By DAVID MENDEZ
I’m tired. Sick and tired.
I’m tired of hearing it, seeing it, reading it. I’m just plain done with it.
This national obsession with rude, insulting, angry language has to stop.
I realize that makes me sound old-fashioned. In reality, I realize that society evolves, pushes boundaries and displaces previously-held social norms.
I grew up watching George Carlin specials when my parents weren’t paying attention. I’m familiar with the concept of pushing social norms.
Unfortunately, I’m also familiar with the way people treat one another these days.
I’ve complained before about children who scream racial and sexist epithets during online gaming sessions. I’ve dealt with the issue time in and time out because, unfortunately, Penny Arcade’s “Greater Internet F–kwad Theory” holds true.
GIFT states that a normal person, when granted anonymity and an audience, becomes a complete jackass.
I’m not sure where this particular behavior began. It’s probably as old as time.
But society has made angry speech our most common form of communication. It’s in our books, our movies, our games, our television.
I can’t say that I’ve not taken part in the phenomenon myself, of course. I’m liable to yell at people who violate “my” space in traffic, or troll people on the Internet myself.
But my car windows are rolled up, containing the rage to my own space.
On the Internet, I level my snark-filled comments at those who have been uncouth.
That’s not a great defense, but it’s the only thing I can think of to justify my well-formulated and well-thought-out insults. In any case, my insults inevitably get ignored or cause me to be called a “liberal idiot suckling at Obummer’s teat.”
What concerns me most is that children will grow up in this society, forged and tempered by angry speech. (The fact that sarcasm is often listed as a second language on Facebook profiles makes my head spin.)
When in doubt, one should turn to one of America’s greatest writers, Kurt Vonnegut. He’s been a source for many of my favorite quotations, including one I tend to repeat to myself during times of despair.
That quote comes from “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” in a speech planned for the twins of the main character’s neighbors. He’s welcoming the children to the world and sharing advice with them:
“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
In these times of economic turmoil, attempts at social uprising and plain old jerkishness, that’s one rule we all need to live by.
By DAVID MENDEZ
I’ve found that the worst thing (so far) about getting old isn’t aging. Apparently, so long as I keep my face cleanly shaved, I’ll get carded anywhere I go.
What’s awful about aging is knowing that some of the smaller skills I developed growing up are now completely useless.
A few weeks ago, I happened to stumble upon a website called “obsoleteskills.com,” though not with the help of StumbleUpon.
It’s a fascinating site, particularly for those who have too much time on their hands and are putting off something important.
You’ll find a listing of more than 300 skills that will likely only become important again if the western world is sent back into the technological dark ages. (Note: That skill number is approximate — I stopped counting as a lingering feeling of “old” started creeping in on me.)
A number of these skills are related to technological developments better suited to the 1800s than modern living.
I understand why “churning butter” and “harnessing a team of oxen” are on the list, but those probably don’t need to be explained unless you’re heading to rural Pennsylvania for a few weeks.
I’m more concerned with the things that I can actually remember doing. Like rewinding video cassettes before returning them to a store or having to clean out the trackball of a mouse so it worked better.
I can remember having to tear apart pages from a dot-matrix printer and adjusting the rabbit ear antennae for a TV. I remember memorizing and singing the tone our dial-up Internet made, and blowing on video game cartridges so I could play Super Mario Kart.
Of course, some of the listings are tongue-in-cheek or purely gripes about society: Entries for “manners” and “general conversation” come to mind, as do those for “handwriting” and “paying with cash.”
And some are just jokes, such as “operating an HD-DVD player.” The “caulking your wagon to ford the river” entry is on the list because every Web page referencing old technology apparently must legally reference the Oregon Trail game somewhere on it.
I did have to laugh at the “porn not from the Internet” entry though, as I guess even perverts get nostalgic.
It’s weird though: things I still regularly do are becoming obsolete. Commonplace things, like using a watch, driving a manual transmission or sending a typewritten letter through the mail. (OK, so that last one isn’t commonplace but my Internet has been spotty lately.)
I guess it comes down to the fact that it’s weird getting old. I mean, there are people I hang out with now who couldn’t have watched Jurassic Park when it was in theaters. They have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention “Rita Repulsa” in conversation.
But weirder still is realizing that things that seem untouchable now will be as extinct as dinosaurs within a few years: personal desktop computers, video game systems with physical controllers, even (hopefully) certain diseases.
At least I can take solace in the fact that physical media like books and CDs will never go out of style, right?
Or is it already time again for me to roll around, clutching my magazines and newspaper clippings, pretending that I’ll still be relevant in 20 years?
By DAVID MENDEZ
The Libertarian-leaning, Republican crackpot Ron Paul is finally getting legitimate press as a presidential candidate, and I couldn’t be any happier about it.
For the uninitiated, I’ll sum up the 76-year-old U.S. representative from Texas in one sentence: Ron Paul loves the United States Constitution.
If it were a woman, he’d take it out for a candlelight dinner, hold its hand as they walked through the park at sunset and kiss it goodnight on the cheek before sending it flowers the next day.
He has the kind of love that’s obvious in his actions. He votes against bills infringing upon personal rights, such as the USA PATRIOT Act.
He’s one of the few Republicans who has campaigned against our wars on the grounds that they’re unconstitutional, not to mention financially unsound.
Sure, he’s got his crazy points.
He wants to do away with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, naive enough to think that the free market will punish racists financially.
He wants to repeal Roe v. Wade, believing abortion rights are not the business of the federal government. He wants to end the federal prohibition of pot, too, which I suspect just won him a few votes from the stoners reading this.
Surprisingly, he came in second in the Iowa Straw Poll, just behind Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann. But until the Daily Show raised a fuss about his treatment in the media, he was being ignored like it was ‘08 all over again.
Now, Ron Paul is gaining actual momentum. Honestly, I think it’s because he’s less insane than his opponents.
Bachmann, for instance, believes that gay people can pray themselves straight and that Intelligent Design is a legitimate theory that should be taught in schools.
Rick Perry is the second coming of George W. Bush. In his favor, he did consider instituting a tax on strip clubs in Texas, which is so funny that I can’t even joke about it.
Jon Huntsman is crazy enough to think that he has a shot at winning the GOP nomination by being a moderate during a time when most Republican voters are wearing tri-corner hats and yelling at pictures of President Obama until their mouths foam over.
Realistically, Paul won’t win the nomination. He’s too principled, for one thing. He’s also too old. (He’d be 81 by the end of his first term, should he actually win the election.)
But really, Ron Paul just isn’t polarizing enough to be as loved or hated as his opponents. It’s a shame, too.
I was looking forward to seeing him hand-in-hand with the Constitution down by the Lincoln Memorial at sunset.
By RYAN TSARSIS
1. Thank you for making me that sandwich.
2. Can you bring me a beer… please?
3. You look very pretty in that apron.
4. Have you seen my chewing tobacco?
5. Why are you staring at me that way?
6. I’m glad you’re letting the guys come over tonight.
7. Are the wings in the freezer?
8. You smell nice.
9. You look good today.
10. I love you, but the game is on.
BY DAVID MENDEZ
It’s summer, and the end of the school year is all but upon us.
It’s a time to look forward – to longer hours at work, to new classes and to shorter vacations than you’d like.
Personally, I like to take this time to look back at my body of work. For the benefit of my critics, I’m going to do so publicly.
Come on! Let’s look back at my failings as a writer and a human in less than 350 words.
Take my “Bejeweled” column, published March 24. “There’s always a gem blinking somewhere, Pima. Whenever you’re stuck, in games or in life, there’s always a solution.”
One reader’s reaction? “Oatmeal.”
Dull as dried paint and bland as British food. Looking back, this is like watching a football player in a batting cage: It’s only just entertaining and for the wrong reasons. This is why you won’t see me doing uplifting self-help anytime soon.
Speaking of self-help, how about my “Talk to us, Pima!” column? “You see, although I can hear your praise and applause from all around the Tucson area (it sounds remarkably similar to excited crickets), I’m missing your insightful comments – your ideas, your comebacks, your insults.”
I couldn’t have sounded any more like a shill if I had tried to throw in a free massage for every five comments we got on our stories… which we can’t afford on our budget.
My Jan. 27 “Zombies” column takes the cake, though. “All I know is that if the zombie apocalypse is near, I’m heading to the concrete fortress that is West Campus.” If this column were a scarecrow, the Wizard of Oz would’ve denied its request for brains because it wouldn’t put them to good use.
In retrospect: I’m funny. You know it, I know it and the one dude who added me on Facebook because he recognized me from my column knows it.
But sometimes I’m off my game. When that happens, let me know. I’d like to be held to a higher standard than most Arizona politicians.
BY DAVID MENDEZ
Hey, remember Myspace?
You may be asking, “Who cares about Myspace anymore? I certainly don’t.”
You’re not alone, people who talk to yourselves in the cafeteria. I can’t remember the last time I logged in.
After all, I’m not a porn star or a rapper desperate for attention. I’m also not one of the people I went to high school with who started popping out kids after graduation.
Between the shrinking user base and ever-declining ad revenue, Myspace owner News Corporation has decided to put the sinking ship up for sale. It’s actually been rebranded as “My_____.”
So who’s willing to purchase this wreck?
According to the Wall Street Journal, a few huge investment firms have started serious discussions. But why let little things like “facts” get in the way of baseless conjecture?
Facebook seems like a potential buyer. The idea of a dominant company merging with a weaker one in its field isn’t new.
It won’t work, though. Facebook programmers would have strokes just looking at pages the average Myspacer creates, thanks to the obsession some women have with animated Tinkerbell pictures.
Then there’s Yahoo, the only place I know to actually find chat rooms these days. Combining the two to create a social beast makes sense.
However, combining the two would create a porn advertising singularity that makes the entire Internet smell like shame and KY jelly.
We’ll end with Vevo, the record industry’s effort to stay relevant in the digital age.
With its presence on YouTube, Vevo has actually been somewhat successful, even if it’s getting blown out of the water by flash-in-the-pan darlings like Rebecca Black.
This merger actually makes sense. “My_____” decided to become a place for music about the same time it dropped the “space,” so becoming a tool of the record industry would suit it fine.
It would suit the recording industry just fine, too. No industry does more to support dead technology than one that thinks overcharging for CDs is a good idea in 2011.
By DAVID MENDEZ
Apparently, nostalgia is in vogue — again.
This summer, MTV is bringing back Beavis and Butthead, dragging the poorly drawn teenagers back from the graveyard of cancelled cartoons.
MTV’s Viacom sibling Nickelodeon, for its part, will re-air its grunge-era classics this fall in a late-night block known as “The ‘90s is All That.”
I have no desire to watch any of these shows again. If I wanted to watch “All That” alum Kenan Thompson awkwardly mug and shout his way through sketch comedy, I’d turn on “Saturday Night Live.”
I loved these shows, truly. But lately, I’ve spent quality time watching classic Nickelodeon cartoons, as well as choice Looney Tunes.
The newer shows lack substance. The characters are obnoxious, with plots focusing more on misunderstanding and awkwardness than wit.
The Looney Tunes cartoons were designed for adults under Hollywood’s moralistic Hays Code censorship. Any sort of sexuality was downplayed into non-existence. Blasphemy and vulgarity were out.
In short: Anything that was actually funny had to be clever.
It’s like comparing “Modern Family” to “Two and a Half Men,” if the latter had more goofy voices and less to do with counting down to Charlie Sheen’s astronomically popular public breakdown.
Which brings us back to Nickelodeon, Viacom and ‘90s classics.
In 2003, “Ren and Stimpy Adult Cartoon Party” aired on a late-night block on another Viacom network, Spike TV. See a trend?
It was an effort to cash in on the grown-up viewers of the show’s early ‘90s heyday, revolving around gross-out humor, sexual themes and stoner-humor absurdity.
It lasted a month and a half before cancellation.
Nostalgia is a fun diversion, a reflection of youth and times gone by. Generally, it disappears as quickly as one’s desire to watch a “Rugrats” DVD sober in your early 20s after one episode.
But like all diversions, it’s ultimately a waste of time.
I’ll tune in, probably once, to see if Danny Tamberelli is still as funny as I thought he was when I was 10 years old. Beyond that, I’m out.
My time will be too wrapped up in figuring out what current cartoon trend is next to be revived in an adult animation block. My money is on “The Penguins of Madagascar.”
By DAVID MENDEZ
I came to a realization this week: Life is like Bejeweled.
Let’s back up a bit. I’ve always considered myself to be a gamer. That kind of comes with the territory of having a Super Nintendo before being in kindergarten.
Since then, I’ve spent a fair amount of time with hunks of molded plastic in my hands, pretending to be someone I’m not: a space marine, a chubby plumber, a 10-year-old catching magical animals for what amounts to legalized dogfighting.
A lot of people who hear “gamer” think “lazy.” That’s where Bejeweled comes in.
If you haven’t heard of it, Bejeweled Blitz is a simple puzzle game, found on Facebook. Users have one minute to match different colored gems into rows of three or more, trying to get a high score and beat friends who are also wasting time on the game.
Simple. And addictive.
I found myself playing it the other night, avoiding an assignment I was stuck on. Problem was, I was stuck in Bejeweled too, unable to get a match. I knew there was one there — the game’s programmed to have it. I just couldn’t find it.
Then the idea hit me for my assignment. The solution was always there, tucked in the back of my mind. I just needed to completely avoid it for hours, playing a mindless video game to find it.
Bejeweled has a number of aids to help you when you’re lost. Notably, a gem will blink, indicating the nearest match.
There’s always a gem blinking somewhere, Pima. Whenever you’re stuck, in games or in life, there’s always a solution. You just have to be paying attention to see it. If you can’t find it, look up the problem on YouTube.
Keep in mind, that part doesn’t work well for real life. Dramatic Chipmunk won’t help you figure out what your next life decision will be.
Bejeweled just might though.
By DAVID MENDEZ
I’m getting to that age when I’m starting to see a good number of my peers, both from high school and college, getting married and having kids — legitimate ones, mind you. None of this “out of wedlock in high school” nonsense that’s so popular on MTV shows these days.
I can see the benefits: You have a dedicated physical partner, your best friend is by your side at all times and there’s a nice tax break.
Not to mention the free cake, videos of your family dancing and the appliances re-gifted to you at the wedding.
Honestly, I just don’t see much of a reason to settle down this early.
Shoot, I can barely understand getting married as a result of a broken condom and a difficult conversation. (“Are you sure you’re not just a LITTLE bit pregnant? Maybe that test was wrong. Eighth time is the charm, right?”)
It’s not that I’ve been given a bad example. My parents have been married going on 25 years and they were about my age when they did it.
Maybe I’m soured on the idea because of a bad gamble on a previous relationship or maybe I’m just pessimistic. Maybe I’m too lazy to teach someone else how to find things in my room.
I think it really comes down to the fact that I don’t know who I am yet. I don’t think anyone at this age really does. I don’t feel like I can commit to someone to such an extent and I’m not going to try.
The world is littered with tales of woe that start that way, all of which you can see on daytime talk shows.
I congratulate my friends who have found that someone and found themselves, and I wish them all the best.
Personally, I’m going to stick with just having a girlfriend. I’ll keep figuring out who I am and who I want to be when I grow up. The options so far are between Hank Moody from “Californication” and Batman. I’ll also try to keep up with this writing thing.
It’s a better idea than getting someone pregnant. I’m too old to get a reality show on MTV.
By DAVID MENDEZ
I’m writing this column on a typewriter.
No, my computer’s not broken. No, I don’t pretentiously believe that owning a typewriter makes me a better writer. No, I’m not trying to be the next Hunter S. Thompson — driving to Vegas on mescaline doesn’t appeal to me.
This is about the enjoyment of feeling something mechanical move under my hands. After using a computer for all of my life, going analog feels refreshing. I like experiencing something common in a way I never have before.
It’s kind of like a first kiss, after years of practicing with a pillow. Not that I’ve done that.
Using an old-fashioned mechanical typewriter lends an air of permanence. So many of the devices we use these days don’t have that.
My beloved iPod could turn itself into a beautiful steel-and-glass brick at any moment.
My computer, once cutting edge, is starting to reek of obsolescence (thanks, Windows Vista).
My cell phone is becoming less of a phone and more of a call-dropping object of stress and hatred. And I’m not even on AT&T!
All of these devices are less than five years old. Some are less than a year old. All are impressive pieces of technology that are quickly showing their age.
Technology seems to have a similar shelf life to pop singers of the last 10 years. Britney Spears is a train wreck of a mom, Christina Aguilera can’t remember the national anthem and Jessica Simpson goes through fiancés faster than double cheeseburgers.
The typewriter I’m using is more than 30 years old, and only needs a bit of maintenance. A new ink ribbon here, some oil there, compressed air to get rid of the dust and it’s golden.
Continuing with the popular music theme, a typewriter is closer to Bob Dylan: inspiring, reliable and, after years of good work, both went electric.
I’ll continue to have a typewriter, just as I’ll continue to use my computer to edit and file my stories. I’ll keep my iPod for music and my cell phone to randomly drop calls when my mom wants to talk to me about “my future.”
OK, some dropped calls are less annoying than others.
By DARCY ARIZMENDI
1. You receive an instant message that says “BTW wii R thru T.T jk (-:”.
2. Your partner fakes his or her own death.
3. You go to the ATM and no longer have a bank account.
4. Getting invited to watch the film “Blue Valentine.”
5. Since you never check your voice mail, you have no idea that it’s over.
6. Your significant other agrees to help you move out, but you never see him/her or the moving truck again.
7. Through a song, poem or video that’s poorly constructed. Example: “Even though my heart will be blue without you, I will still continue. Mainly because happy hour will always run between four and six.”
9. When he/she leaves you for an “artist.”
10. “The Crying Game,” a film based on your last date.
By DAVID MENDEZ
Up in Phoenix, our state legislature has yet again proposed that we arm students and teachers on our college campuses.
House Bill 2001, sponsored by State Rep. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, would allow university and community college faculty to carry weapons on campus, so long as they have a valid concealed weapons permit.
Harper also sponsored HB 2014, which would forbid community colleges and universities from creating rules that prohibit concealed weapons permit holders from possessing their weapons on campus.
These are just two of five gun-related bills sponsored by seemingly gun-obsessed Harper. By comparison, the rest of the legislature combined has only submitted four gun-related bills.
I get it, Jack. I’ve been to Surprise. There’s nothing to do but stock up on ammo, then drive the three minutes it takes to get outside the city limits and shoot at old couches.
Arizona already has the second-most lax gun laws in the United States, scoring two out of a possible 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence scorecard. Allowing concealed weapons on campuses would give us a perfect zero.
At the risk of sounding like a liberal hippie who hates guns and spends his time practicing hugging and self-affirmation, these proposals are stupid ideas and wastes of time.
I’m a strong supporter of gun ownership and gun rights. As soon as I’m able, I’d like to own a handgun and receive the training to carry it safely.
I understand that carrying a gun is supposed to make you feel safer. It’s almost like a stress ball. Only it’s the kind that can kill people when you squeeze it.
Yet I also recognize that creating laws that allow you to carry a weapon wherever you like isn’t going to prevent tragedies.
They didn’t protect the six who died outside of that Safeway on Jan. 8 from random violence, and I doubt that allowing faculty to carry guns on campus will prevent the kind of Virginia Tech-esque casualties that Harper fears.
Harper is sponsoring another bill (HB 2563) that deals with people banned from owning firearms because they were found to be mentally ill. The bill would allow those citizens to petition the court to regain the right to own a gun.
His ideas can’t help but make me think that the crazy definitely look after their own.
Include for online version only:
Rep. Jack Harper’s member page: http://www.azleg.gov/MembersPage.asp?Member_ID=77&Legislature=48
HB 2001 page (includes videos):
HB 2563 page:
Brady Campaign Arizona Scorecard:
By DAVID MENDEZ
In our society, everything makes a comeback eventually.
It happens with our fashion (fitted “vintage” T-shirts). It happens with our movies. (Name an ‘80s cartoon that hasn’t had a movie yet this decade, and I’ll tell you what you’ll be watching in theaters next July.)
It even happens with our celebrities. (Did you realize the Kardashians are famous only for being the offspring of OJ Simpson’s legal defense?)
Now it appears our fears are cyclical.
For a while, vampires and werewolves were the terror du jour. Then came socialists (“Be careful, son! Don’t let that nationalized health care get you, or your doctor visits will be taken care of by the taxes you’re paying! Curse you Obama!”)
Lately though, it looks as if zombies are shambling back onto the scene in nearly every medium you could imagine.
It’s in literature. (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”) It’s in video games. (Nearly every video game has zombie mini-games now – I’d be shocked if Ronnie James Dio didn’t make an appearance in the next Guitar Hero.)
Prominently, it’s in “The Walking Dead” TV series, which was spun off of a successful comic book.
So what’s with this zombie craze? What pulled us, as a nation, away from the temptation of pale bloodsuckers to a fascination with undead brain-eaters?
One could guess that it has something to do with our fascination with always making our lives longer, eventually to the detriment of quality of life.
Maybe it has something to do with a fear of science, considering that most of these new zombies are the result of experiments gone wrong.
Shoot, maybe it’s a commentary on the way we wander distracted through our world, always staring at our phones, listening to music, focusing on something far in the distance, moaning into space.
I don’t know, Pima. I’ve got no answers for this one.
All I know is that if the zombie apocalypse is near, I’m heading to the concrete fortress that is West Campus.
If I’m investing this much money in Pima to improve my mind, they’d better well be willing to protect it from evil brain munchers.
By MYLO ERICKSON
Being a nerd gives you a lot of time to think, and I mean a lot of time. As I was sitting in my computer chair staring at my wall of Minnesota Twins stuff and enjoying some Cheetos… mmm orange fingers, oh, and drinking Diet Mountain Dew, I managed to come up with the top 10 reasons it’s cool to be a nerd:
1. The nerd look is in.
2. When zombies attack, nerds will know what to do.
3. You get to live with your parents until you’re 40.
4. Dice are your weapon of choice.
5. You’re able to control monsters and magic, as long as you have the right cards.
6. You keep your virginity… that’s cool right?
7. You don’t look like an out-of-place creeper at a toy store.
8. People send you hot pictures of themselves over the Internet… What do you mean that’s not her? Of course she looks like that and lives at home. What do you mean that picture was in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Damn it, oh well.
9. Sports can be nerdy, too! (Fantasy sports.)
10. Body odor keeps unwanted people away. Unfortunately, it also keeps away wanted people.
By DAVID MENDEZ
There’s nothing worse than a screaming fanboy, Pima.
A few of you may be unfamiliar with that term, but I guarantee that you know at least one fanboy (or fangirl — I’m all about being inclusive here.)
For example, look at people who own both a MacBook and an iPhone 4.
The owners will crow about what well-made products they are and how perfectly they do everything desired. But after a few minutes you’ll figure out the truth: They have no blasted idea what they’re talking about.
They bought the products because they’re fancy and popular. In fact, these are probably the same kids who demanded Furbies and Tamagotchis in the mid-to-late ‘90s. (It just occurred to me that some of you may be too young to get those references. I feel ancient.)
That’s OK, though! There’s something quaintly pleasant about being blindingly ignorant. Most politicians have built their careers off of it. Look at John McCain and his waffling about gays in the military, or Raul Grijalva thinking that boycotting Arizona could possibly be a good idea.
The problem lies in not having any idea of what you’re talking about, but still blindly following in the footsteps of a product or company while screaming about how a competitor is completely inferior.
It’s like someone who votes for a Palin regardless of what the election is about (Bristol Palin and “Dancing with the Stars,” anyone?)
Still, as a video gamer, I’ve done my fair share of this in the past. Just look at my tirade against “DJ Hero” earlier this year, or the personal threats I’ve made to friends who talk badly about the Fallout series.
(Though, to be fair, my threats encouraged my roommate to try “Fallout 3.” It’s all about the little victories, right?)
When you look at it, fanboyism is simply product worship. Everyone does it, whether they admit to it or not, from Apple enthusiasts to Pepsi drinkers to NFL fans to the people who line up at midnight movie premiers about their favorite book series. (Twilight, Potter and comic book fans should all be nodding right now.)
We’re a culture of geeks, Pima. It’s time we all sat down and celebrated that for what it is. Let’s not make fun of each other for what we love, like a bunch of annoying, screaming fanboys.
Mendez wipes his feet with the line between “humor columnist” and “annoyingly preachy writer.” Tell him how wrong he is at email@example.com.