Thursday, April 27, 2006

The last of the great, hairy Hollywood hunks commands you to watch!

On the way to see some of the GF’s friends perform at a local jazz club last night, I heard an interview with Tom Selleck on NPR talking about his latest movie. The interviewer mentioned that this was the “third edition of the series”. I was so shocked to hear that Selleck had put out two movies that I’d never even heard of that for a brief moment I seriously considered whether the little nap I had taken that afternoon had lasted for 2.5 years rather than the 2.5 hours I thought it did*.

How had I managed to let down Magnum during a time when he needed me more than ever? I felt awful. Sure, Selleck is one of the rare Hollywood political conservatives, but he’s Magnum for pete’s sake! He gives me week after week of drama, action, and comedy and I don’t even bother to pay attention once he loses the “Friends” gig. Obviously, I am a bad human being.

But then as I heard the rest of the interview, I realized they were just talking about a made-for-tv movie that Selleck has coming out on Sunday for CBS, where he plays Jesse Stone – a big-city cop who moves to a small town but still finds himself getting caught up in crazy adventures. Apparently, the second one also featured Stephen Baldwin. When I learned that I suddenly didn’t feel so bad about missing the first two.

But Magnum, as soon as you hit the big screen again – I got your back.

* Considering how many of my bills get paid automatically these days, it’s not altogether impossible.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Come to think of it, his actual name *does* sound like a pornstar name...

Funny thing I learned this morning as I was perusing the “Today’s Birthdays” list on IMDB – today is the birthday of Dick Smothers Jr, who turns 41 today. For those of you who are old enough to remember or who shared my love of retro-television, that name probably sounds familiar because it was the name of one of the two-brother act called The Smothers Brothers, who had a comedy show that got cancelled for being “too liberal”*. Tom and Dick Smothers were at the height of their fame during this time and went on to many guest appearances on other people’s shows, like Fantasy Island and Saturday Night Live.

But this is not that Dick Smothers**.

This Dick Smothers (Jr) has a completely different line of work, having starred in such classic films as “100% Natural 2”, “Porn Town USA”, “The Sopornos 6” and “The New Devil in Miss Jones”. Yes, Dick Smothers Jr is an adult film actor, and apparently his body of work is impressive, having been previously nominated for an “Adult Film Oscar”**. He once said “What I really want to do is become the Orson Welles of porn, not only performing in these films, but writing, directing and doing the music”.

The interesting thing is that Dick Smothers Jr The Pornstar is the son of Dick Smothers The Famous Comedian! What’s more, while Dick Sr was apparently shocked at his son’s choice of career, he’s such a supporter of freedom of expression that he refuses to condemn it.

As much as I respect that position, it got me thinking what if in 30 years my kid comes up to me and says he/she is working in porn? I tried to think of what I would do, but my brain just wouldn’t let me consider it. On the one hand I’d want to support my kid, but on the other hand…eeeeewwwwww!

This is why I’m glad I don’t have kids yet. Purely to avoid the “Oh my god my son/daughter is a stripper/drug dealer/pornstar/bullfighter/reality television star/republican/cannibal” dilemma for a few more years.

* I know, I didn’t think that was possible during the ‘70s! Why didn’t they cancel shag carpeting for its liberal use of woven polyester fiber?
** That Dick Smothers is the one on the right, with the mustache
***According to his bio on IMDB – I did do some research for this post, but not *that* much

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is that a banana plastered across your face, or are you just happy to see me?

Typically, I'm not one to freak out over breakfast food, much less blog about it. But as I walked through the cafeteria this morning, I saw perhaps the curviest banana ever.

I was entranced by the degree of curvature, resulting in a banana that could serve equally well as the head of Mac Tonight or the smile of a cartoonish caricature.

Of course, then it got to be lunchtime. All that remains is either the scalp of a moon-headed jazz singer or the skin off the lips of a two-dimensional clown – depending on which comparison you drew. And neither is very appealing…

…no pun intended.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Here's one for you biologists and science writers to decry as hooey

I never thought of myself as a genetic freak, but I stumbled across an article on finger-length ratios. While it sniffs of nephrology to me, there seems to be a fair amount of buzz about it. And it's got me a little disturbed becuse I'm a waaay low-ratio guy.

Let's examine:

Now, according to the articles I read, the average male has a 2D:4D ratio of 0.96. As I measured it, mine is approximately 0.88. This puts me significantly lower than most humans, but on about the same level as apes. At least I know I'm not as bad off as the monkeys. Apparently, this is caused by experiencing higher levels of testosterone in utero during the 1st trimester.

So what does it mean now that I know I am a mutant? Essentially, the studies so far have pointed to us low-ratio types being more likely to be left-handed, better at sports and music, more aggressive/assertive, higher testosterone levels, and having “higher lifetime reproductive success”. So I thought about whether these traits apply to me:

  • I am left-handed, but only for those things I taught myself to do (writing, throwing balls). Things where I took lessons I’m usually right handed (golf, tennis). But I do have a distinct bias towards the left.
  • As for music and sports I was much more involved in both when I was younger. My piano teacher thought I had talent, and a song I composed in 7th grade won 3rd place in a state contest once. But since I essentially haven’t practiced any music in well over a decade I think any musical talent I have is nascent at best. To test this I sang along to the radio last night on the way home and was deeply disappointed with the results. I’m much better at sports though, having won my fantasy football league two out of the last three years, and enjoying a successful career in football and baseball through Junior High and two years of hockey during 5th-6th grade. Yeah, I was a total elementary school jock.
  • I’m not an inherently aggressive person. In fact I think I’m the opposite. The only exception to this is when I’m driving though. While I’m nowhere hear as aggressive as I was when I was younger, I still have my moments – particularly depending on what music I’m listening to at the moment. Hence why I spend most of my time in the car listening to Public Radio – it’s like Quaaludes for my commute.
  • I’ve never had my testosterone level checked, so I can’t speak to that. My hair is thinning (which I’ve heard is due to testosterone levels) but I’m not a very hairy person in general (which I’ve heard is also a sign). So this may be a no, and I’m not about to go into my doctor to get my testosterone checked “because my finger length is funny and I read something about it on the internet”.
  • My reproductive success has also been a failure – as I’m still childless*. But that’s probably been due more to intentional sabotage on my part than the length of my fingers.

So in the end it appears as though I exhibit some, but not all of the traits of the low-ratio male. Which I think is good because we guys never like to be classified and defined by the length of their…finger.


* That I know of

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Quickie - But do they fart?

A fun list I found on the digg links section of Graf's site. My favorite is:

21/ Astronauts cannot belch - there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs.

No wonder she's seemed so Kat-a-Tomic lately...

So Tomkat had their Tomkitten using the “silent birth” method. Katie had her epidural and did not actually eat the placenta. In a sign that all is well in Hollywood, Tomkat even gave birth just down the hall from where Brooke Shields was having her baby – and no slap-fests broke out between her and Tom. All is well and happy now and Baby and the Cruisers went home to begin a life of overcoming their inner Thetans.

Or so they claim.

You see, there are numerous inconsistencies in this whole story that lead me to believe something is fishy. Given how insane Tom is, why would he tolerate his baby to be born in the same hospital (or even the same county) as his nemesis Brooke? Moreover, why hasn’t the nation declared a national holiday and given us all a day off of work? Are they waiting for the birth of the “If she’s born in Namibia then she’s Namibian – that’s multi-cultural, right?” Ange-rad baby so we can celebrate both of them on the same day like we do for “Presidents Day”?

No, America – there is much more tot his story than we have been led to believe. But enough threads have broken loose that I can now weave them together in to a tapestry of truthiness* and reveal to you, my six regular readers, what actually happened this past week.

Let’s start with the (perceived) “facts”:

  1. Tom and Katie are in lurve.
  2. They had sexual intercourse, resulting in the impregnation of Joey Potter; thus causing Dawson’s Creek fans to feel a strange sensation of jealousy, happiness, and “eeeewww”.
  3. Tom is really excited to be a dad (despite already having adopted two children with Nicole Kidman), so excited that he’s gone crazy.
  4. Katie really is pregnant – we’ve all seen the tummy.
  5. Tom and Brooke Shields loathe each other
  6. Tom (and allegedly Katie) are Scientologists
  7. The tomkitten is named “Suri”

Now for the threads of truthiness:

  1. Tomkat hooked up just in time for the marketing campaigns for “Batman Begins” and “War of the Worlds”, and the baby was born just in time for the marketing campaign for “Mission Impossible III” and the premiere of “Thank You for Smoking”.
  2. Katie’s belly looks unusually artificial in some pictures, causing some to speculate it’s just a pillow.
  3. Brooke Shield’s child was nearly the exact same size and shape as the Tomkitten
  4. Brooke and Tom had a very public argument about pregnancy about a year ago, while there were no deaths, Matt Lauer’s credibility as an interviewer was severely injured.
  5. Katie has been pregnant for a year, and yet she hasn't seemed to gain weight anywhere but on her belly
  6. “Suri” is Japanese for “pickpocket”.

So, weave these threads together and a scenario starts to look more and more plausible. First, Tom Cruise is obviously not human. I think the facts all point to him actually being Xenu, the ancient alien overlord who trapped all the Thetans on earth 75 million years ago. This would explain why he’s such a devout and aggressive Scientologist, and why he talks about eating placentas.

That said, it becomes easy to understand why he would provoke a public spat with Brooke Shields over drugs and post-partum depression. Not because he dislikes Brooke, in fact TomXenu believes she has very good genes, and would be the perfect specimen to use as his personal hatchery. But by provoking the public argument, he created distance between himself and Brooke, and made us all believe that there was no way either would have anything to do with the other.

Meanwhile, with society not believing that he was capable of having children, TomXenu needed a new plan, and fast. Unless he would maintain his illusion of humanity, he would never be able to keep the Thetans of the masses trapped inside our man-bodies. So he gave Katie Holmes a roofie-flavored shake at Johnny Rockets (following a failed attempt to ensnare Scarlett Johansson) and has used his mind-control to keep her passive and terminally smiley. He proposed to her publicly, and in the year since has whisked Katie around the world to show everyone just how pregnant she is, carefully equipping her with ever-larger pillows to make her seem actually pregnant. Meanwhile, he was monitoring the development of Shields’ baby via a remote webcam he secretly installed inside her uterus.

Finally, yesterday TomXenu knew it was time for the Shields baby to be born, he whisked Katie to the same hospital and same floor as Brooke. Then, he used his super powers as a Galactic overlord to stop time immediately after the birth of Brooke, Jr. Flying to his underground temple/lab with the baby, he worked with the Raelians to clone an (almost) exact duplicate of baby Shields. Afterwards, he flew back to the hospital, gave Brooke’s baby back to the nurse, deposited the clone in Katie’s arms, and restarted time. Then, he named his baby Suri as a little inside joke for himself. What better name for a baby you stole than “pickpocket”? TomXenu looked down upon his handiwork and smiled, assured of control of Thetankind for another millennium.

The weird thing is the more I think about this, the more I find myself thinking there may be a grain of truth to it.

* Due credit where credit is due – Steven Colbert invented this word. My word (“tchotchcumentary”) seems to be somewhat stalled now that VH1 has run out of 80’s to love.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Come to where the flavor is. Come to Debbie country."

This past weekend the GF and I rented the movie “Singles” because she had never seen it and I was offended by the notion that she had not experienced one of the defining movies of the 1990’s* for my generation. Of course, I say “we” rented it but since I’m the one with the car it’s more accurate to say that I rented it and then brought it over to her house in exchange for dinner. I was unsure whether my regular Blockbuster would even carry it, given their propensity to stock 37 copies of “Deuce Bigalow – European Gigalo” but zero copies of “Tao of Steve” or “Amelie”. Therefore, I did the smart thing and called ahead to the store to see if they had it. On my first call, the MOTOE** first said “Singles?” in that I’ve-never-heard-of-it-therefore-you-must-be-stupid-to-want-to-watch-it tone that video rental people sometimes get. When I confirmed that said he’d check and then promptly hung up on me – obviously the complexity of the “hold” button continues to confound some persons in the service industry. So I called back:

GB: Hi I’m calling to see if you have a copy of Singles in stock?
MOTOE: I told you hold on while I check!
GB: [sound of tongue-biting]
[time passes]
MOTOE: Nope, we don’ have it.
GB: Well, thanks anyway.
This little scene was repeated two more times, as I called the 2nd and 3rd closest Blockbusters. Each time, I died a little more inside as it became painfully obvious that nobody who wasn’t in high school when it was released has ever seen (or even heard of) this film. By the time I got to the fourth store, I was ready to give up all hope and just bring over my copy of Caddyshack, which she also hasn’t seen***. Mercifully, the fourth store did have it in stock, so I raced over to pick it up.

Upon my arrival, I told the GF that the first three stores I checked didn’t have it. She was very impressed that I had driven to all those stores, but kept going – determined to obtain her desire at any cost. For a moment, I considered whether or not to keep the points this had scored me all to myself, but I reasoned that her superior intellect would eventually lead her to realize there was no way I could drive to four Blockbusters (all at least 1 mile away from each other) in the 20 minutes that it had taken me to get to her house. So I fessed up.

When I watched the movie again, it struck me how ‘90s it was. Not just the setting, but the clothes (flannel, Mudhoney t-shirts), the music (grunge, grunge, grunge), the social issues (environmentalism, video dating). For the first time, a movie from the 90’s didn’t feel contemporary anymore. It was worse when I checked the back of the cover and affirmed that indeed, this movie was now 14 years old. Yes, Singles has been around for almost half of my entire life.

Now I feel old. Time to start researching hip replacements, I guess.

* Along with Reality Bites, Swingers, and Wayne’s World
** Moron On The Other End
*** Remember folks, I haven’t seen the Godfather or Goodfellas so I’m just as much a cultural rube. Besides, I was hesitant because I got burned by Three Amigos and wonder if perhaps Chevy Chase isn’t as funny to women.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Next up in 2012 - Hooters, The Movie!

Hollywood never fails to amaze me with its amazing ability to know exactly when America needs a pick-me-up movie featuring lots of young hot chicks flipping, spinning, and showing just how flexible they are.

In 2000, for example, America was mired in a kill-or-be-killed presidential campaign. Negative ads ran amok as Bush proclaimed himself so compassionately conservative that Gore wanted to put him in a lockbox. The internet bubble had just burst, so everyone was penniless in the streets, with only the hope of a $10 movie about competitive gymnastics to get us through the day. Sure enough, out comes “Bring it On!” – the film that taught us that all you need to do to win is wear short skirts and be perky. If only Al Gore would have watched this film…

1992 – Another presidential election this year as America begins the slow climb out of recession. Unemployment was high, and my hopes of getting a date to the senior prom were as low as they’d ever been. Then, just when things are at their darkest, out comes “The Cutting Edge” where we all got to watch as Moira Kelly skated around the rink in tight skating outfits. Dutifully following the film’s message of “Always go for the charming guy, even if he is kind of a rube”, America turns out in droves to elect Bill Clinton as president, ushering in an era so successful and problem-free that only 8 years later the biggest problems in America were deciding what “is” is and trying to resist Regis Philbin’s mind-games when he asks “Is that your final answer?”.

1978 – A time of confusion and ridiculously high inflation, America needed help. While the debut of “Garfield” helped somewhat, it only made the then-three-year-old me more confused by convincing me that lasagna was pronounced “LANG-sna”. Still, it was overwhelmed by the deaths of the pope*, the theft of Charlie Chaplain’s corpse, and the airing of “The Star Wars Holiday Special”. True to form, Hollywood was there to help us with “Ice Castles”. Granted, probably not as much exposed skin as in the first two, and the whole blindness thing was a bit of a downer, but Lynn-Holly Johnson was still hot, and it did involve figure skating so I’ll consider it the “first try” by Hollywood in this genre. Maybe full-length tight pantsuit-style skating outfits are sexy when you’re as high on coke as America was in ’78.

My point is that with America in the grips of divisive political infighting; mired in the non-civil** war in Iraq; facing growing trade, current-account, moral, and credibility deficits; and still desperately trying to figure out what to watch on Thursdays post Must-See-TV. Recognizing this, Hollywood is coming out with “Stick it” – a movie about what happens when all the girls from Bring It On drop the pom-poms and hit that pommel horse!

Why do I bring this up, you ask? Two words – Nadia Comaneci. She attended the premiere this weekend and apparently loved it so much that her heart leapt out from her chest, taking a good portion of her shirt with it.



Now, to be fair, I’m sure that most of the time she looks perfectly reasonable, and indeed there are other pictures of her that help alleviate the AIIEEEE factor. Cases in point:

But still, wowsers. Were I her, I'd consider suing that photographer.

*No, not that one, the one before him, and then the one before that guy.
** Un-civil? Anti-civil? Bizarro-civil?

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm an inventor too - I got a certificate with my name on it that says so

Last night I was the GF’s escort to the opening of an exhibit about Leonardo Davinci at the Museum of Science and Industry. For the record, she got the invitation – I was just there to serve as arm candy. Not only was it the first time I’d ever been there, but it was only the second time I’d been on the south side of the city since I moved here. The exhibit was all right - mostly re-creations of inventions from his notebooks, with few of the interactive stuff that I love about science museums*.

Of course, as with any traveling or temporary museum exhibit these days, there was the obligatory “exhibition store” at the very end. Now, I expected this part. After all we’ve all seen the Leonardo stuff at art museums across the county. But what I didn’t expect was the breadth of Leonardo merchandise that can be purchased these days. Sure, they had the predictable items such as t-shirts, baseball caps, and globes featuring his designs. But they also had Mona Lisa soap and Leonardo Action Figures**!

In a way, I’m glad that I wasn’t the staffer assigned the task of “finding every kind of Leonardo-themed merchandise available on the planet” because I would have given up pretty quick once I’d run out of key chains and commemorative watches***. Perhaps this explains the presence of the action figures and soap – as the toady searched website after website in a desperate attempt to find enough merchandise to fill the 5500 square-foot store, it became more and more difficult to find regular tchochkes or art pieces****. After ten straight days of searching, you’d probably think “Yes, the only thing missing is an action figure! Brilliant!” too. The soap was probably bought by his boss to try and re-acquaint him with hygiene after two weeks of ceaseless merchandise-questing.

We ended up being there for nearly the full three hour program, and other than a cake-induced “dessert episode” on our way out***** I managed to avoid embarrassing either of us too much. And that’s a win in my book. I can’t wait to go back to the museum – they have a submarine inside the building!

* Although we did successfully cock, load, and fire a rubber ball into the target net using a half-scale catapult
** It turns out that the company that makes that also makes a bunch of other weird action figures – both of historical figures but also of wacky regular folks in your town. My favorite is the Crazy Cat Lady
*** This is the same watch that was at the exhibition. Holy crap, France – what are you thinking? $30 for a plastic watch? I wonder how much it was selling for at the exhibit…
**** I mean, you can only find so many mounted reproductions of the Mona Lisa, Leo’s self-portrait, and the naked guy with four arms and four legs that we sent into space to confuse all the aliens into thinking we’re twice as strong as we actually are, thus staving off invasion by galactic overlords for a hundred years or so.
***** One that prompted the GF’s comment “Wow – that was a lot of food you just put in your mouth”.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dr. Grrrbear - Medicine Blogger

Whenever I or anyone else around me gets sick, I immediately transform into diagnostic mode. While I have no medical training whatsoever, I have watched many episodes of most medical shows on television, from M.A.S.H. through Trapper John and Doogie Howser up to today’s hits ER and Scrubs. I also read WebMD for pleasure and am able to retain what I read there pretty well. My friends in med school also provide me with hours of education, as I always end up asking for much more detail than they feel is truly necessary to tell an amusing story about general anatomy.

Because of this self-education, I consider myself equivalent to most village witch doctors or dentists of the wild west – both of which are considered medical professionals, or were so in their day. This self-perceived expertise serves as something of an annoyance to the medical professionals in my life, as I never feel satisfied without a thorough understanding of what is wrong with me at any given moment. I wonder whether my GP sees my name on the chart and says to himself “Oh Jesus not this guy again. Nurse, cancel all my appointments for the next hour, this may take a while”.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I ran across a website devoted to selling nothing but devices used to practice medical procedures! The company itself actually has a US version of the site, but it’s much more limited – probably because either the AMA restricts the use of non-actual people in med schools, or because grassroots advocates for dummies have successfully lobbied congress to ban elective surgeries on dummies and models*.

But the UK version is phenomenal, largely because of the variety of stuff they sell but also because the ad copy is so darn funny. Want to practice your rectal examinations (“Realistic sphincter tone”)? How about male catheterization (“Unique non-drip valve”)? Don’t forget everyone’s favorite – the pelvic exam (best line of all – “improved urethral opening – now with clitoris”)! But the most amazing example is the birthing trainer, which scared me a little bit – not just because it comes with a strangely elongated “birthing baby” but also a “birthing placenta” – all for only $3000+.

The thing that surprised me about all of this is that the birthing trainer isn’t available in the US store. Given how all OB/GYN’s seem to be paranoid about lawsuits these days, one would presume that these things would be flying off the shelves, both for med schools and CE classes. I’ll wager that because there’s plastic nudity involved, it’s considered “too racy” for the average American doctor-to-be.

Because heaven forbid doctors see genitals other than their own before actually working with a patient. Maybe after they get married.

* Except for botox, or nose and boob jobs so they can keep their husbands from gawking at younger, smoother dummies. Ever since Vince and Larry left their wives for Victoria’s Secret mannequins demand has soared.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Is it art? Or is it porn-crap-graphy?

Obviously, everyone’s definition of “art” is different*. While I don’t consider myself to be an “expert” do tend to form opinions of art pretty quickly. In general however, I’m happy to give other folks the benefit of the doubt. Fir instance, I happen to live in a part of Chicago that up until about 7-10 years ago was considered an “artist” neighborhood**. To its credit, the ‘hood has been able to hold onto many artists and galleries despite the wave of gentrification that swept through at the turn of the century***. The nice thing about this is that there are two big arts festivals here every year. The bad thing is that some of the art is really really awful.

For instance the first two years I went to the one festival there was this "artist" who lived in the big artist loft-building where the festival was held. Like all the other artists he was exhibiting his works for sale, with the walls covered with canvas after canvas. Unlike the other artists however, this guy’s main theme appeared not to have changed since he was twelve. Each painting was done in bright colors and consisted of a nude woman holding a machine gun (and usually wearing an expression of rage and fury) while a fighter jet or tank or assault helicopter swooped/drove by in the background. If I were an art major, I would say that his general message appeared to be “women are scary, but for some reason they will come into my house and take their clothes off if I tell them I’m an artist”. It was pretty bizarre. I briefly considered re-creating an example of his works using my skills at Microsoft Paint, but most of the sites that came up as sources of raw material in Google Image search had domain names that frightened me.

So instead, I present something that is probably still questionable “art” but is a hella-lot funnier and certainly more creative than the “gals & guns” dude – tampon art. Next thing you know someone will come out with condom art…oh…wait, I guess they already have.*

*Case in point, doing a search for “art” in Google images nets you images of George Clooney and talking dinosaur comic strips.
** Cheap rents for big spaces in unsafe areas
*** Why is nobody using this term to describe the transition from the 1900’s to the 2000’s like we did describing the transition from the 1800’s to the 1900’s? Dammit, I’m starting.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Quickie - Are newspapers selling ad space in headlines now?

Okay, is it just me or does this read like “This news article sponsored by Wal-Mart!”?

Why is Wal-Mart even in the headline? Am I to believe that Wal-Mart was somehow involved in this woman’s death 75 years ago? I mean, I knew Sam Walton was old, but not that old…

Hello, my name is grrrbear and I love cupcakes...

I have developed an addiction. The amazing thing is that it has developed in only one day. The place where the GF and I brunched on Sunday (where we saw the live-action Cingular ad) is a combination restaurant and boutique grocery store called the Southport Grocery. The brunch food was okay* but they have phenomenal groceries on the shelves and fantastic baked goods for carryout – including these vanilla cupcakes that are rapidly taking the city by storm (see picture). The unusual thing about them (for me) is that they don’t fill the cup very full at all, thereby eliminating the “muffin-top” and requiring the frosting to fill the remaining space once baked.

As we were leaving, I grabbed five of them and carried them out to meet the GF and our friend H.Co, figuring that way each of us could have one now but the GF and I could save one each for later. But H.Co had, of course bought some for herself, and none of us was really hungry enough to tackle an entire cupcake, having just finished brunch. So I brought them home and put them in the fridge. When the GF and I split one that afternoon I found myself in absolute heaven. I loved them so much that when we split a second one after dinner I went back and snuck another whole one by myself while she was busy being bored by The Three Amigos**. Because of this I’m now convinced that one of the major reasons for the success of said cupcakes is substituting “methamphetamines” for “sugar” in the recipe.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I have a cake problem. It’s really one of the reasons I show up to every wedding I’m invited to. When I was younger and newly-moved-out, I used to bake cakes for myself in my apartment, and then eat them piece by piece over the weekend. Of course, that stopped once I gained the 25th pound – along with my “eat an entire pizza for dinner” dinners. Oh, to have my college-age metabolism back.

Anyway I have already made a pact with myself never to bring home Southport Grocery cupcakes ever again. The good thing is that I have totally cut down my caloric intake today, in expectation of the cupcake I’ll have when I get home. Maybe this will be the new diet craze: the “Pretend There’s a Southport Grocery Cupcake Waiting for you At Home Diet”.

* Honestly, it was a bit frou-frou gourmet for me. In general, I prefer simple, homestyle breakfast stuff to the omlet with cheeses you don’t recognize and pine-nut set.
** Note to guys – apparently this is a “boy movie”…whoda thunkit? I mean, there’s no nudity and even a dance number. Go figure.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quickie - His head's so big it's a weapon

I love Conan O'Brien as much as the next guy (all right, probably a little bit more) but this is awesome.

Who's your daddy!

The GF and I went to brunch with a mutual friend on Sunday, and as we were waiting for a table to open up I noticed a couple dining with a baby. I elbowed the GF and whispered “Look, it’s that Cingular commercial you’re wrong about but in real life!”. She gave me a look, but when she saw them she said “Oh yeah, you’re right!”.

You see, one of the longest-running disputes between us has to do with a commercial that Cingular started airing a few months ago. It basically follows this big important man who wears a trench coat through his day in New York City. He’s very important, going to important meetings with important people, but suddenly he gets a text message from a woman saying “NEED YOU NOW!” whereupon Mr. Important hops in a cab and rushes to the hospital where he discovers the woman, obviously very pregnant. As soon as he arrives, she smiles brightly, obviously thanking her lucky stars that Mr. Important has Cingular for his cellular service. To see it for yourself, go here and click on the link for “Quicktime & Credits: Cingular ‘Workday’ and ‘Triplets’”. Once the little window opens, click the “Cingular ‘Workday’” link at the bottom to play it (Quicktime required).

Anyway, the disagreement involves trying to figure out the relationship between Mr. Important and Ms. Knocked-Up. I said that he was obviously the father of the baby, whereas the GF refused to believe he was anything but Ms. Knocked-Up’s father. Her view was influenced primarily by the age difference between the two, with Mr. Important being significantly older. She was a little disturbed at the thought of the 20-something Ms Knocked-Up sleeping with the late 40/early 50-ish Mr. Important, and couldn’t accept it as reality.

My opinion however, was that since Mr. Important is obviously the target market demographic he must be the father – if for no other reason than to send a message to the other Mr. Important potential customers out there. That message being “Hey! If you use Cingular you’ll get to boink hot chicks who are twenty years younger than you!”.This dispute has been ongoing for some time now, but the incident this morning reminded me. You see the couple we saw was one of our two theories, an older man and younger woman (plus baby) it was hard to tell whether the dude was the woman’s dad or the baby’s dad.

Needless to say, once I returned home properly reminded, I researched it on the web and found comfirmation that yes, indeed, he is that baby’s daddy! And fine, I’ll accept that I was wrong about one thing: she is apparently actually his wife, and not (as I thought) just some chick he was having an affair with.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Quickie - Tha's no ordinary rabbit!


Holy crap!

You know, if there was a rabbit that big lurking around my village, I'd hire armed guards too.

But more to protect myself than the vegetables. Heck, let the veggies hire their own guards.

I just can't get over how big that thing is. You could play jai-ali with its ears for pete's sake!

And the wiener is...

Yes folks it’s been another one of those weeks where work has been very very unhelpful to my ability to blog. Actually, it’s been the past two weeks but two weekends ago I was able to “bank up” by starting a bunch of posts all on the same day. Enough to get me through the winter of my work discontent, at least.

And since I’m going out for lunch with an old friend I’m exceedingly limited in my ability to blog today as well, however – I couldn’t pass by an article on meat raffles without commenting.

Frankly, this sounds like hella-fun. It’s a big wheel that everyone buys a ticket for and whoever’s number comes up wins a cut of meat, including the expected cuts of beef and pork but also exotic stuff like shrimp*. In that respect while I’ve never actually attended a meat raffle I can’t help but envision something similar to the “Wheel of Fish” from UHF.

Still I cannot imagine that there would be big slabs of beef staked to the wheel. Not only would the meat go bad** but a particularly enthusiastic spin might end up covering everybody sitting on either side with a cocktail of blood and other various meat juices. But maybe that’s part of the attraction – like sitting in the “poncho section” at Blue Man Group.

Anyway, I’m off to lunch now. The GF is returning tomorrow from a conference in St. Louis and I’m terribly excited. Yes, all you folks down in that area, if your friends claim that they saw Rachel Ray or Rachel Weisz this week, reassure them that it was probably actually the GF, and chastise them for not getting an autograph for you.

* All right all you sniggering left-coasters, shrimp may not sound exotic but in small-town Minnesota most folks consider it sushi because a) it has no recognizable head and b) it still has fins. Only breading them heavily will make them acceptable at parties because then they look more like fish sticks.
** Particularly the “Minnesota Sushi”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Quickie - who hired that search engine optimizer again?

  1. Go to Google.com
  2. Enter in a search for "kidnapping"
  3. Check out the "Sponsored Links" section on the right.

Do you think you can purchase kidnapping services at Shopping.com? Apparently, they don't sell murder or money laundering though.

And if you're just learning how to sexually harass people, there's apparently a beginner's guide! Whew! Here I was worried I wouldn't figure out the right way to do it. Women everywhere wouldn't have felt offended by my shenanigans at all without this website!

Thanks beginnersguide.com!

You know, I *have* a hammer, but I still have no desire to hammer all over this land

In the past six months or so, the GF has fallen under the same mistaken belief that many women have in their man-friends: we are handy tools to keep around the house in the event something breaks – particularly since we all have tools in our house. I think it all started when she discovered that I had a cordless drill. I brought it over one day to help her assemble her new IKEA futon-chair, but ended up doing most of the building myself*. Once I had finished up – she returned to her room to find a brand new chair sitting right there! Amazing! It was like I was a magical genie capable of conjuring an instant chair just like Barbara Eden in a belly shirt and head scarf.

In the months following conjuring the chair, I proceeded to successfully fix a bunch of other stuff in her presence** including fixing her so-wobbly-as-to-be-a-hazard desk, replacing light bulbs in hard-to-access fixtures, replacing shower heads, unclogging drains, fixing toilets, repairing doorknobs and so forth. I was a the point where I’m pretty sure she viewed me as a younger and less furry version of Bob Vila.

What she didn’t know though, is that it was all just a lucky streak.

You see, I’m not “gifted” when it comes to being handy around the house***. Rather, I have a very basic knowledge of how to use tools derived from a combination of junior high shop class**** and the fact that I now market hand tools and hardware for a living. Plus, my friends at work got me a sacred Home Depot “How to Fix Crap” book when I bought my place that I find fascinating reading and which sometimes gets me thinking “You know, maybe I could install my own ceiling fan…” before I sober up and stop myself before I electrocute myself ripping out wiring in my bedroom.

Typically when I’m fixing stuff in my own house, though, there are mistakes. For instance I have disassembled almost every one of my IKEA furniture pieces at some point during the assembly process because I installed something wrong and needed to start over. Frankly, I blame their refusal to use any words in their instructions, settling for showing magical hammers and telekinetic screwdrivers hammering and screwing together pieces of wood that have been enchanted to line up facing the right direction entirely of their own volition*****. So in a nutshell, all the successes I’ve experienced thus far have been because I was lucky.

After successfully repairing the GF’s set of drawers last night, I was asked to help her hang up some new lights in her bedroom. Of course, being confident in my hardware knowledge, I had bought some special adhesive hooks to hang them (thereby avoiding getting dinged on her damage deposit when she moves out). I showed her how to mount them (remove paper liner, stick on wall) and let her mount the first one. As she was pressing it into place, I suddenly remembered that she needed at least an inch of space between the top of the hook and the ceiling in order to be able to remove the hook – space that she was currently not including.

I struggled for a few seconds about what to do at this point. But knowing that eventually she’d learn about my fallibility anyway I piped up my mistake and she responded by lovingly****** informing me that I was “a cotton-headed ninnymuggins”******* and delicately inquiring as to what I was going to do to resolve the situation. I managed to remove the hook without damaging the wall and replaced it with an extra hook I had purchased for just such an occasion.

Once the lights were hung, all was forgiven. They looked great. I may have lost my place as “master of home repair” but frankly it’s easier to meet expectations on the level of “Hey, he pretty much did it and nothing started on fire!”

And I’m okay with that.

* To her credit, there really wasn’t enough assembly work for two people, so she went and made dinner for us while I finished up - an excellent exchange in my opinion.
** And yes, completely show off at the same time
*** Coming this summer to a theater near you…Grrrbear stars as ‘The Hammer Whisperer’!
**** Thank you Mr. Buss for showing us your own severed finger preserved in the jar as a warning to always be careful and pay attention on the very first day class
***** Sadly, my IKEA pieces were never thusly enchanted. Indeed, frequently they conspired with the screwdrivers to confuse me.
****** Remember kids, raised voices mean love! =)
******* Not her words exactly, but this was the essence of the message being communicated.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Arrrrr!

Quick post today as I'm running tight on time between meetings and extravagant 6-martini lunches with the rest of my "businessman" peer group.

I've always wondered what kind of pirate I would be, but never knew for certain because I worry that I lack the proper perspective to assess my own pirateness. But now, thanks to the miracle of the internet, I can let all my friends decide *for* me - using their completely unbiased and informed opinions of me.

Yea, I am a bastion of integrity. Let the people's voice be heard me hearties...arrr.

What kind of pirate am I? You decide!
You can also view a breakdown of results or put one of these on your own page!
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

Monday, April 03, 2006

Just because they are a retired CEO doesn't mean they knew what they were doing

Even though I have an MBA, and even though I work in the business world, I do not consider myself a “businessman”. If anything, I feel like a fraud, a charlatan, a liberal-arts grad in business casual clothing. I sit in my cube for 9-10 hours a day making the world of hardware a little better for the average John Q. Customer and I find enough to do that it holds my interest. But in general I am still pretty skeptical about a lot of “business” related stuff. For example I get regular invitations (though the b-school alumni e-newsletter) to all sorts of business conferences and “networking events” but I just can’t get excited about them. Why waste a perfectly good afternoon or evening chatting up people who only want to meet me to add contacts to their business buddy list?*

Almost as bad though, are the reams and reams of business-related crap that publishers of all shapes and flavors keep flooding the market with. And there’s way more than you think. For every “Who Moved My Cheese?” and “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” there are a million lesser-known books that are essentially the common sense that you used to get from your parents repackaged into a 250-page “quick read” that disguises regular words with business speak. It’s gotten so bad that I refuse to read business books altogether**. Once a director of mine gave me a book by Jack Welch as a Xmas present. That was almost seven years ago – but I have yet to crack the cover. I think I used it as a coaster once, and I’m pretty sure its mass would help hold my bookshelf in place in the event of a sudden Midwestern earthquake*** or temporary loss of gravity. Other than that it’s pretty useless as it’s not flexible enough to serve as a hot pad.

There’s now so many books out there that a whole other industry has popped up to “hypercondense” these books into a page or two – think Cliff’s Notes on steroids. This is apparently necessary because CEO’s are spending so much time reading books on business strategy that they have no time left for family, sleep, or affairs with their secretary. And that’s on top of the self-congratulatory world of business book reviewers, who laud each new contribution as “insightful” or “original” thereby only perpecuating the cycle.

So needless to say when I saw a blurb on this article in a recent e-newsletter, I thought it was fantastic. Now if only we could get this sort of candor from White House press conferences or (better yet) email spam:

  • WANT A BI66ER P3NIS? GET OVER IT AND ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS!
  • My name is DR CLEMENT OKON. I am from Nigeria and I want you to let me steal all your money. Please help by sending me your bank account numbers, ATM PIN, social security number, all family pets, and pictures of your spouse and children – with a copy of where they can be kidnapped from while you are away at work.
  • HERBAL VIA6ARA! ALL OF THE SIDE EFFECTS – NONE OF THE DESIRED RESULT! NOW FEATURING CARDIAC ARREST AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU!

* Granted, if I’m ever unemployed and start job-searching my opinion on this may change…
** Or even make eye contact with them when I walk past them in the bookstore.
*** Yes, yes – I know the biggest earthquake in US history was in Missouri. But you don't see folks in St. Louis structurally reinforing the Arch now like they are the Golden Gate Bridge do you?