Thursday, September 21, 2017


We use HipChat at work, which is sadly not as hip as Slack. Although it is made by Atlassian, and they are an Australian company, and marsupials are pretty hip (except the very unhip echidna--get it together, echidna). If you want to appear edgy and kicky and down with the kids, you can use these curious image things called emojis in your chats to your coworkers. Weird, I know, but stay with me here.

If I start to type "(thumb..." I am presented with 3 type-ahead choices: (thumbsup), (thumbsdown), and one more--can you guess what it is? (thumbsideways)? (polydactalthumbsup)? No! It's (corpsethumb)! Corpse thumb? Why is that an emoji? Not to mention that the Corpsethumb is only available in the up position! If I was a corpse, I feel secure in saying it would be a thumbs-down situation. Or really more of a thumb-hanging-limp-and-lifeless situation really.

Why not a (handofglory) emoji that would render the receiver catatonic so you can sneak out for a well deserved drink or two until they recover and start sending you more annoying messages to prove that they are actually working and not screwing around looking at pictures of cats.

And if there is not a black metal band called corpsethumb, there really should be.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Monthly Jerk

I once bought my friend Chimmychanga a subscription to the Jerky of the Month Club. I think it was about 8 years ago. And I still hear from The Jerky People regularly. I kind of like it. Tell me of your dried meats.

Look, it's jerky. Jerky is fantastic and beyond reproach. But I don't want to get jerky in the mail. I generally don't want any food in the mail. I mean who knows what Harry and David did with those pears before they got to me? Butt stuff? Maybe. I know you put that one pear in gold foil, Harry and David, but you are not fooling me.

I have been known to devour jerky, and my quest for the perfect jerky is still told of in song and legend, when I and my merry band of peckish minions bravely traveled forth from Camelot on a years-long adventure that I think was about trying to capture virility. I don't know. I took a lot of lit theory classes in college.

The whole "of the month club" idea seems like like it has not been fully explored. How about a Pants of the Month Club where they send you unflattering pants that you have to wear every single day of the month in which they are received? That would be part of the club--a team of guys surveilling you and meting out punishment if you didn't wear the pants one day. I don't know what the punishment would be.

I can't think of everything.

Friday, August 04, 2017

I look like a frankenstein

I just thought everyone should know that I look like a frankenstein.

What happened was that I knocked heads with a coworker while playing basketball the other day. The top of his head hit me just under the eyebrow. That sounds a little passive-voice though. It's not like his head detached and zoomed into my eye like the last desperate gasp of Voltron, or like the Hellboy story Heads where a bunch of disembodied heads chase him around. No, this was your garden-variety head-to-head collision. I was playing TENACIOUS DEFENSE (or at least I think I was--I am not really very good at basketball) and went for a steal just as he turned his head. He made a sound like "Waaaaaah!" and staggered off. I made more of an "uhhhhhhhhh!" sound and ran off the other way, my hand pressed to my eye as blood spouted, making a pleasing blood puddle that no doubt frightened innocent children who would show up to the court later that day.

When you get an injury while playing a sport with your coworkers, you will have some percentage of them who insist that it is fine, some that say you have to go to the ER, and some who just kind of check out of the situation or look vaguely nauseated by the whole thing. Several of my coworkers ran for first-aid kits, thrust tissues at me, and one even insisted I wrap a huge gauze bandage around my head like a Civil War casualty, which seemed both anachronistic and a little much. Eventually I drove my self over to the Urgent Care where I got six stitches in my eyebrow area plus one "internal stitch" (which makes me queasy just thinking about it.)

So, like I said, I look like a frankenstein now. Six stitches in the eyebrow and a big, swollen black eye that makes me look like I'm going through a Bowie phase and felt like having one sultry smoky eye for a while.

If you are familiar with my head-injury work, you will will recall such exciting moments as "forehead lacerated by another soccer player's teeth", "knocked unconscious by ski", and a spectacular top-of-the-head bump on the Berliner Dom stairs.

Truly, an idiot for all seasons.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A List of Ideas

I feel like I used to have a lot of great ideas. When I look at my notes now, I am not impressed.

In no particular order:
  1. Last Supper replica with characters from Popeye replacing all the disciples.
  2. A tiny drone that cuts your hair/gets your hair caught in its propellers.
  3. Bananas, but smaller.
  4. Sentient cling wrap (or cling wrap that is willing to admit it has always been sentient.)
  5. New monster that has all the best qualities of Dracula and Toilet Duck.

---UPDATE! Apparently I was not the only visionary:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Some Great Reward

I have a vague notion that I should not participate in rewards clubs at stores. They will get my information! They will harvest me and sell me! I will become a cog in a meaningless machine--well, more of a cog than I already am. I will be only my data, my likes and dislikes. My shoe size and proclivities. My preference for romaine over iceberg. And my open contempt for savoy cabbage.

So I don't participate in any rewards clubs--although now that I think about it, that is not true. I have a card thing for Petco, because that is Where the Pets Go, and surely a place of pets means me no harm and would never rise up against us. Oh and BevMo, because I enjoy receiving a 5% off coupon once a year that I have never once remembered to use (and 5% doesn't even cover the tax!) So apart from those two--no clubs!

But the real reason I eschew these clubs is to disappoint cashiers.

Look, I know the poor cashiers are forced to ask me to sign up for the club. They get a bonus or something.

"Are you a club member? No?! Would you like to join?"
"No? It only takes a minute!" they say as they get the sign-up form ready.
But I am wise to them. No, I say. I will not join your club.

One hardware store in particular, I always make a point to go to the same cashier, because he asks me so plaintively, every single time. And I always say no. In fact, last time, he even responded with "Well, I am just asking, sir," as if I had wounded him to the quick.

It is also great to waver about signing up for a club when there are people behind you in line, possibly holding ice cream or other frozen confectioneries. Only take a minute, you say? Great! I will just stand here writing my name and address incredibly slowly while these people's ice cream melts. The people behind you in line in this situation are within their rights to murder you in cold blood and kick your body around the town square or other local landmark.

Monday, June 05, 2017

four-foot tall rastafarian-themed banana

I felt that my daughter just hadn't spent enough time around carnies in her young life, so to remedy that situation, we took her to a carnival this weekend. The type of carnival that springs up in a parking lot this time of year. Possibly I had forgotten this, but it turns out carnivals are incredibly expensive. This one had tickets for a dollar each, and one ride on the ferris wheel was five tickets. That means it was 15 dollars for my wife, daughter, and me to ride the ferris wheel for maybe 4 minutes. While you can't put a price on not knowing exactly how safe you and your family are, that still seemed a little steep. Even the midway games, with their aggressive barkers, were three to five tickets a go.

Note that I did not try any of the games, much as that seemed to rankle the barkers. And I somehow convinced my wife that even though the four-foot-tall rastafarian-themed stuffed banana was charming hanging there in the booth, it might lose its charm in three and a half weeks when we exiled it to the garage to gather dust and possibly be savaged by raccoons. Besides, it seemed a little racist.

But I tried to see it through my daughter's eyes. Not the four-foot tall rastafarian-themed stuffed banana, but the carnival itself. Was a carnival still a place of magic and wonder? Were Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway hiding from Mr. Dark somewhere? The Magic Mirror Maze was now a three-dollar fun house that she popped out of in about thirty seconds.

I guess when Adventure Time is on demand and Mario Kart beckons on the 3DS, the carnival is not what it used to be.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Crushing Weight of the Truth

I participate in a trivia league. It's fairly well-known. You participate in a match each day of the season--answering questions and ascribing points to each answer, competing against another nerdo like you, in a a series of ranked divisions. Like English soccer leagues, there are promotion and relegation between divisions.

While this is truly a great way of making matches competitive, it also brings home in no uncertain terms, just how dumb you are. And I am plenty dumb. The divisions are ranked from A to E. I am currently in D. I briefly soared as high as C, when the wax abruptly melted from my wings and I plummeted Icarus-like into D, where I have remained--not quite the worst, but close.

This trivia league can bring you moments of elation, when--in a very unlikely pull--you remember what a Scalene triangle is. But it can also bring on very weighty bouts of self-loathing. Just the other day I failed to correctly answer this question:
A 2017 animated film subtitled The Lost Village is a reboot not connected to two previous films from this decade that also feature what characters?
The answer is, of course, The Smurfs.

Now, I watched hours and hours of The Smurfs when I was a kid, and played Smurf Adventure on the ColecoVision more than anyone really should have, and yet I couldn't get the lost VILLAGE hint. Although to be fair, I consider the new Smurf films to be out of continuity, and the fact that they completely ignore the Gargamel/Smurfette dichotomy recognized globally by Smurf Scholars means they cannot be considered canon.

I said Minions. Minions?! What the hell is wrong with me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Owl Dream

Last night I had a dream that there was an owl in the house. If you're like me, you probably have a couple of thoughts when you hear that someone dreamed about an owl.

First, alien abduction. That's just a given. You dream about an owl, that means you had a bunch of jerks from Alpha Centauri messing with you all night and you wake up thinking about an owl because it's a cover memory they left you with instead of letting you remember all their cool space stuff.

Second, I am totally going to die. While that is provably true, I don't think the owl in my dream meant me any harm. Owls, of course, call your name right before you die, which is another owl thing, besides pooping mouse bones and licking tootsie pops. This phenomenon has been well documented in Scooby Doo episodes, so must be true.

But as I get further away from the owl dream, I wonder if the owl wasn't actually the charming Bubo the owl from Clash of the Titans, whom anyone would be pleased to have in their dream, what with the chirping and mechanical head rotation and all.

Also, in the dream I shooed the owl out our back door, and later I saw it hanging out with some blackbirds, although it was unclear whether they were bird friends. Maybe they were networking, although I did not see any finger foods or coffee. And at another point in the dream there was a cat, like a lynx or a bobcat or something. It was basically Wild Kingdom in my dream is what I'm saying.

I hope we all learned a little something here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Merge

I am a dad, so I think about certain things a lot. Elvis Costello. Cargo shorts. And merging.

Merging is fraught with peril, as we all know. You're counting on someone to do the right thing, to uphold the social contract. And yet, so often, some filthy youngster breaks that contract--the very thread that holds our fragile society together--and fucks it up for everyone.

But I want to tell you, this morning I had a merge so pleasant, so perfect, that it restored my faith in humans as a species.

All the ingredients were there for disaster: a UPS truck. A minivan with butterfly stickers on the back window. An Uber. You were merging from the right, minivan with butterfly stickers, and I admit it--I doubted you. I was sure that at some point during the merge you would hit the brakes for no apparent reason, or panic and bail out into another lane, screwing everything up. And you, Uber guy--you were inexplicably not on your phone, and did not make alarming feints or attempt to outlast the minivan in a battle of wills.

No! Everyone performed their roles beautifully, and we slid zipperlike into the lane with such nonchalance that I could have sworn I heard--just for a second--a heavenly choir. singing our praises.

And I thought maybe I could stay in this moment forever, appreciating its perfection. But in the end I still had to go to work, and some troglodyte cut me off at the next light.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Better Off

A couple of weeks ago, I went skiing for the first time in a while. Let's be generous here and say 28 years. The last time I had been before that, I was about 16 years old, and I managed to knock myself unconscious and had to be pulled down the mountain on one of those little ski-patrol sleds with a severe concussion. It was not like the movie Hot Dog: The Movie at all. More like that movie Awakenings which I am pretty sure is about Robin Williams annoying coma patients until they break out of their fugue state to tell him to shut up. Too soon? Maybe.

I figured it was time to take my daughter skiing, since she is seven and hopefully still able to zoom down the slopes with zero regard for her own personal safety, as I was wont to do when I was seven. Hopefully she will not follow the same arc that led me to potential brain damage, but I don't want to enforce my world view on her.  So we drove up to a cheapo ski place to enjoy the crazy amount of snow we have gotten here in California this year. Predictably, my daughter was not that interested in skiing, but did follow through with a half-hour lesson and could probably be enticed into further slaloming if it involves candy and/or extra video games.

I spent the first couple of hours at the ski place playing with her and her friend, hurling them around on innertubes, and watching them take lessons, while my wife and our friends were off humiliating themselves on the slopes in their own ski lessons. 

Then it was time for me to join in the EXTREME ACTION of radical downhill! That's what the green circle and nearly-flat slope mean, right?

And surprisingly it all came back to me pretty well. The balance and skiing part I mean, not the traumatic memories of a ski popping off and hitting me under the chin, so I lay prone and lifeless in the snow for an unknown period of time, although those did come back to me as well. I didn't fall off the chair lift--in fact I didn't even fall down once, though as I mentioned the slope I was on was pretty close to flat, so nothing much would have happened anyway.

And I realized I forgot how much I enjoyed it--the skiing part, not the unconsciousness part. I could give the unconsciousness thing a miss, honestly.


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