Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wow, what a weekend

For those of you playing along at home, I’m in the midst of a two-and-a-half week period of irregular blogging. Not because I’ve lost the love, mind, but rather due to a crazy-busy week of work and multiple trips out of town adventuring.

This weekend, as you all know, I kidnapped the GF and forced her to meet my entire maternal side of the family at a cousin’s graduation. Mom couldn’t make it unfortunately due to her being under the weather, but I had many affirming comments from aunts and grandma, so I’m sure mom’s received multiple endorsements via phone by now.

The real story of the weekend however, was our experiences camping on Sunday night. Rather than drive all the way back into town after the graduation open house, I found us a little campground in a state park where the GF and I could camp out and appreciate nature in all it’s glory.

It turns out that we ended up camping dead in the middle of
Redneck-a-rama 2005. Most of the campsites had 3-5 tents plus a trailer set up and were populated by entire families of mulleticious types – complete with large dogs, pickup trucks and a complete disregard for personal space. It was quite the experience. Once we had ourselves set up we started a fire and proceeded to enjoy the evening. But about 9:30 or so, we were privileged to our own showing of the latest episode of “COPS Live!”. A woman staying in a site down the road started screaming “Taeke back yer rang!” and “SOMEBUDDY CAWL DA COPS!!!!”. Some other fellow at the same site was also yelling, but not loud enough to be heard as clearly. Sensing live entertainment, other campers started walking down towards the site to see the hullabaloo. But knowing that any direct viewing of the events would make us eligible to be called as witnesses, the GF and I chose to hang out and just listen by the fire. By the time the woman was even more insensed, screeching “SEE AWL DESE PEEPUL, DAY’RE HERE LOOKIN’ ACHOO!!”. I tell you, as happy as I was when the cops finally did show up, I was a little disappointed that I missed seeing both of them get cuffed.

Also overheard from various sites in that one 18-hour period:
- “I betchew cain’t shotgun anudder beer!”
- “Yew jes’ watch me!”
- “Hol’ on dere cuz, I’ll raissya!”
- [Sound of beer cans being opened]
- “You boys watch yerselves naugh, remember whenya puked on the van las’ time.”
- [Sound of loud, almost uncontrolled witch-like cackling that then transitioned into a hacking smoker’s cough]

The best part was the next day as we were packing up there was one site across the way that was playing some sort of middle-eastern themed dance music. The rednecks obviously were put off by it, but the GF and I enjoyed it as a sort of “cultured folks send-off” as we were leaving.

The rest of this week I’m scrambling to prepare for Ecuador. We leave this Saturday and won’t get back until the 12th, so I may be rather incommunicado for much of that, but when I get back I should have pictures of:

-Me with a llama
-Me with cruddy facial hair
-Me riding a horse through the jungle

Should be some fun times.

P.S. Yeah,
those losers at Amnesty don’t know anything about human rights abuses…

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Overcoming my inner Dennis Koslowski

I have a long and illustrious history with buying expensive techno-gadgets as impulse buys. Almost every technology item I have ever owned was purchased on a whim, and with no buyer’s remorse whatsoever. For example, after graduating from college, I grew so frustrated that I couldn’t find an ISP that was compatible with my old Macintosh LCII that I ran out to Best Buy and bought a new PC that afternoon. I won’t even go into how I bought my current car in a fit of pique with an arrogant car salesman at a different dealer.

Anyway, my latest adventure was I was getting myself all excited to buy a new digital camera. I bought my current one about three years ago – just before my trip to Paris and Spain (with my traveling-buddy LL for those of you who know our polyglot friend). I already knew which one I wanted – a
tiny little one that had 5.1 megapixels (vs. 2.1 on the current one). I found it on sale at Circuit City and bought it on-line, despite the early-adopter price, and made arrangements to pick it up at the store on my way home. Thrilled with the rush of consumerism, I called and told the GF all about my new purchase. Because the GF knew I already had a camera that worked perfectly well – her initial response can best be summarized along the lines of “But, why?”. To her credit, she feigned support and affection for me in my excitement very well on the phone call – much like how one expresses love and support for one’s nephews and nieces when they tell you excitedly about how they saw Santa at the mall and told him all about what they want for Christmas so they’re sure they’ll get whatever they asked for yep, you betcha!

But it stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Why had I just spent that much on a camera where the only benefit was a slightly smaller size and the ability to print bigger pictures than I ever needed to before? By the time I hit the store on the way home (in the middle of a migraine) it got worse. I realized that I’d also need to purchase a new memory card plus a second battery and a case to put it all in – all of which would push the price from “early adopter” to “just plain stupid”. Despite this, I continued my little inner dialogue:

Rational Jason: “Listen, you know this is going to end up costing way more than you thought it would.”
Tech-Geek Jason: “Yeah but look at all the buttons!!! And it’s soooOOOOOOooooo small!!!!!!”
RJ: “Wouldn’t would rather have that money to spend on your trip to Ecuador next weekend?”
TGJ: “It’s got a 3X optical zoom! We’ll be able to zoom in on birds that we see in the jungle and…stuff!”
RJ: “Remember how the GF sounded like we were crazy when we told her about it? Do you want her to think we have some sort of psychological problem?”
TGJ: [sadly, like a 6 year old who realizes he’s wrong] “Well…I guess not….…”
RJ: “How about we buy a nice little camera bag for the camera we have now instead?”
TGJ: [Brightening up again] “Oh YEAH! We’ll need one with a pocket for our spare battery and one for the extra memory card in case we run out, and…”

So, after spending a stressful hour agonizing over the decision in the store, I stepped back from the brink, cancelled the order, and left the store feeling better than ever before about the whole experience. My little camera will do just fine for at least one more international trip. We didn’t get a camera bag because there was nobody at the checkout, but I’ll just have to hit Target instead. They’re only about ten bucks anyway.

Maybe this is a sign that I’m slowly getting over my impulse buying habit. Maybe I’m finally maturing into a responsible adult who makes sensible decisions about how I spend my money. Maybe it just means that, subconsciously, I’d really rather spend the money on a grill for the deck.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Your source for midget news!

Almost a week after the original post, this blog is still the recognized leader in the niche market of people looking for more info on the alleged “42 midgets vs. a lion” story. I now present a short list of search terms related to the topic where I reign supreme, at least as of lunchtime today:

midgets attacked by lions” – CNN.com
midget army Cambodia lion” – google.com.au
midget army Cambodia” – google.com.au
Cambodian army of midgets” – google.com
midget army vs. lion bbc” – google.ca

And some others where I’m still a force to be reckoned with:

lion fights midgets” – google.com (#10)
African lion vs. midgets” – google.com (#15)
lion fights midgets in Cambodia” – yahoo.com (#26)

What I’ve learned from this are several interesting points about the world and how it works:

1) Those Aussies sure have a great country-specific Google site!
2) So do the Canucks!
3) CNN knows a good source when it sees it, unlike those shifty characters at CBS News or Newsweek.
4) Apparently, my essay attracts people searching for an army of midgets. Whether or not it takes only 42 midgets to form an army is probably a topic of debate. I don’t know if I’d even consider 42 regular sized people (even tall ones) to be an army. Maybe a “gang” or a “band”. But probably not an army…
5) Adding another post about said midget fighting lions and their Cambodian army training will probably only increase the number of complete strangers stumbling through my blog like Cubs fans wandering through Wrigleyville.

Come to think of it, if I added postings about internet porn, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, American Idol, and the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes “creepy Hollywood pairing of the month” my traffic might grow to the point where I’d be a blog-god among men. But that seems desperate, and I hold myself to a higher standard. Besides, I need to keep my hipster street cred.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And I don't even *have* a bust of Pallas above my chamber door

I arrived home last night after a numbingly long day at work. Having already missed a deadline that day and left work too late to get in my usual after-work time at the gym, I was looking for nothing more than to make some dinner and tidy up a little prior to going to bed early. I was kind of tired since my inadvertent nap on Sunday had messed with my circadian rhythm – resulting in my not falling asleep until about midnight on Sunday night….

BIP!!!!!

That’s when it started…

A nondescript, but mind-numbingly loud short beeping sound echoed through the condo. So short, in fact, that it was almost impossible to locate the source. At first, I thought it might be the smoke detector, but after dragging out the ladder and examining said fire detector closely, it turned out that the smoke alarm was not, in fact, beeping at all.

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The beeps were coming about once a minute now. And they seemed to be moving, one time I swore they were coming from the front of the house, another time they seemed to be coming from the kitchen. I felt like I was Ridley in Alien, surrounded by little aliens scurrying through the walls, pausing every minute to shriek their tiny cries of rage in my direction…

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By this time I had pretty much figured that the source was coming from the rear of the condo, back in the living room/kitchen area. With each beep, I moved closer and closer to…the furnace closet! Flinging open the doors I lunged inside, tossing aside mops and rags in a violent rage, crying “What do you want from me!!!???”.

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That was it. There it was, glaring down at me from on high – a complete second set of another smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector lurking above the furnace! With its one glowing red eye, the smoke detector glared down at me, as if daring me to approach…

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I raced down the hallway to get the ladder, set it up in the closet and reached up to extract the smoke detector. It was hard-wired into the ceiling, and I wasn’t able to figure out how to unhook the plug where it jacked into the back of the detector (not unlike how Neo jacked into the Matrix, actually). The detector sensed my frustration, and looked at me accusingly. Venting the torment of hundreds of years of domestic household appliance servitude.
BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Enraged at this point, I fumbled with the plug. Jerking, tugging, begging, pleading, demanding. Finally, with a cry of joy, I managed to unhook the plug from the back of the smoke detector. Taking it down from the ceiling, I took it over to the counter, and began looking for the battery compartment, figuring that a low-battery backup was causing all the ruckus. While it wasn’t obvious, it appeared that I’d have to compress three small tabs inside the housing using a screwdriver and then rotate the housing slightly to get it to release from the sensor body. That would, I theorized, reveal the battery for replacement. Doing so, I worked carefully to ensure that no tabs would break, and slowly revealed the underside of the detector to reveal…

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THERE WAS NO BATTERY!!!! Not only that but the stupid beeping was still echoing through the house! Obviously an attempt to drive me insane, I felt like some sort of lab rat who continually was pushing the wrong button. Abandoning the smoke detector, I ran into the office trying to find the instruction manuals for the security system. There had to be a simple solution for this. I had seen the guy come in and set up the system to begin with and he was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Surely I with a degree from one of the nations best liberal-arts colleges and a master’s degree could figure out how to stop the incessant beeping, beeping behind my furnace room door…

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To my office I ran screaming, through the drawers searching, seeming,
Desperate for the way to stop the beeping I abhorred.
Yanking open folders dusty, using research skills long rusty,
Seeking explanations from tomes of forgotten lore.
Yet in my desperation frantic, seeking answers though pedantic,
I failed to find the one specific book needed more and more.
The security system manual was lost…forevermore.

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back into the kitchen dashing, pondering smoke detector bashing,
Snatching up the plastic from its place upon the floor.
Climbing up the ladder slowly, reconnecting wires wholly,
Restoring then, the smoke detector’s place above the door.
Once completed back I shuffled, feeling entirely kerfluffled,
Curling in a small defeated ball upon the floor.
The thought of crashing at the GF’s thinking more and more.

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Suddenly, a realization – faster than a dog smells bacon
In my mind a thought becoming clearer all the more.
It is not the smoke detector, in the role of home defector
Traitorously keeping me from the sweet slumber I adore.
Instead the only thing must be is the other sensor, dusty
That keeps carbon monoxide poisoning away from my door!
That infernal CO detector up above the door…

BIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Back up the ladder seething, barely thinking barely breathing,
Ran I to remove the cause of sounds I just could not ignore,
Trying to prevent my teeth from gnashing, with its one red LED eye flashing,
It glared at me with rages I’d ne’er seen heretofore.
Quickly cracking the side panel, all the better to dismantle
The battery that was causing me to call its mother “whore”
Quoth the CO detector “BIP!” no more…

All told it took me about two hours to go through all these motions and finally neutralize that stupid beeping. Another night of “no bed before 11:00” for me, alas. I can only hope that I can reassemble the stupid thing tonight once I’ve bought a new battery.

Monday, May 23, 2005

If ignorance is bliss, no wonder they're so chipper

One of the few part of my job that I enjoyed when I worked in Cleveland was the occasional business trip to someplace interesting (read: anywhere that wasn’t Cleveland). On several of these trips, I was lucky enough to be introduced to various areas in the state of Kentucky. For those of you who haven’t been there, it really is a very pleasant place. Lots of neat-o horse farms, lovely countryside, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Yet, for a variety of reasons ranging from a proximity to Appalachia to an association with the deep south, Kentucky finds itself relegated to the intellectual basement when it comes to pop culture, right next to Alabama and Arkansas. Which is truly a shame. Yet it’s hard for me to feel too sorry for them when they keep coming up with stuff like the “Creation Museum” which is a $25 million theme park that promotes the theory that not only was the earth created in six 24-hour days, but that Adam hung out with (and named) the dinosaurs.

Of course, those of us in my generation are perfectly aware of this fact. Not only that, but we also know that man used dinosaurs to help accomplish everyday tasks such as earth-moving equipment (Apatosaurus) and record players (Pterodactyls). How can we be so sure, you ask? Simple, I used the same evidence that the creationists used – repeated viewings of old “Flintstones” episodes. I mean it’s right there on the screen! Photographic evidence that not only did the dinosaurs find gainful employment serving as household appliances but that they were paid for it (as evidenced by their repeated statements of “It’s a living!” in various episodes).

The most shocking part of this discovery is not that man and dinosaur lived in harmony, but rather that it brings to light a whole new theory of why the dinosaurs died out. Obviously, if dinosaurs had indeed died out 65 million years ago, their bones would have been discovered much earlier than when they actually started popping up in the 1800’s. What was actually happening was the industrial revolution – and as more and more household appliances that ran on electricity were invented, more and more of the dinosaurs found themselves out of work and homeless. Without any other marketable skills, they became hobos and rode the rails in search of their fortunes. Some of the smaller ones sold their skins to be used in the manufacture of handbags or shoes, used the money to buy fur coats and lived out their lives as house cats. The larger ones found work in the California gold rush as earthmoving equipment. Everywhere they went they were scorned by society. When they tried to join the army in the Civil War, they were rejected with excuses like “You don’t have opposable thumbs.” or “We don’t have any pants with tail holes.” and the like. In retrospect that was probably a mistake. Imagine how much shorter the war would’ve been if the union army had been comprised of Tyrannosaurs – “Chomp, chomp, chomp…okay, let’s go home.” Regardless, as the dinosaurs fell out of society, they were never buried (because they weren’t Christians, having fallen under the spell of persuasive Zoroastrian missionaries back in the 1700's). And suddenly their bones started showing up everywhere.

I can only imagine what other exhibits must be getting ready for display:
1) “Bone to Rock!” – A discussion of how dinosaurs bones were made of actual rock and minerals instead of mammal-like bone – thus explaining away that annoying “takes millions of years to fossilize bone” issue.
2) “Pea-Sized Brains have People-Sized Problems” (Sponsored by Zoloft) – An analysis of how mental illness caused all dinosaurs to be suicidal after the flood – thus explaining why there aren’t any around today while the much more well-adjusted mammals, birds and insects are crawling all over the place. Also, because they killed themselves, all dinosaurs are in hell.
3) “See? We Told you!” – An exhibit showing that many dinosaurs (most notably the Hadrosaurs or “Duckbills”) were noted for their liberal tendencies. Their advocacy of gay marriage, spear control, and that ridiculous separation of church and state all contributed to their disappearance when God smote them – exiling them to live in Canada.
4) “God’s Stenographer” – An exhibit telling the story of Edward Hucklefub, God’s immortal stenographer who documented in exacting detail the step-by-step process of creation and is the ghost-writer for the Bible. For those of you worried that Adam may not have been the first man (Adam not arriving on the scene until Day 6 and all), rest assured – Edward is a Woodchuck. As part of the exhibit, Edward will be brought out every spring on February 2nd to tell us whether or not we will have an early Rapture.

In truth, I really don’t care what that guy believes. Or even if he wants to build his silly museum. What bothers me is that people are willing to give the guy $25 million. I mean, of all the worthy charities out there doing things like feeding the homeless, fighting AIDS, and helping people out of poverty – THIS is the guy who makes the most sense? The guy saying that Fred Flintstone is more than just a multivitamin, he’s the inventor of the Triceratops?

Sigh…no wonder people rip on Kentucky.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No subject line could capture the range of things covered in this one

Apparently, once you get into the Google database, it takes about two and a half days for changes/additions to be catalogued in their system. I realized this when I suddenly noticed a spike in traffic from Google consisting of people looking for various combinations of the words “lions”, “Cambodia”, and “midgets”. Apparently, I’m now in the top 5 results of those searches. I feel better knowing that I’m helping people, and also that I’m possibly averting a massive invasion of said country (once we’re done creating out newest enemy in Iraq) by disproving that story on Monday. For that matter, I’m also one of the top places people who are looking for how to start their own auto repair shops. Hmm…yeah, that I’m really going to be less helpful with.

Dinner with the GF’s folks went well. I tried to be as pleasant and non-annoying as possible, and early reports from the GF are that was accomplished. On a personal note, I was seriously impressed by her dad’s ability to parallel park with the ginormous rental car they had. It was truly awe-inspiring. The food was wonderful, the company was excellent, and overall I had a great time. This bodes well, methinks.

In other news today it seems that Texans have finally begun to rise up against their majority oppressors. Naturally, I’m not talking about the people of Texas, who don’t actually rise up against anything but invasions of the Mexican army (“Creationism in the public schools? Fine. Cults building compounds in the desert? Sure, whatever. Bush for another four years? Heck, at least he speaks proper English. WHAT? Santa Ana is leading 40,000 Mexican infantrymen across the Rio Grande!?!? TO THE WALLS!…Wait…wait…those are only 40,000 South American Fire Ants. Let the midgets take care of ‘em.”).

No, I’m talking about the
bloodthirsty flocks of grackles, which have been mauling passerby in downtown Houston. Experts claim that the grackles are simply protecting their young. Myself, I don’t buy it. Did you notice who got attacked? Yep, a lawyer and a government bureaucrat. Ladies and gentlemen, these grackles aren’t aggressive parents – they are libertarians! And they are obviously pissed. Probably because so many of their tax dollars are going to fund massive government programs such as privatizing social security and paying for I-wreck while such obvious needs as low-income nesting, worm stamps, and yolkionic stem-cell research get shafted. I say, good for them. They’ve been disenfranchised by the constitution, have no representative in the congress, and let’s face it – it’s gotta be freakin sweltering in Houston about now. I’d be losing it too if I were them. So I say “Peck on my brothers in wings! FREEDOM!!!!!”.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

That Stiller kid had it all wrong

Tonight is one of those “big events” in life that I’ve often read about but never really experienced directly – meeting the GF’s parents for the first time. Don’t get me wrong; I’m actually looking forward to it. I figure that as cool as the GF is, her folks are bound to be equally cool. Besides, I always have Hollywood to fall back on as a source for all the do’s and don’ts of meeting parents.

1) Do bring your own swimsuit to their house, and leave the cat alone. Avoid lie detector tests when possible. Don’t play with fire around the gazebo.
2) Don’t take a shower in their hotel, especially if you hear loud violin music.
3) Don’t be a counselor in their summer camp; the mother will kill you. In subsequent years – STOP GOING TO THAT CAMP!
4) When invited to dinner don’t try to shoot the father with a blaster, he’ll only use the force to take it away from you. Then, he’ll freeze you in carbonite.
5) Don’t fall prey to the mother’s “trying to seduce” you. Even if she looks like Anne Bancroft.
6) If mom is berating your significant other, do stand naked in front of her and tell her about the glories of her child’s activities on behalf of a local revolutionary movement. Then, if your significant other is ever crucified, leave them there – and tell him you finally understand their teachings.
7) If you’re invited to meet the parents at their house during a dinner party with their friends, and the conversation lapses or is filled with awkward silences, do get everyone to do body shots.
8) When you are squiring your date away at the end of the movie, do make sure that dad sees your brand new red Porsche 928. Then he’ll approve of you and let you drive off to the cake you baked for her. Even if you are too broke to buy chairs.
9) Don’t mention that your career plans include professional kickboxing.

Naturally, I’ll be on my best behavior. I assume that as long as I don’t spill anything on her mom’s dress, drink too much, or pick fights with the waiter I’ll be fine. Since none of those are normal problems – I’m not worried. Of course, if the waiter drinks too much and picks a fight with her mom’s dress then all bets are off.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Society needs more Muses

Considering the sorry state of education these days, I worry about the future of creativity in America. When you see networks bringing back shows based on one-time events (e.g. - ABC and “Lost”. What, are they going to have another plane crash on the same island?), adding copycat reality television shows (e.g. “The Benefactor”, “The Contender”), and combinations of the two (e.g. a second season of “The Real Gilligan’s Island? Seriously!?), it makes me want to curl up in a little ball.

Fortunately, there are some good signs I’ve noticed recently, even if they are in somewhat unusual in their approach. First, I found a
neat-o website that sponsors a contest where anyone can submit a photoshopped version of a common picture for fun and glory. For example, look what they did with an ordinary everyday bathroom (my favorites are the one with no floor and the giant hamster). This site also appears to be the source for all those emails we all get with the funny billboards. Go figure. Anyway, go check it out…seriously…I’ll wait…See? Still here, go ahead…

My other hope lies in our society’s neverending ability to come up with new words. As many of you are aware, the dictionary is a very large book, regardless of which version you use (I prefer the King James Version ‘cuz it’s old school - words to yo' motha). The reason it’s so large is because there are so many freakin’ words already invented in English. Yet despite the fact that nobody actually knows them all yet, we still insist on adding more words. For some of us, maybe we do it to try and be famous, or because we think it can be done (like the urban legend about Richard Daly
adding the word “quiz” to English in 48 hours). I have a friend who recently tried to get me to use the term “don’t ask don’t tell” (or DADT for short) where the term meant essentially the same thing as “the laminated list”. But to her credit, she came up with her term without being aware of the laminated list. Maybe she never saw that episode of Friends, it’s possible as the friend’s still pretty young and that episode was in season 3. Her version is also shorter, and requires less contextualizing for those who don’t watch the show or are Amish (and therefore probably wouldn’t need such a word anyway, due to their high moral standards and limited celebrity exposure).

For those of you who were also young, or who don’t watch television, or
(again) are Amish – both terms refer to a short list of celebrities that each partner in a relationship is allowed to sleep with, no questions asked. I had never really assembled mine, but if I did I think it would consist of Lori Laughlin, Betty Rubble, Diane Lane, Elisha Cuthbert, and Jessica Rabbit.

Mirriam Webster just held a contest where people could vote for their favorite word that is
not in the dictionary, with “ginormous” topping the list. My personal favorite is another WillFerrellism – “scrumtrilescent”. If I could invent a word it would be “anvalt” or “gniving” – the former because it sounds cool (and therefore I could sell it as a brand name for something like a sportscar or men’s cologne) and the latter because it would work really well in palindromes. I have no idea what either of them would mean…but I figure that’ll come to me later. Maybe in a dream in which my bathroom is invaded by a huge hamster…

Monday, May 16, 2005

41 midgets walk into a bar...the 42nd ducks

Today, a friend of mine forwarded me the faux BBC news article about the “lion vs. 42 Cambodian midgets” fight that allegedly happened last week in which a promoter in Cambodia staged a fight between an African Lion and 42 unarmed midgets. According to the “article” the fight was called when 28 of the midgets were dead and another 12 incapacitated due to broken arms or legs.

Naturally, I was skeptical and a quick Google search verified that the article
was indeed a fake. After reassuring the people who had also been included in the mass email that neither calls to Amnesty International nor bill passage in the Senate promoting a lightning-fast amphibian invasion of Cambodia were going to help (after all, remember what Fezzini said about getting involved in land wars in Asia?). I got to thinking about something that has, I’m sure, crossed the mind of just about everyone who was exposed to the article: what sort of opponent could one set up against 42 unarmed midgets where the midgets would actually have a chance at victory? My quick list was as follows, along with whether the midgets would win or lose and why:

African Lion – Loss. Because when I read the article the first time, I kept thinking that the idea of the lion winning seemed credible. The story was bogus, obviously, but it wasn’t the fact that the lion won that I didn’t believe, it was that the government got 50% of the take. I mean, if I were a government and I knew that kind of money-making venture was going on in my borders, I'd want at least 80%...plus the pay-per-view rights.
100,000
South American Fire Ants – Loss. The Midgets won’t be able to slap fast enough, plus some of them may suffer from some sort of phobia that renders them panic-stricken by that many bugs. Again, the outcome would probably change if it were 42 midgets vs 42 ants...probably...
Bottlenose Dolphin – Loss. Assuming the fight takes place underwater, of course. With the dolphin's experience fighting in a 3-dimensional world, and the midgets' being slowed by their scuba gear and limited vision, it's no contest. If the fight were held on dry land, then I'll take the midgets...unless the dolphin sneaks a shank in his blow-hole in which case all bets are off.
Michael Jackson – Big win. All the moonwalking in the world wouldn’t save him from 42 wrathful midgets who just got their asses handed to them by a bottlenose dolphin.
Elliot Spitzer – Loss. Who’s ass hasn’t Spitzer kicked lately?
Darth Vader – UPSET WIN! With that many grabbing hands, odds are good that one of them would grab the batteries out of that breathing machine on his chest…Why did nobody think of this in the original trilogy?
Hardee’s Monster Thickburger – Loss. The Thickburger has enough fat and cholesterol to take down 100 midgets without blinking an eye.
The Salty Virgin Mary – Loss. Remember what’s behind the SVM? That’s right, a concrete wall. I don’t care how many midgets you’ve got, my moneys’ on the concrete.
Bernie (from “Weekend at Bernie’s”) – Loss. The guy’s already dead! Eventually the midgets would get exhausted and/or die of old age.

There you have it. Scientific proof that midgets can't fight their way out of a paper bag - even when grouped into a midget army. Hmmm...did you notice how in this case the adjective describes both the noun itself (having only 42 men in the army makes it a midget army compared to that of even, say, Denmark), and the composition of said noun (the army is made up of midgets). Fascinating... Anyway. That's what I spent my morning doing. Obviously, it's not been a horrifically productive day yet.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I wish there were Garanimals for grownups

This weekend the GF is out of town reconnecting and spending some QT with her extended family out of state. This leaves me all by myself for the entire weekend. The weird thing is this may be the first time since the holidays that I’ve gone for a whole weekend with no contact. This is not to say that I’m all of a sudden freaking out or that I’m whining about it. It was just interesting to note. Like when high school or college reunions come up and you think to yourself “Wow, it’s been five years already!?”.

On Sunday though, I have my first real “Grown-up” type experience that is not with peers or fellow students – a benefit for the theater company where I’ll be joining the board of directors in a month or so). The event itself is as a brunch and is scheduled for something like 10 am until noon or so at an art gallery downtown. My dilemma – shockingly – is what I’m supposed to wear for an event like this. So I asked the board president, who told me that while she was getting “glammed up”, she was telling her guy invitees that a sport coat “would be appropriate”. Here’s the problem – I don’t really own a “sport coat”. Nor do I have any idea what an appropriate alternative would be. Ordinarily, in a situation like this I would simply ask the GF for advice, but she’s incommunicado until after the event, which leaves me to try and assemble an “outfit” entirely by myself.

Anyone who knows me is already cringing in fear. Ever since I was a small boy, my attempts at self-fashion have been horrific failures. Photographs from my youth are typically viewed only with special viewing glasses that help mute the awful clashing of colors that frequently causes nausea in pregnant women. One of my favorites from junior high involved purple Hawaiian shorts with brightly colored bids (either Toucans, Macaws, or Vultures covered with the blood of their most recent kill - I don’t remember exactly), a bright yellow T-shirt with the picture of a common loon and the word “Minnesota” on it, tennis shoes, and athletic socks with red stripes pulled up to my knees. Yes, this was when I was thirteen.

I also had several items of clothing that I wore purely for functional value, like my special pair of summer shorts with special loops around the waist designed to hold Star Wars figures. Or my infatuation with ‘Roos – the tennis shoes with secret pockets that were not really big enough to be functional. Despite that, they carried an air of secrecy and mystery hitherto not associated with the ordinary pockets in pants or jackets, which typically only carried lint and spare change. I loved pockets. I remember my first jacket that had an inside pocket – it was “Members Only”, so I knew that not everyone had one and felt all the more special for it. I put everything in those pockets. To this day I judge the quality of a coat by how many inside pockets it has, and whether they are located in unusual or unexpected places. Ooh…ooh…and if they have zippers to close them all the better - to prevent pickpockets you know. Not that we had a pickpocket problem in my small town, but you never knew when one might show up. Especially in August, when the shady carnies that ran the county fair midway overran the town and traveling circuses with shifty-eyed clowns popped in for weekends. In either case, I was ready if my pockets zipped shut.

In any event, I have only two days to figure out something appropriate to wear. Thanks to all the episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” that I’ve seen, I’m much better than I used to be, so I’m optimistic. So long as there aren’t any pregnant women at the benefit, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Oh, lord. No, not you...the other guy.

A quick note on the guy in WV who claims to have changed his name to Jesus Christ.

Wouldn't you get a little paranoid with everyone around you taking your name in vain whenever something bad happens to you?

Carpenter: [Hits thumb with hammer] "Ow! Jesus that hurts!"
WVJC: "Hey, don't blame me buddy!"

Businessman on Street: [Starts to rain] "Oh Christ, not on the day of my big presentation!"
WVJC: "I can't control the weather, dude!"

Saddam Hussein: [In prison] "Jesus H. Christ when are they going to let me see a lawyer!"
WVJC: "Excuse me but my middle name is actually Robert."

Seriously. If you want to show how much you love and respect and have faith in someone, is naming yourself after them really what you think they want? I mean, I love and respect and have faith in my mom, but I'm not calling myself Nancy. What's next? People calling themselves "Chocolate Chip Cookies"? "Hi, my name is Honda Civic." "Aren't you American Tourister's cousin?" "Oh my god! I had a phenomenal first date last night with The Amazon Rain Forest."

Frankly, I'm glad Washington's not letting him change his name. It's the first thing they've done right in that town since the 1990's.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This post just got away from me, I admit it

Those of you who know me are no doubt aware of my feelings towards salad. As a youth, my appetite was what I liked to think of as “discriminating” (and what my mother would probably call “stubbornly picky”). Either way, my list of acceptable foods was pretty short; consisting of three basic groups: sugar (e.g. cookies, candy, frosted flakes), processed foods (hot dogs, mac & cheese, bologna, wonder bread, cheetos), and anything messy or likely to stain clothing (jell-o, chocolate pudding, kool-aid, popsicles). Salad was a “non-food” for me, and I would rather eat a bowl full of garden mulch than anything containing lettuce.

Anyway, I was out with the GF eating dinner last night and I got to thinking about salads. Mainly because she ordered a salad and was told that despite the menu’s assurances, it did not actually come with carrots. When the GF asked why there were no carrots, the very pleasant waiter said they were out. At that point (smelling a cover-up) I jumped into the conversation, asking “Is it because they start fights?”. The waiter looked at me a little oddly whereas the GF, who had already figured out I was in one of my puckish moods, let me hound the waiter into confessing that yes, carrots had indeed been banned from the premises for starting fights with the oranges. The reason being that the oranges had been moving in on the carrots’ turf as the “splash of orange color” of the moment in respected salad-serving establishments nationwide.

This got me thinking about how when I was a kid, a salad consisted of iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing, and maybe either carrots or tomatoes for color. And as far as I knew that was the only way salads came. Kind of like in the suburbs of Eisenhower’s America where all families were white, nuclear with 2.2 kids and the mom and dad slept in separate twin beds a la Ozzie and Harriet. Dad worked, mom stayed at home with the kids, and the Beaver was always getting in trouble. It was dull, but predictable. But then towards the end of the 20th century, all sorts of other stuff started showing up in salads. Things I had never heard of – fancy lettuces like Arugula, Galactic (which I have learned is not from space, but actually from Italy), and Radicchio; fruits like apples, grapes, and oranges; non-plant products like chicken, shrimp and cheese; and all sorts of new and interesting dressings (“Paul Newman’s dressing in aisle twelve!? Can’t he do that at home? It’s indecent, I tell you…”).

Naturally, since there were now so many new and interesting ingredients available, people moved away from their basic staples, and I guess I was postulating whether iceberg lettuce, carrots, cabbage, and thousand island were a little bitter about it. And, to me it seemed like a perfectly reasonable theory that the carrots resented the intrusion of all the other ingredients (“They took ‘r’ jobs!!!”) and rose up in random acts of violence – just like Michael Douglas in Falling Down.

We have to convince them that America is a better place because of all the variety folks. It just tastes better. So tell all your elected carrots screaming bloody murder about how the different ingredients are ruining American society to settle down a bit. Just because some other ingredients have showed up on the scene doesn’t mean the salad’s going to taste bad. It’ll probably taste better.

Of course, if you see a carrot in a crew cut and Buddy Holly glasses and a white shirt walking down the freeway carrying a bag full of guns, back away slowly and notify the authorities immediately – preferably ones with a cuisinart.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Who needs LSD when I can just go to bed?

My computer at work was taken away from me this morning for what I can only assume was some sort of emergency surgery. It has been “problematic” for some time now, and recently staged some sort of protest by refusing to turn on in the morning without me making multiple offerings of sacrificial floppy disks and restarting. People were starting to notice because it also demanded that I repeat the mantra “Bill Gates is Allah” during the boot-up process. Which was interesting because I had always presumed my PC was Seventh-Day Adventist, not Muslim.

Anyway, I went for most of the day today without a computer, which was really kind of annoying. Even more annoying was that once I got it back, I had to reload all my preferences, bookmarks, and startup software. Even more annoying is that the clock is wrong. Why is that even more annoying you ask? Simple, because this machine uses Windows NT, I need administrator privileges in order to change the time in any way. Why my systems department feels that the clock is sooo crucial to the successful working of my computer that they forbid anyone else from changing it is beyond me. And before anyone lists all their excellent reasons for doing so, answer this – if it is indeed so crucial, why did they mess it up on the reinstall? At this point I’m too tired, I’ll have someone fix it tomorrow.

Last night I had a dream that I ran into Arnold Schwartzenegger in a shopping mall in London where he was selling some of his paintings. Naturally, I perused them, and while doing so he continued to whip them out one after the other, while at the same time schmoozing with the crowd – ever the salesman. They were contemporary in style, sort of like a combination of
Rothko and Mondrian’s more geometric work. And he was selling each piece for about $300-$500. I found a scrap of canvas in the shape of a Dodge Charger that he had painted but not mounted in a frame that was more reasonably priced. I bought it from him and as I handed over the cash I mentioned that this would actually “…go really well with the Sylvester Stallone original I had at home”. I recall him looking at me as though he didn’t appreciate the comparison, but I don’t recall if he said anything. It was one of the sort if weird dreams that I have on occasion that I really enjoy…

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dawgs, drinks, and darn good music...

Wow, that was quite a weekend. I’m a little depressed that it’s over actually. So much fun and so many exciting adventures to detail…

Thursday evening I picked up my buddy from Cleveland (who we’ll call “Mr. T” for my amusement) we didn’t do much that night except watch Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, because it is a surreally accurate representation of me and Mr. T’s friendship…except without the riding of cheetahs or the pervasive marijuana use…oh, and I’m not Asian. Other than that, it’s a very accurate representation.

On Friday we hung out in the morning before heading out for the Cubs game at 2:20. On the way there, we stopped in at Demon Dogs for some real Chicago-style hot dogs. For those of you not from the Chicago area, Demon Dogs is an institution. Nestled under the Fullerton El stop it’s chock full of 1970’s rock memorabilia (e.g. gold records from Chicago and Van Halen, autographed guitars from Aerosmith, etc) and serves a pretty decent cheap dawg. It’s supposedly going to be razed by the Chicago Transit Authority if and when they ever refurbish the Fullerton stop, but since CTA is broke at the moment DD got a stay of execution. Which was good for me since I’d never been there. It was fine. The dogs were good and the fries found the perfect balance between crispy outside and soft potatoey inside.

We arrived at Wrigley at about 1:00 and starting drinking immediately upon arrival. Estimates of the total amount of beer consumed between Murphy’s and the other place down the street who’s name I can’t remember is a little fuzzy, but it was more than 3. By the time the game started I had a good buzz on, and called the GF to say hello (note: this was not - I repeat NOT – a “drunk dial”. Those came later.). We found our seats and were treated to an excellent first 8 innings of baseball as the Cubbies clawed back from 1-0 to take a 2-1 lead into the 9th inning. Where Latroy Hawkins proceeded to blow the save by beaning one of the Phillies in the head trying to throw him out at first. It was shocking how they so elegantly “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” as Mr. T put it.

Needless to say after such a depressing ending, more drinking was needed. So we made our way over to the Cubbie Bear and I drank more while Mr. T flirted with the clamoring hordes of Lincoln Park Trixies who were giving him the once-over. By this time I was pretty lit up but now completely stupid-drunk (drunk dial #1 here, but placed ingeniously to the GF’s work number, thus ensuring she couldn’t tease me about it until this afternoon). After a few hours at the CB we went to some other bar for more beer and commiserating with fellow fans (drunk dial #2 here – no shame – called the GF’s regular number but she didn’t pick up, mercifully. I asked her about it later and she claims that there were no understandable words she could make out. I think she’s just being nice.). All told I was drinking from about 1 until 9, when we left, came home and passed out.

Saturday was spent sleeping in late and re-hydrating. Then around 4:00 the GF came over to pick me up for the Nine Inch Nails concert at the Congress. Since it is pretty close to my place, we walked there. I was all set up in a polo shirt and cargo pants, but the GF nixed that and clad me entirely in black so I’d look as though I was carrying enough ennui to blend in with the rest of the crowd. We got there just as the doors had opened, so even thought he line ran down Milwaukee Avenue about 3 blocks, it only took about 20-30 minutes to get inside.
The Congress is an old movie theater that has been “refurbished” into a venue for concerts and whatnot. As I walked in through the lobby I was struck by how pretty it must have been when it was in its prime. I pictured crowds of people coming in to watch John Wayne movies where everyone was speaking Polish. In any event, despite what the pictures on their website look like the venue has been beat up all to heck. I don’t know how old those pictures are, but they must be at least 10-15 years because many of the seats have been horrifically abused, the paint is spotty in places and faded throughout, and in general it looks a lot like a venue that has been abused by multiple crowds over the years. Sad, but…what does one do?

The show itself was interesting because of the variety of different people at the concert. Yes, there was the requisite assemblage of goth-kids (and goth grownups, for that matter), disaffected high schoolers, and punk rock kids. But there was also a collection of BaCWeMs (BAseball-Cap WEaring Meatheads), LPT’s (Lincoln Park Trixies – including several who were wearing flip-flops in the mosh pit, as well as one who was wearing a skirt so short that – to quote the GF – “…she’s basically saying to everyone in the pit ‘stick your hand under my skirt and grope my ass!’”), and the general alt-rock crowd wearing t-shirts proclaiming their allegiance to a particular band.

The opening act was the Dresden Dolls, who was a suitably Goth-esque duo of a piano player/singer and a drummer. Fine enough music if they were playing in a lounge somewhere, and they won over the Goth kids quickly. But they failed miserably to appeal to the rest of the crowd, and suffered massive heckling from the BACWEMs. Rather than ignore them, the lead singer tried to talk back. Big mistake. It was kinda depressing actually, in a "Tonto! Don't go to town!" sort of way. But at least they only played for 40 minutes or so, and their song “Coin-Operated Boy” was enough of an earworm to stay in my head for a majority of the weekend (crap, now it's in my head again...).

The NIN show itself totally rocked out though - I was amazed. Trent Reznor is a fantastic showman. And the GF seemed very close to having seizures at several points throughout the evening because she’s a massive Trent fan. I am glad I met her first because if Trent got to her before I did she wouldn’t be the GF, she’d be the GISOAABPBNTT (Girl I Saw Once At A Birthday Party But Never Talked To). I prefer the former.

Off to prep for a meeting this morning…

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Break

For those of you wondering where I've been I have a buddy of mine in town from Cleveland. Many hi-jinks have ensued, and much alchohol was consumed. Tonight is the Nine Inch Nails concert with the GF, so the adventure is only beginning. Have to go return to hosting duties now, but tune in for a special Sunday presentation where I'll catch everything up. Or Monday at the latest.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The assault on American values from the far right has gone too far!

Legislators in Texas are apparently up in arms about dancing. Not exotic dancing, mind you, which can be controlled through carefully monitored trapping and leg banding programs. No, our large belt-buckled brothers to the south are having a hissy-fit about cheerleading, of all things.

I know - I’m just as shocked as you are. I mean when you think Texas, you think of a bunch of drunken rednecks speeding around in pickup trucks covering the earth with their tobacco juice and trampling or shooting anything living within a 100 yard radius in all directions (with the exception of the area around Austin, which I have been to and found is actually quite nice and populated with reasonable and friendly people, and also millions of bats who are also reasonable and friendly). Despite that, they all claim to love America. Yet these same language-mangling, gun toting, America-lovers are talking about rounding up cheerleaders and putting them in camps!

Okay, maybe not camps. But still, it’s totally hypocritical. Texas was the first state to give cheerleaders asylum when they started emigrating from their native lands in central Asia in the 1970’s due to a Soviet crackdown on booty-shaking and cleavage. Unable to practice their native traditions of high kicks and human pyramid building, the Cjerlydrs (as their people were called at the time) sought political asylum in the USA. Because Texas was big and resembled the vast desert wastelands of Central Asia (with the exception of Austin which is a lush and verdant paradise populated by lush and verdant bats) the government decided to settle them around Dallas. At first, Texans weren’t quite sure what to do with them, but eventually the Cjerlyder people found work practicing their native traditions along the sidelines of Cowboys games. What started as “Celebrate Other Cultures Day” became a regular event when Cowboys management noticed that the drunken wahoos in the audience stopped their tradition of violent property damage during halftime to stare, transfixed at the Cjerlyder native dances. Since that day, the Cjerlyders have been assured a place in Texas society, and Americanized their name to “Cheerleaders”.

But now Texans apparently have a problem with the ageless traditions of their Central Asian guests. Apparently they now think that the dances are getting too “suggestive” and
want to ban Cheerleaders from high schools throughout the state. Obviously this is a complete farce. I mean, if you ban Cheerleaders, what’s next? Teachers? Night nurses? Naughty librarians? Where does it end? Thankfully, my good friends over at the ACLU have stepped up and launched a fight against this misguided legislation. This is why I’m a card-carrying member – to preserve the rights of immigrants from Central Asia to shake their booty in expression of their love for America, freedom, and mom’s apple pie.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The power of the web COMPELS you!

Does anyone know how these work? I'm fascinated with the obviously massive amount of programming that must have gone into designing them. The fact that modern-day computers are powerful enough to manipulate algorithms so complex that they can not only predict who wants to "bang" me but also how many times is frightening. Think about what would happen if this website got out to all of humanity? Dating as we know it would end, because everyone would just type in their name and favorite food to find out who wanted to jump their bones.

Just think! No more awkward blind dates that you know are destined for failure after minute #2. No more "It's not you, it's me" speeches given in a desperate attempt to slough off a massively co-dependant semi-stalker. No more screening calls to avoid the skeezy weirdo you gave your number to in a drunken haze at Funky Buddha. No more sitting at your computer for hours on end trying to assemble a Match.com profile that makes you sound nice but not boring so you'll actually get people to respond to your emails.

And where does it end? No doubt hundreds of government scientists are working feverishly in massive underground bunkers perfecting the next generation of this technology. Soon I'll be able to know what my kids will look like and whether they will have moved out by the time they turn 25 simply by entering my height and the color of my underwear. My election as president of the US will be foretold via my shoe size and the number of days since I last called my mom. And the likelihood that a particular woman will "Go Wild" on-camera will be determined by the number of vodka-cranberry cocktails consumed in the last hour and her proximity to a beach somewhere...wait...we have just been informed...yes, that algorithm has already been calculated by the scientists at the Tara Reid Institute for the Advancement of Nipple Exposure ("Finding new ways to embarrass ourselves since 1975!"). See how fast technology moves forward?! I'm agog, I tell you...

Monday, May 02, 2005

What do may flowers bring?...Pilgrims!

Yesterday was the greatest day in recent human history. After three years in darkness, suffering through television garbage like that show with Wanda Sykes, Family Guy premiered with a whole new season of shows! It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in years, and the GF will testify that there were several moments where I was laughing so hard I was in tears (five words: “And knowing is half the battle”). It was awesome. They started off the show with a little short where they rattled off all the crap titles that Fox has started and cancelled in the three years that FG has been off the air. It was a long list, and must have taken then at least 2-3 minutes to get through them all. While most of the list was utter drivel, (e.g. the Wanda Sykes show…aside: who on earth finds that woman funny? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) there were some shows I remember liking very much (“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “Undeclared”). I blame Fox for killing them off through bad scheduling, just like they’re currently doing with “Arrested Development”.

Other than that, the rest of the weekend was pretty quiet (I mean what wouldn’t pale by comparison?). I spent an hour or so yesterday morning pulling weeds in the backyard. Or, at least I was pulling everything that I could easily identify as a weed. See, whereas both my parents and my little brother have been gifted with some sort of innate gardener gene, I received some recessive gene that means I kill plants faster than a tidal wave of Roundup. Because of this, my parents learned that there was no point to having me help in the garden when I was growing up. So, other than dandelions and thistles (which are ubiquitous) I’m not really sure what’s a weed and what’s supposed to be back there. It doesn’t help that the developer of my building planted “perennials” back there where some of them are probably weeds to begin with. So I pulled all the dandelions and thistles, and I’ve got my eye on a couple other suspicious-looking characters who are showing weed-like behaviors (bullying the ivy, picking fights with the violets, stealing the fern’s lunch money, etc). I was a little surprised that the weeding itself took almost an hour. And it seemed longer.

Also yesterday, I finally had my “unfitness assessment” at the gym (remember, the one I joined about a month ago?). Turns out that I’m not in as horrible shape as I thought I was. My body fat is above average for my age, but my aerobic conditioning is in the 80th percentile. I’m still horrifically inflexible though, so I’ll be doing lots of stretching, but that was really not that much of a surprise. Still, I wonder how bad I would’ve scored had I not already been hitting the gym for a month. In a way, I’m glad it took this long.