Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Everything Good For You Will Kill You

Just when Brian thought that everything bad is good for you, it turns out that everything good is bad for you.

Vitamins? Better not buy the big container, you probably won't need that many.

Low-fat dairy foods? Fine, if you like sterility.

Garlic? Doesn't lower cholesterol, it's just tasty.

Fresh air...

When are they just going to admit that we don't have any idea what is good or bad for us? Eat what you enjoy. At some point it will probably be good for you, and if it does turn out to kill you, at least you enjoyed the trip.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Reader's Choice

Chapter One - Wherein the readers get to choose my avatar.

The other day I got bored and whipped up three rough versions of an avatar. I like them all, so I'll let you pick which one I start with. Vote in the comments. And what the hell, in honor of the Chicago municipal elections, you can vote as often as you want. One vote per comment. Anyone breaking the rules will have their votes counted twice.

(a) The obvious.

(b) Zero from Nightmare Before Christmas... but if you didn't get that already, you probably aren't voting for this one anyway.

(c) The Hunter Spot Thompson.

Monday, February 26, 2007

James Cameron is a Loon

Just read this. I don't even know where to begin. Here's just one little peek into the insanity:

He verified that the occupant of the tomb was Jesus through statistics and DNA testing. DNA testing. Seriously. I'm not making this up.

Dear Future Traffic Fatality,

I don't know you. I know that you ride a bike, which is good for the environment, so kudos. I know that you have a daughter who goes to the elementary school around the corner from my house, because I see her in the bike seat behind you. I know that you take her to school every morning. Kudos again. Parental involvent is a great thing.

Because you won't be around to hear it, let me just say now that I'm probably going to be quite distraught on the morning that I kill both of you. This morning marked the second time in less than a week that you have blown off the stop sign next to my driveway and zipped behind me as I'm pulling out into traffic. You are not alone in blowing off that stop sign. Once or twice a month, as I prepare to travel to work, I am nearly hit by a driver who has decided to cut me off and speed through the intersection, ignoring the stop sign, the white stop line, and the crosswalk that all tell them to stop before proceeding past my driveway. Here's the big difference. If they hit me, they will be forced to listen as I tediously explain the rules of the road, where one is obligated to stop at a stop sign, and who has the right of way when a driveway opens into an intersection with a three-way stop (hint: It's me!). You on the other hand, will be spared this chat, because you and your child will be rather busy being crushed under my automobile.

Now, I fully respect your right to die because of your own stupidity. Like the bicyclists who regulary speed past my blinking right turn signal to pass me on the right as I wait to turn, the other bicyclists who travel on streets that are too fast, too busy, and too narrow for them to be considered traffic instead of traffic hazards, and the other bicyclists who feel that they do not, in fact, need to wait their turn at busy intersections, you can rest assured that eventually, if you continue to play tag with cars, you will probably die. However, I object to the way you have involved your child in this scenario.



Friday, February 23, 2007

Damned Dirty Apes!

This just in: chimpanzees are arming themselves to hunt other primates. You have been warned.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


As in, I didn't put much effort into this post...

The Monarch and Dr. Girlfriend from the episode Tag Sale, You're It I've been known to quote this scene on the flimsiest of excuses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Who Could Have Seen That Coming?

Britney's back in rehab. I wonder if they have some kind of frequent-customer card she could get them to punch.

Time Travel

Well, would you look at that? When you finally get around to finishing something you saved as a draft, blogger will post it on the day you started it instead of the day you finished it.

Take the Money and Run

Here's what's wrong with our society: Anyone dumb enough to spend a million dollars on Britney's hair should not be allowed to have a million dollars in the first place.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Where is Mark Twain When We Need Him?

If you've only read Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer (which was a book by Mark Twain before it was a song by Rush), you're missing out. Sadly, the odds are against you having read even those, because they are long and have naughty words in them. You may have read The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County because it is only going to offend PETA. Mark Twain is the shit, and one of the reasons I'm proud to be a Midwesterner.

For reasons unclear to me, school curricula, where they touch on Mark Twain at all, tend to avoid his works which are most relevant today. His fiery, impassioned The War Prayer is missing. So is his Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date), written in response to the Spanish American War but equally applicable to Iraq, and thus, unlikely to be read on purpose by anyone other than a Twain scholar (or fan).

Today, however, I have another Twain work in mind. I present a small excerpt:

During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after doing its duty in but a lazy and indolent way for eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumbscrews, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.

Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.

--Mark Twain
"Bible Teaching and Religious Practice"

Why is this on my mind today? Exorcism.

Irina Cornici grew up in a Romanian orphanage, which I'm guessing pretty much sucked. She also suffered from schizophrenia, which is also not a piece of cake. But things got much, much worse. A couple of years ago, she visited a friend at a convent and decided to stay.

Three months later, the priest Daniel Petru Corogeanu, with the help of 4 nuns, tied her to a cross, denied her food and water, stuffed a towel in her mouth, and left her to die. Because she's the evil one in this story? What? When the story first broke, the priest said (and sadly this is an actual quote), "I don't understand why journalists are making such a fuss about this," and claimed that her death was a miracle performed by God. Reclusive and uncommunicative as ever, God has declined to comment on his involvement in the incident. Daniel and his "dozens of supporters" from the pro-homicide wing of the Orthodox church plan to appeal his conviction.

The Orthodox Church has promised reforms, including allowing fewer people into the priesthood who are completely batshit crazy. However, they have not gone so far as to rejoin the 21st century, already in progress, or acknowledge that people don't actually get posessed by the devil.

One does not know whether to laugh or to cry.

I Want my Morphine.

Some of you may remember that this blog got off to a slow start because I started the blog while I was sick. It was nasty. I missed almost a week of work. I finished my antibiotics with breakfast this morning, but my cough lingers on. Now, don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the lack of headaches and fever and sinus problems. I just wish the doc at the Convenient Care Clinic had been a little less cursory in her exam and had actually paid attention while I was talking.

In any case, I still have a nasty hacking cough. It's not as bad as it used to be, but I don't really feel like a guy who has finished his treatment and I'll be happy when it's gone. Luckily, the folks over at the Beeb are on the case. It turns out that instead of a pocketful of Ricola, what I really need is some good old fashioned opiates. They had better bring out the big guns though, because codeine is apparently only slightly more useful than a placebo for stopping coughs. As far as I know, they haven't done any clinical trials to see if codeine is more effective at getting high-schoolers buzzed than chugging NyQuil, but I bet the morphine kicks its ass at that too.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cargo Cult

In a rather confusing turn of chronology, today marks the 50th anniversary of the world's last surviving cargo cult, the John Frum Movement. It's particularly confusing because it apparently started in the 1930s and became most popular during WWII, which ended in 1945. I guess if the christians can skip ahead 30 years or so for the BC to AD changeover, then we can give these guys an odd decade or two. What is it with religion and calendars?

In any case, the cargo cult believes (among other things) that if they imitate the Americans that they saw during WWII, they too will receive the shipments of cargo that stopped when the Americans went home. So they build mock airfields out of sticks and leaves and parade around in homemade uniforms hoping to entice the cargo to return.

Basically, it's the same reason that oppressed minorities join the Republican party. The cargo cultists are just a little less subtle about the whole thing. Both groups hope that if they look enough like the people with money and power and act enough like them, that they too will get the wealth and power. Farmers who vote overwhelmingly for the Republicans who bankrupt them to support Big Agribusiness? Frummies. The Log Cabin Republicans who help elect homophobes? Frummies. People of color who help ensure that the Supreme Court will swing right and spend the next couple of decades dismantling civil rights? Frummies. They're all deluding themselves that they can get some of that sweet, sweet cargo if they just wear the right suit. What else could explain it?

That's my theory anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

My Favorite Comment

Flannery Alden left my favorite comment so far. Here it is, in its entirety.

So far, so good. You don't seem to be annoying, anyway.

Reading it put a huge smile on my face. I think what I love most about it is the way she qualified it. The jury is still out on whether I'm annoying or not, but for now, I don't seem to be. It's exactly the sort of thing I might think about someone I've just met.


Monday, February 12, 2007

All the Cool Kids Were Doing It...

My iPod on shuffle, getting me through the home stretch at work:

1. Better Do It Right - Smash Mouth
2. Cold Light - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
3. Not Great Men - Gang of Four
4. My Last Breath - Evanescence
5. Tired of You - Foo Fighters
6. Wasted - Black Flag
7. Give It Away - Red Hot Chili Peppers
8. Glycerine - Bush
9. 24 Hours - The Sounds
10. Racist Friend - The Specials

1. Note to self: take xmas songs off iPod. That said, this is one of two of my xmas songs that stays on my iPod all year. It came on some promotional CD from Target a few years ago, and it rocks along in a swingy sort of way that I dig, and I love the line that goes "So he took me for a ride in his Cadillac, stolen from a kleptomaniac, at a horse racetrack."

The other xmas song that stays on all year is "I'll be Hating You For Christmas" by Everclear.

2. I bought this CD in Mendocino just before my friends Andreas and Lynn got married. This CD always reminds me of the drive back through the redwoods and vineyards in the late night and early morning.

3. I love Gang of Four's jangly guitar riffs. I dubbed my first copy of this song off Andreas' LP way back around the year I met Brian at Eastern. C30, C60, C90, Go!

4. Mock if you want. She has a great voice.

5. I need to clean up my iTunes. I marked it for deletion and hit skip. 5 minutes of that? No thanks.

6. My ears rang for three days after I saw them at Mabel's. 52 seconds. Suck it, Foo Fighters.

7. You've got to have one RHCP song on your iPod, and one will pretty much do it. This is the one I chose.

8. Factoid for the day: Gavin Rossdale played Stanley Mortensen in The Game of Their Lives, a soccer movie about the biggest upset in U.S. Soccer history. Even if you don't love soccer, this may come in useful as an obscure link in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Enjoy.

9. They sometimes remind me of Joan Jett, in a sort of Sweedishy way. I think this is their Joaniest Jettiest track, and they're only rocking at about 8 out of 11. I bought their whole album as my first iTunes purchase after getting my iPod.

10. A mellow and politically correct finish.

Does anyone else get the urge to edit their shuffle list? My 11 was great, and 5 was a waste of a spot. Maybe it's just me.

"But what grieves me the most..."

Have you seen the ads for The Astronaut Farmer? It's about a farmer. He builds his own space rocket, as farmers often do, and hijinks ensue. But here's the thing... not only is he a farmer, he's named Farmer.

God, I hate that shit.

I can just see them pitching this to the movie studio. "But, get this, not only is he an astronaut farmer, he's an astronaut Farmer, eh? eh? get it? 'Cause his name is Charlie Farmer."

Yeah. And you're Mark and Michael Dumbass.

Look, if you're an aspring writer, and you're thinking about sticking the name of your character in the title of your show that way, stop. It's not clever. It wasn't clever the first time, it's still not clever. It will never be clever. It just cheapens us all.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I am a Hippo... potamus?

One day after whining about people who come to work sick, I'm at work. Sick. Go me. I've just got to get a couple of things done, and then I'm back home, leaving a trail of pestilence in my wake.

The Hippopotamus Story

So way back in the day, on nice spring days, the Library Quad at Eastern would be taken over by crazoid fundies with clever names like Brother Jim or Brother Jed, who would harangue passers-by about their sinful, whoremongering ways. Now, I wasn't exactly sure what a whoremonger was, but since he seemed to think I was one, I thought I might as well stick around and get some helpful hints. As Mae West said, "Whenever I'm faced with choosing between two evils, I always try to choose the one I haven't tried yet." ...or something like that.

Having been raised by crazoid fundies myself (Hi, Mom!), it was always enormous fun to heckle them. (On another day, I'll tell you the story of how Brother Jed nearly received a beating because of me and my smart ass comments, but I'm not telling that story today, oh gentle readers.) One day, one of the Brothers had made the mistake of handing out his leaflets before he told his little story. As I idly glanced over one discarded on the quad, I realized that he was following it pretty much verbatim, in full-on, over-the-top, televangelist voice complete with those dramatic pauses that are supposed to be ...err... dramatic. As it turned out, they made him sound a little bit like Shatner was playing a televangelist, and they were perfect for turning his performance into the Rocky Horror Picture Show version of his story.

Reading ahead (which always got me in trouble in school, but was damned useful here), I looked for places he would probably raise his voice and pause expectantly (in a sort of "Can I get an Ay-men?" way, but a little less needy, or at least, in a more midwestern white guy sort of way...). Now many of these were only funny because I got a couple of friends to join me:

Brother #1: "He leee-uved ovah a bicyle shop..." *pause for effect*

Chorus: "Like the Wright Brothers."

You probably had to be there.

But one brought the house down... or would have, if we had been in a house instead of, as I may have mentioned, been sitting on the Library Quad. But you probably knew what I meant.

As I scanned ahead, looking for amusing things to interject, I came across the word hypocrite, and I knew he couldn't resist taking a Shat there. He reached the climax of his story:

Brother #1: "...And thayut was when Ah reuhlized that my fuhreeund was a hypo..." *pause for effect*

Deadspot: "pottamus."

*general laughter*

Exeunt Chorus, triumphant.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Slow start...

Question for the day: Why do people save their sick days?

My theory is that misery loves company. If they're going to be sick, everybody's going to be sick. They're going to stick it out, go to work, and infect other people. People like, for example, me. That way, they have someone to discuss symptoms with.


If somebody could please kill me before I have to watch more daytime TV or drink another cup of tea, they would be doing me a huge favor.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Space Age Technology

I had a William Gibson moment this afternoon. One of my favorite phrases is "The sky above the port was the color of a television, tuned to a dead channel." If you're a cranky old bastard like me, you remember when televisions were analog and if you didn't have it tuned in correctly, you got static. The static was gray, and you better like your static gray because it only came in one color. However, if you turn a new television to a channel that you don't get, the screen goes bright, clear blue. Most people reading the opening to Neuromancer now wonder why it's the most beautiful sky ever. The phrase means the opposite of what it did when it was written.

Today, I realized that the same thing happened to the phrase "space age". There was a time (say, up until about October 4, 1957) when Space Age meant "some time in the distant future when we all drive around in our rocket cars". Of course, this was before people realized that the average person can't pilot their Sport Utility Car in 2 dimensions, much less 3, when they are talking on their cell phone.

The phrase was so powerful, however, that people failed to realize that we were actually in the Space Age until long after it was over. You could argue that we are still in the Space Age, but you would be wrong. Actual space flight is something that NASA only engages in grudgingly, if they absolutely have to, and other space programs are busy trying to fund themselves by being the world's most expensive carnival ride for the very, very wealthy.

So here we are in 2007 [6 and 8 years after 2001: A Space Odyssey (filmed in 1968) and Space: 1999 (last season: 1977), respectively] and people are still using "space age" to mean "futuristic" instead of "peaked in 1969, going downhill ever since."

It's a spot. It's on the web. It's dead.

If you have good peers, is peer pressure a bad thing?

Take this blog(Henny Youngman), please(/Henny Youngman). It's totally peer pressure in action.

I read Johnny's blog, and he sometimes says good things about me. (Twice. I think...) He keeps telling me I should blog. So despite my better judgment (that, for example, I really don't have anything to say, or anybody interested in reading it), and despite the fact that I am too old and wise to cave in to peer pressure, I did, like we all do. I've started a blog.

So I'm here to waste a few minutes of your time. Time you will never get back.

He seems to think that I am smart and funny. Your mileage may vary.