RSS

Bacon-Wrapped Blog

It’s no secret that I have a certain fondness for bacon; everyone that knows me is aware of it.   But I don’t think most of them realize just how fond of it I am.  I love bacon in a way that a man should not love a preserved meat.

I sometimes find myself day-dreaming about it.  Right in the middle of the day I will occasionally drift off, fantasizing wistfully about a particular slab of heaven that I recently purchased.  Thinking longingly about how later, when I get home, I will be able to transform it from the unassuming mass of smoked meat and fat into a fantastic orgy of crispy deliciousness.  Whipping myself into a heightened frenzy until, finally, I can contain my enthusiasm no longer and I scream out:

“Oh bacon you flirty, lusty whore!  Why do you tease me so?  When I get home I am going to make sweet sweet love to you!”

This is usually followed shortly thereafter by a very awkward silence and some pretty uncomfortable questions from the other people in the meeting.

But how can I help it? I find it irresistible. When I die, I am pretty sure it is going to be because a chunk of bacon-fat broke free from the wall of a pulmonary vein and struck my heart at high velocity causing my chest to explode with a sickening fleshy “Thwump!”.

My tombstone will likely read:

Tombstone

It is because of this deep love that, over the years, I have received many emails from my friends and family notifying me of some new bacon-related product, or a new way in which to cook it. Many of these products and recipes are simple and creative, but some of them are foul, unnatural, evil ways to use bacon.  For example:

Bacon-stuffed cinnamon buns

Canned bacon

Bacon-cheddar rollup

That last one, with the woven mat of bacon strips drenched in cheddar cheese…?  It haunts me.

One of the few problems with bacon is that, in my opinion, it has “bad press”.  It seems like every time you hear anything about it, it’s some story related to “health risks”.  Bacon needs a marketing campaign!  Many other food products have adopted slogans to help spread the good word of their tastiness:

“Milk, it does a body good”

“Behold the power of cheese”

“Beef… it’s what’s for dinner”

“Pork… the other white meat”

(Chicken, apparently, doesn’t need a slogan, since everything tastes like it.)

So, I got to thinking… why not have a slogan for Bacon?  And so, the slogan I am proposing is:

“Bacon… makes everything better!”

Think about it!  It’s true!  What food is not made better with bacon?  One of the people involved in my market research suggested one possibility: bacon.  But then I countered that adding bacon to bacon means MORE bacon, and that is better, and they agreed that this was indeed true.

So, my brothers-in-bacon, go and spread the good word.  Bacon is the king of meats!  Don’t let the nay-sayers scare you away from it!  Stand up, shake your fist in the air and loudly proclaim “Bacon makes everything better!  Viva la Bacon!”

And, then sit down and catch your breath.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

Blinged Out Blog

The older I get, the more I feel like I am becoming a caricature of a cranky old curmudgeon; sitting on my porch, in my rocking chair, shaking my cane at those “troublesome youngsters” on my lawn.

So, I guess you could say that I am not exactly “street-wise”.  More specifically, I am not fluent in the lingo of the street.  Many words and phrases that are used by hipper people than I (that constitutes just about everyone) confuse the hell out of me.

I think I am just too damn logical to “get it”.  I mean, I usually understand, in a linguistical sense, what these words and phrases mean.  But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would use them in the ways that they do. 

Ok, now I am sure you are just dying to know what the hell I am talking about, so let me give you an example.  I am going to reach WAY back now, and start with and old example… the word “Dope”.  It’s old enough to be out of circulation, but not old enough to have come back in yet.  It’ll probably make a triumphant return about the same time mullets do.

To many of you, this word probably only means “Idiot”, as in:

“That guy’s a real dope!”

But through the years, it has also meant “Drugs”, and more specifically “Heroin”:

“That dope’s doing dope!”

But it doesn’t stop there!  No, it has also meant “Great”, or “Awesome”:

“That dope’s doing dope! That’s dope!

And, while I was looking all this up, I discovered that in the South, they sometimes refer to Cola as “dope”:

“That dope dropped dope into his dope! That’s dope!”

You see how this can get confusing.

I believe this confusion stems from the fact that the meaning of many of these words and phrases is partially based upon their context. In one situation, it can mean one thing, whereas in another situation… it can mean something entirely different. 

This leads me to the catalyst for this entry. 

It all started with a quiet lunch in the cafeteria at work.  One of the people I went to lunch with… let’s call him Paco… Paco was recently married, and was telling us all about the meal that his lovely wife had prepared for him the previous evening.  The conversation went something like this:

Paco: Man, last night, at dinner?… She really threw down!

Me: She… um… fought you?

Paco then adopted a patient, yet amused expression.  The kind of look I picture on the face of a German father when his son mistakenly uses the word “Gerspinkdensteidt” instead of “Frachtenspiegledorf” (A common mistake in German),

Paco and his friend… Pedro… then calmly explained to me that “throw down”, in that context, meant that she cooked him a good meal.  What a jackass I am!  Of course it does! (that was sarcasm there)

So, if I am to believe Paco and Pedro, then it would seem that “throw down”, depending upon the situation it is used in, could mean:

    1. To engage a foe in combat to the death
    2. To cook a loved one a really tasty meal

I’m sorry, but isn’t this just a tad ambiguous?  I mean, maybe their wives are more even tempered than mine, but I certainly wouldn’t want to ask Karrie to “throw down” while she had a carving knife in her hand if I knew that the interpretation of what that actually meant was subject to her whim at that moment.

While I am sure that, most of the time, the result would be favorable, there are some times that she might just decide to interpret it both ways and make a delicious meal involving several tender organs that I’d rather not part with. 

But, it’s not just “throw down” that worries me.  There are many other phrases that, if misused, could lead to situations that are uncomfortable at best.  For instance, while your wife’s new dress may truly make her look “PHAT”, I would caution you against pointing that out to her.  And, your new suitcase may very-well be “da bomb”, but I would highly recommend against announcing that while going through airport security. 

You could play the game, and try to speak this odd language.  But, I recommend you do what I do, and completely avoid these colloquial land-mines.  Just speak good old-fashioned plain English.

Oh, and get a cane.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Don’t do this at home… unless you invite me over!

I have no illusions about my life. It has not been, what most people would consider, thrilling. In fact, it has really been pretty damn dull, if you asked me. Even so, there have occasionally been some brief flashes of excitement that stand out in my memory and make me wonder how I turned out to be the fully-grown, chemically-balanced, mature adult I am today (stop laughing).

And so, today’s blog entry focuses on my fixation with blowing things up.

NOTE: For the benefit of those readers that happen to be members of a law enforcement agency, you should know that this blog is purely fictional. It is merely an amusing outlet for my playful and creative, if sometimes violent, inner child. None of the things you read in this blog entry have any foundation in reality. Not one shred of it contains any believable or, dare I say, prosecutable information.

NOTE: For everyone else… That last note is bullshit. I totally did all this crap!

Now… back to the story.

I suppose I was pretty typical as a child in respect to my fascination with fire. Using a magnifying glass to make the ants in my back yard feel the fiery wrath of their angry god was a frequent summertime activity. But, what started as a desire to burn things, eventually blossomed into a yearning to blow things up. And so, like millions of other people, despite the fact that it is against the law, I used to buy fireworks every 4th of July and set them off in front of my house. I mostly bought the standard stuff: firecrackers, bottle-rockets, roman candles, jumping-jacks and so-on. However, no matter what I bought each year, the resulting pyrotechnic display was always… lackluster, in my opinion.

One year, right around July 4th, I was flipping through channels, when I came upon Barney, that ridiculous purple dinosaur-ish thing, while he was in the middle of a song that was clearly designed to convince the children in the audience that he wasn’t just a pedophile in a large purple costume. I had seen him before, and thus I am not entirely sure why this particular moment was any different, but I decided right then and there that he had to die.

So, I went out to the nearest toy-store and purchased a stuffed Barney hand-puppet…

Clerk (cheerfully): Heya! Welcome to Toy Palace.  How can I help you?
Me: I require a stuffed Barney.
Clerk (happily): Sure, we have loads of those!  Who’s the luckly little kid?
Me: Fool!  This is not for one mere child!  This is for the justice of children everywhere!
Clerk (nervously): You… um… don’t like Barney?
Me: No.  I loathe him.  I am going to destroy him.
Clerk begins to cry.

I bet you think you know where this is going. You probably think I strapped an M80 to his chest and sent his fluffy purple ass to meet — and be subsequently rejected by — whatever poor saint drew gate duty that day. Well, guess again! You are wrong on several points:

    1. It was a blockbuster
    2. I sewed it into his chest
    3. I sincerely doubt he went in that direction to begin with

NOTE: A blockbuster has the explosive force of 1/2 a stick of dynamite, and this was a hand-puppet. The term “unbalanced response” comes to mind.

Once he was properly prepared, I put him on display for all to see during our 4th of July party. Then, later that day, before it got dark, I placed him in the middle of the street, lit the fuse, and watched as the blockbuster disintegrated Barney, with a loud and satisfying “thwump”, scattering millions of Barney molecules all over the neighborhood.

It was a breathtaking experience, not just for me, but for all onlookers (well, except for maybe a few of the younger kids… cry-babies!). We filmed it, of course, and watched it over and over for the rest of the night, raising a toast every time Barney met his explosive end.

Given our great success with Barney, we decided to repeat the event the following year. This time, however, it was the red Power Ranger (Jason) who was the focus of our ire. The explosion the previous year, while adequate for Barney, didn’t quite pack the punch that Jason deserved so we upgraded from the blockbuster to the pineapple which gave us the staggering power of a full stick of dynamite.

I fondly remember Jason’s detonation. As I recall, his head sailed so high up in the air that we were surprised by the “thud” as it landed well after the smoke had cleared.

Each year, as the show got bigger, so did the crowd. The following year, the crowd was so large that we had to block off both ends of the street. The main event that year was: Elmo.

Frankly, I am surprised he wasn’t the first. If there are any child icons that need to be rigorously dismembered, it is he. The other two were just plain annoying, but Elmo, in my opinion, was much worse. Here is a character, on an educational show for children, that doesn’t actually speak proper English! It’s like having Jar Jar Binks teach your kids (“Meesa gonna teechoo eenglits!”).

After a brief search, we found a huge stuffed Elmo. He was about 2 feet tall, and built like a big fluffy pillow. It was clear to us that something that size deserved more than just a measly pineapple! So, we taped two together and surgically implanted them in his chest.

 

IgnitionThat year was the only year we actually used a homemade electrical ignition system, and as you can see, we had an extravagant materials budget. Not just any cigar box would do; only one that was filled with hand-made cigars that were imported from Honduras!

No, it wasn’t pretty, but it enabled us all to be at least 25-30 feet away from Elmo when his payload was ignited. And, since we were now talking about the equivalent of two sticks of dynamite, volunteers to light it by hand were pretty scarce.

As I said, Elmo was about 2 feet tall, and very pillow-like. So, in order to enable him to stand upright in the street, we had constructed a cardboard stand. Basically, he was propped up in a box with his arms sticking straight out from his sides.

Just as the fuse was nearing its end, his right arm slipped from its perch and fell back down to his side; almost as if he was waving goodbye. And, just as it reached his side… he exploded with a concussive blast, spraying flaming bits of plastic stuffing everywhere.

The timing could not have been better. I am getting all choked up just thinking about it.

Maybe it was because we matured a bit. Maybe we began to value our lives more as we got older. Or maybe it was just because explosive fireworks became harder and harder to come by. But, sadly, Elmo was our last victim.

It’s a crying shame too, because we had our next show all planned out. The guest of honor was going to be Dora the Explorer, and the show was going to be entitled: “Dora the Exploder”!

You live, for now, Dora. But I’d watch your back if I were you!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 30, 2008 in Memory Lane

 

Reaching My Goals

I think I firmly established in a previous entry that I really do not like sports, but I feel like I need to explain myself a bit better so that you can understand why I believe my dislike of sports is not without good reason.

SoccerProFor starters, I have always been a fairly overweight person, even as a child.  Around the time I was in my “tween” years, some of the more common terms used to describe children of my particular build included: “stocky”, “heavy set”, or my personal favorite, “portly”.  Ostensibly, these terms were meant to be less offensive than simply calling me a “lardass”, although I am not entirely certain that they were.

To make matters worse, at that age I also exhibited a level of grace and dexterity normally reserved for semi-tranquilized livestock.

In the picture here I don’t look quite as porcine as I remember, but you will notice that I didn’t exactly have six-pack abs either.  You may also have noticed that, not only was my shirt a stomach-churning mustard color, but it also had logo on it that was large enough to be visible from space.  The whole “lumbering butterball in pee-colored polyester” look was a real hit with the ladies.

But, despite these facts my parents forced me to play soccer, as you may have guessed from the picture.  I know what they wanted.  They wanted what all parents want for their kids.  They wanted me to go make friends and be popular.  But the fact is, even at that early stage of my life, I really didn’t like… well… people.  But, I didn’t have much choice in the matter, so I donned the hideous uniform and went to my first practice.

When I met the coach, he — after instantly assessing me with a practiced eye — decided to assign me to the position of “Fullback”.  I assume he figured my girth would block a fair potion of the goal.  He then patiently explained to me what I needed to do.  This amounted to:

    1. Watch the ball
    2. If the ball moves towards the goal, take it away from the guy kicking it
    3. Kick the ball away from the goal, and to another player (preferably one on our team)
    4. Repeat

These instructions were as simple as could possibly be.  But, understanding them was not the problem here.  The problem, in a nutshell, was that I sucked at soccer.  It wasn’t long before I realized the only way that I could provide any real value to the team.  And so I amended the coaches instructions as follows:

    1. Identify the best player on the opposing team
    2. Pretend to be trying to take the ball from them
    3. Slide-tackle them

Even simpler!  One less step!  Naturally, this always got me benched, but the way I looked at it, our team lost one shitty player, the opposing team lost one good player (because, trust me here… they weren’t getting up), and I got to sit down.  Win, win, win!

As you may have guessed, my soccer career didn’t last long.

Now here I am, all grown up and with kids of my own.  And as I subject them the same treatment, it makes me think about what sports is supposed to teach us.  If the opposing team represents all the obstacles that block your way to success, and the goal represents… well… your goal.  Then what I learned from my short, yet somehow disturbing brush with soccer was this:

“In order to reach your goals, you must avoid all obstacles.  Some of these obstacles, however, are more nimble than you are (they probably have better ‘cleats’) and are therefore able to continually block your way.  In those cases, obstacles seem to go down pretty fast when they take a shin guard to the groin.”

I know what you are thinking.  Do obstacles even have groins?  Rest assured, they do.

But that’s not my point.  My point is that, for most parents, sports are all about teaching kids some sort of lesson.  We all know the lessons that sports are supposed to teach our kids.  Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Bravery, Compassion, etc.  But, deep down inside, I think we also know that this is all a load of hooey.

Occasionally, when I suggest this, some sports zealot will point me towards a news story wherein one of these farcical lessons is embodied.  Some tear-jerking story of compassion and sportsmanship where the player(s) sacrificed the game in order to “do the right thing”.  Of course, if this happened as often as it should… it wouldn’t be “news”.  But, these are sports fans we’re talking about here, and counter-arguments are only truly understood if they use small words… and are belched.

So, instead, I have come up with a few lessons that I believe sports really teaches our kids:

Losing sucks

It’s not about winning?  You really believe that bullshit?  Right…  Um, Losing blows.  “It’s ok to fail” is a great moral to impart if you want your kid to grow up to be a carpenter.  Not so great if you want them to be a test pilot.

No pain… no pain

This one seems fairly self explanatory.  Pain sucks even more than losing.

Sports aren’t always healthy

Playing sports, generally, gets you into great shape.  I get that,  But I have many friends that are into sports, and let me tell you… they aren’t without their share of problems.  For a comparison, let me list all the health-related problems that I can think of that my friends have had as a result of playing a sport, and then let me list the ones that I have as a result of not playing one.

Friends: Broken bones (just about any of them), knee surgery, concussion, many stitches, loss of a finger and loss of sight in one eye.

Me: I’m fat.

I think the data speaks for itself here.

Chicks dig athletes

A sad reality of life.  Women seem to fall all over sports guys.  Playing a sport well appears to be the human equivalent of having really vibrant plumage.  At least I can say that I am in no worse shape than most of the popular sports figures of my high school days.  And I don’t tell boring stories whenever anyone is around (I just blog about them).

I am sure I could come up with a few more if I tried hard enough.  But those will have to do for now.

Hey… I am not suggesting that these lessons aren’t worth learning.  Truthfully, I think they may actually prepare our kids for at least some of the harsher realities of life.  I’m just saying that nobody I know has ever played a sport and come out of it as some sort of shining example of perfect morals.  In fact, quite a few of them are narcissistic douche-nozzles.

So if you are a parent that is trying to provide your kids with a strong foundation of good old-fashioned American values, then I hope this entry has helped you realize that sports aren’t necessarily the answer.

If, however, you are a sports fan that is reading this because you are looking for some deeper meaning to apply to your hobby, then I probably lost you by the second paragraph when I used the word “ostensibly”.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 17, 2008 in Memory Lane

 

Geek My Ride

FamilyCarWe have two cars, a family car, and a station car.  But, while we bought the station car, we decided to lease the “family” car.  The theory here was that my wife Karrie would always have a car that is in good working condition, and under warranty.  But, in reality, I cannot deny that I really like having a new car every three years simply because it’s cool.

Our lease on the latest family car was expiring at the end of November so, last Sunday, we decided it was high-time we went to the dealership to look at our options.  Above all else, I definitely wanted to make sure the car had Microsoft SYNC.  I would have cheerfully traded other, less important, portions of the vehicle, such as the engine, to ensure that it had this option.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with SYNC, it is a system that is integrated with the car that allows you to use voice commands to control your cell phone and media player (among other things).  It is, likely, the greatest invention mankind will ever see.

I think the thrill for me is that I get to talk to my car.  I mean, I really hate talking to actual people;  most of them make me want to do something violent.  So, talking to something I know is supposed to be stupid is very rewarding by comparison.  It’s quite remarkable how the same conversation can have dramatically different results.  My conversations with the car go something like this:

Me: Call Bob

Car: Call Bob Smith?  At home? or on his mobile?

Me: Home

Car: Calling Bob Smith at home.

Me: Holy shit!  This is awesome!

Whereas, a similar human conversation typically goes like this:

Me: Call Bob

Person: Bob?  Who’s that?

Me: Bob Smith?  Your father?

Person: OH… right… sure… that Bob…

Me: So…?

Person: What?

Me: Call him.

Person: Who?

Me: Nevermind.  Call 911, there’s about to be a homicide.

Humans suck.

As soon as I got the car home I spent over an hour just sitting in it, in the driveway, having a nerdgasm.  As I played with all the wonderful toys, I was surprised to discover just how different my decision making paradigm is when it comes to car shopping for the family car versus the station car.

I basically bought a family car that has every feature available to a car that hasn’t been on “Pimp My Ride”.  Heated seats, heated mirrors, 6 CD entertainment system, Sirius satellite radio, etc.  There is even a button to change the color of the lighting in the cup holders.  Ok, that last part requires restating:


CupHoldersThere is a button whose sole purpose is to change the color of the lights in the cup holders!

Holy shit people!  Some engineer actually spent their valuable time designing that feature?  I wonder if that’s how they settle bets at the Ford Engineering Headquarters. “Hah!  You lose Fred!  I get to design the anti-lock braking system!  You have to design the lighting for the cup holders!”

 

Now, when I was shopping for the station car, the list of required features was a bit different…

Salesman: So… would you like the sports package?

Me: No

Salesman: How about the CD entertainment system?

Me: No

Salesman: Power locks?

Me: Listen… Does it have four tires and an engine?

Salesman: Sorta.

Me: I think we’re done here.

My station car has, precisely, the following features:  A sexy golden(ish) color, an AM/FM radio (with cassette), automatic transmission, and an engine(ish).  It is not pretty, it doesn’t talk to me, and it couldn’t go over 80mph if it was hurled off a cliff, but it has served to transport me from my home to the train and back for over seven years.  So, I am happy with it.  When this car finally dies on me, I will probably buy another one that looks exactly like it, and has the same list of features.

And, although the station car doesn’t actually talk to me, we still have conversations.  For instance, when the “Check Engine” light comes on, I always say “Listen… I am not taking you into the mechanic, so quit your whining.  If you break down on me, I am not going to get you fixed, I am going to take you to the scrap yard.”, and the light promptly turns off.

No, my poor old station car may not have SYNC to give it a voice, but it still talks to me in it’s own sad way.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Dungeons & Dragons Live!… ish

If you have read my previous entry on Dungeons and Dragons, then you have been properly educated on how it is played.  Because of that, you may think that there is nothing dorkier than sitting around a table pretending to be a warrior or a sorcerer.

Oh, how wrong you are my friends.

For, although D&D is, without question, one of the premier activities for nerds the world around, it doesn’t hold a candle to Live Action Role Playing (LARP).  This is an activity that snaps the needle off the dorkometer.

It goes without saying that I’ve tried it.

How could I not?  I had played D&D for many years at that point.  This just seemed like the logical next step.  The next stage in the evolutionary process that would ultimately produce a mature adult nerd.

The basic premise of the game is the same as D&D. One notable difference, however, is that when you want to hit someone with your sword, you don’t roll dice… you actually hit them with your sword.

Before you run over to the Christian Life Ministries and tell them to fire up the printing press… These weapons are not real.  They are soft(ish) foam(ish) replicas.  Your weapon is actually  a couple of pieces of PVC pipe with pipe insulation around it, held together by a generous amount of duct tape.  Most of them are about the size of a railroad tie but, thanks to their lightweight materials and cutting-edge design, allow you to swing it like a person wielding a lightweight railroad tie.

Like the tabletop game, you have to choose a type of character to be.  I decided to be a rogue.  I have always liked the idea of hiding in shadows and sneaking up on my victims instead of fighting them the “fair” way.  I’ve never really been a big fan of “fair”.  And, as an added bonus, my weapon wasn’t one of the gigantic swords, but instead it was a dagger, which is much smaller.

With my choice of character made, I moved onto the next challenge:  My costume.  A hooded cloak, a tunic, a pair of boots, etc.  In the end, I created a look that I think speaks for itself:

DorkRemember that cloak.  I will have a future blog entry in which it will make a triumphant return; an encounter that involves the Police.

Now I was ready.

The game that I went to was run at a 4H camp.  It ran for three days, included all meals, and cost only $35.  It really was a good deal.  Unless you considered the fact that it was wintertime, and we were housed in unheated cabins in the middle of the woods.

I don’t usually mind being cold, but since I knew about the cabins in advance, one of the few things that I brought with me from the world of normal people was a small pile of chemical hand warmers, and I am very glad I did.  For, while I found them to be pretty nice to have, other people looked upon them with thinly disguised lust.

Not one to pass up an opportunity, I sold some of them on the first day (for in-game money). I would probably have sold all of them, but then I realized that, because of the cold, these people were desperate enough to buy used hand-warmers from me.  So, I used a few of my hand-warmers each night, and sold them in the morning.  They were still a little warm at that time, but I could almost guarantee that by nighttime (when they would actually want to USE them) they would be stone cold.  But hey… I was supposed to be playing a rogue, right?

One of the people I peddled my wares to was a lovely young lady who clearly hated being cold.  She was practically orgasmic when I handed her the almost completely spent hand-warmer.  She started rubbing it against her face and moaning with pleasure.  Thankfully, she didn’t know that the small bag of carbon that she was so lovingly caressing against her cheeks had spent the previous night warming mine (yeah, those ones).

But LARP isn’t only about hoodwinking lovely young ladies.  No, like the tabletop game, it has its share of “Combat Encounters”.  You needed to be on your guard in this 4H camp.  At any time, danger could come calling…

 

OrcSo, there we were, my friends and I, three brave adventurers out for our first foray into the wild when, suddenly, out of the forest charges an Orc!  In unison, we…

Wait, I have to stop here to explain something.  When I described how D&D is played, I mentioned that, as a player, your heroism is off the charts.  Even if the odds are overwhelming, you fight.  And you will fight until there is no breath left in your body.  This is important to understand so that you can put this next part into context.

…in unison, we ran screaming like schoolgirls.  That’s right, three fully grown men totally chickened out when faced with a dweeb in a poorly constructed Orc costume.

Our skills at combat did not increase appreciably during that weekend, and all encounters generally ended with us retreating as fast as our stubby legs could carry us.  In the quiet hours of the night, when I had sufficient time to reflect on the events of the day, I realized that this behavior should not have surprised me.  We are nerds, and not typically constructed for actual combat.  Our physique is more optimized for maintaining a sitting position for long periods of time than it is for trading blows with someone.

After a little while there, however, I began to wonder… who were these other people with us?  Because it seemed like we were the only ones running away.  I imagined that if we were ever to actually engage in combat with someone, and gain the upper hand, they would start to smile because they are “not left handed”.

It wasn’t until the second day of the event that we realized who these people were.  These seemingly combat-ready individuals were all fencers (they know how to fight with a sword, not put a boundary around a yard.  Keep up with me here).  This seemed a tad unfair to me.  The whole reason that I like playing fantasy games was because in them, I don’t get my ass kicked.  This wasn’t shaping up to be a good weekend.

A short while after that epiphany, I realized that there was yet another category of people attending this game because, if I had to guess, I would say that roughly two thirds of the people there didn’t engage in combat at all… they just spent their time hovering around the “town center”, being… whatever they were.  These people were… thespians (not lesbians!  THESpians!  Stop giggling!).

It kinda made sense, when I thought about it.  Here, they had the opportunity to play a role all day long for three whole days.  The problem with this idea, for the rest of us, is that they clearly refused to communicate with you unless you also played a role.  You have no idea how annoying this can be until you witness it…

Me: Hey, buddy!  You know where the bathroom is?

Robart:  Well, hello my good man!  I am Robart the Grey, a wizard of some renown in these regions.  Perhaps you have heard of me?

Me: Of course.  Your ability to locate bathrooms is known o’re the land.  Care to point me towards one?

Robart: You speak a strange tongue.  From what land do you hail?

Me: A far away land without any bathrooms called Urinea.

Robart: A strange land, no doubt!  Have you come here to escape the tyrany of some evil overlord?  Or mayhap to live a life of adventure and to seek your fortune?

Me: No, I have come here to urinate.  Blink twice if there’s a normal person in there somewhere.

Robart: Haha!  You are a curious fellow!  Are you perhaps the court jester?

Me: Haha!  I am going to pee on you.

I was tempted to run back into the woods and talk with the Orc (what’s the Orcish word for “bathroom”?).  At that point, I was pretty convinced that we were the only people in the entire camp that had ever actually played D&D.

We spent most of the remainder of the weekend in hiding, coming out only for meals and bathroom breaks.

So, in conclusion, if you are a D&D player, then LARP may not be your cup of tea, but if you are a fencer or actor, then I highly recommend it.

Before you go, however, don’t forget to get some chemical hand warmers.

I have a few I can sell you… cheap!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 1, 2008 in Memory Lane

 

The Speed of Stupid

I’m back to picking on education.

Today’s topic is Science.

This is something I am particularly picky about, since my wife Karrie, aside from being lovely, is also a science nerd of epic proportions; she has a Bachelor’s in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s in Physics.  Because of this, it is not uncommon for our dinner-time conversation to turn to “the problems of time travel”, and we have had heated arguments over “terminal velocity”.

So, you’ll have to excuse me if you think I am being a bit harsh here.

In my life, I have met a frightening number of people that firmly believe that Science is a complete waste of their time.  Of course, these same people likely believe that the sun is dragged across the sky in a flaming chariot, so perhaps I shouldn’t let them bother me so much.  For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to these people as “idiots”.

I mean… seriously… Science?  A waste of time?  Have these people never seen MacGyver?

My concern, however, is not for them.  Not directly, at least.  My primary problem with these people is that they are allowed to breed.  They are allowed to bring a new life into this world, fill it up to the brim with “stupid” and set it free.  Don’t get me wrong here.  My kids are going to need some people to pump their gas, and clean their homes, just not that many of them.

But I am getting off topic again.  Back to Science…

The MTA frequently provides me with wonderful examples of the appalling state of education in America today.  And for science, it doesn’t disappoint.

I was sitting there on the train, likely playing a game on my laptop, when I overheard a man describing to his friends how a “Mosquito Magnet” works.

What struck me about this man was the supreme confidence with which he spoke.  He spoke as if he had not only invented the “Mosquito Magnet”, but that he personally built each one by hand to ensure that they adhered to his high quality standards.

The gaggle of commuters that surrounded him was enraptured.  This guy must have been in sales; he could have told them almost anything, and they would have believed him.  I’ll be honest here.  I really only had an inkling of how these devices work, but it took me about 30-seconds to find a website that explained it in detail.  To make a long story short, I think the only thing he got right was the name.

Maybe this guy doesn’t deserve my ire.  I mean, sure, he is as dumb as the day is long, but boy do I wish I was as good at making shit up and saying it with such confidence…

Commuter: So, you’re saying that my car can run on Mayonnaise?

Me: That’s right.  And the only byproduct is bubbles, which come right out of your muffler to the delight of the neighborhood children.

Commuter: I’m stopping at Costco on the way home!

Of course they’d learn, soon enough, that I was wrong.  But not before I’d had my fun…

Me: You used Hellmann’s?  You idiot!

Commuter: But… you said…

Me: Everyone knows that Miracle Whip is what cars run on!

Alas, our friend from the train is not alone.  No, he’s just one of many science-challenged people, all of whom believe they are not.  You can find clues of cluelessness everywhere.  Let’s take, for instance, some lyrics from a popular song by Sheryl Crow:

“And every time you hear the rolling thunder
You turn and run before the lightning strikes”

If you don’t know why I have a problem with these lyrics, please stop reading now.  Go, find your High School Physics teacher.  Tell them you are sorry.

For those of you that are left…

Perhaps you think that I am going to point out the obvious; that lightning comes before thunder.  Or, maybe you expect me to eviscerate Sheryl Crow for making such a blunder.  Wrong on both points.  Instead, I am going to focus on her fans.

For, you see, I am not the first person to notice this chronological conundrum.  A little Googling will bring you to sites where at least one of her fans defends her lyrics by saying that “Rolling Thunder” is different than “Thunder”.

I see.

So… when thunder “rolls”, it somehow makes sound faster than light?

It’s all so clear now.

Another fan confidently informs everyone that “thunder always comes before lightning”.  He enforces his argument further by adding “it’s a fact”.

Wow… just… wow.

While the first fans only took a sip from the stupid well. This guy drank deeply from it, took a bath in it, and then bottled some to take home.  I really hope it was actually a smart fan who was just kidding.

Let’s just put this one to bed, shall we?  Light is faster than sound, even if you “roll” it.  I forgive Sheryl Crow for not knowing, or even caring, about this.  If she wanted to, she could probably pay someone enough money to change the world to match her lyrics.

But, those that try to defend her by disregarding a few laws of physics, are idiots.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 26, 2008 in Gripes

 

Your kids suck

As a parent, I have spent alot of time and energy trying to be as unbiased as possible.  There is no doubt in my mind that my kids are the best kids, ever.  But there was never a need to rub it in the faces of the other parents.

But, after all the bullshit I have seen and heard kids do in the last few years, I give up.

Your kids suck.

I am sorry, but they do.  And it’s your fault; you are shitty parents.

I wish I could say “You know who you are!”, but the fact is… you don’t.  You think you are awesome, and you think your kids are angels.  But, you are so very wrong.  You are wrong to a level that cannot be measured with modern instruments.  We would need to travel to a far distant future where they have massive banks of “wrongometers” capable of measuring trillions of wrongs per second in order to begin to calculate the sheer volume of wrongness contained in your fragile body.

No, your children are not angels.  They have abused my children too many times for me to ignore it anymore.  The details really don’t matter, so I won’t post them here except to say that my kids are frequently the victims of emotional and physical abuse at the hands of your foul spawn.  And it’s starting to piss me off, in case that isn’t obvious.

Now, while I don’t like seeing my children hurt, I do understand that this is part of life.  You gotta take the good with the bad.  My problem isn’t with the fact that they get hurt.  My problem is that there are never any consequences for the actions of the children who hurt them.  Ever.

Schools, for example, no longer have any authority to mete out punishment that has any meaning to children.  In many schools, teachers aren’t legally allowed to touch children even to save them from harm!  They frequently get in trouble for yelling at them.  They can’t even keep them after class anymore… no no… Jimmy has Soccer practice then!

The chosen punishment at my kid’s school is the issuing of a “demerit”.  Wow… I bet that has the kids shivering at the mere thought.  Best I can tell, the scariest thing about a demerit is that you might get a paper-cut from it.  This is clearly not the type of punishment that we need…

Billy (crying): Ms. Harmony!  Jimmy punched me!

Jimmy: Did not!

Ms. Harmony:  Jimmy… You know that we’re not supposed to hit.  I’m afraid that means you get a demerit.

Jimmy: Sweet!  That gives me 49!  Mommy says I get ice cream when I get to 50!

Jimmy punches Billy again.

Billy (still crying): Ow!  My spleen!

And why aren’t schools allowed to punish children in a way that actually works?  Because many parents won’t let them!  They’ll say “My Jimmy would NEVER hurt another child!”.  Even if there is video evidence.  Even if their child is actively pummeling another child while they are saying it!  Even if their child’s name is not Jimmy! (They aren’t very bright)

If I ruled the planet… situations like this would be dealt with in a swift and severe manner.

Billy (crying): Ms. Harmony!  Jimmy punched me!

Jimmy: Did not!

Ms. Harmony: Jimmy… I warned you about this yesterday.  You know what that means.

Ms. Harmony slowly pulls a yard-long plank of well-worn ironwood from a leather sheath strapped jauntily to her hip.  The hissing sound it makes as it is drawn causes the entire playground to fall silent in grim anticipation. 

Jimmy: Mother of God!  Not “The Bullywhacker”!  Please… mercy…

Ms. Harmony: You’ve left me no choice.

Jimmy runs — they always run — but he is hit by a taser long before he reaches the electrofied playground fence.

Haha!  Oh that Jimmy!  Even if he had somehow made it past the fence, he should have known that he’d never make it through the moat.  That’s what I call negative reinforcement!  Here… I created this simple diagram for those that are interested in using negative reinforcement for raising their children.  It should help clear up any misconceptions.

ScaryNotScary

Seriously though… when did it become ok for our kids to be assholes?  It’s not cute people!  When I see the way kids act today, it makes me feel like pimp-slapping their parents.  I think parents these days understand how to train a dog better than they know how to raise kids.

No, I am not suggesting that raising children is as easy as training a pet.  What I am suggesting, however, is that if training a pet is like Algebra and raising a child is like Calculus, then these parents are still working on their “times tables”.

So, even though they are not the same, there are some basic principles that are.  For instance, when they do something good, reward them, when they do something bad, punish them.  This is NOT a difficult concept to grasp, and yet I see parents doing the opposite of this all the time.

The MTA, yet again, provides me with a real-world example…

One time, I was traveling on a bus in the city.  I only needed to go two stops.  When I got on, there was some drama already in progress.  There was a woman sitting in an aisle seat, and a screaming child standing in the aisle next to her.  He appeared to have a larger than normal lung capacity, since I am certain that he was bellowing like a wounded water buffalo for several minutes, without taking a breath.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.  He wanted the seat, and his mother wasn’t going to let him have it.  As annoying as his screaming was, I was very happy with how the mother was handling the situation.  She was coolly ignoring him.

But then, just before I got off the bus at my stop… she ruined it all.  She got up, and gave him the seat.  Congratulations asshat, you just taught your son a valuable lesson: “Hang in there!  Your tantrum will pay off!”.  Idiot.

On my planet, you would need a license to breed, and it would require an IQ test.

But alas, we live here on Earth where any bozo can have children.

And so, I say it again…

Your kids suck.

Please stop making more of them.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 14, 2008 in Gripes

 

Jury Doody

On Monday of this week I got to be a part of the American Judicial System.

I was summoned to be a juror.

Many people become unhinged when they get a Jury Summons.  They think: “Jury duty could last days, weeks, or even months!  I cannot be away from my work for that long!”.  When in fact, just yesterday they spent over an hour at work conducting a vigorous and, sadly, fruitful search for navel lint.

I personally didn’t mind it much when I got my summons.  I kinda felt like “Wait… so… instead of commuting two hours into the city, spending the entire day working and then commuting two more hours to arrive at a dark house with a sleeping family… you want me to spend the entire day deciding the fate of some poor bastard and still get home in time to enjoy a hot dinner?  Where do I sign?”.  Frankly, it’s amazing this doesn’t use up vacation time.

Me: Dammit! I cannot use my BlackBerry?

Guard: No, that’s ok, we allow Blackberr-

Me: This is an outrage

Guard: But sir, we allow-

Me, handing my BlackBerry to the guard: My boss won’t be happy, but I guess that’s that.  Which way is the courtroom?

Guard: That way.  But sir, we are going to have to insist that you wear pants.

There was nothing about THAT on the Jury Summons!

Once you get past the security checkpoint, you are ushered into a large room where you…

WARNING: If you want to maintain the fantasy of the wild, crazy, hedonistic party that is the process of Jury Selection, then read no more!

…wait.

Like a fool, I came early.  I arrived by 9am, even though we didn’t have to be there till 11am.  Because of my early arrival, however, I was able to get a good seat so that I could concentrate on the most entertaining part of Jury Service… the other potential Jurors.

Over the next few hours, I saw the first round of a game that I now know as “Jury Service Avoidance”.  From my prime location I was able to closely observe, and categorize the players in this game.  Some of the first ones I identified were:

The Mom: How is she expected to get a babysitter?  I mean, you only gave her several months notice!

The Important Business Person: Sure, you may work.  But not like them!  You are but a cog in the machine.  Without them, their company will go out of business!

The Non-English Speaker: When they were speaking to you earlier, they appeared to know English rather well.  But when asked by a court official?  Suddenly they don’t “habla” so much.

The Idiot: This is my “catch-all” category for the rest of the people that wanted no part of Jury Duty, but could not think up any believable reasons not to be there.

This parade of fantastic excuses trampled the ground before the uncaring government workers for hours and hours.  Each assault, however, was soundly rebuffed by a shield of carbon-steel coated apathy.  And so, the whiny bitches were forced to take their ridiculously uncomfortable seats and watch “News 12” just like the rest of us.

“News 12” seems somehow different when you watch it for hours at a time.  It’s only after an hour or two, that you realize that the entire channel has only about 15 minutes of news.  They simply repeat it over, and over, and over (and over).  If I had to hear about Cadbury recalling their products ONE more time, I swear I would be entering the courtroom in a slightly different capacity.

But, after a mere five hours of waiting, we were all called into the courtroom.  Once we were all seated uncomfortably on the hard wooden benches in the back of the room, the judge asked if there were any of us that felt we could not perform our duty as jurors.  That’s when round two of “Jury Service Avoidance” began.  A couple of new players emerged:

This Sick Person: When I sat near this person in the waiting room, they were as quiet as could be.  Thoroughly engaged in the captivating news program about the dangers of sports drinks.  But, as soon as we entered the courtroom?  They started coughing like they had Tuberculosis.

The Old Person: His excuses were: a) He doesn’t hear so well, and b) He has to pee… often.  While he was up talking to the judge, I would estimate that he put his hand to his ear and said, I quote, “Eh?”, about a dozen times.  Stupid?  Yes.  But his plan appeared to work, since he was allowed to leave.  And it’s a good thing for me too, since he sat next to me, and I am pretty sure I knew what “Plan B” was.

After that round of filtering, they selected 15 of us to sit up where the jury sits, and they started to interview us.  I was among those 15 potential jurors, and so were several members of our last group of players in the third, and final round of “Jury Service Avoidance”:

The Desperate: I am pretty sure these were the same exact people that I lumped into the “Idiots” category.  But moving further along in the process forced them to metamorph into something more strange and beautiful.  Something more… retarded.

These poor souls were now fighting like cornered rats.  The fear that they might actually have to do something useful for their country was now fully clouding their judgment.  They would do and say almost anything to avoid being there.  I saw one of them eyeing the bailiff’s gun.

Lawyer: Does everyone here believe they can be fair and impartial?

Juror #9: No.

Lawyer: What do you mean, “No”?

Juror #9: I hate you.

Those may not have been his exact words.  But they were close.

Eventually, the interviews were finished, the judge and lawyers discussed their observations in private, and finally they announced who would stay and who would go.

Alas, I was not picked to be a juror.

But still, I feel like I got to play a part in the never-ending pursuit of justice.

And I got home in time for dinner.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

 

Nerds Gone Mild

Idle hands are, as they say, often tools for the devil.

When I was in High School my friends and I frequently did things out of sheer boredom that, while really harmless, were often disturbing and sometimes of questionable legality.  But they were funny… at least to us.  I guess they could be considered pranks.  Things on the scale of toilet-papering someone’s house, although usually less messy.

One type of activity that we used to entertain ourselves when we had clearly had too much caffeine was something we called a “Drop-off”.  It was named thus because we would think up something, almost random, and drop it off on the doorsteps of people we knew.

Our very first drop-off involved goldfish.

Warning: If you are a member of PETA, you may want to stop reading this now.

We were going for the typical “Baby on the doorstep” thing here.

But, with fish.

It was wintertime, and our plan was to freeze goldfish into blocks of ice, and put them into tiny wicker baby baskets.  We would then drop these baskets off on the doorsteps of our friends with a note like this:

Dear Sir,

  Please take care of my pet goldfish Nippy.  I have fallen on hard times and can no longer care for him.  He deserves a better home than I can provide. 

PS – Please take him in soon.  It’s awfully cold out here!

Alas, by the time they got to Nippy, it would be too late.  Damn them!

We found little wicker baskets and paper in a craft store.

Then, we got goldfish from the pet store.

Another Warning: For all the PETA members that didn’t heed my first warning.  Please reconsider.

Now all we had to do was to freeze the goldfish.

The slippery little buggers were not being very cooperative though.  You see, we were picky, and really wanted them to be in the center of the blocks of ice, but they kept moving.  I am sure that today we could have figured out something a bit more clever but back then, to our adolescent brains, the answer was obvious…

The goldfish would actually need to be dead for this to work.

We had reached our first logistical problem.  What’s the best way to quickly kill a dozen goldfish without damaging them?

Final Warning: Seriously now… Shouldn’t you be out pouring red paint on someone?

Our first idea was electrocution.

We dumped all the goldfish into a 5-gallon bucket and then dropped both leads of a car battery into the water.  I don’t know what we were expecting.  I suppose I was picturing sparks dancing across the surface of the water while all the goldfish were shaking violently in the throes of their deaths.  But what really happened was… nothing.

We sat there for a while, staring at the bucketful of fish.  Each one of them staring back defiantly; a few of them sticking up their middle-fins at us.

Not exactly what we were hoping for.

Not ones to be easily deterred, we moved onto Plan B which, if I remember correctly, was poison.  The details are a bit fuzzy, but I think we may have used bleach, or perhaps ammonia.  I am almost certain it was a cleaning product.  But, even in reasonably high concentrations, it didn’t seem to be doing the job.

There were the goldfish, quite alive, tossing out gurgly insults about our mothers.  It’s like they were taunting us.  Saying “I was going to be eaten alive and slowly digested by a snake!  You think household chemicals are going to kill me?  Bring it, bitches!”

I don’t remember what else we tried.  I think maybe they all eventually died from laughter.

But die they did.

And we got them frozen into little blocks of ice, pretty close to the center.

We tucked them into their baskets with the note attached.

And, finally, we dropped them off

After all that work, the drop-off itself was fairly anti-climactic.  I wish there was something more exciting to report as the outcome of this endeavor.  But, all we had really done was to secure our positions as “the weird kids” in the school.

I suppose we could have done worse.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 24, 2008 in Memory Lane