Friday, May 28, 2010

Don't ask, don't tell, but do yell at your television sets

Scientists have provided no conclusion to the controversial and often contentious debate between nature and nurture. Therefore, it is impossible to determine whether it was during the nine months in my mother's womb, or the many years afterward in my parents' house, that I developed one of my most defining characteristics: My tendency to talk to inanimate objects.

Yes, I am one of Those People. The evidence clearly points to genetics, as I appear to have inherited this trait from my mother. My earliest childhood memories consist of my mother talking to other cars on the road, instructing them to move in certain directions or chiding them for being parked incorrectly. It took many years to realize that my mother was not actually addressing these objects; she was using irony to point out idiocy, stupidity, and foolishness. "So nice of you to take up two spots," was not a compliment for the Porsche straddling the line in the crowded lot behind Waitrose. It was my mother's way of expressing anger at someone who wasn't present. And it was healthier than taking that switchblade out of her purse and slashing the tires.

Today, I find myself talking most often to the television set. And I talk to television set most often when an ad for the military comes on. And, these days, the talk has turned from grumbling to full-on yelling.

In the past, military ads said pretty much the same thing: be all you can be and slay a dragon and make everyone proud and did we forget to mention the giant computer-generated dragon? These ads were irritating, because they did not mention that the military explicitly did not want certain people to be all they can be: gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. Under the ill-conceived Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) policy, gay men and lesbians could serve in the military as long as they kept their mouths shut. "You need an asterisk," I'd shout at the teevee. "Tell people you're not an equal opportunity employer! Admit you kick service members out if they use the wrong pronoun to describe a date!"

In recent years, my shouting has become more brazen. I started yelling these things in movie theaters when military ads run. (Although I am just as likely to loudly question the National Guard ad that says the National Guard is older than the nation itself, and features a rock star and race car driver that have never served in the military.) I particularly like to shout "The few, the proud, the discriminatory," when the ridiculously cartoony Marines ad runs. Of course, I am something of a coward and will not open my mouth in the theater unless I am absolutely certain no one will know it's me doing the shouting.

Recently, military ads have changed. Instead of focusing on individual glory, they seem to promote skills training and career opportunities. In fact, one series of ads positions a branch of the military as an exclusive executive training school, showing recruits both in class and performing battlefield exercises. Another series of ads features former service members testifying about the experience and training they received in the military, which they wouldn't have received anywhere else.

This new breed of military ads inflames me more than the older ads. I yell at the teevee with unbridled rage. "My taxpayer dollars are funding that on-the-job training! Say that those career opportunities are limited if you are gay or lesbian!"

I will shout until I am red in the face, or until a less irritating ad begins. "Run an ad showing the thousands of people whose careers were cut short by DADT! Show us who is not getting those valuable job skills now because of they were hounded by a terrible policy and told the truth!"

I often use saltier language than this, by the way. My mother would wash my mouth out with soap if she heard me. She once washed my mouth out with liquid dishwashing soap because we were out of bar soap. So I do not want to admit the kinds of horrible filthy fucking things I yell at the teevee.

It appears that a repeal of DADT is in the cards, but success is far from certain. Congress took important steps toward repeal yesterday, but there are still plenty of representatives and senators would like to see the current policy stand — or even replaced with something more draconian.

Change is coming. It is inevitable. I hope it comes sooner than later, for the sake of our service members and all those who look to the military for the invaluable training, skills, and career opportunities to improve and define their lives.

And I hope change comes soon for my sake. While I shall never stop talking to the teevee, I'd rather root for military ads than against them. There are plenty of other things on teevee — and objects in the world — that need my critical attention right now. That is, after all, how I was raised. And it's in my nature. Right, mom?

Posted via email from The Daily Dave 3.0

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Four Questions: produced on Earth, home planet of the pizza bagel

Q. What is Dave wearing?

A. Dave is wearing his usual work uniform: Khaki pants, a polo shirt, and a sequined eyepatch.

Q. What kind of mood is Dave in?

A. Dave feels balanced today. He recognizes that feeling balanced is not necessarily imply safety, though. Being balanced could mean that one is flat on level terrain, or perched high atop a perilous peak needing only the slightest movement to fall. Despite this glass-half-full perspective, Dave appreciates being in a position of balance, in which life is neither too boring nor chaotic.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood?

A. The factors currently affecting Dave's mood can only be represented by a mathematical formula that includes the following variables:


  • Number of pitches I saw Wade Davis throw at Sunday's amazing Rays game
  • Number of slices of deep dish pizza I ate last night whilst catching up with our good friends Steve and Karen over dinner
  • Ratio of active projects to completed projects on my plate at work
  • Ability to think of quantifiable mood-measuring variables 

Q. What does Dave think of that big oil spill in the Gulf?

A. Dave loves the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Fox News explained to Dave that oil spills are good for the environment, and that birds and fish love nothing more than a thick, lustrous coat of crude. Apparently, oil spills are like spa days for wildlife.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

An ode to Chewbacca (to the tune of "I Had a Little Dreidel")

I had a little Wookiee —
I made him out of fur.
I don't think he and Han
Know Vader is Luke's father.

Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to the power of the Four Questions

Q. What is Dave wearing?

A. Dave is wearing this: / Long-sleeve blue tee-shirt and slacks / Black belt, shoes, and socks.

Q. What kind of mood is Dave in?

A. Dave senses beauty / All around him; in tiny things. / Like light, love, or germs.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood?

A. Dave's gentle spirit, / A tender lotus blossom / Opens at spring's touch.

Q. Why the hell is Dave writing haiku?

A. Like the white winged dove. / Singsong, sounds like she's singing. / Ooh, ooh, love haiku.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Four Questions go bragh

Q. What is Dave wearing?

A. Dave is wearing olive green pants, a green shirt, a blue sweatshirt, and a green jacket. He's not actually wearing the jacket right now, but it maches the green theme, so he thought he'd mention it.

Q. What kind of mood is Dave in?

A. Dave is in a St. Patrick-ey mood.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood?

A. Dave feels it's not easy being green.

Q. Does Dave have an interesting anecdote to tell about the "It's Not Easy Being Green" song?

A. When Dave was just a young lad growing up in the outskirts of London, "It's Not Easy Being Green" was identified not with a Muppet frog, but with Keith Harris and his neon green pal, Orville the Duck. Orville was about four feet tall and looked somewhat like a potato covered in green fur. He has a little orange beak and oversized, cartoonish eyes. He is a beloved childhood character in the UK. It is against the law to say Orville causes nightmares.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Four Questions hangs its hat in Tennessee

Q. What is Dave wearing?

A. Dave is wearing a burgundy polo shirt and a pair of khakis. The polo-shirt-and-khakis combination have become something of his work uniform.

Q. What kind of mood is Dave in?

A. Dave is worried about getting pregnant.

Q. What are the factors affecting Dave’s mood?

A. Dave is surrounded by pregnant people and, according to the new educational standards in Texas, pregnancy is contagious. Like a common cold. Also, Jesus lived at the same time as the dinosaurs -- 2000 years ago. The dinosaurs should actually be called Jesus lizards. Thomas Jefferson isn't a signficant historical figure, even though he's on our money. Jefferson Davis makes the cut for the textbooks, though, even though he was featured on Confederate States of America money.

Q. So, does Dave want to be a teacher in Texas?

A. Yes. Dave is planning his syllabus now. It's called "On the Eighth Day, G-d created Reagan." It sums up the entire Texas educational standards in one course. The course lasts 20 seconds.