|<< August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 >>|
September 28, 2006
September 27, 2006
Survival of the Spinest
The spinach / illness outbreak has been traced to a company called "Natural Selection". I bet their mission statement reads "Use Darwinian techniques to create a breed of E. coli-resistant homo sapiens."
September 26, 2006
Go For It!
Retroblast is having a contest: create a motivational poster based on a video game or pinball machine. This was my entry.
September 25, 2006
The Long And The Short Of It
To: email@example.comYou know why I have never fallen for this scam? Because I get bored and drift off to play Funny Farm by the second paragraph. Apparently these swindles only work if you include more back-story than Lost.
If someone just wrote "HEY YOU PAYPAL ME $10,000 AND I WILL IMMEDIATELY PAYPAL YOU $1,000,000,000,000 FOR COMPLICATED REASONS THIS IS TOTALLY NOT A TRICK!!!" I might actually do it. If only out of gratitude that the email wasn't as freakin' long as Infinite Jest.
September 22, 2006
why does the cat look like it god blood all over it and wasnt cleaned to well?Good question. I couldn't have typed it better myself. As the many sticklers for spelling, punctuation, and grammar who read this site are fond of pointing out.
Perhaps you haven't been properly introduced to Kitty:
As you have so astutely observed, Kitty appears to god blood all over it, as though it wasnt cleaned to well. We have no idea why this is the case, because Kitty was something of a stray and we know little of its history.
Shortly after The Squirrelly's second birthday, my cousin K. brought over a box of her old stuffed animals, which had sat in her parent's garage for years. "Thanks," we said, "but don't feel bad if he doesn't take to any of them. He's never shown an interest in stuffed animals." Still, after she opened the box, The Squirrelly obligingly sauntered over to it, folded himself in half, and mooned us as he buried his head and torso in the toys. Duckies and bunnies went flying over his shoulders as he rummaged around.
Then, suddenly, he straightened, holding an toy I'd describe as "looking like something the cat dragged in" if cats made a habit of dragging in cats. Scraggly, lacking a nose, and with inexplicably red-tinged fur, it was the stuffed animal you'd expect to find forlornly standing against the wall after all the others were picked for kick-ball.
"Kitty!!" The Squirrelly announced.
We asked K. how Kitty had come to be in such a sorry state, but she confessed ignorance, admitting that she had never been very fond of the toy and barely remembered it at all. But Kitty and The Squirrelly have been thick as thieves ever since.
How on earth could anyone get attached to such an unattractive specimen, you may wonder. As is usual in these case, it can be summed up in two words: rebound romance.
Kitty fills the void left by The Squirrelly's One True Love, Mia. Mia was a curly red-headed toddler that attended The Squirrelly's music class, around the time he was 20 months. While all the other children sat quietly in a circle, listening to the teachers play guitar or sing "Shoo Fly," Squirrelly and Mia would wile away the hour galumphing around the room like a pack of hyenas, exploring every nook and cranny and upending plastic bins of tambourines.
I distinctly remember the moment The Squirrelly fell in love. Each child and each parent had been given a resonator bell -- you know, a wooden block with a single xylophone key on top of it? -- and a mallet.
The Squirrelly went to town on his bell, walloping it with as much gusto as he could muster, determined to be the loudest in the classroom. Mia, meanwhile, sat across from us, looking serenely from her bell to her mother's, clearly cooking up a plan. After a few moments she decided upon a course of action. She picked up her bell in one little hand, seized her mother's bell in the other, held them such that the keys faced each other, and clapped them together like blackboard erasers. The result was cacophony; The Squirrelly immediately stopped what he was doing to watch the spectacle, as pink and red hearts floated out of the top of his head.
Alas, the class ended a few months later, at that was the last we saw of Mia. It was shortly thereafter that The Squirrelly hooked up with Kitty.
We all know that Kitty is just a place holder, until The Squirrelly again meets a woman more adept at making a godawful racket than he. Until that day, though, they are all but inseparable.
September 20, 2006
Double-Fisted Tales Of Work
There's a conference room at my place of business that is occupied, every morning from 9:00 - 10:00, with what must be the most attractive people at my company. Seriously, sometimes I peek through the window in the door and just marvel at the miles of whitened teeth. I can only assume that they are planning our Homecoming Dance or something. Man, I hope they pick "Dance the Night Away" by Van Halen as our class song -- that would effing RULE!!!!
Today, after having plugged a bunch of money into of break room's vending machine, I was agonizing over whether to get pretzels or a Coffee Crisp bar, when a large and imposing guy came and stood directly behind me. He was so close to my back that I glanced back nervously. He had dollar bill in hand, and was already holding it perpendicular to the bill acceptor, ready for insertion. It was also clear from the expression on his face that he knew exactly what he wanted, and going to step forward at any moment to make his purchase, regardless of whether or not I had vacated the space. I felt like I was trapped in the Star Wars trash compactor, moments before the walls started closing.
Anyway, long story short, I got a little panicky, and that's how I wound up with the "Garfield Cocobite." It was a selection made of desperation.
September 19, 2006
Research Day: Taco Bell And The Ozone Layer
Why is Taco Bell so named?: When I was nine or ten, I was in the car with my dad when we passed one of the Taco Bells that were springing up all over our suburb. "Why do they call it that?" I asked.
My father, a classical music aficionado, thought for a moment and said "I think it's a play on the name Pachelbel. You know, the composer who wrote the Canon? And the Hexachordum Apollinis?"
That answer satisfied me for a decade and a half. Recently, though, while driving by another of the ubiquitous fast-food outlets, the question popped back into my head, and it occurred to me that a restaurant boasting a "Cheesy Gordita Crunch Supreme" for 99¢ was probably not named in honor of a seventeenth century Baroque organist. Maybe if they served a "Beef Taccota in C minor," or their soda machine dispensed "Mountain Fugue."
So today I headed over to tacobell.com, and pored over their "history" page, looking for clues as to the store's name. And by "pored over," I mean I read the first two words in their history, which were as follows:
"Glen Bell ..."Ah. The founder's name is Bell. Duh.
And so my fifteen-year investigation comes to a sudden and anti-climatic end. Wow. Honestly, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life. Possibly just reading through the archives of this fansite.
What ever happened to the ozone layer?: In the late 80's and early 90's, the environmental crisis du jour was the rapidly depleting ozone layer. I distinctly remember hearing somewhere that the ever-widening hole over Antarctica had reached some critical tipping point, where all our efforts to stop the damage would be in vain. David Brin's 1991 novel Earth foresaw a future in which no sane person would venture outside without a hat, glasses, and heavy sunscreen. In the 1992 presidential campaign, George Bush dubbed Gore as "ozone man" for his environmental activism.
Now, of course, Gore is a champion for global warning. (although, technically speaking, I think he might be against global warming) and the ozone layer seems to have been all but forgotten. What happened?
What happened, apparently, is that we stopped releasing the compounds that damage the ozone layer, which took the topic off the polical table -- even though the hole still exists, and was larger than ever before as recently as 2000. Even so, most people agree that it is healing. "All other things being equal," says NOAA, "and with adherence to the international agreements, the ozone layer is expected to recover over the next 50 years or so." The main "international agreements" here are the Vienna Convention (1985) and the Montreal Protocol (1989). The latter, especially, is largely responsible for the worldwide phase-out of ozone damaging chemicals (halogenated hydrocarbons), and it has been hailed by Kofi Annan as "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date."
So I guess the take-home message here is: if we all work together, as conscientious global citizens, we can collectively confront and even reverse the environmental cataclysms that threaten the future of our species. Or perhaps the moral is: if I, Matthew Baldwin, personally ignore a problem for a decade or so, it will go away. Could be either one, no way to tell.
Here you can find a nice overview of the issue, and a chart showing significant dates, both past and future, in the ozone crisis and response.
September 18, 2006
Here's an easy way to determine which couples are the parents of toddlers: listen for the people who describe five-minute tasks in terms of "a project."
You: What are you guys up to this evening?
Great news! As many of you remember, I went to a Seattle audition for a reality program a few months back, but everything was very hush-hush and I couldn't talk about it much at the time. Well the show has just been announced, and I can finally spill the beans: I'll be appearing on the fifth episode of FOX's new cutting edge show Sexual Relations With The Stars!!
I'm kind of bummed that I got paired up with Tucker Carlson. But still: I'm going to be on TV! WOOHOOOO!!!!!
September 13, 2006
And You Shall Know Him By The Trail Of Stuffed
No parent wants to think that the choices they are making will result in their child someday going on a seven state killing spree. But a couple of our recent decisions have left The Queen and I wondering.
First, we got him toy at a garage sale which allows him to mix-and-match a variety of head, torso, and foot pieces to create custom teddy bears.
It seemed innocuous, and The Squirrelly really liked it. Indeed, it was all fun and games -- until one morning when I woke up and, half conscious, staggered out into the living room to discover:
I used to think that cat vomit was the worst thing to encounter on my morning shuffle from bed to coffee maker, but now I'm going to have to put "pile of dismembered bears" on the top of the list. It appears that we inadvertently purchased the Fisher-Price Lil' Psycho Training Kit. I guess I should have been suspicious when I noticed the label on the bottom of the box reading "STORE UNUSED BODY PARTS IN FREEZER!"
Also, we figured out an innovative way to hornswoggle The Squirrelly into learning manners. He was reluctant to use his spoon and fork for a long time, knowing that the quickest way to deliver applesauce to his gaping maw was to simply scoop it up by hand and shovel it in there. So once, about a year ago, I decided to make a game of it. I stood behind him as he sat in his chair, put a fork in his mitt, wrapped my hand around his so he couldn't drop it, and guided the utensil to the bowl; when we skewered the target foodstuff I cried "stab!"
Oh man, did that go over well. He spent the rest of the meal enthusiastically forking his dinner, merrily shouting "Stab!" with each mouthful.
Unfortunately, he seems to have really taken to the phrase. Even now, while running wild around the house, he'll occasionally shout "Stab! Stab stab!" at random.
So if you pick up the Seattle Times some morning and see:
LOCAL COUPLE STAB! STABBED! IN THEIR SLEEPBodies found pierced by dozens of brightly-colored, blunted, child-sized sporks.
Yeah, that'll be us. In lieu of flowers, please send Bob The Builder DVDs.
Oh well, you needn't be too worried. Even if he does take to a life of crime, odds are he'll be inept at it. For instance, his recent attempt to put his stuffed kitty into a sleeperhold backfired:
September 11, 2006
It Wasn't A Crime, It Was A Strategy
In case you missed the President's speech this evening, here is a summary:
"September 11, 2001."My favorite line was "If we yield Iraq to men like bin Laden, our enemies will be emboldened; they will gain a new safe haven; they will use Iraq's resources to fuel their extremist movement."
Oo that was crafty of you, getting Haliburton in there early to siphon off as many of those dangerous resources as possible.
September 08, 2006
Factual Inaccuracies In The Path To 9/11
I was among the rabid right-wing bloggers fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of the ABC / Disney miniseries The Path To 9/11. While I applauded the filmmakers for bringing to light some hard truths regarding the attacks (where "hard" is defined as "un-"), I feel obligated to point out a few minor errors and inconsistencies:
September 06, 2006
Lost And Confound
I went to an oral surgeon today. Yeah, don't ask. I will say that this wasn't the visit where they actually do the work, this was the one where they tell you how much the subsequent visit is going to cost. What a great racket, dentistry. At least kidnappers have to go through the trouble of cutting letters out of newspaper to make a ransom note; oral surgeons just tap your teeth with a miniature pick for thirty seconds and then demand a suitcase full of unmarked hundred dollar bills if you ever see your bicuspids again. As a kid I got 50¢ for each tooth that fell out; now I have to pony up a grand for each one I wanna keep.
Anyway, I also had to fill out a bunch of forms. One was a seemingly standard questionnaire, will all sorts of predictable queries like "How often do you brush?" and "Do hot or cold beverages cause you discomfort." But the penultimate question struck me as a bit odd. I read -- I kid you not -- "How would you feel about losing your teeth?"
Ummm, why do you ask? Is that likely? Is this so you can plan what "collection strategy" your goons will employ if I miss a payment? Or maybe, if someone answers "No biggie," they let Mycroft the intern handle that patient's bridgework.
Honestly, I had no idea what to write? "That would be a bummer" just didn't seem to do the question justice. Ultimately I left it blank, though not before considering "Relieved that I would no longer have to answer questions this stupid."
September 05, 2006
I Like Like
This afternoon my local NPR station had a program devoted to language -- specifically, which words people love and hate. As with most things in this world, the hate:love ratio was skewed heavily in favor of the former. For every person calmly rhapsodizing about the beauty of "loquacious," there were half a dozen Angry Grammarians incensed by "very unique" and railing against "I could care less."
I'm amazed by how worked up people get over this stuff. Yes, I have long disliked the misuse of "literally," dating back to my first day of college when my English 101 professor said the school had so many new student that it was "literally bursting at the seams," but my emotional response pretty much tops out at "slightly annoyed". Some of the folks calling into the program, meanwhile, sounded like they were ready to knife the next person to mix up "imply" and "infer." And nearly all of them claimed that their linguistic pet peeve drove them crazy or drove them nuts. After a while I felt like calling in and saying, "You know what drives me crazy? People who equate the steady deterioration of mental health with a mild irritation over the use of "irregardless."
The usual whipping boy in these lexical bitchfests is the word "like." Everyone lambasts the word as meaningless filler, abused by unintelligible mumblers who can't string together three words without having to stall for time. It's ironic* that a word meaning "affection" gets so little.
Me, I like like. I think it's a great word. And I suspect that those who dismiss it as vacuous are not listening to how it is actually used.
In truth, like has a fairly well-defined a widely understood meaning when used in conversation. It signals that the facts being related are guesswork and hyperbole, or that the dialogue being recounted is a paraphrase at best. It serves as a warning to the listener: Caveat Emptor.
Really, "like" is more than just a word -- it is practically a auxiliary verb that puts the entire statement into a new tense. Call it the "Past Approximate." If someone tells you they once ate fourteen eggs in one sitting, you recognize that is a boast; if someone says they ate, like, fourteen eggs, you know instinctively that the number was probably closer to five.
Critics of "like" point to it's excessive use by youth as proof that every successive generation is getting dumber. The must be used judiciously, to be sure -- I also like the word "callipygian," but wouldn't want to hear it six times in a sentence (well, depends on the sentence, I guess).. But perhaps widespread use of the Present, Past, and Future Approximate tense actually demonstrates the opposite, that kids today are more comfortable with nuance and subtlety than their forefathers, more aware that anything communicated by something as clumsy as speech can only come within spitting distance of reality.
* Send enraged screeds about my inappropriate usage of "ironic" to firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 04, 2006
Highest Form Of Flattery
defective yeti ... IN THE NEWS!
As far as the judge was concerned, the paper he ordered Brandon Dickens to write as punishment for ducking jury duty was plagiarized ...Apparently I'm an inspiration to an entire generation of civic duty shirkers. Makes a guy feel are warm inside.
In forwarding the story, one reader said "his has got to be a sign of the quality of your writing." Well, that's one interpretation. Another is that Mr. Dickens just plugged the phrase "stuck in jury duty goddammit" into Google and swiped the first result.
September 01, 2006
Friday Afternoon Scratchpad
To: email@example.comJesus Christ, these bloggers are getting more aggressive every year.
Because I am a staunch opponent of animal cruelty, I've decided to stop using KY jelly. I recently learned that it is made by taking an adorable little ducky and cutting off its first three letters.
Some Like It Bot
The Bad Review Revue
Trust The Man: "Opening a film with a small child straining on a toilet and talking about poop isnt just a bad idea; its an invitation to unfortunate metaphor." -- Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Zoom: "The director of Zoom is Peter Hewitt, who also directed Garfield. Nothing more to say about that." -- Stephen Williams
Crossover: "The entire movie seems to have about the same budget as a 30-second sneaker commercial. I'm not talking Nike, either. I'm talking a commercial for Steve's Second-Hand Sneaker World and Falafel Emporium that you'd see on NY1 News at 3:08 a.m." -- Kyle Smith, NEW YORK POST
Accepted: "As wild as a sixth-grade prom." -- Rene Rodriguez, MIAMI HERALD
Material Girl: "You'll find yourself longing for the intricate plotting and ensemble acting skills of an Olsen twins movie." --Luke Y. Thompson
John Tucker Must Die: "Whatever the target demographic was in pre-production, now it's limited to sexually active 14-year-olds still retaking the sixth grade." -- Michael Atkinson, VILLAGE VOICE
Beerfest: "If you like to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, you'll probably like this movie. If you're a cognac person, the scene where the great-grandmother performs a sex act on a sausage may not be refined enough for your tastes." -- Peter Hartlaub, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE