Friday, October 07, 2005


Pomona, California, you're on the air . . .

I'm still trudging through "Larry King" mode from yesterday. I apologize, and I assure you that I have not taken to wearing suspenders. As we roll into the weekend, I'm plagued by thoughts that aren't big enough for a good-sized blog. So I'm stuck with quick hits.

So away we go . . .

1) Well, first of all, there are still wildfires raging through Southern California, but they're not making the local or national news anymore. That's because they've moved from the Valley of Porn (aka, San Fernando Valley) to one of my least fave places on earth . . . the impressively named Inland Empire. That's right. As I type this, fires are cutting a swath through mountainous scrub brush and semi-desert rural country about 60 miles east of LA.

Now I'm not a religious guy. Sure, I got good grades in theology back at Archbishop Alter High, but that doesn't really qualify me. But I think these Inland Empire fires might well be signs that God exists.

Because if there is a God, and he's had to drive through the Inland Empire on the way to the desert, he knows it's among the most boring stretches of desolate hell that ever existed. Stopping in towns like Redlands, Pomona, and Montclair only drives the point home. You don't want to be there after the sun goes down and the sea of lowbed trucks take to the road.

OK, so I know that God doesn't have to drive from LA to the desert. He's God. He can do whatever. But I figure He'd like to drive from time to time. Why not? Why shouldn't He be in a retrofitted '66 Mustang GT convertible with no mileage or rust that somehow has a hybrid engine and thus doesn't screw up the environment? Seriously, if you're a deity, why not?

OK, so maybe you're a non-believer in "Roadtrip God". But if wildfires start to destroy the desolate brown crap fields of Indiana near I-65 (from Gary to, say, Lebanon), I'll be convinced. That's the only worse stretch I've ever seen.

2) Anyone remember those questionnaires that used to get sent around via e-mail back in the late 90s? You know the ones. You'd open up an e-mail from a friend, only to find that said friend had sent you a chain letter telling you information about him or her, and encouraging you do answer all the same questions.

Still don't remember? Reggie Newton's got one such questionnaire on his site. It's asks you about stuff like your living arrangement, what you think of ouija boards, whether you eat broccoli stems, and so on.

The only kind of e-mail I got more frequently in the mid to late 90s were top 10 lists of reasons men and women were different. These were usually written by women who, near as I can tell, had just endured a particularly ugly breakup.

Anyway, I caught up with an old pal from college last night and went out for a few drinks. Fun times. We hadn't seen each other since graduation 11 years ago - not so much by choice as by circumstance. We've both had busy lives, lived in different places, and managed to keep up more or less via friends in common. Whatever.

Eleven years is a lot of ground to cover over a couple of beers. A third of our lives, for Cry-eye! And this is the kind of interaction where the questionnaire might have come in handy.

Don't get me wrong. We were decent conversationalists. We slogged through without notes. We knew enough to get the ball rolling.

But tell me that you haven't been in one of those situations where this isn't the case. Maybe you're at a high school or college reunion, and you run into one of those people whose last name you never knew. Or maybe you're in an airport, a Trader Joe's, or a ball game, and you see someone that you don't want to avoid but about whom you haven't thought in a million years.

This is where the questionnaire comes in. "Chris, how have you been?" they'll say. You hand over the questionnaire and give them a few minutes to read it over. If they've come prepared, maybe they have one of their own. You read, and then form questions.

Sure, it'll be awkward at first. Give it a chance, though. Because once you start using the questionnaire, you'll get questions like this:

"Chris, I notice that you don't care for ouija boards, but do eat the stems of broccoli. Do you feel like karma might bite you in the ass for that?"


"Chris, I notice that you're fed up with LOST and think someone ought to beat Locke within an inch of his life for saying quasi-zen bullcrap all the time. Do you like Terry Quinn's other work, like the Stepfather movies, or that episode of Miami Vice?"

You get the picture.

Think it over. Otherwise, those questionnaires are just taking up cyberspace.

3) As I've typed this, I've been listening to one of my favorite radio stations from Chicago - WXRT. They've been hosting a live concert from a Potbelly sandwich place in the Loop, which seems sort of ridiculous to me. Then again, I never really liked Potbelly. It's just a sandwich place, folks.

Anyway, I've really only been listening to hear legendary end of the week catchphrase. But I think with the time zone change, it's probably too late in the day. So I'll step in for Lin here and wish you all a great weekend.

And remember, like the man says: "It's Friday, and it's great to be alive."

See you Monday.

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