The other night I was watching TV and that commercial came on again. I burst out laughing, because it was the first time I noticed this bit:
That's just so random it's awesome.
Here's today's allotment of JV Points:
-1,000 points to the TV networks that piss me off by making a big deal about the season premiere of your favorite shows only to end the show with a voice-over telling you that that the next episode is a month and a half into the future. It seriously makes me want to call up Jack Bauer (who is probably just getting drunk and tackling Christmas trees while he's waiting for the show to start up again) and give him something constructive to do, like tearing off Rupert Murdoch's dessicated arm and beating the shit out of him with it.
+1000 points to the guys working the Christmas tree lot near my house for being cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable and not too drunk to help me get the tree on top of the car. I never had another man tell me that I had a very nice douglas fir before. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside.
-2000 points to the contractor who shares a common cube wall with me. Every time he's on the phone, his feet go into overdrive. It's like he suddenly becomes Alex Van Halen and the cube wall between us is a pair of 24" Ludwig Bass Drums. Add a raised floor to this mix and it's like sitting in an airplane for 9 hours with a little kid kicking the back of your seat.
-1000 points to the the mainframe guy who spent the last 20 years in the data center, slowly going deaf. Now whenever he's on the phone, he assumes that just because he can't hear the person on the other end of the line, they can't hear him either, so every single one of his phone conversations makes him sound like Billy Mays trying to sell OxyClean to... well, to a deaf mainframe guy. I actually told him to use his "inside voice" today. It didn't help. He has one volume setting, and this is it:
+1000 points to amazon.com's return policy. I know it's not a person, but seriously, could it be any easier to return something to them? Print out the label from their website, slap it on the box and that weird-but-awesome customizable pig-nose tissue dispenser is on the way back to them, and your wife is happy with you again.
-1,000 points to the guy who cut my last roll of charmin just a little too long. The damn thing wouldn't turn in the holder because it was just oversized enough to rub on both sides. Did I chuck it? Of course not. I'm pretty cheap, so I sat there and cranked it turn by turn for a period of about two weeks until it was finally gone. Every time you'd crank it over, TP dust would waft down on the floor next to the toilet. It looked like tiny little snow flurries.
+10,000 points for all the people who voted for me at smallaa.com, assuming that check actually has some money behind it. I am still taking suggestions for a decent charity, because I want to make a donation. A buddy of mine suggested this one, since his company contributes to it, and they researched it pretty well. I'm leaning that way.
Let me know what you think.
The contest for the next 10K ends tonight. I'm way behind, so vote if you are sick of seeing me debase myself in front of you all.
OK, I'm off to try to write something funny. Wish me luck.
YOU GUYS ROCK!
If that graphic confuses you, read this and all will be explained.
OK, so it appears this contest might be real after all! Either that, or it's the most elaborate scam I've ever seen. I got an email from the guy who works for smallaa.com and we had a chat about all of the specifics.
Until the check clears, I'll remain skeptical, but for now, I'm a pretty happy guy, and this could be a great Christmas. And, of course, I have all of you to thank, especially all my regular readers and the kind (and crazy!) folks at playa.info, who I am sure did a ton of voting. I know that sounds like some pimperific rap music website, but it's really all about a city on the coast of the Caribbean called Playa del Carmen that I didn't even know about until recently, since I'm geography challenged and probably can't even name all the states on the edges of a U.S. map.
I stumbled on them recently because I noticed a lot of traffic coming from their site, but I never actually went there and checked it out until a few weeks ago. Sadly, I have to report that they all appear to have the same twisted sense of humor that I do. So... I stopped in the other night and asked them to help me out, and they were awesome. Check out the website and visit the forums, -- the whole place is really well done and full of great folks.
So thanks again to you all, and thanks to smallaa.com as well. Since he told me there's no restrictions on winning twice (as long as it's with a different post) I tossed up another couple of my favorites, if you're so inclined, so here's the JC Penny Part II. I figure I'd better get my licks in before someone with real writing chops blows me out of the water!
(I'm partial to "Artist Formerly Known As," myself.)
But when you're casting for a remake of a classic SciFi movie and the main character is an unemotional alien who has zero facial expression and speaks in a monotone, who ya gonna call?
Hell, yeah. Finally! It's Keanu's time to shine.
Am I alone here in smelling an Oscar?
On second thought, that smell is probably my disgusting cat who is sitting on the floor next to my chair right now. He suffers from a bad case of stankass, because he's too fat to clean himself properly.* Every time he leans over far enough to get his tongue within range of his butt, his gut flap covers everything up so he can't get to it. Yeah. Enjoy that visual. You're welcome.
To repay me, go here and click on the stars next to 15 Minute Lunch. Do it from every computer you have. Get your mom to vote. Your co-workers, anyone you can. Whatever you can do, do it for the Johnny and his yet-to-be book. The contest runs until midnight tonight, and if I don't win, then I''ll be bugging you to vote for me next week. Save yourself.
I'm up against a woman with hot flashes. I've heard about the mood swings. On the one hand, the last thing I want to do is piss her off, but on the other hand, I could pay off my roof.
It seems like I might actually have a shot, if the whole thing isn't BS. Thanks!
*His nickname is Orson.
Also, I know you guys are sick of voting for me all over the place, but seriously, 10 grand? Tell ya what -- If I actually win something, I'll put it to a vote here on my blog and donate a bunch of it to the chosen charity. I hope they like giant black olives. Vote for one (or more) of my posts here, but voting for the one with no pic and the title of my blog would be best, since it's got the highest number of the three. This week's votes end on Tuesday night, and there's some woman right on my ass.
I swear, this contest is the last time I'll ask you guys to do anything for me. (Unless I need to be bailed out of jail, of course.)
The sad thing is, if they are even remotely interesting, I actually look at them. God knows why, but I do. I think I'm brainwashed somehow, and I have been subliminally programmed to seek out cheap Chinese crap. There's something for everyone, and every taste.
Say, for instance, you're a devout Christian who would love nothing better than to have a full nativity display on your lawn throughout the Christmas season. Since you can't really afford to pay those nutty people at the church who freeze their asses off putting on that live nativity show to stand around on your lawn from 6-11 every night, you decide you're going to get some plastic fantastic holiness. Your first option is to hit up eBay and do a search on "Blow Mold Jesus.*" You'll get all sorts of hits like this one.
(As an aside, I looked at a bunch of those sets while writing this, and all of them have one thing in common, and that one thing is Mary's wild caterpillar eyebrows. No wonder she was a virgin. Also, judging by the size of the "newborn" baby Jesus in that link, I just have to say: Holy crap, Mary, I'm so sorry.)
At any rate, your only other choice besides new or used blow mold is to go 2D. The problem there is, you can't shove a light bulb up their butts to get that holy 60 watts of glow-power, so you have to go through the added hassle of setting up a spot light in front of them.
I present to you, the answer to your 2D prayers:
Not only can you get Mary, Jesus and Joseph, you can also get the manger, the wise men and the animals. All with enough lights to make them look like a casino on the Las Vegas strip.
Oh, and apparently you can make them blink. Can you imagine stumbling on that scene when you're least expecting it? Holy Holy epileptic attack, Batman. You'd probably wake up in the hospital mumbling something about a stroboscopic camel and the next thing you know you'd be living someplace where an orderly peels the tinfoil off your dinner every night during the Wheel of Fortune.
Here's the rest of the set:
Is it just me, or do the wise men look like they have super hero capes?
I also love the ad copy:
Please note: Express delivery is completely out of the question. You're going to have to sit your ass down and wait for quality merchandise like this.
This part made me laugh the most: "Reproduce the entire Nativity Scene (or parts of it)."
Like anyone would really order up some weird combination of holy figures.
"Oh, look! It's Jesus and Joseph!"
"Yeah, I heard there was a nasty break-up. He's a single dad now. It's kinda sad. I feel sorry for the kid."
p.s. - If you're not doing anything, you're all invited to stop by our place for drinks on Christmas eve. Just look for the house with the blinking baby Jesus and his best pal, donkey.
p.p.s - Check out this new site and vote for two of my posts here. I could win some big bucks. Unless, of course, they're lying, which wouldn't surprise me.
*the name of my next band
HONOLULU – A 24-year-old woman, on her first trip to Las Vegas, is worrying less about the nation's economy. That's because Jessica Agbunag won $2.4 million on Wednesday at a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the California Hotel and Casino.
Agbunag, a baby sitter who graduated high school in 2002, was in Las Vegas with her boyfriend and family in remembrance of her grandmother's birthday. Her grandmother was a frequent visitor to Las Vegas who loved slot machines.
The Wheel of Fortune machines were good to Agbunag.
She twice won much smaller amounts earlier this week at the same casino.
But on Wednesday, she inserted $16 into a Mega-Jackpot machine and it hit big. She said she plans to pay off a car and give some money to relatives.Well, at least now she has the money to buy herself a new last name. WTF.
At any rate, this is never me. I have the absolute worst luck in any sort of game of chance. I buy lottery tickets sometimes, and I think the last time I bought one, I didn't pick a single number correctly. Not one.
I can't say I never win though. I did win something once. When I was a kid, I decided that I was going to enter every contest I could find. Every sweepstakes, every radio giveaway, everything that required sending a proof of purchase or a 3x5 card with my name on it. I drove my mother nuts. I think I probably spent about $200 bucks in postage over a single summer.
Then the big day arrived. The UPS truck pulled up outside our house, and the driver wheeled a giant box up to the door, and it had my name on it. By that time, I had entered so many contests, I had no idea which one had finally paid off. I figured a box that size could only be the grand prize, or maybe even a 1st or second prize. I wasn't picky. I had finally won something. I hauled the box into the kitchen, and I couldn't believe how heavy it was. This was going to be good. I could feel it. I unstrapped the box, and opened it up to reveal.....
4 cases of canned giant black olives. Pitted. I thought my mother was going to piss herself she was laughing so hard. I didn't think it was funny, and I was disappointed for weeks. And of course, every night my mother would ask me if I wanted any olives with dinner.
Lastly, since I don't have anything else ready to go at the moment, I'll share this with you all. My friend is a woodworker, and a while back he got careless and ran his thumb through a table saw. Luckily (?) he did it length-wise and not across, so no digits got flung across the room into the wall or anything. But it was pretty gruesome just the same. He sent me a picture of his thumb after they stitched it back up, and he wanted me to make a sign for his shop, so he would always remember to be careful. Originally we had talked about his thumb in one of those red circles with the line through it, but the more I got thinking about it, the more I thought a poster would do the trick.
Here's what I came up with:
Sorry for that picture. I know it's relatively disgusting. I think I'm going to hang one in my own shop. Because I sorta like my toes.
I really need to clean my hard drive.
Even though this post is late, I want to tell you about one of the most special gifts I've ever received.
Born and raised in Italy, my wife's grandfather was sent to this country at the age of seventeen by his father. Two years earlier, Mussolini had invaded Ethiopia, and sending him overseas to America was the only way he knew to keep his boy safe. Italy required mandatory military service from all eligible men, and the writing was on the wall. The year he arrived in the United States, Italy withdrew from the League of Nations, and shortly thereafter, things started going south in a hurry.
He arrived here with almost nothing, and knowing not a single word of English. He got a job as a dishwasher, and learned English by watching five-cent movie matinees between the morning prep and the lunch rush. Serial westerns, mostly, from what he told me. Within the next few years, he became a citizen and worked his way up to become a cook.
On May 18th of 1942, at the age of twenty-two, he was drafted into the United States Army as a Private. He then endured a grueling, 19-day voyage to North Africa, one of thousands of men packed into a ship made to hold hundreds. They slept in 4 hour shifts because there weren't enough berths, most of the time in makeshift hammocks, and shipboard conditions were so unhygienic most men were sick by the time they reached their destination in Casablanca.
I don't know much about WWII and the North African campaign, and I'm sure that I show my ignorance of world history every time I talk to him. He doesn't like to talk about the war, or the part he played in it. Even now, I can see in his eyes that he remembers it like it happened yesterday, and I can tell that he has seen things he would rather forget. I try not to pry, even though my curiosity sometimes gets the better of me. I don't ask him about it much any more, not since the time I saw that my innocent questions had upset him to the point of tears.
I don't know what he experienced. I can't even imagine. But I do know this -- he fought for our country, against his own countrymen -- against the country where all of his family still lived -- because he was an American, and it was required of him. Yes, he was drafted. No, he didn't have a choice. But he did what he had to do, and he did it for his new country, and his new home.
A couple of years ago, he gave me these:
His dog tags and his ID bracelet. I thanked him, and told him that it was an honor. He waved his hand away like it was no big deal. Maybe it wasn't for him, but it certainly was for me.
I called him up on Tuesday, just to tell him I was thinking about him. Even though I never came right out and thanked him for those years of his life sacrificed to make our lives better, I think he knows how I feel.
And to all the rest of the veterans reading this: Thank you.
To end this on a humorous note, one of my favorite family stories is about my wife's great-uncle. He too, served in the US military during WWII, but he wasn't a grunt. He was a Navy man. He also had it pretty rough. How rough, you ask? Well, he served his entire hitch working as a bartender in an officers' club in Hawaii. At first I thought he was a little confused and actually remembering the plot to an Elvis movie, but he has the pictures to prove it. Go figure.
It IS pretty strong, but unfortunately it's not very good. But then again, I like to grind my own, so maybe that's the difference.
Also, for those of you who, like me, hate clowns -- Here's my Halloween jack-o-lantern.
It steals souls.
I don't usually get political on this here blog. Mostly because I dislike pointless arguments. You're not going to change anyone's mind about politics, religion or abortion, and that's just the way it is, so why bother trying? Live and let live, until someone needs to die. That's my motto.
Another reason I don't talk about my politics is because I can't find a viable political party to belong to. Where does a fiscally conservative, gun-toting, pro-choice, pro-military, anti-socialist agnostic fit? Remember, I said viable. To me, current dems and republicans are just two sides of the same coin, and I'm not sure either of them stands for the same things they did back when JFK was around. I'd bet my paycheck he wouldn't even recognize his own party. Hell, he'd probably be considered a republican now.
And what the fuck happened to being a conservative democrat or a liberal republican? When did everything get so split down the middle and black and white? My theory: Democracy only works until the people with nothing outnumber the people with something, and then the candidate that promises the most free stuff gets elected.
I'm hoping Obama will be different. I'm not holding my breath, however. Other than his funkycool name, here's a few other good things about his victory:
(1) No more calls to my unlisted phone number for at least four years. I came home from work one day, and had 30 minutes of a live town hall clogging up my answering machine. I should be able to kick someone in the nuts for that.
(2) Certain liberal democrat celebrities will FINALLY stop whining about "stolen elections" and "Fascism."
(3) Finally! For fuck's sake, it's been 8 years. Shut up.
(4) No chance of McCain kicking off and leaving us with President Hockey Mom. Maybe if I had heard her speak at least once where she didn't mention her kids or hockey it would have been different. But when the shit hits the fan, I just couldn't picture her stepping up. Plus, that whole fruit fly thing made me seriously question her intelligence.
(5) The first black president. Although to be fair, it's not like we elected 50cent or JayZ. Obama is practically whiter than I am, but still. Pretty cool.
OK, I've donned my flame retardant suit. Have at me, if you must. You're not the boss of me.
ps -- Tim Robbins -- shut it, douchebag. If it had been done intentionally, why do it to you, of all people? Would "they" do it intentionally to someone who still (barely) has the public recognition and star-power clout to do something about it on the spot? No, they'd pick some nobody with no recourse. A vote is a vote, and contrary to what you might think, yours doesn't count any more than anyone else's. (Loved you in Shawshank!) [edit: ok, in the 2nd article I linked to (the first one went dead) he did say it appeared to be random.]
pps - Everyone who hasn't, go read Atlas Shrugged. Right now. And then just keep your eyes open for the next 4 years. Get out and vote (for me).
Have you ever pulled a coat out of storage, reached in the pocket and found something you didn't remember leaving in there? If you're lucky, it's a wad of cash. If you're less lucky, it's a wad of gum, or a tuna sandwich. Well, that's what happened to me this afternoon, but without the tuna or the gum.
I reached in my jacket pocket, and pulled this out:
I have no idea what it was doing in there, but hey, free camping gear. I assume I picked it up in some bathroom somewhere, with the intention of incorporating it into a brilliant blog post.
This is not it.
I'll give the marketing guys some props though. That's an awesome product name. However, I'm not sure what's up with the 'flowers in the urn' graphic -- to me that seems sort of useless, like scented toilet paper, or boobs on Rosie O'Donnell.
And now for something completely different. If anyone can tell me how this ice is formed, I will send you a "valuable" prize. Pic1. Pic2.
Happy Halloween by the way. I'm off to watch Pumpkinhead and drink martinis. Wish me luck.
I was reminded of another punishment the other day. No Thing.
This particular punishment affected The Snitch more than it affected me or Houdini, mostly because as the human vacuum cleaner among us, he was the one who looked forward to it most.
Let me take a moment to explain about The Thing. Any given night at our house, about an hour or so before The Snitch, Houdini and I were shuffled off to bed, you might hear any of the following:
(1) "What do you want for your Thing?"
(2) "Can I have my Thing now?"
(3) "No. I told you no Thing tonight and I meant it."
Our bedtimes were staggered, however The Thing usually happened all at once. We'd all line up and get our Things, then go watch another ten minutes of TV. I know that sounds like some bizarre Scientology ritual, but it wasn't.
Here's the story. Once, when our minds were young and impressionable, my mother said, "You can each have one thing to eat before you go to bed, and that's it."
"I want a Popsicle for my Thing," I replied. "Green."
"I want a cookie for my Thing. With some ice cream," The Snitch said.
"No fair! That's two Things! Cookies and ice cream is two Things," Houdini said. "You're only supposta get one Thing."
Eventually this word rubbed off on my mother and she started saying it too. "What do you want for your Thing?" she would ask us, without batting an eye.
Even dinner guests didn't interfere with the this nightly ritual. When we all started clamoring for our "Thing" it completely mystified the guests and embarrassed my parents, who very quickly explained exactly what it was we were asking for.
Logically, you'd think it would have morphed into "What do you want for your snack?" but sadly, that didn't happen.
"Thing" it was, and "Thing" it ever shall be.
What was it that prompted me to tell you this story? Well, I happened to stumble upon this a couple of days ago and it made me laugh:
It MUST happen. IT MUST....IT MUST!
I'll have the coffee ice cream and Kahlúa. Oh, and a vote. Or is that one too many Things?
What do you guys want for your Thing?
I've got the generator running, and a few minutes ago I decided I'd get on NG's website to see how many people in my area are down. Turns out the magic number is 7. While I was there, I looked around and saw this:
Thank you, National Grid. That's some good, solid advice you're tossing my way. Maybe it's just me, but I try to avoid just about all potentially deadly things, regardless of whether or not I'm advised to do so. Wolf packs, the Ebola virus, Canadian health care, you name it and I'm actively avoiding it.
For the nature freaks among you, here's a picture I took of the place I hiked to a couple of Sundays ago. It's a composite of 6 pictures, so it's a little wide to post in blogger, hence the link. Enjoy!
Or not. Just do what feels right to you.
Without further ado, I present the "best" of October 2008 --
Fantastic Google Searches That Somehow Led People To My Site
there is a big bird outside my window in santa barbara that says "mom" - I find this interesting, although I have no real explanation. My first guess is that the bird is confused and has the wrong house. My second guess has to do with that one time at band camp when you fucked that rooster, ended up pregnant, then gave your chick up for adoption. Maybe it's your misspent youth coming back to bite you in the ass.
how to make your vagina smell inviting - I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here in being a fan of inviting vagina, so I'd be honored to help you. I would assume that to be considered "inviting," your vag would have to smell good and not like cat food, or rooster jizz. Here's a list of my favorite smells: Autumn leaves, pine needles, lilacs, gasoline and magic marker. Do with it what you will. I'd be careful mixing and matching though. Too much of a good thing and all that.
how to impress a high school girl when you sit with them at lunch -- First off, I'm probably the wrong person to answer this, because of this simple equation:
me + high school girl = prison
But, even though I was a dork in high school and ate with the AV club and not the girls, I'll try to help you anyway. Your technique will depend upon the type of girl you are trying to impress. If she is hot, blonde and dumb, you can easily impress her with your good looks and expensive sports car. On the other hand, if she is hot, brunette, and incredibly intelligent, you would probably be better off trying to impress her with your good looks and expensive sports car. If you aren't rich and/or good looking, then I would advise you to stay away from the hot girls, because if you sit with them at lunch, they will just pour their drinks in your lap, then get up and move, and you'll be in the boy's room standing on the sink trying to get your Snapple-soaked crotch in front of the hand dryer.
bogo is what? -- Allow me to help. BOGO, or as it is intimately known by my wife, other bargain shoppers and everyone in the U.S. but you, stands for Buy One, Get One, and this makes sense, but only if you know the FREE is implied. Think of it like the silent "H" in Ghost. Technically, it should probably be BOGOF, but that sounds really stupid -- unlike BOGO, which doesn't sound at all like the name of a clown, or a board game. So, question answered.
Now, perhaps everyone reading this can answer one for me. Why the eff does Payless Shoes have an annual sale called BOGO, and yet the deal they advertise is Buy One, Get One Half Off? Is it because BOGOHO doesn't have quite the same ring to it and has prostitutional connotations? It pisses me off. I think they could base an entire ad campaign around some rapper yelling "YO! BOGO HO!" because that's just fun to say.
can you prodect my futrue carreer -- Oh, yes. Yes, I can. It involves wearing lots of high-tech communications equipment and becoming an expert in the latest touchscreen computer technology. To get a jump on your future career, practice leaning out of a window and handing people paper bags.
my vagina wont stretch enough to put two miners in -- Call me crazy, but I'm thinking that if you have even one miner in there, you're just asking for trouble. In my experience, miners never really make anything better than it was before, and I can't imagine this wouldn't hold true for vaginas as well. They'll just pull the good stuff out and leave gaping tunnels behind that will eventually fill up with stagnant runoff or be used to store nuclear waste, and nobody wants that. Also, if you don't know, try to find out what they are mining. I hope it's diamonds and not something like sulfur or coal.
whats it like to pee -- ALIENS! THE ALIENS ARE HERE! I TOLD YOU!
addicted to the smell of sweaty balls -- I originally thought this one would be difficult, because I don't know if you're a man or a woman. Then I thought, I guess it really doesn't matter. You should have no problem getting your fill, since according to government studies, 94% of all guys everywhere have sweaty balls when the temperature gets above 75 degrees. If you are trying to break that addiction, however, I suggest keeping your nose out of mens' crotches.
what does it mean when a guy grabs your penis -- That depends. If you've invited him to do so, it probably means you're a gay man, or you're having your annual physical. If the grab is uninvited and you have sweaty balls, then it's probably just the addiction talking.
With that, I leave you to your lazy Sunday afternoon. I'm going to go rake some leaves. If you get a chance, pop on over to Humor-Blogs.com -- Diesel's changed it up a bit and it's easier to vote now, if you're so inclined.
My buddy Greg lives a couple of hours away, and we don't get to hang out as much as we'd like to, so it was good to catch up. It was the first time either of us had been on this particular hike, and the day couldn't have been more perfect. We had a great time.
Since I am currently contemplating what I can and can't write about the weddings I attended, I decided to tell you a camping story instead, given that I recently talked about my bad "people luck."
We tend to take a lot of time off in September and October for backpacking and canoeing, mostly because we don't mind if it gets cold, there's no bugs and it's a lot less crowded. Usually, by mid-October in the Adirondacks, it can be cold enough to freeze your water at night, and the Autumn leaves are long gone.
There's a reason we like to go places so late in the season, and that's because when it gets cold and the leaves are gone, generally so are the crowds.
We pulled up to the parking lot at Forked Lake early on a Saturday morning and unloaded the canoe. Forked Lake is one of those places where you don't have to carry the canoe very far -- you can park pretty close to water. I looked over to the right, and saw a row of porta-potties that were left over from Labor Day weekend, the last weekend the lake was officially "open" to camping. They don't really enforce it, but we figured we'd find a spot to camp that was out of the way and not on one of the shoreline camping sites, just in case there happened to be a bored ranger running around somewhere looking for something to do.
As a result, we set up the tent in a wind-blasted jumble of downed cedar trees that were uprooted in a major storm a few years back. I don't know why we didn't just camp on the beach since were the only people on the lake, but anyway, that's what we did.
That night was uneventful, and when the fire went out, we we went to sleep.
The next thing I remember is waking up at dawn with my heart in my throat because the world just exploded. I scrambled out of the tent to look around, and the sound of the explosion was still echoing around the mountains.
We figured out later that it was a sonic boom, which isn't as odd as it sounds since A-10 Warthogs routinely used the Adirondack airspace for training exercises, but it's a helluva way to wake up. Since it was still very early, I crawled back inside the tent and went back to sleep...
...only to wake up a few hours later to a different sound. Could it be...music? And a very loud voice? Over a megaphone? And then other voices, much closer.
Lots of them. WTF?
We crawled out of our tent and walked to the water's edge. Amazingly, the entire lake was filled with people in canoes.
Literally hundreds of them. All laughing, yelling to each other across the water and generally having a grand old time, which basically meant that this quiet, pristine lake was now louder than an Irish bar late on St. Paddy's day. At that point, I realized the porta-potties were there for a very different reason than the one I originally thought. It turned out we were caught in the middle of this.
Obviously, we decided not to stay. We packed up and paddled out amidst the crowd, trying to avoid bumping our camo-painted, 90 lb. fiberglass behemoth of a canoe into other see-through boats that cost more than I make in 6 months.
When we finally got within 20 feet of the shore, the guy on the megaphone (who was then about 30 feet away from us) yelled, "WHAT NUMBER?" directly into our faces.
We stepped out of the canoe and straight into a fucking carnival. The beach was covered with people, canoes, portable picnic tables, you name it. There was even a popcorn wagon, a guy making fried dough, and a radio station van, finished off by a D.J. cranking out the oldies.
We dragged our floating brick past the announcer.
"What number are you?" he asked again, this time -- thankfully -- without the amplification.
"No number," I replied. "Just us."
Then we drove home where it's quiet and peaceful and nobody plays oldies.
Dammit, now I want fried dough.
Yeah, I'm not dead. Just so you know.
Matt Scannell, for those of you who don't know, is the front man and chief songwriter for the band Vertical Horizon. I liked them a lot back in 99 when Everything You Want came out. Apparently these guys are friends and have been doing a series of acoustic shows that basically involve them hanging out and playing some reworked versions of their tunes, as well as some new ones they've been working on together. They don't do many of these shows, and I figured Ridgefield was about as close as they were going to get, so I decided to make the trip. At the very least, it would be a good opportunity to see a couple of very talented guys play some good acoustic music in an intimate setting.
Unfortunately, my wife had to work, so she couldn't go with me. So I recruited Yort. I also brushed the dust off my old bootlegging equipment and decided I was going to record the show so she could listen to it if she wanted to. (Back in the late 90's and early 2000's, recording my friend Pete's band The Badlees was sort of a hobby of mine, and I still have a giant pile of mini-disc recordings that I will someday get around to transferring to CD.)
Anyway, to make a long story short, Yort and I got there a little early and checked out our seats. This is a tiny place, and we were sitting directly in the center a few rows down from the mixing board. Acoustically, they were probably the best seats in the house. As we walked in the door, I glanced at the seats, then at my ticket, and asked Yort to switch with me because there was an older gent already sitting in the adjacent seat on my side, and I wanted to mess with my recorder without anyone seeing me.
Once I fiddled with the recorder and got everything set to go, I relaxed. I figured the show would be pretty long, since I had heard it was 1/3 comedy, 1/3 storytelling and 1/3 music, and I was prepared. I didn't think there'd be much trouble swapping the disc after the first 75 minutes. Worst case, I could take a quick trip to the men's room and only miss half a song or so.
If you've read my blog for very long, you already know I have what I call bad "people luck" which means that if there is an annoying person within 50 miles of me, they will seek me out like a guided douchebag missle. If I'm on a plane, they're the one with the B.O. and bad breath that will sit next to me and like to talk. If I'm in a movie, they are either the really tall one who sits directly in front of me, or the really obnoxious one sitting behind me talking on their cell phone while simultaneously kicking my seat. If I go camping, they pack in right next to me and crank up the chainsaw and generator. You get the idea.
Historically speaking, my luck at concert venues isn't much better, but I thought maybe this show would be an exception. But it was not to be. Five minutes before the show started, a really excited looking, sweaty, pudgy, middle-aged girl wedged her way into our row and sat down next to me. She immediately turned to me and tried to bond, in a similar fashion to how I imagine a lamprey eel would strike up the initial conversation with the shark it wanted to latch on to and suck the life from.
"So are you a big fan? I LOVVVE Richard Marx. I mean, it's Richard Marx, how could you not love him?" she said with a single breath. She looked at my headphones and added, "Where you listening to him on the way to the show?"
"No," I replied. (hidden inside the non-functioning headphones is a pair of stereo microphones.) I reached in my pocket and started my recorder.
Just then the lights dimmed, and suddenly there was a steam locomotive crossing a trestle in the seat next to me. My ears were assaulted with a sound that simply had to originate directly from the bowels of Hell. I looked to my right. No, not from Hell -- from her.
"WHOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOO!!" she said.
"Holy Shit," I said, shaking my head to make my brain work again.
"I'm a screamer. Sorry," she said.
More than I needed to know.
The announcer walked on stage and introduced Matt and Richard. That's when the Whoo-Whoo! Girl really broke loose. She started yelling "You're AWESOME!" and screaming "WHOOOOOOOOOooooooooooOOOOOOOOO!" -- all while Richard was trying to introduce a song. Then...THEN....as the first song started, she began clapping along and singing - badly.
Motherfucker. It happened to me again.
So as I'm sitting there listening to my bootleg get completely trashed, I'm also trying to think of what I should do. I thought about getting up and moving to another seat farther back, but that would leave Yort by himself, and it would also mean I'd have to climb over everyone else in the row.
I'd like to point out that this is the part of the story where I do the exact right thing.
What would a rabid fan love more than anything? I thought. I know! A copy of the show they were currently attending, to remember it forever! So between whoo-whoos, I leaned over and said, "Look, I'm going to be honest with you. I'm trying to record this show, and if you tone it down just a little bit, I'll send you a copy of it."
She turned toward me and shook her head. "No," she said, "No. You're cheating!"
Then she started boiling like a corked up teapot that was about to blow.
"Cheating?" I asked. "What do you ----"
"YOU'RE STEALING FROM THEM!" she yelled at me. "STEALING!"
"No, it's only for me," I said, backpedaling. "So my wife can hear the show."
"You're not a true fan! You're not even a fan of music, are you?"
"No, really -- I ----"
"GO SIT SOMEWHERE ELSE! I PAID FOR THIS EXPERIENCE!"
At this point I was getting a little irritated. "I paid too. But I didn't pay to experience your experience," I said.
"You're OBVIOUSLY not a musician," she said.
"I play the drums," I said, realizing as I said it that I basically just conceded her point.
It was right about then that I heard a little voice in the back of my head say "Johnny. Psssst. Um, she can get you kicked out of the show. Just thought I'd mention that."
My little voice was right. What to do? I thought fast (for me, anyway), leaned over again and said, "I was just kidding. I'm not actually recording the show. I was just trying to get you to be quiet."
So she leaned over and sang directly into my face.
I was making friends. This was good.
I chalked it up to another episode of bad "people luck" and sat back to enjoy what I could of the show between spastic outbursts of unrequited Richard Marx love. I figured she'd eventually tire herself out or maybe have a coronary, but sadly, neither of those things happened. She dry-humped her chair a lot, and her butt-bulk kept invading my seat, so that was a nice bonus.
When the 75 minutes were up and I knew I needed to change the disc, there was no way I was going to switch it out in plain view after I told her I wasn't recording, so I just let it roll out. I figured that at least I got the first 3/4 of the show. Other than having to run it through Ableton and SoundForge to EQ it a bit, (neither program has a whoo-whoo filter, unfortunately) it actually turned out pretty good.
I also have to note that throughout this series of altercations, Yort was helping me deal with crazy fan-girl by studiously pretending to not know me. I like to think that if it had come to blows, he'd have had my back, but it's probably just wishful thinking on my part.
At any rate, if you get chance to see these guys, do it. They're funny, they're talented, and they put on a great show. Just heed my advice -- if you hear a locomotive heading in your general direction, run like hell or risk being steam-rolled by the Marx Love.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
First, the article. Go read it, I'll wait. For those of you who don't like to follow links, here's most of the text, excluding the actual letter sent to Ben & Jerry's. Keep in mind this is not from The Onion:
WATERBURY, Vt. -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow's milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman."PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves," the statement says. PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.
Ignoring the fact that the Swiss restaurant owner just traded 3/4 of his normal clientele for a few extra fetishists sitting down to dinner on Saturday night, I will go out on a limb here and give PETA the benefit of the doubt as to whether they are actually serious or not. It could just be a giant tongue-in-cheek publicity stunt, and if so, kudos to the wackos. Having read other articles about PETA, however, I'm not so sure.
Rather than giving you a rational, well-thought-out analysis of PETA's goals and ambitions and the questionable methods they use to achieve them, which you can view at my buddy Dave's blog here, I will instead give you a blow by blow account of my thought processes after I read the article:
Drinking breast milk instead of cow's milk? That's disgusting!
Well, maybe not.
You see what happened right there? I had a visceral, instantaneous reaction to the article that was immediately tempered by the fact that I'm a guy.
Because of that small genderific detail, my mind first went here:
But then I thought: Well, it's not like we'll be getting it straight from the tap or anything. Plus, we're talking massive quantities here -- roughly 520 gallons per cow per year. (Yes, of course I had that statistic in my head.) And cows have a buttload of nipples.
So my brain wandered over here for a bit:
However, I realized genetic engineering doesn't come cheap. Given that, I theorized that U.S. dairy farmers, being a cheap-ass lot, were almost guaranteed to go down this path instead:
At that point, I was almost sure it was a bad idea and that PETA had a squirrel loose in the attic.
Besides, PETA tells us that high volume, industrial dairy farmers are a bunch of greedy bastards and they like to give the cows growth hormone and antibiotics and all sorts of other horrible shit to maximize their milk production, so before you know it, you'd be in this territory:
And then I was back to "That's Disgusting!" -- and also a little sick to my stomach.
I don't even know if that's a man or a woman, but I found the picture when I was looking around on the net and decided that if I had to see it, then you all did too. So you're welcome.
I still don't know if PETA was kidding or serious, but I do know this -- If it ever happens, I am 100% positive that I will be more than happy to pour Mountain Dew on my cornflakes every morning for the rest of my life.
Thank you, PETA, for being you. Don't ever change, Baby. You're glorious.
I wanted a baked potato to go with my dinner the other day, and so I yelled upstairs to my wife (who knows the location of All Things in the house), "Hey, do we have any potatoes?" She yelled down, "I think there's a few in the rotter."
So I looked, and she was sort of right. There was one potato left. After seeing it, however, I firmly believe that we originally had more. My theory is that some time in the past week or so, each one had expertly planned and executed its escape. I base this theory on the fact that this last one appeared very close to making a run for it:
I think they were using the paper towels to disguise themselves.
And no, I didn't eat it. I stabbed it a few times, though, just to be on the safe side.
I had a bit of a health scare last week. This resulted in me learning way too much about the things in your throat and what can go wrong with them. You would not believe all of the nasty possibilities. Here's some unsolicited advice for you - never search Google for these terms: throat, bone, bump, lump, larynx, esophagus, Adam's apple, lymph nodes. If you do, you will be utterly convinced you are going to die within 6 months, and then you will freak out a little bit and rent the movie "The Bucket List" before you realize you don't have the money to actually do any of that stuff because you aren't Morgan Freeman or Jack Nicholson.
Long story short, I ended up in my GP's office getting my neck felt up. Being the ever-cautious fellow that he is, he sent me for a CAT-Scan of my head and neck, and set me up with an ENT specialist, which did nothing to allay my fears. Since the appointment was the day after the scan, they gave me a CD of the scan results to bring with me, which meant I had approximately 14 hours to become an expert at reading CAT scans, which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.
Even though I was easily able to locate the area in question, and learn a lot about bone density, contrast dyes and all 257 slices of my own head, I lacked other potentially useful things such as a medical degree and any clue as to what the fuck I was looking for. I saw some lumps and bumps of bone that I couldn't interpret, then I went to bed and slept like a stone, by which I mean a stone that happened to be sleeping in a clothes dryer for 8 hours.
The next morning, I sat in a waiting room with my wife, listening to people talking through holes in their throats that were far south of where their mouths were, which also did nothing to calm our respective nerves.
The doctor was great -- he showed me the CAT-Scan and how to interpret what was there, and then said the magic words: It's nothing to worry about. I think we both wanted to kiss him. I don't know about my wife, but I was totally going to use tongue. Basically it came down to me having a slightly irregular hyoid bone, which is something that, until two weeks ago, I never knew resided in my neck. After doing the research however, I discovered that it's the only bone in your body that isn't connected to any other bone, and it helps provide structure to your breathing tube and anchors your tongue. Go figure.
We have a dear friend who is currently fighting breast cancer, and I can't even imagine how hard it is to face down something like that every morning. I only had to think about it for a week or so, and the experience was eye-opening enough for me to see how truly brave she and others like her are. (If you pray to a god, or even if you don't, please send her some positive vibes.)
The down side of this whole thing was being scared out of my mind for a week. The upside was a slap to the side of the head that reminded me of what's really important. I suddenly had a fresh, new appreciation of my life and everything and everyone in it. Call me crazy, but I'm going to try to hang on to that feeling for as long as I can.
There was another upside of course, and that was I got to see some pretty wild pictures of what my head would look like if you brought it to the local deli and sliced it up with a meat saw. Let me tell you, there are parts of my skull that would keep Marilyn Manson awake at night. If I ever start a Death Metal band, I'm going to use this particular slice and call my band HYOID.
Here's our debut album cover:
In other news, I finally have a new roof on my house, courtesy of four drunk monkeys with nail guns. OK, they weren't really drunk monkeys, but that visual is funnier than if I just said "guys." Seriously, just once in my life, I would like to have contractors at the house that I didn't want to immediately kill and bury in the backyard. If I ever get laid off from my job, I think I'm going to become a general contractor. I will differentiate myself from the others in this business by (a) doing what I say I'm going to do, (b) doing it when I say I'm going to do it, (c) doing it for the price I initially agreed to, and (d) severely limiting customer exposure to my ass-crack. I am pretty sure I will retire a wealthy man.
I think my main problem with contractors is that I know how things are supposed to be done, even though I've never done them. Unfortunately for me, I know the difference between shoddy workmanship and a good, solid mastery of a skill-set. Also unfortunately for me, I am not always able to pay top-dollar for good, solid mastery of a skill set. Perhaps I have an inflated sense of my own abilities, but I am pretty sure that, given enough time, I could have done a much better job than they did, even considering the fact that it would have been my first time.
Luckily, I was able to work from home for a few days so I could keep an eye on their progress and say things like "Hey, you're going to have to rip off the first 3 feet of shingles and redo them because you forgot to peel the backing off the ice-and-water shield." Or: "Did you happen to notice that the line of shingles that form the transition between the front porch and the main house roof looks like it was nailed down by a drunk monkey?"
So they ripped that out and did it over, too. Sigh. Thousands of dollars later, I have very little confidence this roof isn't going to leak come spring, but I guess we'll see. At least they're gone now and temporarily out of my life. He signed a 5-year warranty against leaks, which I realize means almost nothing, especially coming from a contractor.
On the plus side, I know where he lives and I have plenty of room left in my back yard. Anyone want to help me dig? You can even toss in a contractor or two of your own if you need to free up some space in your freezer. Seriously, I don't mind.
Feed my self-esteem at humor-blogs.com.
Update! Warranty claim number one: It's been raining all day, and I now have water dripping from my soffit onto my porch. I have a feeling this isn't going to end well.
LAGOS (Reuters) -A Nigerian court has granted temporary reprieve to an 84-year-old Muslim preacher with 86 wives after local leaders threatened to force him to leave the area unless he divorced all but four of them.
One, that's a shitload of wives by any religion's standards. Two, how do you bargain it down to four as an acceptable number?
"You may only have one wife!"
"I will accept no less than 20!"
"You may have two! That is all!"
"I will have ten! That is my final offer!"
"You are a good preacher. Because of that, we will go as high as three!"
"I am a great preacher. I deserve no less than eight!"
"Four, or we cut off your balls and feed them to a camel."
Apparently, Sharia Law says 4 is the magic number. I'm willing to bet he followed the FIFO accounting method, because let's face it -- wives 83 through 86 have to be way hotter than wives 1-4 at this point. Although if he were smart, he'd go with at least one wife in the high 50's because every wife after 80 is probably like 12 years old, and not really that great at cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry.
I don't know about this Sharia law stuff. Even four sounds like a lot to me. I only have the one wife and frankly, I don't think I have the energy for any number higher than that.
vote for me at humor-blogs.com -- if you can.
So if you'd like to turn your living room into the waiting room of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman or some sort of moon-bounce/opium den, JC Penney has you covered.
Let's take a quick look at their Finest Stereo System:
Ah, 8-track tape. Who doesn't love hearing their favorite songs interrupted by a fade-out, a loud KA-CHUNK, and a fade in? And after paying almost 300 bucks for this 'quality' audio equipment, you'd still end up needing to jam something on one side of the tape after a while so it didn't sound like the music was being played in slow motion underwater. In 1977 I was building a kick-ass Beatles collection on 8-track that I was going to have forever. I'm sure you can figure out how that went.
By '77, the video game PONG had been out for a few years. There were a half-dozen clones of it for sale, and JC Pennney wanted a piece of the hot video game action. They called it 'tv fun' and claimed it never lost its challenge. Also, it was 4 games in one:
The games were Pong, Doubles Pong, Only-Child Pong, and Handball. I imagine it lost its challenge pretty quickly.
At our house, we actually had the real PONG game. My father would only let us play it on the old, crappy TV because after about the first month or so, your TV looked like this:
For some reason he wasn't crazy about a score box and black line permanently burned into his screen.
I guess the late 70's CB radio craze was responsible for this monstrosity:
With that clamped to your handlebars, you probably couldn't see the road. Not to mention the fact that the first time you crashed your bike you were almost guaranteed to be pulling a whip antenna out of your ruined eye socket.
I still remember when I got my first one of these:
Due to the wonders of modern science, you now needed both hands to tell the time at night instead of just one. Nobody gave a shit that they were massively inconvenient. Seriously. It was like magic on your wrist. Remember the first time you saw an iPhone? Yeah. Like that.
Keeping in Shape in 1977
How did people melt away fat 31 years ago? The same way they do now. By purchasing home gym equipment that they hang their laundry on, and drinking Slim Fast.
No, I kid. They did it with these fantastical implements of torture:
Yes, it's the old vibrating belt machine. The big improvement here over the model they had in the 50's? TWO belts. That's some serious fucking innovation right there.
This interesting looking thing is called a roller massager:
I really have no idea what this would do for you besides leave welts on your fat. She looks pretty intrigued sitting on it though. It's probably better than the washing machine on spin cycle.
For only 300 bucks you could have your own personal sauna:
Remember, one beep means yes and two means no. And don't be surprised when the pulsing ass-heads from Talos IV show up.
Right now, a bunch of you reading this are thinking, "Huh?" but that's OK. If only one person out there gets the joke, it's totally worth it.
This next contraption?
I have no idea what it is, but I'm getting one for the bedroom.
Lastly, don't forget your fancy sports footwear, like these 'JuiceMobiles':
What a difference 17 years makes:
Let's take a look at childrens' fashions first:
With the black bow tie and the arm just itching for a white linen towel, I can almost guarantee this kid grew up to be a butler or a maître d'. And could that suit be any thicker?
This next kid thinks he looks pretty smooth in his tangerine duds. Who said checks and polka dots don't mix? I also love the fact that he may actually be holding his own missing tooth.
As you can see from his expression, this next kid knows exactly what's going to happen to him if he steps outside his own front door. I mean, he has big bird and cookie monster in his pockets. The haircut alone will most likely get him a beat down, but the outfit and hair combo? You can almost see the thought-bubble over his head that says, "I am so fucked."
This is the kid they modeled Eric Foreman after on That 70's Show:
I'm not exactly sure what's going on in the photo below. That is one seriously effed-up hat. I believe this whole ensemble is some sort of cookie-selling uniform. It says "For Brownies" in very small letters next to the picture and if I remember correctly, a Brownie is just a boobless Girl Scout.
For this next one, I'll let you all make up your own jail-bait jokes:
They also had themed bedsheets for kids, and this one caught my eye:
These sheets were clearly designed by someone not familiar with the show, and I'm betting most of the geeks reading this right now know why. I've taken the liberty of pointing out the flaw below:
For those of you not up on your Trek, it's always the unknown guys in red that buy the farm. I think having sheets covered in dead guys would have given me recurring nightmares that always included the following bit of dialogue: "Spock, Bones, McCoy, Sulu, and uh...you there, in the red. Ensign...Virgil, is it? OK. Meet me in the transporter room. Chekhov, you have the Conn." 15 seconds after we beam down, I'm dead.
Here are some of my other favorites from the mens' and womens' sections:
The last time I saw a beard like that was on my Adventure Team GI Joe:
Billy Bob and Dubya look pretty virile:
These next two guys, I'm not so sure about:
I think the white cutoffs are assless.
f you've ever wondered about the inspiration for the Brawny paper towel guy, here you go:
The other guy is just thinking "I will do you right now."
Here's the contents of my dad's underwear drawer in 1977:
That old saying he shared with me about vertical stripes making you look longer must be true.
Wait, that was taller. Never mind.
If you really wanted to get ready for sexy time, you'd go to bed wearing one of these bad boys:
You just know he's gettin' some tonight.
The women's underwear was pretty hot back then too:
I think this particular line was called "Flat Irish Ass - by JC Penney"
The bras weren't very supportive back then:
I love how the name is "Comfort Hours." Does anything at all about that look comfortable to you? I am pretty sure it could deflect bullets.
These night gowns aren't too bad, except for Crazy Sally over there on the left who will obviously stab you to death while you sleep:
OK, I'm running out of steam, so I'll leave the exercise equipment, electronics and home furnishings for the next time. Until then, I leave you with these:
I have giant novelty sunglasses smaller than those.
Small children could hide inside her bell bottoms.
Have fun, I'm off on vacation for a few days. Enjoy what's left of the summer, and for god's sake, try not to dress like a wood-elf: