Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vizsla Flashback - 17 Limericks about Orthography

Back on July 11th, 2013, I accidentally typed 'Limericks' when I really meant 'Haikus'

But once it was typed I felt obligated to roll with it.

This was the result

(Side note - Writing 17 Limericks takes longer than you expect it will...)

Today, because I am totally willing to discuss the subject at the drop of a hat and because I have the vaguest of feelings like I'm supposed to be celebrating something today but have forgotten what, I hereby declare today to be that most important holiday on the Vizsla calendar -

Celebration of Orthography through Limericks day!

 It's the study of the systems by which a spoken language is represented in written form, 
me laddies and lassies!  Ta loo rah loo rah loorah!

There once was a study of writin'
into which your teeth really could bite in
It's Ortheographic
How words move like traffic
And I for one find it delightin'

Poetry's long been around
As a story form it's main renown
-you can eas'ly relate
 Keeping all your facts straight
Without writing anything down

The Egyptians, they took some papyrus
they said 'One day all folk will admire us
Our Cuneiform 
will take off like a storm
And then spread through the world like a virus!'

One day the Romans invaded
Into Britain, but found themselves jaded
The Saxons could speak
But their contracts were weak
without having writing like they did.

For the spoken to written transition
every language must take a position
if your language's just oral
you're certain to quarrel
and have no way to take a petition

I can hear what you're saying, it's true
But I feel that I'm certain to rue
Without getting it written
I'm telling you, Kitten
You'll forget it by quarter to two.

Slavic Language is wrote in cyrillic
An alphabet not quite idylic
cause when I write a 'P'
it's an 'R' that they see
And that makes me feel like quite a pillock

Our alphabet's root are phoenecian
But Cyrillic's are found to be grecian
The differences lie
to be found by and by
in the width of the Caspian Sea-shin.

(I apologize for that one.  I really do.  I'm sorry you had to read that)

Our relationship, you must agree
Can be compared linguistically
In Voiced/Voiceless despair
of our consonant pair
I'm am clearly the P to your B

(OK - you probably have to be a huge linguistics geek to appreciate that one, but trust me - It is some funny shit.  I swear)

Our system of writing is Roman
But when looked at, might make you say 'Whoa, man,
The H and the T
In no way line up to be
The 'th' sound that we use it it show, man!'

(This has bothered me for some time.)

Contracts once were recorded on clay
To be kiln dried and stored for the day
That the terms had been gleaned
then the pot could be cleaned
and then used to store Oil of Olay

(Ok - this one is in no way true.  Outside of the fact that such clay pot contracts did, in point of fact, predate the este lauder company by some three thousand years, they simply wouldn't have done such a thing.  Fun fact though - they did actually write the contract out on two clay pots and seal one inside the other, so that if there was any accusation of it being changed they could crack open the outside pot and double check it on the inner one.  Suck it, Dan Brown!)

Of all of the forms of linguistics
to have fascinated fakirs and mystics
Orthographical study
Is my favorite buddy
And I'm sorry, but that sounded too sad to even continue on with a last line, even if I had come up with a second rhyme for 'Linguistics'

There once was a scribe from Nantucket...

uhm... never mind that one...

To write was once just for the priesthood
It allowed them to document feasts good (ouch... sorry about that...)
Now we're all out of joint
But there once was a point
when our high school graduates at least could.

(Note: I didn't say they were 17 good Limericks about Orthography.)

Fricative, labial, or glottal
They could all drive a man to the bottle
But at least I can say
at the end of the day
that I totally got away with a legitimate use of the term 'labial' a few lines ago.  

Boom.  That just happened.

Though it might make you say 'la di dah'
I've a keyboard fact stuck in my craw
I could sit here all day
but would still have no way
to correctly type in a nice Schwa

(it's the the upside down 'e' thing.  It's derived from a Hebrew notation and refers to the vowel sound you make when you just don't care anymore.)

Orthographic variations are neat
Modern language is, with them, replete
there's still much more to show
but my British fans know
that this limerick list is compleat.

(And today we learned that 17 limericks is too many to try to write on any particular topic.)

Tomorrow, one hopes, sanity returns.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Few Retractions

In my zest to consistently bring you new and interesting fun facts to know and share, occasionally - just occasionally mind you, I may have published a statement or two that - while I wouldn't go so far to label them as 'wrong' per se, could be interpreted as enthusiastically non-verifiable.

To that point, it's come the time to print some retractions for a view of my more - shall we say - potentially actionable errors

-It appears that the role of Cindy Brady on TV's The Brady Bunch was played by Susan Olsen, and not - as previously claimed, Mimi Van Pantyhausen

-Apparently Peter Boyle never actually played Catwoman

-It turns out that Turkmenistan is a real country

-The answer was 'C', not 'D'

-Michelle Bachmann was never, it turns out, married to Hitler.  

-After further study it's been discovered that people who stop at the end of the acceleration lane actually are the anti-christ.

-It's perfectly possible to have more than one nemesis.  

-You should go to the doctor to get that looked at.

I apologize for these errors and assure the public that ever effort is made to confirm all randomly made up crap before hitting the 'Publish' button.

Friday, September 27, 2013

And I don't even like Tennessee Williams

I'm going to start by apologizing to Jef.  It's true man.  I just don't care for Mssr. Williams.  I've been trying to find a way to break it to you.  That said, I still totally respect the festival and we're still totally cool, right?  Because I might still need that kidney...

At work, in the lunchroom, there's what we call a 'Free Table'  This is a table (hence the name) where people can leave any old thing on the principle that you never know who else out there might want it if it's free.

A few months back I observed that someone had left a fairly ridiculous wooden seal on the free table, and because I am a big enthusiast of the ridiculous I picked it up and set it on top of the filing cabinet in my office.

The following day I walked into my office to find that he had been joined by a friend - A similarly carved wooden whale that was in no way in scale with the seal. 

I thought that this was odd at the time, but just rolled with it because the universe is vast and complicated and sometimes impossible things just happen - as you may have heard.

It was therefore with some additional surprise a few days later when a glass whale showed up to join them. 

And then a rhino.

Then a horse.

Then an elephant,  giraffe, and a larger metal chicken which I am taking as a direct reference to the Bloggess, in that it was holding a sign reading 'KKMF'

This is what the cabinet-based menagerie looks like at this stage-

The original Seal

The Whale Friend he invited over.
(Note - seals are not customarily twice the size of your average sperm whale.)

Beyonce-lite.  The reference to the funniest story you'll ever read on the Internet

The thing I cannot stress enough here - I have absolutely no idea where these are coming from.  I don't know if they're all from the same person, or from multiple sources, or falling through a crack in time and space or what.  Every week or so I'll notice that someone new has shown up and it reminds me that I should have paid more attention to Thidwick the Bighearted Moose.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

That Otter do it. Oh God, I am so sorry for that....

Seriously.  I actively tried to prevent myself from typing that post title.  I really tried.  I'm weak. 

As part of our continuing observation of national Sea Otter Awareness weeK (n-SOAK.  You know you want to start using that acronym.) I thought that it might be germane to talk a bit about people who latch on to a particular totem animal.

Now, I'm not talking about your inadvertent animal collectors.  To quote arch-villain The Deadly Bulb (aka Pig Leg), you know how it goes - one person gives you a pig statue, and then someone else assumes you like that sort of thing and gets you another and before you know it you have no choice but to buy a hutch.

No, I'm talking about the people who actively embrace the animal in question (not literally, in the case of polar bears).  Now, on the one hand it actually makes Christmas and Birthday shopping significantly easier for these people, so it has that going for it.  On the other hand, the time necessary to set aside for dusting can be a real killer*.  And on the other hand, which is actually a foot, who are we to judge, right?  And on the other hand, which is the other foot, I personally own the entire run of Doctor Who 1963-present on both VHS and DVD (minus of course the 106 missing episodes from the mid sixties, obviously), and I actually had one further point but am out of hands and feet and everything after that gets inappropriate.

*I know... for no particular reason...

No, the real issue at hand is the relatively small number of animals that tend to get chosen. 

-Polar Bears, as mentioned - So cute you might not mind being torn up and eaten
-Penguins (as seen here having a fun adventure with pirates)
-Eagles - for your patriotic and free spirited sort
-Wolves - These are much less likely to appear in statue form, and are mainly to be found in framed artwork.
-Hippos - For some reason that I do not personally understand, because hippos are frickin' mean.
-Pigs - Which I think are meant to be some sort of ironic statement.

Other than your occasional Moose or Fox enthusiast, those are pretty much your choices.

Which is why I feel comfortable with my relatively recent otter-obsession. 

On that note - I present today's attempt at Origami Sea Otter. 

I found a different pattern, that I feel has some pluses and some minuses. 

His name is Steve.  He and Buck are friends from school. 

I use this as an excuse to once again mention that the collective noun for a group of Otters is a Romp.

Tune in tomorrow for the story of the unplanned office menagerie...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm sorry, they're doing what now?

I'm trying to decide is the existence of the Internet is a sign of the progress of our society, or a sign of it's imminent collapse.

It began with a blog entitled - 'Sports Balls replaced by Cats'.  Which was exactly what the name says.

Someone has taken the time to lovingly photoshop sports photos, removing the athlete's balls (easy there Shriner...) and replacing them with cats. 

Now, I don't actually have mad photoshop skills (or indeed, any, photoshop skills) so I can't say for certain what sort of time commitment that such an endeavor involves, but the fact remains.  Someone of there is spending their time doing this.

And someone else is running a blog dedicated to nothing but showing picture of men taking up too much space on the subway.  Which seems curiously specific to me.  (Apparently it recently featured some guy off of Game of Thrones, which I refuse to emotionally invest in until I get some sort of reassurance that George isn't going to die before he gets around to finishing it.)

The jury is in, people.  It's come down firmly on the side of imminent collapse.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I can really only blame myself for this...

A while back now I had a dream.

(Actually I have dreams all the time.  Often involving werewolves, because werewolves are awesome.  The Werewolf Dreams* are not, however, relevant to the current discussion.)

* Best Band Name Ever.  Someone should be writing these down.

So a while back I had this dream that I was driving somewhere and got stuck in one of those 'roundabout' things that you see in New England (and probably Old England as well now I think of it.)  If you're unfamiliar, they're a big circle that takes the place of an intersection that one might actually be able to use.  Everyone from all directions just flows into the circle and (theoretically) exits the circle in whatever direction they want to go.

So in this dream I was driving on a roundabout, and got stuck in the center lane, with other cars blocking me from getting to the outer lane where I could exit.  So I was just stuck going in circles over and over again and never getting anywhere.

And I woke up and thought to myself, 'Well, no need to waste money having that one analyzed.  Way to get right to the point, subconscious.'

And then a few nights ago I had another dream.

I dreamed that I wanted to go somewhere, so I went to the airport.  But I didn't have a ticket and couldn't find the main terminal, so I was just stuck wandering around in the airport never able to go anywhere.

And I woke up and thought to myself, 'For Christ Sake, Subconscious, you are not even trying anymore.'

So then last night I had another dream.

I'd locked myself out of my car, and so I called John Locke, from Lost, who had opened a Locksmith company called 'UnLocked', and he came and took care of it for me.

What in the name of Sweet Fuzzy Jesus does THAT mean?? 

Seriously, it's all I can think about now today.  What the Hell does that mean?  Am I supposed to embrace the theory of Self?  Am I concerned on some level about the breakdown of the Social Contract?  Should I rewatch Season 6 of Lost?

See, this is why you do not pick fights with your own subconscious. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Origami is Not a Vizsla Strength Area

In honer of Sea Otter Awareness Week (aka best theme week ever - suck it, Shark Week) We here at Vizsla International broke down and finally attempted the Origami Otter pattern that was forwarded to us some time ago.

Here is the result.

A few thoughts on the Origami Otter

1- There are not a lot of dogs widely known for their mad origami skills, so I refuse to feel like I've let the side down by not doing a better job.

2- Folding an origami otter is its own reward.  It's about the process, people. 

3- Yes, he is green.  Because when you are a sea otter and it's your week you get to be any damn color you want to be and apologize to no one.  Actually, otters are unlikely to apologize for themselves regardless of whose week it is.  Otters are highly resistant to peer pressure.  And have adorable little hands.

His name is Buck, btw.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vizsla Flashback - Duck, Duck, Regional Poultry

This week's flashback takes us back to May 26th. 2013.

After today's Vikings game I was desperate to find something to be proud of Minnesota for...

Duck, Duck, regional poultry

I know, I know.  Traditionally Vizslas do not blog on Sunday.  But I am doing so today due to three Important factors.

1- Tomorrow is Memorial Day and there is a better than reasonable chance that I'm not going to get around to writing one then

B- I feel a little bad about blowing off yesterday's with the old 'picture of a duck' excuse.

3 or C - I've got a thought

It's actually the duck that's to blame.  (For this as in so many things.  They're evil, ducks are.)  I was thinking about the kids game of Duck, Duck, Grey Duck (or Duck, Duck, Goose if you don't live in Minnesota and are wrong.)

First point of interest - I went to check which came first, the Grey duck or Goose version and the internet didn't seem to know.  Which puts the question on an amazingly short list of things.  Seriously, when was the last time you needed an answer and Wikipedia just kind of shrugged and shuffled its feet awkwardly?

*Note - this does not in any way constitute an endorsement of Wikipedia as a factual reference source.  It remains as always the Cliff Clavin of the Internet - a lot to say about everything, most of it wrong.

Now, for those reading in other nations (and I'll take this moment to say 'Hey' again to the Russian readership.  love you guys), this is what I'm talking about.  The Game Correctly Known as Duck, Duck, Grey Duck goes like this.  A group of kids sits in a circle.  One kids walks around the periphery of the circle tapping the other kids on the head one by one saying at each tap '______ Duck', the space being filled in with the name of a color.  So it goes, '(tap) red Duck, (tap) green Duck, (tap) Chartreuse Duck (because the kid naming the colors is a pretentious dickhead showoff which is why I usually didn't get invited to play and who are you to judge me)'

And so forth

Eventually the kid naming the colors labels one of the kids sitting down as 'Grey Duck', at which point the kid sitting down jumps up and they run around the circle.  If the 'tapper' gets to the 'tappee's space and sits down before getting tagged by the aforementioned 'tappee' then the party of the first part heretofore and without exemption under law doth sit.  And the cycle begins anew.

Now that's how it goes in Minnesota.  Everyone else plays Duck, Duck, Goose, where everyone gets tapped as a duck until one gets tapped as a goose, because everyone else wants their children to be stupid and not know colors.

Wikipedia goes on to note that there is a version called 'Extreme Duck, Duck, Goose', but I am not going to tell you what it is, because all of the possibilities that you're imagining right now are much MUCH funnier than the actual description.

As I have said before - Always believe the more amusing option.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's called an Interjection. Now go wash your mouth out with soap

It's bothered me for a long time now that they no longer teach kids Interjections in US schools.

Apparently at some point along the route from New Math to No Child Left Behind and on to Common Core we decided that we didn't really have time to go over all the parts of speech.  So these days we pretty much just go over your Nouns and your Verbs, maybe taking an adjective in along the way if we have some free time.

Which means that all over the country kids are dropping the F-bomb and having no idea how they would diagram the sentence if asked to do so.

A helpful overview of our friend the Interjection can be found here.

Damnit, It's about standards.

And yes - children of today - we really did use to get shots in the behind.  The 70s were a strange and frightening place.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Vizsla v. the Myth of High and Low Culture

Quite frequently I use Youtube as my own personal radion station.  I do this for two reasons -

-I don't understand how Spotify works

-No matter what song you're looking for, it's pretty good odds some wistful teenager has used it as a backdrop for a terribly earnest fan video about the Vampire Diaries.

So the other day I was listening to Vicodin by Terra Naomi - which is a really lovely little song about the interconnection of loneliness and addiction and totally worth a few minutes of your time - when I noticed that it is in fact a four chord song.

For those who didn't get caught up in the Axis of Awesome video that was all over the Internet a while back - the basic observation is that just about every pop song of the last 40 years is the same four chords in the same pattern (E, B, C#, A if you want to try it at home.)

Now, this is actually true.  The starting point that AoA used in their example is Don't Stop Believin' by Journey, but other notable examples include When I come Around by Green Day, Tomorrow Wendy by either Andy Preiboy or Concrete Blond, Let it Be by the Beatles, Stay Tonight by Eagle Eye Cherry, and many, many others.

The only occasionally unspoken subtext behind the 4-chord song theory is that songs falling in that pattern are somehow 'cheaper' or 'less' than songs that don't.  This in turn ties into a broader belief held by a section (if not the majority) of the population that anything widely popular has less cultural merit than things that aren't.  This is the basic belief behind the notion that there is a difference between 'high' and 'low' culture.

Case in point - Shakespeare's The Tempest is 'High' culture because we were told that Shakespeare is 'Art' when we were in school, and because almost no one has ever gone to see a production of it.  On the other hand, 'Married, With Children', to pick a random example, is 'Low' culture, because it appeals to the unwashed masses and is therefore not 'art'.

This is obviously bullshit.  For one thing, Shakespeare's work was specifically written to appeal to as much of the masses as possible ever bit as much as Married, With Children was.  It's sort of how he paid for little things like food and shelter. 

The difference between the two isn't whether one is more 'art' than the other (all writing is, by definition.  The question is whether it's good art or not )  The difference is that The Tempest is very well written and Married, with Children was written incredibly lazily.  This isn't a shot at sitcom writing in general - Compare any random episode of M,wC to any random episode of Modern Family (for as Apples to Apples comparison as possible thanks to the Ed O'Neill through-line) and you'll see what a difference a talented writing staff who are actually putting in the effort can make.

To sum up -

-There is no such thing as 'High' or Low' culture.  There's only things are are done well and things that aren't.


-It's a mistake to ever confuse popularity with quality.  We do a pretty good job of remembering that just because something isn't popular doesn't mean it's bad, but we tend to forget that the opposite is also true.

Now go learn those four chords and start a rock band.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Most Important News Ever

This incredibly important news bulletin came across the desks of Vizsla Inc. just moments ago.

Sea Otter Awareness WeekSea Otter
September 22 - 28, 2013

That's right.

It's an entire week to celebrate our awareness of Sea Otters.

I have nothing further to add to this.

Vizsla Out

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I was happier before I knew we had a term for that...

I wouldn't say that I'm a huge fan of Jay Brannan, I really only know a few of his songs.  But I like one of them (this one) enough to have ordered a t-shirt off of his website at one point.

It's a solid grey shirt that says 'I Suck at Life' across the chest.

And then beneath that it repeats the same sentiment in ten other languages.

At least I assume it does- I only actually speak three of the other ten, so I'm taking the other seven on faith.

One of the things that I enjoy about the shirt is that it points out an essential truth about culture and language.  You can tell a lot about a culture by the concepts that it feels the need to have a single word to express.  By this I am of course referencing the German translation - 'ich bin lebensversager'.  This translates (loosely) to - 'I am Life Failure'.

In German there is a single word to express the concept 'Life Failure'*

*Well, to be fair - not exactly.  Since purchasing the shirt I've learned a bit more about German cultural orthography and it turns out that they just have a much more casual attitude toward the creation of compound words than we do in English.  The point, however, still stands.

Another of my favorite examples of this is the French phrase 'Esprit D'Escalier' which literally translates to 'Spirit of the Staircase', but idiomatically means 'That moment on your way out of the room when you suddenly think of the exact perfect retort that you should have used to that guy in that argument fifteen minutes earlier See?  Look how many more words it takes to describe the experience in English.

In case any of you think that this is going to be a study in other-culture-bashing, it is with deep regret that I have to bring up America's latest contribution to this phenomenon.

'Revenge Porn'

I first encountered the term a few days ago in an online news headline 'California seeks to criminalize Revenge Porn'. Having no idea what it was, I felt compelled to read the article (so - solid win to you, Headline writer.  Well Played.)

It turns out that what this is is the phenomenon of guys who have been dumped taking their revenge by posting online the naked photos/video that they finally wore their now ex-girlfriend down into sending them over what one imagines was the course of months and months of whining.

I say guys because I imagine that this is primarily a thing that guys do.  First because most men are perpetually terrified that someone else will see them naked and find out how small their genitalia are.  Second because it's just a tremendously douchebaggy thing to do, and in my experience guys are more likely to leap to that sort of thing.

But seriously.  This is happening often enough that we need to have a term for it? 

Apparently it is.  Good God people.

For anyone interested in purchasing the t-shirt, btw, it can be found here.

(You're Welcome, Jay Brannan.  Now we're totally even for...that thing.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm not kidding about Jon Voight...

It goes without saying by and large that there can be a great deal of difference between the types of character an actor might play and their real life personality.

Similarly, many celebrities have public personas that are very different to who they are on a day to day basis.

Just because someone might seem charming on E! doesn't mean they wouldn't clock you with a shovel and bury you in their basement.  But how are we, the unwashed public, to know where the greatest dangers lie?

Well, in the interest of public safety, allow me to present the solution.

We at Vizsla Enterprises are pleased to present to you-

The Harmon/Voight Celebrity Threat Assessment Scale

patent pending

The scale runs as follows: on a gradient from -7 to +7, celebrities are rated as to the active threat that they might pose to you, should you be alone with them in their home.

Named after the Celebrities at either end of the threat scale, at -7 we have Mark Harmon.  A Harmon level celebrity presents no threat whatsoever, and indeed ill actively help you, a mere nobody, in case you find yourself imperiled in their vicinity

Other examples of Harmon level celebrities include Steve Buscemi, who actually used to be an FDNY firefighter and still goes to large scale disasters to assist without publicizing it, which makes him cooler than most of us.

At the other extreme, the titular +7 celebrity is Jon Voight.  Under no circumstances should you be alone with Jon Voight.  DO not enter his home.  DO not take candy from his minivan.  DO not turn when he says, 'Hey, what's that over there?' a +7 Celebrity represents an active threat to your health and well being.  You have been warned.

Other +7 celebrities include Charles Manson and the shark from Jaws

for perspective, here's where some other big names fall-

Harrison Ford: -5.  He'd probably helicopter in to save you from a fire, but if you ask him about Star Wars he will also push you back out again.

Angelina Jolie: On her own +6.  If Brad Pitt is in the room with her I'd go as low as +3, but no lower.  If she really wanted to rip your throat out with her own teeth he might try to talk her down, but he sure wouldn't get in the way.

The Rock: -4.  If he saw you getting mugged he'd totally beat the guy up for you.  Probably.

George Clooney:  +/- 0.  Nonreactive.  If he saw you getting mugged he might feel bad about it for a bit.

Woody Harrelson: +2.  Volatile.  Could swing by 3 points in either direction depending on mood and medication.

Amy Acker:  -3.  She'd probably make you cookies if you asked nicely.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Congratulations! You're a Monster!

First of all, let us reassure you that as bewildered and confused as you are undoubtedly feeling at this moment, it will certainly get better.  So take a moment, get a few deep breaths (if you still feel the need and have the capacity (We'll get to that in a moment)) and find your happy place.

You have, in all likelihood, just awoken in a strange environment with little to no idea how you've arrived there. Possibly you have some minor wounds about the neck, face or throat, and you woke up clutching the pamphlet which you are currently reading.  You may be in the woods, crypt, mausoleum, or - in rare circumstances - Mexican strip club.

We are proud to be able to tell you that you are the proud participant in our brand new Monster Orientation Outreach Initiative (MOOI).

For many many years - centuries even - the main handicap that new monsters face upon their first arising is simply a heck of a lot of questions and diddly-poop for answers.  Well, we at MOOI have created this program using recently made available government funds in order to address this critical problem.

We sincerely hope that this makes the experience more pleasant for everyone involved.

Feedback can be submitted online at, 
or in person at Famous Daves, Beloit, Wisconsin.  Ask for Vicki.


1. Accepting the situation

As you've probably already understood from the introductory paragraph, we must inform you that you are now a Monster.

We realize that this can be a difficult transition for many of you, so feel free to take a moment before proceeding.

All settled in with the concept?

Good, we'll proceed.

Now, we at MOOI recognize that the word 'Monster' has, in our modern times, been given a highly undeserved pejorative patina, so we would like to reassure you of the following - Being a 'Monster' in no way makes you a 'Bad Person'.  or 'Bad Ex-Person', as the case may be.  Outside of the occasional blind-rage-fueled-killing-spree/Insatiable-blood-lust, you're still the same ole' good hearted Becky-Sue from East Moline (substitute your own name/attribution here)

So take a moment at the first opportunity to look right in a mirror, and - assuming you still cast a reflection therein- look yourself right in the eyes and say '(Insert Name Here).  I am a monster.  And I LIKE me.'

Repeat as often as necessary to keep that self-esteem up.  A positive self-image is VERY important to new monsters.

2. Identifying type and common weaknesses.

It's vital - as a new monster - to be aware of the things that, while they seemed innocuous in the past, will now probably kill you if you aren't careful.

Vampire - 

Some Tell-Tale sings that you are now a vampire -

- Check the teeth.  Sharp and pointy Canines?  Try thinking really angry.  How about now?
- Examine your neck for signs of entry wound - possibly bite shaped
- feelings of weakness/pernicious anemia
- memory of stranger (possibly acquaintance) biting your throat and forcing you to drink their blood in return.  (in which case you really should accept at least partial responsibility for the situation yourself.)

Things to watch out for

-Crosses.  Yes, I'm sorry, devoutly Catholic newly made Vampire, but unfortunately you know live as mockery to the very Lord you once served and pollute his holy works.  Sorry about that.  Mass is probably a no-go for you.
 -Garlic.  Now, we feel for you on this one.  Garlic is delicious and has many health benefits.  However you're pretty much immortal now anyway, so take some solace in that (See Section 4)
 -Running Water.  Yes, I don't know why either, but there it is.
 -Sunlight.  OK, this one is a biggie.  Do not be fooled into thinking SPF 4000 is going to handle it.  Seriously.  Just stay out of the sun.

Werewolf -

Some Tell-Tale sings that you are now a Werewolf -

- Did you find yourself waking up naked in the woods?
-Quickly check your body for scratches or bites.  They will probably be healing fairly quickly, so you'll want to get on that right away.
-Memory of being attacked by a large animal, but wake next to the dead body of a naked man?  Sure, we all had that happen in college, but this time it's different.

Things to watch out for

-Silver (Particularly bullets) - Sure, Getting shot with a silver bullet is going to hurt anybody.  But for you there is no longer any such thing as a flesh wound here.  As soon as you can say 'No big deal, it only grazed me', they're already finding your dead naked body in a churchyard and drawing unflattering conclusions about your personal life.

-Accidentally mauling loved ones.  We'll talk more about this in section 3


Some Tell-Tale sings that you are now a Zombie -

-Did you just crawl out of a grave with your name on it?
-Did you wake up with chunks missing?
-Are pieces of you that you quite hoped to use one day falling off?

Things to watch out for.

-Beheading.  yup, that's it.  Other than that you're golden.  Knock yourself out.

Frankenstein Monster

Some Tell-Tale sings that you are now a Frankenstein Monster -

-Do you have a lot more stitches than you recall having before?
-Do you recall dying?  Not once, but actually many times?
-Are pieces of you... how to put this delicately... more sizey than they previously were?  Feel free to run to the restroom and check.  We'll wait.

Things to watch out for.

-Fire.  While it won't actually do a lot of damage to you, it will cause you to freak out disproportionately, which is embarrassing.

-Getting your literary reference wrong.  Look - you're a Frankenstein MONSTER.  NOT Frankenstein.  Frankenstein was the scientist, NOT the monster.  Seriously, have a little respect for your own history.

-Torch Wielding villagers.  They are NOT coming by for a Tupperware party


Some Tell-Tale sings that you are now a Mummy -

-Did you wake up in a sealed sarcophagus? (This is a dead giveaway)
-Are you Egyptian royalty?
-Do you feel compelled to roam a museum chanting 'Coin... Coin...'

Some things to watch out for.

-Well, you probably want to make sure you have that Book of the Dead locked down somewhere.
-Raining down the plagues of Egypt is not a great way to make new friends.

3.  Sensible Precautions (For applicable species)


-Find safe sleeping arrangements
-Procure bug-eating henchman
-Explore volunteer opportunities at Red Cross


-Identify Cage strong enough to hold you during full moons (assuming you don't want to maul loved ones.)

4.  Things to Enjoy About the New You!


-You can control Wolves now!
-Everybody thinks your SUPER sexy!
-You're going to LOVE to night scene!
-Turn into a Bat! or Mist! 
-Follow immortal beloved's trail through Time!


-One night a month you either lock yourself up or let 'er rip.  You are a LOW maintenance Monster!
-Everybody thinks you are SUPER sexy as well!
-You get to wake up naked in public with an AWESOME legitimate excuse!
-Mmmm, Sheep!


-Remember how you were dead?  Well you're not now!
-You take a lickin' and keep on tickin', buddy!
-Mmmm, Brains!

Frankenstein Monster

-Remember how you were dead?  Well you're not now!
-Remember how you wanted to meet more people?  Well now you ARE more people!
-Exciting new color palette/body type to work with! 


-Pardon us for repeating, but...Remember how you were dead?  Well you're not now!
-Chance to avenge yourself against the ancestors of your cursed enemies, and who doesn't love that?!
-Your wardrobe budget?  About to go WAY down!

5.  Conclusion

With all this in mind, we hope that you choose to embrace your new destiny as a creature of darkness and find the fun in everlasting damned half-life.  Remember - What you get out of it depends on what you put into it!

Good Luck!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vizlsa Flashback - A Very Manly Discussion of Rainbows. In SAT Testing Format

Today's Flashback brings us back to early June 2013 - A simpler time when I didn't have the present flu that is making me actively wish for my own death.

I'll keep you posted on how that goes

Vizlsa Flashback - A Very Manly Discussion of Rainbows.  In SAT Testing Format

Do not turn over the booklet in front of you until the test administrator tells you to begin.

Remember to fill in your dots completely, Only use a number two pencil.  And wear clean underwear in case you're in a car accident.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then we'll begin

1:  We are discussing Rainbows today because:

     A: It's June, they're kind of the thing right now
     B: We already discussed Unicorns, Bronies and Leprechauns.  It was inevitable.
     C: You totally forgot to mention them yesterday and are now getting back to it
     D: Someone has a gun to your head and I should probably be helping you instead of reading this   extraordinarily self aware column

The correct answer is - C

In fact, the whole pot of gold at the end of the rainbow thing is why I started writing yesterday's column in the first place.  Unfortunately, the first hobby on the list was 'Drink' and the accompanying picture of whiskey had a curiously suggestive quality to it.  Anyway, one thing led to another and I'm pretty sure Ann B. Davis and I are married now.

2:  Rainbow's come from a unicorn's:

     A: Muzzle
     B: Anus
     C: Sucking chest wound
     D: All of the above

The correct answer is  - B

I know, All of the above is usually a safe bet.  However, as everyone knows, Unicorns bleed glitter, and there's nothing particular about a unicorn's breath other than a slight delightful minty freshness.  It's not a particularly original observation, but they do in fact fart rainbows.  You still don't want to muck out the unicorn stalls however.  We think rainbows are pretty because we never get close enough to smell them.

3:  There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because:

     A: Leprechauns suck at hiding things
     B: If you actually manage to transcend the laws of physics and reach the 'end' of a perceptual effect of light refraction you should be able to treat yourself to a little something
     C: While the rainbow is the symbol of god's promise to not flood us again, the pot of gold is reparations for the psychological damage inflicted by the last time he did.  He also had to do 80 hours of community service picking up trash on the side of the highway
     D:  All of the above

The correct answer is - D

See, the world makes sense again.

4: True or false - You are driving your 92 year old prim n' proper Aunt Trudy to a church social when you pass a house with a rainbow flag and Aunt Trudy is confused and asks what it means.  You should explain in detail what the implications of that flag are vis-a-vis the occupants bedroom activity. 

The correct answer is - False

Look, this is Aunt Trudy, man.  You're not going to change the world by having an awkward conversation with her about what Joe Prideflag is into.  All the woman wants is to go sit with other 92 year old women and exchange photos of their great grandchildren.  For the sake of all involved, just tell her he's Irish and move on with your day.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I neglected to mention

So for a while now there have been little things piling up that I had meant to include on various articles on various topics, but for one reason or another I neglected to say. 

Who can say for certain what the reason is - I'm easily distracted by shiny things, I get caught up in my enthusiasm, I frequently write these after drinking a fair amount of wine... pick your horse on that one.

In any case, I'm finally taking the opportunity to go back and add a few final thoughts to some things that I wrote about earlier.

To begin

On September 12th, during my interview with Imaginary Benedict Cumberbatch- 

Just about the entire point of that day was to have an excuse to mention that Benedict Cumberbatch actually issued a fairly formal statement at one point requesting that his fans stop referring to themselves by the group name 'Cumberbitches', on the ground that he doesn't want anyone to feel demeaned or that they're less than he is.

That kinda throws the whole Trekkie/Trekker debate into sharp relief, now doesn't it.

But then I got caught up in Otters and cuddling with Martin Freeman, and totally forgot to bring it up.  Mistake corrected, Universe

On September 5th, during my discussion of the various possible apocalypses-

I totally forgot to segue off into a discussion of the whole 'Left Behind' movement - The small subset of religious fanatics that believe that Apocalypse: Step One will be 'All the insufferably self righteous pains in the ass magically disappear with no explanation leaving the rest of us behind to finally get a little peace and quiet.

On August 16th, while going through some of your more popular 'Dog' expressions-

I neglected to address the phrase 'Sick as a Dog', which has always struck me as a little unfair, although ironically I am currently pretty damn sick.  May I suggest the substitute expression ; "Sick as a Tanzanian Prostitute".

On July 4th, when I went on a bit about Independence Day while discussing Zombies, Roland Emerich and Antonin Scalia-

No, that one was perfect.

Right, those are the ones off the top of my head.  I'm sure we'll come back to this another time.

-Vizsla Out

Friday, September 13, 2013

Your less quotable livestock

Just so we're on the same page going in - there may be some tough talk about Norway coming.

So, a few years back I was visiting my cousin in Denver and her family and was talking to her son* who was at the time 1 believe two years old.

*For those who care about the specifics of such things, that would make him my first cousin, once removed.  Yes, I'm sure.  Go look it up.  Vizsla = Knowledge.

We were have a deep and thought provoking discussion on the sounds that various animals make, as one does at fashionable dinner parties.  He had expressed some strong viewpoints on how the Lion goes. (Spoiler alert - 'Roar').  Then we covered Snake (hiss), Hyenas (just an excuse to laugh really loudly) and then - because I was caught up in the general theme of 'Critters of the Veldt' I asked what noise the Hippo made. 

This was followed by an awkward silence as all parties involved realized that none of us had the faintest idea what noise the Hippo made.  Finally the boy was forced to admit that he did not know and asked what the answer was.  Because I didn't want to appear uninformed, and because I was the one who'd brought the stupid question up in the first place I was forced to punt.

And so I responded 'Hippos don't make noise.  Hippos are very quiet.'*  He absorbed this new information with awed amazement and in fact repeated it back to me at regular intervals for the rest of the evening.

*This is of course a lie.  The noise a hippo actually makes is the sound of them stomping the everlasting piss out of you for little to no reason, because it turns out that hippos are actually bad ass sons of bitches who are only prevented from ripping your spine out and beating you to death with it by the lack of opposable thumbs.  Yeah, those Hippos are one mean motha-f... <SHUT YO MOUTH!>  Just talkin' bout Hippos. <AND WE CAN DIG IT!>

The point I was getting to before the above footnote got out of control is that there exists a definite subgroup of the animal kingdom of all those animals who sadly do not have a commonly associated sound that one can share with preschoolers.

For some of them it's simply that they have no capacity to make cute noises.  Rabbits, for example, have no vocal cords.  This means that anytime you actually hear a rabbit making noise it means that something extraordinarily unpleasant is happening to said rabbit, and it will shortly cease being a rabbit with any material concerns.

Deer aren't known as big talkers either, and while I don't actually know about the status of their vocal cords, I suspect this might be Natures way of preventing our forests from being just one long screaming refrain of 'HOLY SH*T, THEY SHOT STEVE!!!  THEY F***ING SHOT STEVE!!!'*

*Deer swear a lot.  True fact.

Where this is all going -  Norway.

In my traipsing around the internet (well, OK, Facebook.) my attention was directed by Helpful Friend Claudia (Q to her peeps) to this video.

Yes, the good people of Norway are directing their attention the the timeless question of what noise exactly does a Fox make.*

*The obvious answer to America - The sound of grotesquely irresponsible journalism

Now, I want to say right off that I really, REALLY wish that the Fox did in fact make the sound 'Hatte Hatte Hatte Ho.  Also, every music video ever made EVER should include a CG fox performing scat (the music style, not the poo.  Try to stay with me.)

However,  the video in question also made me have to once again acknowledge the existence of the Furries and their even more troubling subgroup - the Yiffers.  No, I'm not going to explain them, you'll have to Google them.  But be certain your image search is turned off.

Apparently the comedy duo in question has been besieged with offers for record deals based on this effort, which to be fair is pretty funny.

See, now this is what happens when a significant portion of your country eats reindeer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Interview with Imaginary Benedict Cumberbatch

Welcome once again to our semi-regular feature* in which we here at Vizsla HQ are simply thrilled to welcome some fabulous people for a compelling and insightful interview, marred only slightly by the fact that they aren't actually 'here' in any conventionally accepted usage of the word.

*Which is to say we did this once before and doing another one seemed to fall somewhere between being a good idea and admitting publicly that I didn't have any particularly good original ideas today.  Look, I'm actually not feeling very well today and I've been under a lot of stress and who are you to judge me.


Today I'm thrilled to be able to bring you my thrilling discussion with the only acceptable T.V. Sherlock Holmes - Imaginary Benedict Cumberbatch

<Oh - and Spoiler Warning concerning Star Trek: Into Darkness, btw>

VIZSLA: Hello there Mr. Cumberbatch, [Imaginary], it's a great pleasure to imagine speaking with you

IMAGINARY BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH:  Please, call me Imaginary Benedict

V: How nice of you, thanks!

IBC: It's how I roll.  I'm terribly, terribly 'Street'

V: Yes, I've always believed that to be the case.

IBC:  Word.

V:  Let's talk Sherlock for just a moment.  I understand that Martin Freeman is an incredible snuggler.

IBC:  ...  that's... not actually show related...

V:  But he is, right?

IBC:  Oh, he totally is.

V:  So I finally got around to watching Star Trek last night and... I'm sorry... I just can't stop thinking about how much you look like an otter.

IBC:  It's true.  I'm one eighth otter on my mother's side.

V:  Well, that explains it.

IBC:  Did you enjoy Star Trek?

V:  I did, yes.  Although watching it forced me to acknowledge that I had never seen the original series episode 'Space Seed', in which we first met Khan, the character you play in the film.

IBC:  For Shiz.

V:  I know.  So I went to Netflix and watched it.

IBC:  And what did you think?

V:  I think I saw a lot more of Ricardo Montalban's flesh than I ever wanted to.

IBC:  I am so sorry.

V:  Yes, I was kind of blaming you for that.

IBC:  Totally my bad.  Totally.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Important Foreword, followed by some Stuff About Bananas

First the Foreword (by definition)

I gave a lot of thought, quite honestly, to not publishing a column today, the date being what it is.

Let me explain why.

The primary method of spreading the word about the doggerel I post here is via Facebook (and a bit through my side gig at WhatCulture.  My friends of Facebook fall broadly (with a few exceptions) into one of two camps.  Firefighters or Comedians.

A lot of people blogging tend to take days such as this as an opportunity to discuss the event in some way, or to share their own experiences, or to - generally speaking - get real about the whole issue.  And that's great.  There's a lot of good stuff out there along those lines.

But that is not what I do.  The closest I ever have or ever will (probably) get to that sort of thing is the time I pretended to think that 90s icon Morrissey was the elected leader of Egypt.  (And to be honest, in hindsight even that has felt too close to places I don't want to go)

The other option - equally valid - is to simply suspend business on the day in question as a gesture of remembrance and respect.  That's the way I was seriously considering going.  I can easily see how just caring on with frivolous crap could be construed as disrespectful to a significant percentage of people.

But here's the thing- and this is just my personal opinion here - I really think that when someone gives their life so that you can continue living yours, the most important thing that you can do to respect that is to actually continue living yours. 

So that's the way I ultimately came down on the issue.  Hence the following frivolity about Bananas.  I totally understand if you choose to come back to it another day or even skip it entirely.  This is me carrying on with doing what I do as my way of saying thank you to the people who sacrificed so that I would be able to do.

Foreword over

Some Stuff About Bananas

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with that cramp thing that occasionally happens where your calf muscle suddenly and without warning tears itself off of your leg and runs screeching around the room.

Me being me, I immediately began listing in my head the things that I could have done to prevent this, thus managing to make this a scathing indictment of my character flaws as opposed to merely a deficiency of water or Potassium.

The easiest thing to do to ward these sorts of things off, or so I have been told, is to eat more bananas or drink less wine.  And since the latter is clearly crazy talk, let's take this moment to celebrate our bananas.

Um... that didn't come out exactly right...

Some Things That Bananas are good for:

- Bumping up your Potassium level.

Potassium (number 19 on the periodic table with the Atomic Symbol K (for which you can blame the Romans.  Sort of) is an important element in our physiology as it assists in the transmission of signals through the nervous system.  Not having enough of it can cause all sorts of health problems.  Of course, having way too much of it can kill you, so maybe stop after the first couple bananas

- Replacing futuristic weapons factories

I like Bananas.  Bananas are good.

- Sex Ed.

Seriously, this is a time honored classic when it comes to teaching your young man the correct way to put on a prophylactic.  You can also use a cucumber, but only if you want to give your young man lifelong feelings of inadequacy.

- Comic pratfalls.

It's a classic for a reason, people.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Know When You Are Beaten

So I was planning to have this whole discussion about the State of the World and how we could all help to make it a better place.

There's a reasonable chance that I might have brought orthography into it, because I'm not really capable of going more than a day or two without bringing it up.

But then helpful friend Becky found a Pinterest item showing all 11 Doctors as cats, and suddenly nothing I had to say mattered anymore.

You have to know when to fold them.  That's one of the two valuable things that Kenny Rogers taught us.*

*The other was 'Know when to stop having plastic surgery', if you were wondering.

-Vizsla out

Monday, September 9, 2013

This is literally a dilemma

Recently there was a great deal of hue and cry across the Internet (which is fair enough as that's pretty much what the internet is for.)

However, as opposed to the usual topics of H&C (Religion, Politics and Ben Affleck) this time the H&C was coming squarely from the folks out there who care deeply about language.  Which meant that for once most of it was spelled and punctuated correctly, which mad a pleasant change.

What began it was this - The Online Oxford English Dictionary - Gold Standard for Scrabble players and pedants alike - updated their definition of the word 'Literally'.

After giving the correct definition of the word they appended:

'informal used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true:I have received literally thousands of letters'

Which many, if not all, of us took as the good people at Oxford finally just saying "Fine.  Screw you all.  You can just make up your own shit from now on - we're out." before cracking open a bottle of expensive bourbon that they'd been saving against this day's inevitable arrival. 

And it's hard to blame them really, what with the state of spelling and grammar these days.  Perfectly respectable columnists starting paragraphs with conjunctions and leaving participles everywhere.  It's chaos, people.  And stop clubbing, baby seals!

But* - and it pains me to admit this - that's how language ALWAYS changes.  

*See - I did it again.  And I don't even feel bad about it.

After all, at the end of the day Language is nothing but a mutually agreed set of basic rules that we've all signed on to so that we're able to communicate with one another.  As long as we all understand the new rules, does the fact that it's a new rule really matter? 

Additionally, one has to consider why we have an Oxford Dictionary in the first place.  Is the job of the Oxford Dictionary to be correct, or to accurately relay how people are using the language?  (Obviously the answer is 'both', but in cases like this where it feels like you have to pick one or the other, what's a poor online repository of knowledge to do?)

It's not like we all got together around 1550 and took a big vote as to whether or not we wanted to keep using noun declension.  We just sort of stopped doing it.  And if there had been an Internet at the time then the message boards would be chock full of people posting 'Thou art misusing 'doth', moron.'  (if you're interested in this sort of thing you should totally google 'The Great Vowel Shift' which is not only really interesting, but also sounds pleasantly naughty.)

Or, for an earlier example, consider the following scene - set in Britain in the early-ish 1st Century.

ROMAN 1 (Rory):  Well, we've just about finished writing up contracts so that we can control these Saxon folk

ROMAN 2 (Steve):  I don't think they're Saxons until 4 or 500...

RORY:  That's not important right now.  

STEVE:  Sorry.

RORY:  The problem I'm running into is that they don't have a written alphabet, so I'm just sort of mushing it into our alphabet

STEVE:  Sounds good, what's the problem?

RORY:  Well, their language uses a lot of that 'th' sound that we never ever use, and we don't have a letter for that.

STEVE:  Hmm.  Well, don't they have that short series of Runes that they occasionally use?

RORY:  Hey - yes they do.  And there's one that they use for the 'TH' sound that looks a bit like our letter 'Y'.

STEVE:  Well, why don't we just use a 'Y' to represent the 'th' sound.

RORY:  I don't know... isn't that going to confuse the hell out of people a few thousand years from now who'll think the word 'the' was pronounced 'Yee' because of this decision?

STEVE:  Don't talk crazy, Roranicus.  Our empire will last forever.  Now let's go get a drink of water from our lead-lined aquifer.

And so forth.

Point of the story - Language changes all the time, and it's almost always for some stupid reason (like, say, a generation of people deciding to remain willfully ignorant of what a fairly simple descriptive word means).  That's just life.

It is worth noting however that the good folks at Oxford did manage to get the last word in.  They closed their entry with the following - 

"This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects (we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal English."  

Allow me to translate what the good folks at Oxford are really saying there.  'People use the word like that.  They sound like idiots and are wrong when they do so.  But they still do it.'

Well Played, Oxford Online Dictionary.  Well played.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Vizsla Flashback - The types of cool

Joseph Gordon Levitt - is there anything he Can't do?

The Types of Cool
first published 4-26-13

So yesterday afternoon I was thinking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

(You have no idea how tempted I am to just leave this blog post at that one sentence...)

For those who don't immediately recognize the name - He first rose to fame as the kid on Third Rock From the Sun, where he made the notable achievement of holding his own with John Lithgow, which is honestly no small feat.

This is him today (well, not TODAY literally, but 'these days')

Stumbled across this the other day, and I suddenly realized.

Joe G-L is Stealth Cool.

He never really fell off the radar, but without us really noticing he went from being 'That Kid Who was Funnier than French Stewart' (I'm sorry, he was) to being unbelievably cool guy in the above video that you did not bother to click on the link for just casually throwing out a cover of Lithium like that's what we all do in our spare time.  His is an extreme form of what I call 'Neil Patrick Harris syndrome'.  

Which is when it occurred to me how many different manifestations of cool there are.

Neil Patrick Harris Cool

Now, it's no secret that Neil Patrick Harris was, somewhere about 5 years ago, declared Coolest guy on the Planet.  The guy makes magic cool.  The man more or less single-handedly brought back the word 'awesome'.  

He once accepted an award for his role in Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog with the words "I would say that Nathan Fillion is like the most genuine nicest guy to work with, but that would be a lie. Uh, he's a dick. And he pads his junk. Thanks so much!"

This was Doogie Howser

And so he is the living symbol of this type of cool - The 'I was really NOT cool, then you lost track of me and I cam back THE COOLEST EVER'

You know, like how we all wanted our 10 year high school reunions to go down.

Betty White Cool

Betty White has always been pretty cool.  Everybody knows that.  What is less frequently observed is that she is clearly the beneficiary of what I can only describe as an 'Awsomeness-Tontine' (you'll have to google it) with the rest of the cast of the Golden Girls, taking their cool into her own possession as each of them passed.

Well played, Betty.

Perception Filter Cool

I'm talking about the Tom Petty school of cool here.  There has never been a moment when Tom wasn't cool in the last several decades.  But, much like the Silence, when you look away from him it is somehow instantly wiped from your mind until the next time you hear the opening riff to American Girl and think, 'Oh yeah-  He's really awesome'

I come from a long line of cool

Joss Whedon's father wrote for the aforementioned 'Golden Girls'  

His Grandfather wrote for 'Your Show of Shows'

If awesome was money from bootleg whiskey, Joss would be a member of the Kennedy family.

Casual Cool

This is the Felicia Day philosophy.  By apparently putting absolutely no effort into seeming cool-  and indeed by appearing to put effort into NOT looking cool, witness The Guild, she somehow makes everything she does look like the coolest thing ever.

Who else has both sung on stage with Jonathan Coulton AND crocheted a freakin mouse with Colin Ferguson.  And yet she's all like 'No big, whatevs' and somehow she makes the term 'Whatevs' cool despite the fact that it clearly isn't.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to disappear for a few hours and suddenly reappear ten times cooler.

Vizsla out

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Yes, he IS the King of the Plastic Forest

Today we went to the Zoo, where I discovered that they still have my absolute favorite thing from back in the day when we would go to the Minnesota Zoo to see he Beluga Whales*

*Which were awesome, but I think they're all dead now, which is sad.  Zoo stories - a mixed bag of upper and downer.

At many of the exhibits they have a special machine that will make - right there for you in front of your amazed little eyes - a tiny injection mold plastic model of the Animal whose exhibit you're in at the time.*

*With the exception of the polar bears - whose Plastic Polar Bear Machine (Best Band Name Ever, btw) is actually in the next building over with the penguins and a particularly excitable seal who kept trying to throw his toys at the crowd.  I had a particularly delightful fantasy of him beaning the moron next to us who would not stop spouting off increasingly inaccurate information about polar bears right in the face.  He didn't manage it, sadly, but bless his little seal heart for trying. 

I got the one by the Lion Enclosure in a gesture of solidarity with the female lion out front who was rolling over on her back while we were there.  I may have been too far away to hear, so I can not verify if she was actually making Yeti Noises. 

I like to think she was.

What better way to celebrate the fragile balance that binds us and all of nature together than with a small nonbiodegradeable model.  

I've named him Emmet.  He'll probably write a guest column here at some stage.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm desperately resisting the Honey Boo Boo joke here...

So today over the course of casual conversation I discovered that it's possible to make your own graham crackers.

I know, right???

Being completely blown away with this new and wonderful knowledge I raced to 'The Google' to find out how such a magical thing could be possible.  (as a side note and topic for another day - Am I the only one who thinks the celebratory Google Doodle has gotten completely out of hand?)

Naturally 'The Google' Immediately brought me to Martha Stewart, because- prison term be damned- she is still the go to resource for this sort of thing.

Turns out that they're pretty much flour, wheat germ, brown sugar and something called a 'fluted pastry wheel' which can not possibly be as cool as it sounds.

Then, lurking at the bottom of the ingredients list - 'High Quality Honey'

That's right.  Only your high quality honey need apply

None of your sloughing off with that crap honey I know you're hoping to use.  Nu...Uh.  No Sir.  Or Ma'am.  It's hard to tell by your outfit.

That stuff in the plastic bear?  I don't think so.  I think we should both pretend like you didn't even suggest it.

This of course led to an in-depth discussion of where low-quality honey comes from.  The obvious answer - bees who live in tiny little bee trailers who wear sleeveless T-shirts and play beer pong.  With tiny little mustangs up on blocks in their front yards because one of these days they're going to get around to fixing that thing.

And every once in a while one of the uncles accidentally pulls out his own sting and dies.*

*In case you were unaware - bees can sting only once.  Their stinger pulls out and then they shortly thereafter die.  Vizsla = Knowledge.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


Lately, for one reason or another, I've been thinking about the Apocalypse.

OK, Maybe I've just been thinking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it amounts to the same thing.  BTW - Season 6 totally holds up in retrospect.  I'll fight any man says different. 

But I digress.

As cute as the running joke about needing to know the plural for apocalypse was, it remains undeniably true that the thing about Apocalypses is very similar to the thing about Nemeses.  You only get one.

Throughout the show's seven season run we never got an actual Apocalypse.  What we got were many, many Attempted Apocalypses.  Which is just a misdemeanor.  If this had been an actual Apocalypse, you would know by the none of us being here anymore.

So at this stage it might be helpful to discuss what we actual mean when we say 'Apocalypse'.   Generally speaking, religious connotations aside for the moment*, when we say 'Apocalypse' we mean The End.  Of Everything.  Game, categorically, Over.

*Although it's fun to point out that the word comes from Greek and is closely tied to the concept of 'revelation', which puts a charming patina of 'Finally we'll get to know what the freakin' Hell THAT was all about.'  Which is probably just wishful thinking, but it's still a nice thought.  If nothing else it's worth noting that we as a species have always had a tendency to associate 'The End' with 'Finally getting some damn answers'.

But what do we mean when we say The End of Everything?

Well, let's start by clarifying what we don't mean when we say that.  What we don't actually mean is 'The End of Everything'.  What we actually mean is 'The End of Us.'  Everything else... not at the top of our priority list.  Much like when we talk about global warming or radioactivity killing the planet, it's not really the planet that we're worrying about so much.  We could explode a billion nuke's right this moment and the planet would be just fine, thanks very much.*  WE'D be screwed.  But the planet would continue to happily spin on while it waited for some other species to step up and start bitching at one another.

*Unless we exploded them in the Mariana Trench and cracked open the core I suppose...

The point I'm getting at - The ACTUAL end of everything (i.e. the Entire Universe) very rarely crops up in this discussion.  For the sake of sharing I'll just mention here that it's broadly believed that the universe will end in one of two ways, depending on which side of the theoretical physics coin you choose to believe. 

Either A:  The Universe - which has been slowly (relatively speaking) expanding since its inception will eventually reach a point where it will begin contracting until eventually we reach the 'Big Crunch' (that is to say the opposite of the Big Bang where everything that exists is ultimately compacted into a singularity - possibly to begin the whole miserable process again, or possibly to be the thing that started this universe in the first place which if nothing else has a pleasing sense of symmetry )

or B:  The Universe will continue to expand exactly as it is doing until eventually all matter has reached a state of equal distribution across effectively infinite space which means that there won't be anywhere with enough energy for light, energy or life to exist, but at least things will be nice and quiet.

Basically, Hot Universe Death or Cold Universe Death.  Pick your horse and wait to find out, although it's probably going to be awhile.

But when we talk about the Apocalypse, we're not really concerned with the Universe.  We're really more worried about 'Us'.

So, here's a quick rundown of the various types of 'Apocalypse' that we've considered.


This is your basic - the Planet explodes or crumbles or something for one reason or another.  the film 2012 embraces this concept, although there's plenty of evidence that that's not exactly what the Mayans had in mind - but we'll come back to that later.

You have two basic varieties - the version where we've gotten our shit together enough to leave the planet before it happens and the version where we don't and we're just screwed.

Most of your global warming apocalypse scenarios fall into this pattern.  It's the end of the world because the world literally ends.  Death through loss of anywhere to remain alive in.


Then you have your scenarios where the planet is just fine, thanks (see above) but the human beings have come to an end.  In bygone times this would have been due to either nuclear accident or alien invasion, and mostly would have served as an excise to discuss the important of interpersonal relationships.

This has given way somewhat in the last decade or two to a tendency to have viral or chemical infections as the reason why yo - for example - woke up in an abandoned Hospital and are now running from Zombies

And this might be a good time to mention some interesting thing about Zombie-Specific apocalypses.  Almost exclusively an 'End of People' type of apocalypse (if only so that you had somewhere for the zombies to chase you around in) the zombies themselves have had a fascinating evolution as an icon themselves.

It's fairly film theory 101 to point out, but-  the quickest way to find out what a culture is afraid of is to learn it's stories.  In Western culture this means that the TV and movies of a period will tell you a lot about what that period's fears and beliefs were.

In the 50s what really scared the crap out of people in Western culture was the idea that someone might steal your soul.  That is - that someone might be able to take that part of your personality that's essentially 'you' and control you somehow.  You'd no longer be a human being with free will, you'd just be a tool of some other power.   (this is what all those pod people/Stepford wives films were about.)  The zombies in films at this point were people whose souls had been stolen by a Houngan (no, google it) and weren't human any longer.

By the 70's the fear wasn't that you'd lose your soul so much as that maybe we'd never even had souls in the first place.  Maybe at the end of the day we're just meat, like the cows we slaughter (the cool vocab word here is 'Anthropophogy' and you should totally google that one.)  This is where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came from, and it's why the predominate imagery in George Romero's 'of the Dead' films is of zombie's eating chunks of flesh off of living human beings.  

Zombie's these days tend to be the sort that have been created by a virus that we created in a lab which got loose, which means we've reached a sort of hybrid of the previous two.  We HAD a soul - but our own hubris and ignorance caused us to destroy it.  Which is as neat a summation of early 21st century attitudes toward technology as you could imagine. Anyone looking for a topic for their Anthropology could do a lot worse than start there.


This one has fallen out of fashion a bit (which is why I was so pleased that the recent film 'This is the End' chose to go there.) 

What this really is, is a manifestation of the belief that at some point someone has to show up and explain what the Hell all this has been about because it's made f*ck-all sense while we were living it.  Mixed with a hearty dose of  'See, one day Dad will show up and you'll see how I was right all along!'

This is also sort of the one the Mayans were getting at with the whole 2012 prophecy although we should be clear that they didn't see it as an End, so much as an end- if you get what I'm saying. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Omega Dog

I should clarify - by 'Omega Dog' I'm referring to being as far away from the 'Alpha Dog' as it's possible to get.  If you came here hoping for a discussion of post-apocalypse vampires.... well, I'd advise you to check back on any other day because there's realistically a 50/50 shot that they're going to come up in any given discussion here.  I might also direct you to the post about Iowa from the beginning of August for more of that sort of thing.

But I digress.

We've know each other for a while now, gentle reader, and I feel that the time has come to come clean about something.

My name is Willum,  and I am an Omega Dog.

As you are probably aware, I've lived in me life (not counting the first three months in the Hibbing Animal Shelter - and a big 'Hi' to Big Shirley if she's still there) with a total of Six other dogs.  Seven if you include cousin Britney the Lab who comes and visits a lot.  And I am here to tell you that I have cheerfully let each and every one of them face-hump the crap out of me.*

*All right, enough with the tittering** It's a dog-dominance thing, there's no need to be juvenile about it.

** I said Tittering!  Hee Hee!

 Everybody talks about being an Alpha Dog like it's the best thing ever, but I have to tell you - I've seen that job and I do not want it.  The hours.  The stress.  The constant need to smack down new puppies - and let's face it - every year they just keep getting younger and younger.  You can't keep that shit up forever.  SO much easier to just roll over, show that belly, and hope that somebody happens by to scratch it for you, because that is a thing that is never going to get old my friend.  Not ever.

 It's like an old friend of mine used to say -

Two roads diverged in the wood, and I,
I took the road more travelled by.
And it was SO much more convenient
with places to stop and eat and a few nice hotels.

Powerful truth, friends.  Powerful.