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June 17, 2008

Typical Reaction to the Revelation That I Do Not Own a Cell Phone, By Year

1998: Solidarity ("Yeah, me neither--I hate those things!")

1999: Envy ("Lucky you; I had to get one for work.")

2000: Indifference ("Okay, what's your home phone number then?")

2001: Encouragement ("You should get one--you can play Tetris on them now!")

2002: Confusion ("I thought you were, like, a tech guy.")

2003: Sympathy ("They're getting pretty cheap. You'll be able to afford one soon.")

2004: Irritation ("So how am I supposed to get a hold of you?")

2005: Derision ("If we go out tonight I'll send you a fax.")

2006: Skepticism ("Are you serious?")

2007: Awe ("Wow, you're like the last one.")

2008: Incomprehension ("You don't ... how ...?")

[ link | Links]


May 14, 2008

My Microwave Has a Setting for Everything

 

I hit some secret combination of buttons and unlocked Witch Mode.

May 13, 2008

Bureaucracy

 

Squiggle & I

So lemmie tell you about the (mostly healed, in this photograph) wound on my forehead. Kind of a funny story.

Last week The Queen and I rearranged the furniture in our bedroom, to make space for my new Craftsman 1470 pc. Professional Tool Set. (I like to store it all laid out like that, so I can easily find things.) As part of Operation Squabble (we cleverly embarked upon this plan when we were already tired and cranky, like at midnight), we decided to put a dresser into the walk-in closet. We're talking a full-sized bureau here, about five feet high.

I grab one side, The Queen grabs the other, and we hoist it across the room. Between the lifting and my slightly hunched-over posture, the top edge of the dresser is level with my eyeline. Also, the corners of the thing are incredibly sharp. That's a little thing we in the literary business like to call "Foreshadowing".

So I'm backing into the closet. As I do so, the back of my head makes contact with the ... you know, the thing. The rod. The hollow, wooden tube that runs below the shelf, on which you place the clothes hangers? That thing. I touch it with the back of my head. But I am so startled that I jerk forward, slamming my forehead into the corner of the dresser.

"Ohh god!" I howl, hastily setting my end of the dresser down and clutching my forehead. "Oh man. God, that hurts. Jeeze, I really got myself. I'm going to have a splitting headache within five minutes, I bet. Probably have a huge bump tomorrow, too. Wow, that was pretty bad. Yeah, that's gonna be a goose egg."

I look up at The Queen, and she's completely stony-faced. Not a trace of sympathy. "Can we finish this?" she says. So I mutter under my breath a bit, and we finish putting the dresser into the closet.

About an hour later The Queen is in bed reading, and, as I climb in, she glances my direction. "Holy smokes," she cries, "what happened?!"

"What?"

"Your forehead! There's a huge red mark on it."

I do a slow burn for a moment. "That's where I hit it. On the corner of the dresser."

"When did that happen?"

"When did ...?!" I splutter a bit. "Did you miss the part where I was clutching my head and yowling?"

"Ohhhhhh ...." Realization sets in. "I didn't see you hit your head on the dresser. I though you were reacting to having backed into the closet rod at, like, one mile an hour."

"I had my hand on the front of my head!" I point out.

"Yes," she says, "That's how I knew you were faking."

May 01, 2008

Journey of a Thousand Miles

Sorry about the irregular posting schedule around here recently, but National Start! Walking Day was on April 16th and that's been keeping me pretty busy.

Speaking of which, if anyone knows when National Stop! Walking Day is, could you let me know? I probably should have checked before I left. Right now I'm about 7 miles outside of Spokane, heading east on I-90--just drive around until you find me. I'm covering about 30-35 miles a day, so keep take that into account. Also, if you could bring some power bars and water, that would be awesome, thanks.

[ link | dy]


February 14, 2008

Thank You For Being A Friend

 

GG Valentines

[ link | Humor]


December 18, 2007

The Scene You Hate

A friend, having read my last post, asked if The Queen really objects to botanical inaccuracies in movies. Oh yes, yes indeed. And not just in motion pictures, either. If I'd known, in advance, that the TV show LOST would feature a bunch of people on a tropical island populated with temperate foliage, I never would have put it in my Netflix queue.

Of course, I'm just as bad when something I'm passionate about is misrepresented on film. Like games, for instance. I still break into hives whenever I think of the scene in Freaks and Geeks where the parents play the card game Pit, just the two of them.

But my all-time least favorite scene--one that appears in about every third film, seemingly--has to be this one:

The hero and the antagonist are playing chess, a game in which both are virtual grandmasters. It's a close fought match, and they banter while they play. Slowly, their moves--and their conversation--become more aggressive. Eventually they are openly hostile to one another, both on the board and off.

Then, victory. Smirking, the villain says something irrefutable to the hero, moves a bishop, and announces check.

For a long moment the two men lock eyes. Suddenly, the hero utters a devastating riposte, breaks eye contact just long enough to capture the bishop with his queen, and, with the slightest hint of a smile, declares checkmate. He rises from his chair and walks briskly away, leaving the loser to gawps at the board in amazement.

Yes, I understand that one grandmaster saying "I'm going to checkmate you in seven moves" followed by 23 straight minutes of the opponent staring at the board before replying, "ah, you are right--good game" lacks some of the "pizzazz" of the Hollywood version. But I still would rather sit through both episodes of Viva Laughlin, back-to-back, than endure this scene again.

What's the scene you hate?

December 17, 2007

Apples and Oranges

Being married to a professional botanist has its ups and downs. It's nice on day hikes, for instance, having someone around who can instantly identify every plant we see. On the other hand, I don't need to be notified of every ecological incongruence in the films we watch. The Queen spent much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy leaning over to me in the theater and whispering, "pfff, I can see why they call this a fantasy--they have polystichum munitum growing in a tropical upland climatic zone."

Last night we went to a wreath-making party last night. Our host provided us with wire frames, fir boughs, holly, and pine cones; before dinner, while I read stories to Squiggle and put him to bed, everyone else got all elfy in the garage.

At the end of the evening we collected our wreath. Ours, while beautiful, was the least ornate of the bunch, consisting only of boughs. As we carried a sleeping Squiggle out to the car, I asked The Queen about this.

Me: Why didn't you put holly in our wreath?

Queen: Because holly berries are poisonous, and when Squiggle saw them he pointed excitedly and yelled "cherries!"

M: Ah, good call. But what about the pine cones? You could have put a few of those on there.

Q: No I couldn't. They were the wrong kind.

M: What do you mean?

Q: The boughs were from one species of tree and the pine cones were from another. It would look weird to have them on the same wreath.

M: What, seriously? Nobody would know but you.

Q: Yes, it would look weird to me. That's what I'm saying.

M: Oh, come on. What's the big deal?

Q: Let me put this into terms you can understand: imagine if you went to a Star Trek convention and saw a bunch of people dressed as Jedi.

M: Oh, god. Right. Gotcha.

November 08, 2007

Elmo Loves You!

Watching Sesame Street today with Squiggle, it suddenly occurred to me that every time Maria hugs Elmo, some lecherous muppeteer is copping a feel.

October 18, 2007

Local News: Blows!

Seattle has been rocked by, like, 14 mph winds today. So naturally the local media is reacting as if flesh-eating marmosets devoured the mayor.

WIND STORM 2007 IS FUCKING ON!!

Please to be noting:

  • Video caption reading "One man was forced to hold onto a tree to keep from being blown over."
  • Actual video shows man using single hand to grasp sapling about 1/50th his diameter and approximately 1° off perpendicular from the ground.
  • Lovable seven-year-old ragamuffin nonchalantly walks his bicycle past in the background.
You can't truly appreciate the devastation until you've seen the raw footage. (Warning: contains scenes of umbrella carnage not suitable for all viewers.)

Of course HOLY SHIT WINDSTORM 2007!!! did manage knock out power at my house, which left me without access to online porn for an hour or so. Fortunately I have a copy of the 1977 Sears Catalog in our emergency kit for just such a contingency.

September 24, 2007

Fetal Attraction

I'm going to write a thriller about a knight who returns home after a year in the Crusades, and finds his wife six-months pregnant despite wearing a chastity belt. It will be a locked-womb mystery.

February 05, 2007

The Truth About Global Climate Change

 

Intelligent Warming

 

January 11, 2007

Butteryfingers
FADE IN

INT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

MATTHEW and THE QUEEN are sitting on a couch in their living room, 20 minutes into the Season 2.5 finale of BATTLESTAR GALACTIC. They both appear to be ON EDGE, as if ANTICIPATING something.

SOUND EFFECT: THE DISTANT RATTLE OF A TINY HAND STRUGGLING TO TURN AN ADULT-SIZED DOORKNOB

The ratting continues for a few seconds and then STOPS ABRUPTLY. A moment passes.

Enter THE SQUIRRELLY, left

SQURRELLY: Hiya!

THE QUEEN: You little --

MATTHEW: God damn it!

MATTHEW pauses the DVD for the FORTY-HUNDREDTH TIME. He stands, grabs THE SQUIRRELLY, tucks the grinning toddler under has arm, and walks out of the frame.

MATTHEW: Come on, you.

Cut to:

INT - SQUIRRELY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

MATTHEW enters, carrying The SQUIRRELLY. He puts him in his BED for the FORTY-HUNDREDTH TIME.

MATTHEW: Now, look: it's time to go to bed. Do you understand? I want you to stay in your bed. From now on. Do you understand?

THE SQUIRRELLY giggles MALEVOLENTLY

MATTHEW: No, I'm totally for-serious this time. Stay in your bed. It's time for sleeping. Stay in your bed. Good night. Stay in your bed.


MATTHEW leaves the room, closing the DOOR behind him. The scene goes BLACK. Cut to:

INT - LIVING ROOM - EVENING

Enter MATTHEW, left. He walks to the SOFA.

MATTHEW: He looked pretty tired. I think he's going to stay in his room this time.

THE QUEEN: [Ominously] He'd better ...

MATTHEW picks up the REMOTE CONTROL from the TABLE and sits on the SOFA next to THE QUEEN. He presses PLAY.

Enter THE SQUIRRELLY, left

SQURRELLY: Hiya!

MATTHEW: NNNRRRRGH!

THE SQUIRRELLY ambles up to his parents, smiling. THE QUEEN stands.

THE QUEEN: That's it.

THE QUEEN takes THE SQUIRRELLY by the hand and leads him BRISKLY out of the frame. She is gone for a few minutes. When she reenters she is carrying a can of COOKING SPRAY.

THE QUEEN: He won't bother us again.

MATTHEW: Why was the Pam in his bedroom?

THE QUEEN: It wasn't. I brought it with me, and sprayed it on his inside doorknob.

THE QUEEN places the COOKING SPRAY back on a shelf, while MATTHEW looks on with PRIDE and ADORATION. She joins him on the SOFA and the two watch the conclusion of BATTLESTAR GALACTIC uninterrupted.

SCENE

January 17, 2006

Xyzzy

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
Revision 88 / Serial number 54892

Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> LOOK MIRROR
Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

> PET SEAL
It's not that kind of seal.

> EXAMINE CHAIRS
They are several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton's shoes.

> FILL SHOES
You are unable to fill Clinton's shoes.

> EXAMINE DESK
It is a large, oak desk, with several drawers.

In one drawer you find a bag of pretzels.

> EAT PRETZEL.
I don't think the pretzel would agree with you.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> GO RIGHT
Far-Right
You are on the far right of the political spectrum.
Jesse Helms is here.
John Ashcroft is here.

> GO RIGHT
Radical Right
You are on the extreme right of the political spectrum.
Dick Cheney is here.
Pat Robertson is here.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> TAKE VACATION
Taken.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> SCORE
Your favorablity rating is 58% out of a possible 100%.

> GO PHOTOOP
Photo Op
You are at a the Emma T. Booker Elementary School, along with a gaggle of obsequious members of the mainstream media.
There is a book here.
There are some children here.

> READ BOOK
You read "My Pet Goat."

In the distance, terrorists attack the United States.

> READ BOOK
You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

> READ BOOK
You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

> READ BOOK
You continue to read "My Pet Goat."

> GO HOME
You fly around aimlessly for a while, then return to the White House.

Oval Office

> GIVE SPEECH
Who do you want to give the speech to?

> AMERICAN PEOPLE
You give the speech to the American people.

> DIAGNOSIS
Your favorablity rating is 84% out of a possible 100%.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> INVADE AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan
You have invaded the nation of Afghanistan, bombing the Taliban nearly out of existence.

Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is here.

> INVADE IRAQ
(Leaving Afghanistan first.)
You are not able to do that, yet.

> INVADE IRAQ
You are not able to do that, yet.

> FUCK
Such language in a high-class establishment like this!

> HYPE THREAT
"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

> MONGER FEAR
"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud ..."

> MUDDY WATER
"We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America ..."

> PUNISH CRITICS
"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction ... "

> RAILROAD CONGRESS
You schedule a vote on the Iraq invasion for just before the 2002 midterm elections. As usual, spineless democrats roll over like an SUV taking a sharp corner.

Your plan to invade Iraq now has the backing of the American people and Congress.

> INVADE IRAQ
Baghdad
You enter the Iraqi capital of Bagdad, having toppled the government and captured the nation's key cities in only 21 days. You can't seem to find the promised throngs of citizens greeting you as liberators, but the footage of the Saddam statue being pulled down looks great on Fox!

> GIVE CONTRACTS
Who do you want to give the contracts to?

> HALLIBURTON
What kind of contracts do you wish to give to Halliburton?

> NO-BID
You give the no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

> WEAR FLIGHTSUIT
You put on the flightsuit.

> SAY "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED"
"Mission accomplished."

> EXAMINE MISSION
The mission is not accomplished.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq remains unchanged.

Some insurgents arrive.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a small number of insurgents here.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a moderate number of insurgents here.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

An election year arrives.

> GO LEFT
Far-Right
Pat Buchanan is here.
Sean Hannity is here.

> GO LEFT
Compassionate Conservativism
You are right-of-center on the political spectrum.
John McCain is here.
Joseph Leiberman is here.

> GET REELECTED
You get reelected.

> GO RIGHT
Far-Right
Tom DeLay is here.
Michelle Malkin is here.

> GO RIGHT
Radical Right
Rick Santorum is here.
Ann Coulter is here.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a large number of insurgents here.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is a huge number of insurgents here.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

> STAY COURSE
The situation in Iraq deteriorates.

Some insurgents arrive.
There is an overwhelming number of insurgents here.

> SCORE
Your favorablity rating is 47% out of a possible 100%.

> ADMIT MISTAKES
You are unable to admit mistakes.

> ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
You are unable to accept responsibility.

> DECLARE VICTORY
I do not know what you mean by "victory."

> QUIT
Oh, how we wish you would.

December 15, 2005

I'm A-Start Some Drama

I walked into the kitchen this morning to find The Queen groggily gathering coffee-making accoutrements.

"Wha'cha gonna do wit all dat junk?" I asked her. "All dat junk inside yo trunk?"

She scowled at me as a reminder of the household's "no conversation before caffeine" rule, but then asked, "What are you saying?"

"No no, that was all wrong" I said, disappointed. "You are supposed to reply ..." -- I switched to falsetto -- "... I’m a-gi gi gi git you drunk, git you love drunk off my hump."

She looked confused. "I'm going to get you drunk?"

"Right," I confirmed. "Love drunk. You know, off your hump."

The Queen stared at me blearily.

"And then," I continued, "you emphasize this final point by saying: My hump, my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump. My --"

The Queen interrupted. "Is this that song you've been talking about on your blog?"

"Hang on," I said. "We've coming up on the best part."

"Okay," she said, resigned.

"Are you ready?"

"I'm ready."

I cleared my throat, took a deep breath, and began again. "My hump, my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump. My hump, my hump, my hump. My lovely lady lumps."

There was a long, stunned silence.

"Check it out," I added.

"That's awful," said The Queen in horror.

"Now you understand," I said, nodding somberly. "And it's knowledge that can never be unlearned."

"Why?" asked the Queen. "Why did you do that?"

I shrugged. "That song is like The Ring," I explained. "You have to pass it on, or you die."

November 08, 2005

Incredible Illusion!!
 
[ link | Humor]


October 21, 2005

The Doings Of Fops

I have a piece in The Morning News today called Lone Star Statements. I only wrote about 30 words of it, but nonetheless got full credit as author. That's my kind of writing project.

July 25, 2005

The Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations

I think it's ridiculous that "attempted murder" carries a lesser penalty than "murder." We should be encouraging people to excel in their professions, not rewarding them for failure.

April 05, 2005

Google Maps Satellite

Google has integrated satellite photos into their map service. Click the link in upper right-hand corner.

And I'm the only one who finds this a little unnerving?

[ link | Humor]


March 17, 2005

You Got To Cool It Down

The 30 least hot follow-ups to the 30 hottest things you can say to a naked woman

  1. "Good morning Cheryl. I mean, um, Sharon."
  2. "Is it okay with you if I take this slow? I haven't done this in, like, fifteen years."
  3. "I can't stop touching you. Stupid OCD."
  4. "Want to join me in the shower? Grouting's more fun with two!"
  5. "I want to kiss/lick/touch every inch of you. Uh, I mean centimeter of you. I keep forgetting you are Canadian -- thank god."
  6. "I love how you taste your soup before adding salt to it. You know, that's the way Thomas Edison used to interview candidates. True fact. He'd take them out for lunch and if they seasoned their soup before trying it he wouldn't hire them, because that showed that they were impulsive and didn't -- holy shit, are you okay?! Jesus, you spilled it all over yourself! That's gotta hurt. What the fuck were you doing eating soup while naked in the first place?"
  7. "Do you feel this, too?" ("This" being an incredible emotional euphoria -- but, seriously dude: if you gotta explain it, the answer is "no.")
  8. "Hungry? Stay right here. I'll go make you a burrito." (Note: This statement cannot be made any less hot.)
  9. Her name -- her full name -- followed by a "Wow"? Followed by "Well? Are you listening? Do you want to play World of Warcraft or not?"
  10. "I'll get the light sabers, you get the tickets to Revenge Of The Sith."
  11. "I'll cancel my plans if you'll stay here with me for the rest of the weekend. Yes, right here in the strip club."
  12. "No one's ever done that before and lived."
  13. "Can we do that again? I forgot to hit record on my camera."
  14. "I love your [fill in body part here]." No, not the bile duct, you idiot -- an external body part.
  15. Nothing. Total, deliberate silence. You can stare at her, grab her, touch her, but don't make a sound. If she tries to talk, place a finger on her lips. Then continue shutting down all effective means of communication between the two of you for the next thirty years of your marriage.
  16. While looking out the window at people not currently in bed with her: "Suckers." While looking at the people currently in bed with her: "lucky bastards."
  17. While looking at moonlight reflecting on the ceiling: "What do you see? I see Gene Hackman."
  18. I'll go make coffee. How much low-fat Irish Cream flavored sweetener do you like in your Sanka?"
  19. "Waking up with you is even better than sleeping with you, because you steal all the covers while sleeping."
  20. "Let's play hooky today. You won't get in trouble -- I am your principal, after all"
  21. Any use of the word "hot." Especially: "You're so hot" or "Ever since we ate that dim sum I haven't felt so hot."
  22. "Squeeze my hand when it feels really amazing. Seriously, just give it squeeze. Just gooooo ahead and squeeze it, any time now. As soon as it feels amazing. Or, you know, feels adequate -- whatever."
  23. Words that end in "uck." Yes, even "duck," when appropriate. Or "Schmuck."
  24. "There's nothing else I'd rather be doing right now than getting dressed and hitting the road, but I guess I'm obligated to lie here next to you for another 20 minutes."
  25. "I'm ready to go again. Too much fiber, I guess."
  26. "Damn, I've missed you. Hang on while I reload."
  27. "How about a massage? Let's start with my feet."
  28. Playful laughter that escalates into maniacal laughter that transitions into coughing that degenerates into sobbing.
  29. "Don't ever leave me the check."
  30. "You sleep; I'll go check on the baby." A moment later: "Yep, we still have a baby. Goddamnit!"

November 09, 2004

Great Shot, Kid ... That Was One In A Million

While running today, a tiny bug flew directly into my eye. When I opened my mouth to curse, three or four more went straight down my throat.

I don't want to sound conspiratorial but the whole thing felt like a set-up, like a miniature Rebel Alliance staging a coordinated assault on the Death Star of my head.

October 21, 2004

Jokes

I can go months without hearing a good joke, but yesterday, while trawling the Internets, I came across three that made me chuckle and/or openly weep.

Q: How many Spaniards does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: Juan.

* * * * *

Person 1: Knock knock.

Person 2: Who's there?

Person 1: Control freak.

Person 1: Now you say "control freak who?"

* * * * *

Q: What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?

A: George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.

Note: Hundreds of more jokes in the comments.

September 21, 2004

Points To Ponder

Language is a funny thing. Take the words "crone" and "cone," for example. It’s only the absence of an "r" that prevents us from eating ice cream off withered old women.

September 10, 2004

Two Stories About Going To Work

1. This morning on the bus there was a man who looked exactly like Saddam Hussein. And not the groomed-and-besuited just-a-regular-guy Saddam we've seen in recent courtroom footage, either -- I'm talkin' the bearded-and-bedraggled just-pulled-out-of-a-spider-hole Saddam.

Rides my bus
He was sitting about two-thirds of the way back. As people filed into the coach and wandered towards the rear they would see him, and then start looking around wildly for an available seat; when they spotted one they would dart to it like someone just lifted the needle from the record in a game of musical chairs. No one wanted to get stuck sitting next to Saddam.

Eventually every seat was filled except the one next to Saddam. As more people boarded the bus we craned their necks to see who was going to draw the short straw, and were horrified to see that it was the kind of charming elderly lady that puts you in the mind of gingersnaps. A couple of the men shifted in their seats as if they were going to offer her their spot and take the bullet. But in the end nobody did.

No matter. Without falter she marched down the aisle, smiled at Saddam, and settled into the seat next to him. In response, Saddam did that bus-riding courtesy thing where you kind of hop in your seat to indicate that you are scrunching over in an effort to make more room for your neighbor.

I think we were all a little ashamed of our prejudice, and started thinking that maybe Saddam Hussein was an okay guy. But we were still glad we weren't sitting next to him.


2. Later, walking in downtown Seattle from the bus stop to my office, I saw a man drop a folder full of papers. The sheets were caught by the wind and scattered in every direction, but everyone around him immediately stopped walking and lunged for whichever document was closest. Within seconds the passersby had collected all the papers and returned them to the man.

Seeing this, I was filled with boundless optimism about the essential goodness of the human soul.

But then I got to work and started surfing the Internet, and quickly returned to normal.

August 11, 2004

There Can Be Only One

Apparently they are making an Alien vs. Predator movie, perhaps because of the success of last year's Jason vs. Freddy. That's cool, I guess, but there are so many other matchups I'd rather see.

In fact, I think they should just go whole hog, pair up all the movie villians March Madness style, and settle the issue once and for all.

Click for larger, office-pool sized sheet.

Go Anne Wilkes -- I got five bucks on ya!

Update: Good gravy, how did I forget the Deliverance hillbillies?! Added them at arto's suggestion.

Also: Jason went ahead and filled out the sheet; Mr. Grooism wrote something similar to this in January.

July 27, 2004

Rabid 'Bout Reading

Waiting for a bus in downtown Seattle, I see a disheveled and possibly deranged man with an enormous duffle bag sidling down the sidewalk, stopping to bellow "Are you going to the library?!" at each and every person in turn. Most ignore him until he moves on, but some -- out of compulsive politeness, or because they have somehow mistaken this raving for a sincere query -- begin to reply "No, I'm waiting for my --" at which point the man cuts them short with an impassioned and spittle-intensive "GO TO THE LIBRARY!!!"

I dunno. Call me cynical, but I just don't think Seattle's literacy program is all that effective.

June 28, 2004

On The Ball

The weekend started with a literal bang here in the Baldwin household, as the nation of Taiwan attempted to kill me and my child. It was a little after ten on Friday evening, and I was trying to get The Squirrelly to sleep by holding him while bouncing up and down on an exercise ball in a darkened room. Then, just as he closed his eyes and started to breath deeply, the ball beneath us decided to embark on a new career as a big piece of ruptured plastic. One moment we're merrily boinging up and down, the next we're laying there with dazed looks on our faces, I sprawled cockeyed against the wall, The Squirrelly several feet away on his back, looking like two guys waking up on the morning after a particularly enjoyable bachelor party.

While I lay there wondering what the hell had happened, The Squirrelly leapt into action, quickly inhaling all of the oxygen in the room and expelling it in the form of a banshee-deafening wail. This was, of course, followed mamaseconds later by The Queen charging into the room (though she had doubtlessly already been mobilized by the sound of a small explosion emanating from our room). She saw The Squirrelly on the ground, bellowed "DID YOU DROP THE BABY?!!," and then stabbed me in the heart with a screwdriver. Or, at least, she would have, if she had been in possession of a screwdriver, and if I hadn't hastily gestured towards the limp and damp remains of the ball to justify my apparent decision to lounge nonchalantly in the corner of the room while the kid lay on the floor screaming.

The casualties of the calamity were as follows: one red mark on The Squirrelly's noggin, one aching tailbone on papa's hindquarters, and a lot of anxiety for The Queen, who spent the remainder of the evening looking up "brain injuries" in The Baby Book (while I repeatedly pointed out that (a) the baby had not been "dropped on its head," as some spouses in the household were alleging -- he had merely tumbled out of my arms after I hit the floor -- and (b) I don't see anyone looking up "Ass, broken" in The Husband Book, so what say we spread the sympathy around a little bit, hey?).

Later, reading the fine print on the body ball box, we discovered the true culprit: the Taiwanese, who apparently sanction the manufacture of shoddy goods within their borders. Or maybe they encourage it, and intend to seize control of our nation after wiping out an entire generation of American babies (and daddies!) through the export of defective "Gaiam Balance Balls." America, remain vigilant!

Actually, there is another possibility. In the childcare classes we took prior to the birth, the teacher spoke about the absolutely necessity of a "body ball" to sooth cranky infants. When someone asked if the balls ever pop, the midwife said, oh no, that could never happen, because a typical ball has a burst weight of 800 pounds, at which point I loudly guffawed (because, c'mon: "burst weight" is funny) and the teacher looked a little irked. So I may have been on the receiving end of some midwifey fertility goddess hex. Wouldn't be the first time.

Anyway, you'll be glad to know that there was no long-term damage to either the top end of baby or the bottom end of daddy. And the very next day I bought a ball with burst weight of 1000 lbs., taking pains to select a model that had been made in China. TAKE THAT TAIWAN!!!

Appropo of nothing, here's Louie Cat traipsing through a Squirrelly photoshoot:

May 12, 2004

America's Next Couch Potato

I'm going to make a million dollars selling mirrors to idiots and telling them they are ultra-thin flatscreen TVs that only receive reality shows about lazy people.

April 13, 2004

Practice What You Perk

My barista is jittery and high-strung. I find this comforting, like a barber with well-coifed hair.

January 26, 2004

Footnote

I wept because I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.

And Christ, all that guy could talk about was having no feet. He'd be, like, "Return of the King? No, I haven't seen that movie ... because I have no feet!" Or "thanks for the pie but I didn't really enjoy it, what with the having no feet and all."

So I reminded him that there were men with no legs. That shut him up.

Plus, then I found my shoes under the bed, so everything worked out great.

January 23, 2004

IKEA Strategy Guide

Today I am The Morning News Non-Expert.

December 30, 2003

I'll Be Prone For Christmas

The heartwarming yuletide tale of how I wound up in the Emergency Room on Christmas morning is available here.

November 24, 2003

Die, Türblitzen

You know who drives me nuts? Door rushers. You know who I mean -- everybody's seen these guys in action. I bet the Germans even have a word for them, Die Türblitzen or something. Türblitzen are the folks who stand right in front of the elevator doors while waiting for a car to arrive. And the moment the doors open they rush forward like they've been shot out a cannon.

Türblitzen always seem completely flabbergast to discover that an elevator already contains people who inexplicably want to get out -- they always sort of cry "oh!" and pull up short. But do they then get out of the way? No, they do not. Instead they just stand there dumbly, occluding half of the doorway like cholesterol in an artery, forcing disembarking passengers to squeeze around them.

Holy smokes, I hate these people.

Fortunately, I totally figured out how to solve this problem. All buildings should have a hardwired algorithm that makes elevators doors on the third floor or higher occasionally open when the car isn't there. By my reckoning, the scourge of Türblitzen would take care of itself in about a month.

Somebody please get on this.

October 06, 2003

Put A Snake In Office

With the local elections a few days away, my neighborhood is covered in election signs.

Saturday, the 11-year old girl who lives across the street decided to join in the fun. She and a friend created "Re-Elect Harry Potter" and "Elect Hermione Granger" signs, which they placed next to the road on our street.

Of course, as soon as I saw the signs I knew what I had to do. Last night, I stuck over there and added my own sign.

Update: We had a downpour Monday night, which, curiously, destroyed my sign while leaving the Harry and Hermione signs unharmed. Curse that meddling Dumbledore! Potter:1, Malfoy:0.

I was bummed my sign didn't make it to the election, so I decided to make another. The Draco placard had been up for two days and everyone driving down the street had seen it, so I figured that joke was over. Thus:

September 18, 2003

Blog Entry ... With Animals!

I went and visited my Grammy last night. We chit-chatted for a while and then got down to the serious business of watching TV. Grammy has, like, 700 cable stations, of which she watches four: PAX (the default), the FOX Sports Network (when the Mariners are playing), whatever station shows those reruns of Golden Girls, and Animal Planet. Tonight it was Animal Planet.

Lacking cable myself, I'd never seen Animal Planet before. What a weird network. We watched this show called Animal COPS, where they ride around with some Humane Society guys and pretend like they are as exciting and dangerous as the police officers profiled on COPS. In fact, everything on Animal COPS mimics the original COPS format: they show the time and location at the start of a segment, the officers give little philosophical monologues while driving around, and the whole thing is set to an unrelenting gloomy-action-adventure-techo backbeat specially designed to keep you on the edge of your seat while the Humane Society Guy herds a possum into a box.

Most hilariously, the show has a narrator who always speaks in this ominous and deadly-serious tone of voice, doing his level best to make the essentially boring routine of these guys seem fraught with peril.

First Humane Society Guy: Well, here we are.

[Humane Society Guys get out of car.]

Narrator: Getting out of the vehicle is a crucial step in any Animal COPS crime scene investigation.

[Humane Society Guys nonchalantly approach front door and knock.]

Narrator: The Animal COPS cautiously edge towards the front door, bracing themselves for a confrontation.

[Man answers door.]

Man: Yeah?

Narrator: Suddenly, the Animal COPS find themselves face-to-face with the perpetrator.

First Humane Society Guy: We're here about the pigs.

Man: Oh right. They're around the side of the house, follow me.

Narrator: The officers received a tip that the perpetrator is keeping pigs as pets, an act that's not only illegal in this county, but also against the law.

Then, as they arrive at the crime scene, the case takes an unexpected turn.

Man: Here they are.

Second Humane Society Guy: Oh, so they're pot-bellied pigs, then.

Man: Uh-huh, pot-bellied pigs.

Narrator: Reeling from this unforeseen twist, the Animal COPS struggle to regain control of the situation.

First Humane Society Guy: Well, like we said on the phone, we gotta take 'em.

Man: Whatever.

The show after Animal COPS was called The Planet's Funniest Animals, which was exactly like America's Funniest Home Videos except ... with animals! And I saw an ad for a show that was like Survivor ... with animals! In fact, that seemed to be the theme of every program: Well-known Show ... With Animals! Lord knows what else they have in this vein.
  • Sex And The Kitty
  • Law & Order & A Three-Spined Stickleback
  • The Gilmore Squirrels
  • Everybody Loves Raymond's Ferret
  • Mad About Ewe
  • JAG (uar)
  • Murder She Wrote, "She" Being A Cockatoo
Update: From the comments: "Buffy The Canine Spayer" (BillB), "Who Wants To Be A Millipede" (Greg), and "Welcome Back Otter" (Geena). But Tom pretty much wins with "Queer Eye For A Pig Sty."

September 03, 2003

VIRUS ALERT!

To: all@paragonindustries.com
From: Matthew Baldwin <matthew@paragonindustries.com>
Subject: VIRUS ALERT!

Hey everybody. I guess I got a virus, because last night my computer emailed this companywide mailing list without my knowledge. So if you find an message in your Inbox this morning with the Subjectline "YOU ALL CAN GO TO HELL!!!!!!!" you should DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY! Do not open or read the email, as that will immediately give your computer the virus.

If you've already read it, you may have noticed that it contained a whole bunch of complete gibberish, like calling Carmen a "screechy kiss-ass" and Peter a "moronic alcoholic gibbon". Apparently the virus picked random names from my address book and included them in the text or something, I certainly wouldn't know. That's why this virus is so dangerous, and why you should delete that message (and this one) as soon as you can.

I got some new anti-virus software that scans my attachments for the phrases that appeared most often in that email ("I quit," "very drunk," "you bastards," etc.) so the problem should be taken care of. And I heard on NPR this morning that the worst of the virus is over, so you probably won't get it from anyone else, and there's no reason to think that only getting it from me was strange. Anyhow, sorry to put you all through that -- as you well know, I really, really love working here and think you guys are the greatest!

Matthew

P.s. Does anyone have any aspirin?

August 01, 2003

What Up, Boss

While at work I frequent a website where users post interesting pictures and audio clips they have found. Today a guy who works at an ad agency posted an mp3 along with this comment: "I found this audio at the start of one of the our spare tapes. No explanation, no reason it should be there. Seems to be a kid's tv program host teaching kids slang. It's overmodulated and pretty strange." I was rockin' out to Kosheen at the moment, but was sufficiently intrigued to stop my CD and click the link. A little box popped up to tell me that the mp3 was downloading and would autolaunch in winamp after a minute or so.

A few moments later by boss strolled into my office. I swiveled around in my chair to face him, turning my back to my computer. "Hey Matthew," he said sitting down,"How are you doing for time? Would you be interested in working on a new project?"

A loud voice from behind me suddenly bellowed "Awwwwwwwwww yeah! Fo shizzle!"

July 27, 2003

Bus Pass

Chatting with a female friend.

Me: I dunno what it is, but I've seen a lot of attempted pick-ups on the bus recently.

L: Yeah?

Me: It's like open season or something. Has anyone ever tried to pick you up on the bus?

L: Sure. It happens from time to time.

Me: Really? What do they say?

L: Oh, you know. They don't use "lines" or anything, they just say something to start a conversation and go from there. Like, I had my headphones on at the bus stop a few weeks ago, and this guy came up and said "So, what are you listening to?" And I said the news, because I was listening to NPR. And he said "Oh, that's too bad. You should be listening to ..." and then he went on to list his favorite bands and ask me what my favorite bands were and stuff.

Me: And that works?

L: It probably works on some girls. But not on me, because I'm not in the market and I know what they're up to. I mean, when someone comes out of nowhere and starts talking to me like that, I know they are either trying to pick me up or sell me God.

Me: [Laughs] Actually, that's my backup plan when I try and pick-up girls. If it's not going well I start pretending like I was only interested in converting them.

L: Crafty.

Me: I say "You're listening to the news? Well, have you heard the Good News?"

L: Then, you know, they're not rejecting you, they're rejecting God.

Me: Which gives me the added comfort of knowing they are going to Hell.

L: It's win-win.

June 20, 2003

It's My Job ... To Freeze You!

The Queen had an engagement yesterday evening, leaving me with the house all to myself. So I did what any wild-at-heart, red-blooded male would do, given a night of unexpected bachelorhood:

  1. Had Grape-Nuts and beer for dinner;
  2. Watched Logan's Run on DVD.
Matthew Baldwin: married but not domesticated.

I was surprised by how good it was. The beer, I mean. Logan's Run was a calamity. I picked it up after a few people expressed mystification that I had never seen it. When I mentioned this to The Queen, for example, she reacted as if I had told her I was missing a lung. Everyone emphatically urged me to correct this historic oversight. "It's just so, so, so very, very, very bad," they would say. "You must rent it immediately."

And I did. And I watched it. And I learned some astounding facts about the future.

  • We will live in a domed city, which, judging from the opening shot of this film, will be seven inches high and surrounded by Hi-Ho Train Model trees.
  • Criminals will try to escape the law by going to the most public place in town and hiding behind a potted plant.
  • We will be so technologically advanced that, every seven minutes or so, loud "Bee Boo Boo Beep!" noises will echo throughout city.
  • Even the most mundane conversation will be filled with exposition:
    A: I wish I knew who my seed-mother was.

    B: What's wrong with the Incu-droids? And, besides, you know that even thinking thoughts like that is will get you in trouble with the Conformity Council.

    A: I know. But I'm 29 years old, and since all citizens of Galatropolis are killed at the age of 30, what do I have to lose?

  • Apparently the whole "Death with Dignity" movement will have collapsed by 2274, since shuffling off the mortal coil in Logan's Run entails the wearing of Stupidest Costume Ever, flying into the air, and exploding.
Even the credits of this movie are bad. I mean, if you made a motion picture predicated on the idea that all people die at 30, would you put "And starring Peter Ustinov as Old Man" in the opening? Um, spoiler, dude.

And don't even get me started about The Robot Scene. Oh brother, The Robot Scene. Where did that come from? Still, I can't say that I wasn't warned. Last month some friends and I were discussing 80's Ending, and I said "my favorite part was how they stuck that robot scene in there for no reason." And then my buddy said, "You mean like The Robot Scene in Logan's Run?" After I confessed that I had never seen Run, he said "It's this bizarre scene where ... well, they must have really wanted to get a robot in there somewhere, right? So they filmed this robot sequence that doesn't have anything to do with anything? And then just spiced it on in there." I said that I though that was a pretty good idea for any movie, frankly, and that I wanted to start a business that took mainstream movies and turned them into movies about robots. Like, you know how porn movie guys take popular films and remake them into adult pictures like Terms of Inrearment and For Your Thighs Only and E-3: The Extra-Testicle, where they use the plot outline from the original movie to string together a bunch of sex scenes? Those are the kind of movies I would make, except that instead of sex scenes it would have robot scenes, and the movies would have titles like My Big Fat Greek Robot or 2 Fast 2 Robots or West Cyborg Story or Saving Private Ryan's Robot or whatever.

ANYway! I did like the ending of Logan's Run, simply because it was exactly the same as every 70's-era science-fiction movie ending: somebody blows up the computer by making illogical statements. You can't beat the classics. It's a shame they don't use that any more. Wouldn't it be awesome if that's how the Wachowski brothers ended Matrix Revolutions?

The Source: Your journey ends here, Neo. I am The Source, the self-aware synthetic intelligence that controls the Matrix and all of mankind.

Keanu: Up is down! Black is white! Cats are squirrels! I can act!

The Source: D0ES N0T C0MPUTE <crashes>

I'd pay nine bucks to see that.

June 03, 2003

Technology: Putting Powerful Tools In The Hands Of The Stupid™

Today I saw a man on a Segway weaving all over the sidewalk at 7 miles per hour while talking on his cell phone.

The next stage of idiot evolution is upon us.

May 28, 2003

Darth Vader Made Me Cry

Note: An expanded version of this story is now available here.

Click here to see the handiwork
of The Dark Lord of Sith
When I was seven years old I received the best Christmas present ever: a copy of The Star Wars Storybook. On the inside front cover my parents had written "To Matthew - Merry Christmas in 1978. From Mother and Daddy with lots of love."

I was fairly certain that this was a gift beyond improvement. But a few months later I saw in the paper that Darth Vader -- the Darth Vader! -- would be coming to a nearby department store. I begged my mom to take me. She agreed, and we visited the mall on a Saturday afternoon so I could get Vader's John Hancock.

Upon our arrival we found ourselves at the end of a long line of parents and youngsters eagerly waiting their opportunity to meet Darth Vader. Kids would be allowed to approach Vader singly or in small groups; they would approach and exchange a few words, or ask for autographs, or simply stand there awe-struck. It was like visiting Santa Claus, except the guest of honor was more renowned for breaking necks than for dispensing candy canes. And, to the best of my knowledge, no one sits on Darth Vader's lap.

As I got closer to the front of the line, I could feel my excitement reach fever pitch. Finally it was my turn. The attendant waved me through, and I rushed forward to meet my anti-hero. But once I actually entered Darth Vader's Personal Space, I was abruptly cowed. He was huge! And he had exactly the sort of dominating presence you'd expect of an Imperial Dark Lord. I was struck dumb, and stood there like a field mouse that had just spotted an owl.

At some point I managed to squeak out my request -- or maybe I just held the book and black marker out, I honestly don't recall. In any case, Darth Vader took the Storybook, quickly wrote something inside, and handed it back. I stammered out a thank you as we were ushered off to the side.

As we walked away I was filled with combination of terror, relief, and exhilaration. After snapping out of my daze I urged my mother to stop walking so I could see the autograph, and opened the storybook to find the words "Darth Vader" scrawled on the inside cover. I immediately began to proactively gloat, thinking about how jealous my friends would be when I showed them Darth Vader's autograph. But then, just before I closed the cover, I noticed something else. While signing my book, he had also taken the opportunity to scratch out the word "love" in the inscription "From Mother and Daddy with lots of love."

Stunned that the Lord of Sith could be so mean I immediately burst into tears, and continued to bawl as my mother led me to the escalator. The kids still in line watched me with curiosity, and then glanced at Darth Vader with fear in their eyes.

May 01, 2003

X2: X-Men United

I caught the midnight sneak preview of "X2: X-Men United" last night at Seattle's Cinerama theater. Overall I thought it was pretty good. I like the director (Bryan Singer), the special effects have vastly improved since the first film, and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) was fantastic. I don't want to talk too much about the plot, but the story was believable (in a comic-book-universe kind of way), and although I saw the ending coming a mile away it still made for a satisfying finale.

My only real beef with the film was the egregious product placements. I know there were a few in the first X-Men movie and that product placements are becoming more common and acceptable in major motion picture, but I thought X2 really went overboard. I didn't mind the smaller stuff -- the fight scene in the Wal*Mart, Storm using Visa to buy training equipment, Cyclops wearing Addias, etc. -- but the addition of Dr. Pepper (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to the X-Man team was just too much.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the fact that X2 introduced new heroes such as Nightcrawler and Shadowcat. But those two were taken from the original comic books, and were well integrated into the story. Dr. Pepper, on the other hand, is a brand new character, and (according to Entertainment Weekly) was added to the X2 screenplay after filming had already started. The worst thing was how they restructured the whole plot around him, with lots of flashback sequences that showed his previous life as mild-mannered Jonathan Pibb M.D. and the "freak carbonation accident" that gave him his powers.

And what's up with his powers, anyhow? Does Dr. Pepper's mutant ability to "quench" really add anything to the X-Men team? I mean, I guess it came in handy in X2, since Magneto's master plan was to team up with Drought (another new character) to attack New York with a "Thirst Ray," but I still thought the whole character was pretty gratuitous. Plus, Hoffman looked ridiculous in that dark-purple leather costume.

So, in summary: I liked X2 overall, but found Dr. Pepper hard to swallow (ha!). In fact, the only thing cool about Dr. Pepper was his catchphrase: he would twist the heads off enemies and shout "You're not a winner! Please try again!" That was pretty badass.

April 29, 2003

Brush With Disaster

This morning I was running a little late, so I tried to hurry my routine a bit. Rushing into the bathroom, I grabbed my toothbrush with my right hand and began squeezing toothpaste onto it with my other. But apparently, in my hastened and groggy state, I was unknowingly pushing down on the bristle-end of the brush with the tip of the toothpaste tube, and compensating by applying a little more "lift" to the handle end. This I discovered when the toothpaste tube slipped off the brush, the bristle-end flipped upwards, and the toothpaste catapulted directly into MY EYE! IT BURNS OH GOD HOW IT BURRRRRNS! THE BAKING SODA AND PEROXIDE ARE WHITENING AND BRIGHTING MY CORONA, DEEP CLEANING EVEN THE HARD-TO-REACH SPACES BETWEEN MY EYEBALL AND SOCKET!

I did the classic, cinematic, mook-with-a-gun-getting-shot maneuver: cried out ("Aaa!"), staggered backwards, clutched my wound and slumped into the wall, all while the dropped toothbrush dramatically clattered to the bathroom floor. It would have been just like a scene from a Mike Hammer novel if Mike Hammer had been in the business of removing tarter.

Pick your moral:

  1. It is very important that all activities you perform before the consumption of coffee be done in exactly the same manner, order, and speed that they are done every morning, or ruination shall surely befall you.
  2. There really ought to be a warning on toothpaste that reads "DO NOT FLIP INTO EYE!"
  3. Fuckin' Tuesdays.

March 04, 2003

Dearth of Mirth

Saw a headline today: "Botox Injections Popular For Erasing Laugh Lines".

Yes sir, there's nothing sexier than a woman who looks as if she hasn't smiled a day in her life.

January 08, 2003

Joke I Made Up On The Bus This Morning

A sentence was at a job interview, and the interviewer said "we're starting a new paragraph and we have an opening for an unambiguous, declarative sentence. Do you fit that criteria?"

"Well," replied the sentence, "I'm pretty sure that I am probably the sort of sentence you may be looking for."

And the interviewer said "Sorry, but I'm afraid you are over-qualified."

January 06, 2003

My New Year's Resolutions, As Dictated By Spam Subject Lines

To Do in 2003:

Embrace energy markets
Reverse the aging process
Get a huge penis
Order perscription drugs online
Investigate enemies
Lose ten pounds in seven days
Make a fortune on Ebay
See Britney Spears naked
Know the HGH difference
Attract the opposite sex
Get a MBA
Register to win
Get paid to eat snacks
Chat with sexy girls
Earn $50,000
Send bulk email
Do it all night and stay hard
Never work again
Jeeze. I have a busy year ahead of me.

[ link | Spam]


January 02, 2003

What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You?
What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You
Personality Test
Find out, by answering these ten questions.
The most important personality trait is :
In new situations, I :
I enjoy books and movies that are :
Do you wanna make out? :
If I could be any animal, I'd be :
My favorite digit of pi is :
Peanut butter :
And the bartender says :
No way :
When confonted with a difficult decision, I usually choose :
December 12, 2002

Poll: 7/5 of Americans Don't Bother To Do The Math

A new poll shows that seven out of every five of Americans don't bother to do the math. "When asked, 53% percent said that, when reading or hearing anything that involves two or more numbers, they don't even try to do the math," said lead pollster Bradley Noel. "Another 49% said they will often think about doing the math but ultimately decide against it. Only 19% said they will actually add things up to see if the report makes sense." The results were greeted with elation from the 47 Republicans and 38 Democrats in the 100-member Senate. "This is great news," said Senate Majority Leader Pam Crader(D). "When discussing budgets or taxes, we can pretty much make stuff up: millions, trillions, deficits, surpluses -- it's all the same to them." Advertisers were equally enthusiastic. "This will allow us to offer consumers 1500 free hours of service during their first month of membership," said AOL marketer Ted Rawlins. Only the Department of Education has expressed misgivings about the findings. "Mathematical apathy is one of the top three educational problems this nation faces," DOE Chairman David Kahn warned. "The other one is illiteracy."

[ link | News]


November 20, 2002

Legonomics

Gold is dumb. What can you do with it? Gild stuff -- lilies and Capitol buildings and whatever -- or cram it into your cavities, that's about it. So I'm glad the U.S. dropped the gold standard back in, um, back in whenever they dropped the gold standard. But I can't seem to get fired up about the dollar either. Dollars are all the same boring color, they get wadded up and torn, and, frankly, I think Andrew Jackson was having a serious Bad Hair Day when he snapped his picture for the twenty. Plus the value of the dollar keeps going down. (Apparently it used to go up too, but that was back in the late 90's when people still thought e-potbelliedpigs-online.com was a pretty good idea).

But I was listening to Marketplace the other day, and they said something interesting: no matter what the state of the economy, toy makers generally do pretty well -- after all, kids don't give a rat's ass if Lucent missed their third quarter projections by 7/15 of a cent, all they know is they need a Fashion Polly Sparkle Style House and, by God, they need it NOW!

That's what gave me Great Idea #57709: the US should make the four pronged square Lego the standard unit of US currency. The bigger Legos will be worth more, and the smaller Legos will be like coins, and those huge Lego plates will be, like, $1000 bills. We'll also outlaw those stupid "Mindstorm" Legos because they are new-fangled and I don't understand them.

This plan has so many good points that I can't even begin to list them and yet now I will:

  • When Bush announces that we're abruptly switching from the dollar to the Lego, your new wealth will depend on how many Legos you own at that moment. In other words, your affluence will become proportional to your nerdliness (which will pretty much make it a wash for Bill Gates, I guess).
  • People will have a much greater incentive to save. What can you do with a bunch of saved dollars, except hide them in the Minute Maid Premium Original Low-Pulp Orange Juice container you have in your fridge (not that I do this!!). With saved Legos, you can make castles and life-size blocky replicas of Halle Berry -- hooray!
  • Money would suddenly become color-coded, thereby making the US exactly like Canada.
  • Legos are, like, impossible to counterfeit. Believe me, I've tried.
  • When you tip a pretty waitress you could make a cat or a rose or something cheesy like that. Conversely, when you pay your taxes you could build and send in a pair of $7,860 multi-colored buttocks.
I could go on and on, but I think it's pretty clear that this scheme has no down side. In fact, I think this is my best idea yet, except for the Combination Bagpipes / Breathalyzer, but I'm not going to tell you about that one because it's so great you'd steal it.

November 13, 2002

How Does It Feel When You Got No 401(k)?

Hello Peter. Please sit down. You know Margaret, from Human Resources? No? Well, she's the HR liaison for our group. I've asked her to sit in on this meeting.

Listen, I'll get right to the point. You're been with us for -- what? -- four years now, isn't it? Seven years?! Well, then, really Peter, you should know how we do things around here better than anyone. You of all people should know that this company rules the nation with version.

And an employee of your tenure should be well acquainted with this, our Standard Operating Procedures manual. You have a copy of the SOP in your office, don't you Peter? Okay, well, do you know the Work Practice Regulations concerning the passing of the dutchie? You're nodding, but I'm not sure that you do, Peter. Look here on page 433. The dutchie, you'll note, is to be passed on the left-hand side. Left-hand, Peter.

Now, I've received a number of reports from both employees and customers that you routinely pass the dutchie on the right-hand side, and sometimes will even pass it to the person sitting across from you. That is simply unacceptable. These Standard Operating Procedures are not, you know, are not negotiable, Peter. The dutchie is to be passed on the left-hand side, end of story.

This is your verbal warning; Margaret is here to note it in your record. And you are now on a 30-day performance plan. If your dutchie passing doesn't improve by the end of the month, I'm afraid I'll have no choice but to explore other options, up to and possibly including termination. Obviously I'm not happy about this. This doesn't make me jump and prance, Peter. But I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to the dutchie.

Okay, well, that's all I had to say. I'm sure you'll be passing the dutchie with greater care from here on out. Now, if you could do me a favor, Peter: on your way back to your desk could you ask Carl to step in here? I understand he recently shot the sheriff and the deputy, so I'll need to speak to him about that.

October 18, 2002

My Big Fat Redundant Idea

You know what the problem with the Internet is? It's that every knucklehead with a great idea can go online and blab about it. So, now, whenever I have a great idea, and I search Google to make sure that I am the first person ever to think of it, I always wind up with, like 74,000 hits. Lame. Remember when you were a kid and you would say "blander-la blander-la gnart!" and touch a tree, and then think "I am the first person in the history of the world to ever say 'blander-la blander-la gnart!' and touch this tree' and how that made you feel all special? Not any more! Now you enter "blander-la" into Google and the first thing you'll find is some idiot's blog entry about how he said that exact same thing while touching your tree seven months ago.

I started thinking about this yesterday, when I had this hil-lare-ious idea of taking the movie poster for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Photoshopping it so that it contained pictures of Bill Gates and Keven Smith and whatever, and then renaming it My Big Fat Geek Wedding! Ha! But then I foolishly decided to search Google for the phrase "My Big Fat Geek Wedding" and found out that I am the last person on Earth to think of this. Stupid search engine.

Or here's another. The other day my friend and I were eating Hatian Grand Slams at Denny's, and he, my friend, was all like "hey, do you think that x to the nth power plus y to the nth power could possibly equal z to the nth power if x, y, and z are non-zero intergers, and n is greater than two?" And I said "no way, dude, because all semistable elliptic curves with rational coefficients are modular, so if n were greater than 2" blah blah blah. Well it doesn't really matter what I said because it's all moot!! After dinner I was, like, "I bet I'm the first person to figure that out! I'm going to write about that on my blog." But then I checked Google, and it turns out that some joker named Andrew Wiles said the exact same thing a while ago, the jerk.

So the moral of this story is: if you have a great idea, don't be selfish and put it on the web or tell anyone about it.

October 04, 2002

defective yeti's Puzzle Korner

You are Black. White has just advanced his pawn to e6. It is now your move. What do you do?

[Answer: Bishop to d5. Keep finger on bishop, rise, view board from overhead perspective. Return bishop to a8. Bishop to b7. Stand up, maintain contact with bishop, examine board from several angles. Return bishop to a8. Bishop to, in turn, c6, e4, f3, g2 and h1. Scutinize board after every move. Return bishop to a8. Mutter "fuck," bishop to e4. Remove hand from bishop. Quickly put hand back on bishop, say "Wait!" Vehemently deny you took hand off bishop. Insist you had tip of index finger on bishop at all times. Tell opponent if he really wants to win by cheating there's nothing you can do to stop him. Return bishop to a8. King to h7. Become irritated when opponent points out you are moving into check. Return King to h8. Stare at board for seven straight minutes. Jump with surprise upon realizing you can capture opponent's bishop. King to g8. Watch in dismay as opponent moves Queen to g7, captures pawn, announces checkmate. Stand up suddenly, overturning table. Say "Yeah?! Well maybe if you didn't spend so much time playing chess, your wife wouldn't be sleeping around!"]
September 25, 2002

Politicians Accuse Politicians of Playing Politics With Politics

Politicians in Washington D.C. today denounced other politicians for using political issues for political gain. "The politicalization of politics has got to stop," railed one such politician. "The manner in which my opponents are turning political issues into politics smacks of partisanship." The criticized politicians, meanwhile, pointed out that the accusing politicians were politically motivated politicians, whose charges of political politicalization were made in a conspicuously political way. "The American people will see through this blatant attempt to play politics with the politics of politics-playing," predicted one. While no one knows which party will come out ahead in this public relations skirmish, it is clear that both groups are profoundly stupid.

[ link | News]


September 20, 2002

T.G.I.P.J.F.!

I like my job okay, but the lack of team spirit around the office is a total drag! We have a Community Group that's always organizing fun events for everyone, like Bowling Nites and Margarita Mondays and Yard Work Wednesdays, but no one ever goes because I guess they are too cool or something. And the worst part is that the people who don't go are the SAME PEOPLE who always complain about low morale(!!). IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY THERE'S LOW MORALE LOOK IN THE MIRROR PEOPLE!!

For example, today was Pajama Day. And did ANYONE else wear their PJs to work?? Noooooooo! And it's not like people didn't have enough notice: the memo announcing Pajama Day went out WEEKS ago! At first I kinda wished that I had brought a change of clothes, but the more I think about it, the prouder I am that I'm the only one who wore pajamas. (Although I don't actually own any pajamas, so I just came in the boxer shorts and "Chicks Dig Unix" t-shirt I slept in last night.)

Even though it's just me, I think Pajama Day has really raised morale around here, because I've been hearing a lot more laughter in the halls today. And I think that more people will participate the next time we have something like this, because they see that I'M not afraid to play along in the interest in a funner workplace. Hey, SOMEONE'S gotta be a morale-boosting-leader around here, and it might as well be ME!!

Update: At my supervisor's urging I reread that memo, and it turns out that today is actually "Performance Review Day". Isn't that awesome?! I'm going before the evaluation panel in 20 minutes, and I think they are going to be BLOWN AWAY by my team spirit! Wish me luck!!!

September 17, 2002

Lovely and The Punk

I've just boarded my bus, which is rapidly filling up. The Punk across the aisle, however, is stubbornly refusing to move his bag from the seat next to him. He is staring sullenly out the window, so at first I assume he's just self-absorbed and has forgotten that his backpack is preventing others from sitting. But then I notice that, by some sixth sense, The Punk knows when someone is about to ask him to move his stuff; at these moments he abruptly turns to the interlopers and scowls, until they opt not to speak and continue down the aisle.

Suddenly, a lovely young lady boards, one of those girls that are so obviously unaware of their own allure that they are doubly attractive in the eyes of others. Everyone watches as she saunters down the aisle like a bride in an impromptu wedding, except for The Punk who is busy glaring at pigeons and wondering what he should get tattooed onto his tongue.

Lovely sees the spot next to The Punk, does a charming little skip, grabs one of the support poles and starts to swing herself into the seat. But then she sees the bag, somehow arrests her motion, chirps a "whoops!" and resumes walking towards the back of the bus. The Punk, meanwhile, who has turned towards her with his Angry Youth face in place, manages to look surprised and then delighted and then crestfallen all in the space of a second. He scoops his bag into his lap, but it's too late. A moment later an middle-aged man occupies the vacant seat, but The Punk offers no protest, as he's now craning his neck, scanning the back of the coach and trying to locate his lost opportunity. It's a Sophoclean tragedy in one act.

That was last week. This morning The Punk was again on my bus. He was sitting with his bag on his lap, leaving the adjacent seat free, a testament to the civilizing influence of women.

September 12, 2002

August 02, 2002

Close

I was in an elevator with a half a dozen others. As the doors started to close, a woman sprinted towards us yelling "wait!" I was closest to the control panel, so I started jabbing the "Open Door" button. But to no avail: the doors slid shut unabated. Our last glimpse of the woman was of her running, reaching out, desperately trying to catch the edge of the door. I turned to the other people in the car and flashed them a "well, I tried!" smile.

As we started moving, I glanced down and noticed that I had been pressing the "Close Door" button by mistake. A moment later it occurred to me that everyone in the elevator had watched me frantically press the "Close Door" button as the woman had tried to board, and then grin about her failure to make it in time.

This is why I now take the stairs.

July 30, 2002

Best of the USA 2002

The polls are closed, the votes have been counted, and it's time to announce

defective yeti's Best Of The USA 2002!

Best Restaurant -- Winner: Carmen's Bistro, Billox, AL. (Runner-up: Teriyaki John, Glenville, PA.)

Best Coffee -- Winner: Java Junction, Port Panter, OR. (Runner-up: Thanks A Latte!, Austin, TX.)

Best Butt -- Winner: Mark Campbell, Rosewood, ID. (Runner-up: Alice Ganderson, Dent, MA.)

Best Shape -- Winner: Octagon. (Runner-up: Circle.)

Best Place To Get A Tattoo -- Winner: Skinflint's, Tucson, AZ. (Runner-up: Doug Peterson's House, Bristol, WI.)

Best Margaritas -- Winner: Casa del Sol, Aching Pines, OK. (Runner-up: Doug's Peterson's House, Bristol, WI.)

Best Ice Cream -- Winner: Chilly Nirvana, Osage, TN. (Runner-up: We All Scream!, Bowie, NH.)

Best Slaughterhouse -- Winner: Moo No More, La Mesa, TX. (Runner-up: Choppy's, Grandiville, TN.)

Best Fire Hydrant -- Winner: Hydrant on corner of 4th and 132nd SE, Galt, FL. (Runner-up: Hydrant on Madison st. near Video Vault, Cathedral City, RI.)

Best Chamber Of The Heart -- Winner: Left atrium. (Runner-up: Right atrium.)

Best Place To Buy a Llama -- Winner: Llamarama, Kamloops, HI. (Runner-up: Spitting Image, Feverfew, WV.)

Best Hepatitis -- Winner: B. (Runner-up: A.)

Best Coupon -- Winner: Buy 20 Wire Hangers, Get 10 Free!, E & H Dry Cleaning, Paradise, CA. (Runner-up: Thirty Cents Off 64 Oz. Bottle Of V8 Juice, Shop-N-Save, Rancho Palos Verdes, NM.)

Best William Pross -- Winner: William Pross, Collingwood, ND. (Runner-up: William Pross, Seattle, WA.)

Best Urban Legend -- Winner: The one about the guy on the Newlywed Show who said "That would be in the butt, Bob" when the host asked him to name the strangest place he and his wife had ever made whoopie. (Runner-up: The one about the Arab guys who bought a whole bunch of candy from Costco and were going poison it and then hand it out to children at malls last Halloween.)

Best Place To Get The Shit Beat Out Of You -- Winner: Doug Peterson's House, Bristol, WI. (Runner-up: Little Rock Museum Of Modern Art, Little Rock, AK.)

Best Egg-Laying Mammal -- Winner: Duck-billed Platypus. (Runner-up: None.)

Best Dokken Album -- Winner: Tooth and Nail. (Runner-up, via write-in campaign: DOKKEN SUXS METALLICA RULLLLLZ!!!!!!!!!.)

Best Civil Liberty Suspended By John Ashcroft -- Winner: Right To An Attorney. (Runner-up: Freedom From Unreasonable Searches and Seizures.)

Thanks to everyone who voted, and congratulations to the Best of the USA 2002! See you next year!

June 17, 2002

Don't Spend All My Love

I finally got so sick of that "Don't Spend All My Love (In One Place)" song that I took action. You know the song I mean, the one by Friday Father that you hear on every radio station and at baseball games and on tv commercials, the one with the tune so awful yet catchy that you can't get it our of your head for fortnights? Oh -- hah hah, of course you don't know the song, now. Well, trust me: this was the most obnoxious song of all time. Worse than "Who Let the Dogs Out," even worse than the "Macarana" -- it was terrible. So yesterday I went back in time and told Malcom Cander (grandfather to Stephen Cander, lead singer / songwriter for Friday Father) that I was his finacee's lover, which caused him to call off his engagement to Katherine Sinceso. Since those two neither married nor had children, the existence of Stephen Cander was negated. And sure enough: when I returned the band was gone and the song never existed! Yay!

Of course some other stuff got screwed up too, as always happens when you change time like that: there's a polio vaccine now (which is obviously a great side-effect) but apparently the Dominican Republic is no longer the 51st state. Despite all the changes, I'm sure you'll agree it was worth it -- that song was terrible! Well, I guess you wouldn't agree, since you've never heard the song, now. To you everything must seem the same as it's always been.

You know, it didn't really occur to me until this moment that I'm not going to get any credit for doing this.

March 28, 2002

Crap2Storage

You a should give me a lot of money, because I have an absolutely fabulous idea for a business. Now, I know the heyday of Venture Capital is pretty much over, but you should nonetheless invest heavily in this scheme. Why? Because unlike the multitude of hare-brained, half-baked, poorly-thought-out ideas that swarmed yesteryear like stray cats on a dumpster full of albacore, this particular idea absolutely cannot fail!

It's called: Crap2Storage.com. See? You love it already.

Ask yourself: what's the typical lifecycle of Crap in the United States? (And you know what I mean by Crap: Yoga videos, bread makers, double matted art prints of cheetahs, musical picture frames ... all that stuff that you see on tv or glimpse on a website or spot in a catalog or find in the checkout lane of a supermarket and, without thinking, buy.) Well, I'll tell you what happens to this stuff. It arrives at your home, and you set it on a kitchen counter, and then a month later you put it in a drawer or closet, and then seventeen years later you haul it off to a storage unit. And why shouldn't you? It's the American way.

But what a hassle -- not to mention a waste of space! Unpacking the UPS boxes from Amazon.com is a chore, and taking carload after carload of Crap to your storage unit can really eat away at your valuable time. That's where Crap2Storage.com comes in. Instead of buying that battery-operated self-cleaning litter box directly from the retailer, you will instead place the order with me. I'll then order the item on your behalf, unpack it when it arrives, and drive it directly to your storage unit! No muss, no fuss! Then I'll send you an email letting you know that your brand new six-pack of passionfruit-scented candles are right where they were eventually going to wind up anyhow: at U-Stor. And I'll do it all for a mere $12 per transaction.

Plus, I'll also set up a sister company called Crap2Charity.com for those bleeding-heart types. It will work exactly the same way, except I will take the Crap to local thrift stores.

Please make million-dollar checks out to "Matthew Baldwin." That's "Matthew" with two-Ts.

March 19, 2002

Pollack

Yesterday evening I attended The Pollack/Hodgman Interviews at the Richard Hugo House. The titular "Pollack/Hodgman" were Neal Pollack and John Hodgman, both of whom are affiliated with The Phenomenon That Is McSweeneys. More to the point, Pollack's book The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature has just been published in paperback by Harper Perennial, which means they are flinging him all over the country to do book signing and readings and performances and other such Funny On-Demand events.

This was the conceit of the show: Neal Pollack would be playing the character of "Neal Pollack, the Greatest Living American Writer", an author with countless National Book Awards and Pulitzers and Emmys and so forth, and Hodgman would be playing his former literary agent, who interviews him. Which is to say that Pollack, who has only written one book and has received no awards more prestigious than a pat on the back, would be playing a fictitious character, while John, who really was Pollack's literary agent at some point in the past, would be playing himself. Hilarity would ensue.

Here's what actually happened. First, Mr. Hodgman got on-stage and rambled along amusingly for a spell, reading the first piece he ever had published in McSweeney's (which I cannot find a link to) and threatening to digress into a long discourse on "Lord of the Rings" at any moment. Then the "opening act" came on, young Tommy Wallach, who was so fresh-out-of-high-school that I was prepared to find him thoroughly Not Funny and was surprised to discover that he was Very Funny Indeed. (However, Tommy, if you are reading this, and I'm almost certain that you are: you need to trim that Cat In The Hat Piece by about a third.) Tommy is associated with McSweeney's -- and, by extension, Neal Pollack -- because of this very fine short story he wrote for their publication. When I was Tommy's age I fancied myself as funny as he, but upon reflection I realize that I was not, and for this I resent him.

Tommy was followed by Ana sAsKiA, a performance artist who either did an uncannily accurate rendition of a Bjork song or sang a non-Bjork song in the style of Bjork. Using the word "Bjork" three times in a sentence makes my spellchecker very unhappy.

Finally, the Pollack/Hodgman Interview began (although I am not here using the word "finally" to imply that I did not enjoy the material that proceeded it, because I did). Pollack and Hodgman sat in armchairs and sipped scotch as they spoke, all to further the illusion that Pollack was a highly respectable member of the literati and Hodgman was stolid and rather pretentious literary correspondent. Hodgman had a list of questions (on the subject "How to Write A Novel") and Pollack had nothing, the idea being, apparently, that Hodgman would play straightman and Pollack, in character, would ad-lib hilarious, impromptu replies. I am not sad to report that the two gentlemen failed miserably in adhering to the premise. Try as he might, Pollock could not stick to his "Neal Pollock, Greatest Living American Writer" role, and kept reverting to "Neal Pollock, Amicable Goofball, Who is Frankly Astounded That He Gets Paid to Sit on Stage and Drink Bourbon and, Let's Be Honest, While a Funny Writer, Really Isn't That Great at Improvisional Comedy." Hodgman, on the other hand, who is skilled at ad-libbing and mostly stayed in character, kept trying to keep Pollack on track, all while delivering many of the funniest lines of the night in the dry, monotone voice of a literary snob.

Hodgman [quizzing Neal Pollack, Greatest Living American Writer, on the first lines of famous novels]: Okay, here is your next one. "My name is Hubert Humbert, and I want to have sex with a little girl."

Pollock Uhhh ... Lolita! Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov!

Hodgman No, I'm afraid the correct answer is "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary Pipher, Ph.D

All this made for a show that was certainly funnier than it would have been if things had gone as scripted (or if, indeed, they'd had a script at all). Conducting an interview with The Greatest Living American Writer would have been amusing for a while, but conducting an interview with a guy who had somehow written a book, despite the fact that he couldn't go more than 30 minutes without making a reference to Snoop Dog or attempting (and failing) to make a joke about "Nuclear Viagra," was good for non-stop guffaws. It is no exaggeration to say that I laughed more during this show than I have at anything else in recent memory.

About two-thirds of the way through the performance and well into his fourth scotch, Pollack pointed menacingly at the crowd. "You better not blog about this!" he bellowed. "I don't want to show up on no Google search!"

February 19, 2002

Check It Out!

The US Defense Department's has created an Office of Strategic Influence, to help improve the United States' image abroad. Some initiatives the OSI will be pursuing:

  • US will renounce policy of unilateralism and instead adopt a policy of monolateralism

  • Friendly nations eligible to join the "Axis of Awesome!"

  • Hollywood will be pressured to withhold "Super Troopers" from overseas release.

  • Fliers reading "USA: You Gotta Love It!" will be dropped over hostile nations.

  • For each UN vote, one nation, chosen at random from those who vote in accordance with the United States, will receive a Nintendo GameCube.

  • Bush will soon be sending out Evites concerning a bowling and karaoke party the US is organizing for Saturday, March 2nd.

  • Vice President will send card, small gift to each nation on it's birthday.

  • All overseas McDonalds will offer free Super Sizing for a week.

  • NBC will devote three minutes of every hour of Olympics coverage to non-US competitors.

  • US will create humorous, snarky weblog and urge other nations to "come check it out!"

February 11, 2002

Ginger

I'm in a bar. I hand my driver's license to the bartender.

"I dunno," she says, scrutinizing it. "In this picture you have a full beard, and here you are clean shaven. I dunno. I'm gonna ask someone else to look at it."

She calls over a waitress, Ginger. I stand off to the side, quietly singing along with the song playing over the sound system: "I need an everlasting love. I need a friend and a lover divine..."

Ginger takes one look at the licence, one look at me, and says "Oh yeah, it's him. Same smile."

"Besides," she adds, "the guy knows all the words to this Howard Jones song. He's over 21."

January 10, 2002

Butter

Like most males in the 30-35 demograph, I keep my butter in the refrigerator. This has, in the past, proven to be a problem, because when I make toast (which I do often, because I'm cuckoo for the rye toast) the butter is then hard, making it difficult to cut and impossible to spread.

Recently I realized that if, before I start toasting the bread, I remove the butter dish from the fridge and place it right next to the toaster, then, by the time the toast is done, the heat radiating from the toaster will have heated the butter just enough to make it perfectly spreadable.

This is the greatest thing in the world.

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