Pocketses. And Ice.

It finally got cold enough around here to dig out the winter coats. Last night it was snowing sideways, and because of where I live, it once again went directly from a week of rain to snow. This is extremely annoying because every year we have no time to get the leaves off the lawn. I'm hoping it warms up again this weekend so I can at least give it a shot.

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.


And Now... The Thing.

In the process of recounting childhood stories, I've touched many times on the various methods of punishment my parents used to discipline us. They were pretty innovative, and rarely used physical force. We got sent to The Dog House, or to my parent's room, or sometimes we were forced to do something really horrible like clean stuff.

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 KahlĂșa. Oh, and a vote. Or is that one too many Things?

What do you guys want for your Thing?


I feel so powerless.

When I got home from work today, my house was dark. As was every other house on the street. I called National Grid and reported it, and they now say it'll be back on around midnight.

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.


Searching for Big Bird

If you've been around here long, you know I love to check out the google searches that bring people to my blog. In fact, I added a new section over there on the right with all the entries like this one that I've done over the years. I get a kick out of seeing the freaky things people are researching, and it makes me laugh, and "they" say that laughter is good for you. Who am I to argue with the experts? 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. 


Ah, Solitude.

My piece of crap computer has suddenly decided to start randomly rebooting on me, so the mystery pictures I was going to ask you about are now history until I figure out what the hell is up with it. So the single picture I have from my hike on Sunday is my current profile pic.

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.

The End.

Dammit, now I want fried dough.


wedding crashers

The last week has been a blur. The vacation that wasn't. Two weddings on two weekends, one of them in Long Beach Island,where we stayed in a 3.5 million dollar house on the beach, and one in Vermont, where we experienced the world's worst $170-a-night motel. Tomorrow, a day hike in the Catskill mountains, and then home. Stories to follow.

Yeah, I'm not dead. Just so you know.


Marx my words. I'm going to burn in Music Hell.

This past Friday night I took a little road trip with Yort down to Ridgefield, CT to see a rather odd duet made up of Richard Marx and Matt Scannell. "Seriously Johnny? Richard Marx?" I hear you saying in disbelief. I know, I know. But in both his and my defense, he is a talented mofo and a great songwriter, even if his delivery is a little on the light side. That said, even though I was never a huge Richard Marx fan, I did play the hell out of his first CD. Don't Mean Nothing, Shoulda Known Better, Endless Summer Nights -- I mean, come on. If you even had a pulse in 1987 you loved those effing songs and don't lie to me because I won't buy it for a second. 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.


Hail to the Rhino King, Baby.

For a limited time only, you too can live inside the Royal Rhino.

Go on. You know you want to.


Fresh from the tap, PETA style.

Every once in a while, someone will send me a link to something and say "Hey! You should blog about this!" and I usually never do. But then a reader named Jen sent me a link to an article. This link was so fantastic, I had to write something. I don't even know what I'm going to write yet, but my thoughts have been churning like butter in my head since I read the story, so we'll have to see what comes out.

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:

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.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."

"We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," said a spokesperson for Ben and Jerry's.

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.