June 09, 2006

A Week's Worth of Crap

In a day's worth of post.

First off, would the owner of the car with this personalized license plate:


Please explain to me what the hell that means? Personalized plates are goofy enough without also being completely unintelligible to everyone else. I thought the POINT of the personalized plate was to let the world know something important about you--you know, that your family has 3 automobiles, of which this is #2, or that your car is really fast (C-Ya) or that you're wacky or crazy or ditzy or you like NASCAR or whatever--but now I find that more and more I'm coming across people whose plates necessitate the owner's personal Rosetta stone to decipher, and as someone with more than a touch of OCD, this drives me nuts.

On a related note, what is up with the stick figure family representation decals on the backs of vehicles? Seriously, do you WANT the pedophiles on the road to know that you have preschool-aged twin boys, and that all they have to do to get a crack at them is follow you home? I'm sure you love your family, but TMI.

Watched Al-Zarqawi's hideout get blown up, and I just want to know how, exactly, there was enough of anything left to identify after the blast, much less that he survived for a few minutes afterward.

Going to see Cars this weekend. The Boy's excitement knows no bounds--he has been wearing his Tow-Mater t-shirt every day this week, and I am trying to ignore the fact that the character is voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, who irritates the snot out of me, AND that the lead car, Lightning McQueen, is voiced by Owen Wilson, who ALSO irritates the snot out of me. But I have developed a seething hatred for anyone involved in the Wedding Crashers, so there you go--Vince Vaughan, I am looking at you, one-note schtick boy. Fast patter gets really old really quickly. Really.

Reading the Oxford American's summer fiction issue. Why is it that in modern stories even when things happen it seems like nothing is happening? At least with southern writing you get a lot of pointless random violence to spice things up, but really, this magnifying-glass approach to character studies just grates on my nerves. There's no "there" there, beyond the fact that the author is using painstakingly lyrical language to describe character thoughts, and the language itself takes you right out of the story, because all you can think is, "Wow, it took him a while to come up with that metaphor, I'll bet," which seems to be all the author is aiming for now: a pat on the back for "original construction and imagery" while the characters and plot languish on the page.
Lately, unless it's genre fiction, I don't read it.

So there's my daily brain dump. Oh, and what she said. The thing that annoys me about the Dixie Chicks brou-ha-ha is that it was OVER THREE YEARS AGO! So if you're bringing it up now, the cynic in me believes that it's because you're trying to cash in, and I put you right on "ignore." Plus I am apparently not cool enough to be their fan any longer, so I guess it all works out in the end.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 9, 2006 12:34 PM

Attempting a guess: ACC == Atlantic Coast Conference, FSU == Florida State University

The I has me lost.

The I always has me lost.

Posted by: marc at June 9, 2006 01:18 PM

Personally, I think it should be mandated by law that they have a bumper sticker, in large letters, spelling out whatever the heck their license plate is trying to say because I spend waaaaay too much time trying to figure them out (and tailgating trying to read bumper stickers).

ITA about the Dixie Chicks. The definition of brave has clearly changed.

Posted by: Carrie K at June 9, 2006 03:37 PM

Probably an ACC fan who went to FSU? But yeah, all of this personalized crap on cars is stupid. If your philosophy of life or your politics can be explained on a bumpersticker, you're an idiot. And as my father explained to me when I got my driver's license, "Son, you may be in a situation one day where you will need to leave the scene in a hurry...do you really want to put something on your car that everybody can remember?"

Posted by: slightlybad at June 9, 2006 03:38 PM

For anyone else who is trying to follow this post, I recommend this web site. It was a big help to me.

As for modern fiction, that's why I read science fiction, where the heart of the work is the cool concepts, with language and characters a distant second.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at June 9, 2006 06:08 PM

Your point about Zarqawi surviving is a good one. Two 500 lb. bombs inside the house and they 'cleaned him up' for a picture? He'd have been paint on the walls.

Something is definitely odd about that.

Posted by: PersonFromPorlock at June 9, 2006 08:09 PM

The one that makes me want to get out a tire iron and start smashing windows is "PHDS 2." On a mercedes.

Posted by: Michael at June 9, 2006 11:21 PM

Literary fiction is supposedly all about the "character," unlike crass old genre fiction with its primitive emphasis on plot (aka "getting from A to B"), but the writers of literary fiction are so busy trying to say things in a new, eye (and prize) catching way that the characters are all as alike as potatoes in a bin. This leads the discerning reader to conclude that while there might only be seven or so original plots in the world, there are definitely only at most three types of characters. (They are: the jaded-while-yet-young female character -- her jadedness usually the result of childhood incest, a favorite literary fiction theme; the earnest and easily-wounded yet acutely-observant young male -- this is usually a stand-in for the author's idealized version of himself; and the lumpish everyprole working-class man or woman, who functions as a kind of Gracie Allen to the main narrator.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at June 10, 2006 07:06 AM

Al-Zarqawi was apparently in a reinforced bunker under the house. That's why the two bombs and even then he survived for a bit.

I saw Larry the Cable Guy (along with the rest of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour) on Leno the other night. He was talking about how cool it was to be the voice in an animated movie and how fun it would be to be a self-driving car. He said Pixar is going to send three to the Kennedys. You may not like Larry but THAT'S FUNNY.

Posted by: Locomotive Breath at June 11, 2006 07:53 AM

Great post...er, "brain dump"?

Re: stick figure family rep. decals....I completely agree. Especially when the decals also declare EXACTLY where your child goes to school/dance class/etc. That's frightening.

A few years ago, my boss (who's name is Cheryl) had a personalized license plate that said, "CHERYL". She got rid of it, because random weirdo men would call her name across parking lots. I guess she learned what NOT to put on one's license plate.

Posted by: angie at June 11, 2006 09:22 PM

Maybe I'm just in a churlish mood but I hate, hate, hate vanity plates. It's just a stupid affectation, a "I have to seem more special than the ordinary boring folks who have a random letter/number combination." I mean, seriously: if a license plate is that integral to your definition of yourself, something is seriously wrong.

hate bumper stickers too. especially hate bumper stickers for political candidates who lost more than a year ago still being on the bumpers of cars.

and as for modern fiction: I do not willingly read anything published after about 1950. The last few "modern fiction" books I read (chosen by other members of the book club) just seemed to be full of whiny people making selfish choices and then being all offended when people thought the choices were selfish. Or there was incest. Or there was some kind of horrible nihilistic attitude that everyone's a jerk and a slob and it's best to screw them before they screw you.

Posted by: ricki at June 14, 2006 03:23 PM

Modern fiction has been on my personal reading list life-support system since, a few years ago, I felt mentally and emotionally violated upon reading "The Hours", a Pulitzer winner that later was made into a movie-I-will-never-see.

From time to time, I'm sure there is worthy new fiction out there. But after "The Hours", I'm so completely gun-shy that I would rather risk missing out on one or two great novels a year than fall into that same hellish pit again.

Posted by: Husband of BAW at June 14, 2006 08:54 PM

Some of my dad's friends were chopper pilots in Viet Nam, and they told me about dropping in to an LZ after a B52 Arclight strikes with multiple 500 lb bomb hits. Inevitably there'd be unwounded VC - the kill radius on a 500 pounder is pretty big, but drops off surpisingly fast, so that even if you're a couple of meters away from the edge of the kill zone, you might be OK.

Favorite bumber sticker, seen in Connecticut a while ago: Welcome to New London, Where Your Home is OURS.

Posted by: John at June 15, 2006 06:56 AM