Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Veteran’s Day is for us all, whether we actually put on the uniform and saw combat or not. We turn ourselves upon those who did, awestruck, and try in any demonstrable effort to point our collective American focus on those who traded some measure of their freedom in exchange that we might not have to bargain with ours. We can’t know what it’s like to be 7000 miles away from everything we’ve ever known because our country, our people, asked us to go there. We can’t know how changed, transfigured, one might be afterwards.

There is a photograph of my grandfather in his living room standing in uniform arm in arm, smiling, with his wife who sits in that same room with him every day. They are who they are because he wore that. I am who I am because he wore that. We are all who we are because they wore that.

Sadly, last week reminded us that these stories do not always end in picturesque black and white photographs and the romance of how the Greatest Generation allowed us to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school in English. Sometimes the transfiguration, whatever its source, is not into something noble, beautiful, and romantic; sometimes there is a horrible metamorphosis, twisting at the soul of those caught between commitments and tragically unmoored from the mission they are commissioned to execute – our country, our people, who count on every man and woman in service, who need every man or woman in service – our safety, our freedom and our identity is their mission. Sometimes the tragedies are not quite so grotesque as unfolded last week in Texas. Sometimes it’s small, and simple, like the nameless stories that newspapers never cover like newly married couples who make their lifelong commitments just months before being flung across continents to carry out the yearlong ones. But I guess it’s only small and simple from the outside.

I have faith that that photograph and that couple and every wonderful and morose moment in between occurs under the watchful eye of a loving God, even, paradoxically, the murders at Ft. Hood. I certainly don’t understand how, and I am returned to the often unsatisfying “My ways are not your ways” from Isaiah 55:8, but to be fair, I don’t understand how the two people found their way from the photograph to their living room half a century later, either.

Let it at least serve as a terrible reminder for us, all of us, that we need them. And that we need Him. We need the servicemen and women, because without them, we are not “we.” Our country, our people are defined by the dividends of freedom they have voluntarily surrendered so that ours may collect interest. As we realize this, though, it may be easy to overlook the fact that as much as we need them, they need us, too. They keep going because of us. A care package, a letter, a meal, a handshake, a thank you serves to remind them that we have not forgotten that they have done something incomparably gracious just by doing their job, by being who they are. So I take this opportunity to say thank you to them for in their sacrifices, I see lives lived in the example of that loving God, whether they realize it or not, and a simple reminder to put our focus on them, and Him, today, on Veteran’s Day. But I guess it’s only simple from the outside.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rain, rain, go away. (Not really; you're cool rain)

It's been raining around here a lot. That's ok on its own, but it's also getting cold, and the cold is empirically bad. It is a proven fact that people who like cold weather are sociopaths. I know you are probably thinking, "Ted Bundy killed people in Florida!" Aha! He was born in Vermont. Count it.

With these rains, though, comes thunder storms. It got me thinking about how when we were kids and somebody would say, "I saw thunder!" and then the other little smartass kids would say, "HA HA HA! You can't see thunder!" I was probably one of those smartass kids. I had a pretty vicious habit of correcting people when they made innocuous blunders when I was younger. Then I learned that people don't like it when you point out their flaws so pointedly, so I tried to lay off. I'm a recovering correctaholic.

The thing, though, is that there are two separate words, thunder and lightning, for basically the same thing. If you take a gander at my handle there, you can probably guess I know a little about sciencey things. So for those of you who don't know, I'll lay a little meteorology knowledge on you.

The exact mechanism of lightning forming is not well understood, but it's a discharge of static electricity (static electricity is the bitch kind of electricity) from a cloud to [usually] the ground. Even though it's the bitch kind, it's still a horrendous bolt of electricity that travels through the air, kind of like the boy in A Boy Named Sue. If you've ever held electricity in your hand, or things like extension cords, you notice that they kind of heat up. The lightning bolt named Sue is like that times a million. I don't know if a million is enough, but the air gets super hot and that expansion and re-contraction of air makes a boatload of noise. Think of the pwoompf sound that you hear when you light something on fire really fast. Except times a million.

Here's the thing: thunder is the sound that lightning makes. They are different sensory reactions to the same event. It's just that you see the lightning sooner due to the fact that it's really bright and you can see it from far away and light travels faster than sound. But, they aren't really different. If a cop asks about a barfight and the guy says he heard a slap, nobody's going to say, "HA HA HA! You can't hear a slap!"

So the moral of the story is, lay off on thunder and lightning. It's just a universal shared experience and the concept of language developed before we understood high energy fluid mechanics.

Also, I am writing this as I am watching the Green Bay-Minnesota game, and I have to say that I would not be that disappointed if I never heard Brett Favre's name ever again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I just got back from listening to Neal Jeffrey, a former QB (that's quarterback) for Baylor University and the San Diego Chargers, who gave what he called a pep talk for life at church. It was pretty much what you expect, a good testimony about his life in service to Christ, impressive (and self-deprecating) stories about playing football, and a little bit of stuttering. That's kind of his thing; he is a speaker who stutters (very well, he points out) while talking about faith.

It got me thinking, though, about how weird it is that when you sit around clapping for something cool somebody said, how do you know when to stop? Like, for instance, if you are at a Starland Vocal Band concert and after they finish Afternoon Delight, sure, you're clapping, but for how long? Eight claps? Twelve? Usually, you judge based on everyone else, right? Well, somebody's got to be the pioneer. He's like the guy who starts the wave, except in reverse. The guy who gets tired of smacking his hands together first.

I also have questions about when exactly a performance traverses from just sitting and clapping to standing up and clapping. What is that element in your speech that takes you over the edge? I'm guessing it has something to do with quality of booger jokes told. The same applies to jazz concerts.

Anyway, if any of you have been to performances and remember thinking, "This is the thing that will make me stand up when I start clapping. This guitar solo/tennis serve/ventriloquist trick/sawing magician's assistant in half/etc puts him over the edge." Or, "He was so close, but because he made fun of Democrats/Republicans/black people/children/asthmatics/applesauce/whatever, I'm only going to clap from my seat. And indignantly for only four claps, at that," I want to hear about it. I want to know where that edge is.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Would you please enter your phone number?

I made a pretty happy discovery yesterday: it looks like I can save some money on automobile insurance this year by switching to a different provider (oddly enough, not Geico). I had been using a certain online provider that has a cartoon trying to convince me to save the world by going paperless or something, and they don't have actual stores so it's all online or over the phone, which reminded me of something I hate. (I know, surprised, right?)

Have you ever called into an automated system and they ask you to enter a phone number or social security number or something? I have. The computer knows who you are, they can tell you your upcoming balance, your service plan, your whatever. But as soon as your fight your way through the labyrinthine thicket that is that computerized navigation system, the person makes you give them all that information all over again. There is nothing you can tell me that will convince me that this is not asinine.

There are a few conclusions I can draw from this: 1) Their technology is not sophisticated enough to tell the person who is calling, even though the Homework Hotline at my college could do that, 2) they don't trust their computer system to deliver the proper information, 3) they enjoy being inconvenient. All of which are good options.

So, the moral of the story is that the computerized navigations are stupid, and they don't have to be. Come on, non-threatening electronic voice. Step up your game.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hey Sports Fans

I wanted to advertise some sports writing I and some of my friends are doing. Check it out at and keep reading the observations at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Here are a couple of phrases that I hate

I probably come across as an authoritarian agressor when it comes to proper speech usage, commercial likes, and decision making. That's not that true. I respect your preference to like stupid stuff, so long as you respect my right to criticize it. You can, of course, defend yourself (as you should), but chances are you are wrong anyway and will not win.

This is especially the case if you make a habit of using a particular set of words or phrases. My mom has a huge list, while most of hers are common errors made with actual words, notably the inexplicable "supposably" pronunciation for supposedly, which, in her mind, is grounds for sterilization. I have issues with that sometimes too, but I also have issues with words that are used that probably should not be nearly as often as they are. Let's take a look, shall we?

  • Myself - This is one of the former complaints. This is misused all the time. It is the reflexive pronoun used for emphasis or reflection, like when the subject and object of a verb are the same: for instance, "I laughed so hard at their grammar mistakes that I peed myself." It is not a replacement for the standard nominative (I) or objective (me) pronouns like, "John and myself will empty the tiger's cage" or "Please send the shoes filled with champagne to either Hector or myself." No dice.
  • Utilize - This is a longer word that means the same thing as use without bringing anything extra to the soup. This word should be used never.
I used an unnumered list, the inferior form of list, because I could only think of two at the time of writing this and a numbered list of 2 looks tacky, and quite frankly, we're all better that that. If you feel the need to demonstrate, please add your distasteful phrases in the comment section.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Is Little Debbie a good Hostess?

A discovery I made recently has the potential to ruin whatever health gains I may have been making in my unfortunately not regular enough visits to the local olympic swiming pool: the vending machine in my building at work has cinnamon streusel cake. You may not have known this about me, but I have strong and far reaching food tastes and opinions, and one of the is that Hostess makes super excellent breakfast baked goods. Another is that cinnamon is a flavor not to be trifled with; it does get jealous of chocolate and peanut butter. Hell hath no fury like a spice scorned.

My dad has been involved in the grocery business in some fashion for basically my whole life, and most of his -- he is the leprechaun from Lucky Charms. I'm joking of course, as that would be absurd. My mom's side of the family is my Irish side. As a result, though, he would periodically bring home retail products -- almost always "day old," which is groceryspeak for "old" -- some of which were sometimes strange and obscure, like weird cookies shaped like windmills or clogs, or lemon turnovers that come in that weird wrapper that can't quite decide if it's paper or plastic. It's the same stuff that breakfast burritos, the you know the kind that everyone seems to own but nobody really ever eats. Sometimes, though, my siblings and I would hit the individually packaged jackpot when he'd score something like Teddy Grahams, Koala Yummies or some other bear shaped cookie. Or, those glorious, glorious Hostess cakes.

Honey buns and the aforementioned delicate sweetness that is cinnamon streusel cake were the top choices in my mind. Like preservative laden versions of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, they were unmatched by their peers. Sure, Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs are vaguely inappropriately named delights and the confections that made my lunches the envy of the middle school (and it's a wonder I didn't weigh like 300 pounds) but they weren't an excuse to let you eat cakes that taste like candy for breakfast.

The hitch, though, is that for some reason the vending machine versions of these products tend to taste more decadent than the ones in stores. Maybe they benefit from aging, like a fine cheese, or maybe they have gone away from trans fats and the vending machine versions don't turn over fast enough for the inventory to have caught up. Or maybe the stores I shop at are just too high brow for such simple pleasures. All I know is that I have looked forward to coming into work everyday this week for y reakfast that will probably take 5 years off my otherwise impressive life expectancy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I don't want to ruin the friendship

I was thinking about something that came up in the life of one of my girlfriend’s friend. One of the age old clichés that girls give guys, “I wouldn’t want to ruin a good friendship” is complete poppycock. Poppycock, I say! There is no circumstance that this statement would be true. The girl is either lying to him, and that she is really, quite simply, not attracted to him, or lying to herself, and is afraid of what would happen if she said yes. If she really valued the friendship, she would tell him the truth and actively ensure the friendship would not be ruined afterwards. If he cannot accept that, then he was lying to himself and was not really invested in the friendship, but rather a convoluted courtship and reached an unfortunate failure.

I have been lucky enough to experience one go the good way and one go the bad way. The difference is how we reacted to the admission. In both cases, it was I who wanted more. The good one happened earlier in my life, and fortunately for me, the friendship was important enough to her not to allow something like my romantic interest keep us from being friends; today, she is one of my closest. I don’t really understand what happened with the other. All I can figure is that I was not important enough for her to put in similar effort, and we are not part of each other’s lives, and it still bothers me, even though this happened some time ago. The fact that I have endured the first of these, though, proves that expression of romantic interest need not doom an actual platonic relationship.

The honest expression of emotion, however easy for me to write here, is not easy to actually commit to in practice. There is an established fear of rejection in all of us, and this is clearly a manifestation of that, which is counterintuitive, because the person doing the rejecting in this case is being pursued. But the real reason for hesitation is obscured, and when that happens, the friendship is being held back anyway. Like every healthy relationship, platonic, romantic or otherwise, honest communication is critical.

That idea is antithetical to the desired outcome of relationships, anyway; if someone is worth your friendship, they ought to be worth your better friendship, right? If they are worth a romantic relationship, they ought to be your friend, too. That is a definite success that my girlfriend and I have experienced, even if the achievement of that was realized in a roundabout way. To a degree, she could be a character in this story, with a very positive outcome.

The point is, though, that a friendship is not ruined by the expression of one party wanting more. It is ruined by the negative reactions of the parties involved. The object of desire can handle it perfectly and the desirer can e a crackpot and result in tragedy just as easily as the desired can turn awkward. Or there can be a combination of both. Or neither, and growth can occur. It’s all choice, and I hope my girlfriend’s friend makes a better one than the second girl in my story and I did.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

iTunes? More like iSuck! No wait, that came out wrong...

Apple has done a great jo cornering the market on cool. Their gadgets and computers and cell phones are what it is to be cool in electronics right now. Kind of like Chevy Chase was for that brief year in 1975. If Apple made a toilet, hipsters would line up to do something like mix trendy drinks in them while listening to Vampire Weekend. What do hipsters drink? Zima? Do they still make that anymore?

I considered getting a Mac, because while no hipster, I am a marketing sheep. My interest in the iPhone is well documented and while I ended up not getting either one (the cost of a Macintosh computer made me want to vomit in my mouth), I did buy an iTouch. It is pretty phenomenal, actually, and proably the coolest thing I am likely to buy for some time, even though I am Paul McCartney tickets. It feels a little anxiety inducing to spend as much as he wants to his play his violin shaped bass, but it is getting better all the time.

My only complaint on the magnificent iPod (and is a growing complaint) is that usint iTunes, the software rudder that steers the entire iFleet, is a horrendously flamty experience. I don't know how everyone doesn't bring this up when talking about Apple products. So much of the Apple lineup is considered cool and accessible and what not (we used a Power ac in the Film Clu in college and it made me get all tingly inside -- sadly, they made me write on the social and technological equivalent of stone tablets), but iTunes, their ambassador the PC World, is like the equivalent of having Joe Biden deliver a speech when Barack Obama is sitting down next to him eating M&Ms.

The interface is not intuitive, it is not fast and it is not flexible while pretty much all of the qualities Apple wants us to think of when we think of them. The corporation has a very vertical organization, maintaining a sort of autocratic control of their products and software, which is delightfully ironic coming from a company that made an ad identifying its competition with Big Brother.

The default synchronization operation is to copy every music file I own to the 'Pod (what is with the iEverything anyway? I nGaeilge is the only place I've seen capital letters show up in the middle of the words...) How any people really want every mp3 they have on his or her player? I am not exactly Lester Bangs or Cameron Crowe, but all of ine doesn't fit and some of my music (gasp!) is kind of crappy (Sugar Sugar by the Archies? Really?) or at least not all of it is everyday material. It is a giant resource hog, too, and unless this is some cheeky, trendy form of self-sabotage, I don't get what their problem is. They also make a huge nagging production out of updating the version and make you couple it with Quicktime. If I wanted to be nagged about my music and movies, I'd have Jewish parents. (Jewish moms still nag, right?) As I am switching from one computer to a new one, my podcast schedule is really screwed up and it has not been obvious how to correct it and it took like 3 hours to fix my playlist because, I can only suspect, someone was mean to Apple founder Steve Jobs as a child and did this to get back him.

This is all particularly baffling because the iTouch itself is so completely the opposite. It took me like two seconds to do figure out how to do awesome stuff on it. I'm pretty sure I just found an app to make it a functional Star Trek phaser. My question is this: What's your deal, Apple? Did you decide "Hey, let's make like 90% of our stuff really cool, and the remaining 10%, the most critical 10% that the gadgets and things can't run without, the technological equivalent of gargling malt vinegar." I feel like we're getting a Steve Job on this.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I am such a nerd

Hey everyone, I am typing this from my brand new desktop computer. I built it myself! As if writing this blog didn't make me nerdy enough. I am still trying to fill in all the gaps and what not of doing all the software loads from scratch and copying my writing and music collection over, and I am also trying to think of a way not to make this sound like a 13 year old girl's livejournal.

Oh, I have it. My parents had no faith that I could accomplish this task. While the only hiccups so far tthat I have run into are that I bought a fan I didn't need and I haven't sorted out my S/PDIF to HDMI issues so I am silently blogging right now, neither my mom nor my dad really expected that I would end up with a working computer at the end of my little purchase. Surely I am not the only one of you who gets this treatment.

Engineering has had a strange effect on the way they handle me. This task of building computers, routinely handled ably by 15 year olds, is one of those things that their skepticism will not permit them to think I am capale of, even though I do in fact have a master's degree in a technical field. It's not like I'm trying to pick out a tie for a suit, am I right?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

God Bless America

I write this as I am watching what might be the greatest television spectacle in all of sports. Before, I thought it was the Super Bowl or New Year's Day or possibly the opening weekend of March Madness. (I, myself, am partial to the New Year's Day bowls, as I feel like it is football's birthday gift to me.) I was wrong, all this time. The greatest television spectacle in all of sports is the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. If you doubt me, you have not watched it.

There is so much drama involved in this, so many story lines, so many jokes. I watch a good deal of football, some basketball, and even less of the other insignificant sports, so I see the coverage and interview cliches that athletes have to endure from reporters, like, "How did you prepare for this?" or "What's on your mind as you get ready?" none of which tells us anything about anything. Watching Erin Andrews ask Sam Bradford about how he's feeling after beating Texas Tech means nothing to me; clearly he's happy, and going to say that he's thinking about the next game. Who cares.

That all changes in competitive eating. I want to know what these people are thinking. I want to know what kind of human being looks at a hot dog and things, "You know, Nathan's hot dogs are tasty, and two are pretty good. But what if I ate 40 of them?" I want to know what someone who holds the title of World Asparagus Eating Champion does to prepare for a match. I want to know who this guy's heroes were growing up. I don't want to know what this guy's pee smells like afterward.

The announcers take this seriously, and I would have it no other way. They discussed the different eating techniques and broke them down in the same way that Bobby Knight might describe a 3-2 zone. (There are Solomon Methods, Tokyo Methods, and some other shake named after a guy.) It is incredible.

There are also women involved. What would you do if met a reasonably attractive girl, started flirting with her, and then when you ask what she does, she says, "I am a competitive eater. I ate 11 pounds of cheesecake in my last contest." And she weighs 105 pounds. What is the next move? Do you think, "Holy crap, that's incredible?" or "I will never be able to afford dinner with this woman." I don't know how these people don't weigh 400 pounds.

There is no doubt that this sport could only come from the nation that values individual liberty and thumbs its nose at past convention to the point that says, "Gluttony is how we roll, hombres." We created the Constitution, flight, the nuclear reactor and the shamwow. We can do anything. Happy Fourth of July everyone, and do something to celebrate individual liberty and defy convention today. Eat 68 hot dogs.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Yes, I need them all.

I went grocery shopping today, which is probably my favorite form of shopping. I do like liquor shopping too, but I don't drink it fast enough to really need to go very often, so it's not really the same. You can consume the purchase from the grocery store for breakfast without being Charlie Sheen.

As you read in a previous entry (or better have!) I have taken to going to Sams. But not today. I was thinking about an item I needed, though, and how strange it is to buy them in bulk. Somethings work out fine when you buy a thousand of them, like ziploc baggies or Teddy grahams. There are a few things that are not quite as seemly. At least, that's the impression that I get.

I am thinking, of course, of toilet paper. Is it just me, or is there some sort of weird stigma for someone carrying around a giant package of toilet paper? When you see someone, particularly a guy, carrying a 64 roll package of bathroom tissue, isn't your first immediate thought, "Wow, he must like tacos." Women, particularly middle aged women, get a little bit of a pass because they tend to be buying for families more often than men, and is probably dealing with children who are [probably] boys and don't know how to take care of themselves.

What other things can you think of that might be better served being bought from Publix rather than Sams? I say tacos.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am kind of ridiculous

You know how when you play video games and something absurdly improbably happens and you yell, "Yeah right!" or "That would not happen!" or, my favorite (borrowed from Arrested Development), "Come on!" I find myself doing that mostly when I play football games. I like football a lot, and for some reason, I think that my players would never fumble or throw interceptions, even though I watch enough football to know that everyone fumbles sometimes and throws interceptions sometimes. USC lost to Oregon State, Penn State lost to Iowa and Duke almost made a bowl. In fact, until this season, Duke's last ACC win was Clemson, and to overcome that, they had to hire David Cutcliffe who is kind of a badass.

For those of you who are reading this and snoring by now (who am I kidding? all of my readers are nerds, right?) the point of all this is that while making pork chops recently, I spilled some flour on my kitchen counter. Pork chops are delicious and wildly underrated. I realized that I found myself yelling at real life in very much the same way that I yell at my Xbox. The flour fell, I said, "You're kidding." And then, somehow, my baking soda fell behind it. I legitimately yelled, "Come on!" at nobody. I had valueless white powder all over my counter top and I was doing psychologically worse than yelling an a computer.

I was a little bit comforted, and that's when I knew there was a problem. I would rather my insane yelling at video games be consistent with my normal behavior than an aberration restricted to virtual sports and just yell at nothing than just accept this quirk. At least I had pork chops, right?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Check out my hook while the DJ revolves it

I made a shocking discovery recently, and I don't know what I should do about it. No, it isn't anything that requires penicillin. I was sitting out on my patio while reading a magazine that if you saw me read it would make me look thoughtful, intelligent and worldly all while not at all appearing pretentious. However, Georgia in June is, to be charitable, kind of warm. But, of course, I was reared in the Sunshine State, so think of Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch. Was that one of the Disney stories that was racist?

However, I still elected to have a tasty glass of ice water with me out there. I was challenged to meet the medical requirements of 2 liters a day, and I am trying to meet it. It also helps to alleviate the sweating. It also helps at work when it's really boring trying to drink really fast and the results of drinking really fast helps to occupy the time.

The thing that I noticed was, that after a little while in the Georgia sun, the ice in the ice water will, of course, melt. I don't know how much you remember from chemistry, but when you add things to water, the water gets less watery and more what you put in it. However, my ice cubes taste bad. It's hard to describe, but it's a sort of stale and terrible. It didn't always taste like this. What went wrong? Is there anything I can do about this, or does that red Georgia clay turn into gross in ice cubes? I'm counting on you, internet!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A grain of an argument

My girlfriend and I recently had an argument. Naturally, she could not be more wrong, and as far as I know, she has no blog with three readers to dispute my claims. She made the heinous suggestion that wild rice is the worst rice. The only way this could be more wrong would be if the claim at hand were to say that the Temple of Doom is the best Indiana Jones movie. Everyone knows that Raiders is best, followed closely by Last Crusade. We will just ignore that stupid one with that kid with the weird name. (Similarly, Empire > Jedi > New Hope, ignoring that stupid new trilogy.)

Here's the skinny on rice: Yellow is the best. Yellow rice is the America of rice. No one denies this. It is flavored with saffron, of course, which is superexpensive. Every time I eat yellow rice it's like I am eating gold in every bite. That is incredible, and untouchable by anything else that rice has to offer. Next, though, is wild rice. Wild rice is Great Britain. She is implying that it is like Cameroon. No way. That's like white rice that you cook too long and it's like a paste.

White rice and I have had our problems, though. It is kind of bland and I don't have a rice cooker so I would make a poor Asian and when you boil it, the rice water that spills over the pot is really gross. How much superexpensive herb is involved with white rice? None. Step up your game, white rice. At least the Thais put jasmine in theirs to make it taste like something. White rice is the Cameroon of rice. At its best, it is really just a vehicle to put other things on. Lots of upside there. You can make gumbo with yellow rice, I'm sure, and it would be glorious.

Broccoli cheddar rice is Germany. It has no glaring weaknesses, brings a lot to the table, and doesn't try to be something it's not. You're not putting sweet and sour meatballs on it, but if you have it next to roast beef you are having a heck of a meal right there. I haven't had brown rice in like 35 years so I don't really have anything to say about it.

The moral of the story, though, is that wild rice is great and those that disagree need to be convinced. I would suggest you help convince in the comments section, but I don't think she reads the comments. Or the posts.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

That line is there for a reason

I drive home from work pretty much every day that I drive there. Yesterday was an exception, because I worked my first 12 hour shift. It was just as awesome as you think it would be. Part of my commute includes time on an expressway, which, as you are probably aware, involves retard drivers and on ramps. There are retard drivers on every sort of road, but on expressways, they move faster. Which is good news for everyone.

As speed magnifies dumbassery on the road, the on ramps are the portals by which that behavior is applied to the efficient expressways we all know and love from the tangle of back roads and pedestrians. Stupid things, of course, happen in town, too, so do not think I am trying to minimize that. It is just that I do not drive in town every day, so that is not something that irritates me on quite as regular a basis.

Have you ever been entering the highway and not quite reach the driving lane out of the acceleration lane and behind somebody else, when the jerk behinds you departs the acceleration lane early and pulls around you into the driving lane? That guy deserves, at a minimum, to have his tires slashed. There's that wide triangle shaped strip that (while I'm not traffic signage expert) probably means, "Don't do that, jerkface." Not only that, but that guy cuts me off as I try to pass that slowpoke in front of me.

That sucks, too. When you get stuck in a line of people behind a guy holding everyone up; they cannot be sure that it's not you. I feel like I need to hold up a sign saying, "It's not me! Let me out of this prison! I won't slow you down!" Then again, I am occasionally guilty of that practice. There are certain crimes on the road that are more serious than others. Vehicular manslaughter, for instance. I, however, will fly into a rage when the guy behind me departs prematurely out of the acceleration lane. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I am just like you, only giant

Charlotte, NC -- Do you like the dateline? I think I will try it out when I travel. I am in Charlotte for a wedding of a person I don't know, but that's not really relevant to the post. Free food for a weekend is pretty excellent, though. So far only one sporadic reader friend of mine got married and invited me; the rest of you disgusting, unmarriable people need to get it into gear, because who doesn't like free stuff? I will invite you to my wedding when (if) it ever happens. I even promise to write about it and give you free advertising! With a dateline! Spread the word to your friends, and that many more people will hear about how your aunt is loud and the open bar was great.

The prompt for me to write today, though, was that I decided to join Sam's Club this morning, but that was back in Augusta. That place is a strange experience. You can spend a lot of money on junk you don't need and that you might get sick of before you reasonably consume it all. I bought a box of granola bars and it comes with thirty (30) packs of them, for $7. The normal one at the grocery store comes with six (6), for like $2.50. My tastes could change before I eat the last one. I also bought Honey Nut Cheerios, even though I have mixed feelings about cereal. It was like half price, so I am ok-er with it.

More interesting was the sort of shoppers you see there. You see old people who are thrifty to comic absurdity, a lot of moms with 3 teenage boys (or fat girls) who need an endless supply of cokes and mallomars (I actually didn't see any mallomars, but I think it's a funny word), and restauranteurs (hopefully bbqers, another class whose ranks I have recently joined). It kind of blows me away that small restaurants can go get their cooking supplies from the same place that soccer moms get their diet cokes and old people get their oddly large tins of metamucil. For some reason, I thought that there was some secret cabal of restaurant stuff that provides plates and ketchup to cafes and steakhouses with all their needs, painfully unavailable to us mere mortals. Between that and Hell's Kitchen, it doesn't seem like there is any reason I could not open a pretty kickass restaurant myself. I think it would be a gastropub. Maybe even in Charlotte?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It is the green eyed monster which doth mock

My eyes look particularly green today. I don't mean that in the sense that they are buying reusable bags at Publix and using compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of incandescents (which raises [does not beg] the question, is the mercury used in a CFL less destructive than CO2?). I mean green in the sense of British racing green and green means go. I think I have narrowed the cause of this phenomenon down to two suspects:
  1. I am wearing a green shirt.
  2. My eyes are always greeen.
I have wondered for a long time about how the green shirt business works. Scientists everywhere agree that clothing color impacts perceived eye color. Is this just an effect akin to choosing the proper matte for your print of Dogs Playing Poker? (Why is that painting such a punchline?) It still seems weird to me, though, because the way people talk about it ("Oh your eyes look really pretty brown today") carries some implications, like something caused that to happen an that they are normally not that way. Just to clear up any confusion, my eyes are indeed always green and that is pretty spectacular.

Just to muddle any confusion further, the first choice leads to one of those dilemmas that allows crazy into the world, a la Pandora's Box. You know, if you say, "You look pretty today," that sounds like it is a change in condition. "Wow, you are normally easily confused with an angry warthog, but not today. Today you are worthy of appearing on a cardboard standee advertising chewing tobacco or beer." I am making a ruling: try to avoid fixating on the modifier in a case like that, unless it is especially insulting. For example:
  • GOOD: You smell nice today.
  • BAD: Did you finally decide to bathe?
  • GOOD: The dinner tonight was great.
  • BAD: How come your other food is way crappier than this?
  • GOOD: Nice hit!
  • BAD: Going 1 for 10 still means you missed 9 times.
  • GOOD: You look nice in that dress.
  • BAD: You're fat.
I think we can all accept that this is the way things should be. Although, the prospect of having shapeshifter eyes is a little unsettling, sure, it would be cool at first, but it could lead to trouble. ("Is there a problem officer?" "Son, this license says your eyes are green, but they are clearly blue.") What if they decided they liked some other color better, leaving some crappy color combination like garnet and black? Let's hope we never have to find out.

Friday, May 08, 2009

And down the stretch they come

I had a pretty fun weekend last week -- I attended an event across the river in South Carolina known as the Aiken Lobster Races. The thing is, I never made it to watch lovable crustaceans in their novel competition because we ran into the tragic experience that can challenge the excitement of any lobster race: the Poorly Run Restaurant (or PRR). I guess I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that the PRR is new, but quite frankly, I am not convinced that should be an excuse. I have been to hundreds of restaurants in my short time here on God's Playground and I am pretty sure of the things that need to happen for the experience to be an enjoyable one. Good food is definitely a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. (Steve Buscemi appearing in a movie is a sufficient condition for it to be good, but not a necessary one. Although it is close.)

The biggest clincher for my lobster party was the crappy waitress. The food came out slowly, and when it did it came out one order at a time. (In the PRR's defense, they claimed to be a tapas restaurant. To their discredit, only like 30% of the menu was actually tapas.) That was not necessarily her fault; the rudeness about being slow to show our IDs, getting infrequent water refills, and making inappropriate comments about how our decision to sit outside seemed to be an inconveniece for her were what convinced me of this conclusion: she sucks.

It also reminded me of one of the most illustrative and terrifying discoveries I have made so far about the human race: there are a lot of people who suck at their jobs. I know you are probably thinking, "Gee, Engineer, very insightful. What's next? Grapes are both nutritious and delicious?" Well, yes, that is also true. (Red grapes for ever!) But think about this on a large scale: there are people who suck at every job, ones you count on, like plumbers, water treatment guys, car makers, doctors, investment bankers, politicians, and even engineers. To quote George Carlin: "Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that." If you were one of those people who bought a Pontiac Aztek, sorry about your bad luck.

Even the high barriers to entry cannot keep some of them out. The head of AIG was not a dummy, you know? People had to elect Barney Frank, and the doctor from the Octomom nonsense got into and graduated from a medical degree granting institution. Soometimes having the capital, drive, and chef to open a restaurant is not enough to run it well, either. So remember all those jackasses in your classes and be nice to them because they might keep you from seeing lobsters race. Jerks.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Sometimes I nuaaowkk qiesa

A silly thing happened to me last week at work. I know I promised not to talk about work here before, and this will not be too much about that. You do not want to hear me talk about my job because engineers are boring, right? At work, I am an engineer. Here, on the internet, I can be anything! A swashbuckling writer who just does not care what the world things -- I am going to continue observing! You are welcome, internet.

Anyway, I got a reply to an e-mail I sent to a colleague that went something like this:


Do not worry about the content of this message. Rest assured that it was technical and boring yet still reaffirmed how awesome I am.


Normally, I sign with just my first name, but somehow my fingers managed not to land on the homerow exactly right and my otherwise superlative typing came out a little confused. Colleague had the good manners not to ask, "Who the hell is Engubrrt?" but if I know him, he probably showed everyone in his cubicle row while saying something along the lines of, "Get a load of this guy!"

This is not the first time I have confused my own now in communication. I remember one time I called a Tall Friend in elementary school to ask him about Command and Conquer or whatever we talked about in those days and left him a message along the lines of, "Hey Engineer, this is Tall Friend. I don't remember what this said but it was probably me calling you out as a crappy C&C player." He was both amused and bewildered by my nontraditional approach to trash talk.

The moral of this story is that even I cannot escape my powerful observations. I must continue my swashbuckling. My observations cannot esoy!

Monday, April 20, 2009

You can't shorten "title"

I was watching 30 Rock the other day (fantastic show, by the way) and a speech practice that was used that made a character purposefully look like a douche bag for comedic effect. Now, I'm all for laughing at douche bags, but even this practice makes me leery because a friend did this very same thing "ironically" recently. As far as I know, he is not otherwise a douche bag, (I have never seen him use a Bluetooth headset or cheer for a Boston sports team, for instance).

I have previously discussed shortening phrases and I think we can all agree that I was totally right: shortening phrases is an affront to God. Now, looking a little bit further, like we saw on 30 Rock, there is a practice of shortening words, too. The character on the shjow asked his personal assistant to make room on his "schedj" for a date with Liz Lemon. Good for him, but his assistant's proper response should have been, "If you ever say 'schedj' again, I will walk out of here in two shakes of the lammie's tail." He later does, and she does not quit. At least, not on camera. (I sometimes like to fill in what happens in other scenes not shown for the ancillary characters during commercials, and in my version of the episode she quits by peeing on his shoes.)

Other words that follow this patter are sitch (situation), natch (naturally), offish (official[ly]), delish (delicious), and so on. My mom has always had a problem with poli(tical) sci(ence), but my brother deicded to major in it. College class names are trickier, too, because they have long and absurd names that probably need to be shortened. My college classes all had nicknames (the most delicious of which was Meatballs), beyond the ordinary things like calc, chem and freshman comp. For whatever reason, these were never particularly offensive to me. Although, differential equations was a battleground between two factions: those enlightened scholars who favored "D.E." and the rampaging and uncouth barbarians who pushed for Diffey Q. Clearly the latter are fools and deserve no more of our attention.

This could have also probably been filed under dealbreakers. I don't quite know how you justify a pronunciation as an invention, or you better believe this would be in the terrorists' aresenal. Feel free to add any shortened words that deserve to be punishable by waterboarding in the comments and watch 30 Rock this week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Just a little outside

I have a very long commute to work in the morning. This has caused me to exceed the warranty on my car in a comically fast fashion (that, along with travel to such exotic locales as Atlanta, Clemson and the Homeland). Other benefits include consuming a lot of of radio (still haven't gotten an iPod or an iPhone. What is wrong with me?), some of which is talk radio. This prompted a certain friend of mine to say to me, "You listen to AM talk radio? What are you, like close to death old?" Yes. I am close to death old because I like to listen to ESPN radio and the news.

That last one might not help my cause, but if you look on my link section, you can see that my interest in the news is of a semi-professional interest. (I say "semi" because I don't get paid in actual "money.") The former, though, is completely in bounds, I think. I caught some of Mike and Mike this morning on the way in and was struck by something, though: a lot of people on the radio are not really that good. Sporst in particular has a bit of a weird issue with this, because sports jounralism is necessarily local (or at least regional) due to concentrated loyalties and interest. Try talking Big Ten football with a resident of Georgia or South Carolina. You'll be laughed all the way back to Columbus (OH). And rightfully so.

National sports figures are famous, frequently, for their non-sports production as much as they are for their sports broadcasting or content. Bill Simmons, Peter King, and John Madden (and Mike and Mike, for that matter). This is because, in my mind,, and ESPN radio have sufficiently large market share that they basically only have to put competent people out there to get an audience. How many people who use Windows or Internet Explorer o so because they tried all the competition and liked it best? My guess is the same number of pirates who don't regret trying to capture the Maersk Alabama.

This leads me to my most paramount rule of irritation when consuming media: if I (or someone I know) can do a job better than a professional making millions of dollars, then that contract is probably ill-advised. I could not write an operating system or internet browser very well, so I'm going to let Bill Gates slide. But he knows I have my eye on him.

I think anyone who watches a lot of sports could do Mike and Mike's show. I think there are probably some rather intelligent pets that could write Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column. (A friend of mine insists that her Jack Russell has the vocabulary of a 5 year old!) Bill Simmons is talented but burnt out or lazy now or bored. The point is, if I watched sports for 25 hours a week, I could host a 3 hour talk show a day about it, especially if I had a friend with me. I could probably write a weekly column, too. If you put me on ESPN radio and published me on, people would listen and read because they are big media outlets. With backing like that, I could also even get players, press offices, agents and even owners to take my calls.

Really, what this tells me is that after all this driving in the mornings, I should just break down and buy an iPod Touch and be done with it. That way, I could get angry over podcasts, too.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No question prompting for a y/n ends well

You know what question bothers me a lot more than it should? It's not one of those cliches like paper or plastic, boxers or brief, or do you want fries with that. (Plastic, boxers and yes.) I know one of you clever jokesters is probably thinking something like, "Are you sure you're in the right restroom, ma'am? Oh, I'm sorry." Nor is it anything as scandalous as "Why on earth would you think she was over 18?" Sadly, both of those questions make better stories, but you will be enthralled by mine; a testament to my highly developed writing powers.

Using my clues, surely you have deduced that it is when automatic card readers say: "Credit or debit?" or "Debit? y/n." This offends my sensibilities for two reasons:
  1. As you can see from my blogger name, I am an engineer. I work in a technological field, so that reflects on me personally, rightly or wrongly, in the same way that when my basketball team gets bounced in the first round by a team from *gasp* Michigan that's not Michigan State, it reflects poorly on the whole Clemson community. It's that personal.
  2. I'm lazy.
I also noticed that you saw more colons in the previous paragraph than your average proctologist. I was going to apologize for that, but then I realized, colons (the punctuation) are great, while colons (the organ), that would demand an apology. I apologize for nothing.

The D or C question bothers me a lot. This card can hold a magnetic strip that contains my entire personal information and credit history* but they didn't think to add "Oh, by the way, this is a credit card"? How ludicrous is that? How different is the billing process anyway? What happens if I choose debit for my credit card? Will the pump take my gas back? Truthfully, that would almost be worth it.

I know there are probably other things I should worry more about. Like about AIDS in Africa and economic collapse and if we all be speaking Chinese in 20 years and what made Mike Myers stop being funny. You know what they say: I don't, I just wanted to throw in another colon.

*I have no idea what is on that magnetic strip, honestly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southernfolk talk different

Growing up, my dad used to use funny idioms that I'd never heard anywhere else, and since his mom is Southern and my mom is not, I just assumed that's where they came from. One I remember is "You better be over here in two shakes of the lammy's tail." This meant very quickly. Evidently, lammies shake their tails so quickly that they can shake them twice before whatever instant you need to deal with is at hand. I'm pretty sure there is another one, but I can't think of what it is. I have lived in the Real South (as my loyal readers know, I grew up in Florida, which is like the bicurious state) since 2004 now, and have yet to hear any of them come out of any other Southern mouths. So I can only conclude that my dad is an amazing idiomologist and made them up.

There are, however, a number of colloquialisms that I have come across that are worthy of sharing. You will, of course, find them listed and discussed below in my favorite and noblest of all lists: the numbered list.
  1. Show [one's] tail - The first time I heard this one, I actually had to ask for an explanation. I have not heard this one outside of rural South Carolina yet, so it might be unique to there and not Southern at large. It has nothing to do with nudity or discovery of morphological changes in humans, to my disappointment. How great would it be if they discovered lizard people in the Upstate of South Carolina? Clemson's swim team would win all kinds of national championships. It actually means to misbehave, as in, "After eating several pixie sticks, the State Senators really showed their tails."
  2. Cut on - This is the phrase that made me want to write this entry. This one bothers me for aesthetic purposes. It doesn't sound right. This is the opposite of (obviously) cut off, as in "Cut off the woodchipper, he's already dead." Cut off should be obnoxious too, since it doesn't really make sense either, but it gets a pass because cutting off and termination kind of make sense, even though cutting off a light switch is not really that permanent or serious of a change. I do feel strongly though that you should not be able to cut on anything.
  3. Might could - These are two linking verbs. I know that because in seventh grade Mrs. Adair made us memorize all of the linking verbs in the English language via a cute little song that I will never forget ever. The thing about verbs like that, though, is that two of them can't follow each other in a sentence, with the exceptions of am/is/are/was/were and being. No other combinations are possible, including might could. This means might be able to, and I grit my teeth every time I hear someone say this. An example of this being used in a sentence is "I might could help you with your math homework, but you have to take off your shirt first." (In this example, the speaker is talking to a girl [who is over 18]. The speaker can be whichever gender you prefer.)
  4. Stay - This one isn't so much a phrase as it is a word. That's ok, though. It means live. As in, "No, I don't stay in this refrigerator box. Thanks for asking." This one, though, isn't really quite as aggravating or funny as the others, but it's still unusual. Like a cat who barks or a complete sentence coming from Rep. Corrine Brown. I am also told that this is restricted to a subset of Southerners who are also black, which is consistent with my very scientific observations.
I really wish I could remember the other prolific one that my dad would say because it would really make the intro stronger and it's really weird. Feel free to share any regionalisms you have encountered, and point out the region. The stranger the better!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I like the Irish. Not Notre Dame.

It was in high school when I first started to think about what islands of white people my family came from way back when. Of course, like everyone else in the southeast, Britain and Ireland were the primary culprits. I was prompted to look into it because there were a lot of people in my high school whose parents were born in India but they had never seen the place and still managed to feel and act more Indian than American. Don't get me a wrong, there were a lot of awesome Indian people too, but there were some who would only hang with other Indian folks, which strikes me as, well, I don't want to say racist, but a little bit racist.

This coming week is, of course, the holiday for people who like to pretend they're Irish. I have never been to Ireland and my last name is English, but there are Irish people in my family tree and begorrah, I love it. The Irish are a jolly people, and I like being a part of that. There are primarily three things that Irish people are known for, and they're all fantastic. Indian people might have better food, but they sure don't have better booze.

  1. Booze (Biotálle). Distillation came to Ireland from the Mediterranean by way of missionaries, according to wikipedia. How great is that? Missionaries! There's a saying that the Irish discovered whiskey and the Scottish perfected it. You know what I have to say about that? Ireland is independent and Scotland is still run from London. Eat that. Also, everyone loves Guinness. Americans learned to make their liquors when the Irish and Scottish came over and settled the South in the early colonial days. Good for them.
  2. Blessings (Beannachtaí). Everyone knows the "May the road always rise to meet you..." blessing. You may not have known is that there are like a thousand just like it, poetic and fun and cheery. For a people so historically miserable (not quite Polish or Jewish miserable, but certainly more so than the Canadians), most of what you see is very positive, like charming brogues, pots of gold and leprechauns, and excellent smelling soap. I suspect #1 has a hand in this attitude. My favorite is: May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
  3. Blarney (An Bhlárna). It is a town, castle, rock and gift originating in County Cork. You might think it's just mumbo jumbo, but this community has been able to convince Americans to come to their town and spend good money in order bend over backwards to kiss a rock. If that isn't evidence of the gift of Blarney, I don't know what is. There is also a disproportionate presence of Irish writers in the English language, and I'd like to think that there's something in the blood, and I just have to activate that component of it by drinking Bushmills.
Sure, there are terrorists and domestic violence too, but all that has largely been drowned out by the Muslims blowing people up in more dramatic fashion. And their accents aren't nearly as fun. Can you imagine a Saudi breakfast cereal? Magically delicious, insha'allah. Anyway, everyone have a happy SPD on the 17th, eat some corned beef and cabbage and say sláinte as you think about your favorite blogger. The Wonkette.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Things I Learned on the Oscars

I have to confess that I did not watch all of the spectacle last night. I made it until the all important short documentary award, which was won by a movie called Smile Pinki about children with cleft palates which I'm sure was super uplifting. It was presented by Bill Maher. The presenter is relevant, but I don't want to say anything further because I don't want to step on my toes later on. As you probably already know, I like numbered lists. I am going to use this technique to describe my discoveries.
  1. Of Hugh Jackman's talents, being funny without scripted jokes is not one of them. He was pretty impressive with his singing and dancing and making out with Anne Hathaway, but he was not funny after the opener. Later on, though, in his second dance number, it gave us another image of Vanessa Hudgens to think about where she looked good with her clothes on. I was going to post a pic of her from the show, but all I could find was that shot of her naked in her bedroom. No kiddie porn for me.
  2. Bill Maher is not funny. At all. To be fair, I knew this one already. He is not funny, nor is he insightful. This man upsets me, because he reflects poorly on Irish people. Maher is the same as my grandmother's maiden name (although her family name was corrupted upon their arrival in this country). I might go see Religulous just so I can storm out and be indignant. Being indignant is suprisingly satisfying.
  3. Jack Black is still capable of hilarity. He had a great joke series about animated films and how much America loves him. He even involved gambling, and quite frankly, gambling is fun. He presented with Jennifer Aniston and they did surprisingly well together. I don't care if I'm alone when I say this, but Brad Pitt made the wrong call with Angelina. She is crazy and has too many kids. Jennifer is crazy and has no kids and presents with Jack Black. Jack Black tells jokes about betting on the movie studio that employs him on national television and I'm pretty sure neither of them have tattoos.
  4. The only difference between Sarah Jessica Parker and Dee Snider is Matthew Broderick. I don't know how Sarah Jessica Parker got famous. Is she supposed to be a sex symbol? Is she supposed to be a glam metal rocker? I never saw a single episode of Sex and the City (how surprised are you?), so I don't get what it's all about. I had a cosmopolitan once, and it was pretty good, but all girly drinks are and as far as girly drinks go, it kind of sucks. What's that you and your Sex and the City friends say, Jessica? You disagree with my joking abuse and you're not gonna take it?
  5. They should have awards for movies that came out last year. I had seen a grand total of zero of the movies that were up for best picture. I had seen one last year -- Michael Clayton. My living room is so awesome that I never want to go out to movies anymore. The academy should reflect that.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

They hit a grand slam

I saw the greatest commercial ever yesterday. I think it was a Super Bowl commercial, so I might be a little behind the eight ball on this one, but a late compliment is still better than no compliment. When I say greatest, it might be a little bit of an exaggeration. It is, however, on the level of Free Pie and Chips.

I don't want to jump right into it, because I don't like spoiling surprises. I like the build up. Do you remember the funniest commercial you ever saw? Did it involve a talking animal, like a lizard convincing you to buy beer or a chihuahua trying to sell you on... meat? It's not really Mexican food or even food in the abstract, but they call it meat so I'll be charitable. Geico had some great ones, like the Lauren Wallace series and the aforementioned Pie and Chips. I miss him.

Somehow, I missed this one at the Super Bowl. I don't know how, but then again, I wasn't really paying that much attention. So I guess I kind of do know how. I wanted the Cardinals to win, because they have a cool story and they had such a long line of futility and Larry Fitzgerald is a mad man and I'm pretty sure that Ben Roethlisberger is borderline retarded. But he has twice as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton Manning, so I guess having an IQ of 80 isn't so bad after all.

I don't even want to give away the what happens in this commercial, because it cracked me up so hard. I was in tears and laughing uncontrollably for like 7 minutes. That hasn't happened since the last time I watched Beerfest with Wachapreague Warrior. I backed up on my DVR. Here's my advice: watch it once, then count to ten, then watch it again. Let it sink in. It is comedic brilliance on the order of Blazing Saddles. I like pancakes, too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

First step towards immortality

Why did the chicken cross the road? Have you ever stopped to think that somebody somewhere was the first person to ever tell that joke? That joke was written (or invented, depending on whether you think of jokes as simply pieces of writing or discoveries that should be shared). Stand up comics write jokes all the time, but there aren't really that many that become part of our cultural consciousness that the joke's existence becomes distinct from the writer. Knock knock. Who's There? Ima. Ima who? I'ma kill the guy who came up with the knock knock joke. You can have that one for free.

Sure, we all know the bit about the 7 Words You Can't Say on Television by George Carlin. You can't separate that phrase from Mr. Conductor. Barney from How I Met Your Mother is an innovator of this ilk with his Lemon Law. Who was the first guy to call people "cat" instead of sir or man? I want to congratulate that guy and I'm pissed we don't still do that.

Somewhere down the line, there was a first guy to do that. We don't know who he is; he is an innovator lost in the sands of time, like the inventor of the wheel or penicillin. I do think, however, that whoever that guy was, he would be happier if we started calling each other cat again that erecting a monument in his honor in our downtown city squares. It would probably just come out as a giant marble cat anyway.

I want to join that pantheon of creativity. I was challenged to invent a word as my first offering to those demigods of comedy and posterity for entry into their Olympus over the weekend, and I think I have it: flamty. It started out as flamtankerous, but we can all agree that was way over the top. Flamty is where it's at. The exact defintion is hard to pin down exactly, but I can use it in a few sentences to make it clear for you.
  1. I was going to ask that girl for her number, but that dress makes her ass look flamty.
  2. Hmm, I there's something funny about the marinade, does that steak taste a little flamty to you?
  3. Let's be reasonable here, your sister is clearly the flamtiest in the room. I haven't thrown up even once!
I hope that this will be the first of many inventions of a lexicographic nature to bolster your conversation. Please feel free to post your own interpretations and uses of the word, and also let me know about circumstances in out there away from internetland where this comes up. I hope none of your coming days are flamty.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Where's the third ring?

I'm pretty sure I'm not crazy on this one: I don't understand the Family Circus. I don't mean that it looks like Greek letters and alien shapes, I recognize that it's a comic composed of images and dialogue intended to portray a scene or story, but I can't figure out what the Family Circus's motivation or appeal is. It's not really a story. Is it because I don't have children? Is that why it seems like a waste of newspaper ink to me?

Let me clarify, though, that the Family Circus is not as maddeningly offensive as, say, Frank and Earnest. It's just confusing. Why is this comic so universally popular? Am I on crazy pills? Let me cite an example that I found on the family circus website, which if this blog ever gets readership I will probably have to take down or risk being sued:

When I say I don't understand it, it's not that I don't know what it's saying, even though for a Floridian the concept of icy sidewalks is about as familiar as tse tse flies biting Bengal Tigers while aborigines watch while playing the accordion. I have conceptual understanding that ice forms in the winter on sidewalks and it's slippery, increasing the risk of falling, or sliding, if you will. I get the "joke." Only, it's not a joke. This is a bad pun dressed up as cute because a child (presumably his?) said it. Aww, adorable. No. This is a newspaper. There is no room for adorable, Trixie Flagston aside.

I want to know who it is that looks for this everyday. I want to know if having children will make this comic seem less like something only boring people enjoy to something I look for all the time. If enjoying Family Circus is what I have to look forward to in parenthood, I am going to never stop drinking Mountain Dew.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Coming out of hibernation?

Hey everybody. I know, I haven't written here since for like four months. And you know what? Only one of you, my favorite of all my friends both real and imagined, mentioned it. Bloggers feed on comments. They are like the water that makes the tiny foam dinosaurs turn into scary and disappointing monsters. That's what your comments do to my ego.

Maybe you've lost interest or I've started repeating myself. I don't know; I don't read my own stuff very often. I am a poor judge of my writing. Each blog entry is like one of my children: I barely remember any of them.

I do hope that I can put more effort into this in the near future, and that y'all do too. I am going to give you a few previews of what you can expect. Some of them are classic topics (like commercials I hate, comics I hate, and other things that begin with c that I hate), some will be new (like things I haven't decided yet, but I will probably talk about how much I like period hats), I still owe you a Graphs Aplenty (from my favorite of all friends both real and imagined), and I think there might be a visual redesign. I might lose interest, though, if you people don't step up your game.

Oh, and I have a beard now.