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Monday, January 27, 2003
Here's a first-person account of one of my early "adventures", the anniversary of which is this week. Regular readers who usually check here mid-week, please note that I happened to post two articles this last weekend (on Sat. & Sun., respectively), which immediately follow today's entry. Also, since today's column is rather long, an "attention challenged" readers' version follows the regular one; so, if that's you, just scroll down to it. Looking over recent posts, I don't know why I've written about "religion" so much this week. As the archives show, I usually *never* do. Mostly, because it has a tendency to piss people off needlessly. Ah, well. Read on...

[ IDLE WORSHIP ]

Back in the day, that'd be 1989 to you, one Eric Barbour wrote and posted a series of self-proclaimed "parodies" in which he inserted a number of regular Phoenix (AZ) BBS users into his often meandering text. (A BBS, or 'Bulletin Board System', being a single-computer/single phone/fixed location precursor to today's Internet, but more or less a simpler version of what's used today.)

Evidently, his sometimes-puerile parodies got under the skin of some of those mentioned. In addition to the BBS member-based stories, Barbour also wrote a few parodies of TV shows. It would seem, because of the former, somebody downloaded one of the latter - a "Star Trek" sex story involving Kirk and Spock melding more than minds - written around the same time and mailed them to then-police chief of Phoenix, Ruben Ortega, with a note basically saying "these sex stories were written by one of your employees." (Eric worked as a computer tech. for the Phx. Police Dept at that time.)

That got Mr. Barbour fired, even though - according to Eric - said parodies were posted during non-working hours.

But that firing is why Eric had filed a lawsuit against the city & police dept., for unfair termination, and that's why he was then being followed by police in unmarked cars, just waiting for him to do something unlawful I guess. (Which he had told me they were doing, but Eric being Eric, I thought he was just being paranoid.)

So, if not for his "funny little stories", he and I would've never been caught with that damn yucca.

"What yucca?" you ask. A brief bit of background: About a month prior to the above, the top branch on a yucca plant located on east Van Buren in downtown Phoenix - a strip of real estate known colloquially as "hooker's haven" for the large number of prostitutes then doing late-night business along those street corners - sprouted, bloomed and, as the top yucca branch often does, bent over around the midway point, forming a horseshoe-like shape.

But a growing number of people, a majority being of the Roman Catholic faith, didn't see a horseshoe-like shape in the dried out, bent and misshapen branch.

Instead, akin to the "Jesus in the tortilla" episode, the faithful saw an image of the Virgin Mary. The sighting had already made the "Local" section of the daily paper, but news of the Virgin's arrival had been little reported elsewhere.

That was about to change, thanks to the action of two local "performance artists". The plan was to have said yucca "miraculously" reappear some weeks later at a local gallery opening. Hallelujah, and all that!

As mentioned previously, Eric had claimed he was being followed in unmarked cars, but I chose - to my later horror - not to believe him. I should have, because he was right.

Which is why we were caught. Of course, the police didn't stop us at the time. They just watched, it was reported later, as we took the yucca branch. According to the newspaper stories, the cops following Eric that evening were in too much shock at the time by what they were witnessing us doing, to come to their senses long enough to stop us then and there. (And considering we had to wade through about three feet of lighted candles around the base of the yucca, then set up a collapsible ladder to get to the top, they certainly had enough time to do so.) In fact, it was like an hour later after he and I had gone home when the police finally showed up at our respective doors to take us in for questioning about "theft of a yucca found on public property." (Not a crime, by the way.) They briefly toyed with the idea of charging us with "destruction of a native plant" but thought better of that too. Eventually the charges were all non-yucca related.

We had posted handbills earlier in the evening. There is an archaic law on the books, a misdemeanor crime the penalty for which is a fine &/or six months' time, against "posting handbills without a license." Rarely used, if ever, it makes it a crime to, for example, put up fliers in your neighborhood for a yard sale. If you didn't purchase a license to post handbills beforehand, that is.

*Our* handbills were put up a week after a large contingency of neo-nazi skinheads marched down Central Ave. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (although still not a state holiday at that time) with nary a peep of outrage nor protest from the local politicians or media. *That* outraged *us*, so we made up a handbill calling for people to "Come Celebrate the violent death of Martin Luther King Jr... Free Food! Prizes!" with the AZ Nazi Party (no such org., by the way.)

The flier listed a time and address (with map) for this supposed "Celebration". The house on the map was the private home of then-mayor of Phoenix, Terry Goddard.

After the police had us in custody for almost two hours, during which I remained handcuffed to a table in an interrogation room, they finally figured that out. One of the few good memories of that long night was being handcuffed, and very much alone, in that room, but hearing from outside the room and a few feet down the hall, the detective in charge loudly exclaiming to his fellow officers, "My God! Tha-tha-that's Mayor Terry Goddard's house!" (sputter sputter, choke choke...)

Heh heh heh...

Anyway, by 9am later that morning, they had dropped all charges against me (around ten, one per handbill found). But not Eric. Same charges. But, see, Eric was the target of their little "sting operation" to begin with, which I guess is why they "cut me loose" but not him... Even though the charges were identical and they didn't know for sure who had posted which handbills where.

By that morning, our escapades were the top-fold top story in the daily 'AZ Republic' and lead story on all the local TV stations.

For the following day's edition (as we had missed the first-day story deadline by the fact of being jailed), a rather bemused 'AZ Republic' writer interviewed us. (She actually said, and I quote, "more 'performance artists' should do stuff like this," then giggled a bit.) In the article that followed, some of the Catholic faithful quoted therein weren't quite as bemused. Reaction ranged from, "I hope they burn in Hell" to "Give us five minutes with the bastards, and we'll beat 'em senseless - they'll quickly learn to pray, believe you me" to confusion, like one woman who commented that she had come to see "the miracle" the day after it had been chopped down and, upon seeing it was gone, guessed that maybe "it had gone up to heaven." (actual quote)

To make matters worse, the (now-defunct) afternoon daily, which had a policy of printing the street (home) address of anybody arrested for a crime, printed both of ours. (Never mind that all my charges had been dropped.) Luckily, we both were in apartments, so nobody knew exactly *which* apartment the so-called heathens were living in - a benefit for Eric, whose complex had 200+ units, a detriment for me, where there were 16 units. So, for damage control, I emptied my apartment of all its furniture (storing it at a friend's), save for a small kitchen table on which I left a Bible, and proceeded to do numerous TV news interviews "at home" where I apologized for any "pain" our actions might've caused and - as any viewer could plainly see - then explained that I had to move because of 'death threats'. (The threats were real, they just hadn't been delivered to my home.)

Eric's lawyer dropped him like a bad Bible salesman, hence his lawsuit was kaput. Score one for Ortega's goon-squad on wheels. Then, Eric lost his job.

In the week that followed, our handbill/yucca escapade was the cover story in the weekly alternative paper (a positive one, with which they included a "Where's Waldo?" type cartoon. Hidden in it were Jesus, Mary, a cross, etc etc.) I later learned that another reporter at the weekly had written his own article, but instead of submitting it to his editor had tried to sell it to the National Enquirer. It didn't buy it. (I'd make the pages of the Enquirer over a year later, however, after exhibiting work by imprisoned serial killer John Wayne Gacy at an art gallery I by-then owned/ran, but that's another story.) A version of the 'AZ Republic' articles were briefed, compiled and distributed by the Associated Press nationwide.

With the Virgin/branch recovered - after intense interrogation, Eric had evidently finally broken down and confessed, "The Virgin Mary is stuffed in my bedroom closet!", where he was then escorted by police cruiser and, thus, the Holy Mother in plant guise rescued - it was then relocated to the nearest Catholic church. (Nearest to its original Van Buren locale, not to that of Eric's closet.)

The faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief. The 'AZ Republic' ran a lengthy editorial page editorial, surmising we had done it to "tear (the faithful) people apart" but that we had "failed miserably, because it only brought them closer together." (For the record, it was done to neither tear apart nor bring together, but only to "change the (spiritual) playing field" for all - believers & non- alike - as they, as a result, looked at both this case of idolatry and, perhaps, their own beliefs.)

After being released on bail, but before his first court appearance, Eric Barbour and his immediate family vanished, not to be seen again. Some think he skipped out of town, while others question the "coincidence" of his disappearance taking place during the time the concrete foundation of a new, nearby Catholic parish was being poured. I guess only God, and maybe Jimmy Hoffa, know for sure.

As for me, about six months later, I opened an alternative art gallery in downtown Phoenix and, as the months wore on, with each successful show mounted, I was transformed (by the press) from "yucca killer" into gallery owner. (A gallery that eventually won a 'Best of Phoenix' New Times newspaper award for, "bringing High Weirdness from the four corners of the globe to Phoenix", thus cutting the yucca references down forever in the local press.)

So there you go. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. []

ATTENTION CHALLENGED READERS' VERSION: God Told Us To.

[From the "Whatever Happened to?" file: You know what happened to Pete. As Yoda would say, "Dashed optimism leads to cynicism. Cynicism leads to sarcasm. Sarcasm leads to 'The World According to Pete'." However, for the whereabouts of the Blessed Yucca see hot-link under PETE MEDIA (on left side of page) titled "New Times calls Pete a 'creep'", written some eight years after the episode described above.]

NEXT TUESDAY: Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Pete needs a date, so he presents "SWM Seeks SWF Stalker". A so-called 'personal ad' & stalking candidate questionnaire. It asks the post-modern question of love, "Will you be my stalker?"

posted by Pete 9:13 PM
Sunday, January 26, 2003
More "breaking news"...

[ THE SECRET DIARY OF JAMES, BROTHER OF JESUS ]

In late October '02, a paleographer at the Sorbonne University in Paris discovered what was purportedly the burial box of James, who is referred to as the brother of Jesus in both the Bible and in contemporary historical accounts.

The news stunned both the religious and archaeological world.

From 'National Geographic':

"Researchers may have uncovered the first archaeological evidence that refers to Jesus as an actual person and identifies James, the first leader of the Christian church, as his brother.

The 2,000-year-old ossuary - a box that held bones- bears the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Until now, all references to the three men have been found only in manuscripts."

Earlier this week, an equally startling discovery was made, when researchers uncovered what may very well be the secret diary of James. Written on Jerusalem limestone tablets, it exposes the private lives of these historical religious figures.

Brief excerpts have been released thus far...

= The Secret Diary of James =

ENTRY 17: Boy, sometimes my brother thinks He is such hot shit; what with the healing of lepers, turning water into wine, walking on water, and all. Bought myself a copy of "1001 Magic Tricks Anybody Can Learn" at the corner tablet store today. I'll show Jesus!

ENTRY 60: Judas stopped by the house tonight. I've never trusted that guy. I swear, he'd sell out his own mother for thirty pieces of silver. But my brother says he's cool. I guess Jesus is a lot more forgiving than I am.

ENTRY 82: Jesus was on His "God Kick" again today. "God Loves You", "God is All-Knowing", blah blah blah. Man, I get it, o.k? You're the Son of God. Now, shut up, already.

ENTRY 103: Went with Jesus to the temple. We got into it with the money changers. Jesus started flipping over tables and drove them out of the temple. Boy, did we piss them off. Ha ha. You know, sometimes, my brother can be pretty cool.

ENTRY 133: Got in a shouting match with Jesus today. He started giving me advice I didn't ask for, and I said, "Who died and made you God?" He just smiled. Damn him, anyway.

ENTRY 165: Went to a public rally. All the Apostles were there. Pontius Pilate was making a speech. Boy, what an ass he is.

ENTRY 236: Didn't do much today. Jesus and I stayed around the house, drank wine. Geez, did I get wasted.

ENTRY 288: Earlier today, my brother asked me, "If a poor woman went into the temple and gave her last coin, then a wealthy man entered and donated a thousand coins, who would you say gave more?" I've been thinking about that question all day, but I think I figured it out. The wealthy man gave more, because a thousand is much more than one lousy coin. Any idiot knows that.

ENTRY 333 (final entry): Got in a big fight with mom. Lost my temper, called her a "slut". Jesus got pretty cross with me over that one. We argued. I shouted, "I wish you were dead!" I feel bad about it now. I should apologize because, if I don't and anything was to happen to my brother, I'd never forgive myself. Well, must be signing off. We have a big Supper to go to. It's been planned for weeks, and I know Jesus has really been looking forward to it. More later.

= end Secret Diary excerpts =


posted by Pete 10:50 AM
Saturday, January 25, 2003
While I don't usually post on Saturdays, I received word of this breaking news story today. Forwarded by a Mr. W. Argood, who found it on a local (Arizona) newspapers' website. And, yes, I did see something about it on the local TV news last night but missed the first part of the story so didn't realize its frightening implications until getting Mr. Argood's email. Just what is this world coming to, anyway?
- Pete

----- (begin forwarded news article) -----


AS WAR LOOMS, PRO-WAR SUPPORTERS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION

PHOENIX - In recent weeks, a growing number of pro-American Americans have begun showing their support for the coming war with Iraq through a simple, but effective, act.

An act inspired by Don Crawford, a talk-radio host at KLBJ in Austin, Texas, who made an on-air plea calling, "for all the normal Americans who support the war against Saddam to turn on their headlights!"

The response was overwhelming, Crawford said, as "Numerous callers reported that every car on Austin's highways and byways had its headlights on. We received only one report of one car in all of Austin's roads that had its lights off."

Crawford has since continued his on-the-road grass roots initiative, hoping people across the country will follow suit, enacting, in his words, "The same pro-war protest to show where Americans really stand."

But now, the pro-war movement has taken a larger - and perhaps more disturbing - turn.

A pro-war rally held on the steps of the state capitol in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday, took the message from one of support to a call for immediate action.

According to local officials, an estimated 200 people gathered, far outnumbering the dozen or so anti-war protesters who were already picketing in the same area.

Carrying signs which read, "Might Makes Right", "Bomb Now, Ask Questions Later!" and "Killing People is No Big Deal", the general consensus among attendees was that the Bush Administration is, in fact, waiting too long to take action against the Saddam Hussein regime.

"As far as I'm concerned," Mack Donnelly, 47, said, "I'm ready, willing and able to go out on the streets tonight, and hunt down any Iraqi-born U.S. citizens. I plan to shoot to kill, to show my support for President Bush."

Donnelly wasn't the only one with this sentiment. In way of explaining her philosophy, Jasmine Burke, 19, stated, "To me, Bush is Da Bomb! I, like, say, 'Today, Iraq! Tomorrow, North Korea! Next week, the world!'"

If this most recent rally is any indication, while support for a U.S.-led attack is waning in Europe and much of the rest of the world, support at home is growing exponentially.

The fact that such a rally was held in Arizona is no surprise to psychologist Dr. W.S. Benway, who said, "Traditionally, Arizona has been one of the more politically conservative states in America. The number of people, per capita, afflicted with what psychologists term 'Redneckedness' is perhaps larger than in any other state, with the possible exception of a couple of states in the Deep South."

According to Benway, in layman's terms this can be defined as, "blind patriotism and unmitigated national fervor."

The noted psychologist added, "This affliction, known in medical circles as 'the scourge of the country' due to the low cure rate, is marked by periods of overwhelming arrogance alternating with moments of fear and mild paranoia. The subject often thinks his target may either be persecuting him or hiding something, whether real or imagined. In some cases I'm familiar with, the subject focuses on a general target-group due to some incident in the past in which a member of said group acted against, for example, the subject's family. His father, for instance."

Many pro-war marchers agreed that their methods might be bold but, as one person put it, "Desperate times call for desperate measures," adding, "the time to act is sooner rather than later. Let's stop pussyfooting around, and kill us some Iraqi terrorists."

----- (end forwarded news article) -----

posted by Pete 1:25 PM
Monday, January 20, 2003
Here are some items that didn't fit in previous columns, or else were too short to be full entries in and of themselves. So I'm dumping them here, in a piece I like to call...

[ RANDOM BITS ]

= Horn Dog =

Last week, I met my friend, James, up at Starbucks.

He had brought his puppy, Roland - a cute dobey / shepard / lab mix - with him. As Roland is only about three months old, this was his first real "walk" away from the house proper.

While we sat outside, drinking coffee and chatting amicably, a funny thing began to occur.

Women who were walking by would stop to pet Roland, and chat for a moment. Young and attractive women, I might add.

It turns out that Roland is a real "babe magnet".

In fact, that puppy got more action in one hour outside Starbucks than James and I have seen in a year combined.

Later, I asked James if I could "borrow" Roland some time.

As he is a stingy, horny bastard, James said, "No."

On a final note, I've heard that babies work even better than puppies. There's just one drawback: You can't chain up a baby in the backyard at night. Well, actually, I guess you could - its just not recommended. Plus, its a real "turn off" to women if you do.
-

= Exit, Stage Left, at The Door =

Lo, those many years ago, when I was a teenager and still had the energy for tomfoolery, some friends and I went to visit 'The Door' one evening.

For those of you who don't know, 'The Door' is a hardcore born-again christian revival meeting establishment.

Just for the record, none of *us* were christians at the time.

Beside myself, there was Rod - a still-hippified hippie from the 60s - his daughter, 15, and a soft spoken tech-type named Nick, age 28.

After parking, we went inside 'The Door'. It was packed, and all attention was on a stage in the front. There was a play going on, but as we had missed the beginning, I wasn't quite sure what the story was about. Apparently, from what I gathered from what we did see, some guy had died and they had put his body in a cave.

There was a huge, papier-mâché cave on-stage, with a big, Styrofoam boulder stuffed into the cave entrance.

Broadway, this was not.

The actors wandered about the stage, enacting bad acting. They all used a lot of "thees" and "thous" when they spoke. With the archaic language, it was very hard to follow, which made me think that maybe they were doing Shakespeare.

But I digress, for at that point each of the four of us were approached by true-believin' audience members. Each person coming up to us pretty much matched our individual "types". An older, bearded guy for Rod. A young girl for his daughter. A teenaged guy for me. A clean-cut twenty something for Nick.

We were separated from each other. Now, I can't speak for the others, but I was witnessed to, which concluded with this earnest young man asking me, "Do you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and personal savior?"

"Listen, pal," I replied, "I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was eight, and I don't plan on worshipping a 2,000 year old corpse."

Did I mention none of us were christians at the time?

Anyway, something similar must have transpired with my friends because, as with the guy who had been talking to me, all the Door-ites backed up. Slowly.

My friends and I beat a hasty retreat.

But this is where it gets weird.

Out in the parking lot, just after we got back in the van but before the doors were shut, a horde of Door-ites came up to the van and actually *started climbing in after us*. They kept saying things like, "Come back inside, Jesus loves you" or quoting random spooky bible quotes.

It was like something out of 'Night of the Living Dead', except that they didn't actually eat us.

Finally, I had had enough, so I announced in a loud voice, "Listen, we're running late. We've got to get to a Satanic High Mass, and if we don't leave right now we'll never make it in time to see the sacrificing of the virgin."

It was as if I had held up a cross amongst a group of vampires, the way those Door-ites scattered.

We drove off, but as we didn't really have a high mass to go to, we went to Denny's instead. I had the Grand Slam breakfast, which is available 24 hours a day.
-

= The Nature of Greatness =

Over the course of the last week, some three people - all of who were reacting to 'The World According to Pete' - called me a "genius". In my opinion, that word gets bandied about way too much. After all, Merv Griffin - creator of TV's 'Wheel of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy' - has been called a genius.

To put it all into perspective, I came up with a list of "The Greatest Creations in the World"; just to see where I'd rank.

Greatest Creations in the World

1. The wheel

2. Sliced bread

3. 'Wheel of Fortune' & 'Jeopardy' (tie)

4. Nuclear bombs

5. 'The World According to Pete' web log

So, see, I'm not "all that", as the kids would say.

As an aside, I can't help but think of what some eccentric but intelligent person once said: "The line between genius and madness is fine indeed."

But, again, that has *nothing* to do with me. The 'voices' wanted me to make that absolutely clear to you, ok?
-

= Movie Facts =

Did you know that recent film releases, "Just Married" and "A Guy Thing" are, in reality, THE SAME MOVIE?

Ditto "They" and "Darkness Falls".

It is part of a new Hollywood ploy to increase profits by releasing crappy movies under two or more titles simultaneously.

True fact.
-

= Devil in the Details =

The other night, I had a strange dream. I dreamt I sat up in bed, but it wasn't my own bed. I don't know whose bed it was, but the bed itself isn't really relevant to this story. So let's move on, shall we?

Sitting at the foot of the bed was this old man. He had reddish-brown, leathery skin. In other words, he kind of looked like actor George Hamilton - only not as good looking.

So there I was, sitting in this bed I did not recognize, with my mouth hanging open.

The old guy flashed a devil-may-care smile, and extended his left arm toward me. His hand was closed in a fist, but with a flick of his wrist he extended his fingers.

All in the same motion, this white mist shot out of his hand, straight into my still gaping mouth.

Of course, I did what any scared shitless former Catholic would do. I reverted to childhood and began to try to recite the Lord's Prayer.

But this white mist had begun to affect my mind, trying to control it.

As I stammered, "Our... fa-fa-father... who art in... hea-heaven..." another voice - deep and foreboding - was trying to influence my thoughts so I'd say, "Our Satan who art in hell..."

But I finally got the Lord's Prayer out and, as I concluded it, the man vanished.

I woke up in a cold sweat, so decided to get up and go to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face.

As I turned on the tap, I happened to look up in the mirror to see a dried, white powdery substance caked around my mouth! My god, was it really a dream after all??

Ok, I confess - I made up that last part. My mouth was clean. But it sure made one hell of an ending to the story, didn't it?
-

= Lost Cat =

A few weeks ago, I found the following flyer in my neighborhood:

"LOST CAT

Grey & white mane under neck, hazel or yellow eyes.

Answers to Penny.

Please contact Max or Benny at (602) xxx-xxxx.

Lost Without Her. Thank you."

After reading it, I had to ask:

1. Hazel OR yellow eyes? Just how well did they know this cat? Was it even a cat? Maybe it was a dog. My cat has been dead for ten years, and I still remember the black splotch she had on the roof of her mouth.

2. Answers to Penny? When have you ever known a cat to answer to *anything*? If you get a disdainful glance, you count yourself as lucky. Wait, I take that back. Most cats do answer to one thing: The sounds of the electric can opener whirring. But that might be an instinct thing.

3. Lost without her? Great, now not only do we have to find a cat, or probable cat, with either hazel or yellow eyes, but it would appear that Max & Benny are lost too.
I'm writing up the flyer already: "Lost - Max & Benny. They may be wandering the neighborhood in a daze. So if you see two guys who look lost, please call. Note, if the guys you see have a cat with them, it's not Max & Benny. In that case, please keep looking. Thank you."
-

= Stick It to The Man =

I used to have a bumper sticker on my truck, which read, "I'm an Anarchist and I Vote", but some fascist kept stealing it. After the third sticker was stolen, I stopped replacing it.

I thought of buying the one that reads, "I'm a Libertarian, so My Vote Doesn't Count", but decided it sent the wrong message.

After all, in America, *everybody's* vote counts. Except in the presidential election, of course, when only the vote of the Electoral College counts. Just ask Al Gore.
-

= Hart <3s America =

The 'Gary Hart for President' juggernaut continues to roll across America, from sea to shining sea and through amber waves of grain.

Last week, I wrote about the political rhetoric Hart might want to use if he runs in '04. I suggested he take the position that, "We'd be safer at home, whether it be in the country itself or our own beds at night, if we had an experienced older man like Hart watching over us." Ha ha.

This week, somebody sent me the URL for Hart's site (http://www.garyhartnews.com/hart/), on which I found the potential candidate's 'Vision for the Future of this Great Nation.'

Hart wrote, "What kind of security do Americans seek today? Not just traditional national and homeland security second to none, but also security in their livelihood, security of community, and security of the natural environment."

Gee, that sounds awfully familiar.

The article is accompanied by a photo of a scowling Hart, fist raised in the air, as if to say, "I am strong! I am a leader! I did not have sexual relations with that woman!"

At this point, I'm not in the Hart Camp. I'm more of the "Anybody but Bush" mentality. Bush's "environmental policy" - an oxymoron, if there ever was one - is reason enough not to want him re-elected. Then there's that "killing people is no big deal" attitude toward Iraq, but that's another story best saved for a later date.
-

= Dating Tip for Men =

If you ask your date where she wants to go to eat and she says, "I don't know", then she really doesn't know.

However, if she says, "I don't care", then not only does she care very much, but fully expects you to figure out the restaurant she has in mind without her actually having to tell you.

This is part of the 'Dating Through Osmosis' theory of personal relationships.

Yes, sometimes woman can act goofy this way. But that's o.k., because some guys can be pretty dense in the same situation. So they pretty much cancel each other out.

That's why couples end up at the right restaurant. It is also how babies are made, children who then grow up to be more goofy and/or dense than their parents.

And *that* is the theory of 'De-evolution' in practice.

So many theories, so little time. My work is done here.
-

= Talking Amongst Ourselves =

The following exchange took place on Usenet...

'Star' wrote, in response to last week's 'How to Make America Great Again!' column, "The connection between your reality and the rest of the WORLD is purely coincidental!!"

I replied, "Well, I'll tell 'ya, Star, in an article posted on 'The World According to Pete' on Dec. 4, I stated that if the U.S. was going to go to war with Iraq because it is a "rogue nation" with a possible nuclear weapons program, then it should bomb North Korea too, for the same reasons.

Some ten days later, an Associated Press headline read, "U.S. Can Fight War on Two Fronts, Rumsfeld says"

In my column of last Tuesday, which you referenced above, I stated that, to "solve" the energy crisis, we should cover Alaska from end to end with oil rigs and gas pipelines. "Ha ha."

Today's (Friday, 1/17) CNN headline, about Alaska: "Senate Republicans make new push for arctic drilling - Oil drilling cornerstone of Bush energy plan"

So maybe my connection is stronger than you think. And maybe it just so happens that I live about one week in the future perpetually. :-) "

To which J. Clarke quipped, "Alternatively, you should shut up and stop giving Duhbya ideas."

Heh heh heh. I like the cut of your jib, j.

========================================================

Thus ends "Random Bits". If you liked this bit, please email me (click on 'Talk to Pete', at left) because, if it's popular, it could become a recurring feature here. Much like certain skits and characters on 'Saturday Night Live', which are funny the first couple of times but soon become quite annoying. You know, like "Cheerleaders", the "college dorm web cast" guys, and Chris Kattan. Although, technically, Kattan isn't a "skit or character", per se, just annoying. But you know what I mean.

- Pete




posted by Pete 10:14 PM
Monday, January 13, 2003
To begin with, I'd like to answer a brief email received in response to my Dec. 4th piece (on the symmetry of 9/11, Iraq & Pearl Harbor Day; see archives), as it might also apply to this week's. In it, I was asked, "1. Why are you picking on Pres. Bush?; 2. Why don't you pick on the Democrats more?"

I answer: 1. Because he's in office; 2. The Democrats already do a good job of kicking their own asses. They don't need me butting in.

That said, I'm simply chomping at the bit to review the Dem's presidential debates when they're held. I mean, come on, Howard Dean??? In comparison, Al Gore is a dynamic, positively animated public speaker. And with the labor unions no longer wielding the influence and money they once did, a Dick Gephardt candidacy is destined to be little more than a political footnote, one which says: "See, a so-called 'poor man' *can* still run for U.S. president today. He can't win, but he can certainly run." Lieberman and Sharpton? If a Hispanic runs too, we'll have the winning "Unelectable Trifecta". Not my personal opinion, just a sad statement of fact in U.S. presidential politics today.

Yes, its a sad day in donkey land when your best bet in '04 might very well be Gary Hart, who has re-emerged in recent months on 'Nightline' & Sunday morning political talk fests in his new "Elder Statesman" guise. Some suggested campaign slogans: To appeal to the left wing intellectuals, go with "Hart in '04. Campaignus Interruptus No More". For the rest of the country, it should be, "Gary Hart, Bedding Down with America". In other words, play that 'family values' card. The message? We'd be safer at home, whether it be in the country itself or our own beds at night, if we had an experienced older man like Hart watching over us. If nothing else, he'd be the one Democratic candidate to actually *embrace* the Clinton legacy. After all, Hart's '88 antics made Clinton's presidency possible. Clinton's sexcapades while in office makes another Hart run feasible. One hand washes, while the other is jerking us around. Or something like that. Of course, Hart's first campaign decision should be to announce a challenge to the media. "This time, *don't* follow me around 24 hours a day." Why? Because people like candidates who learn from their past mistakes.

In any case, here's my simple plan on...

[ HOW TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN ]

If you talk to people around the world, you'll find that some think America is in decline. Even some Americans think that. Or, as I like to call them, "Un-Americans". So, I've devised a simple plan TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

It is as follows:

1. It's the economy, stupid. Forget window-dressing tax cuts and the elimination of taxes on corporate dividends, which Bush Administration officials contend will result in *all* citizens benefiting "from more confidence in the financial markets." That sounds like voodoo to me.

No, what we need is a brand new economic policy, one that's vast in scope yet simple in execution. I've devised just such a policy, one I call, "Working Against Recession." Or, W.A.R. for short. It is a multi-pronged attack - whoops, I meant "policy" - that is guaranteed to revitalize the sluggish U.S. economy. Oh, wait a minute. I think the Bush Administration is already about to implement my proposed economic policy. Never mind.

2."Operation Vigilance". Recently, all U.S. citizens were encouraged to watch their friends and neighbors, and to report any "suspicious activity" to the proper authorities. I have a better idea. Put twenty-four hour a day web cameras in all homes. That way, everybody can watch everybody on the web, and nobody will have to report what's seen because the government can look in too. Hey, if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about, right? To facilitate this enormous undertaking, the Department of 'Homeland Security' can go into partnership with the technology industry. That way, everybody wins. The government can monitor for "suspicious" activity, while the tech industry gets an economic boost. Yes, the federal agency will purchase these web cams and install one in the home of every good U.S. taxpayer. By doing this we can be a nation of voyeurs, instead of snitches, which is infinitely better.

Now, from what I've read recently, there's some concern that the poor aren't paying their "fair share" of taxes. Add to that, many of them probably don't have Internet access. So no web-cams for the poor, some of who might've only recently become U.S. citizens and, therefore, are probably "terrorist" sleepers anyway.

So, instead of falling under the auspices of "Operation Vigilance", they would become part of "Project Default". In other words, we shoot the whole disenfranchised, suspicious acting lot of them. That way, we kill two birds with one stone. And, as we know, a bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush Administration. No, you're right, once you really think about it, that last sentence made absolutely no sense. But it sure sounded good. Maybe I should go into politics? But I digress...

3. Fix Alaska. I say we cover that state, from end to end, with oil rigs and gas pipelines. Sure, we might have to raze a few mountains and melt a few glaciers to get the job done, but the benefits will outweigh the loss. Besides, we can always build new mountains and there are plenty of other glaciers around. By pumping the whole state dry, we'll be able to provide for less than five-percent of our fuel needs. A right step toward self-sufficiency, if you ask me.

Then, to provide for the Alaskan job market, the state can go into partnership with the Disney Corporation and turn the whole thing into an amusement park to boot. Call it "Petrol Disney". Yes, it'll be fun *and* educational.

4. "The New New Deal". A job-work program for the poor. Of course, by this time "Project Default" will be in full swing, so really it'll be for the lower- and middle- middle classes, who, by default - no pun intended - will have become the "new poor", relatively speaking.

Yes, I know the original "New Deal" was the idea of a Democratic president. However, the Republicans have been co-opting the Democrats' ideas for years now, and using them with better results due to better "spin", so why should this be any different? Also, with the program I have in mind, they can say its part of their plan to fight terrorism. Americans will pretty much accept anything as long as it's to "fight terrorism."

a. Build a wall across the southern border of the U.S. One tall enough, long enough and wide enough to rival the Great Wall of China. We'll do it because we're Americans, dammit, thereby showing those Chinese just who's boss around here.

It'll provide a lot of work for the "new poor", thus improving the economy. Also, it'll keep out *all* the terrorists.

Of course, we don't need to build a wall along the northern border because, as everybody knows, terrorists never, ever, sneak across the Canadian border into the U.S.

b. Pave the entire country over. Let's face it; a majority of the country is already shopping mall parking lots. So, let's just pave the rest with asphalt and be done with it. Mini- and mega- malls coast to coast. Even more so, I mean. More businesses means more business, which equals a stronger economy. Plus, with everything paved over, those terrorists will have nowhere left to hide.

5. Less government bureaucracy. More tax cuts for the lower 99% of taxpayers who won't benefit as greatly from Bush's current "economic stimulus" package. Ha ha. I'm just pulling your leg with the "less government, more tax cuts" bit. After all, we don't want to do anything rash, now do we?

When it comes to America, some might say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." When I think of the U.S., another saying comes to mind: "In a country of the blind, the one-eyed man is President."

ATTENTION CHALLENGED READER'S VERSION: Desperate times call for desperate measures. *OR* Politics as Unusual.

=

NEXT TUESDAY: "Random Bits", humorous real-life bits that haven't fit in previous entries, or aren't long enough to be full entries in & of themselves. So they get dumped here. A laff-a-minute for the whole family!



posted by Pete 11:35 PM
Monday, January 06, 2003
As the saying goes, "the hand that bites gets fed."

As a reminder, since there is a voluminous amount of material online and never enough time to read it all (thus, some people only "scan" it, including this blog) we now provide an "Attention Challenged Reader's Version" of each week's entry. Just scroll to the end for that version of the following piece.

Now, just so nobody freaks out here, remember: In the weblog ("blog") world, some are serious. Some are humorous. And some are unintentionally funny. It is this last group that inspired...

[DECONSTRUCTING THE BLOG ]

'GENERIC BLOG' - WEEK OF DEC. 31 '02 to JAN. 6 '03

TUESDAY

Today I was feeling a little down, so I ate. Watched some bad television, ate again. Soon, I was a bit sleepy, so I napped. Got up at 6pm. Had a big meal.

I felt like getting out of the house this evening, so I went to visit my friend, Kaj. He got back from India a few weeks ago (see 11/19 entry, in archives, for more on that trip.) Kaj was pretty upset when I got there. It seems some guy insulted him, and they almost came to blows. "I'm a man's man," he told me, "so I can give it and take it. You better believe it, brother!" He feigned a few jabs, did a little jig.

To calm himself, Kaj played 'Solitaire' on the computer for a while. While watching, I told him I could remember back when the cards were actually made out of heavy paper stock. As he's about ten years younger than me, he didn't believe this.

WEDNESDAY

Not doing so well. I haven't heard from my girlfriend in days. Actually, I don't have a girlfriend. But I'm obsessed with Rose McGowan (TV's "Charmed"), whom I think of as my "girlfriend". We talk every week. Truth be told, she does most of the talking. Every Sunday night, through my TV. But she's talking to *me*!!!

Recently, I read in the 'National Enquirer' that she's dating another guy. I wonder what I did wrong. This time. Maybe I'll write her another letter, and try to smooth things over. She hasn't answered any of the other ones I sent, but I think three hundred and seventy six will turn out to be my lucky number and she'll answer this time. Perhaps I should include a small gift. Like a white rose. Or a dead rat.

If she doesn't answer, I just might have to go out to Los Angeles and visit. If you know Rose, please don't tell her I'm coming - because, if she *is* mad at me, and finds out I'm coming, well... things could get ugly. Somebody could get hurt.

THURSDAY

I went to see "Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers". It rocked more than "The Matrix". But what's the deal with Sam and Frodo? I thought I detected some kind of gay subtext going on there, but then I thought - can hobbits be homosexual? I mean, I *know* the elves are gay, but hobbits?

FRIDAY

Early this morning, my dog died. But I'm o.k. with that, I hated that mutt anyway. He was so lazy; he'd lie on the floor and piss all over himself. Couldn't be bothered to use the doggie door, I suppose. So, good riddance.

SATURDAY

Stayed home today. I played "Lara Croft, Tomb Raider" on my Playstation until 2pm. Then I went downstairs to get the mail. Came back into the apartment; masturbated. Read the new issue of 'Entertainment Weekly' that came in the mail. It was, like, cool. I read the whole thing. I don't know that I've ever read a magazine cover to cover. Then, I played more "Tomb Raider" while simultaneously masturbating.

SUNDAY

Early this morning, my grandmother died. She had been in a full-care nursing home for the last few years. But I'm o.k. with that, I hated that old lady anyway. She was so incapacitated; she'd lie in bed and piss all over herself. So, good riddance.

Well, I've got to cut today's blog short. It's 7pm. I hear Rose calling me. Oh, in case I forgot to mention it, Rose is my girlfriend.

MONDAY

Sometimes I think I don't have much of a life. I mean, I *do* do things -- eat, sleep, go see sci-fi and fantasy films, play video games, obsess over Rose McGowan, masturbate -- but, somehow, I feel like something is missing.

But then I reread my blog, and it reminds me of the minutiae of my life - and that I do, in fact, have one.

And by reading 'Generic Blog', you help validate my existence. So thank you for getting blogged repeatedly.


ATTENTION CHALLENGED READER'S VERSION: Didn't do much worth noting today. Wrote about it anyway. I am a "blogger".

========================================================

Thus ends my attempt to write a blog generic enough that it could be one of thousands already available. In fact, if you publish a blog and can't think of something to write about this week, feel free to cut and paste 'Generic Blog' onto your blog.


However, now that you've read it, please keep pp. 32 of 'The Wisdom of Pete' in mind: "In life, question everything. Accept nothing at face value." Which, of course, applies to the events in 'Generic Blog'.

- Pete

NEXT TUESDAY: "How to Make America Great Again" - Pete's Simple Plan


posted by Pete 11:11 PM
Wednesday, January 01, 2003
TWO QUOTABLE QUOTES: "In life, question everything. Accept nothing at face value." - pp. 32 of 'The Wisdom of Pete' (And, yes, that certainly applies when reading this blog.)

"You better learn to laugh at life, because its already laughing at you." - pp. 65 of 'The Wisdom of Pete'
-
Regarding my Christmas Day piece: As some readers didn't read last week's blog all the way through - due to "lack of time" and their propensity to only "scan news" due to the large volume they read each day - and then jumped to the wrong conclusion, I've added a new feature here at 'The World According to Pete'. After each week's blog, you'll find the "Attention Challenged Readers' Version" of the same long-version blog entry. So, if you're "attention challenged", simply scroll past all the lengthy paragraphs that follow, to the end of each week's entry, for the short version. Thank you very much. (And to the "attention challenged", I simply say, "Thank.")

-

[RESOLVING NEW YEAR'S, UH... RESOLUTIONS]

Every year I come up with some New Year's resolutions, and this year is no exception. Here are mine for 2003, and some of the reasons behind them.

RESOLUTION 1. Stop Drinking Alcohol.

I'm not sure why I've made this one. Maybe I'm just tired of being ten feet tall, not to mention the best pool player and lover on the face of the planet. That's a heavy burden, one I've endured through many years of drinking.

Or maybe its the things that happen when I drink. "Wacky" might be one word to describe them. Things such as:

A. After drinking too much, I'm very hung over the next day. I'm so violently hung over, I'm physically shaking and throwing up. Then, I start having seizures. However, the first time this happens, I don't connect it with being hung over. I think its just coincidence. The second time it occurs, it begins to dawn on me that the two *might* be related. The third time, I'm hunched over the toilet. During the seizure, I pass out. I wake up underwater. Puke-filled water, no less. Instinct takes over, and I push forward to break the surface. I crack my head on the bottom of the toilet. Then, I pull my head out. Insert "sputter, sputter" here.

Now, when this happened, it was during a time in which I ran an art gallery. The local press had turned me into a "local celebrity", so my drowning would've made the papers. As I sat on the bathroom floor, water and puke running down my head, I envisioned the headline that would've accompanied such a story: "Man Flushes Life Down Toilet"

B. After drinking too much one night, I black out. I wake up the next morning in my car, which is parked in an alley. Oh, did I mention I wasn't anywhere near my car when I started drinking that night? Anyway, I wake up to the sound of somebody banging on the car window. I look up to see a woman standing outside, and she's saying, "So, are you going to take me to breakfast, or what?" Then, I notice this woman has a five o'clock shadow. It is not a woman after all, despite his best attempts to appear to be one. I drive away. At that point, I really need a drink.

C. After drinking too much with friends, we drive over to this guy's house. I don't know him personally, he's a friend of a friend. Once inside, I have to take a crap. I go to the bathroom, and sit down on the toilet to do my business. In the middle of it, I have this uncontrollable urge to throw up. So, I twist around to vomit into the toilet. I slip and fall. I throw up but miss the toilet. It is then that I notice that I haven't finished crapping, and quickly find myself lying in my own puke and shit. Time passes. People are knocking on the door, "Are you okay in there, its been like an hour?" I answer "yes", exiting the bathroom soon thereafter. I immediately leave the home of this person I do not know, mumbling something like, "Sorry about the mess." As I head out the door, I hear people murmur, "What mess?" I never see these people again. Purposely. But, I figure, at least I gave the guy a good story to tell all his friends for years to come. "Did I ever tell you about the time this dude I didn't even know came over, drunk as a skunk, and asked to use my bathroom?"

When it comes to drinking, I guess I'm just tired of falling prey to the "And the Next Thing I Knew" Syndrome. And the next thing I knew, I woke up with a strange woman in my bed. And the next thing I knew, I was in jail. Etcetera.

RESOLUTION 2. Stop Having Indiscriminate Sex With Women.

Now, I don't have sex just to "have sex". Like most men, I consent because I just want to be loved. Being viewed as just a "piece of meat", all the cat-calls and shouts of "hubba, hubba" when walking past a group of women - this is the cross we men must bear just to find that tender feeling. After all, experience shows that most women have one thing on their minds. S. E. X.

I especially don't like it if I've had a few drinks,
because they see me as easy prey and try their best to convince me that going home with them would be the best experience of my life. Frankly, if a woman is desperate enough and drunk enough, any man becomes reasonably
attractive to them.

Sometimes, I feel so dirty and used.

And afterwards, she doesn't stick around, when all I want is to just be held. But why should she make any kind of commitment - After all, why buy the snake when you can get the venom for free?

So, I must stop being so overly emotional and needy. But I don't know if I can. I am a man. It is my nature.

RESOLUTION 3. Stop Smoking.

I smoke menthols. I do this to look suave and debonair. Also, I've heard it makes me more attractive to the opposite sex, not to mention I seem way cooler than I actually am with a cigarette hanging from my lip. When a woman kisses me, its like licking an ashtray, which I understand can be a big turn-on for some.

But my health suffers, so I'm giving it up. My plan is to eat therapeutic mineral ice for the time being. Mmmm, mentholicious. Same great taste as my cigarettes, but without all the health risks.

What scared me into quitting are two things.


First, my friend, little Joe, who has smoked much longer and much more per day than I do, who has this persistent, heavy, hacking cough. One day soon, he's going to hack up bits of lung, from the sound of it. What he hacks up now is pretty gross, but thankful its not lung. At least, I don't think it is. Anyway, now I'm developing a cough. My chest gets very tight. The only thing that seems to relieve it is another cigarette, smoked very quickly. Now, I'm no medical doctor, but I have a theory on this... I believe, when I haven't had a smoke in awhile ("awhile" being defined as "more than three hours since my last one"), my lungs become cold and hard. So, by inhaling some more hot smoke, I effectively "reheat" my lung tissue. It once again becomes soft and moist. Unfortunately, if little Joe is any indication, this stops working after awhile. Then, its hack city for the rest of your days.

Secondly, there is this sad fact. Sometimes, when I cross the room to answer the phone, I'm winded by the time I get there. Bad sign, no?


UPDATE - UPDATE: I wrote the preceding resolutions on Dec. 30. Last night, I went out to celebrate New Year's Eve with some friends. We ended up at a bar. With thoughts of "only one drink, for old times sake" I had a whiskey sour, which pretty much degenerated into me doing my impression of a fish as the night wore on. I met a young lady, one thing led to another, and I had indiscriminate sex. This morning, feeling guilty and hung over, I smoked two packs of cigarettes just to calm my nerves. Damn those resolutions anyway. So, in response, I've come up with a new resolution.

RESOLUTION 4. I will not kill myself over breaking all my New Year's resolutions within the first 24 hours of 2003.

Now, if a new blog post appears here next Tuesday, you'll know I've kept this one. If it doesn't, I'd appreciate somebody sending an ambulance over to collect my bloated, alcohol and smoke-filled, recently sexed corpse. Thank you.

So, I guess the lesson to be learned is as follows: By setting your resolutions too high, you've only set yourself up for failure. Its about progress, not perfection, baby!


ATTENTION CHALLENGED READERS' VERSION: Made resolutions. Broke Resolutions. Woe is me.


posted by Pete 9:29 AM



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