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December 24, 2004
Well, apparently I am taking this week off. And I'll probably take next week off as well. I kind of feel like my muse is on winter break, or that I depleted my year's allotment of creativity a few weeks early.
But I'll be back on Januray 3rd. In the meantime, Happy Holidays from The Queen, The Squirrelly and I.
December 22, 2004
2004 Holiday Gift Guide For Slackers
My third annual Holiday Survival Guide For Slackers is now available at The Morning News. It's not easy upping the cynicism on these things year after year, but somehow I seem equal to the task.
And a big "thank you" to everyone who sent me links to the most brain-numbingly stupid crap available for sale on the Internet. It's readers like you that truly make Christmas the most magical time of the year.
December 17, 2004
Official Sponsor Of The Big Bang
I understand that hyperbole plays a central role in any corporation's ad campaign, but claiming to have invented the most abundant element in the universe is a bit much.
Research Day: Urban Legend Purge
Once upon a time I was known as the go-to guy for urban legend debunking. I'd read all of Jan Harold Brunvands's books and could spot a foaf-tale at 100 yards. My friends and family were forever calling me up and saying, "my friend Sally said that her aunt bought the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe for $250 -- that ain't true, is it?"
These days, of course, there's snopes.com, so my bullshit detection services are no longer in high demand. But I still consider myself something of a minor authority in the subject. But let's face it -- even someone who makes an effort to keep abreast of urban legends can occasionally get suckered. So this month, I've rummaged around in my mental file cabinet full of "beliefs" and flagged a few that, despite my having quoted them as fact for years, strike me as suspicious.
Bottlers in Washington State are prohibited by law from printing alcohol content on beer labels: This is the belief that prompted this urban legend purge. Some drinking buddies and I were recently in a local tavern, and I noticed that the alcohol content for the microbrews were listed in the menu along with the descriptions. So I asked my friend J., a bartender by trade, how they could do that when they can't print alcohol content on bottles and cans.
"Why wouldn't they be able to print it on bottles and cans?" J. replied.
"Oh, it's some old Washington law," I informed him. "Apparently when they were worried that brewers would get into an alcoholic arms-race if they were allowed to put the alcoholic content on the cans and bottles -- you know, each would try to outdo the others by jacking up the potency and proudly advertising this fact. So they made it illegal, and the law has never been overturned."
"I don't think that was ever a law," said J. "And I'm sure it's not now." He pointed to the label of my own bottle of beer, where, in tiny letters, it read "5.1% alcohol by weight."
The next day I wrote an email to the Washington State Liquor Control Board, and they confirmed that there had never been any such law.
I have no idea how that "fact" came to be lodged in my head, but it had been there since college.
Honey never spoils: I learned this in one of those "10,001 Amazing And Poorly Researched Facts!" books I read as a kid. But given that these are the kind of books that perpetuated the great lemmings myth, re-evaluating those "facts" is probably a good idea. And this one strikes me as particularly bogus.
But it appears to be true all the same. According to Wikipedia: "Honey does not spoil. Because of its high sugar concentration, it kills bacteria by osmotically lysing them. Natural airborne yeasts can not become active in it because the moisture content is too low. Natural, raw, honey varies from 14% to 18% moisture content. As long as the moisture content remains under 18%, virtually no organism can successfully multiply to significant amounts in honey."
That is amazing! But it's too bad it's honey, which I don't particularly like. Everlasting corned beef, though -- that would pretty much rule.
Cher had a pair of ribs removed: Having not thought about Cher for a decade or so, this isn't one I've mentioned recently. But I do recall, at some point, telling someone that this was a for-real fact. Alas, no. Snopes has the goods on this one: "In 1988 the chic magazine Paris Match announced Cher had .. two ribs [removed] ... Cher sued the magazine, but the rumor gained even wider acceptance after being picked up from the Paris Match piece and run in other papers. That these stories were later corrected didn't do much to mitigate the impact of the rumor's first finding its way into those pages as revealed fact."
Dude, I came this closed to getting sued by Cher!!!!!
If you'd like to play along, pick one of your own beliefs that you are having second thoughts about, research it on Google, and post your findings in the comments.
December 16, 2004
One Stop Shopping
Speaking of holidays gifts, here's one from the dy mailbag!
Hey yeti. Thanks for your board game guide but i don't think my parents /sisters would really go for a board game. Can you suggest somenpresent that everyone on my list would like? peace, kn
Desperately Seeking Stupid
It's that time of year again: time to ask dy readers to send me stupid shit you can buy on teh Internets for inclusion in my annual "Holiday Survival Guide For Slackers." Examples!
The Little Whizzer Liquor Dispenser is a small, plastic statue of a toddler that pees gin into your tonic. The Spencer Gifts Web site describes this as ‘A great conversation piece with a purpose!’ I have no idea what that purpose could be. Freaking me the hell out, that’s my guess. Guaranteed to elicit exactly one forced guffaw from the gift recipient before he opts to store it in the farthest reaches of his crawlspace.Those were taken from my 2002 guide, and last year's is available here.
if you have any suggestions for the 2004 installment, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mention it in the comments of this post. Thanks!
December 15, 2004
Miss American Pie
Meagan Sukys, local NPR personality and the woman who interviewed me yesterday on The Beat, has one of the most dulcet radio voices you are ever likely to hear. Sadly, I am no longer able to appreciate it.
I first met Megan about a year ago at a A Guide To Visitors show. At A Guide To Visitors, folks get up on stage and tell "party stories" -- y'know, those anecdotes that you find yourself recounting after a third beer at a table packed with friends. I told of how Darth Vader made me cry. It's a pretty good story, but I was in the first half of the show. Megan, meanwhile, was the last of the evening, a slot typically reserved for the best story of the night.
She told us of the time she participated in an honest-to-goodness pie-eating contest and became rather monomaniacal about victory. After a bit of build-up -- recounting how she had been bamboozled into participating, and outlining the pie-eating strategy that she had devised in preparation for the event -- she described the actual contest. And where a lesser storyteller would have said, "and so I ate the pies really fast and won, the end," Megan actually reenacted her performance right there on stage. "MMMRRAGHR MRARGHMMARGH MRAGH MMMMRAARGHHMR!" she bellowed, holding an illusory pie up to her face and twitching her head like she was in the midst of a seizure. "MRRAGHRRR MRAARGH MRARRAGHGH MMMMRHHMR RMM MRARRAGH MRARRAGH MRMM!"
It was one of the best stories I've ever heard. But it came at a price. Because now whenever I hear Megan Sukys on the radio -- or even when I'm sitting in a studio with her during a live broadcast, and she's across the table asking me questions -- I know that she's articulating words and sentences, but all I hear is "MRRAGH MRAARAGHMARGH MRAGHGH!!"
December 14, 2004
Boardgames On The Beat
I will be live on KUOW's The Beat this afternoon at 2:00, discussing my 2004 Good Gift Games Guide, the year's other notable games, and the Seattle gaming scene. You can also listen to the show online.
December 13, 2004
defective yeti's Excrement Adventure
I knew that fatherhood would involve poop. I had no idea of how much, of course. If I had, I might never have signed on for this gig.
Sadly, once you reach this state you pretty much smell poop everywhere. One day you find yourself in a restaurant sitting near a guy who just received a cup of chamomile tea and thinking, "Jesus Christ -- something in here smells like shit."
Update: From the comments:
"But have you memorized the different colors and textures of snot and what they all mean?"No, but The Queen has. She doesn't even use a thermometer any more. We picked up some paint cards from the local Home Depot, and now, when she wants to know if The Squirrelly is sick, she holds those up against his nose one by one until she finds a match.
December 09, 2004
Freedom Of Speech Is Cancelled!
My comments are broken at the moment, with every submission resulting in a "500 Internal Server Error." I have no idea what the issue is, but dy will be a one-way transmitter until I get 'em fixed.
If anyone has seen this before with Moveable Type and knows how to troubleshoot it, drop me a line.
Update: Switched from the Berkley db to mysql, comments are again working.
December 08, 2004
A+++ I'D EAT IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!!!!
My harrowing account of frozen microwave pizza wrasslin ("a drama .. in real life!") made it onto This Is Broken, but several commenters said they had never encountered this kind of box. So I went to the Lean Cuisine website to see if I could find an image. (I'm not saying that the pizza in question was a Lean Cuisine, though the circumstantial evidence certainly points in that direction.)
I was unable to find an illustrative picture, alas. But I found something better: pages and pages of "customer reviews" for the various Lean Cuisine products. Maybe it's just me, but the unfettered enthusiasm and wanton exclamation pointal abuse in these reviews struck me as both vaguely suspect and terribly amusing. A sampling:
Shrimp and Angelhair Pasta: "OH MY GOD THAT WAS SO GOOD! WAHOOO!!!"Curiously, my review for the Four Cheese Pizza ("The box was complicated.") has yet to appear.
Update: I'm getting a surprising number of emails about this (four) so I'm turning the comments on.
December 07, 2004
An Open Letter To The Frozen Microwave Pizza Makers Of America
Today for lunch I had a microwave pizza. To cook it I had to pull a strip on one side of the box and then carefully lift the lid making sure that the sides of the box came apart on the perforated lines and then remove the pizza from the box and then turn the box upside down and fold the lid all the way back so that the a square of metallic-color paper affixed to the inside of the top of the box was now resting on the outside of the bottom of the box and then remove the pizza from it's plastic wrapping and then set the cooking-platform-née-pizza-box in the microwave and then set the pizza on the square of metal paper and then slightly lift the lid to read the cooking times that were now hidden below it and then cook the pizza.
Attention microwave pizza makers! If I'd been born with the intelligence and perseverance necessary to perform complicated tasks like this, I would have gone to medical or law school and would now have a job that paid so well that the mere thought of eating frozen microwave pizza would make me grimace.
Please re-evaluate your target demographic and revise this design immediately.
December 06, 2004
The 2004 Good Gift Game Guide
In my games archive you can find full reviews for three of the games mentioned: Ticket To Ride, San Juan and Hansa. You can also see previous G3 Guides for the years 2003, & 2002, 2001, and 2000. Enjoy the broken links and images!
Other Good Games
This was a pretty good year, and I had a tough time narrowing my choices down to ten. Here are some worthy of honorable mention:
The Canonical G3 List
All of the games listed at The Morning News and above were released in the past year. There are, of course, hundreds of great G3s from year's past. Here a sampling from the Canonical G3 List:
Family Board Games
Family Card Games
Don't trust the yeti? Here are the highlights of some other "best game of the year" lists:
Spiel des Jahres (a.k.a. "The German Game Of The Year"):
Where To Find
If you live in Seattle, check out the stores page of SeattleSpiel, which lists all the outlets for these games in Puget Sound. Online stores are listed there as well, for those readers who live elsewhere.
December 03, 2004
The Burdens Of Parenthood
"I took The Squirrelly to the hospital today for his second flu shot. After he got it I was out in the waiting room getting ready to leave, and there was this old lady sitting near us. And she starts asking me all these questions, like 'how old is he?' and 'how much does he weight?' -- but not in a friendly way, she was all aggressive about it. So I got all ready to go, and stood up, and started rummaging around in the diaper bag for his hat, and she totally yells at me, "you need to put a cap on that baby!!" And I turned to her and started to say 'how about I put a cap in your ass?!' But I stopped myself. Because, you know: I'm a mother now."
December 02, 2004
Auld Lang Resigned
I'm going to make my New Year's resolutions today and strive to break them all by the end of the year.
By getting all my capitulation out of the way now, I figure I can keep 2005 100% failure-free.
There is a woman just outside my office door who, for the last five minutes, has been talking to someone on a cell phone about (a) what order they are going to "hit" the various stores at the mall when they go shopping this weekend, and (b) how they are going to dress their dog (??!) for an upcoming Christmas party. IF ANYONE WHO WORKS IN MY BUILDING IS READING THIS BLOG PLEASE PULL THE FIRE ALARM IMMEDIATELY!!!!
December 01, 2004
It's finally December, and you know what that means: only one more month until I can* buy a Boris Vallejo Scantily-Clad Buxom Women Of Fantasy 2005 Wall Calendar at the local Waldenbooks for 75% off!
It is truly the most magical time of year.
* Unless a certain someone ruins everything by giving me another "Pi Digit Of The Day Desk Calendar" for Christmas again this year.