Monday, May 30, 2011

Fruit! There it is!

I love fruit. Love it! I eat it all the time. I buy oranges in 40 lb bags and snack on them constantly. Candy? Potato chips? Keep 'em. When it's snack time, give me some oranges or grapes or peaches or apples and I'm a happy boy.
I just wish I could make more than snacks out of them. I'm jealous of people who can make a meal out of a fruit smoothie because I just can't do that. I'm envious, because it seems super-healthy. But I grew up in the midwest where an entire cow's ass in a bathtub of mashed potatoes and gravy was what's for dinner. And we weren't even farmers. I can't visualize myself taking a blender, jamming a handful of grapes in there with, I don't know, some peanuts and a scoop of wheat powder (is that even a thing?), hitting "frappe", chugging it down and going, "oh, I am stuffed!". That is a drink, not dinner.
I mentioned this to a friend and she said the key is to add bananas because apparently bananas are very filling. "I don't know what it is but I can't take a whole one, no matter how hard I try. I just can't get more than three quarters of it down." She said some other stuff but I didn't hear it because I was giggling like a 12-year-old.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Say what now?

Here's a story that's making the rounds here in Tampa Bay. The short version is, this guy's name is Melton Little and he wore the shirt that he's wearing in the picture to a Rays game against the New York Yankees. Somebody in attendance, staff member or a fan, nobody knows, objected and he was approached by ballpark staff and asked to remove the garment or himself from the premises. The guy's a lawyer and a season ticket holder (he says he spends over $20,000 a year on tickets) and he chose to leave, feeling his rights to free expression were restricted and now he's in the paper and yada et al.
I couldn't work for the Rays. Because naggy, little, pain-in-the-ass "controversies" like this pop up all the time and the local media, for whatever reason, goes out of their way to give them far more attention than they deserve. For instance, this story was on the front page of Thursday's *tbt. Seriously. That's not Mr. Little's fault but that would drive me insane.

I'm not highlighting this story because of the baseball aspect (although, I'd like to point out that I hate the New York Yankees more than any human being I know, for the purposes of full disclosure but mostly because I always enjoy pointing out how much I hate the New York Yankees) or because of the free speech issue. Nope, I'm highlighting this because I'm intrigued by this part of the story right here:

And, Little said, there are much worse words out there.

"I teach my kids to say that instead of other four-letter words," he said.

Now, far be it for me to judge or critique how someone raises their kids. Since I don't have any, I don't even have a frame of reference. But it seems to me that this isn't really raising the bar all that high, to swap an overused, not-quite-an-obscenity for actual obscenities for the purpose of improving the vocabulary of impressionable children. I'm not quite sure how that would work...but I picture it going down kind of like this:

"Son, I understand you used a bad word at school today."
"I'm sorry, dad. It's just that Jimmy Parsons was teasing me and I lost my temper."
"That's okay, son. We all lose our tempers sometimes. And I'm proud of you for standing up for yourself. But what I would like you to do is not use the language you used today."
"But...but what should I do then, dad?"
"Well, instead of saying...ah...what you said, you could say 'Hey, Jimmy Parsons, you suck!' How does that sound?"
"Oh. Okay. Like, I should say that Jimmy Parsons sucks!"
"Yes! Yes, son! That's exactly right."
"But what does Jimmy Parsons suck, daddy?"
"Jimmy Parsons sucks. I get that. But what? Sucks what exactly?"
"Well, ah..."
"Does he suck pieces of candy? Or popsicles? Or ice cubes? Because that really doesn't seem like an appropriate response for when he puts my lunch in the toilet."
"No, that's not...that isn't exactly right...he sucks something...unpleasant."
"Like what, daddy?"
"Well, it doesn't have to be anything specific. People will know it's an insult and that you mean business. Why don't you think of something you think would be unpleasant to suck? Keep it to yourself, it can be your own private secret! How about that?"
"Wow, really? Anything I want?"
"Anything you want, sport!"
"Then I think I'll go with...penis."
"Yep, I'm gonna go with penises, dad. Big hairy, sweaty penises, some of them with diseases. Lots of 'em! How about that?"
"Sounds good, sport. Sounds great. I just don't want you using bad language."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Read, follow or get the hell out of the way

A little praise can go a long way. It doesn't take much to knock someone who thinks they're relatively well grounded in reality regarding their abilities and limitations off their stride a little bit. It really shouldn't be a surprise when celebrities lose their marbles, being surrounded as they are by people whose jobs are to tell them how good their farts smell.
Such (sorta) was the case for me just the other day. I got a phone call from a woman in New Mexico. I was at work so couldn't talk to her in depth but she mentioned that she'd seen my blog and was very impressed and that she was seeking me out in regards to a matter relating to cancer research. After agreeing to a later time to talk, she said good bye and hung up.
Seeking me out! Impressed by my writing! Needing my input on cancer research! "Well, sure", I thought to myself, after processing all that positive feedback. "Why the hell not?" This was at the end of a week where for some odd, unknown reason my sportswriting efforts at Raw were getting accolades plus people were being extra lavish-y with praise for what they were finding here, some of it from people I've never even met before. "Yes, why not indeed? I'm awesome. I know for a fact that I am tremendously popular in Cleveland, Ohio. If that's not proof that I'm a great writer, what is? I'm approaching a tipping point!", I thought. "I'm on the verge of being a star...of some kind."
I started gameplanning for the follow-up phone call:
"So you're probably wondering about the tremendous success of Muffinquest. I don't blame you; it was kinda a big deal and it's a pretty remarkable achievement, if I say so myself." Then I had to try to think of ways to make that whole process sound a lot more complicated and difficult than it was, which was basically:
  1. Have a friend who runs a coffee shop and an impossibly high tolerance for your idiotic stunts.
  2. Don't be afraid to look like a jackass.
  3. Have generous friends and acquaintances of high character.
Really, that's all there was to it and I was prepared to answer the question relatively honestly and somewhat unembellished when she called back. I was not prepared for the proposal she actually presented, though.
" I mentioned earlier, I've read the things you've written on-line and I'm very impressed. I did some additional research on Google and I really think you're the person to help me,"
"Well, thank you for that. That is tremendously flattering." (I know it's important for overnight sensations to be humble and to show gratitude)
"You're very welcome. Now, I'm not sure I mentioned this earlier, but I'm preparing for a seanate sub-committee meeting."
"Wow! Okay." (Wow! Holy shit!)
"It's really a pre-meeting that I hope will lead to a hearing eventually. And your writings on the effects of the use of Agent Orange and how that leads to the development of cancer and cancer-related illnesses is where I'm looking for your expertise."
"Oh. Hmmm." (Huh?)
"Is there a problem?"
"Um, I'm pretty sure you have the wrong guy. I don't write about Agent Orange. I never have, anyway. Or any agents really. I make jokes about goofy human behavior and stuff I see when I'm out and about."
"This isn't Clark Brooks, investigative reporter in Maryland?"
"No, this is Clark Brooks, clown boy in Florida. You're looking for a real person; I'm a cartoon character in that I'm two-dimensional. On a good day."
"Oh, I'm sorry to have wasted your time. Good luck with...what you do."
"I do have a muffin named after me..."
And with that, I landed solidly back on the ground again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Take me down to Gaga's farm

In a seemingly unlikely partnership between pop culture phenomena, singer/songwriter/performance artist Lady Gaga has teamed up with game/obsession/time-waster FarmVille in a cross-promotion for Lady Gaga's upcoming album "Born this Way". FarmVille is a game where you can farm with your friends; now FarmVille is a game where you can farm with a woman who shoots sparks out of her boobs.
As I've mentioned here before, I play FarmVille. And as I've mentioned here before, while I'm not really a fan of Lady Gaga, I "get" her now and we co-exist in peace. Also, she was funny on this week's Saturday Night Live so she earns even more credit from me for that. However, I have friends who are huge fans of hers. One of them, plays, or used to play, FarmVille but I hadn't interacted with her in the game for a while so I mentioned the promotion to her...

ME: "Are you still playing FarmVille? Lady Gaga is all over the place. You can win her new album."
HER: "I haven't played in a long time. I heard about that but when I went back to my farm, it was gone."
ME: "Your farm was gone? Damn, did the government seize your land?"
HER: "I don't know what happened. How am I going to win some Gaga?"
ME: "I don't think you can. I guess you have to start over. I didn't know you were a Native American."
HER: "Shut up. That sucks. I used to run FarmVille." 
ME: "And now you have nothing, displaced with no regard for your rich heritage."
HER: "Damn it."
ME: "I think you should go play ReservationVille. You level up to a casino by selling discount cigarettes to white people. If you do it without becoming an alcoholic, you win a Los Lonely Boys CD."
HER: "Um, I'm pretty sure they're Mexican..."
ME: "And I mean one of the Los Lonely Boys' CDs, from their personal collection in a case under the passsnger seat in their car. No cover, with the artist's name written on it in Sharpie."
HER: "That actually sounds like a pretty good game! I would play that!" 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A little bit of self-pimping

I know sports is not a passion for a lot of people who read this blog (actually, it could very well be the most important thing in life to every single reader of this blog; I really have no idea how to read or interpret my stats). But just in case you're interested, even though I haven't been with SB Nation-Tampa Bay for some time now, you can read my sportswriting exploits over at, dedicated to coverage of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.
The other day, Yahoo! Sports wildly popular Puckdaddy blog gave me a little shout-out (getting my name right!) and a link back to one of my articles, which was nice.
It's a pleasure to write for a great site staffed by great people and it's not too shabby to write about a team doing as well as the Lightning. 

My recent stories published at Raw Charge:

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Last Blog Post (unless, you know, it isn't)

As you may have heard, many people of Christian faith (not all or even most of them) believe that tomorrow, Saturday, May 21, 2011, is the long-anticipated Judgment Day (click here if you don't know what that is) which leads to The Rapture (click here if you don't know what that is) which leads directly to The End of Days (you don't need to click nothin' to know what that is). As much as I'd like to make complete fun and ridicule of this "prophecy", I'm not going to because we...just...don't...know.
It should be noted that this chain of events, or something similar enough to accomplish the same results, has been predicted before. Here are some notable examples...
  • 2,800BC: Nope
  • 1st century AD: Nope
  • 2nd century AD: Nope
  • Mar 25, 970 AD: Nope
  • 1284: Nope
  • 1504: Nope
  • Feb 1, 1524: Nope
  • 1648: Nope
  • 1666 (Look at the numbers! Spooky!): Nope
  • 1794: Nope
  • Dec 25, 1814: Nope...narrowly avoiding the worst Christmas ever.
  • 1836: Nope
  • Aug 7, 1847: Nope
  • 1874: Nope
  • 1881: Nope
  • May 18, 1910: Nope
  • Dec 17, 1919: Nope
  • 1967: Nope
  • Apr 29, 1980: Nope
  • Mar 10, 1982: Nope
  • Apr 29, 1987: Nope
  • 1988: Nope
  • Sep 28, 1992: Nope
  • March – May 1997: Remember the Hale-Bopp comet? Nope 
  • 12:01am, Mar 31, 1998: Nope
  • 1999: Party over, oops, out of time? Nope
  • 2000: Nope
  • Feb 12, 2006: Nope
  • Friday 13th April 2007: Nope
  • Mar 21, 2008: Nope
(Note: You can verify every single one of these "Nope"s for yourself simply by looking out of any window or at any object that is not currently engulfed in never-ending flame.)

There are exactly two ways to look at the big, fat 0-fer record behind these prophecies:
  1. Beyond the obvious reasonable skepticism, statistics clearly illustrate that the people making these predictions are religious crackpots who obviously have no idea what they're talking about and so there is absolutely no reason to be concerned whatsoever.
  2. They're due.
The thing is We...Just...Don't...Know!

And that's the scariest part, the not knowing. Even the slightest uncertainty causes discomfort. Until Sunday morning rolls around, we'll probably all be a little extra jumpy when it comes to loud noises. And those of us who live near lakes of flaming brimstone will probably pay a little more attention to their flame-retardent depth gauges. I have no doubt that even some of the most aetheist aethists, after spending Friday night in a trendy coffee shop, snarkily mocking The True Believers, will get home, remove their 52 rubber bracelets, take out their nose ring and, after making sure absolutely nobody is watching, will offer up just a wee bit of a silent prayer before going to bed because, well, what's the harm and because WE...JUST...DON'T...KNOW!
Gee, we appreciate the heads-up. But how about if you just leave it in the garage that day?

Personally, I think our chances are pretty good. Otherwise, I wouldn't have dropped off dry cleaning this morning. But since WE...JUST...DON'T...KNOW, I'm going to take this occassion, what might be My Very Last Blog Post, to confess to some things in order to clear my conscience. But since I don't happen to think anything is going to happen, I'm going to do so with some ambiguity. I hope you understand. So here goes:
  • Yes.
  • Yes, but just once.
  • Yes, more than once.
  • Oh yes! You better believe it!
  • Yes, basically every single weekend between 1983 and 1984.
  • Wanted to, had a chance, chickened out at the last second.
  • Yes, but only because I had been drinking.
  • Yes, but immediately regretted it.
  • Kinda.
  • No. But not for lack of trying.
  • Yes, yes, yes, a qualified no, as in more like not really, then yes, yes and yes. Twice.
  • Yes. And at the same time. Not bragging, just sayin'
Whew! Okay, I feel a lot better now. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to try to get myself strategically within close range of someone who might be open to a little pre-apocolyptic somethin' somethin', because WE...JUST...DON'T...KNOW!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interview: Marissa Rapier

If you recall the months of madness that were Muffinquest (and honestly, how could any of us possibly forget?), you may remember that I made some promises. Well, I'm just now getting around to making good on those promises. Which is why today's blog post is an interview with writer/fitness advocate/actress/scientist/mom and anti-cancer warrior in her own rite, Marissa Rapier, the pride of Kankakee, Illinois. Hers is among my all-time favorite blogs and I've been following it (and her) for a long time so she has definitely been an influence and inspiration to me. So why did she agree to get involved with Muffinquest and put herself at risk of being "rewarded" in this fashion? "I HATE CANCER. It was a no brainer to donate to your cause. Currently my sister lives with it. She's gone through two rounds of chemo and the bastard tumor refuses to move out. It is less active. So, that's a good thing. She manages to find joy in living in spite of issuing numerous eviction notices to the beastly offender. A real inspiration to those who tend to piss and moan about life being so unfair in the face of trivial matters."

How long have you been blogging and what got you started?
I think it all began late in 2007 on Blogger. Originally, it was named "Mental Origami." I quickly learned that there were other blogs with the same name. Since the moniker WILDHAIR is what I'd been known as in the AOL Chat room world, it seemed a more likely title. That's when I added Wildhair. It is based on a nickname a guy gave me when I lived in Georgia.It is literally about my hair, which was long and curly at that time, not that wild hair we all tend to have up our butts.

Your blog, Marissology, is subtitled "Love, life and pursuit of the perfect bra". How goes the search?
Oy! What a task. Neither love nor bras seem to be found locally. The fit is never right. Nothing seems available for my unique needs. I search online and hope that what I what I find will be suitable. Unfortunately, upon first inspection, the pictures and descriptions don't live up to what exists in reality. I typically keep what arrives and hope that a fondness will grow even though it feels binding or uncomfortable. Eventually, the discomfort outweighs the perks. I ditch it and go in search of a more suitable fit. Due to what seems an impossible quest, I've begun my collection of unicorns tchotchkes and cats. I'm thinking kaftans and turbans will be suitable in case I throw in the towel on hitting my goal weight. No bras required!
Bra (metaphor)
Your blog used to be titled "Wild Hair". What happened?
My involvement in Beachbody convinced me Wildhair wasn't a good 'brand' name. Due to that I bought the domain Marissology and moved over to WordPress. I kind of which I hadn't. I'm making it work, though. I think. Maybe. I haven't fully bonded with the name. It seems to have murderated my muse. The focus shifted from 'love, life and pursuit of the perfect bra" to something totally weight loss based. I'm still struggling to get fit and drop the excess weight but there is so much more to my life observations than eating this not that.

What's the buzz in Kankakee?
Well, word on the street is that we're getting an Old Navy or Gap outlet store next to the WalMart. Recently added was a store called FIVE BELOW. Apparently nothing is over $5.00.
Kankakee. Illinois (artist's interpretation)
You are a lab manager. Does that mean you make science?
I make glasses in about an hour. Funny thing is that I was happy dawdling through my 'career' as a Lead Technician. Then one day I walk into work and my GM shows me a confidential email. It was a list of appointed Lab Managers and the stores where they'll be assigned. My name was on the list to take over in the store where I've been working since '05. Initially, I was livid! No one asked me. Technically, I wasn't supposed to see that email until receiving an offer. Duh. Needless to say, I'm making the most of that additional $.42 an hour.

Is Shakeology a science? The study of the ancient history of shaking?
It is!! 70 core ingredients make it a stand out in the world of meal replacement drinks. It is pretty tasty and it helps ya poo! With a low glycemic index -- 24 on a scale of 50 being considered low it is diabetic friendly. OK, enough infomercialization of your blog. Next question, pleas;e!

I happen to know that Lisa Coleman, as in "Wendy & Lisa" from Prince & the Revolution, gets her glasses at LensCrafters. Have you ever made glasses for any celebrities?
The stores I've worked in, Gainesville, Ga and Bourbonnais/Kankakee, IL., don't typically encourage celebs to roll through. Once a dude claimed he was from Kool and the Gang and promised us all tickets to their next show. Uh, sure. He was quite demanding. Then, this chick came in with her son and some dude who was footing the bill. She kept her bigger-than-her-head sunglasses on even though it was dusk and she was indoors. It is not as if she was Bono. One of our associates recognized her from the VH1 program featuring Chad Ochocinco. I think I just violated some HIPPA laws.

Yes, rock godesses DO shop at LensCrafters!

As a professional in the eye-care industry, am I wrong for thinking it's crazy to let someone have at my eyes with a laser beam?
I think Family Guy got it right regarding that procedure:

I like girls that wear glasses. Is it true that men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses?
Your appreciation for bespectacled dames is ... appreciated. I haven't had a date or an invite of such in over three years. I'd have to say it is true. Surely it has nothing to do with my personality or oversized body type.

Any plans to return to the stage in the near future?
It would be nice. The hard work is something a pain. The drama behind the stage curtain is obnoxious. For some, a diva attitude exists in community theater. The whole Lab Manager gig is cramping my style. Evening rehearsals and weekend performances don't jive with a retail work schedule. Next season our local theater group is doing HAIRSPRAY. That would be fun.

What's your take on "American Idol"? This year and the whole phenomenon?
What a hot mess!! This Simonless season means there is no constructive criticism. Jennifer Lopez needs to stop loving everything. Steven Tyler needs to stop seeming like such a letch. Randy just needs to stop thinking his doughy critiques make him the new Simon. I've been watching and chatting on Facebook with one of Tampa's own, ya know. My remarks are terribly snarky. Many people might not appreciate my commentary. My strong dislike usually goes against the grain. One competitor is from Illinois. I compared her vocal style thusly: "If a singer's voice could be compared to a germy stripper pole it would be Haley's." I laughed.

When will it finally die?
It's already dead! Best impersonation of a ZOMBIE ever!, wait! I'd rather have f-a-a-a-a-ame! F-a-a-a-a-ame!
Find and follow Marissa at any and all of the following:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where were you when the blog went down?

As you may have noticed, or just as likely not noticed, there were no new fart jokes (aka material) posted here last Friday, interrupting what has become a fairly dependable schedule of posts submitted to this site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. That's because the service I use, Blogger, had issues and was mostly unavailable. I believe the technical term is "took a shit". As far as anybody knows, that is. It's all a big secret for some reason.
I use it because it's free, easy to use and free. I suspect that's why it's so popular with so many people, people who were undoubtedly freaking out when they couldn't access it.
I wasn't one of them, believe it or not. Sure, I was annoyed. I cursed and stomped my feet and probably broke something. But I do that when I accidentally open a hot dog bun on the wrong side. It's standard practice for when things don't go my way (aka standard practice), not freaking out. That's because due to a painstakingly intricate and ultimately pointless system of off-site creation, storage and back-up copies, I didn't actually lose any content and probably never will. Although the glitchness did hamper my ability to edit what I had planned to throw up here last Friday and also today, which is why you're getting this extended disclaimer instead of scathing, pithy commentary on something stupid that somebody (aka I) did.
The other reason I didn't freak out is because unlike many bloggers, I don't make (or lose) any money on this site. That's right, the only benefit I derive from publishing to this site is the gratification I get from the intense, passionate love and seething indifference I receive from you, my loyal and disinterested readers. So keep that in mind, if you don't mind.
And with that, barring further mysterious technical WTFinization over which I have no control, please resume looking forward (or not) to new fart jokes starting this Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


What do you think of when you hear the term "community center"? A place where kids play basketball after school? A place where senior citizens take self-defense classes? A place where you can hold a meeting for your civic organization for free? A place with gleaming hardwood floors, breathtaking chandeliers, European-inspired décor and 20 foot ceilings? If you picked every single one of those things, minus the first three, you're thinking about Tampa Bay's best community center, The Regent!
Built at a cost of $7 million in taxpayer money and sitting on 3.7 acres of land in Brandon, this vital community resource offers a 10,000 square foot ballroom, a bridal suite and a picturesque terrace. As executive director Kristen Kerr says, "The Regent can only be described as extraordinary."
Indeed, Kristen! It's so extraordinary that many civic leaders, some of whom were involved in the planning and execution of this project from the beginning and should therefor have a thorough understanding of what it's all about, were apparently caught completely unaware of it's extraordinariness:
"I would say what it's currently being advertised and used for is not part of what I envisioned." -- State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview

"My understanding is the funds for this project were specifically for building the building." -- Sharon Subadan, deputy county administrator (regarding tax money being used to pay legal fees, property taxes and staff)
"It was conveyed to me that they (former paid project consultants Earl Lennard and Ron Pierce) were volunteers." -- Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham

"I thought we were buying 4.2 acres." -- George May, former chairman, Brandon Community Advantage Center
 Ha ha ha! Nobody seems to know what's happening!

Sure, they don't
Something else that's extraordinary is that this grand facility also serves as a special needs hurricane shelter, which is how the non-profit group that built it (Brandon Community Advantage Center, an organization comprised almost entirely of Brandon Chamber of Commerce members) was granted access to the public money to do so! Also, The Regent has no full kitchen facilities to prepare meals for those with special dietary needs nor refrigeration for medicine. Imagine yourself lying on a cot, hungry, hooked up to a dialysis machine, wondering if you'll have a home to return to eventually. Wouldn't you rather be staring up at a breathtaking chandelier instead of some stupid basketball hoop? Extraordinary!
Of course, you can't expect such a grand, opulent venue to be available at a moment's notice on some kind of meteorological whim. It's best to book well in advance, lest you find yourself in a situation like this:
"Thank you for calling The Regent. May I help you?"
"Yes, this is Hillsborough County Emergency Management. I'm calling to advise you to begin preparing your facility. Expect to be activated as a special needs shelter within the next 72 hours."
"72 hours, let's see, that would be Saturday. Ooh, no can do."
"Excuse me?"
"That is the night of the Schwartzbaum wedding reception. Over 500 confirmed guests. I'm sorry, the venue is not available."
"Well, cancel it. There is a major storm bearing down on the area and we expect to be hit hard!"
"Hold on, let me take a look...hmm, Friday is the Henderson's Super Sweet 16 Party. And Sunday is a fundraiser dinner for the Marigold Society. You picked a terrible weekend to have your storm. We do have some limited openings the following weekend. Can you re-schedule?"
"It's a tropical storm! It's not something that's scheduled!"
"Ma'am, please do not yell at me. I'll have you know that we have breathtaking chandeliers!" 
"I don't think you understand what I'm talking about."
"I understand completely. Now, can I take your number and have one of our expert event coordinators call you back to plan your storm?"
"Plan....our storm?"
"Yes, go over logistics, costs. Remember, true value is found not just in the tangible objects, it is in the experience, in the passion, in the dedication, and in the professionalism of the people you will work with at The Regent. We will work with you to ensure a seamless storm."
"Clearly, you do not grasp the severity of this situation. We need to be able to move people with limited mobility, sight and hearing impairments and other special needs into that building within the next 72 hours."
"Well, there is one possibility..."
"Great. Whatever it takes to make it happen. I don't care."
"...if the Hendersons, Schwartzbaums and Marigold Society are all killed in this terrible storm I keep hearing about, you'll have first dibs. Deal?"
" extraordinary."
"It really is, ma'am!"

Monday, May 09, 2011


I'm convinced that sometimes marketing people will just throw words out there in the belief that nobody will challenge them. That's probably because it's true.
Take the item pictured here, for example. This is a package of instant coffee found by my friend Jessie.
We could start with the name of this product, which is "Astoria Special" and sounds like the name of a passenger train from the 1930s. "Astoria" is one of those names that don't really mean anything other than sounding classy, like "Wellington" or "Savoy". Hotels frequently give names like that to their banquet rooms to make them seem fancier than they are, allowing them to charge more for their rental. When you are invited to attend an event taking place in "The Windsor Room", on some level you're thinking of chandeliers, fancy folded napkins and little knives used to spread whipped butter on dinner rolls, not a box lunch with a sandwich and an apple between PowerPoint presentations about deferred annuities.
But this isn't about the name. It's about the superlatives printed on the wrapper. Specifically, the claim of "incomparable pleasure (since 1978, no less!)". Think about that for a second. "Incomparable pleasure". That means pleasure beyond comparison. A day off with pay, spent listening to your favorite music? That band sucks, you slacker. A vacation in the tropics? Welcome to Malaria Island. Orgasms? Might as well be hiccups. That is what the makers of Astoria Special coffee, a beverage you're most likely to consume while sitting on a metal folding chair, reading a year-old magazine while waiting for your oil to get changed (as Jessie said), expect you to believe.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Thor Thpot

One of the best things about not having kids, aside from relief from the pressure and anxiety of being expected to influence them positively, is relief from the pressure and anxiety of being expected to steer them from things that could influence them negatively. For example, the movie "Thor" is opening nationwide today, the first release of the so called "summer blockbuster season". It's a movie based on a Marvel Comics superhero based on the thunder god of Norse mythology. Movies like this can be a huge influence on kids. I should know, having spent a summer running around dressed as Indiana Jones. 
And I was 22 at the time.
Where specifically the movie "Thor" could be problematic for parents with wee ones is in the character's super power, which basically involves throwing a powerful, mystic hammer named Mjöllnir, which is one of the most fearsome weapons in Norse mythology, capable of leveling mountains. Savvy parents read the last part of that sentence, saw "throwing...a hammer" and can already see where this is going. You see the problem here is that a kid can run around in his pajamas, saying "thwip, thwip" like Spiderman and he won't shoot spiderwebs all over the house. A kid can put a towel around his neck like Superman and he's not going to be flying around the backyard. But if a kid throws a hammer, indoors or out, something will happen.
Good luck with that, parents. 

(The examples cited here are for little boys because if you have little girls, it goes without saying that they should not be putting on skin-tight leather bodysuits like Catwoman. They can play brilliant scientists or investigative journalists or any other profession that requires being rescued by a hero.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A few days late & several dollars short: hey, let's make fun of the Royals!

(I meant to post this on Monday, when it still would have been fresh in people's minds but something sort of came up on Sunday night, and, well, I just didn't. But here it is now. So, yay!)

I didn't watch The Royal Wedding last Friday; I was up and at 'em that morning, exchanging a pair of shoes at WalMart. If not for that, I wouldn't have gotten out of bed. As part of my relatively newfound philosophy of not hating stuff that other people like, I'm not automatically going to hate this kind of thing, even though it's not something I enjoy (although the idea of some older gentleman with a tweed cap sitting in a pub somewhere in the UK muttering "bollocks" while it was going on did give me a warm and fuzzy). But the whole thing is just so over-the-top in terms of pomp, circumstance and pure spectacle that I can't not at least make fun of it a little bit. Between a prince and a princess getting married followed by the news of the world's scariest villian meeting his demise, this as close as most of us are ever going to get to living in a Disney cartoon. So let's celebrate that!
"I regret that I am unable to attend. However, I have acquired acute lead poisoning and have plans this weekend to feed some fish."
Souvenirs were available so you could commemorate exactly where you were when people who wouldn't pee on you if you were on fire were having the time of their lives.
It's the perfect size for a single serving of soup!

I shall adorn it with the my heart!

Mmm, this single serving of soup tastes like love!

Perfect for a workout at the gym or a leap from a bridge!

So classy!
Much of the attention was focused on the finery worn by those in attendance, especially the outlandish hats, like these...
"Hi! I don't eat!"
And these...
"Because I'm a football player, Victoria, not a chimney sweep. That's why I'm not wearing it."
 And especially this!
Animal trivia: The reproductive system of the female raccoon is located on its forehead! 
Princess Beatrice's "hat" got so much attention that hardly anyone even noticed her sister with a gravy boat full of grapes and feathers on her head!

"I'm not saluting; I'm preparing to slap that silly thing off her head!"
Eventually, everybody settled down and the business of matrimonial ceremony got under way...

Where do these guys get all those medals? Are there wars going on that the rest of the world doesn't know about that only princes, dukes, viscounts and earls can fight?

"In sickness and in health, for richer or for p...I'm sorry, what was the next word? I don't recognize it."
And so whether it was something that swept you away to a magical fairy tale fantasy of grace and elegance or whether you saw it as merely a highly entertaining show that distracted us from the stress and strife that pervades our daily lives, we should all be thankful to The Royal Family for allowing us to be a small part of this grand occassion. And for giving us this...
"Yes dear, stiff upper lip and all that."

Monday, May 02, 2011

So, like, what's everybody talking about today?

In the wake of last night's announcement that Osama Bin Laden has officially assumed room temperature, it really doesn't make any sense for me to waste the effort and space to get anyone's attention off of a topic that's going to dominate the news cycle and discussions everywhere for the foreseeable future. So I'm not. Until Wednesday. I hope that's cool.

On the off-off-off-off chance that anybody cares about my take on the situation, all I'll say about it is that it's deeply personal for hundreds of different reasons and nobody's individual reaction can be criticized as wrong or inappropriate.Wanna pound beers and sing along to Toby Keith? Knock yourself out. Just don't step on the folks who want some quiet reflection or are concerned about what happens next.
 For me, I had two reactions:
1) Thank God I'm not travelling any time soon.
2) It's entirely possible that I may follow a few too many funny people on Twitter. Because when I went there on Sunday night in search of updates on the breaking news, I had to wade through a lot of jokes in the process. With that in mind, here are the top Tweets I came across last night...

Is it too much to ask that the government kill somebody I hate EVERY night, around 8 pm? -- Thomas Lennon

See what happens when you let gays serve in the military? -- Adam Roberts

"They've been looking for him my whole life!! Well, that's great, I guess all the wars are over now. Goodnight!" - 10 yr old daughter -- Kelly Oxford

Osama Bin Laden (upper-body injury) will not return. -- Jeremy Rutherford (that's a playoff hockey joke, in case you don't recognize the format)

Donald Trump, you can resign now. -- Bob Kerr

I'd call my dad to celebrate, but if Bin Laden never put out a coupon, my dad doesn't have any idea who he is. -- Veronica

Just a heads up. Bin Laden jokes will be annoying in exactly one minute. -- Jim Gaffigan

See you again on Wednesday with new fart jokes! (in case you don't know, 'fart jokes' = my code language for 'content'. Note: may or may not actually pertain to farts)