Friday, November 28, 2008

My Dream Church

Since I’m more of a spiritual person than a religious one, I don’t go to church, but if some church were to put together something like the following, I would turn into a regular so fast it would make a Hoot Owl’s head spin:

Have all seating be extremely comfortable, ridiculously comfortable like the finest movie theatres. Serve a wide variety of healthy juices, Crystal Light Fruit Punch, in particular. Start the service by playing some really groovy techno music and encourage parishioners to dance with others of the opposite sex, even if married. Watch one of those cool videos where it looks like you’re traveling through space really fast (like at the end of “2001”).

Have everyone look at the person next to them, say “I love you” and actually mean it. Sing a few inspiring songs like Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” and Britney’s “Piece of Me”.

Go over a few pages of works by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, or Neale Donald Walsch. Have someone speak of specific ways to let more love into one’s life (hint: give more love). Pray for Joe the Plumber (even though he's not actually a plumber). Do a 15-minute seated meditation. Give hugs freely as others share what they’re going through.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I attended Winona State University in the early 90's. Here's a beautiful picture of the campus in winter time:

One thing I liked about college is that you could sit anywhere you wanted in the classes. I've always enjoyed sitting in the back row and off to the side. That way, the number of people that can stare at me is kept to an absolute minimum. In the rear, I don't have to be concerned about people talking behind me, distracting from what the professor has to say.

It's been generally proven that those who sit the closest to the front tend to get the highest grades and vice versa for those who sit in the rear. I was a happy exception to this rule as I didn't let sitting back there distract me in any way from what the teacher had to say. My eyesight was perfect, so I had no problem seeing the board from 30 feet away.

One of the most boring college classes I ever had was Human Resources. Not only was the subject matter incredibly dry, but the teacher totally spoon-fed us the book (she didn't lecture so much as just read the chapters to us). To make matters worse, we had to sit in a circle as if we were about to play musical chairs. One afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore, so took an earbud out of my pocket and placed it in my right ear (which faced away from the teacher). I pressed play on my cassette player and listened to a number of country tunes (my favorite genre at the time). That made things a tad more tolerable. A couple people noticed me doing this, but didn't say anything. I'm definitely not the only one who was put to sleep by her. Check out these quotes from her RateMyProfessor page:

"She is so boring! Never actually worked in the industry, so really has no valid teaching experience. Reads right out of the book."
"She makes dirt seem more exciting than this class. She curses like a sailor and rambles."
"Very boring. She will put you to sleep. She can be witty and a little funny at times but dry as hell."
"She is the most boring, old fashioned hag I've ever met."
"Her lecture notes are so old that the paper has a yellow tinge to it."
"She treats you like you're in grade school...every other seat or different color tests so you don't cheat!!! She's a weirdo alright"
"When she talks, watch out, don't sit in the front, cause when she says it, she sprays it as well!"

One class that I still can't believe I made it through was Statistics II. I had to drop it one quarter because I came down with depression. About a year later, I had to take it again, but all they had available was an 8am class twice a week that lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. Being able to drag my ass to that class every Tuesday and Thursday is something I'm proud of to this day. The man who taught it is actually the husband of the woman who taught the Human Resources class described above. Here's his RateMyProfessor page and some choice quotes from it (you'll notice a pattern start to form):

"Likes to crack jokes just to wake ppl up at 7.30 in the morning"
"Pretty good Prof. He has a nice curve so you should be able to get a B. You'll get a C for sure."
"He likes to make a lot of jokes that occasionally end in awkward silences."
"A mad scientist I say! So many little quirks and idiosyncracies. Awesome guy and fairly easy. Sometimes lectures on a masters level, but doesn't test on it. Makes jokes about material and no one understood it enough to find it funny!"
"The guy tries to have fun in class but he says jokes that no one laughs at because they can't feel their arm from writing notes constantly for an hour and a half."
"Jokes are definitely odd...just laugh and he'll move on..."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hearing Voices

I believe that I get a bit more enjoyment out of reading than most people. How so? Well, when I read an interview with, say, Conan O'Brien, I recall what he sounds like in real life and then use that voice in my head when reading what he has say. This makes the interview much more interesting as it feels like I'm listening to an audio recording of the person as opposed to just reading about them.

One of the most fun interviews I ever read in this way was a profile of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon on the release of their film "Ocean's Thirteen" last year.

I loved changing the voices in my head (shit, that makes me sound crazy, dun'it) as each one said what was on their mind. If you've never done this before, give it a shot:

TIME: When you have so many stars in a movie, and it's the third in a trilogy, how do you keep it from going off the rails and becoming Cannonball Run 3?

CLOONEY: Well, we like to think it's more like Lord of the Rings, in the trilogy sense.

PITT: Wait, what's wrong with Cannonball Run 3?

DAMON: I don't even think there was a Cannonball 3. Look, you have us confused with deep thinkers. You've already put more thought into why we did the movie than we did.

TIME: Shall we talk politics for a moment? I'm sure like most actors you're all watching the Republican field, just waiting for a candidate to get behind.

CLOONEY: I'm just hoping Gingrich gets in. Come on, Newt! Actually there's a really good field out there. I like Barack Obama a lot. I've spent some time with him.

PITT: You just cost him votes.

CLOONEY: I've actually had that conversation with him, just saying "Look, I'll give you whatever support you need—including staying completely away from you." Actors have done a lot of damage to candidates lately. My father ran for Congress in 2004, and it was "Hollywood vs. the Heartland!" My father was Hollywood.

PITT: I'm just hungry for some honesty and leadership. And I'm following them all—on all sides.

DAMON: I'm an Obama guy too. I think a lot of the problems in the world would be mitigated if he were the face of our country. I haven't ever met him or talked to him, but he's the first person in a long time who I've been inspired by.

CLOONEY: When other politicians stop and listen, that's how you know what charisma is. You can't teach that. He walks into a room and you go, "That's a leader."

TIME: As we're talking, there are paparazzi in boats out in the harbor taking pictures. Having just been through the celebrity muck of Cannes, who gets it the worst?

CLOONEY: There's no question, it's Brad.

PITT: Well, exponentially, with us together ...

CLOONEY: But even before he was with [Angelina Jolie], we used to chum the water with him.

PITT: This is not a joke. They used to send me out to take the hits.

CLOONEY: We were at the airport in Italy. So I walk off the plane, and it's "Hey, Giorgio!" And I go, "Look! Brad Pitt!" and they're gone.

DAMON: You described it once as "People were stepping on our faces trying to get to Brad."

PITT: Ah, well, I don't take it as a compliment.

I was recently given Obama's 2006 book "The Audacity of Hope". Since I hear Barack's voice in my head as soon as I open the book, I must read each page at the rate and cadence in which he would speak it. This means no speed reading (Obama never speaks fast). It'll take me that much longer to read it, but for authenticity's sake, I think it'll be worth it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Was Naughty Yesterday

I went to Wal-Mart, but the behemoth wound up getting the last laugh. I was running an errand right next door, so figured I'd pick up a few groceries. Upon my entry, I noticed a 20-foot tall Christmas tree displayed. Even worse, Christmas music was being played. I looked in my jacket for earplugs, but there were none to be found. I'd have to make this quick.

As I headed to Health & Beauty, I felt a sneeze coming on. I do something quite unique when this happens in public. Just as I'm about to blow, I jump up in the air so that I'm actually airborne as I sneeze. I'm not sure why I do this. Probably just to draw attention. After I did so yesterday, I noticed a guy looking in my direction, but was on too much of a "high" to return his gaze.

The first thing I threw in my buggy were a couple jars of Carmex. I noticed two teens with baseball hats looking at the contraceptives. I saw another guy behind them waiting to pick some up himself. Damn, tis the season...for nookie. I was tempted to go up to the display, take a pack of Magnums off the shelf and then note their reactions, but the Christmas music was tempering my usual playfulness.

Next, I headed to the grocery department. Going through the snacks aisle, I noticed they were out of my favorite chocolate treat, Oreo Cakesters. They had the Double Chocolate Cakesters and the Nilla ones, but not the originals. I knew I'd have to go to Hy-Vee to obtain them in the next couple days.

I was almost out of my Healthy Choice French Bread Supreme Pizzas, so looked forward to picking up a bundle of them. Wouldn't you know, they were out of that, too. They had several dozen of the Pepperoni variety, but that's not what I like to spend my bucks on.

Realizing that the Wall's was out of my two favorite foods convinced me to just get everything at the grocery store. I put the chocolate milk I'd picked up amongst a bunch of refrigerated Butterball turkeys (I was too lazy to drag it back to dairy) so it wouldn't spoil and then left my partially-filled cart near the avocados.

You may have won this time, Wal-Mart, but doggonit, if Al Franken ends up winning the recount, you're gonna be in for a world of hurt.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Change You Can Conceive In

The theory is almost too perfect to be true. Barack Obama, the son of politically progressive parents, was born Aug. 4, 1961—almost nine months to the day after John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House. Is it possible Obama was conceived on that historic night?

And if so, could history repeat itself? In the hours and days since Obama's victory, many of his exhilarated supporters have been, shall we say, in the mood for love.

And though it's too soon to know for sure, experts aren't ruling out the possibility of an Obama baby boom—the kind of blip in the national birth rate that often follows a seismic event, whether it's scary (a terrorist attack) or celebratory (the end of World War II). "The mood of the country and the optimism about leadership is always somewhat related to birth rates," says Dr. Manny Alvarez, chief of reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "I'm gearing up for a healthy increase."

Hope and euphoria, says University of Washington sociologist Pepper Schwartz, are a serious aphrodisiac. And voters under 30 went for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1. When you combine those two elements—randy people of child-bearing age—the likely result is what the online Urban Dictionary has already dubbed "Obama Babies" : children "conceived after Obama was proclaimed President, by way of celebratory sex." "If the amount of alcohol, happy people and major functions on election night is any indication, I suspect we'll indeed see a boom," says 25-year-old Brandon Mendelson, a graduate student in Albany, N.Y., who says he changed his vote at the last minute because "I wanted to be able to tell our future children that we voted for Obama."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Ode to Carmex

In the early 90's, being outside quite a bit, I acquired a taste for Chapstick. It was serviceable for a time, but once I had a taste of Carmex, there was no going back.

Every couple weeks, I pick a few jars up at the store. Thankfully, they're not as costly as cigarettes or subject to a sin tax (though they probably should be). If I were deserted on a desert island, there's three things I'd want with me: Carmex, Conversations With God Book I, and my life-partner.

This article talks about the addictiveness of Carmex. Here's some choice bits from it:

"Although Carmex has been available since 1987 in small plastic tubes, the true junkie consumes it only in its original and pure state, from milky-white glass mini-jars. An inch deep and the diameter of a half-dollar, a Carmex pot is not convenient, modern or unobtrusive. In the back pocket of a pair of jeans, it makes you look deformed.

By the time you develop into a full-blown Carmex junkie - after the first swipe is offered by "a friend" - it wouldn't matter if the container were the size of a baby goat. You would carry it everywhere. And stash one in your car and an extra in your desk and another on your nightstand.

The little pot is part of what the grandson of Carmex's creator calls, "the whole gestalt of Carmex." Take the jar away and Carmex loses some of its mystery.

"The jars are kind of our trademark," said Paul Woelbing by phone from Carma Lab, Inc., in Franklin, Wis. "You know, I can recognize the sound of one of those caps coming off even in a big lecture hall."

Can't we all? The easiest way to discover a Carmex addict is to produce a little pot and unscrew the yellow-and-black lid. An addict will pounce, index finger or pinkie extended, and moan, "Ooooh. Can I have some?"

Never in Carmex's history have the Woelbings advertised or marketed their product"

I think the primary reason I like it so much is because once applied, I rarely have to lick my lips. I tried Cherry Carmex a few years ago, but didn't find it medicinal enough for my tastes (pun intended).

To get an idea of how frequently I use it, check this out:

When going to a movie, I put some on before it starts.
When getting a massage, I put a significant amount on since it will be 90 minutes before I can put some on again.
Before starting my shift at work, there is an application.
Before going to bed...
Before making a shit...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chocolate Thunder from Down Under

My long-time readers are well aware that when going to the movies, I like to tell the cashier, "I'll take one to..." and then say a few words that are a twist on the title of the movie I want to see. For some reason, this tends to make me come off as a total dumb-ass.

I've pretty much pressured myself to give a fake title to every movie I go to now. On many afternoons, I'll be in the parking lot and think, "Oh shit, what am I gonna tell the lady?" That's exactly what went through my head last night as I entered the theatre to see the new James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace". Due to my lack of time, all I could come up with was "Quantum Leap". Some inspired ones from this past year can be found below:

The Spiderwick Chronicles - Spider-Man

Iron Man - Steel Man

Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Illinois Jones

Hancock - HisCock

Tropic Thunder - Chocolate Thunder from Down Under (a dessert at the Outback)

Pineapple Express - Pineapple Juice

The Happening - What's Happening

Disaster Movie - Scary Movie

House Bunny - Bunny Rabbit

The X-Files - The Sex Files

Ghost Town - Ghost

W. - X.

Zach & Miri Make a Porno - Let's Make a Porno

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2002 Part IV

Since I missed it at first-run, I saw “The Sum of All Fears” starring Affleck and Morgan Freeman at the cheap theatre (trailer).

Based on a book by Tom Clancy about a terrorist attack at the Super Bowl, it shoulda been a winner, but was a bit of a letdown for me.

The Bourne Identity” starring Affleck’s best friend, Matt Damon, was a much better spy thriller (a 4th “Bourne” film is in the works).

Damon stars as a trained killer who suffers from amnesia, having no idea how it is that he can kill a guy with his bare hands in 12 seconds (he should wear a shirt that says, “Bourne To Be Bad”). Very riveting stuff (trailer).

Being an Adam Sandler fan since his SNL days, I went to “Mr. Deeds” on its opening weekend. After being disappointed by “Big Daddy”, I wasn’t expecting much, but did get a few laughs out of it. I love the opening of the trailer where it says "Rated PG-13 for language and some rear nudity".

XXX” starring Vin Diesel was (unfortunately) not what you might think. It’s an action vehicle for Diesel (vehicle, Diesel, get it) to show off his stuff. It had one of the weakest climaxes I’ve ever seen in a film in that the final 20 minutes consists of Diesel pursuing an unmanned boat that is carrying a bomb. Most action flicks have a mano-e-mano fight between the two protagonists at its conclusion, not this one. Thumbs down.

One of the worst films I’ve ever seen was one I was talked into seeing at the cheap theatre. The reviews said it was total garbage, but I thought, “What the heck? It can’t be that bad”. It was. The film: “Scooby-Poo”.

The Ring”, however, is one of my favorites from the year.

The concept is very compelling and based on an Asian film: a videotape is circulating that causes one to die seven days after viewing it. Naomi Watts is brilliant as a newspaper reporter who has a very convincing reason to look into the origin of the tape: she’s already watched it. Another thing I love about the movie is it takes place in Seattle, which perfectly suits the mood of the film. Watts spends some of her time investigating at a lighthouse and has a weird encounter with a horse. Though not on the graphic side (the film is actually rated PG-13), “The Ring” got under my skin big-time. Check out the trailer for a sampling. A lesser sequel was released a couple years later, but it did nothing to lessen my admiration for the original.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Me In a Church

As a favor to a friend, I went to church this past weekend for the first time in more than half a decade. Many things went through my mind while there...

"I could never go to this church. There's not one hot chick to be found".

"Why don't these seats rock?"

"Why do the kids get to read secular materials during the service?"

I'm so used to movie theatres that when a mom and her child kept talking, I really had to restrain myself not to say, "Shhh!"

I was quite surprised to find that I was still able to quickly find Bible books and verses (Galatians is late New Testament, Numbers is early Old). I learned this skill as a young'un.

If only the Bible included the superior Gospel of Thomas; this is my favorite quote from it:

"The Kingdom of God is within you, not in buildings of wood and stone.
Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and you will find me."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

December 25th

I wish Jesus hadn't been born at the end of December. Why? Well, the way it's set up now, there's a logjam of holidays in the last six weeks of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's). I love getting those days off, but the downside is there isn't crap for holidays in the first few months of the new year.

I think it would've been better if the Almighty had been born in, say, early February. That way, when the Christmas season ended, winter would be almost over as well. The way it is now, when Christmas is over, we still have close to 3 months left of winter. :(

Turns out the date was made up, anyway, so what would it hurt to change it to Groundhog's (Christ sees his shadow on the 3rd day)?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wedge Issue

Wouldn't it be great if, for just one day out of the year, we could act like kids again with no consequences? Specifically, if I wanted to give someone a wedgie who I encountered on the street, I could do so. Bonus points if they cried after.

It could be an all-day thing with kickball and dodgeball tournaments taking place in the afternoon. Later, in the showers, we could whip towels at each others' backsides while being careful not to gaze at the packages of guys over 6 feet tall.

In the evening, a game of Doctor might be in order for those who are attracted to each other. If necessary, some patients might need to stay until sunrise for overnight observation.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Scuzz Bucket

"I recognize that because of my margin of victory, Mr. Franken has the right to pursue an official review of the election results. It is up to him whether such a step is worth the tax dollars it will take to conduct."

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, after beating Al Franken by 725 votes (that lead has now been cut to 239). More than 2 million votes were cast. Recounts are required by state law for races where the margin is less than one half of one percent.

Strong Sexual Content

Last weekend, I went to Kevin Smith's new one, "Zach & Miri Make a Porno". More graphic than I was expecting (one of the females starring in the porno is constipated, use your imagination on what happened), but very funny, nonetheless. Here's the trailer if you're not familiar with the film:

As the credits rolled, most of the audience got up to leave. I stayed. This is something I've done for years, especially for comedies. In many cases, an extra 20 seconds to 2 minutes of footage can be seen at the very end (after all the credits have rolled). Even if there turns out to be nothing else, I like waiting for the crowd to disperse before exiting and enjoy hearing some of the film's music without any dialogue running over it.

For "Zach & Miri", the credits rolled for about 100 seconds before stopping completely. A 2-minute scene then ran. I nodded my head. Near the front, I noticed another group had elected to stay. Guess I'm not the only smart one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Live-Blogging Election Day 2008

10:48am - Just prayed to Allah for an Obama victory tonight. I know I'm not the only one.

11:10am - Off to the polls.

11:16am - I brought a TIME magazine to read while waiting in line, but forget about it. My wait to fill out a ballot is a mere 90 seconds. Ah, yes, the good old-fashioned paper ballot. If it was good enough for my grandpappy, it's good enough for me. I just filled in the oval, heh, heh, just like the Oval Office for Barack Hussein Obama. Who the fuck put his middle name on the ballot? Mother fuckers! Recount, recount! Al Franken, check. Why? Because he's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggonit, he's a Democrat. Some of the lesser races I'm voting for the person whose signs I've seen around town the least. I figure they could use my vote much more than the other guys. Voted yes for increasing the sales tax about half a percent to care for our natural resources. Talk about a no-brainer. The machine I put my ballot in says that 583 have voted so far today. Most of the other people voting are between their twenties and forties. I assume all the seniors voted when the place opened at 7am.

11:42am - I put my Obama lawn sign in an even more prominent place than I had it before.

11:58am - An Obama volunteer rings the doorbell asking if I've voted yet.

12:31pm - For the first time ever, Zoe caught the frisbee I threw to her. This bodes well for tonight.

1:46pm - Off to take Zoe for a walk.

4:36pm - Heading to Friday's for an anticipatory celebration.

6:02pm - Vermont! (Obama has 3 electoral votes)

6:23pm - I'm watching MSNBC tonight, by the way.

7:03pm - Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, District of Columbia (103 EV)

8:04pm - New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Rhode Island (175 EV)

8:23pm - Ohio! (195)

8:32pm - New Mexico (200)

9:05pm - Iowa (207)

10:02pm - California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii (284)

10:03pm - Barack Obama is elected President of the United States!!!

10:08pm - Virginia (297)

10:14pm - Colorado (306)

10:16pm - Florida (333)

10:36pm - Nevada (338)

11:22pm - My eyes well up as the families of Barack and Biden wave to the crowd.

12:03am - Taking a bath while reading the latest ish of Newsweek (this is getting to be navel-gazing to the nth).

1:09am - Indiana (349)

Monday, November 03, 2008

White America

Frank Rich (of the New York Times) and Keith Olbermann recently discussed a disturbing aspect of the Republican Party:

OLBERMANN: There was something else that I thought while watching the (Obama-Bill Clinton rally) from Kissimmee that Clinton pointed out-the diversity of the crowd. It's a nice polite way of saying something that is unpleasant, but true, I think. If you looked at the McCain crowds early on, it was not that darker faces were totally missing, but there were few, they were scattered. If you watch now, it seems to me there are almost none, especially at the Palin events.

There's homogeneity to those crowds. And again, I'm trying to be as nice as possible about this, but only Clinton could get away with saying that in that way, don't you think?

RICH: I agree. And I don't think we have to be quite so nice about it. The fact is, this isn't South Africa 25 years ago, this is a major political party that is essentially all white. And the hierarchy of it is definitely all white. There hasn't been a new black Republican elected to federal office, I think, in six years. And so, what does that tell us about the party and how does that look to voters? I think it looks like it's the party of the last century. It looks bad-not only is it morally bad, but politically. I think it's idiotic because it's against the whole demographics of this country and where they are going.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Live-Blogging from Fawcett's Crematorium

October 31, 2008

This is what the place looks like in the daytime:

7:18pm - I just arrived. I never show up until it's already dark out. People look at you too suspiciously. My VCR is set up to tape Ghost Hunters Live tonight. Hope they find something cool.

7:25pm - I didn't bring marshmallows this time. When I stepped on the scale this morning, it said I was 167 and that's a couple pounds over where I want to be, so I don't intend to eat until tomorrow night when I go to Friday's.

7:32pm - I'm hearing the cries of children every few minutes. This is probably the peak time for kids to be out trick-or-treating. I wouldn't mind having some candy myself right now.

7:43pm - It's not too cold out this evening, maybe upper 50's. Minnesota Halloweens are typically much cooler. In case you were wondering, I'm here by myself. My friend is pulling an all-nighter at Kwik Trip.

7:51pm - I was thinking of meditating for half an hour, but forgot to bring my earplugs. Shit, I think someone's coming.

7:54pm - False alarm.

8:04pm - You may be wondering why I come here on Halloween. It's basically so I can experience something paranormal. The most otherworldly thing I've ever experienced was hearing the first dog I ever had barking a couple times after she had passed on. I wasn't the only one to hear it, either. I'm looking for something a bit more spooky tonight, just want to feel a presence, I suppose, a full body if I'm lucky. It would be so awesome to see an apparition that I'd probably vote for McCain as a thank you to God. Wait, that doesn't even make sense.

8:12pm - My luck would probably be better if this was England, Ireland, or the redneck part of Pennsylvania. lol

8:23pm - Alright, I give up. I'm heading home to watch Bill Maher and maybe have a few Fun Size Milky Ways. Why do they call them Fun Size? What's so fun about getting two bites of a candy bar? Isn't it much more fun to get a full serving? Whatever...