Take pictures. It's a lot less work.

I was cruising around on the web looking for a picture of that dude from Office Space who got hit by the truck, so I did a quick search on "body cast."

What came up was not something I would have expected, nor something I even knew existed until last night. What I found was this:

In case you're wondering what it is, it's something called the Proud Body Belly Cast. From what I can gather, it's some sort of plaster body cast for pregnant women to keep a memento of their "bump" (I think that's what the kids are calling it these days.)

The tagline for the kit actually says, "Just Love That Pregnant Belly? Now you can keep it forever when you make a pregnancy belly cast using our kit!"

Now, I've talked to many a pregnant woman, and in my experience, "keeping it forever" is really not one of the things any of them wished they could do. Getting out a chair without peeing a little bit -- yeah, that they wished they could do.

So I'm looking at this thing, and something about it seems oddly familiar. It just screams to my subconscious, but for the life of me, I can't place it.

Is it someone I know? I check the boobs. Nope, don't look familiar. Besides, I've never known anyone who did anything like this.

But still, it was bugging the shit out of me.

Then as I was driving to work this morning, I realized who it reminded me of:

Go ahead. Tell me it doesn't look like Homer Simpson trying to push his way out of Springfield and into the land of 3D. If you've ever seen an action figure of Homer, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I'm glad that's out of the way. It would have bugged me for weeks.

But back to this mold making process. There's something about this that I just don't understand. I can see where -- to a certain set of excited parents-to-be -- it might be a fun way to kill a lazy Sunday afternoon, but what the hell do you do with this thing afterwards?

Hang it on the wall like some sort of priceless African mask?

Maybe slap some straps on it, paint it red, white and blue, and let your husband use it as an apron at the next July 4th cookout?

Personally, what I would do is wait until I had a really big party and then I'd flip it over and use it to serve salsa, sour cream and tortilla chips. You can figure out what goes where without my help, I'm sure.

So for about $35 bucks you get: 5 rolls of premium-quality casting material, a Tube of Vaseline, a Drop cloth, a pair of Nitrile gloves and a supply of Sanding screen. You also get full directions in something like 5 different languages.

Let me tell you, I've used less raw materials to put up sheet rock after major water damage. I can't even begin to guess what kind of mess this whole procedure would make, but if drop cloths and sand paper are necessary, you might want to just take a few shots with the digital camera and call it a day.

Something else is wrong with this picture. I would guess that there would have to be two people involved -- but think about it. One of them is concerned enough about the chemicals involved to be wearing gloves -- however, they have no qualms about blissfully slathering some sort of hot plaster concoction on the completely naked, extremely sensitive, freshly-greased body parts of their significant other. I don't get it.

Oh, well. I'm sure that somewhere in the world there's someone who thinks it was the best money they ever spent. Besides, I'm firmly convinced that all "first-baby" pregnant women are crazy in the head. They'll buy (and eat) just about anything while in that state.

I'm willing to bet that if someone does this casting deal during their first pregnancy and goes on to have more kids, at some point they'll be looking at this thing and thinking, "You know, I'll bet if I cut a few handle-holes in that bitch, it would make a kick-ass laundry basket."


Shop, Shop, Shop. Shop, Shop with Stan

I forgot my iPod the other day, and I had the pleasure of realizing all over again why it was such a desperately necessary purchase. Since I didn't have any CDs with me, I was forced to listen to the horror that is local radio in upstate New York. You have your choice around here -- on the talk radio side of the house, you have your right-wing AM or left-wing FM -- WGY or NPR. On the music side, you have your basic classic rock, country or alternative. That's pretty much it. I couldn't take hearing another ad for Gold Bond Medicated Powder sandwiched in between Don Weeks laughing at his own jokes, or Paul Harvey telling me the rest of the story, so I skipped WGY. I couldn't take another touchy-feely broadcast about the ecosystem or the plight of women in Afghanistan delivered by a smug, blatantly homosexual professor with a PhD, so I skipped NPR. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) That took care of the talkie side. 

Since I'm not a big country music fan, and you can only listen to Boston's "More than a Feeling" so many times in your life before you want to hunt down and kill Tom Scholz, I opted for the local "alternative" station. My only other choice was silence, and when I'm driving to work at 5 a.m. I need something besides my own thoughts to keep me from driving into a bridge abutment in my sleep. As a result of overdosing on Matchbox 20, Maroon 5, Hoobastank and Three Doors Down on that drive to work, I've pretty much confirmed that I hate all radio. Ever since Clear Channel borged all the independents around here, the dial has been shit. Before CC took over, the two independent stations would play music that would at least keep you interested. You could listen for 6 hours and not hear the same song twice. You might have even heard a new song you liked by a band you didn't know. But now....it's unbearable. It's not really even the fact that they play the same 20 songs over and over again that makes me want to claw the radio from the dashboard with my bare hands and heave it through the windshield -- it's the insanely stupid local commercials that play every 15 minutes. 

Seriously, they are so bad I have to fight a constant urge to bash my forehead against the steering wheel until the airbag lets go. How many times can you possibly rewrite the words to the Beach Boys song, "Help Me Rhonda?" Let me tell you. Approximately five thousand, three hundred and fifteen times, and counting. The latest incarnation is for a local car dealership that is instructing me to "Buy a Honda - Buy, buy a Honda." Fuck No, I say directly to the radio. I would not buy, buy a Honda from you if you were the last automotive dealership on the face of this green earth, and riding a horse to work was my only alternative. I have no idea what it is about the Beach Boys that attracts these marketing mental midgets. Their songs are like magnets for the unimaginative. Quick templates for second-rate ad agencies. If I were Brian Wilson, I'd probably be pissed off to the point of spending all my free time traveling around the country suing shitbag car dealerships into individual smoking holes. It's like someone stealing a priceless antique from you and then slapping a nice coat of lime-green latex paint on it. Surfin' USA, Barbara Ann, California Girls, Good Vibrations, Little deuce Coupe --they have all been used and abused more times than I can count. 

To add insult to injury, most of the time it's by some local bar band who can't even play a decent cover of Proud Mary. Four part harmonies are right out, but does that stop them? Hell, no. They sound like a bunch of rabid coyotes in heat, and for the life of me I can't understand why the client actually gives the go-ahead to that off-key shit. I've decided that If I hear another lame commercial for a local business set to a Beach Boys tune, I'm going to call them up, pretend to be Brian Wilson and threaten to lawyer them upside the head unless they stop fucking with my music. And riddle me this, Batman: Why does the announcer feel the need to scream the ad copy at the top of his lungs like he is chained face-down on a stainless steel table while someone is shoving a red hot poker up his ass? I can only assume it's supposed to convey EXCITEMENT AND URGENCY!! So ACT NOW! Well ya know what? It's not working. Not on me, at least. Not even when you repeat it three times at top volume. That little trick just makes me write your company name down and tell all my friends to avoid you like an STD. On the off chance someone reading this is contemplating paying for a local radio spot, let me share a few things with you that also do not work: 1. Two or more people who can't read a script without sounding like a slow first-grader reading 'Fun with Dick and Jane.' Find someone with at least a high school education. As a quick spot check, ask them to say the word "Mountain." If it somehow ends up with the letter "t" being silent, find someone else. You know who you are, Eastern Mouw-in Sports. 2. Two or more people like those in #1 above, who try to make it sound like something sexual is going on in order to get your attention. Ditto for those who use every double-entendre ever thought up in the history of the english language during a single, 60-second spot. I have yet to hear an honest-to-god sexy female voiceover on a local radio spot. (Note to all female voice talent of the Capital District: The key to actually sounding sexy is to not sound like a drunken slut with an IQ of 40 who is trying to sound sexy.) 3. Owner/Operators who insist on doing their own commercials when they have obvious and annoying speech impediments. Yeah, I'm talking to you Justin Resnick, self-proclaimed Mattress King. I would sleep on a splintered, wooden pallet covered in tick-infested straw before I would buy a mattress from your bald-headed, pajama-clad, lisping, annoying ass. OK, my iPod is finally charged. I'm outta here. Jeez, I'm starting to sound just like Scott.


JV Points.

I've decided I'm going to start awarding and/or taking away points to or from people I interact with every day. I don't plan on actually telling them that I'm doing this, because that would make them think I'm weird. Don't get me wrong -- I am weird, I just don't like to advertise it (except for here, obviously.) I won't be giving points to everyone nor will I be taking away points from everyone. Just the people who rise above and below my own personal, arbitrary bar on that particular day.

So without further ado -- here's today's allotment of JV Points:

Guy who pulled out in front of me this morning at 5:15am when I was doing 60mph on a two-lane highway with nobody behind me:
You get (-)100 points for doing this, when there was clearly not a single car behind me for miles. However, you also get (+) 50 points for flooring it and not making me slow down like the other assknob in the pickup truck who did this to me the other day and then went 30mph for 100 feet and took a left. I give him (-) 1,000 points, retroactive. He is the one who gave me the idea for this post, though, so I have to give him (+)500 points for that. He's still in the negative, because frankly, it's not that good of an idea.

Scabby-arm-guy working the register at the Mobil station:
You get (-)1,000 points for wearing a short-sleeved shirt and making me look at your weeping sores. You also get (-)50 points for licking your grubby fingers to count my bills back, and another (-)50 points for putting my coins on top of my dollars instead of putting the change in my hand first. Why is that so hard for people to get? Loose change first, then bills. That way I don't have to do effing gymnastics to get the bills back in my wallet. Jesus.

Unknown douchebag who got to work 3.5 seconds before me and took my parking spot instead of the one you usually take:
(-)2,000 points for not staying the eff out of my spot. You do, however, get (+)20 points for having your seatbelt hanging out of the passenger side door. Numbnut.

Lunch Lady Tina:
You also get (-)50 points for licking your thumb and adding to the saliva collection that scabby-armed guy started in my wallet. There was still a shiny wet spot on my five dollar bill when you gave it back to me. What is it with this nasty habit, anyway? I already have more spit-germs in my wallet than I need, thank you very much. You also get (+)49 points because you're a nice lady, and you know how to give me my coinage back first. Plus, you like 80's music.

Annoying vendor with English accent who, when I pick up the phone, says "Mr. Johnny Virgil" like I'm the next contestant on "The Price is Right":
You get (-)10,000 points because you are a relentless jackoff who transparently makes up bullshit lies like "Hey, the VP of Sales just walked into my office. Do you mind if I conference him in?" You know and I know that it was planned before you even dialed the phone, since he's a great (albeit also annoying) salesman and you suck old Def Leppard underwear.

I think that's it for today. You all get (+)1,000 points for reading my drivel on a regular basis.

Peace out.


Run Faster! Jump Higher! Spend More!

I went to the mall to get some new running shoes the other day. I walked into what used to be the athletic shoe store.

Much to my surprise, someone had replaced all the running shoes with bulbous, neon-colored, bipedal lower-appendage encapsulators. These things were not running shoes. They were Corporate Marketing gone Deeply and Seriously Awry.

Half the damn things didn't even have laces. They were "laced" with permanently mounted, miniature bungie cords. There were some very expensive ones there that had no laces at all, and appeared to be made of some sort of red, seamless, space-aged material. They also had some sort of hydraulic shock absorbers under the heels.

They were close to 200 bucks. I am pretty sure that this particular pair was actually sentient, and had I tried them on, they would have immediately melded with my consciousness and then actively conformed themselves to the exact proportions of my feet. For two hundred bucks, that's what they should do, anyway.

I didn't try them on because one, they were too damn expensive, and two, since they didn't have laces, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to put them on manually or just hold my feet up and shout commands like "NikeAir 7880 Extreme! To My Feet!"

I tried a few different commands at various volumes, but none of them worked as I had hoped. (One of them did cause my wife to walk away and pretend she didn't know me, so I'm hanging on to that one for emergencies.)

What the hell happened to regular old running shoes, anyway? You know -- good, solid arch support, not too flashy, something you could wear with Levi's or Dockers in a pinch? I would think twice about wearing 99.9% of these shoes anywhere, including exotic locations like, for instance, my basement treadmill. If you ever did wear them anywhere else, people would be doing double-takes just to confirm you weren't walking around downtown wearing clown shoes.

Also, it was pretty apparent that Malaysia and Bangladesh have almost run out of sneaker parts for the cheaper lines. I say this because almost every single running shoe under $70 seemed to consist of no less than 10,000 tiny, random bits of plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather and nylon -- all stitched together in some grotesque, vaguely unsettling, non-Euclidean geometric pattern. You couldn't look at them for long without feeling light-headed and queasy.* In fact, I'm willing to bet that pound for pound, these running shoes consisted of mostly stitching.

So, long story short, I spent an hour trying to buy running shoes that didn't immediately scream "DUDE! CHECK OUT THESE BITCHIN' RUNNING SHOES!" to everyone who saw them. It was an almost impossible task, but since they were buy-one-pair-get-another-for-half-price, I was not to be deterred.

After digging through roughly 437 boxes of shoes, I walked out of there with two pair of Nike Airs. One pair is orange and white, and the other pair is metallic silver, with bright blue highlights.

I feel ridiculous. I look like Ziggy Stardust. But at least my feet don't hurt.

My acute fashion sense? Well...That's another story.

Shambles. Shambles, I tell you.

*Cthulhu Fhtagn! Beware the Old Ones!


And they're off!

A bunch of people from work, that is. There was some sort of "management outing" today. Don't worry, it's not what it sounds like. Nobody was forced to admit their sexual orientation in a closed board meeting or anything. It just happens to be what we call our "forced fun" activities. Basically, it's when a bunch of managers and some of their chosen department members go "off-site" to someplace "fun" and blow off a little steam. Maybe they drink a little, maybe they gamble a little, and, if things work out the way they're supposed to, bond a little. It's really just a chance for people who usually only talk on the phone to actually meet in person, and for upper management to hobknob a bit with the common folk. 

All team-building, co-worker-bonding aside, these things usually suck, and I usually hate them. Let me tell you why. Here's a little brainteaser for you: Hypothetically, assume you have ten people. To make this easier, also assume 5 people are active and athletic, and 5 people are sedentary and overweight. Assuming the coefficient of friction is zero, what activity would allow all members to participate and be happy about it? Paintball? No, that involves not only moving, but actually running around and quite possibly sweating. S&O people want none of that. Rock wall? Whitewater rafting? Get serious. Sit around on a riverboat, sniffing diesel fumes and eating mediocre food? Bor-ing. A&A people will end up jumping overboard just for something to do. So, you see my point. Well, it turns out that one of the things that apparently appeals to a majority of people who aren't me is: "A Day at the Track."

Up in my neck of the woods, this means horses, jockeys and a big dirt oval. I live in Saratoga, and I cannot, for the life of me, understand the fascination with this whole process. Maybe you need to be a gambler to appreciate it. I am not. I went on one of these trips last year. Not to Saratoga, but to Ohio. Yes, I left the home of one of the most historic thoroughbred racetracks in the world to go to Thistledown Raceway in Urine Gulch, Ohio. It was really the first time I had ever gone to a live thoroughbred race. (Before you say anything -- yes, I know, the dead thoroughbred races are really boring.) What I mean is, live, in person. I had seen races at the OTB parlor before. My great-uncle played the horses and we took many a sidetrip to the OTB when I was a youngster. At any rate, I had no idea what to expect. Of almost my own free will, I was at an honest-to-god Betting Establishment. It was a hotter-than-hell Thursday afternoon, and the place was deserted. The only other people there besides our group were a bunch of old, skinny retired guys wearing white socks, wrinkled suits and fedoras. Almost to a man they were sucking on soggy stogies that smelled like roadkill. There were also a couple of homeless dudes who had come in from the brutal heat to enjoy a spot of air conditioning. They also smelled like roadkill. I am pretty sure one of them was actually carrying roadkill, so that could have been it. Needless to say, I learned a few thing my first time out. I will list them for your reading pleasure. 

1. The horses (are you ready for this?) only go around the track once. One time. That's it. Race. Over. Seriously, wtf? I was all primed for some Nascar-like action. I am not a big Nascar fan, but at least if there's an accident you might actually see something exciting. Once around the track? That's incredibly lame. I wanted to see those big bastards run until there was only a single horse left standing. I wanted mid-air collisions! Excitement! Horses biting other horses on the ass! I wanted to see jockeys foaming at the mouth and kicking at each other as they passed. Basically, I wanted to see this:  

But no. Once around and back to the ticket window. Goddammit, I'm glad there was beer. 

2. You have to know what you are doing at the window, or people behind you will get pissed. There is an entire list of codewords you have to know in order to just place a bet. There's crap I won't even get into here, but suffice to say that unless you want the fat, bald guy smoking the cigar behind the ticket counter to sigh and exhale smoke at you, mutter something that sounds a lot like "jesuseffingchristonapopsiclestick" and then wave you away with a motion that looks like he's fanning a fart, you had better find someone who knows what the fuck they are doing to prep you. Better yet, just hand that same someone your money and say "Uh, bet this on the blue guy"* which is pretty much what I ended up doing until my money ran out, due to #3, below. 

3. Don't listen to the guy in your group who tells you to bet all your money on something called a "long shot." Why? Because (and remember this, it's important) "long shot" is actually fancy horse language for "half-dead-loser-piece-of-shit-glue-factory-reject." I bet on one of these "long-shot" horses, and he was so far behind the other horses that the cameraman for the jumbo screen couldn't even keep him in the frame. I'm serious. This horse was so slow, he looked like he had escaped early from the next race. 

The "highlight" of our day was that we got to have our picture taken with the Jockey who won against the crippled, asshat donkey carcass I blew my wad on. My personal highlight was actually the race where John was screaming "WHIP HIM! WHIP HIM HARDER!"at the Jockey riding the horse he bet on. When one of the women on the team told him he was cruel, he said, "Horses are like babies. They don't feel it when you whip them." That single line made the entire day worthwhile. 

4. Up close, horses stink. Not-so-coincidentally, they stink like horse shit. 

5. Up close, jockeys also stink. The only difference here is that they smell like sweaty horse shit -- with aromatic undercurrents of Old Spice. 

6. Invariably, there will be someone who is never you, who knows even less about horse racing than you do, who will win big on something you never heard of. There's something called a Trifecta, for instance. Just so you know, this is not a device used on Star Trek to scan for life signs on hostile planets. No, the Trifecta is the name for the phenomenally impossible task of picking the first place, second place and third place horses, in the exact order they cross the finish line. My odds of ever winning this are roughly the same as my odds of ever knowing how to actually bet on it. 

 *Note: This is not an effective betting strategy.


I give you: Cuve à Mazout Avec Le Lapin

The other day I was driving by the Scummerson place and I decided to play my favorite game, 'What's New in the Shitpile?'

I've explained this game before. It's kinda like 'Where's Waldo,' except that instead of Waldo, you try to spot the newest piece of shit the Scummerson's have dragged home and are proudly displaying somewhere on their front lawn.

We also have another game, wherein we like to imagine that it is not junk, but rather serious art.

Turns out this particular gallery item was pretty easy to spot.

A rusty oil tank, lying on its side.

With a concrete rabbit on it.

I have to say I'm glad they finally found the ultimate spot for the concrete rabbit. I think it accents the space perfectly, and lends an air of sophistication and quiet dignity to the oil tank that it didn't have before.

Although they usually have a pretty good eye for decorating, it was my personal opinion that the rabbit never looked quite right on top of the snowblower. To my admittedly amateurish eye, it overpowered the statement that 'Snowblower In Weeds with 40-ouncer' was trying to make. Maybe it's just me. Like I said, I know nothing about art.

I think they might be losing their touch though. Even I can see that the kid's mini-slide is a bit ostentatious. I think it parodies itself, and really subtracts from what the oil tank rabbit is trying to say.

Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding the message.

Looking at it another way, there's nothing like letting your kid play on a slide that is directly underneath a concrete rabbit perched on a curved surface. I mean, that really says something. Maybe, just maybe, I've got the title of the piece wrong and it's really "Accident Waiting to Happen" or "Slow-Kid Trap."

Ah, well. I didn't get Andy Warhol's shit either.


Do you suffer from PLDA?

Someone who found my blog via Google does. He did a search on:

Penis Lap Dance Abrasion

Seriously, dude -- Lighten up on the lap dances. Or go with the smaller, lighter chicks.

When you are getting search-engine-worthy abrasions down there from paying women with names like Candy and Brandi to grind on you through your clothes, you should take some time to evaluate your life choices.

Or, at the very least, ditch those Carhartt Jeans and stop going commando.

I'm just sayin'.


Party Hardly.

I went to a party last weekend. It was a surprise birthday party for a friend who just turned 35. I had a good time, because it was nice to see her and her husband again, but I felt a bit out of place because the party was full of people she grew up with, and I didn't know anyone but her parents. It was ok though, because almost all of the conversation seemed to revolve around babies, baby sitters, baby food, baby daycare and baby poop, and I am an expert in exactly none of these topics.

Needless to say, I didn't have much to offer in the way of intelligent conversation. I'm glad there was wine and beer and really great food, because otherwise I would have been forced to drown myself in the pool.

There were, in fact, two babies in attendence at this particular party, and little knots of excited people formed around them whenever one or the other moved something or otherwise indicated that they were not completely inanimate. Things really got crazy if one of them made any sort of audible noise.

Some of my friends have kids, and some of my older friends even have teenagers now. Teens are actually a lot better in some respects, because at least then you can converse with them instead of just staring at them like they are a canned ham in a basket that someone brought to your dinner party.

One-month-old babies don't actually do a whole helluva lot. Generally, you spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get them to smile, make noise, or otherwise acknowledge your giant face hovering 3 inches in front of their eyes. Truth be told, you would have almost as much luck getting a reaction out of the canned ham. After all, at that age, their relative intelligence levels aren't really that much different.

Don't tell that to their parents though, because they have documented and cataloged everything from the first solid poop to the first time their kid actually found his nostril with his finger, and it all requires a genius IQ. Or at least that's what I'm told.

Here's an example of a typical conversation at this party:

Me: "Is it a boy or a girl?"

Mom: Her name is Elizabeth Anne Johansen-McFurley She's 25 and 1/16ths months old, and weighs 33 pounds which is in the 75th percentile and totally normal for a girl her age She's only about 26 inches tall, but the doctors assured us that she'll be going through a growth-spurt soon, so there's nothing to worry about The other day she did the cutest thing We were at the store and daddy didn't go with us and there was a man in the store that looked kinda like Steve and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah......

Me: Yeah, I gotta pee.

And at what point, exactly, do you stop giving the age in months and the size in inches? Her kid was 2 years old, and 2 feet tall. Was that so hard? I can't think in months, fer chrissake. I'm math-tarded, especially when you start throwing fractions in there. I have to start carrying a calculator around just to figure out what the hell they're talking about. Either that, or I'm going to have to start screaming, "YEARS! Give it to me in YEARS for FUCK'S SAKE!!"

Bonus points if the kid bursts into tears. Subtract points if Dad kicks the shit out of you.

The other side-effect of PWB (parties with babies) is that people tend to split early. This particular party started at 6pm, and by 10, most people were gone. The next day when we were cleaning up, there was actually beer and wine left over.

That, my friends, is just not right.


Smoking weed at Coca-Cola - circa 1966

I had a day off today and went hiking with Yort. This is where we went:

On the way up the mountain, I saw a little bit of green poking out of the ground, so I checked it out. It looked like a piece of bottle glass. I dug it up, and I was right -- it was an old Fresca bottle. I vaguely remember this as being one of the first low-cal sodas on the market. I didn't know it was a Coke product, but that little circle at the bottom says "A product of the Coca-Cola company" so there you go. The bottle is stamped with a 67, and according to my research, Fresca came out in 1966, so I'm guessing it's an original. Since the writing was silk screened on to the bottle, it was still pretty legible. Here it is, in all its glory:

After I brushed it off a little more, I was able to read the rest of the label, and I laughed out loud. You see that little line of writing underneath the logo? It actually says this:


Holy shit -- that is some serious effing truth in advertising right there.

It's a pretty sharp contrast to today's marketing. When I see commercials on TV for Diet Mountain Dew, half the time I'm not sure if they're trying to sell me a car, a pair of jeans, or the new Hoobastank record.

I can just imagine sitting in front of the tube in 1966 when the commercial for this shit came on.

Announcer: "Try new Fresca! A really great-tasting imitation citrus-flavored dietary artifically sweetened carbonated beverage!" (deep breath) Now at your corner grocery!"

That would have totally made me jump up off the couch, grab my Impala keys and hit the first 7-11 I could find. A 6-pack of Fresca and a box of Quisp and I'd be good to go.

Besides, there is nothing I love more than "imitation citrus flavor." I am serious when I say this. (For instance, I love the way Orange GoJo hand cleaner smells -- I want to eat it -- but never have. I am also pretty sure that same shit is what makes Lemon Pledge smell so good. I've never had the balls to taste that either. If you ever eat a candy called Lemon Heads, that's exactly what I picture Lemon Pledge tasting like.)

You gotta admit, when the words "Artificial" and "Imitation" are part of the actual product logo, it almost has to be the best damn synthetic soda that modern science has to offer.

When you read the ingredients on the back, things get a little scarier.

Call me crazy, but that one line that says "should be used only by..." sounds like something that belongs on the back of a prescription bottle and not on the back of my imitation citrus-flavored dietary artifically sweetened carbonated beverage.

They appear to be saying, in effect, "If you are grossly obese and already at high risk of dying, then go for it, because I mean, just look at yourself -- it certainly can't hurt. Otherwise, do NOT drink this beverage on purpose, as it may quite possibly kill you dead. We know this because that's what it does to lab rats, although you will have to read between the lines here because we really don't want to put that on the label if we can help it."

Hell, it was 1967. They probably didn't have that whole saccharin/rat-cancer thing worked out yet. People were still tanning to a crispy brown, smoking unfiltered camels and draining their car oil into the storm sewer. Shit, they didn't know. They figured that if you looked good, that was all that mattered. Case in point:

1967 cheerleaders. Totally hot, am I right?

See that one chick showing some knee and demonstrating her awesome reverse grip on the megaphone?

Yeah. She's the slutty one. I'd put money on it.


They're Here.

I leave for work really early, about 5am, and it's mostly still dark. This morning, it was also foggy. As I'm driving down a lonely, dark road in the middle of nowhere, I see this:

I slow down, and pull off to the side of the road. I have no idea what these things are. My heart skips a beat, then starts pounding. They are coming right for me. No shuffling zombie gait, this -- they are coming at my car full speed -- which is a damn fine clip.

Oddly, they do not attack right away. In fact, they do not seem to be interested in me at all. They are 50 feet away now, and I am able to look at the creatures more closely. Vaguely humanoid, about 5 feet and 6 feet tall respectively. I believe the taller of the two is the male. Assuming of course that they do, in fact, have separate sexes.

I do not notice any genitalia -- just smooth, bright white skin, and some sort of malevolent red eye in the very core of their being. They move closer. I see them for what they are, and a scream rises in my throat.

They nod at me and say good morning. I nod back, trying not to vomit. I have no fashion sense whatsoever, but even I know this is not right.

No, unfortunately, I did not get to greet aliens from outer space.

Instead, I get to greet a nutjob husband and wife, wearing matching white tyvek painter's jumpsuits and caps, each with a blinking red LED stobe light pinned to the center of their chests.

Out jogging.

Dressed up like Devo's backup dancers.

WTF can they be thinking? Well, I actually know what they're thinking -- they're thinking "I really, really, really, really, do not want to get hit by a car," but still -- I wouldn't go to a costume party wearing that shit.

Goddammit. I'm never going to get the anal probe.


Good morning, Mrs. Smith. Thank you for banking with us.

I'm reading this article the other day about something new they want to do with debit cards. They want to make them "swipe-free." You will just have to wave them in the general direction of some sensor to actually pay for something. It's another nail in the coffin of that pesky cash, which the government would love to replace with something more trackable.

Sorry, my paranoia was showing for a second there.

These "no-swipe" cards are aimed primarily at fast-food restaurants, movie theaters and parking lots. Supposedly, McDonald's, CVS and 7-Eleven are among those accepting PayPass.

That's not the part that scared me, although it's scary enough in its own right.

This is the part that scared me:

The no-swipe technology is leading some banks to experiment with credit and debit card chips placed in cell phones or on key chains. Discover Card is exploring a fingerprint way to pay, and other banks are testing rice-size chips that are placed under the skin of a person's arm.

Fingerprints, yeah. Key chains, OK. But under the skin of my arm?

Um, eff that.

What the hell are they thinking? Who will sign up for this? In fact, what kind of person even signs up for the testing?

This will never, ever become mainstream, and here's why:

I did a little inventory of the old wallet, and based upon the number of charge cards and debit cards I have in there in there, I would look like this:

Also, this is obviously not something the Tellers at your local branch will start doing after watching a 10 minute training video. This shit clearly means a doctor's appointment.

I really cannot even imagine the process involved. When you open an account, do they hand you the rice grain in an envelope with your PIN on it?

"Here you go -- get that injected and you'll be all set."

What about tech support on this bitch? If it doesn't work right, does the bank blame the doctor? I can just imagine the fingerpointing. Not to mention the inevitable comments on your poor lifestyle choices.

Pissed off customer: "My implant won't work the ATM anymore!"

Branch Manager: "Well Mrs. Smith, we've determined that the reason your chip isn't activating the ATM is because you put on some weight and your arm is, um, really fat now. Our corporate policy is to have you hit the treadmill 3 times a week and go on the Atkins diet."

It would definitely add a whole 'nuther dimension to the "pissed off customer" scenario. It's not like you could just walk in, close the account and storm out. Again, it's a freakin' doctor's appointment. I really can't picture Mrs. Smith, in a fit of anger, digging out her chip with that little pen on the chain.

"Hey, where'd you get that scar on your arm?"

"Oh that? Yeah, Citibank sucks. I closed that account."


Coffee conversations brought to you by dumb and dumber

So I'm walking over to the fridge at work today to grab me a can of mountain dew, and there are two women standing in front of the coffee pot, talking. I walk past just in time to catch the tail-end of their conversation, which was apparently about their relative work-load at the moment.

One says something like, "You wouldn't believe the number of TPS reports on my desk today -- it's brutal." The other one replies, "Yeah, it's either fast or famine...fast or famine." And the other woman nods her head and says, "Yep. You got that right."

I guess it's pretty bad when your only choices are between voluntary and involuntary starvation.


Swing your sword

Back in 1999, some drunk, naked, sword-wielding guy ran into a church in the UK and wounded some people. At the time, I had some comments about gun laws and media sensationalism, and questioned why 9 wounded people at a church was apparently considered page 6 news, but if it had been a gun instead of a sword, there would have been talking heads pounding on it for weeks. I won't get all political here, but let's just say I had some questions.

So yesterday, some drunk naked, sword-wielding guy in Iowa chased his neighbors around. He didn't get around to actually hacking anything or anyone up, and that's always a good thing. However, the story also left me with some questions. More specifically, one question:

What the hell is it with sword people and their apparent need to be naked?

You would think that drunkeness, really sharp objects and a floppin' member would definitely not go together. That's like getting drunk and heading out to the shop to mess with your table saw or bench grinder. Naked.

I needed to know this answer. Coincidentally enough for me, I knew where to get it. I happen to have a friend who is a swordsmith. In fact, he is the one who sent me this Iowa story earlier today. We make a good team in the sword-making arena -- whenever he makes a sword, I make the scabbard.

I trust this guy with my life, he's my best friend on this earth, and I know he would never steer me wrong. So I e-mailed him that exact question -- "What the hell is it with sword guys and their apparent need to be naked?"

He sent me an e-mail back that said, "If you have to ask --- "

So now, thanks to that cryptic answer, I have these very disturbing images of him running around his house completely naked, sword in hand, madly swinging everything every which way.

I was a little disappointed. Normally I get such accurate and in-depth analysis in response to my questions that it's downright scary. But today, sadly, I was not one of the privileged. I believe, after thinking on it for a while this evening, that it was his way of letting me down easy -- his way of saying this knowledge is given on a "need to know" basis, and I did not need to know.

Now, I have been forced to find out for myself. There has to be something that makes this combination of nakedness and sword-wielding attractive.

I have a sword -- it's an old, cast off experimental one that we never bothered to fit a scabbard to. It's a little heavy for me, and too damn sharp, but I'll keep my hiking boots on for traction. I'll also be sober, so it might not be a truly valid test, but I'll glean what I can from the experiment.

I'll keep you all posted.


Always plan your day.

Lately, I've been hearing a lot about something called Craig's List. I heard about it first on the radio, and then one of my friends mentioned it to me. He was telling me that it started in the San Fransciso Bay area, and it was basically a portal to everything -- stuff for sale, jobs, personal ads, musicians looking for gigs, bands looking for musicians, you name it. I guess it's been expanding into other major cities as well.

So today I saw a link to it from someone else's blog, and I clicked on it. He wasn't kidding. There is a link to EVERYTHING from there. But the big one seemed to be the personals section.

I always get a kick out of the personals in our local Metroland Magazine, which includes an "adult" section full of ads for escort services, book stores, strip clubs, etc. The personal ads in this section are truly hilarious. With that in mind, I decided I'd see what Craig's list had to offer. I clicked on NY, and then clicked on Man Seeking Woman, just to see what sort of lines my brothers in arms are using to attract the ladies these days. I've been off the market for a while now, and based on what I usually run across perusing the personal ads, I'm actually very glad of that fact.

The first ad I see is from Jayson, and it is posted at 7:25am this morning. It goes like this:


2005-08-01, 7:25AM EDT

25 yr old sbm with carmel skin, 6`3 220lbs, slightly muscular, with blk hair and brown eyes and a 7 1/2" package. I have an interview in the city tomorrow around 10am to 11:30am and would like to spend the afternoon or lunch time pleasuring a lovely lady. I am a funny guy, smart, laid back, charming and fun to be around. I love giving massages and to give women great oral:) among other things. We can meet for coffee and see what happens afterwards if there is chemistry. I cant host but can assure u I will make the visit to u well worth it, if the pic below gives any idea:).Age and race do not matter. If interested please send me informaton of a public place u would like to meet at to see if u like what u see, & what u look like and we can go from there as I have to get ready by 8:30am.Sometimes spontinatity can fun:)


He included this picture:

Holy crap, where do I start? First off, am I crazy, or didn't it used to be the age that was included in the subject description? Apparently, it's now customary to get the junk size right up front. I can only assume that this is for the convenience of the ladies, so they can quickly peruse and discount anything under, say, 6.75 inches. (or over 3 inches if they're a lady dwarf or something.)

I think that since Craig's list is entirely internet based, it would be an easy thing to create a back-end (!) database where you could just click a button and sort by package size. This would probably save a ton time for all involved. You know how you generally skip calling on the used car ads that sound really good but don't list the mileage? You know it sounds too good to be true, and it'll just be a waste of your time. Same thing applies here. If the junk size isn't mentioned right up front ladies -- skip to the next ad.

Secondly, this is clearly a man who likes to plan his day. I can picture the check list on the fridge:

Also, it's nice to know that "age and race do not matter." I suppose when you're trying to line something up this quickly, you can't really be all that picky. I mean, he's got like an hour total to write this ad, post it, get a response and set up a meeting. He probably should have thrown 'sex' and quite possibly 'species' in that list of things that don't matter, because that's about the only way he's going to be able to set something up this quickly unless he's Usher or something.

So let's see if I can sum up his thought processes here:

"Hey, Baby. Get back to me in the next hour, and we'll have some coffee, then some oral, and then maybe something like what is in this picture, which I have included just in case I was a little obscure and you didn't really understand what I had in mind. ps - if you are ugly, I plan to keep walking."

Spontinatity can be fun.

Oh, and baby got back.