Saturday, August 29, 2009

From this month's Utne:
The General Social Survey, a periodic assessment of Americans’ moods and values, shows an 11-point decline from 1976 to 2008 in the number of Americans who believe other people can generally be trusted. Institutions haven’t fared any better. Over the same time period, trust has declined in the press (from 29 to 9 percent), education (38 to 29 percent), banks (41 percent to 20 percent), corporations (23 to 16 percent), and organized religion (33 to 20 percent). Gallup’s 2008 governance survey showed that trust in the government was as low as it was during the Watergate era.
So the media took the biggest bath in the wake of a political scandal (reported on by the media), whereas education comes out just slightly ahead of religion (in the wake of Catholic sex abuse scandals). I don't really know what this reveals about John Q. Citizen and his notions of what's trustworthy or not. I do know it's not reassuring about John Q. Citizen, though.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to Propose Marriage

Like most financially strapped, psychologically unstable, manic-depressive suburbanites, you're probably contemplating getting hitched. Which means you have to propose to her. (Or propose to him, since, as I've been told, women are now allowed to approach men as equals. Whatever that's about.) Regardless, you now have to ask the woman of your dreams to spend the rest of your life with her in wedded bliss and with a deficit-inducing middle income tax hike. This means you'll have to find the right words with which to deliver your proposal, words that will moisten her eyes, excite her passion and cripple her common sense.

Of course, since you're not me, your proposal is, without question, lame and stupid, with all the romance of a piece of fish left under a car seat overnight. No matter. Select a proposal from one of the following templates, and get ready to enjoy a matrimony which will, based on actuarial tables, weight and true sexual preference, will last 12.3 years before she leaves you for a tax accountant. Congratulations!

#1. Proposal Through Mime

Me: (elaborate pantomime of grace and beauty)

Her: (watching)I'm sorry, I don't're in a box? You're finding the door? You're choking in the box and you can't get out? A front of me? I don't get it.

Me: That's because you're stupid. Anyway, let's get married.

#2. The Magic of Puppet Theater

Dexter, the Hand-Lover: Hey Kim! It's a real good idea if you marry Gregg!

Her: That's not a puppet. It's just a sock with a mouth painted on it in White-Out.

Me: Yeah, but since I think I've got you cold anyway, I didn't really feel a need to put a lot of effort into this.

#3. The Sublimity of Haiku

Me: The woman of my dreams/ Is off to France as we speak/ How bout you instead?

Her: I'm hungry. What are you making for dinner?

Me: A wedding imminent,/ Or one that is eminent?/ Whatever. Wed me.

Her: Are you getting these off those fortune cookies there?

Me: Hackneyed poetry/ Stirs the intellectual/ But not a dumbass.

#4. Lexical and Syntactic Diagramming of Proposals 101

Me: If 'you' is the object of the verb phrase 'wants to marry you,' then what is the noun phrase that functions as a subject?

Her: I have an English degree, you jackass.

Me: What's the subject?

Her: ...Thunder Rod.

Me: And which word is the adjective?

Her: Conjugate this. (obscene gesture)

Me: ...That will be all for today.

#5. Use a Word Problem

Me: Gregg is traveling from Chicago to the Star Trek Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas in a car going 65 mph over a distance of 1,752 miles while Kim is hitchhking from Phoenix, at a distance of 296 miles. Gregg's car is low on oil and in general shoddy condition, which hampers his rate of progress by 15 percent incrementally. Meanwhile, Kim is wearing her 'Love me for my mind' outfit, and so will manage to catch a ride averaging 15 miles from every third passer-by. If Gregg leaves his destination at 10:27 a.m. Wednesday after downing two pints of vodka, and Kim leaves hers at 7 a.m. the preceding day wearing high heels, what time and date will their wedding take place?

Her: That depends. Will there be pie?

Me: I guess...

Her: Right after the pie is gone, then.