Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Joey Ramone taught my daughter how to spell

While driving around on errands, my youngest daughter sponteously shot out the following remark, apropos of nothing. (Apparently shooting out random remarks, apropos of nothing, is strongly hereditary.)

"Daddy, 'I..O' spells 'let's go.' That is very short. It is just two words. Actually, it is just two letters. I and O."

I gave my daughter the same response that people seem to give me when something random is just tossed out there. Namely, the non-commital, "Huh." It then suddenly dawned on me what was playing softly on the radio - Joey Ramone was in the middle of the chorus for Blitzkrieg Bop and was chanting, "Hey! Ho! Let's go!"

That's when it really struck me how impossible it is for us to control what our children pick up. Sure, KROQ is not necessarily the best pick as a 4-year-old worthy radio station, but I tend to balk at the idea that a child's world should be bubble-wrapped with only kid-friendly stuff. I like that kids pick up what they need and ignore what they don't. I also would point out that there is still some parental steering involved. In the radio station example, I might turn up the Owl City song and help them understand the lyrics on the very sensible idea that kids might enjoy singing about Fireflies. I will turn down NIN almost everytime, as I am not overly excited to teach my kids about animal fornication, especially not the way that Trent Reznor wants to teach it.

But it has to be acknowledged that our children have way more teachers than we like to admit. I think the way to handle this situation is to surround yourself with as many people that you respect and trust and help to emphasize and bolter those relationships as your child's ad hoc educators. It is a very traditional thing to buy a Christmas gift for your child's teachers. I guess this new way of conceptualizing who counts as a teacher means that the gift list just exploded. Joey, I have a $5 Starbucks gift card with your name on it. The hard part will be to get it to you. As for the rest of you, hang tight. I'll try to figure something out.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Disabled Ad Words

Just a quick update - my Google Adwords account has been disabled. Not that I was blogging for the money (OK, maybe I spun a quick fantasy here or there), but I just realized that one of the cool things about the Ads were how much they synched in with my posts. I post about Peeps? Blam! Ads about Peeps. Post about Bacon Salt? Blam! Ads about Baconnaise! I post about eating dolphins? OK, well no one really has ads about eating dolphins, so Google can't really be held accountable for that.

So, I will try to re-enable the Adwords (I have to submit an online appeal), but I have to caution everyone to not click on all the ads (and especially not repeatedly). Click on a few, by all means, if you are curious. Definitely click on them if you need to buy yourself a plush Peep pillow or another 6-pack of Bacon Salt. But just don't make a habit of clicking for clicking's sake.

Plus, although I am a bit disheartened to have to go through an online appeal process (and they ask a lot of question), I must give props to Google and their algorithms. I had a vague feeling that some people might be throwing in a bunch of extra clicks, but it wasn't like there were dorm rooms set up in China doing nothing but clicking on my blog. Still, they caught the hinkiness. So, faithful readers, no hinkiness. At least not with the ads, OK?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One out of One Internet Comics Agree

It has been brought to my attention that I am rapidly approaching my one-month post limit, and I acknowledge that I have been lacking.

I hope to have some time on Saturday and Sunday to knock out some inanity. In the meantime, please consider knocking out a dolphin sea pig. (Thanks, David!)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

54°40’ or Fight (*)

Subtitled: “Hey Canada, just become our 51st through 55th states already!”

Frankly, Canada gets roped in as America's punching bag all too often. I actually like Canadians. Well, most of them. Don't get me started on French Canadians. It could get ugly. But honesty, I can't think of a single Canadian that I have met that I haven't liked. Try saying that about Americans. I most certainly can't. And yet, I have been known to make more than my fair share of Canadian jokes. And I'm not stopping now. I suppose I would equate Canadian jokes with eating an entire bag of candy corn (or a full tray of Peeps, but more on that in another post). It is surprisingly easy to do, and once you start, it is really hard to stop. And you feel really bad about it later. And yet, when faced with another bag of candy corn (or another aspect of Canada rife with joke potential), the cycle starts all over again. And, for those of you expressing outraged indignation that you would never eat a whole bag of candy corn because they taste disgusting, just substitute in whatever it is that is your own food nemesis. Let he who is not next to an empty bag of pork rinds cast the first stone. No offense.

So, ripping open that bag of comfort food that is Canadian Jokes, here goes:

Canada often gets called our 51st state. Well, that's not entirely fair. First of all, there are at least five territories of the U.S. that are much closer to becoming states than Canada. Puerto Rico springs quickly to mind. There is a lot of resistance there to becoming a state, but maybe the whole Canada thing is getting in the way. No one likes to be just the bridesmaid. Maybe if we called Puerto Rico our 51st state, that would finally push them over the edge. You never know - they must be holding out for something. It definitely wasn’t their own state quarter. When the state quarter bill was introduced, there was originally a clause that 2009 would be held out to issue state quarters for any new states, but Puerto Rico didn't jump at the chance, even though they had 10 years to rally. Perhaps they had no idea how immensely popular the state quarter program would be. Think about it - they could have vastly increased their mind share among the under-12 coin-collecting crowd. But it turns out that Washington D.C.(**) was able to twist the rules to get their state quarter, and, last I checked, they are still a non-voting district and still not a state. Thanks to D.C., start checking your pockets for a Puerto Rico Quarter, too.

Further, Canada is huge. They would have to be more than just one state. They currently have 13 divisions - 10 Provinces (Canadian for state) and 3 Territories (Canadian for not-quite-a-state). First, no way do they get 13 states. But I do want to pull a page from their playbook - their territories are not relegated to really small swathes of land. They are huge, but mostly sparsely populated wilderness and oil fields. Hmmm… Where does the U.S. have a huge swath of land that is sparsely populated wilderness and oil fields. That’s right, Alaska. If through merging with Canada, we can figure out some way to turn Alaska back into a territory, I will spot Canada one more state. Think of it this way - do you remember when we had the Vice Presidential Candidate (or heaven forbid, Presidential Candidate) from American Samoa or Guam? That's right. We didn't. So, turn Alaska into a territory and one nasty problem is quickly averted.

We still need some names for these Provinces-turned-States. I know that they all already have names, but they need American names. Let's face it. The only hope for us ever finding them on the map is to rename them. And even then the odds are not quite in the favor of the typical American. Perhaps we need a public service campaign from Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 to help. She loves maps.

Superwash (nee British Columbia and Alberta)

This name is just cool. And from my limited experience, I understand that British Columbia is really just Washington with more rain and people who are a little more polite and not quite so pretentious about their coffee culture. I know Starbucks is in the process of taking over the world, but putting BC and Alberta in a position of authority over them may help soften their world-domination plans a touch and humanize them a bit more. Oh, your company is headquartered in Washington? Well, I'm from Superwash. Your biggest drink is a Venti? Pah! We're rocking the Trenti up here.

Other than a few minor changes (like renaming the CN Tower to the Super Space Needle), no one would really notice the difference. Some more astute observers will realize that the CN Tower is in Toronto and not the newly named Superwash. That’s just lame. Seattle clearly fires the opening round in the “big tower building war” by building the Space Needle, and Canada responds by...building a bigger tower on the other side of the country?!? That needs to be fixed. Obviously the Super Space Needle needs to be unbolted and shipped cross-country and placed ominously just across the border with Washington so it can further knock the Washingtonians down a peg.

Plus “Superwash”, this has the added advantage of being a modern name. We really need to stop naming places in pretentious dead languages. Would New Scotland really been so bad, as opposed to throwing the Latin Nova Scotia in our faces? Also, we need to be careful when we blindly pick a place name in a foreign language, like was done with Nebraska or Missouri. Sure it sounds cool and exotic, but you're still stuck living in Nebraska or Missouri, and how do you know that the name doesn't translate into something like "Flat Water" or "Big Canoe Town".

Norther Dakota (nee Saskatchewan and Manitoba)

Because, come on, we need to shift the debate from "why exactly do we need two Dakotas?" to "why, oh dear God why, do we need THREE Dakotas???" I could also be easily swayed to rename this province Bigfoot. Saskatchewan is just a more pretentious way of saying Bigfoot. And I think Manitoba means the same thing. Or maybe not, but it should.

And, just to be clear, North Dakota stays named "North Dakota". It's not getting renamed "Central Dakota" or anything like that. That would just be mean to expect the 17 people living in North Dakota to have to learn a new name for their state. Plus, if you make those guys angry enough, they just might stuff you into a wood chipper. Not pretty.

Nueva Escocia (nee Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)

Latin is a dead language. Spanish, however, is thriving. I lost track of the expected date, but at some point, Hispanics will be more populous than Caucasians in the United States. It's only proper that we share the naming rights across the languages. Plus, it's time to pay back some debts. We made a huge land grab for the Southwest during a war with Mexico and then totally dissed them on the names. "Hey, thanks for the huge chunk of highland desert. Sorry we stole it away from you. Oh, and by the way, we're going to stuff it in your face by naming it New Mexico. Suck it!" Not cool. Oh, and New Brunswick gets lumped in to this new state as well.

Ed (nee Prince Edward Island)

Prince Edward Island is tiny. It is about 2000 square miles, which puts it between Delaware and Rhode Island in tininess. Do you remember having to color and label maps ad nauseam when you were going through Elementary School? Where the hell were you supposed to put the text "Rhode Island"? It just never fit. Plus, if you didn't plan well, when you started writing "Connecticut", you had already overwritten all of Rhode Island and the Cape Cod portion of Massachusetts. Eventually, most of us learned to write "Conn." and leave it at that. But, now while we're renaming these places, let's actually try to fix that problem outright. Ed will fit nicely in that tiny region of the map. Done. No abbreviations needed. Frankly, if I could have figured out how to name one of these new states "Bob", I would have. Because naming stuff "Bob" is funny. But Ed is almost just as funny.

New Morocco (nee Newfoundland and Labrador)

Some of the more geographically astute out there may have caught that Quebec and Ontario haven't been dealt with. Let's be honest. They would never go along with this plan anyway. They have been fighting for secession for years. And yet, they seem wildly unsuccessful in accomplishing it. We'd be doing them a favor. We'd just annex the rest of Canada out from under them. The beautiful part is, they would still try to secede from Canada, even though all that would be left of Canada would be themselves. And they still wouldn't be able to pull if off.

Why do all the New's have to be based on where the ship just left from, anyway? Settlers seemed to be pretty excited to leave Old York (and Old Amsterdam before that), Old Jersey (and still excited to leave New Jersey, by the way), Old Hampshire, and the list goes on. Why turn around and name the new place you're going to New Same-As-Before. Sure, name it "New", but make it even better. Who cares that you’re a bunch of fishers and furriers moved over from England that have nothing in common with Morocco. Live large!

So, if you take a look at a map, I have left Newfoundland and Labrador stranded way out there, isolated from the rest of the newly constituted US, with Quebec as it's closest neighbor. Everything else is contiguous now (except for Hawaii - and plans for a bridge are forthcoming.) Even Alaska, which I have ignominiously proposed to demote back to a Territory. Contiguous except for poor Newfoundland and Labrador. And you know that militant Quebec is going to try to do something. So, to inspire French Resistance, who better than Morocco. Now the Resistance against the French-Canadians will be based in New Morocco. Done.

So, write your Congressman and let him know that you support this plan. Because if the U.S. ever stands to medal in Curling in the Winter Olympics, we are going to need to join up with our brothers to the North.

(*) It’s an awesome title, but I just couldn’t work a discussion of this into the text. There was a fight brewing over the Oregon Territory, which could have ended up with most of British Columbia being a part of the U.S. Canadian land possibly becoming part of the U.S. is not a unique situation. Take, for example, Prince Edward Island, which was heavily courted by the U.S. during the 1860's.

(**) I don't have any affiliations with any publications or media outlets, but in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I was born in Washington, D.C., so they will always get kid-glove treatment here. If only Dan Brown could have been so kind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

M. Night Shyamalan Movies Ruined in 5 Words or Less.

The Sixth Sense - Bruce Willis is dead
Unbreakable - Samuel Jackson is a super-villain
Signs - Water kills aliens
The Village - It is modern day
The Happening - Plants make people kill

Some might argue that this doesn't actually ruin the movies. M. Night ruined them himself. All I am doing is saving you 90 minutes. You are welcome.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sea Pigs

I promised myself when I started this that I would try my best to avoid anything outright offensive. Cheeky, yes. Outrageous, maybe. But just not outright offensive. I am actually a little bit proud of myself that I have made it all the way to the second post before hitting this low water mark (pun intended). But seriously, I am not actually really trying to offend here. But offend I will, I am sure. Again, for those of you who know me, this probably doesn't come as a huge shock. For those that don't, all I ask is that you bear with me. I'll try to make it all better in the end.

So, I found myself wondering why we don't eat dolphins. We seem to eat just about everything else in the sea, whether it tastes good or not. We eat it cooked, steamed, and raw. It has been posited that most Scottish food is based on a dare, but whoever came up with that theory missed the even larger dare that Icelandic folk have been involved in with their seafood. And, it's not like there is just one crazy dish, there are dozens. I won't go into huge detail, but one obvious example is Rotted Shark. Bury a shark in sand for six months and then serve cold. And don’t eat too much. It is easy to point overseas to consumption of strange foods, but right here in the U.S. people willingly eat eel and octopus. Many have assured me that it is delicious, but, having tried it, I am not so sure. But everyone in the U.S. seems to draw the lines at dolphins. It didn't seem logical.

Of course, it is hard to read anything about the movie The Cove, a film about dolphin slaughtering in Japan without being horrified. The methods used to catch the dolphins and then slaughtering resulting in the bay running red with blood are obviously horrifying. But it is not just the concept of slaughtering that seems to disturb most people – merely the concept of eating dolphins is enough to be offensive to me. But why? And the answer is not so obvious.

Here are some of the arguments I came up with.

It is inhumane to eat dolphins. This argument is really a non-starter. We, as dwellers in the 21st century have been made to feel bad about eating pretty much any meat. We’d like to believe that our food dies of old age after a nice life on an organic, free-range, eco-friendly commune with all sorts of enrichment activities to keep the animals happy until they give their lives willingly for our sustenance. Let’s be honest here- if the range were really that free, the chickens wouldn't come back. I wouldn't. Well, unless there was a really good buffet before the neck-wringing. But the reality is that we are made to feel guilty about pretty much everything we eat. But we still eat all the things we know we shouldn’t. There is a huge difference between what we like to think we do and what we actually do.

Dolphins are endangered. This argument fails on two points. First, it is not true – most common dolphin species aren’t endangered . Second, Americans don't really seem to care about endangered seafood. We eat it all the time. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great resource to use to help know what to avoid and what to eat. But, in all honesty, no matter how endangered the Chilean sea bass is, there is a small part of me that can't help but want to order it and damn the consequences. Fortunately for the Chilean sea bass, in almost all instances, the larger part of me that is incredibly cheap starts to look elsewhere on the menu for lower cost fare. So, just a fair warning - if you are picking up the tab, I will probably offend you on two counts. First, you will be a party to the further destruction of an overfished species. Second, I'm pretty much ordering the priciest thing on the menu.

Dolphins are mammals. Well, this one fails pretty easily. We eat plenty of mammals. I am sure cows would love for the mammal rule to be put into place.

Dolphins are higher mammals. Obviously, eating humans is something pretty much all of us avoid. Pretty much. But not all. It turns out that not eating humans is a pretty good practice, due to some nasty side effects . I would have to say next on the "do not eat" list would have to be chimpanzees. I'd throw gorillas on the list next, and then orang utans, and then a bunch of other higher primates. But it is not entirely obvious where to go next. Which mammal gets the next "get out of jail card”? It seems somewhat arbitrary.

Dolphins are crazy smart. Well, dolphins are crazy smart. They can do tricks. They can rescue stranded boaters. They can problem solve. But, as smart as they are, they rank below ferrets and minks. Which, although rarely served as a dish, sometimes end up as part of a stole. But, probably most damning, pigs often end up on the Animal Mensa list, and the distinction doesn’t really seem to be helping them.

And, to round out the last three: Dolphins are cute; dolphins communicate; dolphins frequently have names. Again, we fall back on the humble pig here. Pigs are cute, at least until they get too large. Dolphins whistle and click, pigs squeal. Flipper, meet Wilbur.

In the end, what it domes down to is that dolphins are called "dolphins". If dolphins were called something else, their consumption would be more palatable. It all comes down to marketing - rename the dolphin the "sea pig", and suddenly people would be rushing out to eat them. Most Americans love pork, or more precisely, bacon. We'll put bacon on anything. And when it's not handy to carry around a rasher of bacon to layer on top of all of our meals, we can carry around Bacon Salt. There are nine flavors available to date and it is also vegetarian and kosher. Think about that for a second. We love bacon so much that we want to make sure that the people who have vowed not to eat pork or even _any_ meat are not deprived of it's flavor.

The English have a long history of rebranding their meats. When was the last time you sat down for a nice big helping of cow. You didn't. We have a name for the animal, a name for the meat, and then all sorts of names for different cuts and servings of the meat. And cows are not the only example. We call the animal pigs or swine, but the meat pork. Bambi was a deer, but after the hunter is done with him, it's venison. We use all sorts of these methods to distance ourselves from our carnivorous natures. This naming tradition came to us during the hundreds of years when control of England passed back and forth with the French. Peasants raised the but the nobles ate the buef. We now have the English names for the animals (cow, pig, deer), but the French names for the meat (beef, pork, venison).

So, I am not asking you to rush out and catch yourself a dolphin, rebrand it a sea pig, and consume it in one sitting. I'm just asking you to let the concept of a sea pig to rattle around in your brain for a bit and to realize that a lot of the way that the world works is really based in large part on how we as individuals, as a community, and as a nation think that the world works. If you can change the way that you think and pass that change on to those around you, you can change the world. Plus, "sea pig" sounds funny.

Monday, September 14, 2009


First, I am fully aware that abandoned blogs outnumber active blogs by a factor of 106:1. If you think that figure is overly and unbelievably precise, then you don't really know me that well. That's OK. The hope is that after a couple months, all will become apparent. But as far as the precision goes, it does not really matter. This is the Internet. It just has to sound precise. And it does. And it has to be roughly believable. And it is. So, following those rough principles, I can say pretty much whatever I want. And those of you who do know me, know that I do just that. But miraculously (and I honestly have very little insight into this particular miracle) I end up being right an impressive portion of the time. And besides, in this Stephen Colbert-inspired world of "truthiness", once something is sufficiently believable, you can always back fill the truth via edits on Wikipedia or a dozen other sites.

So, in an effort to avoid becoming one of those abandoned blogs, I am going to pace myself. I am setting myself the goal of one post a month to start out with. I have a whole backlog of crazy to try to document, from the wonderful story of the origin of my name, to by obsession with eating Peeps, to ridiculously overblown Halloween costumes, and much more. I have just barely started to brainstorm and I'm already set into next year.

Regardless, I have found that many (but not all) people are both fascinated by the inane things that I get up to as well as openly stunned by the sheer lunacy of them. And I am not talking lunacy in the sense of strapping a rocket to a skateboard and setting a land speed record. I am not that brave. Nor lunacy in the sense of building a house of out plastic bottles or a life size scale model of a blue whale out of Lego's. I am not that committed. I am talking about the always percolating level of lunacy that is just below the boiling point but never actually comes to much. A great example might be my hatred of the penny. Sure, I might print a two-side tri-fold pamphlet and try to create a Penny Awareness Day to rally people over to my side, but it is not all consuming and, frankly, never amounts to much. But, if you are talking to me and fall short of something to say, you can always be sure that if you quote some recent news about the penny, I can be counted on to hold up my end of the conversation for the next 20-30 minutes.

So, if you have a favorite bit of lunacy that you never got the full story on, please let me know and I will add it to my list. Otherwise, stay tuned. I will try to bring the crazy into your lives.