Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Stanley Day! Now where is the cake and wine?

It gives me very great pleasure to announce today as the first ever

National Stanley Day!

with the presentation of the brand new furry cousin -

Stanley the Lab (mix)

He's a year old and already 80 pounds, so pity the idiot who breaks into Aunt Kerry's house from this point forward because they'll only find pieces of him.

For the official record, celebration of Stanley Day is marked by Wine, Gnawing on Cow Bones, and frolicking*

*Additional wine may be substituted for cow bones.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Then Again, Maybe I'm Just A Terrible Person

Now, I don't suppose it's going to come as a surprise to anyone that I have been occasionally known to take the moral high ground here.*

*Unless this is the first thing you've ever read here, in which case - surprise.

While I stand behind my moral superiority for the larger chunk of things (and it should as always be observed that dogs are better than people), I've recently become aware that I might be at least partially evil.

Exhibit One - as regards the ongoing grey sedan situation.

I've discovered a couple of things about myself over the course of the ongoing parking spot struggle.  Primarily, that the threat of someone else taking my parking spot is enough to get me out of bed on time and into work before 9 (A feat that nothing else has heretofore accomplished)

But more than that, I've recently become aware that just getting to my spot as god intended isn't enough for me.  Sure, I get that celebratory rush as I pull into the waiting space, my firm vehicle thrusting forward into the tremulously waiting void.  It's purchase sliding gently into the waiting effervescent... I'm sorry, what was I talking about again?  Right... The parking spot...

I've realized that I'm not completely happy about things until I slip back down to the parking ramp mid-morning and look around to make sure the grey sedan is there and parked somewhere less convenient.  After all, if not then how am I to know that the owner of the grey sedan just wasn't coming in that day, in which case I would only have won by default.  It's not enough to have my rightful spot-  I need to have made the grey sedan suffer. I need to have beaten them.

I'm not entirely proud of it, but there it is.  When I see that well scrubbed and detailed shiny grey bastard parked in that awkward spot around the corner of the elevator bay where the smokers like to lurk, it moves me inside.  Mmmmmmmmmmm.  The sweet smell of victory and stale nicotine.

Exhibit Two - As regards uplifting religious videos

The other day I came across a 3 minute long video that had been posted by some well meaning church or other that showed a guy getting in his car and driving to get coffee.  On the way we hear his internal monologue as he's inconvenienced by all manner of things; a kid on a skateboard who gets in his way while backing out, a woman who steals his parking spot*, people that cut in line at the coffee place, etc.  Then, as he sits down in frustration he's approached by that all too common character in 'post racism' film and television - the 'mystical black person'** who hands him a pair of glasses that - when worn - allows him to see in writing what every single persons greatest personal issue is.

*He has my sympathy on this one.

** In all seriousness, this is a disturbing trend in modern film (see 'The Legend of Bagger Vance' to see the phenomena I mean.)  The upshot of it is that somehow Hollywood has embraced the concept that by showing minorities as 'mystical spirit guides' to their regular crew of white protagonists that it's somehow making a bold statement about race relations.  As opposed to what it's really doing, which is continuing the tradition of presenting all minorities as only being relevant in how they affect the lives of white people.  It really is, frankly, repugnant the more you dig into it and I whole-heartedly wish that we would all stop pretending it isn't.  A good overview of the issue can be found here, although - as always - Wikipedia should never be considered an unimpeachable source.

So, armed with these glasses, the man in question sees that the guy who cut in line at the coffee shop has just 'Never know the feeling of friendship', the woman who took his parking spot is 'mourning her best friend*, and the kid on the skateboard 'Just needs someone to care'.


The basic point, obviously, is 'hey butthole, everybody else has problems too.  Maybe you could cut the people around you a little slack'.  But what I took away from the video was 'Man.  You could make a killing out of people if you had those glasses.  I mean, just take the 'never had friendship' guy.  You don't suppose that if you became his friend he wouldn't... say.. buy dinner...?  A new blu-ray player...?  Plane tickets to Tahiti...?   You could unquestionably clean up with a pair of magic glasses that show you the primary weaknesses of each and every person who comes into your line of sight.  No question.  And God help the kid who 'just needs someone to care' should those glasses fall into the hands of the friendly neighborhood pedophile.

Sometime after the first fifteen minutes of thinking about this I started to question how good a person I actually was.

And then I went down to the parking ramp to look for a grey sedan.

Yeah..... Still totally winning...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's impossible to say 'Regional idiom' without sounding pretentious

Ironically, it's also difficult to say 'pretentious' without sounding pretentious, so at some point you just have to suck it up and own it.

Which brings me to Minneapolis.

Well, to a discussion of Minneapolis, that is.  I don't need to be brought to Minneapolis physically, since I've lived in its suburbs for my whole life.  Which is why I feel qualified to identify a disturbing trend in its 'regional idiom'.

Now, I don't actually know if this is just a Minnesota thing or if it's the whole Midwest, or - God help us - the planet.  Perhaps some of you out there can report back.  But the thing is - almost nobody says 'you're welcome' anymore. (and less than 1% of people use the correct form of 'you're' when they write it down, but that's another battle for another day)

Plenty of people say 'Thank You', or at least they do around these parts, but at this point in history the standard 'You're welcome' has been replaced by some variety of 'No problem'.  It's like we're ashamed, on some level of the gratitude and feel the need to deflect it.  'Oh, you don't have to thank me,' you're saying, 'I haven't put out any significant effort.  Let's all just pretend that that never happened'

I cordially dislike it (even though I'm as guilty of doing it as anyone) because it disrespects the gesture of appreciation.  And let's be honest - there are enough people already out there not bothering to thank anyone for anything.  We don't need to be working to discourage others.

On one level I suspect it's the same Midwest regional protestant humility (trademark pending) that requires one to immediately deflect all compliments by immediately responding to them by saying something self effacing to avoid any appearance of feeling good about yourself.

'Hey there, that haircut looks really good.'
'Oh, it's nothing.  Besides, I'm fat and bad at math.'*

*Seriously, this is not as much of an exaggeration as you might think.  Trying to give a Midwestern Lutheran a compliment is like trying to nail water to the wall.

Another fun thing that Midwestern people do, and that I suspect is part of the same issue - it is absolutely forbidden to ever eat the last of anything.  Because people might think you're greedy, or gluttonous, or from a coastal city.  If there is own brownie left on the plate, that brownie will remain on the plate.  Eventually someone might cut it in half so that they're still leaving something behind, but that's as far as it will go.

So I'm making a movement.  Starting a movement.  Creating a movement.  WHichever of those is the correct thing to do to make a movement happen*.  Let's all make an effort to start saying 'Thank You' again.  It's OK, I promise no one will think you're conceited because of it.

*Another good way is a lot of fiber and warm water**

**I'm sorry, I really tried to resist that...

Monday, February 24, 2014

That's it. I'm Sending Skynet an Apology note and an FTD Floral Bouquet.

That's it.

I admit it. 

We were wrong.

For some time now I've been pointing out a low level of concern that the sorts of technology that make our daily access to Facebook and videogames more convenient is exactly the sort of thing that leads to Robot Uprisings and the overthrow of the human race. 

In particular, the TV I recently got that remembers what you watch and starts suggesting crap that it thinks I might like.  Take a moment with that - I have a television set that is actively trying to get me to stop doing things and watch more TV.

And then you encounter a post like this on the aforementioned Facebook*

*This was obviously earlier this morning before Facebook became entirely dedicated to posts about the death of Harold Ramis

That's right.  Not only were two men in rural New York apparently arrested for having sex with cows. (which, while disturbing enough, is the sort of thing that we all sort of expect is going on somewhere out there and just try not to think about), but we also now live in a world where people write articles about people getting arrested for having sex with cows.  And then exchange links on Facebook about articles about people having sex with cows.  And apparently they were caught because the farmer set up a videocamera in order to catch people having sex with his cows, which sadly means that somewhere out there is video footage of these guys having sex with cows, and I'm very much afraid that that is also probably no less than two clicks away from any of us at this very moment.  And no, I am not going to find a link to it for you because I am going to be far too busy asking Skynet to please reconsider and take us over now because obviously we aren't even pretending to have our shit together anymore.

I'm ready, Skynet.  Please send Terminators now.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Vizsla Flashback - Way To Set the Bar Low, Humanity

Whoever picks out the music for the show Cougar Town has a really good ear.  That you must understand if anything that follows is to be understood.

For those not in the know, the TV show Cougar Town (Courtney Cox' post-Friends vehicle) follows what is rapidly becoming the standard pattern for American Half Hour Comedy.  Which is to say - 27 minutes of wacky jokes culminating in some sort of 'touching' montage which ties together the themes of the week in some sentimental way accompanied by a melancholy-ish tune by some band just not-quite-known enough to be affordable.

Whoever it is on the Cougar Town crew that selects the songs to be used for these has a taste in music amazingly close to my own, because I pretty much like all of their choices.  Which brings me circling around to my point.

One of the songs they've used on the show is 'Give a Little Love' by Noah and the Whale.

First off, yes - the reference should be Jonah, not Noah.  But Noah, being ark-bound, probably saw a whale or two as well so we'll let that slide.

Having looked up what the song was I tracked it down on line so that I could hear the entire thing (the show tends to just use a minute or so of them.)  I found the following video here.

If you have not just watched the video, let me fill you in on the salient point- The basic setup is one of those 'pay it forward' things, where one person does something nice for someone else, another person witnesses this act of unexpected human decency and they then are shown doing something above and beyond for some other stranger.  This is seen by someone else who is inspired... and so on and so forth.  Rinse, Lather and smugly repeat.

This is all well and good, and I am not at all opposed to occasionally having it pointed out to the world that it might actually be pleasant if we stopped being completely shitty to each other all the time, just for a change.

The problem sets in at approximately the three minute 2 second mark.

Having witnessed a litany of incidents along the line of helping a kid up after bullies push him down, assisting an elderly man to get his luggage off an airport luggage carousel, and walking next door to help the neighbor rake their yard - all things that genuinely qualify as having gone a bit above and beyond for someone else - we see a woman who - after witnessing the aforementioned luggage incident - shows what an awesome person she is by stopping a guy from walking directly in front of an oncoming truck that passes by less than 2 seconds later and would certainly have killed him.

Let's take a moment here.

Stopping someone from stepping directly in front of an oncoming truck IS NOT GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND.  This is entry level decent human behavior, people, not a merit badge opportunity.

It is not- and I can not stress this enough NOT - OK to let somebody get creamed by an oncoming pickup just because you're having a crappy day.

Letting somebody walk under a bus does not make you someone who just 'failed to go above and beyond',  it makes you a freakin' inhuman monster.  In the same way that it is not OK to apply for the Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds that you did not get around to committing any genocide this year.

Still a good song though.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Bronies Revisited - The Arizona Relevancy

The day before yesterday I stopped by a bookstore to pick something up for work (and was pleasantly surprised to be reminded that they still exist) and was somewhat surprised to see a display of shrinky-dinks by the front entrance.

For those unfamiliar - Shrinky-Dinks are sheets of plastic that you can draw on, cut into whatever shape you want and color - and then bake in the oven, wherein the plastic shrinks, thickens, and fails to become usable jewelery. 

Back in my day the sheets of plastic were blank and one could draw/color anything they damn well wanted on them, rules be damned.  These days they are all pre-printed with officially licensed picture from one franchise or another because we've decided as a culture that we would hate for kids to ever be encouraged to be creative.

One of the several franchise brands available at the display was 'My Little Pony: Friendship is magic' which (as previous readers will be aware) is a subject of enjoyment by a group called 'The Bronies'- who are adult males who band together based on their mutual love of a cartoon intended for pre-teen girls.

I tried to imagine, for a moment, the kind of sack that it would require to pick up one of the  My Little Pony Shrinky Dinks and - holding your head high - walk up to the register and purchase it for yourself.

And the thing is, I kind of respect that.  I still think it's creepy and a little weird to be into, but I wouldn't ever stop someone for doing it.  I respect the willingness to be who you are and like what you like, even if I don't, per-se, respect what you like. If that makes sense.

Which brings me to Arizona.

For those who are not among the 50% of my Facebook friends who've been discussing this non-stop, Arizona just passed a new law that allows anyone - Individual, business or government entity (yes, it specifies this) - to refuse to do business with anyone they choose if it conflicts with their 'deeply held religious beliefs'.

This is all obviously code for 'I don't want to bake a cake for gay weddings', because republicans have never been overly fond of anti-discrimination laws because at the end of the day most republicans still really, really want to be able to discriminate against anyone who's different from them.

And here's the point.  There is a profound difference between not really approving of how someone else lives their lives and actively preventing them from doing so.  I think that being a brony is, at the end of the day, a silly thing to do.  But I wouldn't stop them from buying their shrinky-dinks (even if I thought that at the end of the day they'd be better off buying blank sheets and drawing things themselves.)

So for what it's worth - Boo Arizona.  Yay Bronies.  Mixed feelings on Shrinky-Dinks.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

And Johnny Appleseed Can Suck It

Gather round you all and hear the tale

The Tale of a Man who made the world better

The Tale of a Man who righted wrongs and healed nations

The Tale of Jeff
The Man Who Named Salads.

It may seem hard to believe, my children, but once - many years ago, all salads were just called 'salad'

In these confusing times, even the simplest of lunches was naught but a festival of confusion an dark surprises, for upon ordering 'salad' all excepted with sad certainty that you could be served any number of different options

-It might have lettuce, tomato and cheese

-It might have corn ships and tomato

-It might be a jiggling egg based affair

-Or some chicken, mayo, and potato

'WOE!' cried the people, for their suffering was great.  'How shall we live with this uncertainty?  How can one small word encompass such diversity??  And in what universe is Jello with pineapple chunks suspended on it a 'salad'?  I'm sorry, simply putting it on top of a lettuce leaf in no way makes that a salad, I don't care how much whipped cream you dollop upon it!'

And then the people fell silent into despair, for there was no salvation apparent to them, and they resigned themselves to an eternity of ill-defined diet food.

And it was thus, as the people's despair lay thick like an itchy blanket upon the land, that a child was born.

And his mother did name him 'Jeff'.  For she knew that one day he would be the one foretold who would sort this whole 'salad thing' out.

And as Jeff grew unto a man he did find himself in his local cafeteria, and on seeing a simple concoction of lettuce, tomato, onion and crouton he did say, 'Gosh - That looks like a salad that belongs in this house.  And so I shall name it 'House Salad.  And it shall come with a balsamic vinaigrette.  And all Men Shall know it thus.'  

And there was great rejoicing, for the people now knew that he was truly the savior come, and that all light pre-meal preparations were well and truly on the road to clarity.

'But how,' said one poor and suffering chef, 'How shall we know this salad?' and in bitter tears he laid upon the feet of Jeff a true mastery of lettuce, boiled egg, leftover kitchen meats, and optional blue cheese or ranch dressing.  And Jeff spoke to the Chef, and said to him, 'This salad stands, chef, as a testament to your ability to find a way to dispose of leftover scrap meat.  And so shall it be always know for you - the Chef Salad'

And the chef cried tears of great joy as the people rejoiced.

And further salads were brought to Jeff.  'Chicken' and 'Egg' were dismissed from his sight, as they aren't actually salads, really more of sandwich spreads, and Jeff had no time for them other than to observe that it's always a mistake to put celery in them, I don't care what anybody says.  It's just wrong.  In exactly the same way that it's just wrong to put peppers in cornbread.

And thus was 'Waldorf', 'Cobb', and 'Taco' established.  'Ceaser' being thrown out by Jeff who was in a puckish mood that day, having just caught 'I, Claudius' on Masterpiece Theater.  'Pasta', and 'Ambrosia' then followed.  'Fruit' was brought before Jeff and was greeted with nothing but a long, withering gaze until it finally felt awkward and backed slowly out of the room.

But then, like all beacons of Hope, Jeff finally met his downfall.  At the hands of 'Three Bean' did Jeff fall.  

But some say - and I believe them - that if you listen and believe, on a dark and silent night you can still hear Jeff crying to the emptiness of the void, safe in the knowledge that his task was complete, knowing that he had well and truly cleared up the worlds salad confusion.  And on those night, if you listen and believe, you can hear his voice on the wind, shouting-

'Why the Hell would anyone put Jell-O on a lettuce leaf???? WHY??????'

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

When You Set Out For Confusing Vengeance, First Dig Two Bewildering Graves

Yes, the car saga continues.

As is now traditional, if you're not already up to speed on the whole parking space situation, you can find the beginning of the story here, and yesterday's followup here.

To sum up - Yesterday I lost my fight for the parking space and embarked on a scheme of revenge that consisted of leaving inexplicable coins on the roof of their vehicle in the hopes of driving them slowly insane.*

*It's a solider vengeance scheme than it seems like, just stated like that.  I swear.

What I had not planned upon, like so many before me, were the implications of unexpected victory.

Namely, today I succeeded in winning the parking spot for myself, and in the glow of that triumph I failed to consider one vital thing...

At the end of the day I returned to the parking space, still flush with the warm glow of knowing that you've won a petty and fairly arbitrary victory, I realized that there was something inexplicably wrong about my vehicle.  In some indefinable way there was something amiss.  And then I realized what it was.

There was no coin on my roof.

On some level I had genuinely been expecting there to be a coin on my roof.

I searched every surface of the car available, even pausing to look in the trunk on the off chance.  But there was no coin to be found.

Apparently on some level the coin had transformed overnight from a bewildering apparition to a concession of defeat.  'Here,' the coin said, 'I concede unto you the victory and offer up unto you your spoils.  With this coin I, unto you, fealty of the parking spot do concede.'

(Again, the owner of the other car is firmly a cast member of Richard II in my mind)

Finally I was forced to the conclusion that:

A: The owner of the Gray Sedan is not a regular reader of this blog (this is statistically unsurprising)


B: I was probably over-thinking the whole situation.

On the plus side, a big shout out to Sydney, who brought me in a Chuck-E-Cheese token this morning just in case I needed it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If you can't 'Avenge', shoot for 'Confuse'

So the battle for my long held and beloved parking spot goes on.

For anyone new to the discussion, you can get up to speed on the backstory here.

This morning I performed what is now my usual morning routine.  I woke up, thought, 'Oh, I can sleep another 15 minutes', then immediately thought, 'No I CAN NOT, MUST.  DESTROY.  GRAY.  SEDAN!'

I then leaped out of bed (which is to seriously risk pulling something at my age), threw on some clothes as fast as I could, and raced to the freeway.

Where I sat at a dead stop for over 10 minutes because apparently everyone is stupid and forgot that we live in Minnesota where things freeze from time to time and really we should stop all being surprised by that.

Needless to say, as I pulled into the parking ramp at 5 to 9, my spot was well and truly already occupied by the evil gray sedan who is currently the bane of my existence.

Damn you, gray sedan.  Damn you.

My options for vengeance were limited, no matter how my heart yearned for same. 

-I couldn't key them.  Outside of being bad karma, it would also be fairly obvious who had done it once I resumed parking in the spot.  Plus we're then looking at payback scenarios.

-Cutting their brake line - while eliminating the fear of them knowing who did it afterwards OR being around for payback, there's still the karma issue to consider.  Plus possible jail time.

-There was no immediately obvious option 3.

There I was, alone in the parking ramp with nothing but a swipe card and some spare change.  And so I did what anyone would do.

I left a dime on top of their car, in an area where I hoped it would be immediately spotted.

My line of thought ran more or less along these lines.  The driver of the Gray Sedan, upon returning to his/her vehicle would see the coin and be perplexed.  'Why is there a coin on my car?  Was someone throwing coins at my car? No, a quick review of the vehicle shows no sign of dents or scratches.  And yet this coin.  From whence came this coin??  A Pox upon you, shiny currency, for your mystery has like a dew from the brow of Jove fallen upon the brightness of my mind and rendered all but shadow!'

Yes, in my mind the driver of the car is a someone from one of Shakespeare's History plays.

Further, for every day the Gray Sedan defeats me and claims my spot, I'll put a further coin of random denomination on their roof.  Maybe a nickle.  Then a quarter.  Then a Pound.  Maybe a Lira (They don't even TAKE these anymore!).  Perhaps even a Chuck-E-Cheese token.  Just one bewildering unit of currency after another, until eventually the driver is driven mad by the inexplicability of the whole situation, and takes themselves to a nunnery.  Or perhaps Spain.  Either way.

I'm pretty sure that's how it's going to play out.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Take note, Alanis. This is how irony works.

As long time readers ('Hi' to both of you) know, I am unable to resist occasionally trolling the right wing evangelical reactionary websites for the sole purpose of amusing myself on their comment boards.

A poor usage of my time?  Arguably.  And yet I can't seem to break myself away from it's heady aroma of illogic, misspellings, and vacuous crap.  It's like catnip to me.  Or dognip.  Or whatever.

Over the last couple of days I've become embroiled in a sassy back and forth with some yutz in Kentucky over the recent judicial findings there.

A Post or two into the exchange I observed to him (let's call him Johann) that the word of the day appeared to be 'Pedantic.'

Ever since that post he's been arguing with great enthusiasm about the exact meaning and usage of the word 'pedantic'. 

I'm giving serious thought to applying for a grant from the NEA for this, because I'm fairly certain it qualifies as performance art.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vizsla Flashback - 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.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Long Term Relationship, or Venereal Disease?

Amongst the sappy love posts and 'thank god I'm single' posts flowing around the facebooks today, I've noticed a small but amusing sub grouping that is simply posting 'Happy VD'

Some of them I am reasonably sure are doing it on purpose (because that's the sort of people I'm friends with on the facebooks) but I'm equally fairly sure that one or two of them don't realize the implications of what they wrote- which makes it even more charming.

But the more I think about it, the more I think that there's a solid case to be made for that being a legitimate message today,

-Ways that a Long Term Relationship is Essentially an STD-

1. It's very common to find yourself with one after having sex with someone you didn't know very well.

2. Living with one long term has been demonstrated to lead to serious mental health issues up to and including insanity.

3. Having one, and being up front about the fact, tends to seriously lessen your odds of scoring with prospective sexual partners.

4. Duration can vary quite a bit, with some clearing up very quickly and others being a life-long condition.

5. The first step you take upon deciding to get rid of one is having a shot

Food for thought, Love-bugs.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hey Barbra - That's too much boob.

A fair long while ago now, my friend Frank remarked as regards Laura Branigan - It's too bad that she didn't have a friend to tell her that those leather pants were a bad idea.

And indeed, back in the days of 'Gloria', you were unlikely to ever see Laura Branigan without her trademark leather pants,  And they were indeed an unfortunate fashion choice.

With that painful lesson in mind, I've identified a need that really needs to be addressed, and clearly there are no friends who are willing to tell the painful truth in this instance. 

So I'm stepping in.

Barbra Streisand - That is too much boob.

The picture linked above, the cover of her most recent concert album as seen on Public Television 'Back in Brooklyn' shows Babs in the outfit she wears in that concert.  Note that the cleavage actually goes well below the clasp and seems to be making a determined attempt to get to her navel.  We have no choice but to address this with an open letter. 

Dear Barbra,

Having recently become aware of the cover of your latest concert album, I'm concerned by the... shall we say... ample bosom on display.  I'm not certain why exactly you've chosen an outfit that so clearly opens the Path to Boob Mountain*, but I can make a few guesses.

*Least successful Disney movie ever.

Perhaps the rumors are true and your marriage is on the rocks.  I don't usually keep up with that kind of thing, but somebody told me they had heard that that was what was going on.  If that's the case, I can understand your wanting to feel sexy and desirable.  I do.  But Babs, that outfit accomplishes neither of those things.

Let's be blunt Barbra, you're 71 years old. (If your imbd record is accurate.)  And while I don't want to imply that women of your age bracket shouldn't be able to own their own sexuality.  That's all you and power to you if you want to own it.

That dress does not communicate 'owning my own sexuality'.  It communicates 'I'm expecting a small group of hungry orphans.' 

I'm sorry you had to hear it like this Barbra, but I think it's for the best that you were told.

I hope we're still cool.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One Last Work Conversation

Concluding a loose trilogy of encounters in the workplace - Today I had the following exchange.

(Parts One and Two can be found Here and Here, respectively)


Why was it that we spent that day trying to track down 
a picture of Rene Auberjonois dressed up as a porkchop?


You had said something in a voice that sounded 
like Katharine Hepburn.


  Oh.  Right.

I still have no idea why we wanted the picture, but that seemed like a good place to end the conversation.

Side note - All screenplays should only contain characters labelled 'Me' and 'Not Me'.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why does Zimbio hate you?

So I can't help but notice that recently the entire Internet was taken over by Zimbio* and their determined attempt to assign all of us brand new, predetermined identities.

*Sometimes Buzzfeed.  But mostly Zimbio.

What's more, you can be assigned no end of new personalities.  So it's perfectly OK for you to be Marshall on the 'Which How I Met Your Mother Character are you' quiz AND Neve Campbell on the 'Which Wild Things character are you*' quiz AND Dominant Top on the 'Which Hardcore S&M Erotica Character are you' quiz.

*OK, It gave me Denise Richards.  But I'm totally Neve Campbell.  Ask anyone.

Yes, It appears that Zimbio doesn't care much how many new identities it gives you or even what they are.  All Zimbio cares about is that your current identity must be destroyed.  As quickly as possible.

Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Zimbio hates you.

Here then is a list of possible reasons why Zimbio might hate the current 'You'.  You should identify which applies to you and take steps to heal the relationship.  Because, honestly, I can hardly get to my Candy Crush requests through all of the quiz result postings.

1. You owe Zimbio money.
2. You knocked up Zimbio's kid sister
3. You cold-cocked Zimbio in a bar fight
4. Zimbio really desperately loves you but lacks the emotional   maturity to process those feelings.
5. You cut Zimbio off in traffic
6. Zimbio's having its meds adjusted and is just really off right now.  Sorry, Man.
7. Zimbio is a mean drunk
8. You got Zimbio fired by planting a false rumor about Zimbio being the one that took the money from the office coffee fund can.
9. Your online fanfic 'How Zimbio totally sucks' was unfair and hurtful.
10. Zimbio is just kind of a jerk

I hope this helps clear up the situation.

You're welcome, internet.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Just another work conversation

Today at the office-

ME:  You hardly ever hear the word ample in any other context.

NOT-ME: What context are you thinking of?

ME:  Bosoms.

NOT-ME: Ample Bosoms?

ME:  Yes.

NOT-ME: You hear it about leg room in cars too.

ME:  True.

NOT-ME: But that's pretty much it, you're right.  Bosoms and Leg Room.

ME:  I would totally go see a band called 'Bosoms and Leg room'.

NOT-ME:  I would too.

If anyone starts a band called Bosoms and Leg Room, I totally want a T-Shirt.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vizsla Flashback - Yeah... That's Not Exactly What That Means...

The other day I was listening to MPR (pretentious dog alert!) and they were discussing the George Zimmerman verdict*

*No, I am not going within 5,000 miles of discussing that one, thanks. 

During the commentary on the verdict which we are absolutely not discussing, one observer mentioned that the verdict was a real 'Pandora's Box' and we would have to see what it did for future prosecution.

Obviously, the most important thing to observe here is that the observer in question clearly completely missed the point of the story of Pandora's Box if they think that that was what it was about.


For those who were never deeply unpopular 12 year old boys who read a lot of Greek mythology, I'll explain.

Pandora was the first woman on Earth (according to Greek Mythology, don't get all huffy Young Earthers) and was given pretty much the whole package by the Gods - Looks, creativity, brilliance - She was basically the Felicia Day of pre-history.

But then Prometheus (the mythological figure, not the vaguely disappointing film) stole fire from the Gods and gave it the mankind because he thought it was fundamentally unfair that the Gods could help mankind out but chose not to do so.

(At this point you are probably asking - 'If Pandora was the first woman in the world, where did all these people that Prometheus gave fire to spring up from?'  To this I'll respond, 'And who exactly did Adam and Eve's kids marry again?')

Anyway.  The Greek Gods were pissed about the whole fire-theft thing, and so to punish Prometheus and the world in general they took a couple steps that might broadly be described as 'over-reacting'.

First they did a bunch of unpleasant stuff to Prometheus which is interesting but not relevant to the story at hand, and then they gave Pandora to Prometheus' brother Jim (ok, his name was Epimitheus, but Jim is funnier) and said to her basically, 'Hey Pandora, here's your new husband Jim.  And as a wedding present here's a box.*  But we should warn you - inside it is a lot of ... But we've already said too much.  Seriously, just don't ever, ever open it, because it's really bad.  And awesome.  In it's terrible badness.  Seriously, don't ever open it.'

Two Immediate reactions - 1: If you're a Greek God you get to start sentences with conjunctions whenever you damn well want to, and   2: Worst.  Wedding present.  Ever.

*probably actually a clay jar, but 'Pandora's clay jar' doesn't have the same ring to it.

So naturally, Pandora eventually gave in to her curiosity, opened the Box (jar), and all the evil in the world escaped* and could never be put back in the box.  The end, way to ruin it for everyone, Panny.

*Except 'Hope', interestingly enough, whose inclusion on the list of 'all the evils in the world' says something interesting about your ancient Greeks.

What I'm getting at here is this - While these days we just use the phrase 'Pandora's Box' to refer to any non-reversible process that's probably going to have some negative consequences, that is not the point of the story.

The Point of the story is that if you give in to curiosity when you know the outcome will be bad then you damn well have to live with the consequences.  And agree with the verdict or not, I'm fairly sure that the Zimmerman jurors were not just kinda trying it to see what would happen.

If you want to discuss non-reversible processes, just say 'non-reversible process' or how about the time honored 'Can't un-ring that bell.'  Or if you get off on thermodynamics, 'I'm sorry, but that process clearly generated entropy* and therefore cannot by cyclical in nature'.

I can guarantee that if you say that last one you'll have a lot more time to read Greek Mythology.

*A significant portion of the readership just observed that Newton's second law of thermodynamics is that Entropy Increases.  You know you you are and why you did so.

In other popular expressions that we all need to stop saying - 'Perfect Storm'.

Look people, it referred to one particular set of weather events.  If you want to describe a confluence, just learn the word 'confluence' already.  You could even go so far to use the word 'Gestalt' if you like, but get ready for a lot of blank looks.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An interview with my 1978 Six Million Dollar Man garbage can

This week a rare opportunity came up for us to sit down and have a chat with my 1978 Six Million Dollar Man garbage can.  Although, 'came up', might be a bit generous, as it's been sitting in the den for 36 years.

VIZSLA:  Well, first of all I want to thank you for being here.  It's fantastic to have a chance to talk with you.

THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN GARBAGE CAN: I literally have not moved in over ten years.

V:  Um..... Yeah.  So.  You look great.

6:  Thanks.  I've got a little denting along the top edge, but ... you know.. what guy in his 30s doesn't.

V:  What's it like to spend most of your time filled with garbage.

6:  You'd have to ask the tea party.

V:  HA!  I see what you did there.

6:  Thanks.  Seriously though, it's good to have a function I suppose.  Could be worse.  At least I'm not one of those action figures still in the packaging languishing on a shelf, you know?  I'm still in the game.

V:  What do you say to those who would point out that having you around provides a needless anchor to the past preventing your owner from releasing childhood memories and moving on with his life?

6:  Well, I don't think there's any need to get needlessly totemistic about it.  I mean, sometimes a garbage can is just a garbage can if I could misqoute Freud for just a moment.

V:  So you don't feel like the memories of unfulfilled childhood dreams still cling to you like the lingering bottom half of a Chewbacca sticker?

6:  I kind of like the sticker.  We've been together for a very long time.  You know... eventually you just accept your imperfections as being part of who you are, you know?

V:  That's very deep.

6:  I am very deep.

V:  About 15 inches deep.

6:  Way to blow the metaphor.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ah, My old nemesis the BMW. We meet again. But this time the advantage is mine.

For a few weeks now I've been locked in a bitter and viscous struggle for the very heart and soul of all that is good and right in the world against the forces of darkness.

There's a grey BMW that's been taking my parking spot.

I should give some back story here.  For the last 7 (ish) years I've been parking in the exact same spot in the parking ramp beneath work.  This particular parking ramp is more prone than most to having random concrete pillars distributed in ways that defy logic or reason, and one of the results of this random pillar-ing is the absolute perfect parking spot. 

The spot in question is on P2, some 5 level down, which means it's warmish in the winter and coolish in the summer.  It's directly across an aisle from the elevator bay.  And by a miraculous quirk of the architecture, it's just one curve away from an exit despite being 5 levels down when you enter.  No, I don't know how that works either, but I'm afraid that it's like Wile-E-Coyote physics, and if I look into it too deeply the effect will cease to work and so I'm just not thinking about it.

How can such a spot be regularly left open? I hear you wondering.  It's because of the concrete pillars.  Two of them, one on either side of the spot, giving one around three inches of clearance on either side of the vehicle as you pull in.  It is a parking spot for the bold.  A spot that truly declares to all who pass, 'Sack up, Mary, or move on to park elsewhere.'

And so for years that spot has been waiting for me every day, an old and reliable friend to start off the morning.

Which left me somewhat frustrated a few weeks back when that bastard grey BMW discovered my little slice of heaven and started taking it before I got there.  Worst part - Grey BMW apparently doesn't share the same relaxed attitude toward 'start time; that I enjoy, which means that for a solid two weeks I was getting beaten out.  Every.  Single. Day.

Which left me with no option but to start getting to work on time.  Believe me, I wasn't any happier about it than you are.

Even then I've been averaging about a 50% win rate in the great parking spot battle.  But then... Yesterday happened.  And I learned the secret.

I was listening to Greg Laswell's Three Flights from Alto Nido CD as I pulled into the parking ramp (an excellent album and well worth checking out, btw)  As I approached P2 I felt the familiar anxiety begin.  Would my spot be there?  Would the BMW have beaten me again?  What would be my fate?

At this moment, Track 6 - My Sweet Dream started playing.  A lovely little tune, only just over a minute long.

<If I could write out my own dream>

Turning around the last curve onto P2.  Can't quite see to the elevator area..

<For the next time that I sleep>

Dammit.  SUV in the way... can't quite see the spot..

<You'd be the first one that I see>

Is it.. . could it...?
<And I the last one that you keep>

Can't quite see... is that a bumper, or...

<The dream would go on and on, While we sway> is!

<Against all things thrown our way>

It's empty!

<And the morning would be so cruel, When it came>

                                                                                                                                  My Beautiful spot!  

<With sunshine and warmth to blame>

pulling between concrete pillars, tears of joy streaming down my face
<For announcing the end of my sweet dream>

                                                  I've put the car in park, but the song isn't done yet, so I can't turn it off

<For announcing the end of my sweet dream>

I'll never take you for granted again.

Apparently the spot just needed a musical number to show that I still cared.  Which means I now have to plan a heartrending music cue to time out with my arrival on P2 every morning, but that's a small price to pay.

This morning I went with Jill Sobule's 'Mexican Wrestler', fyi. 

All is right in the world.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A mid-week flashback - Quickly! To the Mammaljet!

I've been a bit busier than usual the last couple of days*, but did not want to go another day without a Vizsla post, because it sends a bad message and is bad for America.  I'm thinking of the children here people.

*No, not just listening to the Lana Del Rey cover of Once Upon a Dream, even if it is eerie, aetherial, and haunting and worth the hours of time listening and who are you to judge me.

In any case.  Because I didn't want to go another day without checking in, here's a peek back at a post from Last August, aka before the sun died and left us to slowly sublime* back into vapor form.

*That's proper science there.  You're welcome, universe.


Quickly! To the MammalJet!

If you're like me, and I know I am, then you'll have had your attention focused today on an announcement out of Washington D.C.

The zoological world is abuzz today (More than usual!*) over the discovery of a hitherto unknown mammal.

World, meet the Olinguito!**

*See what I did there?  Because of bees... and you know... other buzzing animals... oh never mind.  Honestly people, I give and I give..

** No relation to Lena Olin.  Or Ken, as far as I know, although to be honest I haven't really done the research on that one.

A smallish raccoon sized mammal that lives in the Andes mountains in Ecuador, it has previously been mistaken for it's cousin, the slightly larger Olingo.  I know - we're all mortified at having made such an obvious blunder.  I know I personally pride myself on my finely honed Olingo-Identifying skills.

Apparently, it was discovered thusly - Kristofer Helgen, the Smithsonian's curator of mammals, was looking through some drawers of dead mammals that he had laying around, when he realized that one of them wasn't an Olingo, but was in fact an entirely new and distinct species.  So he popped down to Ecuador to do a little research, found some, and determined that - yup - they were just different enough to count as a new species.  BINGO - New Mammal.  (Must remember to patent Bingo variant called 'Olingo' where you can play O's on either side...)

Let's take just a moment to note the ways in which Kris' job is more awesome than yours:

1:  He spends his days poking through drawers of preserved animal carcasses just for funsies.  (a little creepy, I admit.  But I'd take this over finance reports any day)

2:  It's within his remit to pop off to Ecuador just to check out a hunch.  ECUADOR.  There are days when I can't justify the three minutes it would take to go to the bathroom.  Kris goes to South America.  Your argument is invalid.

3:  His title is CURATOR OF F*CKING MAMMALS.  I apologize for the salty language there, but I felt like the emphasis was necessary.  This is his business card-

Unless you are the Cophrages Commissioner or the King of the Reptile People, Kristopher owns you.  Just accept it.

As a side note - normally I would have included a picture of the l'il critter (who is, I might add, cute as a button) but it's been brought to my attention that you're actually only supposed to use images that are either out of copyright or that you've paid for and so I'm already in the process of overhauling a LOT of earlier posts and don't need to add to the problem, thank you very much.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Adorable puppy, or blackhearted homewrecker...?

So like many of you, I spent a good chunk of yesterday evening being not particularly interested in the Superbowl.

-Note for foreign readers - It's basically the world cup with shoulder pads and not inviting any other countries.

Not only did I not give half a crap about either team to begin with, but one of them proceeded to not even bother to show up and play, instead loaning their uniforms to a local girl scout troupe for the evening.

-Note for all readers - NOT a slam on the Girl Scouts.  The Girl Scouts are awesome.  In terms of both inclusiveness and shortbread cookies.

So, like 98% of people who watch the Superbowl in any case, I was pretty much just there for the commercials.  If nothing else it's interesting to see what some marketing department feels is a good usage of 3.8-4 million dollars.* 

Other than, you know, feeding Africa for a good fair while.  Or the US for that matter. 

Toward the end of the proceedings there was a beer commercial for a brand that I will not name because they are not paying me and it's about standards.  You can find the commercial here.

If you've brushed right by the link, I'll sum up.  There's a farm selling puppies.  A puppy is shown being adopted by a nice lady, then we see the puppy repeatedly sneaking back onto the farm to be with his horse friend.  Montage of Farmer returning puppy to The Woman/puppy sneaking back.  Finally The Woman's car is stopped by the rest of the horses who have apparently manned up and decided that  they were sick and tired of the whole process.  Cue final shot of Woman and Farmer watching the puppy and horse prance delightedly.  (well... the puppy prances.  The horse just sort of stands there.)

The thing to immediately notice about the ad is that it uses a song by the band Passenger, and Passenger is freaking Awesome, so they get some good will points there.

The second thing to notice is that the puppy is clearly trying to end the Woman's marriage. 

Go back and look.  At 31 seconds we see the Woman picking the puppy up from the farmer yet again.  And clear as day we see with her a man in sunglasses, texting indifferently, who is clearly wearing a wedding ring.  Yes he is.  Go look.

At 42 seconds the same man is driving the car which is stopped by threatening horses.  Woman and puppy in car with him.

At 56 seconds we see the Woman and the Farmer watching the puppy/horse action (easy, Shriner!) under a romantic sunset.  You notice who isn't there?  Her FREAKIN' HUSBAND!

Clearly this blackhearted (yet admittedly adorable) puppy has just torpedoed what was, for all we know, a perfectly happy marriage.  All for his own selfish reasons.

Who can say why the puppy took such cruel and calculating steps to destroy this man's life.  Perhaps the Man was mean to him.  Maybe it was simply all about getting back to his horse friend and damn anyone else who got hurt in the process.  Could be he just thought the Farmer was better looking than the other guy (and fair enough- he is) and thought the Woman deserved to trade up.  Maybe he's just an evil puppy who gets his kicks out of watching the suffering of others (although that's usually more of a 'cat' thing.)

We'll never know what exactly drove the puppy to ruin a man's life.  But I look forward to the followup commercial in which we see The Man, sitting at some dive bar drinking the same beer ranting 'Goddamn dog!  I had it all! The House!  The Wife!  Jesus Christ, we were so happy... soo happy...  Why'd I have to suggest a dog... Why?  Why????'

Anybody have a spare 3.8 million I can borrow?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Vizlsa Flashback - An Epic Love Story - The Maggie Smith/Sir Mix-A-Lot Letters.

This might be my favorite thing I've ever done.

This or the thing about Markie Mark

.     .     .     .     .     .     . .     .     .     .     .     .     . .     .     .     .     .     .     . .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Recently unearthed, at long last we can provide you with the full details of the greatest love story the world has ever known.

As told in Epistolary format*

*It means a story told through letters or other 'real world sources, such as news clippings, tweets, etc.  You know, like Dracula.  No, not the movie, the book.


Dame Maggie Smith. dbe

C/O <Redacted>

May 10th, 2010

My Dear Dame Maggie,

I hope that it's not too presumptuous writing you out of the blue like this.  I recently discovered that my handlers were acquainted socially with some of your 'people', and the opportunity was simply too good to pass by for me to tell you how much I've enjoyed your work over the years.  Not just Downton Abbey (although that's been nothing but charming, and a long overdue platform for your ample talents) but also The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Harry Potter films, and - my personal favorite - Tea with Mussolini.

Wishing you all the best in your continued success,

Sir Mix-A-Lot, og

Sir Mix-A-Lot

C/O <redacted

May 15th, 2010

My Dearest Sir Mix-A-Lot,

It was with the greatest delight that I received your epistle of May the 10th, Year of our Lord 2010.  I am so pleased that you've enjoyed my work over the years and I must confess to being more than a passing fan of your body of work as well.

It is my sincerest hope that our mutual admiration will lead to a full and vibrant friendship.


Dame Maggie

p.s. I note that you will be touring in the west counties shortly.  Might I be so bold as to suggest a formal introduction where me may perhaps compare thoughts on our art over a glass of port?

Dame Maggie Smith. dbe

C/O <Redacted>

May 30th, 2010


Dear Maggie,

I would be only too happy to accept your very gracious invitation and look forward to receiving details of a suitable location and time from your agency

Yours in companionship,


Sir Mix-A-Lot

C/O <redacted

June 13th, 2010

My Dearest Mixie,

Ever since our all-too-brief night together at the Crown and Bell I find myself unable to tear my thoughts away from the memories of your sweet embrace, your loving words, and your anaconda.  Please tell me that my hopes are not in vain and that there can possibly be a future for two such star crossed souls as we, for I have seen your heart, and it truly has more junk in its trunk than a dame of the British Empire could ever have hoped to access,

Yours with flushed loins,


Dame Maggie Smith. dbe

C/O <Redacted>

July 4th, 2010

My one and only Mags,

My junk must be India, because you have colonized it completely.  Counting the moments until we can meet again,

Big M-a-L

Sir Mix-A-Lot

C/O <redacted

May 15th, 2010

Big Daddy M,

The countless tedious hours filming Downton are but a whack rhyme to your dope beats.  Say that you will meet me at the manor window at midnight and steal me away

Counting the moments,

Sistah MS

Dame Maggie Smith. dbe

C/O <Redacted>

August 5th, 2010

My Dearest Dame Smith

It is with sincere sorrow that we must report to you that your beloved, Sgt. Major Mix-A-Lot, was lost in heavy storms while flying a dangerous solo mission over the channel.

We're sure you appreciate the importance of our continued struggle against Gerry and the depth of gratitude that we feel to our brave airmen fighting back their menace from English Soil.

The British War Office
And totally not Sir Mix-A-Lot

Because he is dead now.

Peace out.