Monday, August 25, 2008

In your face! (and my offical Star Wars Rant)

On two distinct occasions in my life, I've laughed so hard it hurt. I mean, your ribs ache, the tears are coming down your face, others are looking at you funny, and you think you just might choke or pass out or lose bodily fluids out of one orifice or another and yet keep on laughing.

The first near-death-from-lauging-experience involved my brother Matt, my business colleage Larry Bauer, chinese food, and Spaceballs. You may have heard of that fateful evening from Cheryl. The punchline is "not when his mouth is full," but that's not what caused me to laugh near til death did us part, and it's definitely not safe for work.

The other occasion came courtesy of Diesel over at Mattress Police, while reading the "Urine Trouble Now!" post, to wit: "...but there's always an ellipsis at the end, if you know what I mean." I choked on my martini. I'm so glad I wasn't yet chewing the olive. I imagine a pimento hurts coming through your nose. Diesel's the funniest, most creative individual I've found in years of reading blogs and websites, and I encourage you to buy his book. It's perfect for, well, the bathroom.

Every couple of weeks, Diesel runs a caption contest in which he photoshops his mug into a screen capture from a current movie or other topical pop-culture event. The world gets a weekend to create the funniest captions they can, and the top ten are put up for a vote. I'm proud to say that I won recently and am therefore displaying the "In your face!" banner award you'll see at right.

My winning entry can be found here.

As you may know, in addition to our wonderful daughter Bridget, we have four boys and a gazillion legos, a combustible mixture that, when thrown in with the Star Wars saga* leads to Yoda on the brain. I asked Sam this afternoon if he was a Jedi. "No." A Padawan? "Padawan, Master. Master Padawan. Master, Master." That's my boy!


*Hey Lucas, will you just let us use our imaginations again? I never wanted to know what the Clone Wars were, let alone what a clone was. When Luke asks old Ben Kenobi "My father fought in the clone wars?" that's all I need to know. I'll dream at night making up the answer and be in awe of the nebulous line. About half-way through Episode 2** I realized not only what a Clone was, but a microsecond (or, if you'll forgive me, about twelve parsecs) later realized that if clones were ever to be involved in some kind of interplanetary confrontation that escalated into a war it would be... a Clone War... and my childhood was ruined. You bastard! When you studied your precious mythologies and came up with your master plan space opera, did anyone mention the constructs of drama to you? Shame on you!

** the second worst movie of all time. The worst, of course, being Star Wars Episode Three. Both being tributes to Yes Men that put the Poniac Aztek to shame.
Lucas: "What do you think of us having the captain arbitrarily wipe Threepio's memory at the end of the movie? It'll clean up one of our gaping loopholes. And since Artoo can't talk per se, no one will realize all that screaming and whistling he's doing is basically him saying --hellooooo, we've been down this path before! Used to caddie for the guy before he went all evil on us. Leia, honey, good thing we're headed to Tatooine, 'cause you're bro and unlce are hanging out down there. I can't believe you don't remember him from the Christmas parties as a kid. He used to wear the Santa outfit yet the beard was real? Did tricks? No? Threepio, you dolt, follow me, I know where I'm going. You've been here before you know. Sheesh. Man I wish I could remember how to fly like I will have been able to do in the recent future past.-- "
Jimmy Smits ***: "Yeah! As long as I can be in the movie! I'm going to need this gig for the residuals at star-con conventions over my retirement years. And some of them Leia wannabes aren't all bad. Want to go out to dinner?"
Lucas: "Groovy. Now let's see about ruining those light-saber battles by zooming in and over-editing them so nobody will be able to tell what the hell is going on!
LucasArts crew: "You bet, boss! Anythign else you want us to ruin while we're in there with the digital effects? We could put more space-Harley Davidsons in the special editions, Put Madden "long time ago, galaxy far far away" on the big-screen in the bar. Come to think of it, we could CGI the Ewoks into something believable. We know how you love to improve (read:ruin) things you just didn't have the technology for back in the day. In fact, I bet we could develop the "Biggs" story line a----"
Lucas: "Go on the space hogs, get a marketing deal started with Madden before he does a Pizza the Hut on us, and nobody, NOBODY! touches the Ewoks. Got that?
LucasArts Crew: "You bet. You're the boss."
Lucas: "And who the f&*% is Biggs?"

*** What did Jimmy have on Lucas to get in this movie in the first place? Obiously not as much as Samuel L. Jackson, who at least got a speaking, action part.

Kids now say "Padawan, Master"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Junkpile 001

The other day, Cheryl showed me some plastic toy or another that she was throwing out. Yes. It's good to clear the house and mind of clutter and junk. And believe me, when you have five kids, you end up with a lot of crap.

So often we're asked what we're doing to be more green. Puh-lease. I personally can't understand environmentalism as the religion, political philosophy, and business process. Yes, it's a safe and easy religion/political stance/business plan; who wouldn't like a clean, happy world full of cute puppies... being against environmentalism is akin to being against Anne Hathaway's eyes. But as a set of guiding principles in life, well, it's about as close to the real thing as a wine cooler. Maybe now, at least, I'll have a response to the pervasive question...

And so, if the holy commandment, fundamental law structure, and business plan of being a greenies is to reduce, reuse, recycle, then I'm proud to announce my contribution. To do my part, I'll take number one head on: I'm going to reduce. I'm going to start throwing shit out.

But throwing things away can be so hard!

I think the fundamental reason so many of us hold on to so much crap is that there's a sentimental memory associated with the particular piece of junk we hold, hovering over the trash bin, and that memory keeps us from letting go. I've got notebooks from my first real job with notes from all the prospecting phone calls I'd made. If you want to know what was happening with a lead for scientific data analysis software at GE Aerospace in the spring of 1992, well, I'm the man with the information. This could be vital data for national security, couldn't it? These notebooks will be a priceless source of information as I write my memoirs, right? Just keep'em in the box and we'll look at them the next time we move. I've got the paystubs too. Oh, and the complete year's subscription to Stereophile from 1993. That's literature.

Here are some common excuses we all use for holding onto stuff:

  • Nostalgia- I remember when I you bought me this broken electric razor. We were first dating and you...
  • It's worth something- today, tomorrow, someday. I'm going to sell it on eBay. Really! Just put it in the eBay box! I'm going to bring it to the Antiques Roadshow when they come up to Augusta, Maine. I'm sure they'll find Aunt Martha's yard-sale clock to be the missing piece from the Anastasia collection.
  • I'm going to use/wear/need it again. Look. If you haven't worn it in a year, dump it. Other than tools and capital equipment (stereos, baby!), get rid of it.
  • It's not taking up space. That's a laugh!
  • My mother/father/cousin/child made it. Yes, but it's probably ugly and tacky.

And hence, the junkpile.

If there's a sentimental memory associated with the trinket, I'll write its eulogy here so I can come back some time and spend time with it. And if it's really special, I'll snap a photo before it hits the trash can. All my crap memorialized and stored forever in Google's free hard drive space on the net. Thanks Google!

What's the first contribution to the junkpile? What will we find years from now when we dig down to the bottom of the virtual heap?

Two nuts and four washers that I bought from Lowe's just last week to help hang a sink in Bridget's bathroom.

Wow- throwing out perfectly good and new things that I paid hard cash for! Why? Risk Mitigation. I needed four nuts for the job, so I bought six just to be safe. You see, I'm trying to lower my trips-to-Lowe's-or-Home-Depot-in-order-to-complete-a-job ratio to the low 1.9s, so on penny (nickel? dime?) items I simply overstock. On higher ticket items, like $3-$5 valves and connectors and gadgets, if there's any question about which one I need, I get one of each. I know one of them will work, and I know that I'll be back again for this job or the next, so I (sometimes remember to) return the items I don't use. Yes, it costs more. Yes, I have a lot of connectors and valves and gadgets and glue and Teflon tape (if I could find it. Ah well, at 69 cents, I'll pick up a roll next time I'm there.) and saw blades and clamps and paint brushes and rollers and you name it. But for this particular case, with the loose-change nuts and washers, I could put them with the rest of my collection under the "I'm going to use/wear/need it again" heading or, I can practice my hoops shot and rim them off the trash can.

Slam dunk, I threw something away today. Hooray!



So the kids decided to put food coloring in the milk again.

Which leads to cream of rice that looks like this:

This has really got to stop.
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