Friday, September 30, 2005

Quickie II, Electric Boogaloo

OMG, I'm so addicted to these things...and this one is way cool.

Warning: iTunes required for this one, well, not required to *take* it but required to enjoy the benefit.

Weird quickie

According to this, I'm just about as old as I act, which surprised me a little. I would have thought I acted much younger than my real age. Honestly, this makes me a little sad...

Grrrbear's Actual Age: 30
Grrrbear's Results: 29

Oh, it's just a phase...

As an adult, my nerdiness is not confined to any particular topic, but rather ranges across the intellectual wilderness - much like the wily puma. My friends have come to accept this fact, and now use me as a reference source for questions they have regarding movies, Shakespeare, the battle of Midway, Greek mythology, etc, etc, etc. I get at least one call a week from friends in other time zones looking for confirmation that the pseudonym directors use for films they made that suck is “Alan Smithee”, or whether Walter Matthau was a stage name, or what is the proper name of the offspring between a lion and a tiger (depends on who the father is – Liger if the dad is a lion and Tigon if the father is a tiger).

But what people don’t know is that this nerdiness is not inherent in my brain, but rather was built up over the years through various obsessions. Starting around 3rd grade, I went through various phases where I would be obsessed with a single subject and would clear out the library of any book on it to read and re-read multiple times. It started with space exploration and went through Norse Mythology, Greek/Roman mythology, military hardware, the battle of Midway, geneology, wilderness survival, the biology of wild animals (remember Zoobooks?) and so on. Eventually, I started running out of topics to obsess over, so I obsessed about obsessing all through high school by reading the encyclopaedia from a-z, most of the dictionary, and the World Book Year Books from 1968 through the early 1980’s. This created the trivia-freak that I am today – built layer upon layer of obsessive phases, like a hand-dipped homemade candle (a phase from 5th grade).

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this was that while reading through Wil Wheaton’s
WWdN in Exile, I noticed that he had the exact same ventriloquist dummy that I had when I was in my ventriloquism obsession in junior high. It was fun, to think about how at that time we were (more or less) at the same place in our lives. Of course, now he’s gone on to become a semi-famous actor and world-famous blogger and he’s married with kids while I’m still single (well, “not married” at least) and sit in a cubicle all day. Where did I go wrong, I wonder…

This weekend the GF's parents are in town for the start of a two-week vacation in the big midwest. So she's entertaining them while I get to replay the role of single machelor for most of the weekend. I'm sure I'll be meeting up with them for dinners and whatnot at some point, I'm just not sure when. I imagine this is what it must feel like for doctors to be "on call". The GF will call any moment and I'll be off to dinner somewhere or a show somewhere. I don't really mind though, her folks are fun people who I like spending time with. I know - total score for me. It would really suck if they were ex-CIA agents or ultra-conservative senators or Jane Fonda like so many of the other in-laws you see in the movies.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

John Gray is such a twit

Apparently, the Pitt v. Aniston divorce becomes final this Sunday. I, for one, could not be happier. Not because they are getting divorced (I wouldn’t wish that on anyone) but just because it’ll be done and able to both get on with their lives. Honestly, this is just silly. Personally, I blame reality television, movie studios, and Robin Leach. Why? Because they have been producing so much crap lately that America’s love for scandalous drama is going largely unfulfilled amid all the stupid “real people yelling at each other “ faux drama parading about on screens large and small. Remember when you couldn’t flip more than three channels without running across scandalous drama on television? Dallas, Knots Landing, Dynasty, Twin Peaks, 90210, Melrose Place, Silver Spoons…*those* shows knew how to portray scandal. And it was cathartic for those of us with dull ordinary lives.

That’s when Robin Leach shows up with his “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” – instantly exposing middle America to the extravagant lives being lived by actors in Hollywood. We were fascinated by how much their houses looked like movie sets, their clothes looked like costumes, and their “assistants” looked like coked-up strippers. “Heck,” we thought to ourselves, “those people must lead lives just like Blake and Krystle Carrington. I mean, everything they own looks straight off the set of Dynasty!”. Mystified and entranced, we all awaited more…But none was forthcoming. It seems that celebrities have this whole thing about people with cameras walking into their houses to film their collection of hummel figurines. And when the scandalous dramas were kicked off television and replaced by stupid game shows and reality television copycats, America grew angry. And we sent out the paparazzi to quench our thirst for scandal. Robin Leach had shown us the way.

So now celebrities can’t spit in public, go out with friends to a club, roast marshmellows in the woods, or
pee themselves without a picture of said event being slapped up on magazines and E! the next day. Given that, is there any real question why Brad and Jen split up? Let’s ask John Gray “PhD” – author of the craptastic collection of common sense labeled as self-help – Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus:

"Aniston and Pitt had very little chance of lasting,'' Gray told The Associated Press. "They started out like the prom king and queen. He was the sexiest man and she the sexiest woman. That kind of pressure makes it hard to make a relationship last.''

Well, thanks for clearing that up “Doctor” Gray. The way you shed light on such a complex and difficult subject is amazing! No wonder you have a
“PhD” in Psychology (to go along with your MA in “the Science of Creative Intelligence” from the Maharishi European Research University).

Next on “Chattin’ with Doc Gray”, the “Doctor” helps us understand why people drown when trapped underwater, why bricks can’t fly, and how you can turn bread into toast using everyday kitchen appliances!

Sheesh…it boggles my mind that people actually think this guy has anything to say that is any different from what their best friends would tell them. Rather proves the point that just because it’s in a book doesn’t make it true.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What would you sell on your website? Can't make up your mind? Do what this guy did!

One of the interesting parts of my job is getting exposed to competing companies who sell the same stuff. Or, who claim to sell the same stuff we do. Usually, their websites are pretty uninteresting. But today, I came across the world’s most fascinating website. When you first open it up, you won’t find anything terribly interesting. In fact, it looks like 99% of the other little companies out there selling hardware. But as you scroll down you’ll see that the breadth of product that they offer goes from the strange to the truly bizarre as you descend, measured by the number of times I hit “Page Down”.

1st page down: (A little weird)
LCD TV with built-in DVD player
Case of 50 Western Movie DVD’s
Case of 72 bottles of detergent

2nd Page Down: (Bizarre)
“Ultra Compact” DVD player
Hot&Cold Water Dispenser
“Pretty in Pink” Pedal Cars
Red Guitar Set
Minnie Mouse Talking Phone

3rd Page Down: (Down the Rabbit Hole!)
Sky Princess Tricycle
Girl Cruiser toy motorcycle (with flower!)
“Hand Crafted Trivet Baskets” (what’s a trivet and why do you need a basket to collect them?
“Beautifully Crafted” Die Cast Models

4th Page: (Okay, here’s the hardware)
Air tools
Vises, Locks, Hand tools
Power tools (Milwaukee, Nikota)
Wholesale golf clubs (oh crap, here we go again…)

5th Page: (AAAIIEEEEEEE!!!!!)
More pedal cars
Velvet shawls
Velvet Ponchos

6th Page: ([Passes out])
Beaded Hand bags
Belly Dance Products (for “Performance and Leisure”)
Flamenco Piano Shawls

7th page and on:
Finally, the actual hardware.

So, ladies – I ask you this: when you are tearing your hair out trying to figure out where to get that belly dancing ensemble with only two days before date night, where would you go to find it? A website named “”? I thought not.

Obviously, an entrepreneur gone out of control with a “crafty” mother-in-law who owns her own loom and is nuts about beads...

“Fine mom, fine, I’ll let you sell your ponchos on the website, but if you think I’m actually going to sell Uncle Bobby Joe sell his pedal cars I’m drawing the line…Whadda you mean ‘write me out of the will’?…Oh all right…whatever mom...Belly dancing outfits? Sure, I give up, sell whatever you want…”

Monday, September 26, 2005

Frankly, I'm a little glad he's gone anyway

On the way out to run errands this weekend, I was walking down the back stairs to the garage when I saw the largest spider web I had ever seen. And square in the middle of it was a big spider. Not camel spider big, but definitely a healthy fellow in the prime of his life who had accomplished that greatest of feats in the spider world – not being eaten by a bigger spider or a housecat.

Anyway, I paused for a moment to admire "his" work (I know, it could have been a female, but given the size of this web I suspect he may have been compensating for something, so I’m assuming it’s a guy...just go with me on this). He had run silk from the second landing of the stairs all the way down to the bottom of the railing where the stairs met the ground – a distance of at least 15 feet. Then he ran another support strand from about midway through this strand up to the top of the railing, and started making the spiral. Thus, the web itself was probably 2’x3’ at a minimum, and the lord of the web sat in the middle, where he had just finished snacking on a small fly looking very smug and self-satisfied.

I pictured him in much the same way that one pictures the one-hit wonder pop stars on MTV’s “Cribs”. Not the truly famous ones, but rather the flash-in the pan type who walk you through from room to room, saying trite clichés like “And this is where the magic happens” when showing you the master bedroom. Because you know that in a few years, this guy is going to be flat broke and playing county fairs in the middle of North Dakota trying desperately to preserve his one-hit wonder cultural relevance. I felt the same way about this spider. First because his web was sooo big that it would probably not survive a rainstorm, and secondly because he had placed it right next to the stairs where anyone living in my building would see it, be freaked out and take a broom to it. Of course there was no telling Mr. Spider this. He was confident that he was right, that he had built his dream home in a perfect location, confident that it would stand the test of time against all that nature and mankind could throw at it.

We sat there for a while, him looking at me and me looking at him. Then I figured I’d leave him alone for now and let him enjoy his dream – his magnum opus, per se – for just a little while longer. I knew he was going to lose his house anyway, but as Nietzche said “It is nobler to declare oneself wrong than to insist on being right - especially when one is right.” By the time I returned, I saw that the rain had washed his house away and the spider itself was nowhere to be found.

This got me thinking about architectural hubris – of both man and spider. We’ve seen so many instances in the last month where our best efforts to beat nature get bitch-slapped (spider or man). The difference is that with man, we insist on going back and building the exact same web in the exact same place, and getting someone else to pay for it. The spider, on the other hand, moves someplace less likely to be destroyed and gets on with his life. Who’s the one with the tiny brain again?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Northern MN Cities have the best names*

Yay! The first frost of the season! Woo-hoo!

I am a freak of nature. I realize this. For a long time I thought of myself as a normal, regular kid. Growing up in Minnesota, I grew accustomed to the thermometer reaching unusual depths at an early age. My elementary school had a rule that unless the air temperature (note: not wind chill, the actual temperature) outside was colder than 40 degrees below zero, we were outside for recess. Since we were holy terrors at the time, I’m certain that rule was bent more than once in an effort to get an hour of free time to rest. In particular I’m pretty sure we drove Mrs. Alliota to drink during recess. Some days when we were not quite at -40° and the teachers kicked us all out to complain about us and chain-smoke, we’d be outside huddled against the leeward side of the building in a vain attempt to preserve body heat until we were allowed back inside. When I saw the huddles masses in March of the Penguins, I totally had flashbacks.

But the side effect of all this is that I grew dependant on the cold to be happy. My perception of hot and cold was irrevocably altered so that I’m perfectly content outside in –30° weather but a pathetic whiner when the mercury hits 75°. Everyone who knows me knows how much I hate being hot. And as global warming spirals ever onward towards massive global heat waves driving humans north where we wage a war for land against polar bears and mutant harp seals in a Beyond Thunderdome-esqe post-apocalyptic existence, I’ll be on the side of the polar bears. Now that I live in Chicago, I miss my six months of winter. People here complain when it gets below 20°. Wussies…

In 40 years or so I just know I’m going to be the cranky old man who goes off about how nobody really knows cold whenever someone mentions it’s “getting a bit chilly”. Then I’ll be put in a home where the nurses will insist on keeping me covered with massive down quilts and away from drafts. Hopefully I’ll have a granddaughter who’ll sneak in ice cream and Popsicles. And then I’ll tell her exciting and wholly concocted stories about serving in the Spanish American War with Teddy Rooseveldt and how I was a member of the Superfriends (but never made it on the show because as Invisible Boy I wasn’t very camera-friendly).

*My other favorites: Happy Wanderer, Climax, Nebish, Coffee Pot Landing, Dumblane, Nimrod, Motley, and Pillager

Wishes really *do* come true!

I have recently discovered that I do, in fact have super powers. Twice in the last two days, I have been sitting at my desk doing what tools of the man do when for no reason at all I’ll start thinking about a person, who will then call me approximately one minute later. I’m completely serious. Yesterday it was the GF, and today it was my old college roommate (no, not the one with the blog, a different one) C.Lo calling to ask advice about whether he should take the settlement his insurer is offering after his car accident. Granted, the GF and I talk more or less daily, but I haven’t spoken to C.Lo almost all summer. This is particularly weird because I only recently was blogging about how I often daydream about superpowers. Suddenly – I possess them. Coincidence? I think not.

Rather, I think that Bill Gates has grown tired of world domination and has now decided to become a genie. Being fairly new to the business, he can’t really grant big things yet. Rather he grants little, practically useless wishes to those who blog about big wishes, to see if they will be grateful or bitter about it. If grateful, he lets the person keep the power in hopes that he will use it to buy more Microsoft products. If the recipient is a whiny little weasel, Bill has them roughed up by his gang of evil otter-thugs (in their cute little biker jackets, with the little chains and the teeny little metal spikes and the little tattoos that say “Live Slippery or Die!”. Awww…)

So Mr. Gates, wherever you are, I say thanks! I’ll take my psychic ability to see two minutes into the future with respect to the next person who will call me on the phone and try to use it to aid the forces of good. And I’ll buy the Windows Vista update when it comes out. Please…no otters…

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hollywood's going to call any minute...

Great, just when we finally get a decent documentary that doesn’t proclaim some religious or political agenda, the right gets the idea to make “March of the Penguins” into this year’s “Cash-in of the Priced”.

Come on people, they are birds, not Baptists. The interesting thing about the whole argument is that the RR* is treating the content of the movie in exactly the same way that they treat the content of the bible – viewing it as an enclosed space with no before, no after, and where nothing occurs outside of it.

Let’s look at the facts. Emperor Penguins do go through an amazing process to raise their young. All the “walking, freezing, egg-laying, more walking, starving, binging, more walking, barfing, and repeat”? Amazing, obviously. But they don’t do it for Jesus, they do it because they need tax deductions.

You may think that I’m now going to go into the debate about whether
gay penguins are also Christian or are they lustful pagan hedonists who have “made the choice” to veer away from the straight and narrow. That would be taking the easy way out. Instead, I’ve been thinking about what other animals might make for the next great Christian documentary movie. After all, since penguins boink a different mate every year, there’s not much chance for a sequel that would maintain the monogamous theme they would be shooting for (Picture it, the baby penguin comes home to find he’s got a new daddy! It would be titled “March of the Penguins II – Who’s that Man with Mommy?”). Here’s the list I’ve compiled so far:

Plight of the Honeybee – A young lady honeybee is chased from her home at a young age by her murderous mother. She flies to a far-off place where she engages in a huge orgy with dozens of virile young males. She is so potent that her lovemaking kills them shortly afterwards. This causes her to feel guilty about her hedonist ways so she swears off sex forever. But, fortunately for her, she has been impregnated by all her suitors! Finally, a way to make up for killing them – by carrying all 10 billion of their offspring to term! She finds a nice shady home and proceeds to squeeze out kid after kid, with each one feeling a wave of redemption. Her kids, grateful that mom wasn’t on birth control, decide to build a giant church out of their own poo where they can all live.

Moral of the story: Even the sluttiest girl can be forgiven provided she doesn’t use birth control and squeezes out billions of kids.

Salmon in the City – Sammy Salmon is living the good life in the ocean with his buddies from home. They gorge themselves on smaller, weaker fish. Bullying them by chasing them down before swallowing them whole. They drink to excess (some would say they drink like a…umm…like a…oh, what’s a good simile here, I dunno…oh hang it all…suffice to say they drink a lot), hang out with rough crowds at school, and generally behave like wild beats for six years. But then, one day he and all his buddies get a strange empty feeling inside them – they have no recollection of their parents and hardly any memory of home and family! So, they make a pact to all return home and millions of them start on a kooky road trip where they have adventures galore, avoiding bears and driving against traffic. After a week or so they return to their hometowns exhausted, shouting “Mom? Dad? I’m home!” But there is no response. Their parents have left them behind because, as they find out from a friendly local crayfish, their parents died shortly after Sammy and his friends were born. Overwhelmed with grief, Sammy heads for a local sandbar where he proceeds to drink like a…like…oh alright he drinks like an Irishman in a vain attempt to drown his sorrows. Feeling the effects of drink, he hooks up with a complete stranger and has sex with her without getting married first! Then he dies. And he’s eaten by otters; evil otters who use his skull as a bizarre helmet for their pagan belly-sliding rituals.

Moral of the story: Honor thy mother and father, sex before marriage will kill you, and otters are not to be trusted.

Roddy the Pious Cicada – Roddy was a good boy, ever since he was a larva. He stayed close to home, sucking on a tree root because that’s what good cidacas did. He never talked to girls because he didn’t even know where they were, none of them ever came over to suck on his tree root. His parents were so proud when he was accepted into Pupaeversity nearby, because it meant he could come home for more tree root sucking with the family. After two years of underpupae study he graduated and immediately applied to engineering school, which he completed in another two years. He was now 14 years old and his family was ready for him to settle down with them at home and suck more tree roots, maybe working as an engineering for Cicada Electric.

But Roddy had heard rumors about a place called “the real world” which was full of excitement, where there were many others like him who were just starting out their lives. He felt an urge, and despite his parents’ wishes one night he ran away from home and started digging up, up towards the light! Bursting through into the brilliant rays of sunshine! Strange, overwhelming feelings overtook him then. He felt his clothes starting to get tight…so…tight! He had to take them off! To be naked, to be free! He stripped of his clothes to find that he had wings underneath them. All this time he could fly and he didn’t know it! He leaped into the air flying with abandon! What a joy! All the new things in this new culture to see and do and experience! Sure, there weren’t any tree roots to suck around here, but who needed tree roots anymore!? Why would his parents have not wanted him to come here?

That’s when it happened. He felt a strange burning sensation in his loins! He needed something…but what? He didn’t know! His eyes turned red with lust as he began hunting around trying to find the object of his desire. He flew at anything that moved: flowers, trees, squirrels, pedestrian commuters – anything in his attempt to find fulfillment. Without tree roots to suck, he felt the emptiness inside him growing. That’s when he heard a siren song eminating from a nearby tree. Flying nearby he saw what he knew would make him happy – a six-legged, red eyed winged jezabel, luring him closer. He moved towards her, clinging to her in a passionate embrace, hoping to find the same sort of happiness he had once gotten from sucking tree roots. But alas, when he was done she left him. Roddy was crushed. He never should have left his tree root. That’s when he dies of syphilis, contracted from the temptress. His lifeless body falls towards the ground, but it’s eaten by a bat before it reaches the soft earth next to the tree roots that he loved so much.

Moral of the story: Sucking tree roots is a metaphor for chuch – get it? If you stop going to church you’ll get syphilis and then you’ll be eaten by evil bats because they are in league with the otters. Don’t ask why Roddy’s cicada parents were still alive if all cicadas die after the 14-year mating cycle – Roddy was adopted and raised by earthworms. Earthworms with masters degrees in entymlogy, which is why they told him not to go because they knew what would happen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

How long has this been around? How did I miss it?

  1. Go to Google
  2. Search for "failure"
  3. Experience the truth

Or, if you're lazy, click here.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

In the past 24 hours I have had at least three good ideas for topics to blog about enter my brain and throw massive, wild parties to show off what great ideas they were. We all danced, laughed, and shook our respective thangs. But then I get distracted by the real world or a particularly attractive daydream and when I finally get back to mentally refining the blog topic, I find that the party’s left town – I’ve completely forgotten what I was thinking. It’s like waking up after the party’s over all cotton-mouthy and wondering how you lost your boxers but not your pants.

It’s particularly difficult for me because I have a hyperactive imagination that is prone to daydreams. My daydreams are also usually recurring, or at least cover similar subject areas. Sometimes it makes paying attention really difficult, especially when I’m bored (e.g. departmental meetings, waiting in line, watching the latest Woody Allen movie). Poe once said “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” If this is indeed the case, I’m mind-bogglingly cognizant. So cognizant in fact that I’m aware of things that I’ve never heard of.

Most of my daydreams fall into one of a few select genres. While I know that I could theoretically daydream about anything, I’ve narrowed it down in order to make sliding into the daydream easier. Thus, I present to you my top 4 daydream topics. Hopefully, there are some new ones for you to try out the next time you’re stuck watching a Woody Allen movie against your will:

Topic 1 – Ethical Dilemmas Posed by Having Magic Powers
It should surprise nobody that as a much younger nerdling I played a fair amount of Dungeons and Dragons, where I usually played as a wizard. No doubt, my choice of characters helped develop this topic. I usually daydream only slightly about what I would do with magical powers, choosing instead focus on the tough choices I’d have to face provided I develop them in the near future. Would I come out as a public wizard, solving problems such as pollution and cancer in broad swaths of goodness? If so, would I seek to earn a living as a wizard by performing magical acts of lesser magnitude? How much would I charge the city of Chicago to enchant all their streets to keep them from cracking and prevent potholes? Would it be unethical to do so in light of all the contracting jobs that would no longer be put out to bid for local contractors?
Alternatively, would I maintain a secret identity (always wearing a deep hood so nobody could see my face) popping up here and there to save people from fires and Ecuadorian attack dogs? The advantage is that I’d at least get to have something of a private life. I could go out to a play without having people ask me to magically restore their thinning hair. But I’d always have to carry the hood around just in case a disaster happened, and then there’s the trouble of finding a phone booth to change in these days…
Or would I simply be a behind the scenes power broker – deciding the results of elections, influencing powerful people into not being such bastards about screwing everyone else over, and “accidentally” releasing Microsoft’s source code for Windows on the internet? But then I’d see politicians taking all the credit for the good works I’d done. Or the radical Christian right would say Jesus did everything).

Topic 2 – Superpowers
Another favorite topic, similar to Topic #1. While I often address some of the same ethical dilemmas as in #1, my superpower daydreams are often much more focused on choosing the actual superpower itself. Because I like to make things difficult for myself, I never imagine myself having multiple superpowers a la Superman. Typically, I limit myself to one or two, and then think about which powers I would want. Frequently, this involves choosing between two comparable powers (e.g. flying vs. the ability to talk to animals, mind reading vs. x-ray vision, shape-shifting vs. telekinesis, etc).
Then there’s always the “Superhero? Or not to Superhero?” debate. Whether or not to be a glorified superhero or just use my powers to help out around the house and play jokes on people.
I don’t use this topic as often as topic #1 simply because superpowers are inherently more limiting in their scope. With magic you can do just about anything whereas superpowers are pretty much a one-trick pony. So I usually use this one when time is limited because it’s easier to move onto other things knowing that my daydream has covered all superpower bases.

Topic 3 – Women
Not the sort of naughty things that you’d picture a guy daydreaming about (well, not all the time) but more the sort of hypotheticals that we men use to calibrate our massively complex algorithms for what we find attractive. Comparisons and choices mostly, based on a genre that I think up at the moment, typically of the “Who would I date” variety. For example, I think of the genre “Women who died under mysterious circumstances” the topic boils down to choosing which girl from that genre would I date if I was given the option (in this case – Natalie Wood beats out Amelia Earhart by a significant margin). Other sample genres could include “women from old Hollywood” (Vivien Leigh), “women who guest starred on Friends” (Elle Macpherson), “women who are cartoons” (Jessica Rabbit - duh), and “women from the James Bond movies" (Domino from Thunderball).
Alternatively, sometimes I’ll go in the other direction, picking two women I find unattractive and trying to decide which I’d choose if a gun was held to my head. Genres here include “women who are stupid” (Paris Hilton or Britney Spears), “women who run empires” (Martha Stewart or Oprah Winfrey), “women from reality television” (Sharon Ozbourne or That Gotti Woman). Typically, these choices are much more difficult than the other kind.
I don’t use this topic as often as I once did, but that’s just because the GF has thrown off the scale a bit. It’s tough to choose between the apple and the orange when I’ve already got passion fruit. Elle Macpherson just can’t compare - it’s not fair, really.

Topic 4 – Hey I’m a Millionaire
I usually only use this one on the rare occasions when I’ve bought a lottery ticket. I don’t buy them unless the jackpot is well over $100 million (typically, being an uber-nerd, I calculate the expected value of winning and wait until the actual prize value makes the expected value more then the $1 cost of a ticket). But I think about how much I’d invest for a future income stream, how much I’d donate to charity (and which charities I’d choose), how much I’d give to family, how much I’d put into building my own Batcave, etc. It’s hard to spend much time on this one because I’ve already gone over it so many times most of it’s already planned out. Now I’m just refining the main plan.

There they are, my top 4 distractions for when I have good blog ideas. In fact, I can’t even remember what the original idea for this posting was. I had a point when it started, dammit. Oh well, maybe I’ll remember tomorrow…

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Warning - This post contains massive run-on sentences. Take with food or milk.

Yesterday morning on the way into work, I stopped into the local Walgreens to pick up some more allergy medication. Because my allergies usually come with sniffles, I switched over to Claritin-D this spring, and it’s been much better. Thankfully, I only get allergies for a couple months in the spring and again in the fall. Because I’m not a sucker for marketing, I always buy the Walgreens generic version of any over the counter medications (e.g. Wal-itin, Wal-vil, Wal-iphed, Wal-atrim, Wal-stones vitamins). What I find interesting is that with the Methamphetamine craziness that’s taking over the country, Walgreens has taken to locking up all its branded products that contain pseudoephedrine. However, if you’re a meth junkie you can still buy the Wal-versions of pseudoephedrine containing drugs, because those are not locked up. Obviously, Walgreens has stumbled across a fantastic way to pump up sales of generics: tapping the meth junkie market! Genius, I tell you…

That is not the point of today’s post however. After helping boost Walgreen’s 3rd quarter profits, I got back into the car when I was suddenly struck blind. No, I’m not mistyping, I felt a slight pressure on my face and suddenly the world was all fuzzy – with no discernible details. I paused for a moment before realizing that my glasses were gone, having been knocked off my face by my car door as I got inside the car. After searching around the parking lot, I located them by feeling around my back seat. I was a little surprised by the fact that they ended up all the way back there, but I was also surprised by Renee Zellwegger's citing of "Fraud" as the reason for filing for an annulment - and I seemed to be dealing with *that* okay. So I moved on and headed out for work.

This episode got me thinking about a number of things about life I hadn’t considered before.

  1. I lead a life much more “on the edge” than I thought I did. For me to have my glasses knocked off by my car door as I am getting inside means that I’m unconsciously “buzzing the tower” every time I get in. Scary. What if sometime I get in too fast and slice the whole top off my head? It’s not like I have any hair to protect me anymore. Man, I need to slow down a little. I’m on a path to self-destruction and I don’t even know it.
  2. You know all those scenes in Scooby Doo where Velma loses her glasses and then crawls around saying “I lost my glasses” before stumbling across the foot of the monster (who she thinks is Scooby) and then she says “Boy Scoob, I’m sure glad to see you. Help me find my glasses.” and then the monster gets on all fours and looks around making the weird “EEEUUUURRGGHH” sound that all monsters do on Scooby Doo which Velma thinks is Scooby’s stomach growling causing her to say “Boy Scoob, you sure sound hungry, do you need a Scooby-Snack?” to which the monster makes the sound again before Velma throws one into its mouth at which point we discover that the monster really likes Scooby Snacks and starts wanting more which leads to hi-jinks with Velma refusing to give the monster anymore Scooby Snacks until they find her glasses while the monster grows more persistent and irritated and starts looking around frantically of course by then Velma has found her glasses, puts them on, then turns around and sees she’s actually been talking with the monster and not Scooby so she sneaks out of the room backwards, leaving us to laugh at the monster’s now-futile attempts to find the glasses along with the laugh track? Yeah…those scenes could really happen. Before they seemed implausible but after my experience they have an air of credibility.
  3. All the nerds we see on TV sitcoms who are wearing the elastic glasses strap on their heads to hold their glasses in place weren’t nerds – they were being very practical.

All told it was a very enlightening morning. Like an after-school special only at 7:00 am and not starring Tracey Gold, Meridith Baxter-Birney, or anyone else from "Family Ties".

Monday, September 19, 2005

Taking the "bridal shower TP-dress" to extremes

Isn't it just a shame when rowdy teenagers run amok, TP-ing popular hollywood actresses?

Although, judging from the fact that she's possibly nekkid under the TP*, maybe it was a band of rowdy conservative republicans running amok. Like when Ashcroft covered the boobs of the Justice statue.

*Then again, she may not be. Being a guy I'm not as current with the latest developments in panty technology.

I didn't see Tara Reid or Lindsay Lohan though...

On Saturday night a friend of the GF’s had a birthday party at a “club” downtown, where we could get free drinks for the first hour after opening. Ordinarily, I’m not much of a clubbing sort of person, but I figured that it would be a good opportunity to do something different with my weekend.

The first problem is that I never know what to wear to clubs. I rectified this quickly however by wandering between the bathroom (where the GF was getting ready) and my closet (where all my clothes are) while making uncomfortable-looking faces and occasional “hmmm” sounds. Mercifully, the GF eventually picked up on my incredibly subtle signals and asked if I needed help. When I said yes, she sashayed over, pointed to a short and slacks, and then retreated to the bathroom to finish up. God, she’s good. It would’ve taken me hours to assemble the same outfit. Left to my own devices I would’ve come out of the closet wearing cutoff jean shorts, necktie around my head, and a garbage-bag poncho shirt.

When we arrived at the club of choice, we met M (the GF’s friend from work who I call that because I don’t remember her last name, not because she is James Bond’s boss). M is totally fun and neato, and her boyfriend works at the club so he got us in for free. Then we were ushered (ushed?) into the back room where we got our free drinks and chatted. Throughout this whole process, I kept noticing the wide variations in what people viewed as “club-appropriate” attire. While in line I saw someone in a trucker hat, and inside was all manner of variations on the “untucked button-down shirt with jeans” look for men. Women could pretty much wear whatever they wanted, provided it was tight or showed massive cleavage. This led (of course) to a few colossal muffin-tops, but for the most part it was a lot more dressed down than I thought.

I mentioned how funny it was that these folks paused before the mirror on their way out to say to themselves “Oh yeah, I look good!”. Of course, the hypocrisy of my saying such a thing, when only a few hours before I’d been unable to dress myself, was lost until just now when I wrote this. Umm...yeah...anyway...

The rest of the evening was fun with dancing (or, at least, my attempts at dancing; also occasionally serving as drink-holder and coat rack since as a straight guy I'm not allowed to raise my arms above my shoulders while dancing) and people-watching in the most diverse group of people I’d been in since moving to Chicago. There were blacks, indians, asians, whites, latinos, you name it. That was maybe the best part of the evening actually. It was like our own little United Nations of Funk. But as the night progressed, the sight of watching more and more men vying for fewer and fewer women on the dance floor got a little tiring, so we adjourned after giving birthday wishes.

Sunday is not worth mentioning. The Vikings lost, my fantasy team lost, and I got a migraine. It was such a crummy day that I think I’m going to skip watching football and read books instead next weekend in hopes that will reinvigorate my teams’ lust for victory. No better way to get them to want to make you happy than to ignore them, right? Just like in 7th grade?

To the government, my life is worth about $3.00, apparently

Did you know that the National Guard wants to send you to get killed over in Iraq? In return, they will give you three whole iTunes downloads!!!

Wowsers! What a deal, huh?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Where's the decapitated chicken head from "Cluckin' Chicken"?

Advertising Week, a trade magazine for the ad industry, has released this year’s survey of America’s favorite ad icon. They also have a survey for America’s favorite ad slogan, but that’s not as interesting so I’m not writing about it.

Let’s look at some of the contenders. Note, before we start, you must know that Tony the Tiger, Mr. Peanut, Pillsbury Doughboy, the M&M candies, and the AFLAC Duck are excluded from this year’s poll because they were the winners (top 5) from last year’s poll.

Budweiser Clydesdales: Don’t talk much, but they play football. And they don’t discriminate against minorities. Still, they may like being in the harness a little too much, raising rumors of an underlying S&M fetish. On the other hand, they bring people beer.
California Raisins: Please, these guys were cool for about 12 minutes back in ’88. And who eats raisins anymore?
Cap’n Crunch: I love the Cap’n, but isn’t anyone worried that he has a built-in neck brace in his uniform? Maybe that’s a ploy to get sympathy votes.
Charlie the Tuna: Please, this guy kills dolphins. That’s why he wears a mask.
Coppertone Girl: If this happened today, that dog would be euthanized. But as an ad icon, we think it’s “cute”. How sick are we?
Doublemint Twins: Their schtick is that they look alike. Just like every other set of identical twins. Still, who among us men hasn’t made a “double your pleasure” joke involving them?
Energizer Bunny: Just keeps going and going, could easily do crossover work for Viagra. But of course, you knew I was going to go there.
Geico Gecko: I hate the gecko. I wish those cats had actually eaten it instead of just breaking its arm.
Jolly Green Giant: Yay! I love this guy. Partially because he’s from Minnesota, and partially because when I’m facing an ethical dilemma, I ask myself “WWJGGD?” and it usually sets me straight.
Juan Valdez: He’s not a stereotype because he was invented by Columbians. That makes him a symbol to be proud of.
Keebler Elves: Holy crap! I didn’t know there were that many of them! They’re like mice or cockroaches – where there’s one, there’s more.
Kool-Aid Pitcher: Hmmm…only uses monosyllabic words, prone to fits of random wall-smashing violence, huge “kool-aid” gut…was this the inspiration for Homer Simpson?
Lucky the Leprechaun: Given that those kids are always stealing his lucky charms in full view of insurance adjusters anywhere, could he ever get a homeowner’s policy? Or even renters insurance? So he must be homeless because one would think his other stuff gets stolen too. “Those kids are always after my plasma screen/surround sound combo!”. Yeah, that’s lucky for you…
Maytag Repairman: So, he’s been employed for 20+ years, and he’s never worked a day in his life. Why the heck is he sad? Come do my job for a day, I’ll give you something to be sad about you whiner! Oops, now I’m just cranky.
McGruff the Crime Dog: I always liked him, but he made me fear strangers. Even to this day I think every van on the road with no windows is someone ferrying kidnapped children to a textile mill or an asbestos mine somewhere.
Michelin Man: Poster child for obesity awareness.
Miss Chiquita: Must…resist… “I’ll give you a Chiquita banana” joke…
Morton Salt Girl: Looks too much like a New Orleans resident “finding” food.
Mr. Clean: His eyebrows are white. Either he’s really old or he bleaches them. If he’s old, he’s more buff than I ever will be. He’s a bald Jack Lalaine. If he bleaches them, then he’s obviously got a little OCD. He’s a bald David Sedaris.
Nike Swooch: I don’t think this even belongs in this contest. A swoosh is a logo not an icon. Sheesh, we admit this and then god knows what would be allowed in; Britney’s navel?
Ronald McDonald: Oh, this guy is sooooooo gonna win. Who doesn’t like Ronald? If you don’t then you’re a terrommunist! That’s right, a combination terrorist and communist. Take that. You’d better be lovin’ it.
Seat Belt Dummies: Isn’t is just a bit weird that the message these guys promote is that seat belts keep you from getting killed in a car accident, but for all the accidents without seat belts that they get into they always come out fine?
Snap, Crackle, and Pop: Remember when they were just elves, before they got all skateboard and hip-hop? Yeah, because Tony Hawk and Jay-Z don’t leave the house without a big bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast…
Smokey Bear: What other icon uses the threat of physical violence to push their message? I love this guy. His message is “Start a forest fire and I’ll personally come down there and kick your ass. Yeah, I’m talking to you punk. You think you can take me? You think you and your tribal armband tattoo and your Zippo lighter can bring it? Go for it man, I’m a friggin BEAR. Hmph, I thought so. Now put that fire out.”
Trix Rabbit: Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a commercial for Trix? Has anyone see the Trix Rabbit lately? Maybe he just disappeared like Amelia Earhart. Maybe he disappeared with Amelia Earhart…
Vlasic Stork: I can’t get into pickles. It looks too much like green poo floating in a jar. And I don’t trust birds that tell me to eat poo because it’s “crunchy”.

In the end, my predicted top five are:
#1) Ronald McDonald
#2) Smokey Bear
#3) Budweiser Clydesdales
#4) Nike Swoosh (because people are tools)
#5) Maytag Repairman

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The likely response: "Why didn't you go before we left?"

Okay, let’s say you’re the leader of the free world. Responsible for the well-being of hundreds of millions of people. You meet with kings, prime ministers, sheiks, and chiefs on a regular basis. You decide the fate of thousands of people in countries overseas. You decide what ideas become law in your country and which get thrown in the shredder.

Sounds like someone who’s got it all together, right? Someone who’s focused solely on communicating the ideals and principles of his country to a world eager to listen? Who thinks of nothing but how to make his country a better place?

Unless he needs to go potty, apparently.

Yes folks, this is Presudent Shrub writing a note to Condi Rice at the UN meeting yesterday.

(If you can't read it, the note says "I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible")

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Don't confirm until you see the whites of his eyes!

The Olsen twins have really grown up. From chubby-faced, weird-looking babies they have morphed into Skeletor-faced, weird looking multi-millionaires. And they continue to really find their footing as they settle into their lives as power-hungry mega moguls. In the most recent development, they have announced that after having no success in finding acceptable boy toys on the market they have decided to grow their own. Spokespersons for the pair explained that this strategy was due to both competitive pressures from Demi Moore and Cameron Diaz and the fact that statutory rape laws limit their pool of available options.

On a completely different topic, how long do you think it will take before this picture shows up in your inbox?

It’s a close-up picture of Chief Justice nominee John Roberts at his nomination hearings. I knew that the process was a stressful one, but after seeing this shot I’m pretty convinced that I don’t ever want to be nominated for any government post ever. Unless I can take liberal amounts of muscle relaxants and am allowed to wear sunglasses. Maybe if I feign blindness or a super power…

SENATOR CARROT TOP: “Mr. Bear, this is a congressional hearing, would you mind removing your glasses for the committee?”

ME: “Mr. Senator, I apologize, but due to a genetic mutation, if I remove these glasses powerful beams of plasma energy will shoot forth uncontrollably from my eyes. In the interest of your personal safety, I would request that I be allowed to keep them on.”

SENATOR BONO: “Really? Well, the committee appreciates your tact and concern Mr. Bear. How long have you been suffering from this mutation?”

ME: “About 15 minutes now.”

SENATOR ROBERT BYRD: “I like jello!”

And it would go on from there. So tune into CSPAN-17 in about 30 years and catch the rest! Although, maybe I’ll be trumped – Roberts’ eyes look like something’s going to shoot out of them any second, maybe he’s just saving it for dramatic effect on day three.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Grrrbear on boobs

When I first started this whole blogscapade, I figured my writings would be of passing interests only to those people who already knew who I was: friends from work, school, or family. But instead I found myself with an audience of complete strangers, who stumble across my blog and for some reason keep coming back for more. I thought these people were weird, but they seemed harmless enough so I didn’t pay much attention. But then, being the good Midwestern boy that I am I felt obligated to check out their blogs and it turns out they are cool people with interesting lives who are frequently as funny or funnier than I could ever be. And I think this is really part of the fun.

For instance, one of the blogs I stumbled across* had a posting about boobs and how the writer was mystified by how her husband was still as fascinated by then now as he was when she was a teenager. Frankly, I’m a bit mystified as to why women aren’t fascinated by them. George Carlin once did a bit about how it’s a good thing men don’t have boobs because if we did we’d sit around the house all day playing with them and never get jobs. Think about it and the scary thing is that you start thinking “Yeah, he’s got a point there”. In fact, some anthropologists might speculate that the reason men** get jobs to begin with is that we like interacting with boobs and desire to do so on a more regular basis. But boobs are fickle and generally don’t like hanging out*** with homeless dudes or at the guy’s mom’s house. So we get jobs to acquire the resources to support further boob studies. This leaves us with the following three truths, and their logical conclusion:

WHEREAS: Boobs are the foundation of most (if not all) economic activity – at least outside of butt-centric cultures (e.g. Mixalotland, People's Republic of Booty).

WHEREAS: Men use resources gained through their economic activity to gain access to more boobs – even if said activities will result in undesireable consequences (e.g. going to strip clubs, buying implants for the Canadian woman he’s dating over the web)

WHEREAS: Similar things have been said about the things people do to gain access to crack and crystal meth.

THEREFORE, it stands to reason that boobs must be just as addictive as crystal meth.

So why is this addiction so powerful? I have two theories. First, it goes back to babyhood. When men are babies (as when they are adults) we’re either happy or unhappy. When we’re happy we’re great. But when we’re cranky, or sad, or crying we can make life miserable for the women in our lives (i.e. mom or sig.other). When we’re babies however, whatever is making us upset will invariably be pushed aside in our mind when mom takes off her top and we nurse a little – even if we’re not really all that hungry. Think of it. One minute life is horrible, then, you see a boob, and life is great! This continues for months, years even – all through a boy’s babyhood.

I know what you’re thinking, ladies. “But women nurse too? Why aren’t we so fascinated by boobs like men are? We were just as happy to see them when we were babies, right? Huh? HUH? Where’s your precious little theory now smartypants?”

This is a fair point, but an easily answered one. Baby girls are probably just as enthralled by boobs when they are infants, but they also go through that wonderful experience of getting boobs themselves…and in junior high too. I don’t know what it’s like but I’ve seen enough teen television to get the idea****. Ordinary activities like jogging, playing jump rope, and competing in community trampoline contests are transformed overnight from fun and exciting events of skill and style into horrifically embarrassing "very special" episodes of teen angst. Not to mention the psychological torture of buying your first bra form some old lady at JC Penny and getting fitted for the first time. No wonder women lose their boob fascination.

Men, on the other hand, lose all access to boobs during their time of greatest awkwardness and pain - adolescence. This is the second theory: the supply of available boobs drops precipitously as a man gets older, thus increasing the value of whatever boobs a man *can* gain access to. It explains why 13 years old boys are constantly stealing glances at playboys, victorias secret catalogs, manniquins in the lingerie section of Macy's, anything they can find - all for the purpose of regaining the inner peace they got as babies. Their quest is usually futile - or even punished if they are caught - as our society has decided that teenage boys can only be exposed to boobs through PG-13 movies starring Amanda Peet (who I think has been topless in every movie she has ever been in). After the teen years, men begin dating with more sophistication and their success rate of getting actual boobs to play with increases proportionally. To the point where by the time we get married, we are allowed to play with them again much more than a typical 13 year old. However, having gone through the lean times of our teenage years we recognize their value and treat them like gold.

So, in conclusion. While men eventually grow up*****, we still carry around this Pavlovian response to seeing boobs. We can’t help it, we’re just the victim of years of psychological brainwashing into equating boobs with happiness and contentment. Don’t believe me, women of the world? Next time your boyfriend/husband is being difficult just show him your boobs. He may not admit that you’re right and he’s wrong but it will cause him to sit quietly for a few minutes to allow you to collect your thoughts.

*And now read regularly, darnit...*another* interesting person
**Straight men, at least
***No pun intended
****I know what happened to Soleil Moon Frye
*****Well, grow "older"

Monday, September 12, 2005

If an idiot elects an idiot, why can't he un-elect him?

I had been thinking of devoting today’s post to the excitement of the start of football season, but with the pathetic losses of both the Vikings and my fantasy football team (thanks in large part to Daunte Culpepper tanking) I’m going to ignore it and move onto a more fascinating topic – the current popularity of the “impeach Bush” movement.

Okay folks, I loathe President Shrub as much as the next guy. I am sick at how he was first elected, I’m irritated at how he won again in ’04 (on mine and the GF’s 4th or 5th date, sadly), I hate the way he has taken a divided country and made it so much worse that open hostility is not only acceptable but considered a proper expression of “right” vs. “wrong”, I am furious that he has exacerbated America’s image as a hypocritical nation by the world, and I am depressed by his patent refusal to ever admit or accept his own failures.

That said, I think the movement to impeach him is pointless, however admirable the intent. First off, most of these people promoting this idea across the blogosphere have no idea how impeachment works. In the United States a president can only be impeached if he is accused of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”. Yes, he lied about WMD’s in Iraq but he didn’t to it under oath - so he didn’t commit perjury. He’s a moron, and has been guilty of multiple acts of ignorance and idiocy while in office – but he cannot be impeached for incompetence, ignorance or idiocy*. So until he’s caught on film personally strangling Bill Frist for flip-flopping on stem cells we’re just going to have to put up with him.

But the idea won’t die just because it’s not possible. That’s what I find so fascinating about the whole thing. Rather than going out and doing grassroots campaigning to get people talking about solutions to these problems and trumpeting better ideas for how to run government, the Dems (both those in office and those who only think they’re in office) are following the same old “shriek like a little girl about how Bush sucks and we hate him soooooooooo much because he’s a big stupidhead!” mentality. So, in the end, everything is going to get repaired, the dead will be buried, “refugees” will settle into new lives in new states and the shrieking will die down and we’ll forget about it and start worrying about who’s going to win the next Amazing Race or the NFL playoffs. Just like Karl Rove wants us to – because Americans have no attention span.

Think I’m wrong? When was the last time you heard anything about Valerie Plame? Halliburton’s no-bid contracts? Heck, even the Iraq War?

*Sadly, these are not felonies in the US...yet.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I prefer my oxygen unscented, actually

I’m going to try and wrap up the MN trip stories today, so I’m skipping Saturday. Not much happened that day anyway. It was pretty chilly outside for September (60’s) and rainy most of the day. The GF met some of my buddies from high school who are still in Minneapolis, all of whom are married with kids. Fun, but nothing terribly memorable.

Sunday was spent in Saint Paul where we visited the Minnesota History Center – home of Grainland, a ginormous jungle gym shaped like a grain elevator:

You can climb in and chose which grain you want to be – wheat or corn. Then, you follow different paths all the way back down to the floor. Totally fun, but there’s something about being a grownup that makes crawling on your knees much more painful than it was when you were a kid. I could only to through it once before my knees wouldn’t let me go anymore. The GF didn’t fare much better, suffering a skinned knee because she didn’t see a step on the way up to the top. Just goes to show you that, much like sharks and strange dogs, you must show Grainland proper respect, or it’ll attack you viciously.

On Monday, we had a flight back to Chicago in the afternoon, so we decided to hook up with my little brother (Lil’bear) and introduce the GF to capitalism’s holiest shrine – the Mall of America. Being natives, Lil’bear and myself find the MOA to be just another mall. It’s bigger, and it’s got some stores that are a little unusual, but for the most part, it’s just like all the other malls out there. When it opened it had some truly unique stores (my favorite original store was the one that sold art made of weird metal wireforms and dead butterflies) but now it’s more or less the same stores you see in all other malls (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Sephora, EB Games, etc). But still, there are a few brave souls who color outside of the lines and open the sort of weird stores that heralded the MOA’s heyday. We visited some of them, including the wedding chapel and the Minnesota Public Radio Store. We also rode the new roller coaster that is pretty fun (picture sitting in a tilt-a-whirl and spinning around as you ride down the track instead of facing forward in your seat) and went to Underwater World (not Atlantis, but rather "the world's largest underground aquarium"*. But the most interesting experience was the oxygen bar.

Yes, the Mall of America finally has its very own oxygen bar. It markets itself as a “relaxation station” where folks can come in and (for $20) breathe scented oxygen. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have even considered it, but at this place, you also get to sit in comfy massage chairs. I figured that I’ve paid way more than $20 for a massage, so what the heck. Plus, the GF was excited about it (I think because it appealed to her inner southern Californian). So, we all buckled in and were given our own green “nose hose” – which looked like the tubing that people with emphysema wear – and were each settled into a massage chair next to the oxygen machine. Each machine had four “aromatherapy” scents that you could choose from. Mine were Peppermint, Lemongrass, Strawberry, and some sort of new-agey name thing that I can’t remember (something like “emphatic”, I think). I inhaled deeply, hoping to experience the oxygen high I’d been promised while the attendant turned on the massage chair…

That’s when the truth was revealed. The “massage chair” was not so much a massage chair as it was a device of torture. It felt not like a massage but instead like there was a wrathful midget trapped inside the chair that was heck-bent on clubbing me to death with a lead pipe – even in the calfs (calves?) of my legs. It was so painful that no relaxation was possible, and when coupled with the collection of potently-smelling gases that they referred to as “aromatherapy” it brought the fun level down to about “tooth extraction”. Still, determined that something must be good about this I stuck it out for the full 15 minutes, when I was unhooked and allowed to head back up to the front desk for 5 more minutes of different-smelling aromas (just as potent) and a free “energy drink” which tasted like drinking Dr. Pepper syrup straight up. Blech.

By the time the GF and Lil’bear came out we all agreed that this was pretty much the biggest waste of $20 any of us had ever experienced.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Quickie II

Wow this is *totally* fun. Which are you? Nerd? Geek? or Dork?


From the "What were they thinking?" file. Thanks to The Roost.

No wonder scientists are trying to resurrect mammoths from frozen DNA

It was an exceptionally long day at work yesterday, meaning I didn't get home early enough to write up the next chapter of me and the GF's adventures in Minnesota. I'll catch up tonight, but because I feel an obligation to have something new this morning, I'll just describe my theory of how men will eventually end up being rounded up and put in camps so women can run the world by themselves.

In the old days, men's jobs were simple and clearly defined. Men went out and killed mammoths, declared and fought wars, and provided sperm for the next generation. Women, on the other hand, hung out for billions of years honing their multitasking skills (parenting plus cooking/cleaning) and negotiating skills (haggling in the marketplace, getting the cave-husband to wash the mammoth blood off before sex).

As humankind has evolved, multitasking and negotiating skills have become more valuable due to their importance in politics and business. Mammoth killing and war, on the other hand became increasingly irrelevant. This left sperm as the single remaining contribution that men make. Some men discovered a talent for the arts, but they frequently took themselves out of the gene pool early due to fast living (Mozart), suicide (Hemingway), or syphilis (Van Gogh).

Well, now, thanks to the Brits, even sperm might not be enough to keep us around much longer. It's only a matter of a few years before we're all phased out fellas, so quick - pick up a paintbrush, develop your acting skills, finish that novel! Because if you don't it's off to the camps where we'll be viewed by passing tour groups much like a pack of hyenas in the zoo.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Now kids, don't b*tch-slap America - it's not polite

After hitting the midway, we explored the various livestock exhibits. While on the way there, we were stopped by the most persuasive garbage can we had ever seen. So effective was it that we decided to demonstrate its point in that I like to call “live action patriotism”:

As you can see, the GF (playing the part of litter) is receiving a retaliatory slap from America (played by Doctopussy). In retrospect, this re-enactment doesn't really effectively recreate the trashcan. To be truly accurate, litter would have to be littering *and* slapping America. I'll fix it later in post-production.

The exhibits themselves were held in a succession of four buildings devoted to goats/poultry, cattle, pigs/sheep, and horses respectively. The goats were small and quite vocal, so they got a lot of attention from the GF and Doctopussy. Much petting was involved, particularly if the goat was young and small. Then we wandered into the poultry section, where we were amazed not only by how many types of chickens there are, but also by how freakin’ ginormous they can get. For example, consider the following:

Notice two things off the bat – first this chicken is nearly as big as the GF’s torso. Second – it’s completely evil. Those beady little eyes, the razor sharp beak, the menacing countenance. If there hadn’t been iron bars between it and us I would have been out of there. And it wasn’t just this chicken that was big – they were all this big. I took some comfort in imagining how many chicken nuggets would be extracted from each one in a few days once the fair was over (this one scored a “twelve-piece plus happy meal” on the Grrrbear scale of nugget potential). Mmmm…chicken nuggets…

After cruising through goat/chickenland, we hit cattle. But we only looked at dairy stock, since the GF doesn’t like pondering the eventual burgerness of beef cattle (probably a good thing, since modifying my game into estimating burger potential would have been way harder). We scored free samples of udder cream hand moisturizer and saw a life-size model of a cow stomach. Then we hit pigs, but only long enough to see the baby pigs and the biggest hog contest winner (who weighed in at a little over 1000 pounds – a big drop from last year’s winner who clocked in at 1400+). That was pretty much all the GF and Doctopusy wanted to see, since they have not spend nearly as much time in Iowa as I have (and therefore I have acquired an immunity to piggy smell). Horses were next, but they were actually pretty dull since they were a little skittish or tied facing the other side of the stall (great if you want to watch pooping, but boring otherwise).

After finishing up with the animals, we walked over to the handicrafts building, stopping along the way to admire the butter busts of Princess Kay and her attendants:

At the handicrafts building, we were assaulted by quilt, after quilt, after quilt. The Gf and Doctopussy were both into quilting, but me? Not so much. I focused my attention on the bizarre – like a larger-than-life mosquito made entirely of embroidery or crochet (I don’t know the difference):

And a hand-made kayak made of wood. Complete with inlay of maple leaves.

Crazy what people have the time to do these days…

By this time it was almost 7:30, so we said goodbye to Doctopussy and headed back for my dad’s place. However, on the way home, the GF spotted a thift store. To the GF, going through a thrift store is comparable to finding an uncharted desert island – you just know there’s treasure if you search hard enough. For me, it’s another opportunity to find weird examples of the detritus of humanity. So we headed in – the GF off to explore rack after rack of clothes and me to find the weirdest thing I could purely for the purpose of blogging about it. And oh, did I score big:

Yes kids – it’s a box of Asian (not sure whether that's Chinese or Japanese) rat poison. Still factory sealed! What better to bring home from the thrift store than rat poison? Makes a great gift!

We didn’t buy that, but we did make off with a electronic crossword puzzle game for my stepmom and a vintage 34mm movie camera plus bracelet for the GF. Everybody won!

And think...this was only the first day there! More adventures tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Yah hey dere, ya got enny a' dat Pepto-Bismol in yer bag?

The first full day spent in Minneapolis was spent at the Minnesota State Fair. For those of you who have never attended this extravaganza of gluttony, it consists of three main sections that essentially boil down to food (deep fried, and almost universally on a stick – even spaghetti), farmin’ (cows, chickens, alpacas, quilting, jams, dairy princesses), and fun (the midway).

The adventures of the GF and me at the fair began with me meeting up with my friend I’ll refer to as "Doctopussy" in light of the fact she’s currently in med school and she’s not one to be trifled with – much like the anti-heroine in the Bond film of the strikingly similar name, except without the cadre of unitard-clad gymnast ninja-assassins. After catching up and doing introductions we headed off in search of my holy grail of the day – the deep fried Twinkie. Mercifully, we had happened to enter the fairgrounds right next to where the DFT stand was positioned. Thus allowing me to start off my fair day in the best way possible – chock full of cholesterol. It turns out that they don’t just deep fry the Twinkie, they coat it with some sort of cake batter first. I theorized that this was designed to protect the delicate structure of the Twinkie from the ravages of the searing heat of the boiling oil. And sure enough, after simmering in the oil for what semed like 5 minutes, the Twinkie emerged covered with a crispy batter outside, yet inside the Twinkie itself was warm and gooey. Sort of like an éclair, but without all the nutrients. The GF and Doctopussy also tried a bite, and found it delicious. But only I was able to feel the full effect, as the hardening of my arteries more than offset any decalcification my bones have suffered over the last five years in only 30 seconds!

Another odd thing about the DFT is that it magically caused my stomach never to fill throughout the day. Here is a brief list of everything I consumed in the six hour period I was in the fair: (WARNING – DO NOT TRY TO EAT THIS COMBINATION OF FOOD AT HOME! I am a professional junk-food muncher…)

1 Deep Fried Twinkie (with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce)
1 Corn Dog (with ketchup)
2 bites of Doctopussy’s Cotton Candy bag (the size of a pillowcase)
1 Bite of the GF’s Cheese on a Stick
1 Funnel Cake
1 serving of Cheese Curds
½ of a Dole Whip cone (pineapple)
5 Chocolate Chip Cookies (with milk)
1 Deep Fried Snickers Bar

Suffice to say, I didn’t eat again until lunch the next day.

About the time I had finished munching on the GF’s cheese-on-a-stick, she expressed a desire to hit one of the funhouse rides that ordinarily travel the highways of America’s backwoods looking for rednecks to swindle out of their money. I was game for that, so we got in the little car and headed in for almost 20 seconds of spine-indifferent terror. Since it was daylight, we could pretty much see all the “animatronic” creatures before they activated, which somewhat deflated the experience. It was fun, but in a hokey “Hey, that was as realistic as Daniel Laruso’s shower costume in Karate Kid” sort of way. But little did I know that the GF had plans for me. A few minutes later (right after consuming a vast plate of funnel cake) she told me she wanted to go on MAGNUM PI – THE RIDE, which resembled the bastard offspring of a drunken coupling between The Scrambler and a Tilt-a-Whirl only covered with painted likenesses of Hawai’s most famous detective since Hawaii Five-O. It was a much more aggressive ride, and lasted for a good 4-5 minutes. Ever the trooper, the GF also gave new meaning to the term “screamed like a girl” which made the ride way more fun than it ought to have been, so I give her props for stepping up. It was a good time.

After finishing at the Midway (where, incidentally, the GF also won her own stuffed dog in a rousing game of Whack-a-Mole, which I attribute to her blatant use of performance-enhancing whackabolic steroids) we headed over to the farm animal exhibits, where the GF and Doctupussy cooed over all sorts of baby animals.

But that’s for tomorrow. Don’t be upset – there’ll be pictures to make up for it!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be sane again

I have so many stories to share from the weekend that it’ll probably take multiple postings to cover everything. Suffice to say that the GF and I had a fabulous time in the northland. We didn’t see everything that we could have, but we enjoyed the (mostly) lovely weather and did see more than enough things to fill at least this week’s worth of posts. Sorry to those of you hoping to get all your MN news in one fell swoop – you’ll just have to be patient.

We left on Thursday, right after work. I arrived at the airport about an hour and a half before the plane was to depart, but the GF (having to take the el out to O’Hare) arrived about a half-hour later. This left us with just a half-hour before the plane started boarding. Thus, was the GF introduced to “grrrbear the airport nazi”. You see, since most of you have never flown with me, you don’t know that I am hugely paranoid about getting caught up in delays at the airport (whether it’s traffic on the way there, lines at check-in, or backlogs at security checkpoints). So typically I arrive at the airport 2-3 hours ahead of my departure time, leaving more than enough time for all the possible delays as well as some reading at the gate. Once I hit the 2 hour mark, I get edgy. At an hour and a half, I become a little terse. Anything less than an hour, and I start to transform into the airport nazi. Symptoms of airport naziness include fast-walking, long periods of no talking, and a general proclivity for rapid-head turning as I evaluate the best way to navigate the vast herds of slow people (none of whom have ever been in an airport before, but all of whom decided to take their first flights on the day I am running behind schedule). In moments like these I am – in a word – unbearable.

To her credit the GF held up well under these circumstances. She even forgave me for abandoning her at the gate on our return flight so I could run down the jetway and claim all available overhead bins for us and our two carry-on bags. My other flight-related “quirk” is that I am constantly afraid of not having overhead space available near my seat. So I always run ahead to get in line immediately when my seating area is called, so that I can have my pick of overhead bin space. The GF (being a mature adult and knowing by this point that I’m a complete freak once I step onto airport property - so there’s nothing she could do to keep me from charging down the gangway like a maddened bull elephant anyway) ambled along at a much more reasonable pace, and arrived in her seat next to me a few minutes later. By then, there was still plenty of bin space available. But I was flush with the thrill of victory, having stowed our carry-on bags in the bin directly above our seats. Anyone who says it’s not a race doesn’t carry baggage that won’t fit under the seat in front of them.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

MMmmmmm...funnel cakes.....

Tonight the GF and I are winging off to Minneapolis for a long weekend of meeting my dad, touring the city of my youth (she’s never been), and most importantly – the Minnesota State Fair. I am anticipating spending significant amounts of time eating deep fried twinkies, walleye on a stick, mini-donuts, and funnel cakes. I’ll probably also examine the latest state fair entrée – spaghetti and meatballs on a stick – but I don’t think I’ll have room to actually try it. The GF will probably also want to see the animal exhibits (horses, bunnies, baby goats, and all sorts of other cuddlies) whereas I’ll be all over the midway in an effort to win her a ginormous stuffed animal of some sort that will no doubt be waaay too big for the overhead compartment.

The rest of the weekend we’ll be playing tourist and revisiting the nerdly haunts of my youth like the Science Museum, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden, and Grainland at the Minnesota Historical Society. There will also be the obligatory visit to the Mall of America (I’m bringing an extra bag in the event that much clothing is purchased in a state with no sales tax on clothes).

In addition to all the touristy-fun, the GF will be introduced to a significant proportion of my friends – from people I met at work who are now in med school at the U of MN to friends from high school with their passel o’kids. There should be many exciting stories to share upon my return. My folks do have ‘net access, so postings may still be coming tomorrow, but it’s just a question of whether I’ll have the time. In case I don’t post – have a great weekend!

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