Cliff Gardner

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This is going to take some time

Today, President Bush announced that the conflict in Iraq will take time and patience. OK, fair enough. While GW watches the fledgling Iraqi government develop, I watch the Portland Trailblazers with similar emotions. There are moments of excitement and brilliance, where they get back on defense, Zach Randolph goes 12-15 from the field and a week goes by without any car bombs. Conversely, there are times when I wonder if it's worth it to stick this one out, where another suicide bomber kills a dozen civilians, Al Qaeda pledges to follow our troops wherever they go, and Ruben Patterson gets sent home for swearing at Nate McMillan. In any case, whenever someone asks me when I think we'll be leaving Iraq, my answer is simple: probably around the next time the Blazers make the playoffs; if all goes well and the stars align, it could be within a year. In all likelihood, though, it'll be a while.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Look, this doesn't make me a bad person!

I have certain dislikes, and I don't think there's anything wrong with having preferences. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this before, but it's worth another go around. Things I don't like:

--Pride and Prejudice, the book or the movie. Maybe it was the fact that my terrible eleventh grade English teacher was so pro-Austin and so anti-Steinbeck that forced my hand on this one, but even now, the thought of Mr. Darcey just makes me puke.

--Any Sugar Ray song. To me, they are the pop equivalent of Ashlee Simpson.

--The New York Mets, and their fans. I have yet to meet one of these folks who wasn't cocky and obnoxious for no good reason. If you're a Mets fan, I'm not saying your an asshole, I'm just saying you're in bad company.

--Shows that aren't on. Seriously, why take weeks off at a time in the middle of a season? I WANT MY WEST WING!

Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm no drug policy expert but...No, wait, I AM!

***EDIT-- Dre makes a good point, I should clarify. When I said that laws banning the sale of needles should be repealed, I meant that they should be amended to allow for exemptions for needle exchange programs. Since many of these laws don't have such provisions, although they have good intentions, they really do more harm than good.***

One of my favorite lines from "The West Wing" is when President Bartlett is arguing about the economy and says "well I'm no economist but...No, wait, I AM AN ECONOMIST!" I like it when smart people with good intentions are a little cocky in their areas of expertise. With that in mind, there aren't a whole lot of things that I feel I can speak with authority on, but American Drug Policy is one of them, so I say this: needle exchange programs are one of the best ways to combat the spread of lethal diseases and ultimately reduce drug use. I won't go into detail here because I assume since you're reading CG that you're smarter than the average blogger, except to say that laws prohibiting the sale of needles are killing tens of thousands of Americans every year and should be repealed.

Amelia Earhart: American Hero?!

Everyone knows that Amelia Earhart died while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, but what if she didn't? What if instead of disappearing forever, she resurfaced in Malibu in the 1990's having not aged at all in some sort of "Flight of the Navigator" process? Would our opinions of her change if she snubbed offers from Boeing and several lucrative book deals and decided instead to join the porn industry under the alias "Inspector Gagdet?" I wonder if the Smithsonian would remove all traces of her historical memorabilia if she broke onto the set of "Ally McBeal" at gunpoint during a live episode and drunkenly shouted into the camera that she was the one who carved the Rosetta Stone and that archaeologists everywhere should kiss her ass before shooting Calista Flockhart and puking.

These are the thoughts I have when I can't sleep.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ariel Sharon to Israeli Hawks: Likud My Balls

As we all know by now, Ariel Sharon recently quit his Likud party and started a more centrist, dove party. If elections were today, it would dominate, meaning that the Israeli people, or at least a majority of them, want this epic conflict to be over. Just in time for "Munich," too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Music...makes the people...come together!

-----UPDATE: When I wrote the title for the post, I guess I was a little off. Music doesn't always bring people together. Happy Turkey Day! Gobble Gobble!-----

Lots of my friends are either visiting their significant others now or are on their way, in many cases traveling great distances to do so. Taking a long flight to visit someone is obviously a great indicator of love, and few things exemplify that love more than a couple’s song. Mandy and I have “When You Come Back Down,” by Nickel Creek, although I sometimes sing Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” to her (largely thanks to "High Fidelity").

This got me thinking…what’s your song? What other songs have you had when in relationships? Just remember that no matter how sappy your song is, you’re not at the bottom of the totem pole because I guarantee you that somewhere, there’s a couple who danced to the original "Hamster Dance" theme song at their wedding.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chef Boy R' D-Minus

Today I was taking a Totino’s Pizza out of the oven and badly burnt my left thumb. Well ok, it’s not that bad, but it’s still an owwie! Oddly enough, instead of the string of profanity one might expect from a Willamette grad, when it happened, I simply sighed and said “good grief.” Anyway, I’ve taken this as even more evidence that I should cook as little as possible. With that in mind, I’m going shopping in a few minutes. Here’s my list:

--Egg Nog, three pints (hey, daddy needs his courage, right Zayne?!)
--Microwave Ravioli, various types (hmmm…ravioli)
--Chicken (I want to rub my meals against a wall and see the other side)
--Totino’s Pizza (once bitten, twice shy)
--Easy Mac, Extreme Cheese (That’s why they call me T-Mac)

Things I won’t be getting:

--Any form of soda (I’ve discovered that I’m almost as addicted to caffeine-free Pepsi as I was to the original. From tomorrow on, it’s only water!)
--Any form of potato (Gross)
--Ice Cream (my ass has been elected to the local school board on a platform of being huge, and my thighs are running for Metro. Watch out, McLain!)

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Real OC

There was a fire in a garbage can towards the center of the penthouse. A half dozen puggles were lapping up ice cream that was melting out of giant tubs next to the Italian silk curtains. Broken beer bottles, crushed fritos and more than a few wonderbras littered the floor between unconscious strippers. As the smell of pepperoni sticks and Tag Body Spray seeped into the walls, Jason cleaned the dried vomit off of his poorly-grown beard, sat up the leopard-print bicycle he had crashed into the grand piano and said aloud, "this is the best birthday ever."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Things I Will Tell My Eventual Therapist: Volume Two

First, even though my little sister is a junior at Oregon State, the fact that the Ducks kicked the living crap out of the Beavers yesterday still makes me smile.

Second, I’m a facebook whore. Want to be my friend? I’ll confirm you! 454 and counting!

Third, Mandy and I have a super-tastic relationship! Just thought you all should know…and be jealous, fookers.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Would You Rather?!

When I was a freshman at Willamette, I had what turned out to be a pretty bad job at the campus bookstore. People were always cranky, I never got a handle on the register and my boss was a hyperactive dick. The one good thing that came from it was the occasional hours I would spend in the nearly abandoned convenient store (the first five minutes of “Clerks” summarizes it well) where I would get to read a little book called Would You Rather…? It asked a series of bizarre questions that were right up my comedic alley. So, to get to know the CG readers better, I offer my own series of would-you-rather-type questions that you can respond in the comments:

Would you rather be a five year old trapped at the Neverland Ranch


Be a feeble 90 year old trapped in a crooked nursing home?

Things to consider: memory loss, Jesus Juice.

Would you rather have no arms


Have one arm ten feet long?

Things to consider: elevator doors, clapping, volleyball.

Would you rather never have sex again


Have sex every day of your life with Robert Bork?

Things to consider: robes, gavels, Griswold v. Connecticut.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Confessions of a Short Order Cook

Mark thought that his continued failure to cook eggs over easy mirrored his other failures in life. Moreover, his ongoing “let’s just make scrabbled eggs and cover them with cheese and ketchup instead” motto ran parallel to his willingness to settle for things when he failed at his first choice. As a little bit of shell popped on the grill and his boss shouted at him in broken English to “egg cook faster,” Mark wondered what might have been.

Years before, when Mark was skipping his AP English class to work on his time machine, things were different. “I’m going to be somebody,” he told himself. “All you need is an idea…like that guy who invented Pogs! He made a billion dollars, or something, off of cardboard. Why not me?” Weeks later, when the macaroni snapped and the glue melted, his time machine exploding on the launch pad, Mark knew his window for fame and fortune had closed forever.

When Mark was dishonorably discharged from the Army two month later for constantly shouting “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME” to his boot camp instructor, he moved back to Selma, Alabama, and began his new career as a short order cook. Sweating the constant heat of the grill and coughing due to persistent bronchitis, he tried to keep a positive outlook on things. “At least I can make pancakes with the best of them,” Mark quipped at his glaring manager. “And I’m going to flip this fucking egg over without breaking the yolk if it takes me the rest of my adult life!” With new found determination, Mark realized that it’s only settling if you’re genuinely unhappy with where you are in life, and he wasn’t. For some reason, in spite of everything, Mark was happy. Over the grease and smoke of his grill, he managed to smile.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Things I Will Tell My Eventual Therapist: Volume One

If I were a character on "Sex and the City," I would be Charlotte.

Thomas McCloskey: The People's Blogger

So, here's the deal: I'm poor. Not like Oliver Twist poor, but pretty close to it. My best friend has become the 1:59 cell phone conversation, my worst enemy the 2:01 cell phone conversation, because I know those fuckers are billing me for the whole extra minute. Since my food stamp money has run out, and because I'm living at home, I don't qualify for them anymore, meaning that I have to buy my own Egg Nog (what do they put in the stuff, COCAINE? Because that would explain a lot). While my pay checks from Pacific are nice, between paying back my GDP-of Canada-sized-student-loans (the payments start this month), applying to law schools and fixing my car, I'm about as financially self-sufficient as an ugly stripper. The rest of my family isn't any better off since my sister still has two more years left in college. Christmas was officially cancelled last weekend. Seriously.

Enter: making money off of your blog. Blogspot has this adsense thing that would allow me to put adds on my blog and make money from them. It probably wouldn't be a lot of money, but hey, when your financial future is as bleek as Kevin Federline's rap album sales, every little bit helps. Lots of high profile bloggers do it, and for some, it is their only income. I'm not judging these folks; for them, it really makes sense. However, after careful consideration, I've decided to forgo giving Cliff Gardner corporate sponsorship for now. For me, blogging is the one part of my life that I want to shield from the stresses of my finances. The funny part is, I never thought of blogging as an art form until I knew I could turn down making money off of it in the name of preserving my artistic integrity.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Mom: Musical Historian

Mom: Oh, Paul Simon is singing on the Country Music Awards! I love him!

Me: Who's Paul Simon?

Mom: What do you mean? Simon, you know, as in Simon and Garfunkel?!

Me: Who are they?

Mom: Get out of my house.

Me: Haha, I was just kidding. They sang that "Yellow Submarine" song, right?

Mom: Fuck you, get out of my house.

Stop honking at me; I’m really not an asshole!

Yucca isn’t doing that well. Whenever she is on but not moving, she overheats within five minutes. While this isn’t a problem when I’m in Forest Grove where the closest thing to traffic is a hay truck, it is a problem on the highways from here to Salem. So, traffic literally kills my car.

A good example is yesterday, when I was coming back from visiting Mandy. There were several patches of heavy traffic which forced me to change lanes repeatedly just to keep Yucca moving and prevent the engine from exploding. I drove on the shoulder for a mile. I drove in turn lanes and cut back into the highway at the last possible minute. I even drove on the gravel part in between lanes where construction workers had been only an hour before. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine drove like a maniac to get her boyfriend to the airport? Yea, that was me yesterday.

There are basically two things that bother me about this whole ordeal. First, I don’t like the fact that I have no control over what the auto mechanic tells me, or any real way to verify it that doesn't cost me more money. He could tell me that my car is overheating because Tonya Harding is wedged under the fan belt, or that I have 200 pounds of grain in the engine, and I would just grimace and write him a check. Second, I’ve already paid $70 to fix this problem a month ago and it’s still an issue. That would have paid for a lot of egg nog.

So, the next time you see someone driving erratically, don’t assume that they’re drunk or stupid, or even that they’re a jerk. Please don’t honk at them or give them the finger. They could just be trying to keep their car alive.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Go Boxers!

We had a tournament at Linfield College last weekend. The highlights include:

--The team track jackets arriving and us wearing them to awards. The back reads "T-Mac Fan Club." I feel so loved!

--Josh busting out of his slump by taking second in three events and tying Jess, who also kicked ass, for second overall in penathalon sweepstakes.

--Jared/Tyler clearing in open division and Mark/Michelle clearing in junior division, our first two debate breaks of the year.

--Jared/Jess winning "character debate" finals in front of the entire tournament before awards. Jared played Eric Cartman (he shouted that Kyle's mom was a bitch) and Jess played Willie Wonka (she licked the everlasting gobstopper podium).

--The team clearing 17/28 individual event slots and 2/3 debate slots (3/4 if you count character debate), easily winning our division and taking second overall at the tournament.

I'm soooo proud of our team!

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I was thinking the other day that the life of an asterisk must suck, so I wrote a short story from the perspective of the red headed step child of punctuation, in the form of diary entries.

May 9th

I feel like I have no identity anymore. All I am is filler for actual things…stuff people are ashamed of or want to keep secret. I’m your password. I’m censored profanity. I’m everything and nothing.

June 1st

Today I realized that people on the internet are using me to represent an asshole in instant messenger conversations. Well I feel special.

June 3rd

Today a professor used me to signify a star on a freshman philosophy paper because she didn’t want to type out “good thesis.” There’s nothing more demeaning that being used to compliment shallow analysis of Nietzsche.

July 16th

Explanation points don’t know how good they have it. They have meaning and demand attention. People listen to sentences with exclamation points. Hell, even periods command respect because they represent finality. I am just an indicator of something else. People feel nothing when they see me. If punctuation were the Seattle Real World cast, I would be Lindsay, the nice one that everyone forgets is there.

August 9th

I was in Blockbuster today and I noticed that I am used to indicate what awards movies won on the back of video boxes. Honestly, I was most cheapened by the “My Cousin Vinny” box, which happily informed readers, through me, that Marissa Tomei won an Oscar for her role. I’ve hit rock bottom. I really need some f***ing therapy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

That Would Rock: Volume Six

I don’t claim to be a fashion expert. Frankly, until Mandy cleaned me up and slapped some Old Navy clothes on my back, I was a clothing train wreck. For example, I wore the same Syracuse University sweatshirt and sweatpants every day of the eighth grade, had really long hair in high school and thought wearing socks with sandals was perfectly acceptable. However, in recent years, I’ve seen the light (largely by being Mandy’s only slightly oversized Ken Doll), and have developed what I think is a conservative, but solid, fashion sense.

To that end, let me give the blogging community a bit of fashion advice/a desperate plea: please stop wearing “Ugg Boots.” There’s a reason they’re called “Ugg” boots: they’re UGG-ly. Wearing them over pants, or with a short skirt, or just them and nothing else, simply doesn’t work. They are on the same fashion level as moon boots. It’s not just me saying that, either, it was on “What Not to Wear,” so it’s practically fashion gospel. Everyone should stop wearing them. Now.

I’m just saying, THAT WOULD ROCK!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

My Obituary

My friend Christine challenged her readers to write their own obituary. So, here’s mine. Enjoy!?

Thomas McCloskey

Age: 106

Words: 392

Thomas McCloskey, philanthropist and self-described “aqua-naut,” died Wednesday at the age of 106. The immediate cause of death was unknown. However, his mauled body was found in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge submerged in the feces of a two-ton Alaskan Grisly Bear called “patches” by local Inuit villagers, so authorities hypothesized that an assortment of massive internal injuries lead to the death of this great American. An autopsy has yet to be scheduled because the cadaver is smelly and gross.

He is survived by his 7 children, 22 grandchildren, 12 great grand children, and his trusty Labrador Retriever, Horatio, none of whom were there to save his ass when the shit really hit the fan. Thomas’s wife of 82 years, Amanda Guile, passed away last year after a tragic outlet shopping accent left her buried under 66 boxes of wire hangers and thongs. At the time, the bereaved widower was quoted as saying, “that’s how she would have wanted to go, I guess.”

Thomas’s education at Willamette University and the Seattle University College of Law is recognized by modern historians and the best and worst years each institution ever had. While graduating with a degree in Politics in 2005, Thomas left Willamette with the same shaky knees Little Red Riding Hood had after her encounter with the Wolf in the acclaimed musical “Into the Woods.” Similarly, the Seattle University College of Law was also changed forever after the moot-court team of McCloskey and Guile won every competition they participated in before being thrown off the team for making out in front of a district court judge.

The success of Thomas’s legal career remains a celebrated example of the acclaimed development of sarcasm as a contemporary legal strategy in the early 21st century. Thomas worked 95 hours per week in order to pay of his student loans, stopping only long enough to impregnate his wife (so, about 30 seconds), for his first five years as a lawyer. After achieving a loose financial equilibrium in 2014, Thomas quit his draining corporate job and began working for the Seattle District Attorney’s Office. Within five years, he was President of the United States.

At Thomas’s request, his organs will be donated to those who need them, although between the bite marks and bear feces, it is unlikely that any of them will be salvaged, despite being frozen in the arctic. Donations may be made is his honor to “The Human Fund.”

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thomas: 1, Cancer: 0

The mole was not the bad kind, just an ordinary mole with flair. Also, the staples are out and I'm itching like mad, but cancer-free.

The scoreboard still reads: Thomas McCloskey, cancer free since 1983!

Booya, grandma!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Another chapter in my feud with cash-only stores

Mandy and I were in the mood for a high quality lunch this afternoon after watching several episodes of "Alias" in a row, so we headed over to Taco Bell. We parked, waiting in line, ordered, and were told that their credit card machine was broken again. Since neither of us had cash, we left and went to McDonalds, where the following exchange took place:

Mandy: I can see that you’re all sorts of pissed, just try to calm down.

Me: AAAAAArrrrgghhhhh! I hate humanity!

Mandy: It’ll be ok sweetie, I’ll get you an ice cream cone.

Me: You know that scene in “Family Guy” where Quagmire swipes his credit card down the ass crack of that stripper? THAT’S how accessible plastic should be.

Mandy: You’re psychotic, but I love you anyway.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Idiot Box?

Last night Mandy and I saw “Good Night, And Good Luck,” and I must say that it was one of the best films I’ve seen in years. There are several reasons why I appreciated it so much.

Initially, the issue of media and specifically television responsibility interests me greatly. I have an autographed copy of Bowling Alone and have seen Robert Putnam speak. His insight on how television makes us less connected with one another was very interesting. However, Steven Smith argues in Everything Bad is Good for You that once you separate the content of television shows (along with other forms of popular culture) from their structure, it becomes clear that they’re actually making us smarter. Both books are great and should be read by anyone interested in media. I tend to agree more with Smith than with Putnam in that while traditional means of interaction may have gone down, that doesn’t mean we’re less connected, it just means we’ve found other ways to talk to each other, i.e. internet chat rooms, AIM, blogs, and so on. However, that’s not to say that television couldn’t and shouldn’t be doing more, and I think executives aught to try harder to make the content of shows as beneficial as their structure. In fact, I think some shows are already doing that, and I'll talk more about that later.

Additionally, “Good Night, And Good Luck” is incredibly germane to the current status of media in America. The film ends with Edward R. Murrow criticizing the direction of television. He argued that if weekly game shows were replaced with foreign policy discussions and political debates, people would watch them just as much as they did the fluff. Essentially, he believed that television is only as useful in educating people and promoting discourse as we make it. I’m inclined to agree, but I’ll admit that I have a great deal of faith in people to want to learn. Fifty years after Murrow challenged television executives to reach for the best in people instead of the superficial worst, with few exceptions, the content of most television shows doesn’t discuss policy or “substantive” issues, although Smith would argue that even the crappy shows have gotten better since then, at least in terms of structure.

Finally, the film criticizes the McCarthy-era politics of ruining the lives of innocent people simply by accusatorily linking them to an un-popular political belief. I won’t go into great detail explaining why exposing horrific tactics like these is as relevant now as it was during the red scare, except to say that I wonder how successful “Camp X-Ray” and “The Patriot Act” would have been if Murrow were alive today and had a daily cable news show.

Mandy and I talked for a while after the movie, and we came to a few conclusions, not the least of which was that we don’t believe that television is a lost cause, and if anything, the tide is turning back towards the substantive, and is doing so through an unlikely source: "The Daily Show." It proves that TV can be both entertaining and insightful, and as a result, can achieve both the substantive political discussion that Murrow wanted and hilariously win at the ratings game sponsors and executives continue to play. Moreover, if Smith was right and TV is making us smarter in spite of the poor content, then endorsing shows that have both mentally challenging structure and solid content is the best of both worlds. I know I’ll be doing my part to endorse this utopia tomorrow night when I watch the live debate episode of "The West Wing."

Friday, November 04, 2005

Ripped from the reverse!

You know how movies usually get their inspiration from real world events (not the Steven slapping Irene kind but the "hey, another republican got indicted” kind)? Well it seems that the world has finally had enough and has started stealing its ideas from films!

Somehow, "The Man in the Iron Mask" seems much cooler now that there actually is rioting in Paris because of poverty. If only Leonardo Di Caprio was there, we would save them all.

I liked "The English Patient" the first time I saw it, but apparently that guy who tortured William Defoe by cutting off his thumbs moved to Las Vegas and become their mayor. Sounds like somebody has been missing his weekly visits to the legal prostitution rings over the city limits.

IN YOUR FACE, Hollywood!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

That Would Rock: Volume Five

You know that Microsoft Word paperclip? The one that always pops up whenever you start writing something beginning with “Dear ____” or any other type of letter? It usually says something overly cheerful like “Say, it looks like you’re writing a letter, do you need help? I can help you!” and then when you ask it about formatting, it has no fucking clue. Well, I wish that paperclip was an actual person that popped up whenever I was writing a letter and said something a little too after-school-special-ish to be normal. That way, if it were a real person, or even someone dressed in a paperclip costume, I could slap the shit out of it and tell it to go to hell whenever it annoyed me.

I’m just saying, THAT WOULD ROCK!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anyone have any bright ideas?

At Pacific, my office is in Scott Hall, the old library. This is actually really nice because there is very little foot traffic since there aren’t any classes in the building, so it’s really quiet and my students and I can practice speeches in a hall we basically have all to ourselves. Up until today, there were hundreds of empty bookshelves and railings all over the place, which was a little odd. As of this afternoon, however, they’re all gone, meaning that the entire second floor is wide open. Sam and I have a number of ideas for what to do with all of this space:

--install an ice-hockey rink
--put in an elaborate miniature golf course
--put up a heavy-bag to punch after reading annoying ballots
--install a batting cage because hey, batting cages are awesome

Anyone else have any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hey, what was he in?! I know him from somewhere!

I have moments whenever I'm watching a movie and/or TV show where I think about what other movies the actor/actress on screen has ever been in. Usually I just notice it and move on, but sometimes it really catches me off guard. For example, today I noticed that the guy who played "Lumberg" in "Office Space" played "Vice President Bob Russell" on "The West Wing" and "Mike Brady" on a later "Brady Bunch" movie. No wonder he lost to Matt Santos.

Anyone else notice things like that?

That Would Rock: Volume Four

Everyone should have at least one move from the acclaimed video game “Street Fighter.” Maybe this hypo will help you all get your mind around why this is awesome:

Let’s say you decide to eat at a nice little sandwich shop called “Phil’s 1500 Subs” in some anonymous small town. You’re looking forward to enjoying their classic meatball when you see a sign on their door that reads “Sorry, we don’t take plastic.” Without your special power you would probably swear a lot, get back in your car and go make yourself some easy mac, but not today! Today you’re feel like you’ve got a little Colonial Guile in you, so you mosey on into the store, walk right up to the counter, and while flinging your arm forward you yell, “SONIC BOOM,” shattering the register and the sneeze guard. And then you go home and make yourself some easy mac anyway. And it tastes good. End hypo.

I’m just saying, THAT WOULD ROCK!