Thursday, July 29, 2004

Incidentally, if anyone with a bigger brain than myself can help me figure out how to fix the bottom of the table on those archive links, I would be forever in your debt. I would buy you candy. Good candy, too, not those Circus Peanuts or anything.
What Was Forgotten

I forgot my long standing tradition of squirm-inducing "favorite posts" links. The cards and leters have been pouring in, beseeching me to indulge in this disgusting display of navel-gazing.

I cannot disappoint all of these beseechers. So here are my favorite posts of the year. I can say with confidence that quantity certainly went down this year, but...well. Let's just leave it at that.

We Remember the Light

The Worst Thing

Ernie First!

The Teevee

Every Day Is a Little Song

Public Speaking

The Sizzler Seduction Scenario


On the Loss of Opportunity

Cabbies I Have Known

There now, aren't you glad that's over?

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Difficult Year

And lo, it was My Life as an American Gladiator's third birthday.

All the animals of the forest gathered to mark this special day. All except the squirrels. They were demonstrating that the site was unfair to the squirrel population as a whole and never gave them nuts or acorns to help them through the hard winter months, when squirrels live in fear of hypothermia, due to their failure to understand the principles of polar fleece.

The squirrels eventually drifted to the periphery of the big shindig, feeling a little silly that their principled stand was keeping them from what looked like really, really good punch, if the drunken antics of the pine martens were anything to go by. They discussed whether it would be in their best interests to give up the protest and go have a little well deserved fun, or to try to lure some of the more easily led woodland creatures over to their side.

A compromise was reached whereby the squirrels would join the party, but not have any fun. And that's what My Life as an American Gladiator's Third Birthday is all about: squirrels pretending not to have fun.

So yes, now we are three. We've lived and laughed and loved. We're on solid food and almost potty-trained. If we were Scotch, we'd have a few years to go to be worthwhile.

Also, I'm turning the comments on for one (1) day.

Update: That day is now over. Thanks for your input and ideas about synergy and the future role of this blog as a leading provider of twenty-first century solutions for small businesses and large conglomerates both.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Rock 'n' Roll Holiday Escape! [warning: atrocious midi]

Don't miss your chance to spend a week cruising the Caribbean with 3 of rock's biggest artists: Journey, REO Speedwagon and Styx.

Check out the What's Included page for this awesome perk: 2 complimentary Rock and Roll cocktail parties with open bar and hot and cold hors d'oeuvres. That's right. Hot AND cold hors d'oeuvres.

It just don't rock no harder than that.

I picture a Flying Dutchman scenario, with a ghost-ship crewed by frightening 70s and 80s hair bands. Steve Perry would be clambering up to the crow's nest, a knife clutched in his teeth, still mumbling "Oh Sherrie".

Also, failure to pay an additional fee will result in one or all of the bands showing up at your home and demanding to be housed in your basement.

[via Rory]

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Birds and They Heads

You may remember, if you are of that ilk, that I have a nest on my patio. I am pleased to report that there are now three baby birdheads in said nest, making me a bird grandfather (though not in a biological or legally binding sense).

Monday, July 19, 2004

The wife just called me and asked in rushed tone: "What's your Social Security Number?" I told her and she said "thanks." and hung up, leaving my "Wait. Why?" hanging in the air.
It's a fun project that only married people can participate in (unlike so many other things that only single people get to do, like blowing a paycheck on a big date and still not getting any action): call your spouse and ask them potentially alarming things like that and then just hang up.

For instance:

1. What's your checking account number, mother's maiden name and blood type?
2. What would you like your obituary to say?
3. You were never convicted of a felony, right?
4. What's the major export of Bolivia?
5. Why do owls make owl noises?
Maybe it's not that great of an idea, but man, I haven't had very many Great Ideas lately. For a while back there, a few years ago, I was The Idea Man. The Endless Spaghetti Idea, and subsequent Endless Spaghetti Debate and Endless Spaghetti Council of 2002, leading to The Endless Spaghetti Manifesto that paved the way for the subdivision of Pasta Studies known as Endless Spaghetti Theory? That was one of my best.
Now, nothing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Senate Scuttles Gay Marriage Amendment

By a whopping landslide of 50-48. They needed 60 to get it past the Senate.

Here's a handy list where you can see your local senator's vote.

Friday, July 09, 2004


We've been dealing with contractors of late. Specifically, cement contractors.

Everyone I talk to about contractors gets this look on their face, like they've just realized what's on their toothbrush isn't toothpaste.

"Contractors," they say. "Oh yeah. We had some work done."

Cement contractors seem to have a certain look to them. They are generally leathery-skinned, kind of like deshelled tortoises, at least here in Southern California, one can only assume from years of basking in the sun, taking people's cash.

We have had about five contractors in, bidding our job. The job is pretty straightforward: we want them to take out the horrendously ugly cement and tile in our atrium, and build a deck in there*. We also want them to take out the horrendously broken concrete that is our patio and replace it with non-horrendous, non-broken concrete.

Pretty simple, right?

But contractors can't just come to your house, take a look at the job, and say something normal like "five grand." No. They have to give you more. They have to deride their competition and make it clear that they are not to be trusted.

First, they try to worm out of you the names of the other contractors that have been there before them. Then, when you say "Well, Western Gutbusters was here, but their quote was a little high..." they get quiet for a moment.

"Kafkaesque," they say conspiratorially, "I don't like to say things about the other guys," and it is clear that there exists a bond among concrete contractors. There is a secret ceremony where they swear allegiance to each other. They go fishing together on weekends. They raise their children in large cement contractor groups on an island somewhere, the location of which can never be known by the common customer. In the darkness, a candle flame burning between them, they pledge to never, ever, say things about the other guys.

"But..." and then it comes out. The dark secrets they don't want to tell you, the very telling of which will damn them to a hideous and eternal punishment.

"Don't get me wrong. Gutbusters are a great operation. But, you know."

"Yes?" I ask.

"They're not licensed. They're not bonded. They hire guys off the street. They hire children off the street. Old ladies. They've got old ladies carrying their cement. I hear they like old ladies a lot, if you know what I mean."

The contractor looks at you as if you are now part of a circle of silence. You cannot tell anyone the knowledge that he has given you, on pain of death.

Or "The guy that runs Gutbusters? He's a great guy. I went school with him. But he changed a little, you know?"

"Yes? Changed how?"

"Remember the Fantastic Four?"

"Oh yeah, The Human Torch, The Thing. He's not The Thing, is he?"

"Don't joke."


"He's a supervillain. He's like Dr. Doom, the guy that runs Gutbusters. He's fashioning an iron mask, several floors below his home. He means to take over the world with a Doomsday Machine."

"A Doomsday Machine?"

"Something about freezing the world. Look, it doesn't matter. But all he needs is $6500, and he can finish his machine, enslaving the Earth. I know he might undercut my bid, but what I'm saying is that you and your wife and your family will spend the rest of your lives like deer in the winter, snuffling for roots under layers of snow, and eventually, you will succumb to the cold."

"So I shouldn't use him, then?"

"It's up to you. I'm not going to say a word against him."

Another tactic one of the contractors employed was to describe how he was basically a reanimated corpse, willing himself to stay alive only to do my concrete. And I'm not making this part up. The other, Dr. Doom part, I may have embellished.

I had been talking with the guy for all of about two minutes when he came out with "I've only got half a liver."

I was nonplussed.

"Yep. Used to have a problem with the hooch."

First off, I didn't know anyone said "hooch" anymore. This guy was like one of those Stephen King characters that appear in the first hundred pages and sell the protagonist a possessed car or something. I could tell because all during our conversation, he was having an italicized internal monologue.

"I used to have a problem with the hooch"

Why'd you tell him that? Why --

"But I don't touch a drop any more."

You know you touched a drop. You drank an aerosol can of Lemon Pledge this morn--

"No sir, but my medication, it costs a lot. It costs eight thousand dollars a month."

Maybe we should get burgers for lunch. But you always get cheese. I don't like chee--

"And my eyes? They're made of wood."

No cheeseburgers no cheeseburgers no cheeseburg--

He starts to cry. "I got no eyes, man! No eyes!"

And so on.

The crux of the matter is that all these freaks have come to my home and bid on my job. And, really, there's not that much difference in the bids. They give me the bid and they leave, some of them making it clear that their very existence depends on getting this job, intimating that the bid is in fact so low that it will mean that they will spend the rest of their lives on the streets, telling the story of how this one guy with an atrium ripped him off.

And what happened, in each case? They flaked out on me. Every single one. I want to give these people my money, because frankly I'm too pretty and weak to remove cement myself, but they won't take it. I've called them repeatedly, and been assured that they are all ready to go with the job, and then they never call back. I can't figure it out. I want to give them my money.

Why will no-one take my money?

Because they all hate you and you're pretty and weak.

Shut up.

*This is only if they are multi-classed contractors. If they had D&D style character sheets, they would be Cement-Deck Contractors, kind of like Fighter-Magic Users. I don't know what level you have to get to before you can start learning Tensor's Floating Disk as a contractor.
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Lego desk!

[via jedi]


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