Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Deal breakers

This might be a recurring post, where I discuss the qualities in a significant other that are so outrageous that I simply cannot abide them. There are a lot of things that irritate me, I mean, most of you know me so you know that already. Those of you who don't, well, you're reading my blog. People who aren't bothered by trivial things don't write these.

1. I'll start easy - smoking. Smoking is not attractive. Also, it makes you smell bad. Women are supposed to smell delightful, like flowers or cinnamon or whiskey. Why would you want to ruin that with smoke? It's completely an aesthetic thing, though, so I don't have any opinion about someone who used to smoke, so long as they never do it again; secretly smoking is still unacceptable.

2. Tattoos are not high on my list either. Mostly, it's a declaration of a person's poor decision making ability. I don't want to be in a position where a person who decided it would be a good idea to permanently place an image of a dolphin on her hip can be involved in doing things like having a say in my financial future or driving my car.

3. Baby talk. Self-explanatory. I'll give them a warning, but this isn't baseball; one warning and that's it.

4. Riding with an animal in the car. The only exception for this is a trip to the vet. I am especially enraged when I see people ride with dogs in their laps. I want to go yell at people I don't know when I see this happen. It's dangerous, since you might kill me or dent a cool car like a Porsche or something if Bruiser makes in your lap, and it shows that you are so co-dependent you can't run to the bank without your pet. This should probably even result in a revocation of your license.

I'm also not fond of pets wearing clothes, but there are exceptions where this is ok. Mostly if it's funny enough. For example, a good friend of mine said that she was buying a Halloween costume for her dog, and I proceeded to explain how I hate people who do that and that I didn't really want to hate her, since we'd been friends for like 10 years, but then she said the costume was a hot dog. I was relieved, because a dog dressed as a hot dog is definitely funny enough, so I didn't have to hate my best friend.

Surprisingly, that's all I can think of right now. There'll probably be more someday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Whatever happened to that one with the chick gyrating to Foghat

I make fun of commercials and ad campaigns that are retarded pretty often. Taco Bell frequently comes to mind, as does Capital One. I just learned that as does is an awkward series of words. I do feel like I owe, every now and again, that I should credit to the commercials that do a good job, too. Geico had been the best of the bunch for a while. I haven't seen a new one in a while, though, so I can't speak of its current quality. The one with Mini-me kind of sucked, actually.

I like what the Hardee's ad people are doing. Granted, it's not making me laugh or being particularly memorable, but whenever I see a Hardee's commercial, I have an absolute understanding of who they are and for what they stand. They want to put as much stuff on top of a burger and to hell with all those whiny hippies who think stuff should be even moderately healthy. You're not going to see any McSalads at this place. You're going to see a pair of hamburger patties surrounded by mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, cheese and bacon. But there sure won't be any lettuce on that beast because that would just take the place of more bacon.

The commercial I saw most recently unveiled a new topping for this manliest of sandwiches: chili. Brilliant. What else could they add to make this sandwich more self-destructive? A chicken breast? We can only hope. I will be both simultaneously proud and pissed if that happens.

I think that Hardee's has a few things it can do to really go the distance and become the place to go where you want to kill yourself with food, like include a milkshake that is made entirely of egg and butter. Or offer a peanut butter dipping sauce for the french fries and chicken nuggets. Actually, I'm not sure that Hardee's offers chicken nuggets; chicken is too lean for a place like this. I also think that to really complete the picture, Hardee's needs to serve some sort of alcoholic beverage, but not just any. Beer isn't strong enough, vodka is too clean, bourbon is too refined. Moonshine. A perfect meal at would be like two 1/3 pound patties with six strips of bacon, a healthy slathering of mayo and three slices of cheese. Forget the tomato and pickles, they're too natural. Top it off with a side of fried breading (forget the potato part of the fries), dipped in deep fried ketchup, with a half a pint of moonshine. I could go for that right now.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I ate 3.14 slices of pie today

Today, as you are probably aware, was Thanksgiving. Unless you're in Canada, then it was sometime last month. But I'm not, and I ate turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing today. It was glorious. I'm so glad we do this every year. It's really too bad that the whole being thankful part of Thanksgiving is so minimized. Because I'm definitely thankful for gravy. And pie.

For some reason, nearly 50% of the people who were in attendance of my family's Thanksgiving festivities brought a pie. Or two. Or in some cases, more. The highlight was my brother's chocolate cheesecake, which was pretty spectacular. To properly capture it's spectacularity in words, I would say it's like when you get the white Toad's house in Mario 3. There were other pies too, so many that I didn't even get the chance to get to the pecan, which is easily my favorite of the holiday pies. I know what you're thinking right now, "What about that lovable gourd, pumpkin? Surely you didn't forget that! There's even a Charlie Brown special about pumpkins!" And you'd be right, I didn't forget. I just hate them. Pumpkin pies seem to me as if they were created as an industrial alternative to giving soldiers real dessert in World War I. I understand that this is probably heretical to a lot of you, and I am at peace with that.

I didn't get to the pecan pie because there was also a key lime pie in attendance, which is my goto dessert for the non-holiday times. There was even a homemade graham cracker crust involved, and honestly, I don't need Christmas now. So, considering that, key lime won out over pecan, even though it was a holiday. We also had cherry and mince meat and probably another that I'm forgetting. Cherry is a fine pie, but it's no apple; mince meat was an interesting choice because nobody on earth aside from my grandfather actually likes it. The highlight of this particular dessert, though, was that there was a rather lengthy debate about what mince meat actually is. There was unanimous agreement that raisins and currants were involved, but the presence of actual meat was disputed. I fall within the pro-meat camp; but don't misinterpret that to mean that I think it's a good idea.

Oh, also, I was awoken this morning much earlier than I would have liked to the sound of Christmas music. This is particularly poignant because just yesterday my mom was complaining about the ubiquitous nature of Christmas music so early. I was pretty sure that tomorrow, the day after Thanksgiving, is the first day it's legal to play Christmas music. But I think I'll let the early waking thing slide, since she also made the key lime pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why aren't there Thanksgiving Carols?

I was going to post a vintage Opinions Editor piece from the Rose Thorn that talked about Thanksgiving, and notably, mashed potatoes and gravy. Turkey gravy placed on mashed potatoes is the greatest combination of things in human history, with the single exception of me and Giada De Laurentiis. I ran into some trouble with the formatting, so I guess you get an original instead.

The column I was going to post, incidentally, was written around the time the last Bond movie release, as well. I consider myself pretty well versed in the James Bond universe, and Die Another Day was in the bottom three of all the 20 movies. This next I expect to see later this evening, and I hope it's better. I have an awful lot invested in this franchise, when you consider time, money and knowledge, so I really hope this one's better.

Even if it's not, I guess tomorrow's feast will be enough to erase if from my immediate memory. Thanksgiving is a pretty high ranking holiday on my depth chart. Christmas, The 4th of July and St. Patrick's Day are all up there, too. I like holidays that involve food, although the 4th isn't nearly as much food central as the others. Sure, you have hamburgers and hot dogs, but they don't compare to turkey, ham and corned beef. Or mashed potatoes and gravy.

There's some family involved, too I guess. Every time I come home, there is not enough time for all the people I need to see, so there are just some people who don't make the cut. It's not their fault; there's only so much time and I only have to much motivation to see people I don't see all that often. Really, sitting on my couch watching Everyday Italian sounds a lot more appealing than trying to carry on a conversation with someone who only cares enough to try to answer back twice a year.

Anyway, I think that pretty much covers the important parts: mashed potatoes and gravy, James Bond, Italian women, and family who are only vaguely interested in you. That's what Thanksgiving is to me. There are also some more interested family, but they're more frequently seen, and part of the everyday landscape rather than the holiday one. And you know what? In a month, we do the same thing over again at Christmas. Spectacular!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't neglect the vents

Over the course of long drives, maintaining the delicate balance of the air conditioner can be tricky. This is especially true if it's cold or rainy outside, since the that causes the inside of the windshield to fog up. Alternating between face vent for comfort and defroster for being able to see stuff is a careful process, like maintaining the pH in a saltwater aquarium. But when you are worrying about comfort, I think that people underestimate the floor vents in their car. The conventional wisdom is to use the face-level vents to control the climate in the automobile because you feel it first. Also, people don't generally wear shoes on their face. I am here to tell you that the floor vents are not to be ignored.

This is especially true if you are driving with flip-flops. If you have warm air blowing over flip-flop shod feet it's akin to putting on socks fresh out of the dryer for the entire trip. That itself is worth consideration. It also slows down the rate at which the windshield will fog up on the inside, since it takes longer for the air to reach the windshield (or as they say in England, windscreen).

My AC has like 12 divisions on the temperature dial and the standard 4 for fan, plus the on/off switch for the compressor. That is sometimes not enough gradations to get the ideal temperature in the car; I could talk about heat transfer here, but that would be a discussion involving Watts and Navier-Stokes, and nobody wants that. But here's the thing: you can use the floor vents to divert some face vent air as like a half step between temperatures! It's brilliant, especially if you're wearing shoes. If you're wearing flip-flops, it's just delightful.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You know you're a person who [lives here, works here or does something] when...

The internet is a handy thing. It allows for the rapid distribution of news, information and nonsense written by people like me. Part of that nonsense is jokes, and I would say about 97% of them are not funny. For example, the "You know you're a [whatever] when..." which seem to be oh so popular among people who are [whatever]. In the early days of the internet, before people really understood, these mass forwardings of what are essentially chain letters seemed cute and nice. They are not. The first ones I remember seeing are for Southerner and Small Town in place of [whatever], including the appropriate grammar to make them fit. I also remember seeing my freshman year the other guy from Florida on my floor in my dorm put up the corresponding one from Florida, and it was not funny. In fact, it was a little embarrassing, because it reflected poorly on my glorious state. Florida is called the Sunshine State for a reason; when you think of it you should think of heaven falling from the sky rather than jokes about how to pronounce Kissimmee.

I guess I have to ask the question why are they so popular? Why does have my facebook friends list include them as one of their groups, especially when hometown is one of the things they fill out anyway? I can see that you're from New Jersey. Or Indiana. Or Chicago. Or Charleston. The inane list of landmarks and colloquialisms is fine and all, but is that something you really want to advertise? And driving habits are a favorite, particularly with New Jersey, Michigan and the touristy places. They have weird left turns in MI, and they love themselves for it. Apparently NJ has something strange about that too, so does that mean Michiganders are going to have to throw themselves off the Mackinac Bridge because they're not the only place with crazy turns? And if it's a forwarded e-mail, is this something that I am really going to read? If I know you, I already know you're from wherever. If it's about Florida, or Daytona or something, I already know about those locations, because I live there. If it's from someplace I've never lived, then these jokes aren't going to be funny. See the inherent failure of the joke?

Also, it might be devastating to learn, but many of those things, particularly about tourist beach towns, are not unique. Every tourist beach town is almost exactly the same when you describe them on paper. Myrtle Beach looks a lot like Daytona Beach -- full of junk shops where you can buy towels with dolphins, the name of the city and naked ladies on them. Savannah, Charleston and St. Augustine are very old and similar, too, except St. Augustine is Spanish instead of English, which means StAuggy has better food.

I don't want to simply say, "Let's stop doing these," because I guess if you really want to who am I to stop you? I just need to point out that they are not that funny. None of them are. None of them are particularly creative, either. I have seen White Castle as an important distinction in both the Midwest and the Northeast, two regions of distinctly different culture which each claim a fast food restaurant as a regional landmark. You might be from Florida if you like college football and eat seafood and go to the beach! Nobody else does that, right?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I started reading about Borat and ended up at Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist

I hope this happens to other people. Sometimes I start thinking about something, go look it up, and somehow end up at IMDB or Wikipedia and one thing leads to another and I don't know how I got there. Sometimes it starts with Napoleon and ends up at the Farsi language; others I start looking up what the deal with the free kick after a safety is all about and find myself reading about Paul of Tarsus. You might want to know what the intermediate steps of that chain would be, and honestly, so do I.

Usually, when this happens, I don't even remember why I wanted to know about the thing that sent me on this snipe hunt in the first place. Like tonight, for example, I was sitting on my bed watching the football game, started to check out a video with Sacha Baron Cohen appearing with Martha Stewart on Leno and next thing I know I'm thinking to myself, "You know, if Sarah Silverman were consistently funny instead of annoying, she'd be the perfect woman," and watching Desperate Housewives. But then again, if Silverman's with Jimmy Kimmel these days, then there are deficiencies with her decision making of which I want no part.

In these bizarre series of discovery, you never know what you'll find out. Like that Dr. Katz was on for six seasons. Remember that impossibly irritating program that had wiggly people in it? It was one of the very early Comedy Central shows, back when it had stuff on it that wasn't MadTV. I watched a lot of Dr. Katz in the mornings when I was home from school during the summers. You might also find out things that will be helpful in Jeopardy, like for example, the word prose comes from the Latin word prosa, meaning straightforward. Unless Wikipedia is lying, which it very well might be. I didn't get that far in my Latin class to know for sure. I do remember that "rex parvorum virorum sum" means "I am the king of the small men." Beautiful language, that Latin.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Can't be simple again

I don't want to write about things that irritate me today. It gets kind of depressing, you know? It gets hard to write about things that are awesome, because you don't see them all that often, and usually they don't cause the same sorts of emotional reactions that things you hate do. For example, the KKK didn't make parades and give awards to honor white people, the made parades and lynched black people and Jews, even though we know that the KKK did indeed think white people were pretty awesome and that blacks and Jews were decidedly less awesome. I think that if they had Chad Johnson back then we could've missed a big part of our racist history. That is, Chad Johnson from last season.

The problem, though, is when you turn on the tv you see stuff like Capitol One commercials (do these people not realize when to pull the plug on a campaign that is terrible?), people talking about how Rutgers might be more deserving of a spot in the BCS title game than a 1-loss SEC team (Louisville or WVU I would buy pre-loss, but Rutgers I think is a stretch), or that Wal-Mart ran out of Scrubs Season 4s, it's easy to fall into that trap again. There are like a hundred commercials that are just as insipid as Capitol One (what's in your wallet?), so that's a pit of despair that I just want to avoid for now. College football makes me a little sadder now that Clemson lost two in a row. Not having Scrubs Season 4 should be punishable by fine, which is problematic, since I don't have it yet. I blame Wal-Mart.

There is still awesome stuff out there, though. Like simple pleasures that often get overlooked. Think about some of the things that you did today, were any of them spectacular? I can think of a few. I just changed my sheets today. So all day, I get to look forward to climbing into a tightly made bed with fresh sheets. I also just bought new razor blades, so next time I shave I will have a hard time not touching my own face all day. If I had thought ahead, I would've shaved today, so that I can lay my smooth face down on fresh pillowcases. I might still do that before I go to sleep.

I also like it when I finish a glass of milk and then refill it, so that first drink tastes way colder than the last one did. I like milk so much, I could go to a bar and be happier with a pitcher of milk than beer. It's just hard to keep it cold enough to not get gross. Although I hear that Europeans serve it warm. I think that may be part of the reason why America's political power rose so sharply following WW2. On a related food note, I made chili today and smell in my apartment was great.

These are insignificant, yes. But the point is, I didn't do anything today. I mean it; the most productive thing I did (aside from the chili) was take a nap. I could come up with a few good things to write about on a day when I did absolutely nothing, so unless you're a Republican in Congress, let's be less pissed off.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I just spent a good part of the past four days inside of a car on an interstate in one of three states in the southeast. Geography quiz: one of them was South Carolina and one of them was Florida, can you guess the other?

Now, this drive is boring. I suppose any 8 hour drive would be boring. There are only two places where I actually enjoyed the driving part: through Tennessee and to Key West. The scenery adds to the merriment in those two places. I was reminded while I was behind the wheel of my Ram how much I don't understand vanity plates. People actually go out of their way to pay their respective state governments extra money to put a little message on the backs of their cars. It's puzzling. The biggest drawback, I think, is that you can't rob a bank. I don't think I'll ever actually do that, but I'd like to have the option. But if the back of my car said ENGRSTD, then it'd be pretty easy to catch me. So I'm going to go with the quickpick whenever I buy a new car.

In order to pass the time on the 500 mile drive, I started to take note of the plates that I saw, and I'm going to comment on the best ones now. I hope I'm not breaking the law by publishing them.

I saw the first two right near each other, and they were the ones that really got me started on this project: I4PEACE and IM LATE. What in the world would possess someone to announce to the driving public IM LATE? I4PEACE I guess I understand a little better, but really, who's for war? Nobody is for war; even the people who are in favor of the war don't want war.

I saw a couple that I didn't know what they meant, like KREON and YARDNU. The only Kreon I know is from Oedipus, but that was spelled Creon, and I'm pretty sure that if he was real he's dead by now. And besides, Creon was killed by his son, who then went on to marry Jocasta, Creon's wife and Oedipus's mom, so that's not really the sort of thing that people would brag about, unlike TEAM DOC or FLYBOI. I saw TEAM DOC in the parking lot of the O'Connell Center at UF, so I suspect it was a trainer for the current National Champs or just a liar. I suspect Flyboi is a pilot, and used the less frequently seen spelling of boy, but I really wish he was a skater. I saw DUXNBUX up here, and I didn't get what that meant until my Wisconsonite roommate explained that it has something to do with hunting. Although it was a while ago, so I can't be positive that it wasn't BUXNDUX, but really, who cares.

The last two, though, are way better than any of these earlier ones. IM NONNI was on the back of some station wagon in Georgia, I think, that was driven by someone I can only imagine was Nonni. 4ALPACAS is a bit of a mystery, since 4 can be a stand-in for a variety of homophones. We can't be sure if this man owns four alpacas, is an advocate for alpacas of any number, or he frequently plays golf with the South American llama like creatures. Honestly, I'm in the golf camp because I think it's a little unrealistic that the guy would be advocate for alpacas.

I saw a few others, but they were even dumber than these. One girl in high school had MS GIRL except instead of girl, it was her actual name. I'm a little conflicted as to whether or not I should put her actual name on there. But if any of my readers out there have a vanity plate, please understand that this is all in jest when I say: I think you spent your money on an identifying mark that makes you look a little bit retarded.