9/29/07

My pits can beat you at chess.

I noticed something that struck me funny while I was getting ready for work the other day. The top of my deodorant says this:



First of all, I'm not exactly sure how my no-stink stick can be smart. From what I can tell, it really has very little in the way of intelligence. It can't even automatically roll itself up a little bit when I am scraping armpit skin off on its hard plastic sides. Also, how do you trademark the word "smart?"

The bigger problem, of course, is that if some scientists set off to develop "smart technology" I would think one of the last groups of people they would go to would be athletes. Granted, they're probably better off going to athletes instead of...oh, I don't know....rappers or David Lee Roth, maybe. But still -- As a whole, athletes are not generally known for their scientific prowess.

How would that development actually happen? I can picture it now.

Scientist: I've developed what I think may be the ultimate Smart{tm} deodorant! However, I am not sure if it really works, so I need your odoriferous expertise. Rub this under your armpits.

(Pro football player rubs like there's no tomorrow.)

Scientist (pointing): No, no. Those aren't your armpits. There you go. And now, we wait. Um, maybe you better take a few laps.

PFBP, upon completing laps: Does I stink?

Scientist: SUCCESS!

PFBP (holding scientist by neck): Where's my money at?

I compared it to my other, non-smart deodorant, and there really doesn't seem to be much difference.

I think that one might be more crafty than smart.

OK, I'm off to a lake somewhere. Be back in a bit.

9/25/07

Advice for Batman: Avoid camping with Catwoman.

I realize I've been slacking lately, so let me tell you why. September and October are my vacation months, and my wife and I take 4-day weekends to go backpacking and/or canoing, although lately it's been easier to take the canoe. What this means is that I have three "regular" work days and also only three days to do things like freelance, practice piano, do stuff around the house, you name it. So that's my story. It'll get better - that's a promise. Or a threat. Take it however you want to.

This past weekend, my wife and I took the canoe to a place called Cedar River Flow. It's an easy place to put in, since you can almost back your car down to the water -- there's no canoe carrying involved, like there was last week. That being said, it is designated as "wilderness," so things are pretty rustic. And by "pretty rustic" I mean no bathrooms. Not even an outhouse. Also, it's a good idea to not leave food around your camp because there are various large and small animals in the area that would like nothing better than a free meal on your dime.

What made this trip unique is that we weren't alone. You see, we have this cat, JD. Unfortunately JD needs medication every 6 hours. Because we couldn't board him at the last minute, we decided we had two choices -- either not go on the trip, or....take him with us.

In a spectacular lapse of good judgment, we decided to take him.

Some more details: He is an indoor cat. He has never worn a collar in his life. So, of course, the first thing we did was get him a collar, which made him walk around like he had a cinder block resting on his head for 2 hours. After we got him used to that, we put on the harness. With all the buckles and studs and black leather, all he needed was a little leather cap and a pair of assless pants and he could have walked into any leather boy club in LA without attracting attention. If he hadn't been a cat, I mean.

We bundled the backpacks into the car along with the cat carrier and headed out.

Surprisingly, he was fine during the two hour car trip. He slept, in fact. When we loaded everything into the canoe, including him, he didn't flip out. He was amazingly laid back about the whole thing. We paddled through semi-rough water for a few miles and then unloaded everything at a remote campsite. The cat loved it. He was rolling around on the ground, exploring everything, laying in the sun, having a grand old time.

Everything was fine until approximately 2:30am, which is the exact time I learned why it wasn't a good idea to bring a cat camping with you. Was it the coyote howling approximately 100 feet from the tent? No, it wasn't that, although I am pretty sure he figured cat was on the menu if he persevered. Was it the incessant licking of various body parts? No, I'm used to that -- I'm talking cat stuff here.

2:30am was the exact moment in time that I learned that indoor cats don't realize that all of outside is their litter box. How they cannot get this, I don't know. I base this theory on the fact that our cat made himself comfortable on top of my sleeping bag, nestled himself between my calves, and then took a giant piss.

Luckily, (if you can call anything about this luck) my sleeping bag was slightly water resistant, which also means that it was slightly pee resistant. Incredibly, I didn't panic, even though there was approximately 2 pints of cat piss in a small indentation balanced precariously between my legs. We soaked it up with toilet paper, and when i was able to move, I dragged everything out of the tent.

So the stage was set: It's 2:37 in the morning. It's cold. There's howling in the distance. I can't find my jacket. Everything smells like pee. It was like waking up on the lawn after passing out at a frat party.

I carried the bags down to the lake and dragged them across the top of the water, front and back, about 3 times each. I wanted to wash them, but not soak the feathers inside. Once I did that, I brought them back to the camp and started a fire, then stood there with one and then the other until they were both dried. Finally, we were able to put everything back in the tent and go back to sleep. Everything still stank, but at least we weren't going to freeze.

I dreamt of hobos, and we left early the next morning.

As my wife told me repeatedly, worse things could have happened. She's right. At least I didn't get crapped on, too.

I guess there's always next time.

9/18/07

why does james blunt sound like maurice gibb?

No, the title of this post has nothing to do with the content, but I just heard James Blunt's new song '1973' and it sounds like it came directly from 1973. WTF, James Blunt. It's 2007, and as far as I know, it's not the year of the cat. According to a recent poll in the U.K., his music is more irritating than hangovers, noisy neighbors, bad hair days and stepping in dog shit. I'd fight them on the dog shit one, since I tend to wear hiking boots with a pretty intricate tread pattern, but the rest is right on.

This post was supposed to be about cow pasture golf, but I'm going to wait on that one.

Instead, I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Shelburne museum, which is an amazing place to visit if you've never been there. It's a 40 acre collection of stuff put together by one rich woman who collected things like the original Ticonderoga paddle boat, the last manned lighthouse on Lake Champlain, and various historic buildings from all over the northeast. Check out their website -- there's a lot more I didn't mention. Other than getting rear-ended by an old guy while sitting on the ferry on the way over to Vermont, the trip was uneventful.

We spent a little time in the Apothecary, which was pretty enlightening.



They have a extensive collection of old medicines, and reading the labels was hilarious. It seems there wasn't much in the way of a "federal drug administration" back in the 1800's, so if it didn't kill you, it was legal to sell as medicine. Most of the medicines on display seemed to have at least a 20% alcohol content, so I figure they were pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better no matter what your ailment -- at least for a little while. Alcohol is nothing if not nature's pain reliever.

Everything cured everything back then. You could drink one thing and it would cure impure blood, cramps, stomach aches, rheumatism, nerve problems and the dreaded "female sickness" which was "an awful internal trouble that is wearing out their lives." (Symptoms included nervousness, fragility, weak nerves, irritability, fretfulness, ringing in the ears, and sleepless nights.)*

I took some pictures of my favorites.

Dr. True's Elixir - If your kids have any complaints whatsoever, all they need is Dr. True and his fabulous elixir.



You know why? Because it cures all children's complaints. All of them. They don't like school? Dr. True will fix it. Don't want to eat their vegetables? Dr. True will make it happen. A bottle of Dr. True's Elixir across the side of the head and they will eat broccoli until long after the bleeding stops. In addition to curing ALL children's complaints, it works specifically hard to expel worms. You might think that the act of curing all complaints would include expelling worms (since I'm sure if you had worms you'd be complaining about it constantly) but who am I to contradict the Doctor? It's impossible to call him a liar -- not when he has the last name of True. There's no way you can go up against that and come out ahead. This stuff must have sold like crazy since everyone knows a worm-free kid is a happy kid.

Dr. Davis's Laxakola - Apparently, pooping was a pretty big issue back then too. It seemed like every other bottle up there either got you going or stopped you from going. This is one of the kickstarter formulas. You'd think Dr. Davis would look a little happier if he had just dropped the kids off at the pool. Physician, heal thyself and all that.



Not only does it supposedly get the factory back in production, it also cures "all conditions resulting from derangement and inactivity of the stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels."

And believe me, deranged bowels are nothing to mess with, especially when they don't care whether they live or die. They take hostages, they hole up, and before you know it, SWAT teams are involved, things are exploding left and right, and it doesn't end well for anyone.

Lydia E. Pinkham's Sanative Wash - The smugly smiling picture of Lydia speaks volumes. Or, if not volumes, sentences. Or maybe it's just one sentence. To me, that sentence is, "My toolbox is as clean as a whistle, and it feels fabulous."



I'm not a woman so I don't know a lot about the daily rigors of keeping things daisy-fresh down there in the old Pinkham, but to me it seems like this stuff has a lot of..well, acids in the active ingredients. And a little math and common sense would lead me to believe that:

Acid + Delicate Female Parts = A band I never liked.

They do eventually tell you what you were supposed to sanitize with it, just in case it wasn't obvious from Lydia's smiling face. I think they had to spell it out because it's conceivable that if you didn't know, you could be happily washing your face with the stuff.

Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic - This one was lighter on the alcohol, being for babies and all, but heavier on the corn syrup. It supposedly cures the chills and fever associated with malaria.



Judging by the picture, and the tagline next to it that says "Original Laughing Baby Trademark" I can only assume one of these things is true -- (1) people had horrifically ugly children back then, or (2) this stuff has some nasty side effects.

But it is pleasant and effective, even if it does eventually make your baby look like a 35-year-old laughing midget with a receding hairline. Is it just me, or does he look like he should be smoking a cigar and running a pawn shop?

Oh, and it's tasteless. If you don't count the lemon flavoring.

Which, when it comes to malaria remedies, I never do.

*I think I might have it.

9/12/07

Please god, not the hole in one.

Recently I flew out to the old corporate headquarters for a little "team bonding" which involved playing two games -- one of which I was familiar with and one of which I was not. The one I was familiar with is called "golf" and the one I was not familiar with is called "cornhole." You probably think that sounds like a painful and unpleasant thing that you should go to great lengths to avoid playing ever in your life, and you would be absolutely correct.

Being from New York, I had never heard of this game. I guess it's big in Scranton because people were incredibly good at it. They brought their own homemade cornhole boards, that's how hardcore they are. What is cornholing, you ask? Well, it's when one inmate commits to a verbal 'contract' with another inmate whereupon he is provided 'protection' in exchange for...no wait -- that's the wrong one.

Much to my relief, it was fairly innocuous and not at all painful, unless you count the acute pain I felt for the lost dignity of those people actually playing. In this instance, cornholing is the act of throwing a bean bag, (or if you are playing with a bunch of professionals, an actual corn bag) at a slanted piece of wood with a hole in it.

There are all sorts of complicated and arcane rules that I really didn't pay attention to because I wasn't playing. From what I gather, it's similar to Jarts except there's no drunkenly launched steel-pointed projectiles flying through the air. With no chance of witnessing an inadvertent impaling, I lost interest pretty quickly.

I was, however, extremely relieved to find out that (1) You weren't forced to play, and (2) It was nothing like I expected.

To give you a sense of my relief, I drew it in picture form:





I have to say the high point for me was this conversation with my boss:

Me: The boards your husband made keep collapsing.

Her: Why? What's wrong with them?

Me: I don't know. I think it's cuz all these guys are professionals and they're just pounding the crap out of your cornhole.

Her: That is just so wrong in so many different ways.

The golfing was a lot of fun. We played a scramble, and I did better than I thought I was going to, since I haven't picked up a golf club in about 10 years. I quit when it became really popular because I was wasting too much time and money on it, and I couldn't stand the way our local public course was turning into a country club. I think I may have to give it another try though.

Special Dark was on my team, which really made the whole thing worthwhile. Even if I never got to swing a club, it would have been worth the 18 bucks just to see him shank three shots in a row straight into the woods and then completely lose his shit and heave his golf club into the next fairway. The other guy on our team had never been golfing before, and a lot of the time it was like watching a cartoon. He'd wind up, swing as hard as he could, completely miss the ball, and then spin around so hard he'd practically screw himself into the ground.


All it needed was manic piano music.



9/9/07

I would like a camp on a lake, please.

Last weekend my friend and I spent all day Saturday replacing the ghetto stairs. We ended up having to construct the new stairs in the empty stairwell because we figured out that they wouldn't come up from the basement -- or in from outside -- if they were in one piece. It's a long, boring story that has to do with modular houses and the way they are bolted together in the center.

My legs and shoulders were sore for two days, all from squatting like a constipated troll on a narrow platform under the stairs and hammering in 60 or so wedges at impossibly weird angles. These angles, incidentally, resulted in me pounding the living shit out of my own hand approximately 97 times. Anyway, they're done:

Before:




After:



My wife and I returned from a week's vacation on Friday, and I have a lot of stories that I will, in the not too distant future, attempt to weave into amusing tales for your reading pleasure. We had a lot of fun exploring a couple of different lakes around upstate NY and Vermont, and had almost perfect weather all week.

I still have vacation head, so it's going to take me a while to get back into this blogging thing. In the meantime, I have two questions for you.

One, wouldn't it suck if you were this guy and you had a tiny wiener?




And two, why the hell didn't they sell these things when I was a kid in high school?



For full comedic effect, read the "Feature" list out loud using a fake chinese accent, paying close attention to the creative punctuation.

Remember, more than a handful in wasted.