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November 30, 2005

Pitched Battle

Reuter's headline: Bush Pitches Iraq Strategy

Hmm. I wonder which definition of "pitch" they are using.

A. To erect and fix firmly in place;

B. To present or advertise for sale, especially in a high-pressure way;

C. To utter glibly and insincerely;

D. To put aside or discard.

November 29, 2005


In my eighteen month Squirrelly Update I mentioned that the twerp's entire vocabulary consisted of the words "kitty" and "Pooh." Since then, though, he's been cranking out words faster than global warming can produce hurricanes. For a while there we were excitedly phoning each other up whenever a new one debuted and trying to keep track of them all but, honestly, we pretty much threw in the towel we he came out with "precipice." I shit you not. He's become adroit at parroting the last word we use in a sentence, and one evening, after I caught him doing somersaults on the bed and delivered a sternly worded lecture about the danger of this activity, he shouted "precipice!" and did a celebratory somersault on the bed.

Of course, the real danger of his mimicry is that he will start adopting phrases like "I shit you not," which means we should probably start watching our language. But frankly, I'm not too worried. Given the speed at which vulgar language is now evolving, I reckon that by the time The Squirrelly is old enough to "hang out" with his "dawgs" and "homies" any obscenities he picked us from us will be quaint and charming, the equivalent of a 2005 "poppycock." By then they will probably be using terms so unimaginably filthy by today's standards that words we currently consider to be unforgivably profane will show up in spelling tests and Jumble puzzles.

Having mastered the ability to utter words, The Squirrelly is now focusing on individual letters. He can already recite what he believes to be the 23 letters that make up the English language:

  • A
  • G
  • Q
  • Gubble-oo
  • B
  • Ah-chay (that's Spanish for H! He's bilingual!)
  • Ah
  • X
  • C
  • I
  • S
  • Y
  • D
  • J
  • T
  • And
  • E
  • K
  • U
  • Zeee!
  • F
  • Ellemenopy
  • V

    His current goal, as near as we can tell, is to set the world toddler speed record for saying the alphabet. He's getting pretty quick, although he often cheats by omitting some letters and substituting the sound "mm" for those that he can't remember in his haste.

    "A! B! C! D! E! F! G! Mm! Mm! Ellemenopy! Q! Mm! Mm! Gubble-oo! Mm! And! Zeeeeeeeeee!"
    Yes, only 22 months old and he's already mastered life's most basic skill: the ability to fake his way through things that he doesn't entirely understand. Somewhere a position in middle-management awaits him.

    Update: The Queen has informed me that The Squirrelly is, in fact, 21 months old. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO REMEMBER WHEN HE WAS BORN, THAT WAS 22 WHOLE MONTHS AGO!!

    November 28, 2005

    Pieces Of Ate


    Drew this Thursday while coloring with The Squirrelly, but only gained access to a scanner today.

    [ link | Humor]

    November 25, 2005

    The Bad Review Revue

    The Legend of Zorro: "Not only stupid and boring but -- ta-da! -- also really long!" -- Stephen Hunter, WASHINGTON POST

    Rent: "Commodified faux bohemia on a platter, eliciting the same kind of numbing soul-sadness as children's beauty pageants, tiny dogs in expensive boots, and Mahatma Gandhi in Apple ads" -- Carina Chocano, LOS ANGELES TIMES

    Saw II: "I'd rather try standing drunk on a see-saw than see Saw." -- Mike Clark, USA TODAY

    Derailed: "Semi-alert Owen and the leaden Aniston go together like sausages and syrup." (I have no idea what that means, but apparently it's negative.) -- Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer

    Doom: "Like visiting Vegas and never leaving your hotel room." -- Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

    Get Rich Or Die Tryin': "It ain't rich. It's just tryin'." -- Ann Hornaday, WASHINGTON POST

    November 24, 2005

    Smooth Criminal

    Dude, I've totally figured out a way to scam the local dump. I dunno why I never thought of it before.

    Y'see, the way they figure out how much you owe is to weight your vehicle when you come in, weigh you again when you leave, and then charge you based on the difference. So you drop off 30 lbs of junk and you get charged for 30 lb.

    So here's what I started doing. I let them weigh me in like usual, right? Then I go in and dump off all my garbage. Then (this is the trick) I load my truck up with a bunch of other stuff until it almost weighs as much as when I entered. (I always make it weight a little less -- don't want to seem too suspicious.)

    "Oh sure," I bet you're thinking, "where are you going to find a bunch of stuff just laying around a dump?" Well, it turns out to be a lot easier than you might think. Plus, there are almost always other people there and they will usually give you whatever they have in their trucks if you ask them. The kindness of strangers and whatnot.

    So when I leave the difference in weight is only, like, five pounds, and that's all I get charged for. Then on the way home I throw all the new stuff into a local ravine. It's the perfect crime.

    November 23, 2005

    Monster of Rock

    Of all the dinosaurs I think Tro÷don is my favorite. I don't know what it looked like or anything about it, but it must have been totally awesome to get named under heavy metal band nomenclature.

    Board Of Directors: Tom, Dick, And Harry

    Leaving work I get on the elevator going down. A man and a woman are already on it, in the middle of a conversation:

    Man: ... know you're on Jen's team, but -- I'm sorry -- I don't know your name.

    Woman: Karen.

    Man: Ah, okay. Nice to meet you. I'm Steve.

    Woman: You work with Jim, right?

    Man: I work with Jim and Mike, right. Along with Jeff.

    Apparently I work one floor below All-American Names Unlimited.

    November 22, 2005

    Womb Service

    The Squirrelly spends a lot of time in the car: going to and from daycare, to and from swimming lessons, to and from music class. He spends the ride strapped in his car seat, clawing banana cips from his Snack-Trap™, drinking water from his travel sippy cup, and letting the vehicle carry him where it may. Honestly, he wasn't so much born as upgraded to a better womb. When he turns five and has to start attending school, we'll hire a midwife to extract him from the Toyota and send him on his way.

    I think this is just an intermediate step, as we humans slowly evolve into marsupials. Someday in the near future our baby-carrying devices will merge with us, and will we carry our infants around in a pocket complete with built-in DVD player and Goldfish cracker dispenser. If there is any any justice in the universe, it's the fathers who will wind up bepouched.

    November 21, 2005

    Movies: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    On the presupposition that everyone who's interested in seeing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has already read the book, I'm a little more liberal with the spoilers in this review than I am in most.

    First, a disclaimer: I am not now, nor ever have been, afflicted with Pottermania. I liked the first novel okay and thought the third was pretty good, but have been less than enamored with the more recent entries in the series. I am not one to reflexively dismiss something as "kid's stuff" (one of my all time favorite movies is The Iron Giant, after all), but I haven't found Harry Potter to be especially engaging, either.

    So in evaluating Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I am only interested in how it works as a film, and not in how faithfully it follows the book. Indeed, given that I disliked the corresponding novel (it was my least favorite in the series), the more the movie deviated from the text the better, in my opinion.

    The good news is that it is evident, right from the get-go, that the screenplay is a considerable abridgement of the source material. The first 100 pages of the novel -- devoted to the Quidditch World Cup, including lengthy descriptions of how the children travel to the site and an entire chapter on play-by-play commentary of the event -- is packed into the first 20 minutes of the film. Unlike Rowling, screenwriter Steven Kloves seems intent on shuffling the kids off to school as quickly as possible: the Dursley's don't even make an appearance, and Dobby (along with the entire Elf Liberation subplot) is given the axe. By the time we arrive at Hogwarts, it seems like the filmmakers, against all odds, have figured out how streamline the 650 page book into a 150 minute movie.

    The bad news is that Goblet of Fire (the book) contains so much superfluous material that, even after losing a huge chunk of it, Goblet of Fire (the film) feels too crowded by half. At one point they introduce a major character (Barty Crouch Junior) only to interrupt themselves halfway through to introduce a second major character (Mad Eye Moody), and then return to the original introduction once that is complete. Much of the first half of the film feels this way, with new people, spells, and concepts being revealed at a dizzying pace. At times it reminded me of those disclaimers tacked on to the end of a radio ads for contests, where they have digitally edited out all the spaces and left a monolith of information. Some characters (notably Cho Chang and Rita Skeeter) are given such a small amount of screen time that they serve only as reminders about the substantially larger roles they played in the book.

    Once the Triwizard Tournament gets underway, though, the film not only finds its focus, but also takes a turn for the grim. When Radiohead made a surprise appearance halfway through I thought it odd to see them in a "kids movie," but that was before I realized that the final hour pretty much plays out like a typical radiohead song: dark, brooding, and at times downright ponderous. Indeed, between the horror elements and the introduction of sexuality to the franchise (we're treated to French schoolgirls in short skirts and a shirtless Daniel Radcliffe cavorting in a sauna with a voyeuristic female ghost), Goblet of Fire isn't really a kids movie at all. The age range for the audience seems to be shifting right along with the age range of the protagonists. The final film in the series may well be NC-17.

    I was pretty ambivalent about Goblet of Fire. On the one hand, I like the darker elements (the introduction of Azkaban in the third book is why it was my favorite), but I came away from the film feeling much the same way as I did from the book, that Rowling is exceptionally skilled at coming up with clever ideas (or at least at lifting them from other works and reworking them until they seem passibly original), but isn't so good at cobbling them together into a coherent storyline. So much of the Triwizard Tournament doesn't makes sense (even in a world where magic is real and dragons are imported from Romania), and it makes even less so in a film where so much exposition had to be abbreviated to keep the running time under a fortnight. Still, Goblet of Fire is certainly the best of the Harry Potter movies, so if you've liked the series so far and you can suspend your disbelief a little more than I was able, you'll probably find it to be right up your alley, Diagon or otherwise.

    November 16, 2005

    Head Light

    Snippet of conversation between the men standing behind me in line at the deli:

    "... when Jesus was born he came out with, like, a halo around his head. Not the round cartoon halo but more like an aura -- his whole head was glowing. He looked awesome."

    November 15, 2005

    The Suspension Of Disbelief Personified

    My hotel bed is a King. It is enormous. In Seattle a plot of land this big would cost $300,000. At one point last night I woke up to discover that I had shifted around so much that I was sleeping parallel to the headboard without discomfort.

    In the first session of my convention, one of the speakers gave an example of how his software could be used. Before he began he gave a lengthy and belabored disclaimer, assuring us that the scenario he was about to describe and enact was completely hypothetical. In it he used the word "fictitious," like, a dozen time. Then, as he walked through the example, he paused every three minutes to remind us that everything we were seeing was wholly invented, and had absolutely no connection to reality whatsoever. Someone should totally hire that guy to stand next to Bush and do the same thing whenever the President gives a speech.

    November 14, 2005


    I'm in Washington D.C. this week for a conference, though not one of those fun ones where "convention" is shortened to "con" and prefixed with "Comi" or "Manimal."

    I took the laid-back approach to travel, this go-round. Sometimes before a trip I will agonize for days before my departure, making lists of everything I need to bring, packing three days in advance, and spending the hour before my departure doublechecking to ensure I haven't forgotten anything. Other times I drag out my suitcase the morning of my flight and just leave it on the dinning room table in the hopes that it will, epiphyticly, absorb clothes and toiletries from the atmosphere. Whenever I happen to walk by the luggage carrying a clean pair of socks or whatever, in it goes. Several hours later the taxi arrives, and I close the luggage without a review of its contents and hope for the best. Remarkably, this system tends to work for me more often than not, although I always run the risk of suddenly realizing -- halfway through my flight, at an altitude of 30,000 feet -- that I have not only neglected to pack any pants, but that I'm not even wearing any at the moment.

    When I arrived at the Sea-Tac I marvelled, as I always do in the airport, that such an enormous building can eb entirely populated by people who don't want to be there. People waiting for their flight to depart so they can get out of there, people waiting for a loved one to arrive so they can get out of there, people waiting for their shift at The Six-Dollar Cheese Sandwich Emporium to end so they can get out of there, etc. I think airports are the closest earthly approximation of purgatory, a huge holding cell for the unhappy. And why are people always dressed so nice? I don't even bother to comb my hair before travel, but the airport is always packed full of men in suits and women enveloped by make up and Wonderbras. Is everyone flying to some prom that I was not invited to? Or perhaps the airport is just one of the few places in Seattle where you can see large groups of people who are not from Seattle, i.e., people not perpetually dressed like they are an extra in a 90's-era Mudhoney video.

    My flight was uneventful. As as was boarding I could see, hovering over the space next to my assigned seat, a black leather cap festooned with shiny steel buttons. I expected it to be atop a stereotypical gay man straight out of the Village People, but when I arrived at my seat I discovered it actually contained an ancient woman, ninety years if she was a day, sitting by the window and clutching a copy of "The Christian Traveller's Journal." We exchanged some pleasantries before the twenty-something girl who got stuck with the middle seat arrived and filled the space between us. At several points during the trip the old woman, in a quavering stage whisper, told the girl that I was delightful young man and she was lucky to be married to me, while I stared at my book and pretended not to hear. The third time this happened the girl stopped correcting the woman and instead said, yes, married life is grand.

    After we arrived at Dulles and had taxied to our gate, everyone leapt to their feet and began wrestling bison-sized carry-on items out of the overhead bins. Suddenly the entire vessel lost power and we were plunged into complete darkness. "Better now than ten minutes ago," someone observed. After a minute or so the captain came on the intercom, assured us that the problem would be solved momentarily, and suggested that we "not go anywhere." As they hadn't yet opened the doors to the plane "going anywhere" wasn't really an option in the first place, unless someone was planning to crawl into their luggage for a quite jaunt to Narnia. When the lights came back on I was nearly overcome by an urge to give out the piercing, womanly scream and shout "My pearls! Someone has stolen my pearls!!"

    The shuttle from the airport to my hotel was entirely too crowded, though this seemingly worked to my advantage. All the back benches in the shuttle were full when I arrived, so I took the shotgun seat up front. That was pretty sweet, until I later realized that being next to the driver allowed me to watch in horror as he simultaneously exceeded the speed limit, tailgated, and devoted both his thumb and his attention to punching text messages into his cell phone for the duration of the trip. For most of the journey I felt the way was I did during the final 20 minuets of The Blair Witch Project.

    Anyway, that's how I wound up in D.C. Technically speaking, I'm actually in a small town called "Church Falls," although, judging from what I saw on the ride out here, I'd estimate that for every church that fell at least four rose to take its place. (Aw shit -- I just looked at the hotel stationary and discovered that I'm actually in "Falls Church." Joke = ruined!)

    Anyhow, if my posting is sporatic this week, that's why. Although, to be honest, for my posting to become any more desultory than it has been in recent weeks I think I'd have to post on Leap Days only. So if you don't notice any difference, I'll understand.

    November 10, 2005

    $eason$ Greeting$!!

    I'm really looking forward to the upcoming holiday season. In the past I always dreaded the whole Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's troika. But ever since I signed up to be a Conversational Spammer back in August, every party is a chance for me to pull in the big bucks. I can't believe how much money I made in October, what with Halloween-related events nearly every weekend day. Everytime I spam a conversation: two cents, ka-ching! Do it enough an it really adds up!

    Girl dressed as sexy nurse: That's a great costume. How did you make the arms?

    Guy dressed as a robot: I bought some of that flexible culvert tubing from the hardware store and just spray-painted it silver. I came out a lot better than I expected, to be honest.

    Me: Great conversation! Keep up the good work! Enlarge your penis. penis pills emporium dot net."

    {I wander over to another conversation.}

    Guy dressed as zombie: ... was a big fan of Firefly, but, I dunno. It seemed kinda boring to me.

    Guy dressed as Mexican wrestler: But the special effects were so much better. And they finally answered some questions about the characters.

    Guy dressed as zombie: I guess. Maybe I'm just so used to seeing 40-minute episodes that the two hour movie felt too long to me.

    Me: You can't win if you don't play! online hyphen poker hyphen parties dot us!

    {I wander over to another conversation.}

    Girl dressed as a cat: ... being a total bitch, and I'm not going to --

    Me: lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com. lowest mortgage rates dot com.

    {I wander off.}

    Oh course, these were all parties with complete strangers, so who knows if they actually went to the URLS. Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of gatherings with families, and I bet my potential for earning will really go up in that environment.
    Uncle Aldo: [Taking the bowl of stuffing] Well, this is for me. What are the rest of you going to eat?


    Grandma Sharon: Oops, I forgot the cranberries. I'll just run into the kitchen ....

    Uncle Don: No no, I'm already up. You stay put and I'll go grab them.

    Me: Want to see me naked? X x x hyphen nude hyphen webcams dot net.

    {Awkward silence.}

    November 08, 2005

    Incredible Illusion!!
    [ link | Humor]

    November 07, 2005

    Salon of Shame

    Lovely Ariel of Electrolicious and the fine folks at A Guide To Visitors and putting on an event so excruciating that you won't be able to look right at it -- the only way to avoid being blinded by awkwardness will be to to view the spectacle through a tiny hole poked in a piece of paper.

    Yes, inspired by the lovely Sarah Brown (it's "Lovely Monday," here at the yeti), they will be transplanting New York's Cringe to the left-coast and stymying Sarah. B's legion of trademark lawyer's by rechristening it "The Salon of Shame." This Wednesday, November 9th at 7 o'clock, watch in horror as folks take the stage to recite the most unbearably embarrassing poems, prose, and diary entries ever put on paper -- abominations of literatures that the readers themselves penned in their carefree days of youth and dumbness.

    Read more about it at shame.electrolicious.com. Hope to see you there!

    P.s. I neglected to mention that the folks at A Guide To Visitors are also lovely. I apologize for the oversight.

    November 04, 2005

    WriAShorStorWe Database

    if you finished a story during WriAShorStorWe, you can go add it to the WriAShorStorWe database; if you didn't -- well, I just extended the deadline two days, so go nuts.

    November 03, 2005


    I saw two neohippies with dreadlocks strolling down the sidewalk and holding hands. If they live together I bet they are very compatible housemates. No chance of getting hair-care products mixed up, at any rate.

    November 01, 2005

    A Father's Proudest Moment

    I brought The Squirrelly to a Halloween party. He saw a child dressed as a pirate and, unpromped, said "Arrrr!"