Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Life, Ya'll

Thanks, XKCD.

That Makes Me a Sad Blogger

After reading this, I've come to a conclusion: It's time to say goodbye to the giant panda.

No, no, I love it too. Yes, I know that it's (more or less) man's fault that it's dying off. And I'm sorry for that. But this is just too much. Our conservation efforts are becoming ridiculous.

We make them watch pornography. We spike their bamboo mojitos with Viagra. We release them into the wild where they are bludgeoned harder than Joe Stanton that one time he tried out for lacrosse and spent the whole practice asking his teammates if they had any interest in Babylon 5.

We should let go. This is like watching your grandfather fade away, but only if every time his heart monitor runs down you switch on the wall-sized gangbangotron, inject him with pure sexahol, stroke his penis erect, and then chain a female version of himself to the hospital bed in hopes that he desires to get rutty.

I mean, c'mon guys. We'll always have memories of Grandpa and his bizarre sexual proclivities. As hard as it is, we need to let go.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

God Hates....?

Lately I've been obsessing over the Westboro Baptist Church, the virulently anti-homosexual religious fringe group that has gained notoriety in the last few years for picketing the funerals of soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their thesis follows:

1. God hates "fags."
2. America accepts homosexuality.
3. Therefore, God hates America.

So, discussions about God's intention or existence aside, this argument is flawed in its assumption that America somehow accepts homosexuality. We obviously don't, not really. In fact, according to the Wikipedia article about the church, Libertarian columnist Keith R. Wood suggested that the church members are engaged in a very dense and dedicated bit of performance art and are actually using their ministry to engender sympathy for gay activism. This seems unlikely.

But we already all know that the Westboro Baptist Church believes in stupid shit. What troubles me is that they are famous.

These people are the Paris Hilton of religious groups. They aren't relevant, they have only seventy or so members, and they live in Kansas. They are famous because they're on T.V., but they're only on television because they're vulgar and lurid. They are Paris Hilton.

In fact, while I've known about these people for some time, I began thinking hard about them when I started watching this documentary (it's six parts on YouTube) by Louis Theroux, a BBC television personality and general chronicler of the weird. It struck me: these people wouldn't even exist if we didn't give them a forum for their crazy ideas. If we turned off the cameras, they'd become just another disoriented group of inbred Kansans who die off because the third iteration of their hive is not allowed to breed. But because we film them every time they hold up their signs (warning: objectionable content), they permeate our (or at least my) consciousness.

This points to a greater problem in documentary film (for purposes of this discussion I'm going to include T.V. newsmagazines and the like under this designation). It tends towards luridness, towards spectacle. That's why we watch To Catch a Predator and whatever else is on Dateline, and it's why we watch whatever show is on the History Channel about how Hitler tried to win World War II.

Now would be a good time to reiterate that I've seen quite a few episodes of To Catch a Predator and that I just spent an hour or so of my life watching The Most Hated Family in America on YouTube. Have I been defeated by the Westboro Baptist Church? I'm certainly aware of them. I'm sure that they could find this post about them and be aware that I'm in some way disseminating their message. Their tactics work because I am indiscriminate in my consumption of information and I get off a little on seeing bizarre and shocking things.

I just finished watching a documentary about Bible thumpers in Dallas, and I am currently watching one about UFO nuts. Survivalists are next. I wish I could be filled with regret about this.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Pride's Kids

On the plane to Memphis I read the first six issues of Runaways in trade paperback. Remi Treuer recommended it, and I had been looking for a new comic to read, so I picked it up before I got on the plane on Wednesday.

It's a very quick read; it only took me about an hour to read it all the way through. It's fun, too. The series focusses on a group of teenagers (one of them is actually 11 or 12) who learn that their parents belong to a group of supervillains called The Pride, and who decide to rebel by becoming heroes.

Again, I enjoyed it, I just have one complaint. The comic is really concious of the fact that its main characters are teenagers, but doesn't really seem to understand how teenagers speak, and thus has them nearly constantly referencing pop culture, the internet, etc. I half-expected the kids to go off jitterbugging.

Anyway, I think it's still worth reading. It's a pretty compelling subject, after all, literally battling with your parents. Also, one of the characters has a pet velociraptor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Up, Up.

So, I'm not an experienced or especially tough traveler. As a child, my whole giant family would pile into the van and drive through scenic Ohio to Hubbard Lake, Michigan, then up through Canada and down into Massachusetts, to Marblehead, where my father's family lived. I haven't been on a trip like that in over five years, so my road trip endurance has become pretty low. In college I could sort of handle five-hour trips to Washington, D.C. for quiz bowl tournaments, but only just. By the fifth hour, I'd be sniffing myself and wondering just how fast we'd have to drive to careen off of the Beltway into one of the dense swaths of McMansions nearby, crushing someone's zinnias and nicking their Land Rover until we end up spinning upside down in the middle of the cul-de-sac.

I've only flown twice in my life: once when I was five for my aunt's wedding, and once last year when I visited New York for the first time*. I'd like to say that I don't fly because I'm neurotic and terrified, but that's only half-true. Heights and speed both terrify me in one way or another, and planes do combine both of those things (really, because of the passenger's frame of reference, one does not perceive the speed of the plane, but I know how fast these planes go), but I can get over that. The real reason I've only flown twice in my life is because I never go anywhere. I hardly leave home, for one reason or another. And now, when I go into an airport, I feel like I've just hitched up my overalls and gotten a fresh stem of wheat to chew on that coordinates just wonderfully with my new straw hat. I feel like this in Express for Men, too, but that's another issue.

So, Becky and I are flying to Arkansas** tomorrow and this is what I'm afraid is going to happen:

1. We will show up late, and will see the plane flying overhead, mocking us. Because we are late, we will miss her grandmother's 80th birthday party, and she will be disowned.

2. The tickets will have been booked incorrectly. I will end up embarrassed.

3. My deodorant has marijuana in it. A drug-sniffing dog catches this and bites my armpit off.

*I'm not a cosmopolitan guy.
**Well, Memphis, from where we will drive to Arkansas.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Will Scarlet

Big ups to Jason Morningstar for running our game tonight. It was ridiculously fun. We played a game in which we were Robin Hood's Merry Men, attempting to free Robin from the gallows and the sinister Guy de Gisbourne. I played Will Scarlet, the dandy with a flair for swordfighting and glory-seeking. It was really fun to play a character who is totally badass and fiery. I got to cut off Guy de Gisbourne's ruby-ringed finger.

That was weird.

UPDATE: Prince John, John Little, the Sheriff of Nottingham, the wicked Prioress of Kirklees, etc., were all represented by our GM. Hell of fun.

Candywatch: The Jujyfruit Menace

I'm a bit of a foodie, but I have a fairly uncomplicated relationship with candy (excepting of course, chocolate, which I consider less of a candy and more of an ingredient). I really like sweet, fruity candies like Starburst, Skittles, Nerds, etc. I'd rather not have a Now and Later. But nothing could really prepare me for the most confusing candy experience I have ever had:

Based on the somewhat limited Wikipedia article on Jujyfruits, the above box design is the last one that the Heide Candy Company of Germany implemented before being bought out by Hershey's in 1995 (Heide was sold to Farley & Sather's Candy Company, Inc in 2002). Do you see the boy on the box? The one holding the orange-flavored-but-tomato-shaped Jujyfruit aloft? Do you see how he is leaning away from it, afraid of its power? Do you see how he looks like a German cartoon version of me?

Perhaps the candy's Teutonic origin explains its bizarre tastes. When I think about Jujyfruits, I'm reminded of the scene in Gravity's Rainbow in which Tyrone Slothrop is trying to seduce a woman, but is forced to go to her aunt's house and eat "wine jellies" and Tabasco gumdrops and such. One candy he eats has a menthol center. I still laugh at this scene when I read it, even with the knowledge that Jujyfruits used to have a mint flavor.

So maybe Europeans have miscalibrated taste buds in general. The current lineup of flavors is:

Lime (Lime took the place of mint in 1999)

The current lineup of shapes is:

Bundle of grapes
Pea Pod

Maybe this discordance is just an extension of Pynchon's vignette. Maybe Jujyfruits are just continuing Pynchon's Postmodernist project. In a Jujyfruit, the signifying shape (Pineapple, say) is not only sundered from the signified flavor, but is also moored eternally to a comically divergent flavor, like licorice.

Alternately, Jujyfruits could be the last experiment of a Nazi scientist who, seeing his work with hallucinogens and Elder Gods drawing to a close at the end of the war, devised a candy that somehow infiltrated American movie theaters and convenience stores, none of us the wiser. I can him now in Nazi hell, or sitting at the right hand of Nylarhotep, cackling every time someone pops a mint-flavored banana into their mouth.

Becky's mother sent her home with a bagful of junk food the last time she visited, and you had better believe that Jujyfruits were on the menu. Becky didn't want them, and gave them to me. I figured that I'd just toss them out eventually and yet they persisted, never leaving the passenger seat of my car. I'd drive to the post office and find myself popping the waxy morsels into my mouth. I ate the whole contents of that box.** I couldn't resist. I was that boy on the box, the one who holds the Lemon Tomato in his hand, and tries to resist, but cannot tear his eyes away. So with a thin-lipped grin, he resigns himself to ju-ju-gum saturation yet again.

**Except for the licorice ones. That shit is gross.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


It's raining like Hell right about now. Carrboro is a few inches deep.

Have you ever seen that antique pram that gets pushed around town? It's red and white and seems just a tiny bit showy, with historically large wheels and a rigid-looking hood.

I bet that would make really poetic flood debris, along with the bar from Armadillo Grill, complete with bartender handing out frosty High Lifes and salty margaritas.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Dear Scott Jennings,

Thank you for filling me with meat. I love you and your barbeque.


Religion: The Post

You know what a dumb religion is?

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Tonight I got my R.P.G. hymen broken by my boy Remi Treuer*. Austin Nava, Monica Byrne, Matthew Remisneighbor, and I played P.T.A. (Prime Time Adventures), a game in which we created a (long) episode of a T.V. series of our design. Our show ended up being called Cherrywood. It was about a Cary-like subdivision where crazy, supernatural stuff happens. My character was a somewhat nihilistic teenager who tries to throw his lot in with Satan (who, incidentally, runs the gas station that serves as a central staging area for the show), just to see what happens. Monica was Genevive, a girl with supernatural powers manifested through her pubescent guilt and repressed angst, who also has Marian visions, Austin was the local counterculturist who serves as both an ally and a monkey wrench to Genevive's ambitions to banish the Elder God from the Snack Food Aisle, and Matthew played the poor employee who only wants to get through this part time job...working at a gas station...for Satan.

One thing that really got me excited about this game was how willing we all were to give in to the physics of the universe we created while simultaneously building and informing them. For example, once stuff started falling out of the sky, stuff was always falling out of the sky. I think that was the improv in all of us shining through.

One place in which I found difficulty (and I wish I had expressed this last night while Remi was interviewing us) was when we were setting up conflicts. Rather than being general with what I want:

Remi: I don't want your character to get the Little Debbie Snacks.
Me: I want my character to get the Little Debbie Snacks.

I was far, far, far too specific:

Remi: I don't want your character to get the Little Debbie Snacks.
Me: I want my character to manipulate the cashier into bending over at the waste, then my character will kick him in the buttocks--comically, mind--knocking him over into the Slim Jims, which fall upon his face and neck like so many beefy raindrops. While his humiliation overtakes him, he reflects on his 9th birthday. Oh, the clowns! The pony rides!, etc...

When all I really had to do was win the conflict and win narration and I could have done this. Perhaps the reason for this overreaching was my unfamiliarity with R.P.G.s, but I'm also a specific thinker in general; I don't function well in generalities.

*On the right, wearing both a green shirt and a look of rage.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Today on Old Chapel Hill Rd. there was a kid standing next to a police car, talking to the police officer sitting in it. And I thought to myself "I guess that cop is dropping off his kids here at the bus stop." But what I really wanted to be the case was that that kid was a small, blonde version of Bubbles.

Cop: Hey, Towhead, where does Omar roll?

Kid: Listen, McGarnakle, I have operating expenses. I gots to get my Reese's Pieces.

And then, in season 3, the kid is beat down by the seventh graders who run the University Drive crew.

R.I.P., H-Dog

I know I'm a little late on this, but I just have to give my own obituary, short and sweet though it may be.

I used to read Herbert's columns and think, "Ha! A nerdy white guy--an accountant, no less!--is using gangsta-banter!" Now that I've worked in an office or two, however, I understand that not only is H-Dog's manner of speech comically discordant from his looks, his columns get office life exactly right. I'm an accounts reeceevin' supervisor, and I hate those bitches in accounts payabo'.**

I'll raise my Letta Opener O' Death for you, H-Dog, and pour out a 40 on da curb for you. Accounts Reeceevin' 4 Life.

**Blogads is a small office; I do some, but not all, accounts payable here. Also, I don't hate or want to kill Miklos, who handles most of it. He's a nice man.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

While We're On the Subject of Bi-rotary Transportation...

Something that I always find funny: A large man on a small bike.

The Physics of Scooter-ing

Yesterday, at the speedbump that lies kittycorner to the Harris Teeter dumpsters, a person riding a powder blue and white Honda Metropolitan rode by. This isn't remarkable, I know. What was remarkable was that, to drive over the speedbump, the driver (a young woman in some kicky sunglasses) jumped off of the scooter and sort of daintily pushed it over the speedbump, then jumped back on and started driving it again. It sort of reminded me of a Chinese wire-fighting trick wherin a combantant dances across a goldfish pond to allow herself (or himself) a break from the stylized pummeling she (or he) is receiving.

Was she afraid that she was driving so slowly that she didn't have enough momentum to make it over the speedbump without tipping over sideways? Does she have a very inconvenient compulsion that forces her to walk her scooter over every speedbump? What does she do about potholes?

I didn't check to see if she walked the scooter over the next speedbump, or the next.