Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Quickie - Grrrbear on Grrrbear

Typically, I ignore these things, but this one seems like it might give insight into my leetle brain without being overly pervy or boring or too much work on my part.
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
-"Man, I need a haircut. I wonder if I can do it after work tonight?"

2. How much cash do you have on you?
- About $65

3. What's a word that rhymes with "door"?
- whore

4. Favorite planet?
- Animal

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone?
- I only have a "Received calls" list. 4th is my radio-star friend Jen.

6. What is your favorite ring on your phone?
- I only use one. It sounds like a phone ringing. I *hate* using songs as ring tones.

7. What shirt are you wearing?
- White with vertical purple, green, and black stripes. Unless you include the undershirt.

8. Do you "label" yourself?
- Only with a "do not sell past" date.

9. Name the brand of shoes you're currently wearing:
- Kenneth Cole

10. Bright or dark room?
- Bright. I'm at work and there's tons of flourescent lighting

11. What do you think about the person who sent you this survey?
- I stole it from another blog.

12. What were you doing at midnight last night?
- Sleeping. Dreaming something that I promptly forgot once I woke up.

13. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
- "Still have xtra tix? I may know someone else whod be interestd" - friend B.Da, asking if I still had tickets to the hockey game on Sunday

14. Where is your nearest 7 - 11?
- They just opened one at the corner of Milwaukee and Fullerton. I won't go there because its too far away. Target's closer anyway.

15. What's a word that you say a lot?
- Bitch. But only in humorous contexts.

16. Who told you they loved you last?
- I don't remember. There was a lot of love this weekend what with the birthday and all.

17. Last furry thing you touched?
- B.Da's dog Drake.

18. How many drugs have you done in the past seven days?
- Just some Allegra-D a few days ago.

19. How many rolls of film do you need to get developed?
- Sheesh, I've been all digital for about 4 years now, although I did have a roll developed from a disposable camera after my trip to Baltimore a few months ago.

20. Favorite age you have been so far?
- I don't think I have enough perspective on it yet, but 30 was an *awesome* year. 26 would be a close second.

21. Your worst enemy?
- The man

22. What is your current desktop picture?
- Composite of the earth from space showing dawn spreading over the middle east. Europe is still dark, and you can see the lights of the various cities.

23. What was the last thing you said to someone?
- Making plans for a big group dinner outing at a Chinese place I learned about recently with a friend.

24. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly, which would you choose?
- Million $, no question. Besides, flying must be cold once you get to altitude and I'd imagine it'd get kind of lonely flying by myself.

25. Do you like someone?
- Yes

26. Do you answer your home phone on the first ring?
- Heck no. Caller ID all the way.

27. The last song you listened to?
- "I didn't steal your boyfriend" - Ashley Simpson on the infernal friggin crappy work music

I love the smell of "cute" shoes in the morning - smells like victory!

Another amusing thing about the weekend's activities. After the show on Saturday, the GF and I walked out into what had become a steady drizzle. I was aggravated that I hadn’t brought my umbrella, but the GF suggested we “do some shopping” and looked around for a Walgreens – I assumed she was looking for a place we could pick up an umbrella cheap. I thought that was a fantastic idea, but we couldn’t find a Walgreens. Although we did find the Nordstrom Rack store, where right inside the doors were two stands of umbrellas, including a kind that opens and closes automatically! I was in love – so I grabbed one and made ready to leave only to see the GF had started perusing rack after rack of Neutrogena lotion and stuff, and then the rack of clearance sunglasses, and then the table of designer watches. At that point I knew I had lost her.

This is because the GF and I have different definitions of the phrase “do some shopping”. Whereas my definition consists of “Enter store to find what you need and leave” hers falls more along the lines of “Enter the store and walk around, looking for anything ‘cute’* that isn’t overpriced”. So now I knew that I was destined to be in the store for probably 45-60 minutes(minimum) and any pressure I exerted to leave would only make me look stupid, since we really didn’t have anything else planned for the evening. Besides, here was an opportunity to test my ability to figure out stuff she likes – a skill that comes in very handy when occasions for gift-buying present themselves.

Admittedly, I also got caught up in the crazy influence of sales – buying a 500 single-ply thread count sheet set for $75, two cedar shoe trees, and two pairs of jeans that actually fit**. But once I was done looking for me, I went in search of the GF in hopes of observing her shop and in so doing learn more about her tastes. Of course, she was in the shoe section. “Dammit!” I thought to myself, “she just had to be in the one place I don’t know anything about what she likes – why does she make this so hard for me!?!?” Still, undeterred, I stepped over and watched her pick over the piles of shoes stacked like dead fish with a dissatisfied look on her face. Ever the helpful one*** I pulled out a shoe from the pile and said “What about this one?”. That one crashed and burned – the heel was too tall. So I tried again, but my second choice burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp - dismissed (kindly) as “too dressy”. Finally I tried one last time, figuring that if she didn’t like this one that I’d just give up and assume my role as “packhorse who carries stuff and coats”. But this one elicited the sound all men love to hear – the surprised gasp of happiness!

Ladies, you may not know that we guys have identified and classified many of the sounds you make on a day-to-day basis. But rest assured we have done so, and present any new sounds we discover at our monthly meetings for integration into the system. The surprised gasp of happiness is the sound you make when we suddenly and for no obvious reason achieve success in pleasing you in a way you never before thought possible. It happens for both big events (married ladies, think of the sound you made when he pulled out the ring) and small ones – say for example when your fashion-challenged boyfriend pulls out a “cute” shoe from a pile of footwear detritus you had already written off. I proceeded then to find two more pairs that she also liked and ended up buying.

It was a thrilling feeling! To suddenly find such success after years of fashion failure made me feel like a king. I don’t think that the GF quite realized how excited I was, because I did a good job of keeping calm and looking as cool as a guy can who’s holding his girlfriend’s stuff while standing by himself in the middle of the women’s shoe section - trying very hard not to appear like a weird foot-fetishist****. Which is particularly difficult when he's forced to do it for about an hour while his lady test-drives the shoe around the entire store to ensure that the fit is just right.

Yeah…it was a good day.

* Note: this is her use of the word. I don’t use the word “cute” to describe, say, a shirt. Baby animals, maybe – but not anything I would wear.
** This brings the total to 3 pairs that fit well, one pair that fits when I wear them with shoes, one pair that is too small to wear for more than 30 minutes, and one pair that is so big that I'm not allowed to wear them in public.
*** And also figuring I might as well start the learning process
**** Accomplished by placing special emphasis on holding stuff that was obviously not mine. A guy standing in the women's shoe section is obviously a W.F.F. but a guy standing in said section holding a purse, woman's coat, and leopard-print umbrella is obviously an unattended and harmless sig-other.

Monday, January 30, 2006

It was so well-trained I thought it was a puppet, at first

First off, many thanks for the birthday wishes from everyone. I credit them with allowing me to successfully survive into my 31st year relatively unscathed. If not for the love of my friends, I probably would have fallen into an open sewer or been devoured by wild squirrels. Call it karma, fortune, or fate, I still appreciate the love ya'll sent out for nudging it in the right direction..

The weekend itself was much fun. The GF and I had many adventures trying a new restaurant, watching Low in concert in a neat but small auditorium, attending an awesome production of Pericles, and attending our first hockey game together (no fights though, which disappointed the GF immensely). Entertaining stories abound from the weekend, but I’ll focus on the really good stuff.

At Pericles, we were up in the mezzanine. Being a Goodman production, the audience was on the “mature” side, with all the associated issues that come with it. The GF and I both thought that one woman in particular probably had hearing issues. One of the characters in the play is a queen, who was portrayed as having a small dog (complete with sorta-period ruffled collar). She carried the dog everywhere with her in the later scenes, and said dog (a small Pomeranian) was completely professional – no parking, no squirming, no upstaging the other actors. The GF and I were both impressed. So was this woman, who was seated about 10-15 seats to our right. In the middle of the scene, she said to her friend “That’s a really well-trained dog!”.

Ordinarily, this would have been mildly annoying but tolerable. However this woman apparently had turned off her hearing aid in order to use one of the Goodman-supplied hearing-assist devices and had no idea how loud her voice was. So she said it loud enough to be heard by everyone in the audience – including (no doubt) the actors on stage. To their credit, the actors held steady, not missing a beat*. The audience, however, had a harder time. I myself needed every ounce of inner strength not to burst out laughing. I still giggled a little though.

* Even the dog. No wonder he gets work so easily.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mÿnd you, hïnge bites kan be pretti nastï

Yesterday was a day of discovery - I learned that metal has a death wish for me. Not necessarily all metals, but it seems that iron and its gang of hangers-on* have chosen me as the target of their cold-formed wrath. This is a problem for me because I work with metal stuff on a pretty regular basis as part of my job. Mind you, hardware can be pretty dangerous – there are lots of sharp edges, corners, and occasional rough spots where stamping or cutting was done with dull blades. And of course there’s always the potential for tetanus.

But yesterday metal across the Chicagoland area decided to gang up on me. First I had a spring-loaded lid support slash open my thumb while trying to figure out how it worked, then after work as I’m coming out of the grocery store I find that I’ve got a flat tire. Wouldn’t you know as soon as I get the tire off I discover a large chunk of metal lodged in the treads, looking at me smugly. Either I had run over it on the way to the store, or the tire had been hit by a meteor strike while I was inside. Given the location on the tire, I think it’s more likely the former, but I’m not ruling anything out at this point.

Lots of adventures are on tap for this weekend. The GF is taking me to the Low concert tonight for my (slightly) early birthday present, tomorrow we’re going to see Pericles at the Goodman, and Sunday we’re going to a Blackhawks game with some friends of mine from B-school. I haven’t been to a live hockey game since I was in high school, but I’m looking forward to it even though I’m not a big ‘hawks fan. There’ something about watching hockey live that’s sooo much more fun than watching on TV. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re watching the violence live.

* Steel, namely. Both plain alloy steel and stainless. The bastards.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stupid is the new black

On the way home from work yesterday I was reminded of one of my biggest pet peeves about journalism. Currently, the state of Illinois is (like many states) struggling with how to expand funding for schools without pissing off too many people. So the local public radio station is full of stories about the battle between the governor and the legislature about how to fund schools. Obviously, this is a mind-bogglingly complex issue with lots of interested political groups and everyone is sniping back and forth at each other’s ideas rather than generating any of their own.

But that’s not what bothers me. What I find annoying about the situation is how the local NPR affiliate decided to do a “man on the street” segment, where they went out and asked people walking by how they would fund schools. Now, if the average man on the street knew how to fix this problem, there would be no problem. But nooooOOOOoooo, we have to go ask the village idiot what he/she thinks. I HATE these “stories” more than anything else on earth. Not because I hate the people themselves (heck, they’re just trying to get home after a long day at work) but because they have no idea what they are talking about! While the opinions of qualified idiots that I am subjected to on the Sunday talk shows are often irritating, they are nothing compared to the opinions of unqualified idiots. Let’s look at some of the ideas that were mentioned in the story:

1) “I dunno. Tax the wealthy?”
2) “Do it exactly as it is laid out in the constitution of the great state of Illinois!”
3) “School choice will force schools to reduce costs, so institute that.”
4) “I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m just trying to pay my rent, my phone bill, my gas bill and all that other stuff.”

One wonders why these people don’t immediately find work as talking heads for C-Span or Fox News.

Fortunately, pictures of cuteness can do wonders to alleviate my rage.


Damn that works well. Maybe we should just airdrop planes full of cute kittens over Jerusalem to solve the middle east crisis. Of course, PETA wouldn’t be havin’ that. But we can probably distract them if we disguise the kittens as heads of cauliflower.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Funny that sitting in stranger's living rooms isn't as thrilling as sitting in a stranger's car

This morning I am getting up extra early to drop off my car at the dealer for some maintenance. The list of things that need to get fixed is long and daunting. On top of the scheduled maintenance (80K – and the even numbered ones are always crazy expensive) my drivers side window has decided to stop rolling down*, the latch for the cover over the CD changer has broken**, one of my parking lights is out***, and to top it all off the drivers display isn’t turning on when I get in the car anymore, but is now waiting until I start the car****. I’ve done some research on average prices for stuff like this and have come to a first-draft estimate that getting it all fixed will run me approximately eleventy billion dollars. Oh well, at least I get the loaner car for the day.

As much as I enjoy my car, I love driving cars that aren’t mine. There’s something about settling into something new, some weird feeling about the experience that is exhilarating. It’s like what I imagine committing grand theft – auto is like (not the computer game, mind you, the actual crime; I don’t want to beat up hookers – they would kick my ass). It would be even more fun if they would let me pretend to steal the car off the lot. I wish the loaner guy would just leave the keys in the ignition. Then, I’d just sidle up to it, notice the keys in the ignition, leap in and peal out of the garage, chuckling to myself and feeling incredibly satisfied at my sheer gall and bravado! Ha-HA!!!

I think this is why I love renting cars for business travel. My workplace makes all of us join Hertz #1 club gold so I get to walk out to the sign, see which car is has my name on it, hop in and drive away. The first time I rented one with the GF she was taken somewhat aback by this arrangement, asking “Don’t you have to go into the counter and get your keys?”. Come to think of it, I should have just told her that I wasn’t going to pay for it and was planning on just stealing the car, being the unpredictable and mysterious “bad boy” that I am. That would have been fun…

* No doubt in a fit of pique that the GF always rides in the passenger side and is never allowed to drive – being unaware that she doesn’t know how to drive stick and would probably grind the transmission into paste until I get around to teaching her.
** Probably because I haven’t changed my CD’s in about a year and it’s getting tired of playing Arcade Fire over and over and over and over…
*** Probably because it’s haunted. Damn parking light poltergeists…
**** No idea why that’s happening, but I’m going to blame the parking light poltergeists because they don’t read blogs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Quickie - Blonde joke

A blonde man decided to wash his sweatshirt but when he started to put it in the washer he stopped and asked his wife, "Should I wash the sweatshirt in hot water or cold"?

"What does the sweatshirt say", she asked?

"University of Oklahoma"

Quickie - If I could only sling webs

Stolen from Nowhere Girl. Not that this is much of a surprise. Spider-Man is my favorite superhero, I wanted to play with radioactive spiders growing up, but there were no top secret government labs working with radioactivity in North Dakota...
Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
The Flash
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Monday, January 23, 2006

Quickie - Ewwwwwwww!

Gas, incontinence, and oily spotting? Sign me up!

I can't believe anyone would take this after reading about "oily spotting"....[shiver]

Drunken warfare and a nice tukkus spells a weekend 'o' fun

Not a lot of time to write today, sadly. The weekend was a blast. The GF had an out-of-town friend to entertain most of the weekend, so I took advantage of being a pseudo-bachelor to meet up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Brunches and dinners galore, followed by developing a new drinking game based on Battleship* (remember? “You sank my battleship”? Yeah, I thought you did.)

Anyway, I ran across two items this morning that I thought were worth noting. First, is a picture from the weekend’s hot tennis action:

Okay, is it just me or does Maria Sharipova seem to be pretty clearly checking out Daniela Hartuchova’s ass? You just know that 14-year old boys across America sure hope so. This might be just what professional tennis needs. They’ve tried shorter skirts, they’ve tried excessively loud grunting, maybe they are getting ready to shift their matches to Showtime and pair them up with reruns of “The L-Word”? One wonders how long before the AFA gets up all in their grills and starts demanding that the women only be allowed to play matches against men. All of this “girl on girl” action totally sends the wrong message, after all.

Second, in looking over the weekend’s site stats, I ran across a visitor who came to my site after doing a search for “photogenic breasts”. Specifically, the 27th page of google results for that term. Okay, Mr Boob surfer – if you are desperate enough to look at pictures of a nice rack, but you haven’t found any worth looking at in the first 26 pages of results; let me be the first to tell you that you have a problem.

* Rules are easy. Every time you opponent hits one of your ships, you drink. And when any of your ships gets completely sunk, you drink one swallow for each hole in that particular ship (i.e. Cruiser = two swallows, Carrier = five swallows)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Quickie - More squirrel bloodlust

Remember when I warned America about the pending arrival of evil Asian gang squirrels?

Don't say I didn't warn you. They're heeeeeeereee!

And apparently they are not afraid of becoming suicide chimney-pluggers!

The horror...

Maybe they are sponsored by the BBQ Rib industry these days and need to feature the product more prominently

I remember when watching the Miss America competition was something to look forward to. I’m not sure when its airing this year, but I’ve seen pictures from the contest and oh my god, what has happened to America? Let’s not even talk about the lack of variety here (although Miss Minnesota was a blue-eyed blonde again). Ever since the recent dropping of the contest by ABC, I’m amazed they were able to stage the contest, since they apparently can’t afford to feed the contestants anymore.

Cases in point, Miss Georgia:

And Miss South Carolina:

Now, I understand that society is harsh on the ladies, but sheesh. Maybe someone should tell the Miss America organization that the reason is watching their “pagent” anymore is because nobody likes to look at starving people. I mean these chicks make the airbrushed women of Maxim look like poster children for gluttony.

More pictures here, for the morbidly curious.

This weekend my theater company is opening a new American translation of Tartuffe. Those of you in the Chicago area should all come down in the next few weeks to see it. But, I realize that few of you are around these parts. Hopefully I’ll have interesting stories from the opening night fete on Monday.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not since Milo & Otis has interspecies friendship been so cute

I find it fascinating that in a time where kids can't get along with their parents*, Republicans can't get along with Democrats, and terrorists can't get along with anyone I find a tiny bit of solace in the fact that two of earth's longest-warring factions seem to have agreed to a cease-fire. Yes my friends, only a few days after Martin Luther King's birthday was celebrated across the country, it was announced that snakes and hamsters have decided to lay down their arms and live in peace. Myself, I love the picture of the snake and his new buddy (named “meal” in Japanese) sitting in their new home. When the GF saw it she declared Meal to be the “cutest hamster ever” and I find it hard to argue.

But I got to wondering, what do they talk about all day? Sure, the whole opposites attract thing is fun and exciting and oftentimes leads to short-term passion and chemistry. Case in point, was I the only one who saw the mojo flowing between Paula Abdul and the hip dancing animated cat in the “Opposites Attract” video? I thought not. But think, when was the last time you saw them together? No doubt the cat is now hanging out with Chris Judd and Tawney Kitaen at some dive bar somewhere plotting their next big comeback project. We can only hope that they are already making plans to include Kevin Federline as a pseudo-professional courtesy, figuring he’s at about minute 13.50 at the moment.

I would imagine the dinnertime conversation between Meal and the snake goes something along these lines:

Meal: So, how was your day?

Snake: Good. Sat around the cage mostly.

Meal: I know, I was here too remember?

Snake: Oh yeah. Did you see the keeper totally hitting on the cleaning girl this afternoon?

Meal: Please, that guy will hit on anything with a pulse. Sometimes he pets me and I start to feel a little uncomfortable.

Snake: Well, if it’s that bad, why don’t you do something about it?

Meal: What should I do? Not everyone has fangs and a scary hiss you know.

Snake: I could bite him for you.

Meal: [Bemused] Aw, my hero.

Snake: I’m just sayin’…

Meal: I know.

[Silence for a few minutes as they eat]

Meal: (sigh) Pellets again…I wish they would bring in a nice leaf of lettuce once in a while.

Snake: Um, some of us don’t eat lettuce, remember?

Meal: Oh yeah, what are you eating then?

Snake: Umm…nothing.

Meal: [looking over] What do you mean nothing? I can see something coming out of your mouth…oh my god is that a tail?

Snake: Listen, we’ve been through this…

Meal: No! That’s it! It is not acceptable for you to keep eating my relatives!

Snake: Well it’s not like I have any other option, do I? That's what they keep giving me! What, you want me to eat you?

Meal: [runs out of the room crying hysterically]

Snake: Dammit, I need a beer. If only I had arms to open one…

Yup. In a way I can’t help but think that dinner at the Spears-Federline household is something similar these days. But at least these two find a way to make it work. Maybe it’s because they are locked in a cage together. I wonder if we could solve the problems in Iraq by just locking all of them in a cage together for a few months…

*Just a side note, why has this not swarmed over all the national news yet? I mean, they wanted to open a COFFEE SHOP!?!?! WTF?!?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Damn these eyes!

Yesterday I had to submit to the worst part of scheduled medicine ever - getting one's eyes examined. Although I have worn glasses since the age of 8 and currently am considered legally blind in some states, my eyes themselves are fairly healthy. How this is I can't really say because I have all sorts of crap wrong with them. The details are irrelevant, suffice to say that I think my eyes are actually just meant for decoration and not actually functional. Somehow I see the world, presumably because of some innate superpower or accidental exposure to gamma ray radiation - much like the Hulk ("You wouldn't like me when I can see you"). The way I know this is that they are always creating some sort of pseudo-serious problem like bizarre wavy visions or rippling. It's like what I'd imagine being high on LSD is like only without the spiders crawling all over me and general feeling of amazement that the sky is able to hold itself up without any visible means of support.

Of course, every time I go into the eye doctor to get some problem looked at I am subjected to a practice which should clearly be banned under the Geneva Convention - dilation. When I was a young boy, my eyes were actually nearly immune to the stuff they use to do it, so I usually ended up getting multiple doses in order to "speed up the process". By the time I became an adult, the eyes had pretty much given up resistance and just accepted that they were no longer in charge of (or even a meaningful part of) the whole process - sort of like the Democrats. Indeed, these days, my eyes willingly open up to reveal their secrets to anyone who will listen - sort of like that drunk guy in the bar at 3 am who won't leave you alone but insists on telling you about what a b*tch his ex-girlfriend was and how she won't let him see the dog and how he's gonna get a dog-lawyer and take her to court; at which point you ask "What, do you mean a lawyer who specializes in dog custody?" and he says "No man, I want the lawyer to *be* a dog! There's no way a dog lawyer would let my lil buddy stay with that woman. Even if we lost maybe he'd bite her...".

Even worse is that they *stay* like that for what seems like three days. Case in point:

This was my eye as of about 2.5 hours after they said it was to have worn off. Yes, I*can* see you. And I'm judging you too - hence the look of shock and horror.

I can only be glad that it was cloudy on the way home. These are the moments I am glad to be living in Chicago in the winter. If it was summer (or California) the sunlight alone would probably have burned by retinas into an unrecognizable mass unless I had quickly been able to fashion a pair of makeshift Eskimo goggles out of a Hostess cupcake container and rubber band in a MacGuyver-esque moment of sheer brilliance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pregnancy - it's the pits

I ran across an interesting BBC Article on body odor's relationship to human fertility today. One of the most interesting quotes came from one of the officials involved:

"Axillary odour from women in the follicular phase was rated as the most attractive and least intense," the study's leader Dr Jan Havlicek, from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, said.

"The results suggest that body odour can be used by men as a cue to the fertile period in current or prospective sexual partners," he added.

So, maybe I'm misinterpreting, but is he suggesting that the best way to tell if you're at risk of knocking up someone you're sleeping with is to give their 'pits a sniff? Somehow, I think that might kill the mood a little. Or make you appear like some sort of weird fetishist.

My problem is that I apparently have a dead nose. Either that or the GF has super-human olfactory abilities. Frankly I'm not sure which is more likely anymore. Maybe this explains why she seems to get along with dogs so well, I'd imagine that being able to discuss smells coming from the next county would give someone an almost unlimited variety of small-talk topics in conversation.

But for me such fantasies of intellectual dialogue with the furry-folk about how Mrs. Applewhite in Gary IN used too much nutmeg in her freshly baked apple pie remains idle speculation. Instead of the smelling ability of dogs, I have the hair growing ability of turtles. And turtles tend to not be very conversational about such things. It's considered rude.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Quickie - Men's Fashion

For all of you guys out there jealous of the ladies because nobody stares at *your* chest while you're walking down the street...

Note to all longtime readers - this does *not* qualify as a LAMB shirt. This is because the boobs you are supposed to look at are not, technically "my" boobs. And we don't have a word for "Look At These Boobs"...unless you're Canadian, in which case you might be able to call this a LATTE shirt (Look At These Ta-tas, Eh?).

In retrospect, I can't believe we used to eat directly off these things in elementary school

My workplace has a cafeteria where you can go in and get a pretty reasonable range of foodstuffs for not outrageous prices. I usually run in for a quick breakfast first thing when I get into work, because according to my mom and General Mills it’s the most important meal of the day. Lunch is usually done here too, because it’s quicker (and usually less expensive) to run in and get something than it is to drive into town for a burger.

The first decision that one always has to make when eating at the cafeteria is picking your tray. When I started working here back in the 20th century, there was only one kind of tray – a generic rectangular piece of hard plastic. It was a familiar shape that I was comfortable with, having used pretty much the same design all through college - rugged and durable to contain spills and also serve as an emergency sled when needed. As time has gone by however, diversity has come to the tray shelf. First we started seeing a new pseudo-pentagonal design (allegedly allowing more trays to fit on small round tables - see at right), and then these flimsy plastic orange rectangles appeared a few months afterwards. And, horror of horrors, I started noticing that my “old school” trays were disappearing. Now, in college when this happened we usually blamed people borrowing them for use as sleds, but since the only hill we have on the company property runs directly into a retention pond I doubt anyone is using lunch breaks for impromptu “traying” expeditions. But month after month, more and more of my trays were gone, and more and more of the new trays were showing up.

This could only mean one thing – my trays were being systematically eliminated, in a Stalinesque pogrom intended to replace them with “new and improved” models. The fascist cafeteria manager obviously believed that the old trays had run out their usefulness and were innately inferior to his preferred brands of tray (rumors about tray-choice kickbacks filtered throughout the cafeteria community, but were mostly ignored since I started most of them and nobody else really seemed to care). Thus I’m now pondering ways to preserve my trays for future generations. I currently have one stashed away behind the drawers in my cubicle a la Anne Frank, and am considering smuggling small populations to other dining establishments in an effort to start captive breeding programs.

In the end, however, I may simply have to accept that society has decided that my trays have outlived their usefulness, and get used to the idea of using a floppy orange tray with half the carrying capacity. Planned obsolescence is a bitch.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Juicy, yet shameless plug for my homegirl.

Because I'm a guy, I usually avoid the chick lit section of my local bookstore. But there is one author who I now actually read - my dear friend Beth. She's smart and funny and has a way with words that makes you happy you know how to read; or if you can't read she inspires you to learn. We met in college and I immediately knew that she'd be someone famous. This is something I have a history of actually. I know at least three people who are going to be famous actors, a soon-to be famous television producer, a soon-to be even more famous game show host and comedian, and of course a liberal number of soon to be famous scientists and journalists.

This is how it is with me - all my friends eventually become famous*. But Beth looks like she is the first to actually achieve fame. Sure, she writes chick lit, but it's funny and I even have my own dedication byline in her first novel. Anyway, she finally has gotten around to starting her own blog which I've added to my blogroll. Note that she writes under two names now - the Beth Killian is her saucier side (for the teens) and Beth Kendrick is for the more mature chick-lit connoisseur (in their 20's-30's). Anyway, mad props to Beth - any of you readers who read chick lit** should check her out (first chapters of all her books are readable on her websites).

*Whether or not this includes infamy I have yet to figure out.
**You know you want to Nowhere Girl! Xmas decorations be damned!

I vant to suck your vote!

Just when I think I can’t love Minnesota anymore, they allow a self-styled “vampyre” to run for governor on a platform based on sentencing terrorists, rapists, drug dealers, and the ilk to being impaled publicly in front of the capitol building in St. Paul – in addition to the typical “emphasis on education, tax breaks for farmers, and better benefits for veterans”.

For all of you who think Jesse Ventura is weird, what with his feather boas and funny facial hair – I think you will agree with me that this guy is a complete jutknob. I could go on, but instead I’m going to sponsor a fun game – “Find the Quotable Quote on Johnathan’s Website”! In the comments, supply the wackiest quote from his site (trust me, there are plenty) and the winner will receive a prize to be named later - anything in this general area right in here. Anything below the stereo and on this side of the bicentennial glasses. Anything between the ashtrays and the thimble. Anything in this three inches right in here in this area. That includes the Chiclets, but not the erasers.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Killing Christmas early.*

Every year, immediately post-Christmas right when I'm getting ready to head out from my mom's place she proceeds to load me up with every shape, size, flavor, and breed of Christmas cookie that have ever been created. When I was very young, she used to go *all* out with Christmas. The house was decorated to the nines, there were advent calendars galore, trips to see Santa (whenever we could get to the mall), and about eleventy billion cookies/bars/candies floating around the house to ensure that my brother and I were sufficiently overstimulated that we'd suffer a blood-sugar crash around 8:30 and need to be carried into bed. In later years, I realized that this was because they needed time to wrap presents and set up the Christmas stockings so that when we woke up Christmas morning (typically the only way we would actually wake up before they did) it would all be ready to go and we wouldn't have to wait to immediately start playing with (read: breaking) our new christmas booty.

As I got older of course, most of the pre-christmas craziness tapered off, but the cookie collection grew and grew. As I got older I realized that part of it has to do with mom's family being huge, and necessitating not only lots of food for all the cousins (hence the 4-5 bins of tupperware full of cookies we'd usually bring down) but also the need to bring more than her sisters did. While the competition was fierce, it was subtle and friendly and none of us kids minded because we were acting just like the kids from Willy Wonka when they first enter the Fudge Room. Only without the rudeness.

The great thing about this is that every year I brought tons of Christmas cookies back to college after every winter break, making me very popular and helping keep food expenses down. You'd be surprised how much vitamins and minerals you can get from cookies if you eat enough volume. 1% of your US RDA of B12 in one cookie *sounds* unhealthy, but when you eat a couple dozen every day, suddenly who needs breakfast?

But the bad thing is that once I finished school the cookies typically ended up going into *my* stomach and nobody else's. So this year I finally took the step of just throwing the excess cookies away after my first week back. If I don't start watching what I eat now I'm sooo not going to be ready for swimsuit season. Still, those cookies were really good and I'm going to miss them. Damn, sometimes being a grownup really isn't as fun as I thought it would be when I was 10.

* To be completely honest, my tree is still up, and will probably stay up until at least my birthday...maybe arbor day...heck, it's small enough I could probably just leave it up all year and nobody would notice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I'm not quite sure what this implies about me...

Your Kissing Purity Score: 29% Pure
You're not one to kiss and tell...
But word is, you kiss pretty well.

No time to think of something on my own

Argh, just when I get good at writing my posts right before bed, I have a board meeting that runs late. So now I have 10 minutes to devise, write, edit, and post something even remotely up to my standards.

Mercifully, the Onion comes out today and has a fun sports theme. One of the better quotes dealt with the issue of Racially Insensitive Sports Mascots - "As long as there is no team called the Vaginas, I'm cool with it."

But I got to thinking, wouldn't that be a great name the new MLB expansion team in Las Vegas? It would just roll off the tongue - the Las Vegas Vaginas.

Then again, maybe it would have to be a WNBA team...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Would a skunk really put up with wearing a head scarf?

Damn, those darn Al-qaedas are recruiting animals! The Bellingham, WA airport was shut down last week because a skunk had planted himself in the middle of the runway. Notice that the article doesn't mention the 20 pounds of C-4 disguised as "rat poison" inside the cage. Sure, the article claims that the skunk was taken for "treatment" but if that was true, why then was he flown from Seattle to Poland, Egypt, Afghanistan, and finally Mongolia* before settling into the "rehabilitation center" for regular doses of "vitamin k".

Yeah right. Why didn't your war on terrorism include woodland creatures, Mr. President? What, just because they don't have phones you can monitor you think they are all on our side? Looks like someone's been watching too many Disney movies. Maybe he thought the mice from Cinderella were hard at work making body armor so he wouldn't have to actually ship any over there.

Speaking of Mongolia...(Wow, I never thought I'd ever use this phrase in a sentence. I guess my 8th grade geography teacher Mr. Krump was right - geography is good for something!***) I noticed that Yahoo did it again with the captions on it's photos. Bakc during the Katrina disaster, you probably heard all the hullabaloo about how they had captioned photos of white people as "finding food" whereas the black folks were "looting". yeah, I thought you'd remember that...

Well it appears as though they still haven't learned their lesson. Check out the following art I snagged off their images collection:

"Mongorian"? Hmmm...is Kim Jong Il writing captions for the AP these days? Well, I do know one thing - he's undoubtedly the one behind the attempted bombing in "Bewwingham"!

Goddamnit, how many times do I have to tehr you? You don't use the WMDs untihr you see the signahr! I have worked ten years on this pran! It is a very precise, and a compricated pran! I am sick of you terrorists fucking it up! Now take the weapons where I tord you and wait for the *goddamn* signahr this time!****

I can see all the little woodland creatures cowering before him even now...

* Wooo! Coalition of the Willing Tour 2005! Wooo!!!
**Notice how I didn't even throw in any cracks about the birds being willing to work for chicken feed either. I know - such restraint...
***Of course, Mr Krump also raised wild pheasants in a big enclosure next to his house, thinking they would become the next big gourmet delicacy. So perhaps he wasn't the next Nostradamus after all. That he never proclaimed me a "genius", "child prodegy" or "geography god-child" (despite my awe-inspiring report on the nation of Cyprus) probably confirms this.
****God this is a great movie. If you don't recognize the line then you are obviously not an American. You...*are* an American...AREN'T YOU!?!?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Times like these keep me humble

This past weekend I decided to take the GF out for a nice dinner somewhere we hadn't been before. It had been a while since we had gone out someplace where the waiters ties weren't clip-on, and I figured it might be fun to live a little. The GF found a place downtown called Japonais which is a trendy Japanese restaurant (obviously) just off the river. At first I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about doing Japanese food. Given my limited pallet, I was nervous that it would turn out to be just a sushi place, but knowing me as well as she does the GF picked a place where they had actual food as well as sushi (which is Japanese for "artfully arranged, molded fish corpses").

Being a guy, I had hopes of maximising the use of my time downtown by buying some new shoes for work. This was in recognition of the fact that I had not purchased shoes specifically for work in about six years. I wasn't entirely sure whether or not the GF knew this at the time but one thing was certain: we were gradually replacing every item of crap in my old wardrobe. Ergo, as more of the blindingly hideous clothing items disappeared, the awful condition of my work shoes would only become more obvious. Given this, I proposed the idea of shoe shopping as a fun way to use up some gift cards given to me by my brother for Christmas as well as bonding over shopping (which I know she loves). Since we took the el down there, she was not convinced we would have enough time to find anything before the store closed, but as it is, we managed to walk out with two new pairs of shoes in only a half-hour. I'm very excited about them and plan on wearing them 24 hours a day fo the next week. Except in the shower, whoch would defeat the whole purpose of showering - even if it did provide better traction on the slippery floor.

When we finally arrived at the restaurant (after following the GF's suggestion of taking the bus for all of two blocks*) we were seated immediately and proceeded to enjoy one of the best meals I have ever had. Yes, they had sushi** but they also had Kobe Beef. For those of you who dno't know what Kobe Beef is, it's essentially meat from the wussiest cattle on the planet - the Homer Simpsons of the cow world, who sit around all day drinking beer and getting massages and putting the lard in lardass. And to be called Kobe Beef it has to come from Kobe in Japan (even if the cattle themselves are typically raised in the states or in Australia. Actual Japanese Kobe Beef steaks can cost about $300 each, so given that I didn't mind that mine was a Yankee cow***.

Needless to say the dinner itself was phenomenal. I have leftovers currently sitting in the GF's fridge because I forgot them at her house. But I don't worry that she'll eat it because she's a vegetarian****. but the best part of the dinner was David, our waiter, who was witty, fun, frinedly and didn't spit in my food (as far as I can tell). He and I went back and forth quoting lines from various Mel Brooks movies and laughing while the GF looked at me with her "that's my nerdboy" face. When we got the check, she had the great idea to say thank you with a witty Mel Brooks quote, which I was (of course) all over. I raced to come up with something good and was sooo proud of myself when I finally thought of it. David would undoubtedly think I was a pop culture genius and wonder to himself why I wasn't one of the talking heads on VH1 endless supply of tchotchcumentaries. Despite the GF's inquiries, I held off telling her until we left the dining area, telling her "I'll tell you later" with a mischievious grin. I was sure she'd find it so hysterical that she'd laugh herself into tears - thrilled yet again with her choice of boyfriend.

Finally, when we had gone downstairs to check out the lounge, I fessed up:

Me: "So do you want to know what the line was?"
GF: "Yeah, tell me!"
Me: "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
GF: "...That's not a Mel Brooks line."
Me: "Yes it is! It's Hystory of the World, part I!"
GF: "No, honey - It's Monty Python."
At that point I suddenly noticed my horrific mistake - mixing up Spanish Inquisition scenes. Then, I realized that the GF was right and I was wrong - about pop culture nonetheless, a topic where I consider myself something of a savant. I was so embarrassed. There was no way I could argue my way out of this one so I fell on the sword of embarrassment and hoped that the GF would think it was cute. Thankfully, she did.

Regardless, I insisted that we leave immediately before we saw David again. The GF will accept my dorkiness, but David seemed a little more sophisticated. I don't know that I'll ever be able to return, except in disguise.

*To be fair, she didn't know how far of a walk it was to the restaurant and I was not all that sure about it myself)
** Which the GF loved and I didn't try
*** Still, he was a little pricey. But that's not surprising since he was shipped over to Kobe to be processed and then flown back to be dinner.
****I never thought that would come in handy until now...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Quickie - Fun with faux gravity!

It's amazing how accurate these things can be...

Falling Sand Game - Guaranteed to waste 10 minutes of your time or your money back!

Bush's popularity flash game - One wonders if this is what he feels like in real life...I sure hope so.

Friday, January 06, 2006

"Honey, are you done downloading porn yet?"

I recently ran across an interesting article highlighting the differences between how men and women use the internet. Not that this is going to suprise anyone, but apparently, women use the internet for something called "communicating" and "building relationships". Whatever *that* is...

According to the article, women use the internet for "...emailing, getting maps and directions (after all, we men always know where we're going), looking for health and medical information, seeking support for health and personal problems, and getting religious information." Men, on the other hand "...are more likely to use the Internet to check the weather, get news, find do-it-yourself information, acquire sports scores and information, look for political information, do job-related research, download software, listen to music, rate a product/person/service through an online reputation system, download music, use a webcam, and take a class. Note there was nothing about 'nurturing relationships.'"

I beg your pardon Mr Fancy Internet writer but what do you call downloading pictures of Tara Reid's frankenboob if not "nurturing"? Obviously, this guy has no idea of the bonding that men do over stuff like this. The simple truth is that men use the internet for four main things - checking fantasy sports, watching funny videos, building our egos, and downloading free porn. Let's look at his list and categorize each, shall we?

  • "Check the Weather" - Fantasy sports, for the impact it will have on whether we start Jerome Bettis outdoors at Heinz Field or stick with Warrick Dunn indoors
  • "Get News" - Ego building. Appearing to look aware of current events makes us appear smarter and helps us get the ladies' attention.
  • "find do-it-yourself information" - Ego building obviously. We have to find the way to fid that flapper valve before the wife tries to hire a "professional"
  • "acquire sports scores and information" - Fantasy sports, obviously
  • "look for political information" - Downloading porn. Silly writer doesn't know that whitehouse.com is not "political information"*
  • "do job-related research"
  • "download software" - could be downloading porn or downloading funny videos
  • "listen to music" - Ego, learning about obscure bands makes you look cool
  • "rate a product/person/service through an online reputation system" - Ego feeding. There's no better way to make yourself feel tough than by ripping "noobyinBoise" for "his completely uninformed posting that Phantom Menace was the greatest film George Lucas ever made"
  • "download music" - didn't we just do this? Who downloads music but doesn't listen to it?
  • "use a webcam" - More porn, obviously
  • "take a class" - Ego, but this probably varies in success, depending on the nature of the "class" which in this case probably includes Trump University, taking internet quizzes, and "reading random Wikipedia entries for an hour"
*[Edit]: this would have been so much funnier if whitehouse.com was still a porn site. (sigh)

Thursday, January 05, 2006


This is so freaking cool...

"Hey! You got your ping-pong on my Matrix!"

"Hey! You put your Matrix in my ping-pong!"

Finally, two pop-culture phenomena that taste great together!

Breaking News!

Holy crap! I can't *wait* for the Oscars!

John Stewart Set as host of Oscars

What happens when the Troggs are the only boomer band left? Will *they* play the Super Bowl?

With the end of the NFL regular season comes the countdown to the Super Bowl. But ever since the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake orgy two years ago the NFL seems to be more interested in procuring the least attractive rockers they can find in an effort to prevent future embarassments. Thus the choice of Paul McCartney last year. Given that they went with the Beatles last time, it's no surprise that they are featuring the Rolling Stones this year. While this may initially seem like another entry in the non-stop Methusaleh tour that has become the Super Bowl halftime show, let's remember that the only people who can afford to actually *go* to the Super Bowl are the "New Methusalehs" - the baby boomers. And since they are the ones that are actually fans of these people, it's not surprising that the NFL is going to cater to their audience demographic. It wouldn't do to have the entire stadium empty out for beer and hot dogs right when the show starts.

But given this, it seems the NFL is still trying to figure out ways to sell the halftime show to the younger generation. Ever concious of the fact that hot chicks dancing in limited clothing keeps eyes on the field (after all, they market cheerleaders in special sections of team websites now: example #1, example #2, example #3) Super Bowl officials have decided to allow a big dance party on the field while the Stones are playing. What fun huh? Getting a chance to run around and shake your thang on the field of the most viewed sports event of the year? Who knows? Maybe you'll be spotted by a talent agent who will want *you* for their next commercial shoot or blockbuster movie!

Well...unless you're old. You see, the people allowed onto the field to watch the concert have certain "rules" stipulated by the company staging the show - the main one being everyone has to be between the ages of 18 to 45. Of course they claim it's because of the "physical nature" of the task. And obviously a 47 year old can't stand up for half a football game and then be expected to dance for all of 15 whole minutes. And what of Sprint? They are currently sponsoring a contest where the winner gets to join the festivities, but what happens if the winner is an 87 year old with a bad hip? I bet he or she will be put in a bunker under the field and allowed to watch only through a periscope.

Does the NFL actually expect this to fly? What other rules are out there that we *don't* know about?! Do they all have to be women? Do they have to be wearing hot pants and tight t-shirts? Will there be hoses involved? Tequila shots? Jell-O pits hidden throughout the field? Hmmm...wait a minute. Maybe this *will* be worth watching...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If there's an Index, can you Short Sell Salvation?

I spent about an hour yesterday reading through old posts on my blog. I don’t know why I had never done this before, but it was really fun, and very helpful because now I can kind of remember what I’ve already blogged about and what I haven’t. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of interesting stuff that I want to blog about that I haven’t yet done – forcing me to constantly come up with new material in a “race against repetitive mediocrity”. Such is the struggle of the lonely blogger, I suppose.

So thank goodness I have people like Todd Strandberg, who has assembled a scientific method for helping the world know when the rapture is coming by inventing the
Rapture Index. Think of it like the Down Jones Industrials – it’s a composite of a bunch of variables that are used to estimate when Jesus will fly down from the heavens and pile all the faithful into his Ford Excursion for a road trip to paradise, leaving everyone else down here to figure out what happened. Looks like we’re up three points as of yesterday, with the Index currently sitting at 151. Note that the record low of 57 was reached during the Clinton Administration, whereas the record high was hit about the same amount of time into the Bush II era. Obviously, blow jobs* in the White House help to stave off Armageddon. Naturally, this fellow is quite pleased with his powers of divination, and has started down the path to self-righteousness by telling everyone else what to do, becoming a medium and speaking for the dead, selling real estate in heaven (frankly, I don’t want the super saint model unless it comes with a staff of cleaning angels), and becoming an expert on woodland creatures.

And the religious right wonders why I can’t take them seriously. Maybe when they stop shrieking about
boobs on television, automobile advertising, and cartoons that point out religious hypocrisy and start working just as hard at helping the homeless find a home, the unemployed find new opportunities and careers, and the hungry get a decent meal I’ll start believing they get what JC was talking about.

*Hysterically, Microsoft Word says this is misspelled and should be one word. I was completely unaware there was a recognized correct spelling.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

If you don't stop that right now I'll buy you a book!

Well, after a few days without ‘net access and a few more days spend reveling in anticipation (and arrival) of the new year, I’m back to try and catch up on everything in the world that I’ve missed in the last few weeks. It didn’t really hit me how little I had paid attention to the news while I was gone until I got back and realized that I recognized none of the news stories I was seeing. Some of these have me seriously questioning whether I am morally obligated to watch the news every day – because apparently, seriously disturbing stuff happens when I stop paying attention.

For example – a woman in Dallas is complaining that the Sesame Street character Elmo wants her daughter dead and has repeatedly threatened her little girl on multiple occasions. Apparently, Angela Bolls purchased a copy of the interactive book “Potty Time with Elmo” for 16-month old Miranda, in hopes that she would finally grow up and stop crapping all over herself so she could be competitive in the cut-throat world of toddler beauty queens*. But when she pressed certain buttons in the book, instead of saying “Who wants to try and go potty?” Elmo instead said “Who wants to die?”. Needless to say, little Miranda is probably crapping her pants every time she sees Elmo, which makes the book itself completely irrelevant unless Mom decides it can only be read in the bathroom whilst on the toilet. Hmmm…maybe this was the whole point…

But the real issue here is not whether Elmo wants to kill all non-potty trained children. Rather, I believe the real issue is why are we relying on interactive books to potty train kids? I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that I learned how to use the toilet through a simple combination of praise from parents, and the deeply held sense of fear that I’d be the last kid to figure it out. I don’t remember my potty training exactly, but I do recall kids having to bring an extra pair of underwear to pre-school in case of “accidents” and thinking that those kids were obviously idiots. I mean, I was three, and even I knew if they couldn’t tell the difference between “that feeling” and their hole in the ground they were destined to a life of ridicule and shame. Please, I’d been around the block**.

Where does it end? Books telling you not to pick your nose***? Not to run into the street? How to wipe your own butt? Not to suck on paint chips in old houses? Eventually, Time/Life books is going to pick up on this trend and issue “MOM – The Series” where each month you get a new volume informing you of something else you should or shouldn’t be doing – thus allowing your actual mother to maintain her brunches with the girls and busy BASE jumping schedule.

Yeah…can’t wait for that.

* This last part is purely conjecture, but based on field observations of women from the south.
** Literally, it was the big accomplishment of 1978. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street, so I pushed the envelope as far as I could.
***I guess this has already been done…

After all, Elmo seems equally disinterested in both...

I have a hard time believing that Elmo was traumatized by Katy Perry's decollatage after discovering that he had already "been arou...