Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Go read Defective Yeti

It's funny. You might hear the name "Defective Yeti" and think "I bet that's a site about neutrinos and other stuff that sounds really important but that Kafkaesque doesn't really know anything about."

But no.

I also want to make it clear that by recommending a site like this, I don't want to put any pressure on you to go and visit the site. I mean, I would consider it common courtesy to go there and at least read a couple of things. Maybe not everything. There are probably a lot of things there. God knows, not all of them are going to be worth your time, if my own site is any indication. This may lead you to the conclusion that I haven't read the entire site.

This is distinctly possible, but you'll never prove it, so just give up. Unless you want to spend the rest of your days digging through old archives, deep in some dingy cellar somewhere, constantly bothered by feisty detectives burning the midnight oil, and bearded gentlemen searching for the true name of God.

If that's your choice, so be it.

Monday, July 29, 2002

This is Whitney's Playland-at-the-Beach!, an old amusement park that used to grace the San Francisco Bay Coast, right next to The Cliff House, razed to make way for condos in 1972. Such a shame..

The site has pictures of the old park, including The Fun House, which includes a Sunset magazine article with some way-out photos. Is Sunset magazine still around? It was an omnipresent feature when I was a kid, demanding that things be painted in a Southwestern motif for no good reason and always having a fun and zippy way to use those leftover avocados.

Laughing Sal, who I'm guessing inspired some nightmares in her time, and the site designer's tale of her brush with Sal.

1996 Playland Sculptures

The Camera Obscura, which is still there.

And, finally, It's-It Ice Cream Sandwiches, the search for which led me to this site. Man, I would sell my soul to the devil for a...well, maybe not my soul. Maybe the devil could have my soul on alternate Thursdays if I could just have a tasty tasty It's-It right now.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

So the birthday weekend for My Life as an American Gladiator is over.

The blog went out on Friday night and came back Sunday morning after a bender of epic proportions, incoherent but perhaps a little wiser.

So what to do? Maybe answer the question I'm always getting asked: what are your favorite blog entries? Technically, no-one has asked me that, but this morning, I could have sworn I heard my toast say something to me, and hell, it could have been that, so here goes:

Drain-Clog Das Boot

Great Idea: The Self-Mashing Potato

Great Idea: Wild Animals Chasing You

Dead Bee Nosferatus

George Foreman: Friend or Foe?

Kafkaesque v. The Foaming Brush

The Pirate Moment

The Sentinel and 70s Horror

The Big Clamato Payoff

Bitterness About Bad Movies

The Insert Key

Valets: Pure Evil

Why American Gladiator?

Bees In My Apartment

OK, OK, it's all over. You can wake up now. That really seemed like a good idea when I started it, but started to make me feel vaguely uncomfortable and vain about halfway through.

As my wife put it just now, when I expressed that sentiment to her: "Not uncomfortable enough that you're not doing it."

There you have it.

Friday, July 26, 2002

I added a feature down there under the links. It's the "Random Recent Blog", a new doodlebob thought up by the beautiful crazy bastards at Blogger. You click it, and it takes you to a random, recently updated blog.

Might be good. Might suck. I cannot be held responsible for the resulting destination. Pictures of cats and/or turtles may ensue. You might even get a picture of a cat riding on a turtle. That would be great. I'm not sure they could keep their balance, though, what with the shell and all. If the turtle was on its back, and had wheels attached, it would be alright. But the claws into the soft turtleflesh would be a problem. Unless it was Gamera. Then you could put, like, 8,000 cats on him.

This project will need greater study.
My Life as an American Gladiator is one year old today.

It can now crawl and speak in engimatic blather. It is beginning to know the difference between right and wrong, even though it usually opts for wrong. Its resale value has depreciated greatly, its bunions are giving it trouble, and it is starting to be embarrassed to be seen with me at the mall. It is fresh from its first bout of self-recognition, and is reeling from the trauma of the mirror-phase. It is stockpiling food and weapons. It is sneaking drinks into Disneyland. It sleeps in the fetal position, with its little knees tucked up under its chin, though it would deny this. It is an underachiever. It can already beat me at chess, though I am better at darts, because I have arms. It is beginning to suspect that free will does not exist. It hates New Age music, but harbors a secret desire to play the keyboard.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

What Mike Dust Ate for Lunch

Thrill to the pictures of what he's eating for lunch. I know I did.

I happened to see a story on Hellion the Monkey on 60 Minutes last night. In the 1970s she was trained to be a helper for a disabled man named Robert. Now there is a large organization called Helping Hands Monkeys, which trains monkeys to be caretakers for the disabled.

It was truly remarkable the tasks Hellion was performing for Robert, from brushing his hair to getting him a beverage from the fridge. More than a little moving, too, as it juxtaposed their modern day lifestyle with that from the original story in the 70s. Now old and a little grumpy, Hellion still went about her Helping role with what almost seemed like pathos. The two had grown into symbiosis.

It's important to note, also, that when Hellion was trained in the 70s, they used reward and punishment techniques, including small shocks. That technique is no longer used, and they are trained entirely by positive reinforcement.

Anyway, this is a great cause, and no longer receives government funding, so why not give a monkey some chow?

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

My hair is gone. It was last seen headed in an easterly direction on the Hollywood Freeway. Be on the lookout for it.

What happened was that I got my ponytail snipped off. The result of this is that I now look about 12 years old. But I am going to mail it to Locks of Love, so at least my hair will be doing something productive with its time. That's good. I wouldn't want to read about it in the police blotter one day or see it all pixelated on COPS. I don't think I could handle that.

I got it cut at the Elvis Barbershop. It's not really called the Elvis Barbershop, but it is owned by a guy that dresses up like Elvis. Really.

Anyway, I promised about nine months ago that I would tell you the story of Elvis and Monkeyboy, sad and heartrending as it is. The time has now arrived for the tale to be told, so pull up an orange crate and lend an ear. Or at least a lobe.

The Story of Elvis and Monkeyboy (with full orchestration and five-part harmony)

The greatest barbershop in the world is Jerry's Rock n Roll Barbershop in Campbell.

I used to go there to get my hair cut about once a month. At the time I was frequenting the place, there were three guys working there: Elvis, The Greek, and Monkeyboy.

Elvis is Jerry, owner of the Rock n Roll Barbershop. He dresses like Elvis. Not like Vegas or Blue Hawaii Elvis. He doesn't go around wearing sequins and fringe jackets and throwing sweaty towels at his legions of adoring fans. It's more subtle than that. His hair is kind of like one of the Everly Brothers or Roy Orbison or something, dyed jet black despite the fact that he is about 68 and it looks a little odd. And he wears big gold chains and medallions. The sideburns in themselves are a thing of beauty.

Then there was The Greek. He doesn't work there anymore, but he was one of those guys who just belonged in a barbershop. This guy had more ear hair than I have ever seen in my own species, he was bald, and he talked about gambling pretty much constantly. He would talk to Jerry about horse racing, because Jerry owns and breeds horses, apparently.

Lastly, Monkeyboy. Monkeyboy passed away a couple of years ago, and I hope I don't do his memory a disservice by telling this little story. Monkeyboy was over 70 years old. He was about 5'10" or so and he weighed maybe 100 pounds, tops. His skin had that wrinkled leathery look you see in people who have spent their whole lives in the California sun and are now paying the price for it. Skin and bones was really about all Monkeyboy had. There was no sort of musculature at all that I could ever discern. He coughed constantly. Huge, wracking coughs that shook his withered frame. The kind of coughs that you would wonder if he could survive. He also couldn't hear a word you said, which made those barber-customer chats a little strained.

So those were the three barbers.

I would wander into the shop on a Saturday and there would be about ten guys in there waiting. They were all waiting for Elvis. Occasionally you'd see somebody in a hurry sit down and let The Greek have a go at his hair. I myself was shorn by The Greek a couple of times, and had no complaints.

But no-one let Monkeyboy cut their hair.

So once, I was in a bit of a rush and there were the usual ten or so guys waiting for Elvis to be free. Even The Greek was busy. And there was Monkeyboy, swaying slightly as if he might fall over and shatter into little Monkeyboy pieces on the tile floor. He was signalling to me to hop up in the ol' barber chair. And I figured, what the hell? Here's this guy, this barber, and no-one lets him barber. I would be the one. I would take the plunge and give this poor wraith of a man some dignity.

I swear as I walked up to the chair, that place was quiet as a morgue. I sat down and swallowed hard.

"How do you want it?" Monkeyboy asked.

"You know, short up the back and sides" I responded, hoping my querulous voice wouldn't betray my misgivings. Of course, Monkeyboy couldn't hear what I was saying, being almost totally deaf. He said a few more things to me as he was cutting my hair, and between coughs. He didn't exactly give me a great haircut. Maybe not even a good haircut, in the greater scheme of things. But hair was cut. I'll say that much for him.

Then came the straightrazor. One of the cool things about this barbershop is that they still shave your neck with a straightrazor. Cool, that is, unless the guy shaving you looks like he's liable to have an apoplectic coughing episode or grand mal seziure at any second. I could feel my pulse racing as the blade crept closer to valuable vein and artery type things. But he didn't kill me. What he did do was nick me. The kind of small razor cuts that you wonder about when you get home, because you didn't feel them at the time.

Anyway, a kind of symbiotic relationship grew from that day forth between Monkeyboy and I. I would walk in, see all the guys waiting for Elvis, and Monkeyboy would be looking at me balefully. Inevitably, my heart would go out to him and I would climb into his chair, awaiting the poor haircut and small slashes the razor would leave on me. I would see my friends after a Monkeyboy cut and they would ask "Why? Why do you let him cut your hair?"

I don't know why I let him do it.

And then, one day I went to Jerry's Rock n Roll Barbershop and they told me that Monkeyboy had passed away. It really kind of hit me. He wasn't a good barber. He wasn't my friend even, really. But he's gone and that peculiar trapped feeling I would have, knowing I couldn't say no to the guy is gone too.

It's just something that happens, like so many things.

And that's the story of Monkeyboy and Elvis.
These are kind of freaky:

12" Dark Crystal Gelfling Figures

Oh but these are heartwarming:

Clive Barker's Tortured Souls Figures Got to love that wacky Clive.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

So we made it to the Orange County Fair last night. We wandered around and saw some piglets that had just been born that day.

I was thinking while typing that sentence how perceptions change as you get older. In the old days, I would have been all about the Vomitron 5000 ride. But now, it's baby piggies. Hell, we didn't even go on any of the (potentially life-threatening) rides.

I did play a few midway games, and failed miserably. That's the point though really, isn't it? You know it's rigged. You might even know how it's rigged. But you still play for the sheer enjoyment of losing. I mean, who wants to carry around a giant stuffed frog for the next three hours. Not my wife, that's for sure. At least that's what she told me, as I wept openly after failing to score 190,000 points at SkeeBall.

One thing was shocking at the fair: No Aerosmith mirrors! I don't know what happened...if they just had a run on them or something, or the Steven Tyler Fan Club stole them, but there wasn't a one to be found. Sure, there were Playboy Rabbit mirrors and Jack Daniels mirrors. And the Thorny Rose mirror. That's a classic. But no Aerosmith mirror. It was a little scary.

Of course, my favorite feature of the fair was the Strangely Shaped Vegetable Contest. There were twisted carrots, lewd tomatoes, gargantuan oranges. Even some things that I'm pretty sure were from another plane, where the Old Ones sleep and grow disturbing tubers.

Final tally:
Churros consumed - 1
Midway games lost - 3
Carnies that growled at me - 17
People in the hypnosis show that were faking it - at least 6.

There won't be a quiz on that or anything. I just thought you'd want to know.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Turn your optical mouse into a cryogenic freezing chamber for your Lego pals.

So nice.

[via captaincursor]
I think I've realized now that a bakery staffed entirely by dogs might not be such a good idea.

Listen everyone. I will pay for all the damages. It just seemed like a lock.

Back to the old drawing board, I guess.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Notes from the Dodgers - Giants game, July 20th 2002

1 - Do not, under any circumstances, lightly joke to your companions that Felix Rodriguez should hit Eric Karros in the head. When this actually does occur, you will feel really awful even though there is no way that was not a coincidence. I mean, right?

2- Leaving the game: That guy in the rusted out 1972 conversion van that made that illegal right turn? He gets that one. That's gravy. When you're driving a rusted out 1972 Dodge van, you get one illegal right turn every month. This is your moment. Shout out the window to the aggravated masses, "This is my right turn, man! I am guaranteed this turn! You can't take it away from me!"

My Life As An American Gladiator Untrue Factoid: in 1982, the State of California ruled that colossal no-hopers are guaranteed one illegal right turn every month until they get a better car, or are incarcerated for public drunkenness.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The Box-Office Top 100 American Films of All Time

An interesting list, in that it shows the top 100 both adjusted and non-adjusted for inflation. Take that, Titanic!
Just want to say a quick hello to Bindlestick Billy, who has finally gotten it together to read my blog.


Monday, July 15, 2002

Just when I think my CD collection is finally complete, something so groundbreaking, so musically stupefying, will come along, take everything I ever believed in, hold it upside-down and shake it until all the change falls out of its pockets. Not satisfied with that, it will gather up the change and fritter it away on cheap malt liquor and collectible Civil War chess sets.

Songs for The Deer Hunter (including "White Tail Boogie")

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Something struck me today. Something besides the usual things that strike me, like coconuts and junebugs.

I live in an apartment hive collective. There are about eight buildings in this enclave. Each building houses about 500 people, I think. That makes 4,000 people here in this little faux-Mediterranean Southern California community. 4,000 people!

Someone, somewhere in those 4,000 people probably has someone chained up in their apartment.

Think about it.
Nick Hornby on World Cup 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

Puppet Show and Huey Lewis and The News

So yesterday I was talking about the creeping menace that is the Orange County Fair. I figured since we live around the corner and all, I would see what delights were on offer there.

It turns out that both Carrot Top and Weird Al Yankovich are going to be a block away from my home in just a few short days. It's like one of those scifi stories where you could go back in time and kill Hitler.

Not only are those two going to be there, but so are Huey Lewis and The News. And Linda Ronstadt. And Heart. And Boz Scaggs. And the big finale: Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Locks of Love - Donate your hair to kids with leukemia and alopecia.

Maybe this is a good reason to hack off the ol' ponytail.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Orange County Fair starts in a couple of days, and we live right around the corner from the fairgrounds.

What does this mean?

Carnies. That's what it means. Lock your doors and windows! Hide your cat! The Carnies is in town!

A number of things will be on the rise* for the next four weeks in our area:

The amount of Aerosmith being listened to
guys named Skeeter and/or Butch
Mysteriously long pinky fingernails
Tattoo tears
Robitussin and/or Jasco consumption
"The evil eye"
Drunken white trash fisticuffs
Generic cigarette filters
Late night lottery fantasies
Jam tampering
Piglet fondling

*not all of the above may actually increase. Although I'm pretty sure about the denim and the Aerosmith. The astonishing increase in value of the Spock plate is not typical, though possible.
Airplane, a new Haruki Murakami short story in The New Yorker.

[unabashedly stolen from Russ]

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Everyone is familiar with the concept of the earworm: that song you get in your head and it just won't get out. It sets up residence in your cerebral cortex and you are damned to "Sweet Caroline" for the next 24 hours.

But there is another level to the earworm phenomenon.

Some songs are so integral to your character, your memories, that despite the fact that you loathe them with every fiber of your being, were they not to exist, you would be forever changed. They represent something your life moves upon and around. For that reason I call them Fulcrum Songs.

Delta Dawn: I hate Delta Dawn. It's awful. But here's why Delta Dawn is one of my Fulcrum Songs:

When I was a very little kid, my mom had a blue Chevy Nova. It had blue vinyl bench seats. I think they were vinyl. It was the same kind of material that Denny's booth seats are made of. On hot days, and we had a lot of hot days where I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area (right next to where all the Apple buildings are now), the seats would reach a temperature of roughly 8000° F. You would sit bouncing from buttock to buttock in the hopes of not lingering too long on one cheek and being irreparably scarred by the lava-like heat.

Delta Dawn, what's that flower
you have on?

There was no Air Conditioning.

The A/C in that car consisted of vents down in the foot-well that resembled medieval portcullises. They had a truly impressive lever that you would yank on to open the vent, which was more of a grate really, and it would slide open, allowing some fractionally cooler air to enter. You could always resort to the odd triangle windows that lurked just in front of the regular windows on cars of that era, waiting for their opportunity to hurl themselves from the chassis of the car and smash themselves on the pavement. Besides dramaticallly breaking themselves, these windows' sole function seemed to consist of whistling at an extremely high frequency when speeds above 40 MPH were attempted.

Could it be a faded rose
from days gone by?

But you had to get some air circulating in that car. The hump down the middle of the car (which I assume housed the drive train or some other piece of car anatomy I know nothing about) was pumping out heat like there was no tomorrow too. There was no escape from the heat. Metal window handles. Plastic and vinyl armrests. White hot dashboard. It's surprising more people didn't just combust while driving.

But Delta Dawn. My mom's car radio was AM. It had those menhir-like buttons you pressed to propel the little needle to your station of choice. All the buttons of that time seemed to be like this. You really felt like you'd done something when you pressed a button like that. The old cigarette machines are another good example. You really had to push those buttons to set your Pall Malls free.

And did I hear you say
he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

The radio was always on 1170 KLOK Radio, which is now Mexican Radio or News Radio. Maybe both. Maybe the dj's read the news dressed as Mariachis and play the accordion. I don't know. KLOK Radio was demonic. They played the same songs over and over again. The Cake Out In The Rain song, Eleanor Rigby....Delta Dawn is just one of them that I can never get out of my head. I think it's gone and then out of nowhere it's back. In my mind I even see some ethereal soul drifting towards a mansion in the sky, in a Heaven I don't believe in.

What does it mean? How has Delta Dawn affected me? I don't know, but it is a part of me for better or worse, burned into my head in a Chevy Nova Sweat House Ritual in mid 70s California.

Monday, July 08, 2002

It's The Tournament Of Stuff!

I am excited to see whether Frisbees or Toast will prevail in the TOS#7. My money has to be on Toast, though. If you're talking about just some stuff, and toast is one of the components of the stuff, then it would be hard to beat.

Fun Dip, it must be said, is some very good stuff too.

Anyway, go press some things over at the Tournament of Stuff site like I did, and eventually you'll realize you can't vote yet for Frisbees or Toast, much as you may want to. I am confident one day soon I will be able to cast my vote for toast.

There seems to be a way to predict the winners too, which might be kind of fun, but seems like a lot of effort. Why must you demand so much of me, Tournament Of Stuff? Is this link not enough?!
I love this site: My Cat Hates You.

You may have seen it before, but damn it's good.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

The Jurgen Prochnow Watchdog Society informs us the Jurgen has been spotted in another really bad film: Gunblast Vodka. The title alone makes it sound worthwhile!


In other news, people love to get nitpicky about movies.
Strangely satisfying flying a little helicopter game which isn't so much flying a little helicopter as sitting vacantly staring at your monitor and clicking, sometimes holding, the left mouse button

[via 50 Cups]

Friday, July 05, 2002

There are bees in my apartment.

They're ordering pizza. They're menacing my cat with mental cruelty. They're drinking my beer.

Not really. They're not doing any of that. But it is a fact that there are bees in my apartment.

I noticed it a few days ago as I lolled around the house. I would glance up to the screen door and every five minutes or so there would be a couple of bees puttering around, trying to find a way out. I would walk to the door and gingerly approach, querluously extending my arm like a big sissy, and slowly opening the door. Then I would encourage them to take their business elsewhere by saying things like "Outside, bee!" or offering monetary compensation.

With sneering glances in my direction that let me know in no uncertain terms that I was only alive because they wanted me that way, the bees would buzz off onto our balcony, to go do whatever it is that bees do. Probably off to menace some poor unfortunate on a lower floor. Being on the top floor is kind of the crux of the problem.

See, living on the top floor we have a fireplace. Having a fireplace in Southern California is like having an air conditioner in Minnesota. Still, a couple of times each winter the temperature dips alarmingly below 50°F and we rush to the store for wood, in the hopes of surviving the arctic cold. The fireplace is now providing an entrance for our bee tormentors.

Being the whiz-bang thinker that I am, after only about six hours of observing this peculiar bee phenomenon, I finally figured out the fireplace-bee connection. Admittedly, this was after charging with reckless abandon through the almost four rooms of our apartment, looking for an open window. Then, having exhausted the open-window possiblities, I would repeat the search, confident that I had somehow passed over the offending window. I would like to reach a point in my life where I trust myself enough to have confidence that I have actually done something correctly the first time, but for now I theorize that inanimate objects are indeed plotting against me and move themseles around for no better reason than to make me look foolish. Well done, inanimate objects!

Armed with staggering powers of deductive reasoning, I made the connection, leapt into action and sealed up the edges of the fireplace with packaging tape. A less creative individual might have done something that made a little bit of sense like lighting a fire. Me, I went with the tape. As a result, I am now able, every few minutes, to see a very pissed off bee battering itself against the glass doors of the fireplace shaking its antennae at me and promising me a painful, sting-ridden death.

But tonight, when it gets cooler than the 85° it seems to be right now, I am going to light a fire. The wife and I will put on some wool sweaters and warm ourselves by its cheery glow, as sweat runs down our faces and we lose 15 pounds each.


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