Friday, December 29, 2006

Quickie - Ergh...

Well, it's official - the government has gone complately bat-guano crazy. Apparently, the National Park Service has instructed rangers at the Grand Canyon not to give any definitive answer when asked how old the Grand Canyon is. The reason being that they don't want to offend creationists who believe that it was created by the waters draining from Noah's flood when god pulled the plug located, no doubt, in the Marianas Trench.

Good thing God's got long hair that clogs up drains so easily, otherwise all the water on earth would have drained into hell...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quickie - You're not as bad off as you think

Want to feel just a little bit better about your crappy salary as we close out this tax year? Check out this link for a little self-esteem and something to ponder as you consider end-of-year charitable giving.

Resisting the temptations of adulthood

I've sort of fallen into this "every other day blogging" pattern since I've been on vacation. Part of it is because I'm just relaxing, and part of it is that since this is really a "do-nothing" vacation, there's not much going that makes for good blog material.

Interesting story from yesterday, though. Since I only had plans to meet up with friends for dinner, I spent most of the day wandering around the old mall near my dad's place. Back in the day it was a good combination of stuff to do plus warmer climates in the winter. Not everything was in the mall either, but there were some strip malls nearby that had stores I used to go to regularly. The classic example of this is Shinders.

Shinders is a store devoted to the nerdboy-and-geek set. They are essentially a hobby store, but focused more on role-playing games*, comics, magazines, baseball/football trading cards, and sci-fi books than model trains and coin collecting. Basically, it was where I spent all my saved up money every time I went down to my dad's, buying D&D stuff and football cards. It was also home to a small area in the back that was closed off with a small door that said "adults only". Presumably this was where they kept all the nudie mags and videos of weird japanese cartoon porn.

So as I was driving around the mall yesterday, I saw that it was still open, and thought I'd stop in just to see what, if anything had changed. Plus, I needed a little display cube for my autographed Dusty Baker baseball**. Walking in, at first I headed over to the football card section. This was always a fun activity for me as a kid, not because I frequently *bought* the cards, but because it let me see what the going rate was for cards in my collection. You know, for when I decided to sell it off and use the proceeds to pay for college or my first Porsche. Needless to say, something is horrible wrong with the market these days. The fact that there were multiple cards featuring Tory "Hands of Stone" Williamson that were valued more than Steve Largent's rookie card has pretty much convinced me that I should have unloaded my collection in the early '80s.

Filled with disappointment I meandered over to the D&D section, only to discover that they have completely re-vamped the game again with a completely new edition, only with a lot more rules - and therefore a lot more rulebooks to buy. All the stuff we used to just make up as we went along now have rulebooks. Frankly, I blame the lawyers. Back in the day, if one of your fellow players did something you thought wasn't fair, you could argue your case to the Dungeon Master*** but if he didn't agree with you, you were screwed. And you kept on playing, regardless of what happened. Sure it wasn't fair but you made do. Now, all the kids have learned that the more rules are written down, the easier it is to make your case. No doubt players these days have legal libraries of case books filled with rule precidents like "Billy Mayhew a.k.a. Togron the Half-Elf Ranger vs. Dungeon Master Rick Smith concerning whether a mirror can reflect a gorgon's gaze from 50 meters on a foggy night". No wonder kids don't have any imagination anymore.

Filled with even more disappointment, I found my display cube**** and headed over to check out. The dude at the register was not unlike myself in an alternate universe. Pasty and scrawny from too many hours spent in a basement, he gave me the once-over and said "Hey, I saw you checking out the D&D stuff earlier, do you play? 'Cuz I've got some cool giveaway posters of [didn't quite understand what he actually said] that you could have if you want!" I politely declined, but it was nice to feel recognized and affirmed as still (basically) the 13-year old nerdboy I am inside.

For the record, as I left the store I concidered whether or not to actually enter the "adults only" section. After all I've always wondered what was in there, and I'm well over the age of adulthood. But somethign held me back. Whether it was the deep feeling of "you're not supposed to go in there" that was instilled deep in my subconcious mind or the three other guys in there who sort of looked shifty and were probably searching for lord-knows-what -- I just didn't feel comfortable facing the reality of what was behind the door.

So I left. I think I just prefer the mystery of not knowing.

* Think Dungeons & Dragons
** Sure, it's lost some of its appeal now that he's been canned, but hey.
*** The guy who sort of ran the game for that particular session - typically the guy who owned the most books. He decides what happens to you and your fellow players, and is essentially a "higher power" for the day.
**** On sale too, only $2!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Yes, I was a good boy this year...

Yes it is that most wonderful time of the year, yay! I spent the day hanging out with my dad, stepmom, and my stepbrother and his girlfriend. We had Champagne* and enjoyed a nice lunch after opening presents where I received more of the gifts that signify my official passing into adulthood - clothes.

When I was a kid I *hated* getting clothes. I mean, my parents bought me clothes every year, I didn't *need* any more clothes! What I wanted was toys** - I mean my parents weren obligated by society to buy those on a regular basis, so why relatives woudl blow a perfectly good opportunity to buy me *those* always escaped me.

But now that I'm older I love getting clothes. Sure, sometimes they aren't a perfect fit and sometimes the color doesn't look good on me. But hey, it's all worth it when you get something that you really like. I think this is why socks and underwear are such a good gift - pretty much everyone needs them and they aren't really ruled by the same rules of fashion that other clothing items are. I mean, no matter how awful the color or pattern choice, when was the last time you heard someone on Queer Eye or What Not To Wear say "Oh my god, that outfigt *might* work if you gave it a chance but oh, those socks, those awful, awful socks!!!!"...Yeah, it doesn't happen.

After that we went downstairs where I introduced everyone to "Elf" - the greatest christmas movie since White Christmas. My stepmother was pretty sure she was going to fall asleep since it was dark out, but she actually laughed the hardest out of all of us. Another moment of pop culture-junkie satisfaction, spreading the good news about good cinema for the holidays and knowing you just hit one out of the park...

...I wonder if this is how Jesus felt when he gave the Beatitudes?

(And BOOM goes the blasphemy!)

Merry Christmas everyone!

* Well, not *actually* champagne, but it was sparkling and tasted pretty good.
** Transformers, in particular

Friday, December 22, 2006

American Choppers

Earlier this week I went in for my regular dentist appointment. After going through three different dentists who either disappeared mysteriously* or turned out to be sadistic fascists** I think I've finally found one that isn't awful. Of course 99% of the entire dental experience boils down to the hygenist. The perfect hygenist for me is high energy, laughs at my jokes, and doesn't use her scrapers like she's scraping burned eggs out of a skillet. And my hygenist at this new dentist is a winner on all fronts.

We even bonded a little over the tv, which is playing in every exam cubicle, as we watched "10 Years Younger" on one of the Discovery networks and were commenting on how the dentists all seem to insist that the world needs porcelain veneers - even 40-year old truckers with no upper teeth.

But not everything is perfect in my mouth. I've had a sensitive tooth for about 6 months now and even two full tubes of Sensodyne haven't been enough to set things back to right. So now I've been kicked up to prescription toothpaste! I was kind of excited when I heard about it. I mean, $24 toothpaste must not only clean my teeth, but cause dramatic weight loss, restore my hairline, cut two interest points off my mortgage, and fix the dent in my bumper. Turns out it just has more fluoride than regular toothpaste. Even more disappointing? It's made by Colgate. Sheesh, it doesn't even have a sexy-cool name like "Superteeth" or "Gumguard". Oh well, at least she laughs at my jokes.

But you know, come to think of it - I didn't even see my dentist when I was in, which I didn't realize until I started writing this. Sheesh.

* Dentist #1
** Dentist #2

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Smited (smote?) by the car gods again...

While running errands last night I was rear-ended by a terribly nice Polish man while stopped in traffic on a freeway. Yes, my winter-of-bad-car-Karma continues! The weird thing was it’s the second time in the past 4 months that this has happened. The last time I got tapped by a guy in a jeep but escaped with no damage, this time though, the screws in his front license plate punched two little holes in my bumper. So now I get to go through the experience of actually filing a claim with my insurance company. And to be honest, it’s gone pretty smoothly thus far*.

The guy who hit me was really nice about it, but his English was not too good. I can only hope that when my insurance company calls his insurance company he doesn’t think I hate Polish people.

Meanwhile, I’m only able to get up to 16/20 on this “Office Supply Name the Movie” game. Can anyone help me out with #2, #8, #9, and #14?**

* [sound of wood being knocked on frantically]
** Also helpful would be any ideas as to why Devil Wears Prada is a sponsor for this if they aren't any of the movies?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oddly enough, nobody at the exhibit was walking like an Egyptian

Yesterday the GF and I took advantage of what had been another disturbingly warm weekend to head down to the Field Museum to check out the “King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” exhibit. Seeing as how you can’t walk more than two blocks in this city without seeing some sort of publicity for this exhibit*, and since it was due to close shortly after the new year, we figured we might as well go during the Bears game, which would shut down all parking near the Museum and scare away nerd-families who’d be afraid of the crowds. And as it turns out, we were right! The museum was nowhere near as busy as it would have been otherwise.

Still, even though we arrived at 11:30, we couldn’t get tickets to Tut until 2:00. So we were left to our own wanderings around the museum to kill time. The Field is an odd museum in that it’s been around forever, and yet it’s still transitioning from old school to new school museum. By that I mean that some of its exhibits are very much the “Here’s a dead stuffed Wapedi that’s been on display since 1915 so it’s getting a little ratty along with a hand-typed card explaining what it is” while some other exhibits are the “ZING! WOW! LOOK, KIDS – IT’S AN INTERACTIVE MODEL OF SOMETHING POOPING!! COME SMELL THE INTERACTIVE ARTIFICIAL POOP SMELL AND PLAY WITH SIMULATED WORM MUCUS!!! IN SPAAAAACE!!!!! KEWL!!!!” type. (sigh)…I miss the days before everything got MTV-isized…

I did get to make my own little red injection-molded T-Rex though. It was awesome, a little monster that I made in this little machine for a buck-fifty, which upon its removal from the machine promptly began trying to climb the GF’s shoulders and eat her hair, making fierce growling sounds. She responded by taking shutting him away in her purse until I** calmed down.

By then we got to go through the Tut exhibit, which, I have to admit – was pretty disappointing. While there is a decent amount of stuff in there, very little of it was actually from Tut’s tomb. Most of the items there came from a tomb of his aunt and uncle which was found nearby, and even of the stuff in his tomb only 4-5 items were actually his in life. Oh, and that big picture of the mask you see on the home page of the exhibit’s web page? That’s not the big mask that we’re all familiar with, it’s actually from a miniature version that was part of a canopic jar that held Tut’s liver. Talk about a letdown.

Still, I’m glad we went. At least I can say I saw it, and can pooh-pooh it with a sense of real authority.

* It’s on buses, billboards, bus stops, and pretty much every other media available
** Wait, did I say “I”? I meant “he”...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Quickie - I'm the webslinger!

Oh boy, another totally fun game for you all to waste your afternoons with...

You're welcome!

[HINT: Think Spiderman]

'Cuz we are living, in an immaterial world...

Did you all know that Barbie got a new dog? And guess what - it poops real fake poop! This is just another sign that society is continuing its long, slow slide into a world where humans no longer interact with each other, but instead interact only with simulacrums crafted of silicon, silicone, hydraulic actuators, and faux doggie "presents". [EDIT:] Holy crap, they also have a version where one of Barbie's friends has a *cat*! Apparently, the cat drinks water and then has to "wet"in the litter box where "litter clumps" then need to be removed...

What is it with people these days where people want "real life" but only in a way that isn't real? Look at what is popular these days - The Sims, Second Life, even the social networking sites to an extent. All of them are ways to do exactly the same sorts of stuff we dread doing in real life, and yet somehow when you do them virtually, they become fun! Why is that? How does doing the dishes go from being a chore that we all avoided like the plague as children, to being entertainment simply because now when we do them, we look like a different person? If you *really* want to mix things up, try on a completely different culture over at Real Lives and see if you can cut it as an Australian Aborigine or African Bushman. At least then you can try something truly different.

Of course, maybe we're all just extras in some virtual world. Of course, that would imply that God is possibly a 13 year old boy playing in his basement, and the only character he's controlling is that jerk who cut me off on my way to work this morning.

Quickie - You sheath that weapon, and I'll put my knife away

Reading this article the other day, I thought to myself, "If there was any time when you would *want* to wear a condom, wouldn't you think it'd be when you're about to have sex with a Cambodian hooker?"

Especially one that is wielding a knife...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In Chicago, people'd come back from the dead to vote for that!

Ever want to learn how to become the world's best mom - just like Dina Lohan? Now you can! All you have to do is start carting your daughters off for some good ol' mother/daughter bonding while taking classes in stripping together!

All together now...EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nearly as funny is the article's reference to "poll dancing" instead of "pole dancing". Although, maybe that would be one way to get younger people go get off our collective asses and get out to the polls. Free lap dances for everyone who votes!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quickie - Scary me, Mary me!

OH MY GOD!!!

Someone recut clips from Mary Poppins into a trailer for a horror-movie version called "Scary Mary". I've seen this done before (namely with Office Space, Groundhog Day, Breakfast Club and other comedies) but this one actually seemed frightening.

I never want to see that movie again...

Small victories

After picking up my car again I’ve decided that I’m finished taking the car to the dealer. No matter how hard they try they simply can’t sound honest and I’m just tired of all the hassle. So I took my lunch hour yesterday to do some research, and do you know how I found a couple good candidates? That’s right – Public Radio!

Well, specifically it’s the Car Talk guys who run their own website where you can type in your zip code and get a list of shops in your area that work on your make of car. I found two of them that are reasonable close to my house and am so happy about it that I’m almost looking forward to the next time my car breaks down.

How sick is that? My relationship with the dealer has become so dysfunctional that I’m excited for the next time my car breaks down. It’s a good thing I don’t have kids or a post like this might get the surveillance folks down at Homeland Security to pass it along to DCFS.

In other news – there’s a reason that the GF is so feminine – she eats tofu. I admit that I’ve occasionally dabbled in some of her meatless stuff* and found it not awful. And I’m not too nervous about it, as the amount of estrogen in soy is nowhere near enough to overwhelm my massive levels of testosterone coursing through my veins like herds of wild and free mustangs roaming the plains of the middle-west.

Still, just in case, I think I’ll have some red meat for lunch.

* Namely veggie corn dogs and veggie boneless chicken wings, both of which are *awesome*

Quickie - Monkeys don't throw poo here anymore...

This one goes out to J.Bro, who is usually the person who finds the new photo tours of abandoned places. It's a tour of the old Los Angeles Zoo, which apparently moved out to bigger and better digs a few years ago (sooo L.A.)

link

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday disappointment

Every holiday season, one of my most looked-forward-to ad campaigns is that for Victorias Secret. For no other reason than my demographic being easily-drawn to images of lingerie-clad supermodels bouncing down runways and swooshing around pseudo-industrial dance club environments like panty-clad ninjas at a rave.

But this year, even though the new campaign has apparently only begun this weekend, I'm already disappointed. I admit that I love Heidi Klum as much as any man alive. She seems relatively intelligent, with a decent sense of humor* and hey, she married Seal, who I hear is a good guy. But If you've seen this new ad – you'll understand what I mean when I say that she's no singer. She tries hard, but it seems pretty clear why they only have her sing the first and last lines of “Santa Baby”.**

Even worse, there's absolutely no panty-clad ninja-ravers! Just Heidi Klum wearing a fluffy robe (and just a hint of a brassiere). Understandably, she just had another kid, which has probably caused some “adjustments” to her figure that she's still overcoming. But still...

Heidi, dear? Stick to Project Runway.

* Granted, she's no Elle Macpherson in that respect, whose appearance as Joey's replacement roommate on Friends sealed her place into the exclusive club of “Former Models I'd like to Actually Hang Out With Over a Beer and Pizza”.
** It's not “Santa Baby” but you can catch Heidi's holiday hit single here (single available at Amazon.de)! Boy...first David Hasslehoff, now this? What won't German's listen to?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Random musings before bed after a dull night on the road

In light of my travels being pretty un-noteworthy* I was sitting here in the Findlay Fairfield inn going through all the old photos on my cell phone. Turns out I found a whole bunch of pictures that I'd been meaning to blog about but had forgotten about entirely.

Example #1 - At O'Hare after flying back from Vegas



This metal bracket is mounted above the TP dispenser. It's friggin' huge and I have no idea what it is for. At first I thought it was some sort of storage space where women could stash their purse or handbag. But then I remembered - I was in a men's room. Any ideas?

Picture #2 - In the window of a grocery store in some small town in Wisconsin (seen on the way to my cousin's wedding):



MMmmmm...frosted flak...

Picture #3 - From the way back machine, from a display of sandals in a Walgreens this past summer:



Frankly, I wonder if I should get a shirt that says the same thing about me that I can wear around when it's sunny. After all, big sunshine is just as bad for me as it probably is for these sandals.

Wait a minute, since when is sunlight bad for sandals? Aren't sandals (by definition) meant to be worn outside in "big sunshine"? No wonder they were on sale...

*Barring a bunch of Amish people hanging out sheets to dry in below-freezing weather and a factory manager describing their emissions as including "carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride and a bunch of other nasty stuff"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not one of my favorite weeks...

After flying back from Vegas last night, doing some laundry, repacking and trying to call my dealer to schedule *another* time to bring the car in to fix the exact same problem it was having last month*, I’m exhausted. Good thing I have that “vacation” scheduled for the rest of this week!

Oh wait, it’s not a vacation – it’s actually for work, thaaaaat’s right…[insert look of chagrined resignation here]

Today is full of meetings at work which gives me all of 20 minutes to go grab lunch ant try to sift through email before the meetings resume.

Anyway, I have all sorts of fun stories and bad pictures to share from stuff I’ve seen both in Vegas, but it’ll all have to wait until I get to the hotel tonight and start taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

* It died Saturday morning as I was leaving for the airport to catch my flight out. And the service guy says they “may or may not” pay to have the tow truck bring the car in again, which won’t happen until Saturday at the earliest since I’m out of town all week. Must…control…fist of death…