Thursday, December 20, 2012

The End

If the world ends tomorrow like the Mayans have foretold, thanks for reading. If not, I'm taking the rest of the year off and will return in 2013.

All the best to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

All I want for Christmas is ... originality.

Believe it or not, but I'm pretty sure Mariah Carey's, "All I want for Christmas is you", is the last Christmas song to become a classic. It was written in 1994. Since that time, I don't think another song has made it into the rotation of traditional holiday songs. Yes, some performers have done wonderful covers of classic songs, but no original song has risen to the level of "Rudolph" or "Jingle Bells" like AIWFCIY has.

Strangely enough, in my brief and haphazard research, I also learned that "Santa's a Fat Bitch" is the only Insane Clown Posse song to ever be charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

The holidays really are a time of celebration.




Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So close.

This pretty much sums up my year.

If you can't read the picture, it say, "Score exactly 777 and get a free bucket of beer." As you can see, I hit a six shy on the old punching bag machine. 

Likewise, in both of my Fantasy Football leagues, I was second place heading into the playoffs. Both of my quarterbacks let me down: One by getting me negative points and the other for being injured (okay, to be fair, that's my fault for not replacing him). Bah!

Then, last night, I came in second place in a poker game. Bah humbug!

So maybe the Mayans were right after all? Or maybe, just maybe, some of my luck is going to rub off on them?

You're welcome, world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Laugh, damn you! Laugh!!!


Based on recent events and an impending Mayan apocalypse, it seems like we could all use a good laugh. Below is a list of some of my all-time favorite gut buster episodes from shows you might have missed. I’m loathe to even describe any of the plots—for fear of ruining some of the fun—but they definitely work best when you’re somewhat familiar with the characters and their mannerisms.

Party Down, Season 1, Episode 8: “Celebrate Ricky Sargulesh”
Wannabe actors and writers in L.A. moonlight at a catering company until they catch their big break … whenever that is. In this episode, each cast member gets a moment to shine and the guest stars really chew up the scenes.

The I.T. Crowd, Season 2, Episode 1: “The Work Outing”
Two geeks and their non-geek boss work in the computer services department at a typical faceless corporation. This episode is ridiculously funny and I’ll leave it at that.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 3, Episode 15: “The Gang Dances Their Asses Off”
A group of friends buys a bar in Philadelphia, with hilarious and oftentimes crass results. While this show often relies on shock value for its laughs, this episode proved that it could be just as funny as mainstream shows by simply focusing on its characters and their faults. Scratch that: funnier. 

Extras, Season 2, Episode 2: “David Bowie”
A pair of friends work as TV and movie extras while they wait to get discovered. Best, most amazing guest star appearance in recent memory.

Coupling, Season 1, Episode 5: "The Girl with Two Breasts"
Basically a Friends rip-off, this show, about a group of five friends in Britain, was pretty funny. While I’ve seen a lot of concept episodes from other sitcoms, I have never seen an episode quite like this one. Bizarre, yet brilliant.

Friday, December 14, 2012

DON HERTZFELDT is very funny



More:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: Startup Communities, By Brad Feld


The Premise:
Entrepreneurial expert, Brad Feld, promises to unlock the secrets for “building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your city”.

The Good:
Mr. Feld spells out why some cities, like Boulder, CO, succeed in creating a vibrant startup community and others do not. He gives easy to follow guidance on how to access whom the true players and influencers are and which parties are more supporters or even obstacles. He provides real-world examples and case studies throughout to support his point of view and isn’t shy about giving some rather blunt, yet pragmatic advice for anyone looking to embrace a startup culture in their community.

The Bad:
There’s too much name-dropping. This book could have been half as long and twice as practical if he stopped mentioning his buddies and their ventures. One gets the sense that Mr. Feld is almost trying to sell Boulder versus Silicon Valley at times. This may not have been intentional, but it is distracting. A more straight-forward “how to” may have been a better approach, in my opinion.

The Verdict:
Skim it and share it. There are definitely useful nuggets throughout the book for anyone interested in starting their own business or fostering a larger entrepreneurial culture in their community.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Malaproposition?


During a recent conversation, a friend of mine inadvertently created a malapropism. For those needing a refresher, a malapropism is when you substitute a word with a like-sounding word for comic effect. Oftentimes this substitution is accidental, like my friend’s, but it can also be intentional (mainly by writers with a humorous bent).

An example would be “Statute of Liberty” versus “Statue”.  
An example would not be “I wish you were dead” instead of “Hello”.

Famous people who have made a career out of malapropisms are Yogi Berra, Bil Keane of Family Circus fame and former President George W. Bush (known as “Bush-isms”).

Which brings us back to my friend. Instead of saying, “I like you in general”, my friend said, “I like your gender.” And there was much laughing.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cards from Japan

A delicious adventure

Know your sushi!

Exterior

Interior

Yes, it rotates.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Book Review: The Lost Continent, By Bill Bryson


The Premise:
Author Bill Bryson, after having lived abroad for years, returns to America and rediscovers the land of his youth, embarking upon a road trip that takes him through 38 of the lower 48.

The Good:
Mr. Bryson is hilarious, insightful, heartfelt and scathing. He manages the impossible: both mocking and praising a thing at once. You can tell that he finds most tourist traps ridiculous, but can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. He delivers historical facts with aplomb and gives surprising gravity to the simplest of pleasures. And he can write. And, wow, does he make it look easy. The whole book is chocked full of imagery such as, “the waves crashed like exhausted swimmers on the shore” and hilarity, “My first rule of consumerism is never buy anything you can’t make your children carry.”

The Bad:
Like Mr. Bryson’s book, Walk in the Woods, the voyage kind of peters out in the back half. It’s still informative, poignant and funny, but you can feel that the gusto and verve displayed in the first half isn’t really found when describing town after town after landmark near the end. Also, he can be a bit crass at times, which to me is like hanging out with an old friend, but can be a bit much for the overly religious or all together too sensitive.

The Verdict:
Buy it. Read it. Laugh with it. And relish in a time capsule written by a close, yet distant friend.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Killing Maybe.


The holidays are a celebratory time when friends and family send out Evites and Facebook invites for parties of varying levels of faith and camaraderie. And if you’re like me, then you’ve probably clicked on the “maybe” option.

“Maybe” (henceforth without the quotation marks) is crap. Why is this even an option?

Maybe I’ll answer your generous and thoughtful invitation to me by creating more stress for you?
Maybe you should buy enough food and drink for me in case I maybe do or maybe don’t stop by?
Maybe I’m a dick and just want to cause more work for you with my uncertainty?
Maybe I drunkenly groped your best friend’s roommate’s cousin and I’m waiting to see whether or not she’s going to attend first?
Maybe I don’t really want to attend and think that saying maybe is a valid if woefully misguided way of doing that? Maybe?

The only time maybe is acceptable is if you need a little time to figure out if you can attend. Like you’re having lunch with a friend and they ask, “Hey, can you come to my party next Saturday?” If you don’t know if you have next Saturday available and need to do a little research, then saying, “Maybe. Let me check my calendar/with my spouse/with my parole officer and get back to you,” is perfectly fine.

Otherwise, just say either, “yes” or “no”. If something comes up that changes your situation, then you can always contact the person to determine next steps. For instance, “Hey, it looks like I can attend after all. Is that invitation still open?” To which they might reply, “Heck, no. You groped my best friend’s roommate’s cousin on the veranda.” Either way, you’ve given the host the most important thing of all: the information they need to throw the best party possible.

Because you should realize by now that:

Maybe is like farting in an elevator when there’s only one other person and not saying, “excuse me”.
Maybe is the equivalent of your parent’s disappointment in you when they find your stash.
Maybe is finding out Santa is real and he’s dating your sister.
Maybe is the awkward half hug, half kiss at the end of a date.
Maybe is locker room nudity.
Maybe kills puppies.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Frolf Underground

Some friends of mine introduced me to a wholly unique experience: Underground Disc Golf. Basically, an old mine has been converted into two 18 hole golf courses, sand volleyball courts, a party barge cruise and live music venue. We played a round and it was both bizarre and a blast. Best of all, you play in a relative darkness that requires you to attach glow sticks to your discs--good luck if the power goes out. And it's pretty inexpensive at just $5 a round, plus whatever beer you purchase.

Check out the details here: http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=5055

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Humbled and Honored

The Riverfront Times is featuring a little doodle of mine inside its first-ever Comix issue. *Blush*.

Check it out (and the other artists who put me to shame):

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/microsites/2012comix/

Monday, November 26, 2012

El Gordo Grande


A friend recently reminded me about a time when we were at a trivia night and the question was “John Adams had a nickname related to his substantial weight. What was it?” The answer, of course, is “His Rotundity”, but we preferred our answer, “John Fat-ams”.

It is with this in mind that I give you, “The names I figure the neighborhood kids are calling me behind my back after gorging myself on all manner of Thanksgiving delights”.

1.     His Abundance
2.     Mr. Squishy Tushie
3.     That Fat Guy
4.     Fatty, fatty Tad Guy
5.     Slovenly in Motion
6.     Seconds
7.     Clean plate captain
8.     Gravy blood
9.     Gross misdemeanor
10. 24-never fitness
11. White men can plump

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Things I'm Thankful For (Again)


·      Moderately good health
·      Substantial facial hair
·      Innate fashion sense
·      No actual zombie sightings
·      Afternoon naps
·      Bacon brittle
·      Swimming lessons (retro active to my childhood)
·      Seaweed sushi wraps
·      Goofy friends
·      The return of bowling
·      Readers of blogs
·      Skimmers of blogs
·      Friends who cook too much food and give me the overflow

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Humor in random places

DOWN!!!
For some reason, this made me laugh. I like how every word starts with a capital letter except the last word. The last word is ALL CAPS.

"Guys, I know we added the arrows, but I really feel like people aren't getting that they need to also pull down. Like DOWN down. Y'know?"

Monday, November 19, 2012

Retro Tech


What if I told you there was a magical machine that could record the sounds and images broadcast over the air? What if this machine was ridiculously easy to use and could be programmed to record TV programs days in advance, as well as allowed you to skip commercials with relative ease? What if, stay with me here because this gets improbable, what if this machine didn’t require an ongoing subscription or service fee?

How much would you pay for this amazing device? $250? $500? $1000?

How about less than $100? How is that possible?

This amazing device is one you already owned and which I still use to this day—The VCR (video cassette recorder).

Done laughing/judging/rolling your eyes, yet?

Here’s the thing: I does everything I need it to do. I don’t have Cable TV, so I don’t have that many channels to record anyway. And, on the rare occasion when two shows I like are on at the same time, (Tuesday nights, New Girl on FOX and Happy Endings on ABC) I can usually just watch the one I didn’t record online at Hulu later on in the week. As for fast forwarding through commercials … uh, it kind of invented it. Sure, the quality isn’t as crystal clear as a live broadcast, but it’s not like most sitcoms are shows you have to watch in HD anyway.

So you can keep your fancy DVRs, Rokus and Apple TVs. I’ll spend the money I save on some good old-fashioned Compact Discs and maybe a cave drawing or two.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Graphic Novel Review: Get Jiro, By Anthony Bourdain and Joel Rose, Art by Langdon Foss, Colors by Jose Villarrubia and Dave Stewart, Letters by Todd Klein


The Premise:
In the future, food culture dominates Los Angeles. Two chefs with divergent styles control a majority of the restaurants, but one exceptional sushi chef on the outskirts of town threatens to spoil it all.

The Good:
The authors understand their premise is ridiculous and just have fun with it. The action moves along briskly and there’s plenty of humor throughout—both broad strokes and more subtle gags. For instance, I suspect the title is a nod to the documentary. “Jiro dreams of sushi”. It rewards both cooking nerds and comic book geeks alike.

The Bad:
It’s violent and gory. Those things aren’t “bad”; just something I wasn’t expecting. Some of the premise described on the back cover, like “killing for a reservation at a restaurant” weren’t as explicit in the book. The storytelling is a bit weak in parts. Since this appears to be a one-off book, it’s fine. If it becomes a series, it could become a problem.

The Verdict:
Check it out. The star of No Reservations knows his food and his audience, so if you like his humor, it’s a pleasurable diversion while you’re waiting for your sushi rice to cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The future is hazy, bro.

5:02 is the new 4:20
As most informed citizens know by now, Washington State and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational* use.

The big question is whether or not the Federal government will step in and overturn the residents' wishes in order to uphold the national law, take a wait and see approach or turn a blind eye** to the whole thing.

Now, despite appearances, I'm not a pot guy. But I am a freedom guy. And I ask you this: if a county can go dry (e.g., ban alcohol), why can't a state go smokey (e.g., puff-puff-pass)? Each run counter to national policy, but are in line with allowing citizens in different communities the ability to self-govern.

*party
**Which is ironic, considering the medicinal benefits

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life in super slow motion


James Nares: "STREET" (2012) from Paul Kasmin Gallery on Vimeo.



Most of the time, I cut contemporary artists some slack. In these modern times, with memes being created within minutes of a cultural event, it can be tough to come up with a unique vision, angle or execution. I may not love a photograph, sculpture or painting, but I can appreciate the effort.

One area, however, I don’t have any patience for is contemporary video installations. Most are just plain bad. “This is a 48-hour video of a field. It is the literal representation of grass growing.” Or something just as boring, half-assed and pretentious.

So I was impressed when I saw James Nares, Street, recently at the STL Art Museum. It’s a 61-minute film of people of all ages, races, shapes and sizes on the streets of NYC going about their daily lives in super slow motion with an eclectic musical sound track. It’s mesmerizing and holds surprises around every corner. There’s humor and pathos and emotion and a meditative aspect that’s just simply sublime.

As usual, it’s free. Just go up the stairs in the East wing.

Here is the info:

Friday, November 9, 2012

A peek behind the curtain.


I* have been blogging for over a year now. And in that time, I have only missed a few posts (Monday thru Friday) due to a few errant holidays, some traveling hiccups or technical glitches, and a couple of self-imposed sabbaticals. Now, granted, sometimes I nail it and other times, as my regular readers know, I mail it in or, gasp, fail it entirely. But for the most part, I’d like to believe that I’ve become a welcomed** part of quite a few daily and/or weekly jaunts around the web.

The one question I get asked the most often is, “Do you think you’ll ever stop posting every day?” Perhaps.

But let me take you behind the scenes*** of how my blog posts come about and, hopefully, that will show you why I’ve been able to keep up such a blistering**** pace.

First, I stay open to ideas. If I’m in the middle of a conversation and something sparks a potential post, I wait until the conversation is over—it’s called manners, people—and make a note of it on a scrap of paper or in my phone.

Second, I make time to create. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I actually have dedicated times blocked out each week in order to play around with ideas.

Third, I’ve created standard set pieces. A day in the life of X as seen by Y? Mr. Dog-Turd Hand? Graffiti sections? Yep, these are all go-tos that I can return to time and time again instead of starting each post from scratch.

Fourth, I automate. You think I actually get up at 5 a.m. everyday to post? No. I try to get as many posts done in one sitting as possible each week. It doesn’t always work out, but at least I can live a relatively normal life***** and soak in more inspiration for additional posts.

Fifth, I don’t force it. If an idea isn’t working, I put it on the shelf and return to it later. No, seriously, I literally****** have a shelf for on-hold ideas.

Finally, I’ve created a false deadline and really stick to it. My old Tae Kwon Do instructor told me once that you have to repeat an action 10,000 times in order for it to become automatic. Lucky for you, dear reader, I’ve posted 9,833 times******* thus far.

*The great and powerful Oz
**Tolerated
***Essentially the DVD extras of my blog
****A bit much? I thought so. Let’s go with “consistent” pace.
*****For a Blogger
******I don’t really have a shelf
*******Give or take 9,500 times

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Mas in Christmas


I was in a retail store the other day and there were already Christmas decorations all over the place. It was like Santa threw up elves all over the reindeer. Why am I still surprised by this? I should know better by now.

Theory #1: Sugar Rushed
Am I in denial that Halloween is over and regret that I haven’t yet eaten my body weight in high fructose corn syrup?

Theory #2: G.I. Yo!
Could it be that I have a soft spot for the fighting men and women of this great country and don’t want Veteran’s Day glossed over like so much tinsel on a tree?

Theory #3: What the frock?
Did reading the Scarlet Letter in Jr. High gave me a Pilgrim fetish, which persists to this day?

Theory #4: Save the Date … please!
Could it be that too much of a good thing is too much? Instead of Christmas being two months of unbridled joy, is it possible that Christmas is that friend who, instead of having a birth-day, has a birth-month?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote. Or don't.


Tomorrow is Election Day. Why isn’t it a national holiday where everyone gets the day off in order to actively research the candidates and issues and then get to the polls in a timely manner instead of having to get up super early and stand in line in November—seriously November—right after Daylight Savings Time? Because that would make sense.

And this election year is not about making sense. If it did, voters wouldn’t be so confused about who stands for what. Does Obama want to marry Romney or does Romney want to make an honest candidate out of that Ryan fellow? Is Akin a Scientist, Christian Scientist or Scientologist? Does Prop B stand for Brotastic or Bronchitis?

Anyway, for people who actually care to learn a little, teensy-weensy bit about who or what they’re voting for, here are a few resources. These are by no means comprehensive or wholly impartial.

League of Women Voters:

Link to Judges’ report cards in the greater STL area:

Endorsements by the two major newspapers in Missouri:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Formula for Success


After working with some of the best political scientists in the country, I've finally cracked the code to how you can participate in today's political discourse: 

This (current popular topic) supports my point (something completely unrelated).
 
Examples: 

This new Surface tablet from Microsoft supports my point that school lunches should be subsidized. 

Hurricane Sandy is proof that God intended there to be a flat tax on all personal income.

The Giants winning the World Series proves my point: Women can’t drive. 

You're welcome!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Book Series Review: The Richard Sharpe Series, by Bernard Cornwell


Includes: Too many books to list out. About 20 in all. Starts with Sharpe’s Tiger and ends with Sharpe’s Devil.

The Premise:
Richard Sharpe, a private in the King’s army around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, is promoted up through the ranks and beyond to take part in some of the most significant battles in British history.

The Good:
Well written. Vivid. Gripping from start to finish. Mr. Cornwell keeps the action moving and never tells when he can show. These books are erudite enough to satisfy a literary itch and packed full of suspense to slake the thirst for adventure. Richard Sharpe is like an early 1800s James Bond without the couth. And Mr. Cornwell does a superb job of not rehashing the same scenarios over and over again—each story had it’s own distinctive problem to overcome.

The Bad:
Reading these books back-to-back-to-back can get a bit repetitive in parts because, as part of a series, Mr. Cornwell has to balance the need to educate new readers of key details and yet not alienate regular readers by being too redundant. He succeeds, but the best way to read this series is by taking some time away in between each. Also, these books are about war, so they can be rather graphic and occasionally gristly. And because there are so many of the books, it’s sometimes hard to remember who is whom from where and whatnot.

The Verdict:
Dive in. These stories are the perfect way to pass the time on a flight or to wile away an afternoon. It was enjoyable and gripping and I enjoyed  pretty much every book. It was Sharpe’s Review.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Good Ad vs. Bad Ad


 

With all of the political posturing on the airwaves lately, I haven’t seen a “good ad” in a while*. But I did see this one. And it’s bad.

It’s by advertising legend** Alex Bogusky, featuring music by pseudo-hippie musician Jason Mraz, and it’s been getting a lot of play within the advertising community.

On the surface, the concept isn’t a bad one—take the polar bears back from Coca-Cola. But polar bears aren’t the most svelte animals to begin with, what with the long winters and the layers of fat for hibernation and all, so showing changes in body composition is a bit of a stretch.

If you actually fed real polar bears Coca-Cola and showcased the results, the spot might be an interesting, shocking and impactful one.

But this spot fails on so many fronts: 1. You have to buy into the idea that sugar is pure evil, 2. It’s too long and not entertaining enough and 3. It’s condescending to the audience it’s trying to reach.

This spot delivers a lot of “sugar is bad” information. Well duh. People don’t drink soda because they think it’s healthy; they drink soda because it tastes good. If the goal of the spot was to say, “hey, did you know a soda a day makes you X times more likely to be obese, get diabetes and listen to Jason Mraz songs?” you might start to get people to realize just how bad soda is to their health.

But people don’t respond to facts alone. And just saying, “sugar is bad” is not enough. People need to be shown a way out—and dumping soda into the ocean*** isn’t it.

Is it realistic to expect people to go from a soda a day habit to plain old water?
How do you convince people to replace sugar drinks with healthier drinks?
Are diet/lite/zero drinks better?
Is it to get people to switch to 100% fruit drinks, which still have a lot of sugar in them?
Is it getting them to drink more natural coconut-water drinks at $2.50, when they are used to paying 89-cents?
What about iced coffee or iced tea drinks?
How do you get grocery and convenience stores to stock healthier options?
Is a win to just get people to drink one fewer soda a month/week/day?

Sure, we could all stand to consume a bit less sugar, especially on this day of free candy as far as the eye can see. But if you’re going to give up sugar, do it for yourself—not for some poorly animated polar bears.And definitely don't do it for Jason Mraz. That guy is like diabetes for your ears.

*The Joss Whedon Zombey ad was too long and half-assed for my tastes
**If there really can be such a thing
***Sugar is bad for you, but great for the environment? #$%@ing seriously?

Monday, October 29, 2012

What I learned on my impromptu vacation


Last week, I was on vacation. You probably discovered this fact when you came to this site and saw my note saying as much. At this point you probably felt a rush of emotion ranging from sad to happy to exultation to mild annoyance to sleepy and finally apathetic resignation. We’ve all been there.

And to answer your first and only question: No, I didn’t go anywhere—unless the hardware store multiple times a day counts as a vacation destination*.

Since every moment is a teachable one, here are the things I learned:
1.     It takes about four days to stop thinking about work. You know the routine: You think about looming projects when you wake up, you check email several times a day, and you can’t fully relax because you have a gnawing sense you’re forgetting something. Yeah, that wears off by Tuesday for me.
2.     The weather doesn’t take a day off. Plan all you want: Mom Nature don’t take no reservations. So be prepared to pour that concrete on Wednesday and clean out your basement on Tuesday instead.
3.     There will be blood. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving heavy furniture or hanging a picture of a kitten, you will always end up bleeding at some point.
4.     Green Lantern was a rather disappointing movie. The CGI was surprisingly rudimentary and the plot was surprisingly overly complicated. Swap those two around and you might have something worth watching. Moonrise Kingdom was pretty good though. See that.
5.     When it comes to Halloween costumes, don’t get cute. I felt bad about recycling a past costume—Charlie Brown—so I thought I’d update it with a sheet with holes cut out of it—Charlie Brown going as a ghost. Pretty Meta, right? Also, pretty stupid waste of time when the first friend I talked to said, “What are you … a holy ghost?” Off with the sheet. On with the fun.
6.     I love me some naps. That’s not code for anything**. I took a 10-minute nap every afternoon and it was awesome. Seriously, you should close your eyes more often.

*It doesn’t.
**Actually, it’s code for lightly dozing on my couch.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Out this week

I am on vacation this week and will return on the 29th. That is all.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ambulanced?

Where I'm from (The Pacific Northwest), people pull over to the side of the road immediately whenever an ambulance has its lights flashing and sirens blaring. It's like there are free tacos being served hot and fresh from the curb to whomever gets there the fastest.

But in Missouri, it's not quite as pronounced. Missouri drivers seem to pull over to the side with all the expediency and effort of a napping child roused from sleep trying to get out of bed. "In a minute, jeez."

It's truly bizarre to me. And what with all the gunshots and such.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

All of us, alone together.


I don’t despise small talk. Small talk is the duct tape of life. It’s the temporary bond holding two things together long enough to see if they connect. Sometimes they do and sometimes they politely go their separate ways.

Some of my favorite conversations have been with taxi cab drivers. I’ve spoken with people from all over the world: Ethiopians, Mexicans, Iranians and even a guy from Jersey. One guy told me he works 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. I hope he never gets hemorrhoids.

Flying, too. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not the guy talking your ear off on the plane. But I have had people tell me fascinatingly intimate details about themselves as they’ve tried to distract themselves from their palpable fear of flying. I even sat between two women who had the same fear—one drank a lot of alcohol and the other gripped my hand like I had the last parachute strapped to my back.

In line, I don’t usually chat with my fellow customers, mainly because I don’t want others looking at my items as conversation starters—“You wear pants? I wear pants!” But I will give the cashier a joke or a smile if they ask how I’m doing.

And, of course, there are the conferences. Business conferences with nametags are the best. You have people with ulterior motives asking leading questions. It’s magical, especially if you go in with no agenda. "Tad, what if I told you that one conversation could change your life?" "Maybe after the crab cakes ... they're sublime."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Horror.


As a general rule, I’m not a huge fan of gristly and gruesome horror movies; suspense is more my game. It’s not that I can’t handle them; I just don’t enjoy seeing people as they are being tortured. I gave up watching the TV show, The Shield, because it just had too much violence, torture and rape—not my chosen ways of unwinding after a long day at the office (strangely).

That said, I do appreciate the inventiveness and unpredictability of the genre and can see why so many people are drawn to the movies as a whole.

All of this is a roundabout way of talking about the movie, The Cabin in the Woods. The less you know about the movie the better. It is still a gristly and gruesome movie, but a truly original one. My one criticism is that it was too short—it left me wanting more. But maybe that’s why there will inevitably be a “The Cabin in the Woods 2”.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gaffe


My friends and I were on a bike ride and stopped at a scenic viewpoint. To our north, an older woman and six teenagers, all dressing in what looked like fun run T-shirts, posed for pictures. When one of the girls wandered close by I asked, “Hey, what race are you guys with?”

She looked at me funny and then said, “Bosnian.”

The rest of the weekend, my friends called me a “race-ist”.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The only alarm clock I've ever owned.

SONY Dream Machine
Not to go all "old man" on everyone, but "they don't make 'em like this anymore". This faithful little friend has been waking me up every single day (more or less) for close to 30 years. Let's see your precious pets do that! This marvel from yesteryear still features an easy to turn dial, big can't-miss snooze button, an AM/FM radio and a dimmer switch. In an age of "I need a new phone ... this one is three months old", it's nice to be reminded that there still exist electronic goods that can last for a score or more. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Potential Halloween Costumes

Long time readers of mine know that I pretty much have it locked down when it comes to awesome Halloween costumes. So for any of you thinking to yourself, "Hey, I wonder what That Tad Guy readers suggest for costumes*", here they are. I recommend "smelly tupperware".



*Oh, there's no use in being shy. We've all been there. Just go with it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ugh. Are we really this gullible?

I've done something outrageous. I've clicked the "like" button for all three political candidates on Facebook. If you haven't done it or are afraid to do it, let me tell you something: you are missing out on some comedy gold. Getting three completely opposite takes on issues? How is that even possible??

First, let me say that Gary Johnson's staff needs to get better at social media. Facebook is a visual medium and just linking to links aint gonna work, bro. We the people want super reductive posters that distill the issues down to easily understood "facts".

Take this poster from Mitt Romney.


No way! Really?! The earth has flown around the sun 3 and 3/4 times too. Should we attribute that to him as well? Help me understand great leader.

Or this poster from Barack Obama.


Is "what's wrong with this picture" that it compares the tax rate for Capital Gains (Form 1040*, line 11, Schedule D) to the tax rate on Wages, Salaries, Tips, etc. (Form 1040, line 7, W-2)? Did I get it right? These strange numbers confuse and frighten me.

Look, I get it. Attack ads supposedly work. But should we let them? "Like" this poster if you like thinking for yourself.
 


*I suspect that Mr. Romney actually fills out different or additional forms since the income was significantly higher than $100k

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

With compassion.


Sometimes a story just sticks. The following three stories of compassion, or lack thereof, have stuck with me through the years. The first is a must-read for anyone who practices a religion—any religion. The second questions what exactly makes a community. And the third, well, the third is a story all its own. Enjoy.

If Not Higher. By I. L. Peretz

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. By Ursula K. Le Guin

The Blue Bouquet. By Octavio Paz

Monday, October 8, 2012

Brrrrrrisk!

This past weekend the temperature dropped like an infield fly ball at Turner Field. I mean that it got really cold, really quickly. Thus, I chose to turn on the heat in my home for the first time since the spring. This wouldn’t be of much consequence had I not come across a passage in a Men’s Health article about the Paleo Diet and body temperature.

“ … brought to mind a 2006 study in the International Journal of Obesity, which listed a series of reasons why our population may have gained so much weight in the past 30 years. Among them: In 1923, the "thermal standard for winter comfort" in U.S. homes was a brisk 64°F. By 1986, the average thermostat was set to a balmy 76. It's natural for us to "upregulate" our metabolism in winter to keep warm while downshifting in summer, when heat slows our appetite. Living in a climate-controlled world can mess with that balance, potentially leading to weight gain over time.”

The result is that I have now reprogrammed my thermostat to drop to 64°F at night and rise to only 67°F in the morning. Should be interesting to see if I get any sleep or die of hypothermia.

Friday, October 5, 2012

An abundance of excess

Last night, while out with friends, I had a beer. This was no ordinary beer, but rather dessert in a glass. It was a creme brulee-flavored beer. And it had an enticing aroma, as well as a smooth, sweet flavor. You definitely can't have more than one at a time, although I wouldn't be surprised to find it served over vanilla ice cream.

My best guess as to the brewery is Southern Tier:
http://www.stbcbeer.com/black-water/creme-brulee-beer-page/

Cheers!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

STL Bicycle Trails

I’ve had the good fortune of making friends with fellow adults* who like to ride road bikes. This has given me the chance to ride a lot of the trails in and around the city of Saint Louis. Below are some of my favorites.

Forest Park. You always remember your first. This trail is perfect if you’re new to biking or acquired a bike you’re not familiar with—for instance, switching from Schrader to Presta valves. Why? Because if you get a flat, this looped trail only puts you a couple miles away from your car at any one time. Plus, the terrain varies quite a bit in just 6 miles and the Boathouse is close by in case you want to grab a nosh or cold beer.

Grant’s Trail. Got a need for speed? This trail offers a lot of straight-aways that you can flat-out fly on. It also passes by Grant’s Farm in the middle section, so if you’ve got a hankering for a cold beer or some good hearty goat petting, you have that option.

Creve Coeur Park/Lake. This picturesque ride offers a nice flat loop that wends its way through trees and roller bladers. While a little tricky to find at first**, it’s worth it for the ease and convenient parking. There’s also a restaurant where you can rest and get a cold beer***.

North Riverfront Trail. This little-known gem takes you right alongside the Mighty Mississippi (and formerly Tent City). It offers quite a few straight sections and a good hill in the middle. Best of all, you can crack open a cold one as you straddle the Missouri-Illinois border on the scenic Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Katy Trail. I’ve only ridden bits and pieces of this trail, but some friends do an annual trip across a good part of the state and tell me its outstanding****. Plus, it runs by some wineries, so you can always pop in and enjoy a nice cold White Zinfandel.

*I originally wrote “people”, but that made it sound like I rode with 7-year old children. No.
**I’m a City Guy, so it was tricky for me; locals might find it easier.
***Yes, there’s a theme developing here.
****Okay, maybe not exact words.