Friday, June 30, 2006

Portuguese music cures the sick...I did not know this

Last night I accepted a last-minute invite* to go see a free concert with Seu Jorge at the Pritzker Pavillion in Milennium Park. The show allegedly started at about 6:30 but it semed like it had only just begun when we finally got there an hour later.

On the way into the park, I think I saw a friend of the GF's on his way out. It was one of those weird experiences where you think you recognize someone and he looks at you as though he vaguely recognizes you too, but by the time you both realize who the other person was, you've passed by too far to turn around and say hello without looking silly. Needless to say, I left a voice mail at the GF's work number to apologize if it was indeed him. Of course, if it wasn't then no harm, no foul.

The concert itself was great, some because the music was upbeat and fun, some because the city is beautiful as afternoon fades into evening, and partially because we got to watch as the audience of wine-sipping, cheese eating young professionals turned into a crowd of sloppily dancing hippies. Swaying back and forth erratically with occasional twitches. I actually saw one women who seemed incapable of moving more than one arm at a time. She would dance with one arm spasming wildly for about 5 mintues, then switch over to the other one. It wasn't until the very end of the concert that she was seen to be moving both arms at the same time, swooping them both around in grand arcs as the concert came to a close. I can only assume that the music of Seu Jorge moved her so much that she was miraculously healed of whatever degenerative muscular/nervous system disease she was suffering from.

All told it was a great night for a Thursday. Now, I'm off to Wrigley Field for the Cubs/Sox crosstown classic. Maybe I'll have pictures of the brawl, if there is one!

* All right, so I accepted a date after Wednesday - the rules girls can bite me.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Suddenly vacation sounds like a good idea...

After going for half the year with only taking three total days off, I have decided to splurge and take off tomorrow through the 9th. This is partly because the holiday weekend means I can take that ten days off while using only four vacation days, and partly because I realized that if I don't use up some of my vacation soon I risked hitting the end of the year and not being able to use it all.

The good news is that I've got a ton of time coming, but the tough part is that now I have no idea what to do with all that time. I have things scheduled on both weekends*, and I have a bunch of errands to run too. I'm tempted to take some time during the week next week and go visit family out of state, so I'm taking tomorrow to run errands. But I'm also tempted to just explore the city more next week, as there are a ton of things that I need to take care of that I haven't been able to because my schedule's been crazy the last few months. Plus, the pool in my 'hood has been open for almost a month now...

I wonder if this is what it's like to be Brad Pitt? Always trying to figure out what to do with his copious free time, trying to decide between lounging by the pool, seeing the King Tut exhibit, exploring the Museum of Science and Industry, or driving over to take his grandma to lunch. Yes, I imagine it's pretty much the same.

If I do have adventures, I'll be sure to bring along the camera so ya'll can come with me.

* Really fun things that I don't want to miss

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thou shalt not covet thy GF's laptop bag

I've had the Macbook for a little over a week and I have to admit that it's been a great experience so far. Sure, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that I'm accustomed to on my PC, but I've been slowly figuring out ways to work around them. For example, I don't have Microsoft Office on it. I looked into it the last time I was at the computer store, but I'm sorry – I'm sooooo not paying $499 for a new copy. The only copy I do have (on my PC) was free, having wheedled a free copy out of Microsoft when they owned Expedia and screwed me over by double-charging me for a ticket. Sure, it's Office 2000, but it was free and I see no need to upgrade given my limited needs.

So I started exploring options and found an application called NeoOffice that is a full set of Office-like programs for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint where I can open and save as those document formats. And it's free! Sweet. I'm using the word editor right now and I's' pretty sweet. Of course, it's early – after all I've only gotten to my second paragraph.

However, despite my ability to find acceptable substitutes for the PC-stuff I need/want (NeoOffice, Firefox for the Mac, Escape Velocity, and Stuffit) and the great stuff that comes on the mac to begin with (iTunes, iWeb, iDVD, Widgets) I'm still suffering from one problem. I still have a raging case of laptop-bag jealousy.

You see, the GF got on board the Mac Laptop train waaaaaay long before I did*, and when she got her kick-butt G4 Powerbook she also picked up this awesome sling/messenger laptop bag. It's practically perfect in every way – lightweight and compact, but with room for the laptop and a bunch of other stuff too**. It's totally cool and great and I want one just like it, except I don't want to look like I'm copying her, because that would be lame.

So I've been raiding every electronics store and big-box retail between home and work, including Best Buy, Target, two different Circuit Citys, MicroCenter, Marshalls, and Office Depot – but none of them have had anything nice and light and small like what I want***. So I've resorted to internet searches to find the largest luggage stores in Chicago to try and finish my quest for the Semi-Holy Grail of laptop bags****. I found one that looks promising, and will head down over the weekend to scope it out. If I find anything promising I'll post pics next week. Hopefully, that'll happen, but if it doesn't, maybe the GF will let me borrow hers when she's out of town sometime.

Then, at least I can pretend...

* Because, well, she's way cooler than I am. In that "nerdy girl who knows about all the cool underground stuff before the rest of us and knows where all the cool vintage stores are" sorta way.
** I've seen her clean it out before – trust me, the holding capacity of this thing is amazing. It's like those old cartoons where Bugs Bunny pulls a giant hammer or a camel out of his pocket...
*** I've got a briefcase for work that has a laptop compartment, but when I just want to walk over to a coffeehouse and write, I want something more “Hey, he must be cool underground writer” and less “Hey, he must be a dorky consultant/tool of the establishment”
**** The Fully Holy Grail of Laptop bags is currently residing under the GF's desk at work, probably

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Yeah, it's got magic powers, all right

Sometimes I'm amazed by how much news I *don't* catch on an average day. For example, while researching witty answers* to Nowhere Girl's latest mini contest I stumbled across news about an amazing new toy revolution that Mattell came out with just in time for the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcer's Stone. In the midst of the veritable tsunami of costumes, coloring books, and action figures released in the merchandising blitz was a toy recreation of Harry's Nimbus 2000 Quidditch broom.

As you can see from the picture used to advertise it, this broom was the funnest toy ever invented. Hordes of young girls** swept into toy stores across the country, demanding that their desires for broom-play be sated. They loved all the features that were included:

  • The broom looks almost exactly like an actual broom! Except that you can't sweep anything, and it's about half the size of the brooms in the movie
  • The broom makes it's own whooshing sounds! Eliminating that annoying need to either imagine what it would sound like or - God forbid - make the sounds themselves
  • The stick part is *grooved* - not only for better gripping while snitch-chasing, but also to further heighten the real-broom experience!
But the biggest bonus feature of the toy Nimbus was that it had built-in vibrating action. No doubt this was designed to make it feel more like flying*** but the end result was that Mattell created the largest "personal massager" available on the market.

And, of course, that set off the Immorality Early Warning alarm of the morality police. First out of the gate were the Concerned Women for America****, issueing an alarming press release to warn women across the country that their daughters were being turned into jezebels by the witchcraft present in a fake broom. As word of this got out, it resulted in pranksters heading over to the Amazon site featuring the broom to post fake opinions that demonstrated the evil influences the "broom of lust" had on their daughters.

Of course, most of those opinions have since been removed - either because they are old or because Amazon got tired of the controversey. But you can still read them in the CWA release. For example - “Even my daughter’s friends enjoy playing with this fun toy. I was surprised at how long they can just sit in her room and play with this magic broomstick!!”

Priceless. One wonders why it isn't being bought by mothers across the country, but not for their kids...

* I couldn't actually remember any of the right answers, so I was shooting for witty, at least. It turns out the contest ended before I could find something.
** And femmy young boys in mom-jeans
***"Dude! I'm flying so fast the broom's *shaking*!"
**** Concerned that at any given moment, some woman, somewhere in America, may be having an unlicenced orgasm.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Meatastic weekend

This weekend was Pride weekend in Chicago. Typically not a big event for heteros like myself, but it's so big in the area around Wrigleyville and Boystown that anyone in the neighborhood can't help but get caught up in the energy and excitement. Driving through it was a bit confusing because all the parking lot flaggers were out in force, prompting me (initially) to wonder why, knowing that the Cubs were out of town this weekend.

For example, the GF and I overheard the following conversation between an obviously straight couple coming to visit friends who were a gay couple:

Straight Woman: "Hi guys!"
Gay Man #1: "Hey, you made it! Good to see you!"
Straight Man: "Yeah, and we got you a present! I know this is, like, your Christmas, so we got you combination bumper stickers and postcards, see? Look!"
Gay Man #2: [Reading] "I only drive straight..."
Straight Man: "Isn't it great? You can put it on you car, or you can send to a friend to put on their car!"

Now, that just seems like someone's trying just a wee bit too hard. To their credit, it didn't seem to phase the gay couple one bit. Something tells me they've had this happen before, maybe it was their parents.

The GF invited me to a pre-pride parade BBQ her church was throwing in the neighborhood on Saturday, where I went to eat her share of meat and be a charming and entertaining date*. It was fun, I hung out and met some really interesting people. While I was chatting with the GF and her friend C, we suddenly noticed this guy out on the sidewalk shouting random stuff at the folks at the BBQ. At first, we thought he was going off against the gay-friendly church, but his rant involved weird non-sequiteurs like Satan and tractors. We listened for a while, but he never started making any more sense, and there was fresh-baked fruit tart to eat...

Then, on Sunday, the GF took me to a lamb roast that folks she met through work. They throw this big party in the back yard of their apartment complex every year, and yes - they rotisserie an entire lamb. It was the first time I've ever actually witnessed** something actually roasted on a spit. Plus, I learned that while some people may think that Blue Moon beer tastes the same as bologna - it really doesn't...but "they pair well", as the sommelier in attendance pointed out. So now you all know what beverage to serve the next time you make bologna sandwiches for a dinner party.

Who says this blog isn't educational?

* A role I absolutely love doing. Plus, free meat!
** And eaten, for that matter

Friday, June 23, 2006

6 things I think about the gym

1) I am so sick and tired of the jocks at the gym walking around rubbing their stomachs under their t-shirts. What's the deal with that anyway? Is it just a contrived tactic to semi-flash their six-pack abs at the women on the stairmasters?

2) Why is it that only women use stairmasters? What, do men not care about having shapley calves and hinders?

3) How come men grunt like professional tennis players when they lift weights? Moreover, why is it when they finish a set they drop the weights as though they were the heaviest things on earth and that they were fortunate to survive it without their arms ripping off at the shoulders? You never see women doing that. They just lift the weights, finish the set, put the weights back and then head back the stairmaster. All the exercise, none of the drama.

4) Why do some women wear makeup to the gym? Any why doesn't is get smeared when they get all sweaty? Did someone invent sweat-proof makeup without it being plastered all over the front pages of Cosmo, Elle, and Drag Queen Weekly?

5) How is it that the one guy or gal always decides to use the last piece of equipment of my routine *right* when that's the only piece I have left to use? Why doesn't he/she remember to wipe it down when they're finished? And why is he/she always the person who thinks that sweat is as much a gym-fashion accessory as too-tight shorts?

6) I think I understand why women's magazines like Vogue and Cosmo are so thick - it's so a woman can sit down on the reclining bike or get on the stairmaster and read one cover-to-cover while getting a decent amount of cardio. Why don't men bring in reading material* you wonder? Because we're too busy checking out the chicks on the stairmasters and reclining bikes.

* e.g. Maxim, Popular Science, or GQ

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Coke will eventually brand our urine, and charge us to flush it

News around the city for the past couple weeks has been particularly focused on the latest drug craze to sweep through the streets - heroin laced with fentenyl, which is some sort of uber-painkiller. Allegedly, the addition of this stuff gives the heroin addict a stronger high - but it frequently causes unpleasant side effects like death. Because of this, there were *two* different conferences in the city last week where police and public health experts met to discuss how to most effectively find the source of these tainted drugs so they could be removed from the system.

Sounds like a good idea, sure. But here's my question - why aren't we having meetings like this to talk about finding the source of the regular heroin? What, is normal heroin acceptable now? Is it the equivalent of Tylenol, where the only time society gets all up in arms is when someone has tainted it with something that is not supposed to be there? If so, when are they going to shut down production of Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke*?

The fact that the DEA hasn't put the extra effort into finding all sources of heroin makes me question whether the master source of it isn't actually the Coca-Cola company, which has been able to buy them off with big payments to lobbyists. If this is the case, then I anticipate that "Diet Coke with Heroin" is only months away from market. "Not only does it have zero calories - but is also eliminates all desire for food altogether and makes you look like Nicole Ritchie!"

Of course, this means that the fentenyl has obviously been introduced to the heroin supply by agents of Pepsi, working to prevent the launch of Diet Coke with Heroin until after Pepsi releases its Diet Pepsi with Crystal Meth. Looks like the cola wars have a whole new front...

* There's entirely too many "somethings" in a soft drink with a name that requires five words

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Swingin' in the Suburbs

A friend of mine who I used to work with in Cleveland is in the Chicago office this week for a conference, so I went out with her and a few friends to grab dinner after work yesterday. Typically, in cases like these we will take an out-of-towner to a decent restaurant downtown because the visitor usually stays at a downtown hotel. But this week there is some large plastics expo/trade show, so all the downtown hotels are full.

Yes, all of Chicago's downtown hotels have no rooms available (at least not at a reasonable* rate). This actually happens more often than you would think. While Chicago is a big city we don't have a lot of hotel space in the downtown area, so the next time you're thinking of taking a trip here (and don't stay at my place) make sure to check the trade show schedule at McCormick Place. That might determine whether you can actually find a room.

Anyway, because T.Ro was staying out in the 'burbs, we had to find a restaurant out in the 'burbs. So one friend suggested a place out in Oakbrook Terrace called Redstone Grill. From the outside, it looked like any other chain restaurant in the 'burbs - with the exception of having the largest parking lot I had ever seen. It was easily 5-6 times larger than the actual restaurant itself, and populated largely with expensive sports cars with personalized license plates proclaiming "I U DOIN" and "DLCVITA". Obviously, a classy joint.

Once I met up with folks inside, one of them** told me that this place was the place in the area for swinging singles over 40 on the weekends. From the look of things inside, it was only slightly less so inside. Acres of slightly overweight, gold chain wearing, polo shirt and sports coat-clad bronzer aficionados lurked up by the bar, or tried to make conversation with the hostess - an attractive young woman in her early 20's who obviously believed that her DD's could defy gravity sans foundation garment. Who knows, maybe the "Look, my tits are level with my bellybutton" look draws the older guys.

The rest of the dinner was pretty uneventful, I have to admit. Although the waitress tried to peer pressure me into drinking more booze and needled me a bit when I only ate half my hamburger. But I wasn't disturbed, I had to drive 45 mintues to get home and the hamburger itself was a half-pound of beef. I wasn't about to let an aggressive waitress drive me to obesity and a DUI.

* Reasonable being less than $500 a night, probably
** Who had friends in the suburbs and had been there previously

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Your temprement's wrong for the priesthood, and teaching would suit you still *less*!

Monday morning I went in for an early morning dentist appointment before work. Unfortunately, my previous dentist had disappeared from the office where he worked*. That office had attempted to place me with some other dentist in their office, but I heard from a friend of mine that this guy apparently had the chairside manner of Vlad the Impaler. So I cancelled my appointment and asked around until my friend H.Co recommended this one.

As always, whenever I start up a relationship with any medical professional, my first goal is to get their assistant-level folks to fall completely in love with me. This is particularly important in the case of dentists, because hygenists can make or break your experience - and not only because they spend a significant proportion of their time wielding sharpened steel tools around very sensitive areas.

The way I see it, my relationship with my hygenist is more important than that with my actual dentist. This is because most of my time in the dentists office is spent with her**. I rarely spend any time with my dentist one-on-one because I have great teeth. I've been told this on multiple occasions and it's gotten to the point where I actually take pleasure in going to the dentist just for the positive affirmation and endless praise that is heaped upon me when I stop by. It's like the scene in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie is imagining his teacher giving him an "A plus, plus, plus, plus, plus..." after being so deeply moved and inspired by his essay on why he wants the Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas - only without the harsh reality of "you'll shoot your eye out!".

Anyway, I think my new hygenist and I are going to get along famously. She laughed at all my jokes***, explained things very well and wielded her blades with the deft touch and skill of a sober Inigo Montoya.

Although, I think perhaps next time I'll ask her to change the TV to Sportscenter from Today. Al Roker is way too annoying that early in the morning.

* And yes, it was under mysterious circumstances
** Yes, I refer to all of them as "her". I know it's not gender neutral and therefore sexist, but honestly, I've never had (or even seen) a male dental hygenist. I assume it's because all hygenist schools are women-only institutions.
*** For example, when she handed me the piece of paper listing my HIPAA rights, she said "And here are your rights". I responded by asking if my right to party was included, "because sometimes I had to fight for those". Great stuff.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Like slipping on a comfy old sweater

This weekend I finally broke down and bought a laptop. I've been thinking about it for the last 2-3 years but never found the right one that had everything I want. There were always so many kinds made my so many PC makers that I found it overwhelming and too much work to be worth it. Besides, I had a perfectly good desktop that was only a few years old - and with all the modification I had made to it it was just as good as PC's currently on the shelf. Besides, by doing so I had convinced myself that I was still technically sophisticated, like I was when I was in high school and college. If I got a new computer, I'd need to familiarize myself with a whole new set of hardware and frankly it wasn't worth all the effort. Until now...

Since Apple came out with the new Intel-based Macs, I could finally return to the company that started me off into the world of computers with the old Apple II that my mom used to bring home from school for the summer. That got me hooked on Apples and Macs all the way through college. My old Mac LCII served me well until I tried to use it to access the internet from my apartment after graduation. Unfortunately, the ISP I was using didn't even have support for Macs - forcing me to run over to Best Buy and purchase my first PC in a fit of what can only be described as pique*. Since then I've gone through two additional PC's and have grown more and more comfortable with them. But I never felt good about all the money I was giving to Bill Gates**.

I had to re-familiarize myself with the Apple Product line. What better place to do so than my local Apple Store? I figured that surely the people working there woudl be significantly better than the 12-hour trained morons at the big box stores, right? So after doing some reserch just on the web I got up early on Saturday and headed down to the Michigan Avenue Apple Store. Inside, I found many Apple employees: 4-5 behind the checkout counter, 1 serving as an annoying greeter at the front door, 1 giving a presentation in the Apple Theater upstairs, 3 working in the "Genius Bar" upstairs, and another 2 working in some kiosk upstairs that I couldn't quite figure out what it did. This left about 3 people to walk the floor and answer questions for the approximately 118,000 people walking around the store. Sure, most of them were asking stupid questions like "Where are the iPod skins?" and "Can I use your bathroom?". And given that the 3 people on the floor are busy telling customers that iPods don't instantly make you deaf while grooming their faux-hawks, it was nearly impossible to find one who could help me figure out which laptop was best for me. After waiting for 45 minutes for one to free up, I grabbed one guy who looked annoyed at my question before giving me a cursory answer that really didn't help me much. Inspiring, indeed.

So I went back home, did some more research, and went over to my local MicroCenter and picked up the black Macbook which I am now sitting here composing this very blog post on. Sure, I can't connect my iPod to it*** but I'm still enamored with my new toy. And as soon as I figure out how to get my new copy of NeoOffice working, I'll be perfect.

Of course, this also means I'll be able to psot from the road more often too. On those rare occasions when I'm *on* the road that is. Prepare for postings from airports, everybody!

* Or, to coin a phrase, "e-rage" - it was the late 90's after all, wasn't everything new starting with "e-" back then?
** I don't care how many kids in Africa it inoculated against polio or how many inner-city kids if got through Head Start - I still don't feel good about it
*** My iPod is formatted for my iTunes on my desktop PC so my laptop won't recognize it. At least until I get Boot Camp and install a new copy of Windows.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Words to woo by

Do you remember those heady days when you first started dating someone? Those first few months when nothing was wrong, everything about them was perfect, and nobody passed gas?

Well now you can relive it through Steven and Angela. Shhh…they just started dating a month or two ago. Sometimes I’m envious, but mostly I’m like “That’s a bit much”.

Type in the same url as my blog, but with their names (one word, first his then hers) instead of “argoramb”. Sorry for not linking directly, but I’m just the guide and I don’t want to appear like I’m mocking them*. They’re just kids in love.

Which gets to my central point. Why blog this stuff? Is blogging eventually going to replace email and IM’ing as the hip way to communicate one’s feelings? What happens if** they start fighting? Will they kiss and make up via blogger too?

Weird.

It all makes me long for the days of writing old-fashioned love letters. Or even telegrams for that matter. Although I’d imagine that all the references to “STOP” in a telegram might cause mixed messages for long-distance relationships

DEAR FESTUS STOP HOW ARE YOU STOP I MISS YOU TERRIBLY STOP WRITING MY SISTER, TOO STOP HAVE YOU TRIED RIDING A BICYCLE YET STOP I CAN’T STOP THE VIBRATIONS ARE TOO MUCH ON THE COBBLESTONES HERE IN THE CITY STOP YOUR BROTHER WAS IN TOWN LAST WEEK STOP I ASKED HIM TO STAY THE WEEKEND BUT HE CAN’T STOP KISSING OUR CHILDREN BRINGS ME SUCH JOY STOP BUT ITS NOT LIKE KISSING YOU STOP YOURS EVER SALLIE STOP PS THE TELEGRAMS YOU SEND EACH WEEK ARE NICE STOP

* And then have them discover me using TTLB or something.
** Or when…

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Next up - tampon ads during NFL games, no doubt

Typically, I don’t pay much attention to the commercials I happen across while flipping through channels on the television. But last night on the way from Mythbusters to "The Drug Years” I crossed over into a territory that was relatively unfamiliar: one of those all-women channels*. But that’s not the weird thing. What was unusual was the commercial that happened to be playing at the exact second I saw it. It was an ad for Cialis.

Is it just me or does this seem really unusual? Given the demographics of the channel itself, I find it highly doubtful that there are a lot of men over the age of 40 watching it at any given time. Or perhaps the drug maker is trying to ensure that women know about ED drugs too? After all women have probably never encountered advertisements for ED drugs before, right? Because they never watch anything but Oxygen and WE, naturally**. So ladies, if you are out there, you should know that there are drugs that will completely cover over any emotional issues your husband has and make him rock hard and obsessed about having sex with you constantly for up to 36 hours at a stretch! Oh boy – I can sense your excitement now!

Even worse was something I noticed about the commercial itself was how it is now making a clear warning about the dangers of priapism that may occur when using ED drugs. One of the provisos mentioned in the ad was “if you encounter problems with priapism – an erection lasting more than four hours – see your doctor immediately”***. Now I am a guy, and I can honestly say that if I ever had an erection that lasted longer than 1 hour I was going to wig out a little bit. And given how easily freaked out men are about our lil’ fella’s in general, do they honestly expect us to sit around watching the clock waiting for hour four to roll around? Yeah, like an erection that lasted 3 hours and 58 minutes is perfectly normal…

* Either WE or Oxygen or maybe those are one and the same these days? Who can keep up really…
** Well, maybe Oprah.
*** Or something like that – I don’t recall the exact wording

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's like having built-in airbags

As glad as I am to hear that nobody was killed, I’m a little skeptical about this story out of Germany. Allegedly, a 440 lb man was out riding his bike when he was run over by a Volkswagen after falling off his bike at an intersection. Apart from a few scrapes* and a dislocated hip, doctors claim he was unharmed due to his “extra body mass”.

Frankly, I don’t buy it. First off, people who weigh 440 pounds don’t ride bikes – if they did they wouldn’t weigh 440 pounds to begin with. And when was the last time you saw someone weighing anywhere near that much on a bicycle? Motorcycles, sure**, but not a bike. Besides, that seems like a lot of weight to put on a bike frame – not to mention the tires. Could a regular bike even handle such a load?

But let’s say that this guy had just decided to get off the couch and start exercising***, so he bought a bike and hit the streets. The story still doesn’t hold up for the simple reason that the ground clearance of the car itself doesn’t look to be more than eight or nine inches. Given that the man weighed 440 pounds, one would assume that his diameter was significantly greater than the ground clearance of the car. So it seems it would be almost impossible for a small car to go up and over such a large object, thereby causing the scrapes and bloody nose cited in the article.

If you ask me, this seems like a made-up news story passed as news issued as a press release by the morbidly obese lobby, wherein they are trying to advance the notion that weighing 440 pounds can save your life if you’re ever run over. To me this makes about as much sense as the “I drive an SUV because I want to be safe in an accident” argument. One wonders if this guy weighed in at, say, 185 instead of 440 then perhaps he would have been able to keep his balance more easily to begin with. Idle speculation, sure, but it sure beats trying to lose all the weight by having it scraped off piecemeal by the undercarriage of a car.

* Allegedly “from the underside of the vehicle”
** After all, we all remember the McCrary Twins
***“Good for you!”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sometimes, I think about it...

I'm not sure what's more unnerving - that "blankies" like myself "who don't have tattoos" are increasingly becoming the exceptions, as the survey this article cites*, or that apparently I'm now too old to qualify as "rebellious youth", no longer falling into the 18-29 year old demographic. At least I can still count myself in the majority of the 18-50 year old "rebellious non-senior citizens", only 24 percent of them have tattoos.

Occasionally, I'll ponder the idea of getting a tattoo. Typically I go through these moments when a friend has gotten one or I see a tattoo on someone who I actually respect**. Thankfully, because of this these moments are few and far between I don't often seriously consider getting one. This is partially because I don't like being stabbed once, much less the thousands of needle pricks that are associated with tattooing. Second, no matter how cool the idea of your tattoo sounds, the reality frequently ends up looking like crap. For example somebody actually thought these looked good:






Yeah, I don't think I'm ever getting a tattoo.

Thanks to www.badtattoos.com for the...ahem..."inspirations".

* Stating that 36% of people aged 18-29 have tattoos
** Ian McKellen, for example

Monday, June 12, 2006

The first singles bar for America's youth

At work last week a friend of mine mentioned how his son had a lock-in at school as part of the end-of year activities. This brought back fond memories of lock-ins at my high school. We had two of them – one for new years and the other the weekend after graduation. Ostensibly, the intent of both was to keep us kids out of trouble and away from alcohol so we didn’t wrap ourselves around a tree at high speed. They were one of the most fun times I had in high school for two reasons: first being that there was no drunk people* and second that all the hot girls in school were there for me to flirt with.

Yes, I was an incorrigible flirt in high school. While I never actually figured out how to date girls until college, flirting was something I mastered at an early age. This was the best part about lock-ins – you could go around and flirt with girls you liked for a few minutes and then move onto a different girl once girl #1 was distracted by some of her friends or was next up at the dunk tank. It was a perfect practice field for a teen-about-town such as myself to hone my “skillz” and was really the biggest reason I went to these events to begin with.

This then, is why I was so shocked when my friend told me his kid went to an all-boys school. Hanging out with chicks was the whole raison d’etre for me to attend, so the idea of attending a single-sex lock-in made as much sense to me as going surfing in Lake Michigan. I suppose it could be done, but why would you want to?

* Me being a complete teetotaler until I actually turned 21 – shocking, I know.

Friday, June 09, 2006

At least it doesn't actually say "wedding" anywhere on it

One of the perks at work is the ability to buy stamps at the cashier’s desk instead of having to stop by the post office on the way home from work. While I don’t need to purchase stamps that often anymore* I usually go through a set of 20 every couple months. The only downside is that I don’t get to choose the design of the stamps I purchase. I get whatever the woman in the cube decides to hand me. Typically this isn’t a problem, because most stamp designs are so innocuous that nobody pays any attention. People don’t worry about the subtext when they get a letter stamped with Snoopy fighting the Red Baron or a picture of Hattie McDaniel.

But when I bought stamps this morning, I was a little surprised to find that they were from the “Our Wedding” series of stamps. For those of you not getting married this summer, this is a series that the Post Office designed to carry enough postage for either a heavy invitation + response cards in their big envelopes (the 2 ounce stamp) or the response card by itself to be pre-placed on the response envelope (a regular $0.39 1 ounce stamp). Looking over the booklet, I was spooked a little to see the frilly script across the top reading “Our Wedding Stamps”. Would ComEd think that I was sending them a wedding invitation disguised as the condo association’s electric bill? Would my mom pass out the next time I sent her a card for any occasion whatsoever? What would the GF say when wedding presents from The City of Chicago Water Department and the National Geographic Subscription Renewal Department start showing up at her doorstep? Moreover, how did they find out where we are registered when I didn’t get a chance to play with the IWT gun**!. Hopefully, I can get a hold of her before any of that happens and reassure her that we are indeed not engaged.

But this still raises the question of why we got a hold of stamps from this series as the in-house stamps to begin with? Are the folks in corporate accounting just trying to wreak havoc in the lives of singletons all summer? Or perhaps this is another tactic that the government is using to re-enforce “family values” – by trying to get as many of us married off as possible before we even realize it by disguising all our outgoing mail as wedding invitations! Man, those neo-cons are devious.

Or are they? Surely they realize that homosexuals send mail too, and that by disguising all mail as invitations they are tacitly giving their approval to gay marriage. Hee hee! Oh, that would be a fun meeting in the Oval office to spy on without a warrant, “Um, Mr President sir? There’s been a slight glitch in ‘Operation Get America Hitched’…”

* Thanks online bill payment!
** “I Want That!”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Admittedly, I'm a guy...women's shoes confuse me

While waiting for the GF at the train station the other evening, I tried to read the latest novel by My Friend the Novelist. I got about 6-7 pages into it but I kept getting distracted by people coming out of the station. In situations like this I have a habit of giving them names and dramatic backstories – all of which will make for a lovely post some other day, but time is short and instead I’ll mention one part about the evening in particular. This one woman exited the station and stopped by the bench to get her phone out of her purse when I noticed how cute her shoes were.

My first thought was “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just thought that to myself…” followed closely thereafter by a solemn promise to never again spend an another entire Sunday afternoon flipping between a Queer Eye marathon and What Not To Wear. Not that they are bad shows, but in the future I’ll need to intersperse some Spike TV and ESPN in there to keep myself more balanced mentally.

But then I looked back at the shoes, and I realized part of why I was fascinated wasn’t how they looked – it was the engineering. You see, I’m accustomed to women’s shoes actually being attached to the foot with multiple straps, laces, and indeed – entire top surfaces. But this one appeared to be helped in place mostly by a tiny strap looped over the base of the woman’s toes and her foot-sweat acting as an adhesive*. I was fascinated, but I tried to appear disinterested so as to not appear like some foot-fetish weirdo lurking outside the train station reading a chick-lit novel targeted at teens**.

After a few minutes of rummaging, she actually started walking away in these things. And it appeared as though it took all the clenching power of her toes to prevent the shoes from flying off in random directions. And thus – I discovered yet another reason why it’s better to be a boy: with the exception of an occasional undone lace, we can pretty much forget about shoes once we put them on in the morning.

It also made me thing that maybe bunions are nothing more than the building up of toe muscles because the wearing of toe-clenching shoes forces the toe-biceps to bulk up like post-1990 Barry Bonds on the “clear”. That said however, these shoes got my attention – which was perhaps the entire point.

Mercifully though, by that time the GF had shown up and saved me from ruminating about this stuff for the rest of the evening. Thank goodness.

* Not unlike the picture on the right, but with a strap about half as wide..seriously, imagine it with only the black part
** Yeah, not the demographic I ever want to find myself lumped into

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Quickie - "I'm Grrrbear, I'm 31 and my Dad's Bruce Lee..."

OMG this is the best music video EVAR!!!!

Optimus Prime + Zoids+ A-Team + Mary Poppins + Amazing animation = CRAZY DELICIOUS!!!

Just *stunning*...

Snaps to Miss Shirley for passing it along. I've been watching it for about 15 minutes and counting....

There are no words to adequately describe this

It goes without saying that marriage is a big step in anyone’s life. You move out of your parent’s basement, available closet space becomes as scarce as hair on my head or charismatic democratic political candidates, and oftentimes someone else using the bathroom right when you are most reconsidering burrito day with the department at Taco Lennys. The sad thing about our society is that while we require licensing and regulation of hair salons, we allow any moron to get married. Case in point – Mr. Travis Fey, a 33-year-old man from Iowa currently facing kidnapping charges filed by his wife. I heard about this guy from My Friend in Porn over dinner the other night, and was so dumbstruck I had to do more research – blog topics like this one don’t come along very often.

But that’s not the most shocking aspect of the story. Apparently, before kidnapping her, Frey tried to have his wife sign a “Contract of Wifely Expectations” – a four page document outlining various rules for how she was to conduct herself in all aspects of life. Sections of the contract covered areas such as:

Shaving
  • “every third day” including “underarms, chest, legs, and pubic area (navel to anus)” plus guidelines for pubic hair shaping

Allowable Clothing
  • “only thigh highs and garters, and only thong panties”…”half your shoe purchases will be high heels 2” or more. You will then wear these heels more often”

Sleepwear
  • “you will be naked within 20 minutes of the kids being in bed, and then sleep naked unless instructed otherwise”…“the only exception will be during your menstrual cycle”

“My Time”
  • A period immediately before and after designated sleeping hours when the wife was to “devout [sic] [this time] solely to me, whereas you will be in my service to do anything and everything I want, which may or may not be sexual in manner” – included is an explicit list of behaviors which are, and are NOT allowed during “My Time”

Pet Names
  • [each quarter] “you are you choose your ‘pet name’ that you want me to call you by”.

“Good Behavior Days”
  • What does the wife get for all her hard work complying with all the rules devised by this “Sexual Stalin”? His idea of a reward is the “Good behavior day”, where “each GBD can be used to ‘get out of’ doing the things request [sic] or expected of you with the following exceptions birthdays, anniversary, shaving, and sleepwear. Including bonus GBD’s for “unexpected” actions*.

Seriously, take a few minutes and read through the entire contract. I really can’t do it justice.

Suffice to say that Travis is now in Federal court facing the kidnapping charges, which will hopefully result in him being put behind bars for a very long time**. If so, I will very much look forward to his cellmate writing up a “Contract of Prison B*tchly Expectations” for him to sign***.

* Up to 14 GBD’s for “unexpected” anal intercourse. Talk about buying in bulk…
** If not, he’s also facing separate charges pending regarding him downloading child porn onto his home computer. Quite the catch, huh ladies?
*** “You will wear your orange jumpsuit at all times with legs no longer than 2” below the knees (unless it’s for Church)”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Thank heaven for the news - it makes my life seem normal

Okay, I’ve had two complete posts crash and burn tonight. The first one I lost via email and the second one I thought up but then forgot about betwixt meeting the GF at the train station and getting home. Hopefully it’ll come back to me in a dream. Mercifully, I have the news to provide ample blog-fodder + talking points. Yay, news!

First, it appears that Oprah is bored and is finally growing tired of her dull and dreary life without friends. Now that ordering Steadman around the house has grown tiresome, she’s started making like Vince and Owen and crashing weddings, hitting several around Tulsa Oklahoma this weekend. While word has it that she’s not doing it to pick up bridesmaids, she does show up, drop off a gift and take pictures with the “lucky” coupe, then skedaddling before Aunt Mabel can invite her to the next book group in Akron. And what does the queen of all media gift to the lucky couple? The woman who bestows bags of outrageous bling and techno-gadgets on her “favorite things” episode*; the tycoon who gives everyone in her audience a car as a promotion – what would she give these lucky few couples? Dishes.

Talk about buzzkill. I mean, does Oprah even know where they are registered? Or which China pattern they picked out? Sure, she’s got connections, but come on – if you’re doing that much research to pick the right pattern, then you’re doing too much research for it to be “crashing” the wedding. And besides, isn’t he wedding day supposed to be all about the bride? After Oprah shows up and wows the crowd, nobody will be talking about the dress or the flowers or how beautiful the vows were. Pity the poor new husbands, I suspect some bad wedding night sex for those guys.

And yet…maybe that was her plan all along, sowing the seeds of disharmony to ensure a steady stream of dysfunctional couples for her and Dr. Phil to feature on the show for the next 10-15 years. The woman’s a genius…

Second, note to all crazy people. If the voices tell you to jump into the wild animal enclosure – don’t listen to them. You ain’t Daniel, and apparently God has other things to do than beat the crap out of some lions just because you threw yourself in there to begin with.

By the way what exactly do you think they mean by an “animal island” that is “protected by thick concrete blocks”? Sounds more like some sort of fortified bunker than a natural habitat. And if the lions are preparing elaborate defenses, I wonder what they know that we don't…

Maybe they are trying to keep Oprah out of their elaborate feline weddings. After all, she'd probably just bring a food bowl that says "Kitty".

* I want to say this out loud, right here. I don’t watch Oprah – but I’ve got my finger on the pulse of pop culture, so I know about the favorite things episode

Monday, June 05, 2006

Here comes the sun! AIEEE!

This weekend was supposed to be beautiful outside, so Saturday morning I woke up early and headed down to the lakefront to enjoy the nice weather. I brought along a book I’ve been trying to finish for about the last month or so. The trip down to Lincoln Park was uneventful, but once I arrived I found myself surrounded by a horrible sight – there had been a mass beaching of pretty people up and down the entire length of the lakefront. It appeared that they had all come out to go swimming, as they were all in swimsuits, but instead of frolicking in the waves with the rest of their bretheren, they were lying motionless on the ground! Every 15 minutes or so it seemed like they would try to escape, but in their weakened condition all they were capable of was rolling over. So sad. I thought about trying to rally passersby to begin a rescue effort – having a bucket brigade started to keep their skin moist and prevent overheating. But then I thought “Who am I to argue with nature’s mystery?” so I let them stay where they were.

Knowing that I had a good couple hours of sun exposure coming up, I had prepped before coming out. I slathered on moisturizers with built-in sunscreen right after getting out of the shower, and had applied my trusty “SPF Infinity” on top of that in particularly vulnerable areas. Thusly prepared, I was able to spend almost 3 hours in direct sunlight, making up for any hidden Vitamin D deficiencies that I didn’t know about. That was good.

But what I didn’t realize was that apparently, the moisturizer I had used did not contain any sort of sunscreen, as I had believed. Mercifully, the additional sunscreen I applied to my head and arms protected those areas. My legs however, were not so lucky. And because I was sometimes lying on my side, and other times on by belly while reading there is no recognizable pattern to my sunburn. For example, as you can see in the picture, my left kneecap is sunburned while my right kneecap looks normal. Plus the pattern from my sandals now makes my feet look like billboards for the new X-Men movie. Hey 20th Century Fox, where's my ad money?!

Sheesh. I can't even suburn symetrically. Thank goodness I wear pants at work.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Testicles and prostates don't belong on your resumé

Recently, I met up with my good friend H.Co for brunch. I always look forward to brunches with her because our conversations generally range over a broad range of topics. This time we ran the gamut from the new guy she’s dating to whether breast cancer is overblown these days. While we both agreed that it was, I pointed out that while each gender has its own gender-specific cancers that only that gender pays attention to*, men’s love of boobs makes us just as big a supporter of breast cancer as women are. And I think it’s just as hard to get men behind ovarian cancer as it is to get women excited about testicles – neither make for great ad copy like boobs do.

After a lovely brunch of breakfast burritos at Lula’s, we went to Target since H.Co needed to return some things and I needed to buy some new razor blades before going back to work. I also took advantage of the opportunity to pick up some new casualwear shirts, since I only have about 2-4 that are remotely acceptable for summer wear. Given that the GF has helped teach me about fashion over these many months, I took advantage of the opportunity to practice buying my own clothes, while still having the ‘safety net’ of a fashion-forward female around to keep me from doing any lasting damage. I came away with five shirts that I picked out myself. I felt pretty darn good about myself, too.

I thanked H.Co for her assistance, prompting the following conversation:

H: Oh it’s nothing, it’s one of those things that we women are really good for, you know.
G: Really? You all do this as a sort of charitable outreach program?
H: Pretty much, small amount of work but society as a whole sees big benefits.
G: It must be nice to have a gift like that you can share with the world…
H: Sure, but it’s one of those things women are really good for.
G: That, and boobs.
H: Yeah, boobs and a gift for shopping.
G: Those are pretty good assets to have, you know.
H: Maybe I should re-do my resumé…

In gratitude, I introduced H.Co to the beauty of Archer Farms private label Target food** and together we discovered that our neighborhood Target now sells wine – including mysterious Target-brand boxed wine and regular bottled versions, like a bottle called “Menage-a-Trois” which is apparently intended to be enjoyed with two friends. So I’m saving it for a special occasion.

Now, off to sample a glass of my Archer Farms "Peach and Pear Italian Soda". Mmmmm!

* Prostate and testicular cancer for men, ovarian and cervical for women
** Did you know that they private label milk now, too? Sheesh, where does it end?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Quickie - the end of an era

I just heard that the actor who plays Juan Valdez is retiring after 37 years playing one of television’s most iconic figures. In a way I’m a little sad, because let’s face it – there’s not a lot of characters from the commercials of my youth still around. It’s going to be like losing a security blanket.

When I was of prime ad-target age, I was pretty ambivalent about coffee in general. My parents didn’t drink it at all, so I viewed it with the same suspicion that I did alcohol, tobacco, and those magazines in the plastic bags that they sold behind the counter at the U-Save convenience store on the corner. I figured that if my parents didn’t consume it, it either would kill me or it must have tasted horrible*

So here’s to you, Carlos Sanchez – they may be announcing your replacement by June 30th, but you’ll always be the only Juan Valdez to me.

* I mean, my mom regularly consumed cauliflower – if she could tolerate that yuk-stuff and ask for seconds, I didn’t want to imagine what something that tasted bad enough for her not to eat would do to my sensitive taste buds

A whole new meaning to the phrase "she looks so good it's a crime"

Dear Mr. Convenience Store Owner,

I can understand that you are upset that you got fined when one of your employees sold a six-pack of beer to an underage decoy who was working for law enforcement officials. But come on, claiming that the clerks failed to notice the “MINOR UNTIL 2007” stamped on her driver’s license because she “…was dressed in very provocative clothing more suited for the bedroom” is lame.

I mean, if we let people off for that – where does it end? How effective would it be to card anyone if women can get around it by just stopping for a minute to skankify themselves before buying beer? The horror…we’d devolve into a society where the slutty girls can violate laws with impunity – flaunting their disregard for law and order by flashing helpless waiters in restaurants to avoid paying for meals*.

Meanwhile, everyone who isn’t a nubile young woman seethes with jealousy and devises stratagems for putting them all in camps. This leads to a stratified society populated in the main by the unattractive and the male. Meanwhile all the hot chicks are sequestered in their beachfront “centers” where they are forced to play beach volleyball and slather suntan lotion on each other for hours on end. Not exactly the sort of society I’d want to live in…given where I’d end up.

See Mr. Owner? If we don’t fine your store for doing this, it will destroy society and cause the closing of Hooters restaurants across the country. So shut up, take your medicine, and start training your people a little better. Or, alternatively, stop hiring 18-year-old high school boys to sell alcohol.

* “All right girls, everyone finished with dessert? Great, now let’s make a break for it – set your boobs on ‘stunning’!”

Postgame report(s)

After attending two Cubs games in the last two days I think I can safely say that one sees the most interesting things when one attends them - and 90% of the interesting things have nothing whatsoever to do with what's happening on the field.

Last night for example I got to watch as the grounds crew raced out to unroll the tarp when a thunderstorm rolled in about halfway through the 4th inning. And, there's not exactly a delicate way to say this, but some of the grounds crew were much better equipped for "racing" onto the field than others. Those less well-equipped* made do with plodding onto the field as best they could.

One not-so nimble fellow got tripped up as they were unfolding the tarp and the other guys didn't even notice - so he was left to his own devices to try and figure out which way was the right way to get out. Undoubtedly it was pitch black under there, as everyone in the crowd could watch this little bump in the tarp skittering back and forth trying to find the easiest way out. Eventually, one of the other groundskeepers lifted up one side of the tarp and shouted for the guy to guide him towards the light. But it wasn't really until they had already finished setting up the tarp. In a way, I wonder if this guy had done this on purpose, jsut to get out of having to work thetarp into position. When he emerged, he was cheered like a returning war hero - hysterical.

At today's game the incident of note was later and not as public. I went with my friend B.Da who had tickets. Upon arriving at our seats, they were two of four in a row next to this other couple. We sat in seats 2 and 3, figuring if the real owners of 1 and 2 showed up we'd just slide down to our seats - no harm, no foul, and we get to maintain a little personal space between me and the 17 year old kid sportin' the wad of Benjamins** who finds *nothing* more amusing than to yell "Here it comes!" to his girlfriend at *every* single foul ball hit all evening***.

Time passes...

More time passes...

By the time the 7th inning rolls around, I figure we're not going to have to move and start to get comfortable. Just then a lady and her little girl arrive to take their seats. I was a little surprised. I mean who would bother to show up to a game after 2/3rds of it is already over? but these two ordered nachos and cotton candy, and watched the game contentedly for a little over an inning.

Then they left.

Face value on the tickets was about $20 each - not including fees and taxes. So, this woman shelled out $50-60 for one inning of baseball and stadium dinner. That would average out to be over $500 for all 9 innings. B.Da and I just looked at each other in shock and awe. Must be nice to be able to throw money around like that.

The other highlight of the evening was a conversation we had upon her return from the ladies room:

B: I'm back!
G: I see, that was pretty quick, actually.
B: Augh, the ladies restroom is such an operation in palaces like this.
G: What - with all the undressing, dressing, coiffing, primping, applying, and bitching about the drunk moron who brought you here?
B: Pretty much, I hate it. I didn't even look in the mirror on the way out!
G: Wait, wait...you gals have *mirrors* in the bathrooms?

Of course, I realize now (after visiting said facilities myself) that men's rooms also have mirrors. But I had never needed one before, and I can't recall ever seeing someone at a Cubs game doing so either - so I think I subconciously erased it from my memory of said bathrooms. Funny how selective memory can be so convincing sometimes.

I think this is why I would make a bad juror or character witness. Good thing I don't know any criminals.

* Or possibly *more* well equipped, if you were talking about preparing for a long siege and would have no food for a week
** But who conveniently doesn't realize one is supposed to tip the hot dog guy who hauled his ass up to you with the warmer to hand-deliver a dog out of the goodness of his soul
*** Wheee.