A couple answers to questions from e-mail! (Anonymity requested.)
Do you know car makes and models? Do you feel strongly about what vehicle you have (or would like to have), or are you more indifferent?
I’m not terribly knowledgeable about cars, no. I do like the looks of Subaru Outbacks, and some of the various SUV-type vehicles out on the road these days, and that will likely be the direction I go if and when I’m in the market for a car again (the added size will be nice for transporting a string bass around). Other than that, I’d like a decent stereo to which I can connect my phone or other music players, and one day I would love to own a car with working A/C. And mileage will have to be at least 30 mpg. That’s about it, though — as for the rest (aesthetics, color, styling of the interior), I’ll have to look around and see what catches my eye.
My current car is a 2003 Buick Century that I acquired from my unbelievably generous parents. I like it a lot, and my current plan is to drive it until it dies and/or falls apart. A car payment is a pretty large regular expense that I want to avoid having for as long as possible. (This is, of course, a changeable attitude based on when the royalty checks and movie offers for Princesses In SPACE!!! start pouring in. Heh!)
What pets would you ideally like to have? 42 cats? Cats and dogs? Exotic pets? Fish tank? Lizards? Hamster?
I’m fine with just cats, but I have a feeling that a dog is inevitable at some point or other. I’m not a dog person, but I don’t rule it out. The Wife and The Daughter want a dog, though. It’s gotta be a nice-sized dog, though. Not some annoying yippy thing that can fit in a purse. You know what dog I’d like, though? Verdell from As Good As It Gets. That was a cool dog.
I have a friend on Facebook (and Flickr and Instagram) who has a love-hate thing going on with her insane chihuahua. I want no part of that breed, as much as I love watching her dog’s bizarre psychoses from afar!
Exotic pets? Nah, no interest, although a fish tank would be nifty. We had a hermit crab for a while and I wouldn’t mind going that route again, as those are really low-maintenance. I don’t know if I’d want any kind of rodent, and I have zero interest in reptiles of any sort. I like to look at ’em, but owning one and being responsible for it? Nah.
From a different questioner: You seem less enthusiastic about sports every year. With the Pirates on the verge of winning and your Bills at least with new coaches and a rookie QB, do you find yourself getting into it again?
Meh. Next question comes from…oh, OK, I’ll revise and extend.
First, the Pirates: well, it’s nice that they’re winning. But it’s not like I’m watching games; my following of their fortunes consists of checking scores and standings. I can’t even name all the guys on their roster, and my sum total time spent each day checking baseball stuff is less than I spend reading the daily comics, and I read only four comic strips on a daily basis. (Five, on the three days a week that xkcd runs.)
As for the Bills…well, I’ve been thinking a lot about sports fandom in general over the last couple of years. It seems to me that any conversation on the degree to which we, as a culture, are wasting our time (here’s an example of just such a conversation) that doesn’t take sports into account as probably our single greatest societal time-waster, is likely missing a very big part of the point. In Buffalo, you cannot escape talk about the Bills and, perhaps even more, the NHL Sabres. I’d bet the a great percentage of the Buffalo area can name more members of either team’s roster than, say, the members of the Erie County legislature.
But anyway, as for my own personal feelings on sports fandom, I look at the Bills and their recent fortunes and I generally shrug. Now that NFL teams are winding down training camps, and getting ready for the regular season which starts next weekend, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a guy at work toward the end of last season (or maybe the season before):
HE: Watch the Bills the other day?
ME: Nah. They’re terrible.
HE: Yeah, but I still gotta watch ’em, you know?
ME: Why? I mean, really – they stink. Watching them is no fun at all.
HE: No, it sure isn’t!
ME: Yeah! So I figure, if it’s no fun to watch them, why bother at all?
HE: So you don’t watch them at all?
ME: Nope. Watched a movie instead. Call me when they start winning.
HE: Oh…so you’re a fair-weather fan.
And he said that last a little derisively. I had to admit that yes, I have become a fair-weather fan. I’m not interested in watching every game of a 6-10 season. I’m not interested in watching a team that’s been bad for years add another bad year to its already double-digit list of losing years. So yeah, I’m a fair-weather fan. I’ll like ’em when they win.
My question now is, what’s wrong with that?
And the answer is: Nothing, as far as I can see.
The idea of a ‘fair-weather fan’ is obviously derived from a ‘fair-weather friend’. That’s a friend who is only a real friend when it’s easy to be one. A fair-weather friend is with you when you have weddings or births or new jobs to celebrate, but they disappear when you have deaths in the family or you divorce or get fired or whatever. There’s an old saying that “When times get bad, you find out who your real friends are.” I suppose sports teams can say the same thing: “When times get bad – when we start losing a lot – we find out who out real fans are.”
But here’s the thing: fandom isn’t friendship. Never has been, never will be. There is true virtue in friendship, and there is special virtue in the kind of friendship that endures trials and stalwartly marks the bad times as well as the good. That’s just not the case with fandom, because with fandom, the personal emotional investment only goes in one direction. There is no virtue in being a fan, of anything, and by extension, there is no moral expectation in what one does in being a fan.
Another conversation I remember:
HE: I have tickets to the Sabres game tonight. Thank god it’s the end of the season and I don’t have to go to any more of their crappy games. I hate watching this team.
ME: Why go at all?
HE: [looks at me like I’ve just insisted that Earth is round and that Milton Berle was once President of the United States] They’re my team. When you’re a fan, you go support your team.
The logic here, as best I can follow, is that if and when one’s bad team actually gets good and wins a championship, it’s going to feel so much sweeter for fans if they grudgingly stuck it out through the crappy years. It’s an odd kind of puritanical thought that pleasure must be purchased through voluntary pain. It’s of the same kind of mindset that I used to see when I worked in the restaurant business and people I knew to be regulars would come in and say things like, “Every time I come in here it’s a little worse.” I’m thinking, “Why come back?”
Why do we continue to force things upon ourselves that we have a strong reason to believe will be really unpleasant, in the name of “being a good fan”? Who the hell wants to be on their deathbed and say, “Well, my team still sucks, but I watched them suck each and every week?”
Yes, I’ve put in my time watching by football team stink for 13 years (a number which is likely to grow). I watched this team lose a game, at home, 6-3 whilst allowing the opposing quarterback to complete two passes. I’ve sat through well more than my fair share of crappy football games, and have finally come to this conclusion: if, four or five years from now, the Buffalo Bills actually win the Super Bowl, I will not feel the slightest bit of regret for having stopped watching them entirely for large segments of their Era of Suck. There will no Fan Cops on the streets that night, making sure that the revelers dancing beneath the streetlights are only those ones who have put in the correct amount of suffering through bad games. And when I die, there will be no Sports Fan Valhalla into whose golden halls I will be denied entry because I failed to watch each and every game when the Bills went 4-12 one year or because I didn’t tune in to every single Sabres game down the stretch in a year where they missed the playoffs and finished thirteenth in the conference.
At this point in my life, I’m pretty much done with the figurative wearing of hair shirts.
One last one: Do you always use a real pie? Why not whipped cream in a can, or Cool-whip?
Because I’m all about authenticity, man. Go big or go home. A thing worth doing is a thing worth doing right. And it doesn’t happen to me all that often, so when it does, it needs to be an event. Or something. The presence of a crust ensures most of the pie comes out of the pan, which means more stuff is on the face, which makes it look funnier, and it’s all about looking ridiculous. I mean, really — it sure ain’t about dignity, and as Star Trek‘s Ferengi have taught us, “Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.” Might as well go for pie-faced absurdity.
More to come!