Sad Sack

Sad Sack
I am Sad Sack

Vote for my powers...

Not that I give a crap about your opinion, but in each of my posts you can vote for which "super" powers you think I used best (because your approval means so goddamned much to me).

Evil Eye/ Wall of Impenetrable Despair/Really Awkward /Stinkybutt/ Tedium

Sad Sack’s Last Mission: This is the end my friends…

One last hello, minions. As I recline here on my ragged couch watching Ernest Saves Christmas on the Hallmark Channel (it’s either this or a Proactive commercial), I can’t help but wonder “What’s this wet stuff seeping from my eyeballs?” Surely, it can’t be tears of sadness? I guess I just can’t believe that three months have already come and gone and, though I did most of the talking here, I feel like we were just getting acquainted. I was just getting used to your anonymous faces. I feel empty, poppets. I guess the only thing to do is look back at these missions and try to figure out if we did any good…and maybe think of something else we can do to help our city in the future.

Sack, In Real Life


I'm not sure if I really understand the format of this week's mission, but here’s a quick synopsis of our past missions and proposed solutions:

1. Education. The city’s cutting funds, teachers, programs (particularly the arts) and overcrowding classrooms. The Solution was to appeal to the community, bring in senior and local volunteers…and appeal to the city for more funding.
2. Employment. Modesto has twice the national unemployment rate and high crime. No solutions were settled on, I wanted to keep local businesses from leaving the country and wait it out.
3. Safety and Personal Empowerment. Modesto’s really cut down on law enforcement and fire department personnel. The solution was to start a citizen bike patrol, neighborhood watch and virtual tip line.
4. Healthcare. Healthcare costs are astronomical and there may not be enough doctors to fill future demand. We wanted to provide healthy school lunches, start community gardens and make the neighborhood safe for walking…and appeal to the city more funding.
5. Housing. Foreclosure rates are way up and home values are way down. Foreclosure hurts the whole community. My solutions were to try and prevent foreclosures by renegotiating loans and counseling home owners and also to help people ousted from their homes into new places.
6. Transportation. I learned (after reading the other heroes’ experiences) that although there seems like a lot of transportation options in Modesto, the buses down come very often and they stop running early. There also no decent bike paths available. I proposed to fix the bike paths and increase the buses. So…another appeal to the city for funding.
7. Leisure. People never go outside and play anymore, they spend their free time online or watching TV. This leads to depression, higher crime rates and a decline in social capital. I decided to reinstate park funding by crunching the budget numbers and I also wanted to start a sort of family campfire program in the parks.
8. Entertainment. This mission dealt with the artistic and entertainment venues available in town. Apparently, amateur art outlets contribute to a good society. I wanted to help by encouraging student murals, radio shows and poetry readings.

Now that I’m more informed on the ills that plague Modesto, it would make sense to pass this information along. I can think of a lot of ways of getting the message out: city meetings, blogging on the Modesto Bee website, radio shows, podcasts, flyers, emails, phone banks, the list goes on…to me the problem is really about getting people to care about the issues.


I think the Building Imagination Alliance should tackle Apathy. Yes apathy. Our biggest enemy is ourselves – we don’t care. We are conscious of the problems, but we aren’t concerned by them. Perhaps it’s the anonymity of our culture; the shielded one-sided interaction of the internet has made all our experiences virtual and, therefore, unreal. Whatever the cause, I know that the ills of the world do not touch me at all. It’s scary being unable to care about something important.

I would encourage younger people to take part in this mission. They have a lot of raging chemicals and hormones bubbling all up in them that I think could be channeled into actual passion. The only way I would change the game would be to open it up to a larger audience.

The only extra tools I can think of wanting would be courage, a heart, a brain and a way home (I get my inspiration from various places)…well, definitely courage and heart. I would come back for season two to offer guidance and answer any questions new heroes may pose.


Ah, well, here’s the point where I imagine the next big mission, here goes…

Oh no! Something terrible has happened in Modesto! A terrible sleeping spell seems to have blanketed its citizens in a walking dream. People move about their daily business only half-awake. All around them, the city crumbles; schools, jobs, personal safety, healthcare, housing, transportation, leisure and entertainment are in turmoil. Don’t they see? Why don’t they care? What can we do to cure our citizens of this outbreak of APATHY?


LEARN - Educate yourself about the many problems plaguing our city. Why aren't the people of Modesto angry? What's causing this mass APATHY?
ACT - What can you do about it? Use your own self-described super powers to light fires under the asses of our community. What can you do to wake people up?
IMAGINE - Unleash your creativity. Tell us how you were able to spark passion for local issues in your friends and neighbors.

That’s all minions, I’ll miss you.

Sad Sack out!

Sad Sack’s 8th Mission: All Work and No Play Makes Sad Sack a Dull Blobule

Hello my loyal and discouraged minions. I’m still here. I’ve just been having a slight bit of writer’s block, which is humorous as this mission is all about self-expression. I don’t know how actual writers do it, at least the prolific ones, steadfastly typing away each day. I wonder if they just find themselves writing a bunch of crap or the same line over and over again like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. So, as I said, the mission deals with both self-expression and the entertainment events available to us locally. Me, I usually entertain myself it the privacy of my own home – by reading books! What did you guys think I meant? Perverts. But what if my soul desires more interactive and public forms of expression? What then, minions? I guess I’ll have to look at the entertainment and activities Modesto has to offer.

Only some of them are X-rated


Well, my research started dismally. I learned that many places in the area (Livingston, Delhi, Ripon, and Turlock) have canceled their Fourth of July fireworks shows and the Sierra Hope Ride canceled their annual event. Funds are no longer available for these big community events and charity events get bogged down in red tape. I was feeling typically crabby about it all. Then I clicked on the e-artnews calendar and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of stuff going on in this area. It’s not perfect, you may need to travel to Merced, Sonora, Columbia, or Sacramento, but the Gallo Center has really increased the number of local events. This is good news because according to D. Garth Taylor, “There is a significant correlation between the amount of amateur, informal arts activity and neighborhood stability and/or improvement…Arts create shared experience, they encourage intergenerational activity and make public spaces enjoyable.” He says that the arts magnetize the community by making public spaces fun and appealing places to gather, creating shared experiences, and by encouraging different generations to interact freely and willingly with each other. Taylor suggests involvement in murals, a healing garden or sculpture park, street banners, community radio, recording of rap and spoken word events, festivals, Bomba classes, and open microphone coffeehouses as ways to mobilize the community.


I had a chance to walk around the 3rd Thursday Art Walk last night and it was pretty interesting (though I was discouraged by the turnout). There was quite a variety of media on display; photography, sculpture, painting, decorative arts. I picked up a class schedule from the Chartreuse Muse and was excited to see that they offer figure drawing from a nude model every Tuesday night from 7 pm to 10 pm for only $10! Also, my (recently ex-) stepmother was really involved in Modesto and Merced theater so I’ve seen many plays at the Gallo, Playhouse Merced and The Black Box Theater. They’re a lot of fun and the people involved do it because they truly love it. One of my favorite things I’ve seen was when Elizabeth LaPrelle came to the Gallo with her Crooked Road group:

As far as what I, Sad Sack, could do to infuse more art into the community – I like some of Taylor’s suggestions. I would work with teachers at all grade levels to get them involved in painting murals around town. The murals can be designed and executed by the kids. I would talk to coffee houses like Deva and the Queen Bean (are they still open?) about hosting spoken word events and open mics. We can encourage kids to start their own radio shows and podcasts using and talk to local stations like about replaying them on the radio (I did that for a few months last year and all eight of our listeners appreciated it). I think these things would really generate some excitement in the community.


Five years down the line, there will be murals everywhere. The downtown area particularly will be covered with bright, happy colors that the local kids painted dealing with all sorts of subject matter from local themes of history and agriculture to personal and cultural themes. There will be more new independent coffee houses throughout the city that host open mic and spoken word nights and people will gather, get hopped up on caffeine, and pour their hearts out. Kids will gain confidence and learn to speak their minds on their own radio shows and they’ll help local bands out by playing their music on the air. It’ll be good, I promise.

Scarlet and gold, dude.

Sad Sack’s 7th Mission: Putting the “Eisure” back in Leisure

Yeah, this blog’s title makes no sense – but, I’m perfectly okay with that. Good afternoon, my lovelies, my cherub-faced mischief makers. I assume you’re glued to your computers reading this magnificent blog because there’s absolutely nothing else in the whole, wide, world out there to do, right? Hell, even if there was, there’s nothing you’d rather be doing. I totes agree. If I can get through an entire day without seeing the sunlight once, I considered that a successful day. My brain must be steeped in the fluorescent glow of my laptop screen at all times or I will get the shakes. I’m talking fidget city. Even whilst watching the teevee, I need this thing in my lap roasting my lady parts (I’ll adopt).

Unfortunately, sacrificing all of our free time on the altar of technology is apparently a little unhealthy. How can that be??? I’ve been asked to look into our city’s leisure activities and improve them or something.


First, I wanted to learn what was so detrimental about TV and the interwebs. According to my research, computer-using teens have fewer friends and are lonelier and more socially isolated. I guess that’s bad, although I consider that my every day. By barricading ourselves in our houses we’ve also seen a reduction in our “social capital” or the “fabric of activities that connects us to one another.” Some examples of declining capital over that last 25 years are “attending club meetings is down by 58 percent, family dinners are down by 33 percent, and having friends over has declined by 45 percent.” This results in increased crime, bad schools and an overall lower quality of life.
Next, I looked up the leisure amenities available in Modesto. painted a very rosy picture of the park situation touting “75 amenity-filled parks totaling more than 500 acres. Playgrounds, tennis courts, lighted ball fields, picnic sites, a wading pool and more than 15 miles of bike paths are among the many features discovered throughout the Modesto area park sites.” However, we know from our previous missions that the bike paths are a joke and the city can’t afford park upkeep. The city’s cutting funding for softball, day camps and rec center games, parks will be closed on weekdays, cemeteries neglected and libraries shuttered. But don’t worry, they’re pulling out all the stops to keep the golf courses open, so old white men will be happy.


It turns out we can counteract our lack of leisure with a half hour of “moderate physical activity” a day. We can walk, romp, dance, etc. When I was a little blobule, I enjoyed camping. We went on several family trips a year and it was tons of fun. We also took family bike rides on weekends (just assume I was strapped in a child’s seat and don’t over think the legless thing) from my dad’s house in Merced to Yosemite lake. Also, I loved loved loved my Slip ‘n Slide.

Yay, camping!

Once again, I’ll turn my Evil Eye upon the City Council folks and have them reinstate park and recreation funding. We are already paying plenty in taxes and fees. I took, like, three accounting classes, so I will channel my expertise into a citywide audit of our spending. Wasteful programs will be re-canoodled or eliminated and the funds redirected to the parks.
Parks will become more of an interactive family experience. Some of my favorite things about camping were the Campfire Programs. Why can’t we do that in our “75 amenity-filled parks totaling more than 500 acres”? We will build small outside theaters with benches and a fire pit. Park rangers will lead the kids in songs and teach them about all the different kinds of birds and wildlife that live in the park. We could go on nature walks or bike rides and have summer movie nights. We will offer free bike and rollerskate/blade rentals…and there will be a snack bar because I like snacks.


In the future, families won’t think twice about taking their kids out to the park a few times a week. Men will learn how to cook, so if mom is working late – they can pick up the slack instead wandering around wondering “When’s dinner?” Computers will be used to type up homework assignments, but not much else (probably because we’ll already have computers implanted in our heads, though). Everybody will have friends and there will be a gigantic, soft, Slip ‘n Slide in the park for me to ripple down (I may enlist Monkey Woman’s help to grow bananas to keep the slide nice and slick).

This is either a Slip 'n Slide or a bike path

Sad Sack’s 6th Mission: Transportation Troubles

Heeey yooooou guuuuys! I was just sitting, Sloth-like, on my couch, oozing into all of the cracks and wondering why anybody would ever feel the need to wander. I mean, as a boneless, skin puddle, I rarely have a hankering for travel outside these four walls. However, as I lounged here today, alternating slasher movies with romantic comedies, I began to wonder if there was anything out there worth seeing…and if so, how would one go about getting there?


Well, I looked into it a little wee bit and I was surprised to learn that Modesto’s transportation sitchy (that’s my abbreviation for the word ‘situation’ – the benefits of which are completely negated by this parenthetical interjection) wasn’t as crappy as I was anticipating. Between the MAX and the StaRT bus systems, you can move throughout town (and to Turlock, Oakdale, Merced as well) with relative ease. Oh, sure, you’ll be packed in like a sardine with the odiferous freaks and geeks of the county, but you’ll get from point A to point B.
You could travel outside of Modesto by taking the No. 25 bus to the Amtrak station. You could take the MAX shuttle at Orchard Supply Hardware to the Dublin BART station or the Mall shuttle to the Manteca ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) station. There are also several bus lines that stop near the Greyhound station.
I had a harder time figuring out where the heck the Modesto airport flies to, so I ultimately gave up…and any kind of light rail system seems years in the future.


Dude. Why act? We’re fine. Modesto has all we need…pizza, ice cream and liquor. Here’s what I’ll do, I’ll douse the masses in Tedium and lower the Wall of Impenetrable despair (I rarely get to use that particular super power for some reason). Everyone will be lulled into a state of – if not contentment, then suspension – and there will be no need to go anywhere. Problem solved!
Seriously, I don’t think the transportation here is too shabby. I think the bike paths are an issue, though. I’d use my usual methods (Stinkybutt, Evil Eye, yadda yadda) to compel the Powers That Be to funnel money into building more scenic paths and increasing the bike lanes around town. Another solution I was quite interested in were the Cluster Balloons – hells to the yeah! I’m gonna fly myself around like the house in the movie Up…when I need to come down, I’ll just slowly start popping the balloons. It’ll be super cool.

Super Cool!


Five years down the line, everyone’s gonna have jetpacks because it’s the future! Transportation will no longer be an issue…also, folks who can’t afford the jetpacks will still be floating around in Cluster Balloon rigs because, let’s face it, they’ll still be cool. The sky will be filled with bodies!
The bike paths will wind their way throughout the entire city, offering easy and safe access to all corners of town with minimal traffic exposure.

Here's my airmail submission!

Sad Sack’s 5th Mission: Housing Schmousing – My Most Unintelligible Post Yet!

Hello minions. It is I, Sad Sack. I have taken a slight, er, hiatus (Break? Sabbatical? Reprieve?) from blogging in recent weeks but I’m back now. Holy crap in a hand basket, I am one exhausted puddle of primordial ooze. But enough about me, apparently there’s some sort of “housing crisis” happening in Mo-town. Of course there is (you bastards). I’ve lost the ability to even be surprised at the trials, tribulations, and hardships that befall Modesto and population. I think there’s just a list somewhere of “Crap That Can Go Wrong” that they PIC (People In Charge) just keeping checking things off of…and they won’t be satisfied until a sinkhole opens in the streets and the smoldering remains of the city disappear into it. I’m trying to do what I can to prevent that, but damn it, I don’t have any damn arms and legs…and its hard. I feel discouraged, minions.

I guess I’ll just look into the current catastrophe.


So, the housing situation sucks. Foreclosures are way up and home values are way down. I guess there are a lot of factors that led to this situation. There are the usual things like divorce, job loss, accidents and illness that individual families may suffer. There’s also the large-scale mass craziness that was created by the housing boom of the early Ought’s (2000-2006). It was a surreal time, but banks, realtors, investment advisors - everything was bent on encouraging people, even ill-equipped people, to buy property. Why, even your favorite nebulous flesh sack toured a few 500K one bedroom condos in Pacific Palisades. Prices were high, but deposits and interest rates were low. They told us we would be stupid not to buy. That, with rates so low, it was a wash…you could pony up $500K on a formerly $250K condo because it would all even out in the end. However, everyone kind of glossed over the “variable” part of variable interest rates. After a year, your 3% rate could shoot up to 10% and suddenly you’d owe thousands more a month on your mortgage. Of course things went down the crapper. Fortunately, this squeezable stress blobule couldn’t even afford the down payment, so I avoided disaster.
According to the Impact of Foreclosures Report, the fallout of foreclosure is widespread, not only are families obligated to move but the “effects may well touch on virtually all aspects of their well-being.” They must deal with displacement and housing instability, financial insecurity, economic hardship, personal and family stress, economic hardships and ill health. The Communities are also affected; they deal with declining property values and physical deterioration, crime, social disorder, population turnover, fiscal stress, and deterioration of services.


One word: shoes. They can all live in giant, castaway shoes…like that old children’s rhyme “There was an old lady who lived in a shoe, I don’t know why she lived in a shoe, perhaps she’ll die.” It was definitely something, kind of like that – and you know what? It’s good advice, too. However, if we can’t find any condo-sized shoes, we may have to look to other avenues to solve this housing crisis.

Problem solved!

Well, first things first, we need to focus on preventing foreclosures. We need to support homeowners and offer them counseling if they find themselves in trouble. I will lower the Wall of Impenetrable Despair on and douse with Stinky Butt and Really Awkward sauce anyone who tries to rope these families into foreclosure schemes. I’ll personally give creditors and banks the Evil Eye until they agree to renegotiate loans to give owners more realistic interest rates. If a foreclosure happens anyway, I’ll make sure it’s done fairly. Once evicted, we need to help relocate families into new homes or suitable apartments. I’ll work with the City to set up a program to help pay for temporary hotel fees, apartment deposits, etc…perhaps we can set up some sort of insurance program to encourage landlords to take a chance on these families.
With the help of the community, I will encourage the city to purchase foreclosed homes, fix them up and rent them out. Volunteers will help keep empty houses will be keep neat and tidy.


I envision a world where no one lives on the streets unless they’re already a bit crazy in the head. Families may have gone through some patchy bits, but they were able to meet with creditors and counselors to find ways to keep their homes. Most of the houses will be homes and the empty ones will be well-tended, awaiting their next occupants. The home values will be up, crime will be down and the neighbors will all come to know and like each other. It’ll all be very Stepford Wives.

Completely unrelated Pic - I haven't done a jumping jack in years

Sad Sack Interlude

Hello my poppets. I was just tossing Whiskas Temptations out the back window to the feral cats below and I thought of you. I guess I'm a tad bit behind the rest of the class. It's not my fault that I keep getting distracted by this freaking video:

It's freaking hypnotic. How can I be expected to work when I could be watching this for seven hours straight??? Right?