"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."

Friday, January 27, 2006

I Feel Petty, Oh So Petty...

Something happened the other day that made me question my morality. A good friend of mine helped me set up a wireless Internet connection to my computer out in my office. There were many problems, as there always are with anything having to do with computers, and he wound up spending a lot of time on the phone with customer support people who couldn’t give him their full attention because they were busy herding goats as they spoke.

Needless to say, this was a huge favor. Somehow along the way, though, he accidentally closed the FreeCell game I had minimized at the bottom of my screen. This caused me some minor inconvenience, as I was playing the games in numerical order and had to approximate the number of the game I was currently on.

This is where Evil Rick raises his ugly head. When I discovered this problem, I had the strongest urge to call this friend and tell him what he had done. Despite the fact that he had gone out of his way to be nice to me, I still wanted to get this dig in. But why? As I thought about it, I realized that it was to somehow punish him by making him feel bad about what he’d done. How petty is that? If someone gave you a hundred dollars for your birthday and you decided to buy a new pair of pants but on the way to the store you had an accident and wrecked your car, would you blame that on the person who gave you the money? I would, apparently.

In the end I fought off my pettiness and decided not to make the call. I have to admit, though, that it does feel good to know that he’ll probably read this article. Careless prick.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Shameless Self Promotion

Rick Reynolds' new one-man show, 'Happiness,' is his third look back into his troubled past, where, this time around, he attempts to uncover the secrets to becoming a truly happy person. It's a heartwarming, heartbreaking, and extremely funny confessional ('a kind of dysfunctional how-to guide,' as he describes it) from the man the Los Angeles Times has called 'the funniest man in America.'

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New! Improved! Crappier than Ever!

Though I watch a lot of television, for years my favorite feature of my Direct TV system was their commercial-free radio service. I especially liked their 50s & 60s classic rock station. After my divorce, when I was having trouble falling asleep at night, I would use this wonderfully upbeat music to drown out the voices in my head that kept telling me to kill my ex-wife and throw her body over a cliff out at Point Reyes so it would look like a hiking accident.

In a classic “Classic Coke” move, however, the powers that be at Direct TV have decided to make their TV service comparable to their radio service. Unfortunately, they decided to do this not by raising their TV standards, but by lowering their radio standards.

For one thing, they thought these commercial-free stations might be improved by adding commercials. What’s especially annoying is that the commercials they run are actually in-house promos for their own “programming.” What they fail to realize is that, in this day and age, nobody’s life is so vacuous that they actually plan to listen to a specific radio program.

The worst thing they decided to do, though, was use disc jockeys. I’m sure the program directors over at XM (the new service they’re using) convinced them that listeners prefer the personal touch of having an announcer chime in from time to time. The reason program directors believe this is that they either are, or once were, disc jockeys themselves. It would take years of intense therapy for them to ever be able to admit to themselves that what they do for a living is both useless and annoying.

What people want from radio announcers is to occasionally be connected to the outside world in real time. They want to know if something important has happened in the world. They want to know what the local weather is going to be. They want to hear the time, from time to time, and they want to know about any major traffic problems. XM disc jockeys provide none of this information, because the shows they pretend to host are actually recorded days before they’re broadcast. World War III could break out and it wouldn’t be announced on these stations. The disk jockeys would simply blather on, heard only by some cockroaches who actually stand a better chance of enjoying their sardonic rants than we do.

Also, the announcers, at least on the 50s and 60s stations, use that phony, over-the-top disc jockey voice that, as children, we found amusing, but, as adults, we just find annoying. Which points up another big problem with this new formatting. They refuse to let the music speak for itself, but, rather, demean it by marginalizing it as “nostalgia.” By constantly playing snippets from old TV shows, commercials and movies, by using such phrases as “sock hop,” and “pink and black days,” they’re basically saying that these songs are only about our memories surrounding them. If they really want take us back to those times, maybe they should dedicate a few songs to “you little ladies slaving over the stove,” or “all of you Commies over there in the Senate,” or “you black folks in the back of the bus.”

In the immortal words of Joni Mitchell, “They paved paradise to put up a shitty new radio service.”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Discounting My Blessings

Have you ever noticed how you'll give advice that you don't seem to be able to follow yourself? I do this all the time. For example, I'm always telling my friends to count their blessings (assuming I'm at the top of their lists, of course). And yet, there is much in my life that I take for granted every day.

First, there are my boys, Cooper and Jack. Some day they'll be grown and gone. But right now they're here. We can play football and watch movies and have tickle fights. I can tuck them in at night and kiss them in the morning (before they have the strength to fight me off, of course). And though I know the day will come that I'd give anything to go back to what I have right now, I just can't seem to relish the present as much as I should. Clearly, this is something I should work on.

I have good friends. They go out of their way to help me, and to comfort me when I need it (which is all the time). And though they won't rub my feet or have sex with me (bitches and bastards!) they do hold me up to a higher standard than I would hold myself up to if they were not in my life. And how do I reward them for this? By giving them the gift of selflessness. By being a friend in deed.

I am not ugly. I'm not handsome, either, but as a guy I can kind of make up for that by being powerful or having lots of money. And though I'm not powerful and don't have lots of money, there's at least a chance that some day I might.

One of my biggest blessings is that I'm delusional. For example, I think there's a chance that some day I might be powerful or have lots of money. There's actually a lot to be said for being delusional. I'm 54, but I think I look 40. I have a big nose, but I think that adds character to my face. I have a small penis, but I think size doesn't matter. I even post articles on my blog that I think somebody might actually read.

Friday, January 06, 2006

'24' - An Appreciation

One way people like to let other people know that they're smart and have good taste is to say they don't like television. Not only don't they like it, they think it's horrible, nothing but crap, lowbrow, even "bad for our society." If you can get these elitists to admit that they even own a TV set, it's either for Masterpiece Theatre (which they claim to watch even though it hasn't been on for over a decade), or it's for the pretentious and embarrassingly overwritten soft-core porn that HBO continues to churn out in the name of "art."

There are, in fact, many quality shows on the major networks' schedules these days -- Family Guy, Lost, House and The Simpsons, just to name a few. My favorite show right now is 24. In fact, I just bought and watched the seven-DVD set of season four, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It's odd. When you like something it's easy to overlook its flaws. Having lived in L.A., I know that it takes at least 30 minutes go get from point A to point B in that town, and yet Jack Bauer seems to be able to get anywhere within five minutes. Also, the way the viewer is force-fed exposition is often heavy-handed. But again, I don't care.

I have to admit, I was a little bothered by Jack's scrawny love interest. I had the feeling that any time she wasn't on screen she was in the C.T.U. ladies' room with her finger down her throat, forcing up her carrot stick and Diet Coke lunch.

There are many life lessens to be learned from this show, as well. For example, Muslims are evil. I think we all knew this, but it's good to have your beliefs confirmed from time to time. An even more important lesson is that beautiful women are even more evil than Muslims -- especially beautiful black women. As a man who has been rejected my whole life by beautiful women, I have to admit this comes as a kind of relief. Now I can continue to live my drab life, secure in the belief that if one of these hot babes had given in to my advances, she would have made my life miserable.

...In answer to your question -- no, the fact that many plain-looking woman have made my life miserable does not alter this belief.