Maybe it's just me.

I'm off to "pursue other employment opportunities"* for a while this morning, and hope the day doesn't turn into a crapstorm.

*This is what my high school yearbook said about the Spanish teacher who got fired the previous year, that he was "pursuing other employment opportunities". This phrase has subsequently become a code word for failure in my personal dictionary. This morning, however, it merely means what it says, and has no subtext behind it. As far as you know.