Light Fuse, Run Away

Let me explain my dad. He thinks something is a good idea. He does it. It goes terribly wrong. Terribly, Terribly Wrong.
Like today.
I come home from the gym, and stop for a moment to watch whatever comedy show dad was paused on while trying to find his beloved Law and Order, or whatever it is this time. He's stopped in the act of channel surfing to remove the excess ash from the bottom of the fireplace, a process which requires heavy gloves and the excavation of a large drawer located at the bottom of the furnace. He does this with regularity during the colder months, so I think nothing of it.
I go upstairs, and get changed out of my gym clothes, and into a t-shirt and jeans for the dinner-date I have planned with Erin, when she calls me.
"Harry, look at your backyard." Mistaking her very, very serious tone for the setup of some surprise, (Maybe a host of deer come in time for Christmas!) I tell her hang on, let me get my glasses. She interrupts, saying in a much more serious and leaden tone, "No, Harry, look at your backyard, YOUR BACKYARD IS ON FIRE"
I then run to the window, glasses forgotten, I sprint to the back window to see yes, my backyard is ablaze, flames at least fifteen feet high leap into the air from a portion of the yard that's always been overrun by sticker-bushes and weeds. I run downstairs, swearing and cursing, my dad asking what's wrong. I simply repeat what Erin said, that the backyard was "ON FIRE" and run to find the fire extinguisher.
I hear dad scream "WHAT" which, when he saw the flames, he ran outside to the hose, which of course he had already put away for the season. I run out to find him standing staring at the flames, which at this point have already died down dramatically, the feed of dried leaves having been rapidly depleted, and luckily, this portion of the yard had been somewhat walled off from the rest of it, the rickety wire fencing that held back the bushes probably also saved our house.
Dad's just staring at the now dying flames, still dumbfounded and mumbling about how he thought that area was all green, no dead stuff to light up, and how he's always dumped his ashes there, there must have been a few embers still hot enough.
Meanwhile, I'm still in panic mode, searching for a bucket or that damned extinguisher (turns out the extinguisher we had was lost to the ages) when Dad finally seems to switch back on, and begins to walk around the now fairly faint circle of dying flames, stamping out the last of it with his very expensive wool-lined slippers. Erin has come over by this point, and her wide-eyed shock at having seen the flames in their young prime fades to post-panic laughter, and I join in with her as I get my coat.
As I leave the house, Dad is coming in with, ironically enough, wood to feed his intentional fire. I look at him in the eye, point an accusatory finger at him and say, in seven-eighths seriousness, "DON'T DO THAT AGAIN."
He laughs, and stamping the dirt and bits of ash from his feet, both of us smelling horribly of smoke, and says to me,
"Don't tell your mother."


Throne of Ursine, Part 2

Cherro grasped the test tube carefully, as a scientist, this was supposed to come easily, but as a four hundred pound bear, his early experiments consisted of simply trying to pick up frail equipment. He tipped the vial into a small beaker currently resting above a controlled flame, placed the beaker back on the table, and then proceeded to run for the safety of a three-foot high wall running through one side of the room. A close observer, if they cared to get that close to a worried looking black bear, would hear him counting under his breath.
Safely behind the wall, he peeked over, eyes on the larger beaker. If he did the math and mixed the levels of honey correctly (and part of that relied on the very specific training of a branch of the local swarm), then it should be a few more seconds until...
The door opened on the other side of the room, and Cherro was spurred into a panic to see Queen Grendolia and her assistant stride in. "Back! Back! Get out!" he shouted, leaping over the short wall and racing across the room.
Grendolia had enough time to take in a charging Cherro before she saw a beaker on the worktop beginning to simmer before the black bear tackled her and Forsyth, bringing them both to the ground.
She was about to ask what was going on when Cherro leapt back onto his hind legs, and slammed the double doors shut, and heard him mutter "...Fifty Nine, Sixt-" before a flash of light emanated through the cracks in the doors and a sudden resounding thud shook through the hallway. Cherro slumped against the door, breathing hard, then began laughing gently to himself. She stared at him for a moment or two, confused and slightly worried before he seemed to remember that he had tackled royalty to the ground.
"Oh, hell, your Majesty, forgive me for the mishandling of yourself and your...page?" Forsyth, picking herself off the floor, shot him a dirty look. "I was only just testing the latest sample of the charge honey and forgot to put a notice on the door..."
"Quite alright, Cherro, and I forgive you on the caution that you remember the notice in the future. I gather you've perfected the timed reaction of the charge honey?" Grendolia pulled herself off the floor as Cherro experimentally opened the door to the test-room a fracture.
"Very close to it, I believe, your Majesty. That was only the first test," he said, waving a paw in a fruitless attempt to clear smoke away, "but the timing was correct for a dose of that size. And that was only a tenth of the size we hope to employ in the battlefield. I've been working with Warlord Oberton very closely on this, and we hope to more than meet the original parameters of the Charge-Honey postulation."
Grendolia smiled, albeit coughing while doing so as smoke wafted into the hall, despite Cherro having shut the door and pulled the lever for the ventilation to kick in. "That is good news, Cherro. Unfortunately, it's the matter of the Charge-Honey project that I need to talk to you about. Could you find the Warlord and bring him to my secondary meeting-den in an hour's time?"
"Certainly, your majesty. Is there anything I should warn Oberton about? You know he's grumpy during the traditional Hibernation Season."
"Tradition holds us back, Cherro," Grendolia said, motioning to Forsyth to follow her as she walked back the way she came away from the still smoking test-room doors. "We have to move with the times, and grow with progress, or else," she added darkly to herself, "be buried by a mountain of fools."


Throne of Ursine, Part One

She was worried, though her stoic features betrayed none of this. Even in national panic, it would Not Do for the Overqueen to appear anything other than calm and reserved, no, she would have to go about this the hard way. That is to say, Grendolia could not help but proceed through the nightmare of bureaucracy and the dance of diplomacy before she could make any kind of decree, let alone a political movement or military action. How she longed to throw the oaken table of the Meeting Den aside and swipe her well manicured but powerful paws across the face of the offending diplomat, after which fangs would be bared, insults snarled, and blood shed until a champion stood over a mangled corpse, the victory howl would be picked up and carried on by vocal cords from den to wood to forest, till it reached the pointed ears of the mountain dwellers.
Of course, this was civilization. Honesty and Courage could only wait until after at least five winters passed in hibernation inducing meetings, paperwork, diplomatic tea parties (she despised the little cakes the Gnomes favored). And while Borst, the mentioned diplomat who occupied the chair at the other end of the table, certainly deserved several more creative types of punishment for his ill deeds, beginning a war with the Mountain Gnomes over mere reputation and hearsay would be devastating to her entire race. Not to mention it would exacerbate the similar talks with the Garden Gnomes and completely destroy the precarious allegiance with Humankind.
“In closing, your majesty,” when Borst finally wound down from his petulant droning, “You can see quite clearly that any Ursine deaths along the Eastern borders were clearly coincidental, and was in no way related to our continued mining defensive measures.”
“Defensive measures?” Grendolia raised a furred eyebrow, displaying innocent curiosity. “Defense against what, Borst? If indeed your Gnome leaders wish to achieve peace through these talks, why must you fortify your defenses? And furthermore, defense against what? The only bears that live along those borders are simple Bee Herders and experimental Honey Alchemists. Hardly a force capable of moving your mountain.”
Borst, nonplussed, raised her an eyebrow and saw her a look of honest doubt. “Clearly, your Majesty, you have not heard the reports from your own subjects that your Honey Alchemists have devised an attack honey that, when applied to bare rock, causes it to explode with alacrity.”
“What my brightest minds get up to when they are bored is their own business, Borst, and far from officiated at the highest level. Though their discovery should have a considerable effect on your mining, I believe you are still using the pick and shovel method? Hardly keeping with the times.”
“Tradition rules in the Gnomedom, Queen Grendolia, as you should be well aware, and we are made stronger for our commitment to the old ways. I believe that is everything for this week, shall we arrange our meeting for the next Cycle? Same as this time, at the time of the Half-Moon?”
“Agreed. Forsyth,” she said, turning to her Chestnut coated scribe, “make a note of it. And now, Borst, I’m sure you can see yourself out.”
She waited until her guards had shut the door behind the retreating Gnome, and silently counted to ten before slamming her paw down on the table in anger. “Damn and blast, Forsyth, how did they find out about the Charge Honey? And do they know of the Attack Swarm? Send a message to the Chief Alchemist, He and I are going to have Words.”


Vs The World

So, let me be up front about this. I've been a terrible nerd this year. I've barely seen any movies in the theater, let alone that many midnight showings, I can't get my girlfriend into Firefly, and I started this blog thing that I keep 'forgetting' to update.
Pretty typical, as nerds go, I suppose. But then, like a typical nerd, I find something new to be obsessed over. This time, it's Scott Pilgrim. Having devoured all six volumes of the graphic novel, I've been awaiting the movie adaptation since I saw the preview in late January, geek fires stoked on by the knowledge that it's directed by Edgar Wright, he of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, two of my very favoritest movies ever. I expected editing that would give Orson Welles ADD, super-intelligent lines delivered at breakneck speed, and fight scenes that would make The Matrix not only cry, but give it all up and wonder why they hired this Keanu guy anyway.
What I wasn't expecting was a love affair to my generation, a symposium of light, sound and gay jokes aimed directly at the frontal lobes of anyone who came into orbit of a video game in the 80s and 90s. Using the plot-line of the novels as a loose jumping point, Wright launches us into the reality of a true comic book movie, textualized sound effects flashing across the scream as bass notes are slapped out, fists collide into faces, and in true video game fashion, villains explode into coins (though not enough for bus fare home). While the plot-line strays from the comics, it never leaves its roots, and how can you? A slacker musician nerd fighting a succession of seven bad-asses to win a girl's love? It's a bit hard to get wrong.
Some characters are lost in the fray, as are some awesome quips ('Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it in the balls'), but I've always loved how Edgar Wright makes you feel for the characters in their trials and woes by making you laugh along with them, and his adaptation of Brian Lee O'Malley's varied and colorful cast is no disappointment. Some saw fault with Micheal Cera's casting of the titular hero, I realized him to be perfect for the role. We spend so much time seeing Pilgrim as a bad-ass in the comic we forget that he spends whatever time he's not fighting Evil Exes to be slacking, hitting on Asian high schoolers, and generally failing at life. Cera brought out the loser in Pilgrim, and in return, Pilgrim brought out the Holy Shit factor in Cera.
I've seen it twice now, and I fully intend to see it again, then buy it on Blu-Ray and it's accompanying digital download and watch the shit out of if on hi-def TVs and my iPod Classic on lunch-breaks (just noticed, whenever spellcheck underlines something, I tend to choose the hyphenated option. I wonder why). I've bought the complete deluxe soundtrack and listened to little else in the past two weeks. I've even picked up the guitar and started trying to get my poor widdle fingers used to fingering the wire, keen on having all the fun that Scott's band, Sex Bob-Omb is clearly having on screen.
Having gone to the midnight showing, I have to say it was probably the most fun I've ever had in a theater. The crowd's reaction to the film was sublime, cheering every win, laughing like hell at Scott's gay roommate Wallace, and even applauding the theme-appropriate treatment of the Universal logo. I highly doubt The Expendables got that kind of response the next theater over.
Sometimes, heroes inspire us. But only my generation could find a hero in a loser like Scott Pilgrim.

Haiku time!
Scott fights for a girl
Ramona's exes will pay
Slap your bass, Fight, Win!



I sweat. It happens more often than I’d like, and quite honestly, in more amounts than I’d like. I wouldn’t mind so much, but it tends to leave pit stains, something I’d prefer to avoid, on the job as a salesman and especially at parties surrounded by friends or, recently, young ladies in what could be formally called ‘Intimates.’ Therefore, the solution lies not in regular aerosol sprays that I generally prefer, but in anti-persperants. Cram my armpits full of aluminum, so long as it stops the dreaded underarm puddling!
As much as it pains me to say it, I’m generally a fan of Axe. Their commercials are creative, if vaguely sexist (although Old Spice had me in stitches with ‘I’m on a horse!’) and even the directions on the side of the package read as if the hypothetical pharmacist is setting you up to get laid that very night but scores of young sorority ladies in faux cheerleader fetish outfits. So when I realized the normal strength de-sweatulator I used was not up to the challenge, I stayed on with the name brand and tried their so-called Prescription Strength stick.
I had not known they made this product, but the nerd in me hopes to the God that may or may not exist that they keep bringing it, because the packaging and branding, as always with Axe products, is completely absurd. This SHIT, as they say, is BANANAS.
The stick itself is uneventful, everything you’d expect from a plastic tube you rub vigorously under your arms, a black wodge with a twist at one end and slightly sweet smelling gunk coming out the other. The box however, is a completely different story. Why they need a box is just simply beyond me, but this is like the Plan 9 of deodorant boxes, if such a thing exists. It stands as a black monolith, an imposing block seeming to radiate energy, with a blue cross emblazoned across the front, as if Axe bought a lab coat and insists on everybody at the family party calling him ‘Doc.’ The side of the box instructs you to use it the night before, as the metals in the cream you’re smearing on yourself takes some time to embed into your skin, but that you can use it in the morning if you were too busy that night GETTING SOME HIGH FIVE GUYS. That made me cringe, because even if I do genuinely like their products, Axe still goes a little far sometimes for my tastes. However, what freaked me out was when I actually opened the box, a nurse was staring at me.
I assume she was a nurse. She wasn’t wearing scrubs, but a fetish zed version of a nurse’s uniform that went out of style around the time of the Civil Rights movement, or around when nurses realized they needed pockets to put their nursing shit in. The woman is printed on the inside of the box, high contrast black on blue, her face peering out at you from the opened lid, and as you look farther inside, you see more of her, or at least her legs, which take up 7/10ths of her physical form. If this is a photo of a real woman, she’s either photoshopped beyond comprehension or one hell of a good runner. Like, Olympian marathon level. For cyborg gazelles.
Is this really the level of desperation in the ‘testosterone based deodorants’ audience? That they actually need a picture of a woman in their toiletries? What for, I really don’t want to begin to imagine.
Please, if anyone has any interesting observations of their deodorants, I’d love to hear them. What I’m trying to say is comment, for frak’s sake.


Anti-Political Agenda

So, I've been thinking over the past few weeks, and I really don't want to get political in this blog/column/rant/bullshit thing that I do on a "weekly" basis. If anything, I write this to get away from the crap politics heaps up on us, and I'd like this to be an escape from the real. That said, The T Party could use some new members (23 at the time of writing! Come on, Internet! You can do better than that!) So I've decided to create an agenda, like I'm any good at sticking to timetables, but what the hell, politics is just a fancy way of lying to yourself anyway.
That said, if we can harness the power of hope and get in touch with our dreams, I believe it is possible to learn how to mix the perfect mojito.
I believe with enough love, we can conquer my inability to tan.
With courage, we can face our fears and actually go on a goddamn roller-coaster, and possibly go to the top of the Empire State Building.
Yes We Can expand our circle of friends, and actually get a proper story arc and campaign going in Dungeons and Dragons, and meet on a regular basis for once.
With dedication I can actually update this blog on time.
And I believe with determination and resources, we will put a man on the Moon-bounce by the end of this decade.
And maybe, just maybe...we'll stop them from making 'Indiana Jones 5'


Toy Story 3

I saw TS3 on Thursday night, Midnight Showing. Only my second of the summer, following last month's Iron Man 2, normally I'm a whore for this sort of thing, but I seem to be getting older. By older I mean 24. Fuck. If this is what 24 is like, I plan on dying before 50, or at least discovering cryo-stasis and outliving the great-great-great-great grandchildren of everyone I know.
Meanwhile, Toy Story.
I had just turned 10 when the first one came out in 1995, and in fact part of my birthday present was to go to Burger King to get one of the huge puppets they had of the characters (they were out of Buzz and Woody, I got Hamm instead) and then off to see the film. Needless to say, I was blown away by the original story and stellar animation, like everyone else was, and I couldn't help but be reminded of that experience when I sat down to see the third one nearly 15 years later.
It wasn't too difficult to remember that it had been that long and the differences were vast. I drove myself, for starters, and before the movie even started my girlfriend fell asleep against my chest. Not exactly something you'd care about as a 10 year old.
Before that, though, I found myself surrounded by teenagers. Or more precisely, tweenagers. As annoying as Glenn Beck, but there's more of them. Like if Agent Smith was interested in pop music and iPhone apps.
And they seem to relish shouting. Not even shouting in general, they have to come up with the dumbest random gossip and improvise songs on the spot before being allowed to belt it out. The acoustics in the main hall of our theater are very good. I was getting ready to start with the throat punching.
Thankfully, the movie started before all of that happened, and I was 10 again. Woody, Buzz, even Rex's incessant whining was all still there, and fully developed characters came alive whenever people weren't looking. We fell in love with new characters, heartbroken by the loss of old, slightly disturbed by Ken's fondness for clothing, and TOTALLY SAW THE TOTORO CAMEO (he has an incredibly creepy smile).
In the end, as the fire loomed closer, and our always optimistic, heroic, faithful, beautiful plastic friends held hands and accepted their fate, we cried, because we knew, like them, everything must end.
Everything must end. But that doesn't mean it should.


T Party Manifesto

Let me explain.
As said before in this blog, I go the gym several times a week. I usually start off with half an hour's worth of cardio on the elliptical, which I spend trying to talk to my girlfriend, but inevitably wind up trying to make out the blurry text on the twenty or so televisions they have lined up for the purpose of taunting the fat people with images of VH1's 'Whores on Parade'(or whatever they call their shows these days). Because I usually get there after work, I wind up catching the tail end of these awful 'Reality' programs and the start of what some channels call 'News.'
These make me mad.
Or really, they give me headaches. Or rather, the people on them give me headaches. More specifically, the stupid things people say on them give me headaches. Stupid, derogatory, racist, bigoted things people say. Ever try to bench-press with a pressure cooker strapped to your forehead? This is what hearing what dimwitted pundits telling me what to think does to me, actually decreasing my average health levels. They don't seem to take anything but themselves and their self-promoting books and radio programs.
So I've had enough of people who think they take politics seriously. It's time to admit what politics really are: Bullshit.
In honor of that, I urge you to join a political party that really knows what's going on, or at least fakes it really, really well, like a very expensive hooker; The T Party.
Organize events in your neighborhood (using the word 'community' as much as possible) and get together with strangers and loved ones alike to discuss Crimes You Didn't Commit, Soldiers of Fortune, Mohawks, and Custom Painted Vans. Wear your gold chains proud. Sit Nancy Reagan on your lap and ask her what she wants for Christmas. Pride yourself in knowing what it means to be a True American, and punch terrorists and crime syndicates in the face.

There is no agenda, there is no overlaying story or higher cause. All we know is that there are Fools. And they deserve nothing but our pity.



I've always wanted to write a book. Or at least, I've obsessed over it for several years now so I'll pretend and apply the past thirty month's insanity to the rest of my life, using the same retroactive continuity that fans of the Star Wars prequels are so fond of using to justify just how a mentally handicapped frog person could assist in the forming of an evil dictatorship. That said, I've also always wanted to eat the moon and I've always wanted to be in a band that specializes in covers of Paul McCartney and Wings.
Moving on, Books.
So my first step in writing has to be what to write about. Do I make it a story of my life? Do I write historical drama? Should I explore unsolvable mysteries, creating a character whose singular genius and sheer luck help win the day? Do I dare write an epic poem in which Armored Bears fight an army of Lawn Gnomes, led by the small but wicked Dorfendal, who seek to destroy the benevolent Ursine OverQueen, the fair Grendolia? Crap, now I'm thinking about bears again.
No, the best thing to do is to create controversy. I don't mean make insane political claims, featuring myself in full Nazi uniform on the cover, declare myself the only true savior of the country and somehow endear myself as a beloved spokesman to the over 50, white, overweight, jean-shorts wearing demographic. I mean just insult huge amounts of groups just so people buy my book, the same way that Dan Brown does. The Catholics hate him, historians hate him, Time Magazine hates him, but everyone buys his books to see what the fuss is about, just so they can say something equivalent to "Bruce Willis was dead the whole time!" and then throw eggs at a crippled Ian McKellen.
But Brown set his sights too small. "Too small?" you ask? "The Catholics have thier own damn city and never pay taxes, like Wesley Snipes. How is that too small?" I fully intend, Ladies and Gentlemen, to do what even George Carlin could not claim to have done. I intend to INSULT THE WORLD.
Step one, the title. It may be a cheap shot, but it has to get attention, and as everyone has a mother, I intend to start with them. Addressing the reader in first person throughout the book, I start with bold letters across the cover, unabashedly getting to my insulting point by saying YOUR MOTHER IS A WHORE, and, to cover my bases, the subtitle will read (in smaller, more fanciful writing, as if layering it on in a saucy voice) And Other Sad Truths About You. Inside, the dedication page will give the book to anyone who reads it, anyone who sees it in a bookshop, anyone who hears about it over a radio review, anyone who has ever come in contact with any part of human or even non-human society, even to those non-terrestrial societies who have yet to make contact with our species, I want them to know that the book they hold is directed personally, sincerely to them, and their dear mothers.
The contents of the book will be rendered by chapters, each subsection directed at either a relation to the reader or their own personal looks, intelligence, insecurities, and standings at work. The font will be large so as to not confuse the intellect of the pitiful reader, which I will point out regularly how little intellect they have, and embellishing the pages will be facts of stupid people throughout history, insults adorning every footnote, metaphorical fingers pointing out of every page, laughing at the reader's expense, and of course, definitions for tough words like 'metaphorical' and 'definitions.'
And once I've outsold the Bible, which will have gone up in sale anyway due to the devastating effect of my book upon the spiritual world, just wait until you hear what I have in store for the audio book.



I have this thing about being useful. I carry a pocketknife strapped to my belt, and I have a flashlight and compass in my backpack. Not that I ever really use them, with the exception of the knife, which I use daily (and probably illegally) at work. Knife, serrated knife, pliers, three screwdrivers, bottle opener, ruler, wire cutters, and for some reason, a saw. I was sharpening it the other day, when it struck me, I may have an obsession with making myself valuable through being useful.

Harkening back to my 'Fat Gandalf' days, I augmented myself with these various tools and gizmos and gewgaws to make me feel better about myself, as I was wholly useless to myself, my friends, and humanity in general. Since then I've gone to school for something I'm genuinely interested in, lost weight, put on muscle, changed the way I dress, comb my hair, any number of things. But was it all in the goal of usefulness? And in what the hell way am I useful?

Well, I can lift significantly heavier things now, and actually run, as opposed to fall over breathing heavily trying to get the tingle in my left arm to go away after taking a few quick steps. I bought a truck as opposed to the crappy little compact I had, enabling me to ferry more people back and forth (Altho that may have backfired, as I've managed to turn into a middle aged cantankerous father figure, I don't know how many times I've said 'Don't make me turn this car around').

So all my effort to become more useful has resulted in a slightly healthier body and a truck.
Measurable, yes, but useful? Maybe. I'm certainly the person my coworkers turn to when they need a designated driver, so maybe that's something. Suppose I keep at my self-improvements, maybe I'll become a proper Jack of All Trades, like John Locke. Or a Swiss Army Human, like Inspector Gadget.



Every spring it seems, regardless of whatever the weather happens to be at the time, I get a cold. It's not a simple affair, just the occasional Halls and a packet of Kleenex, but a great big whopping event with an industrial sized bag of cough drops and using an entire roll of toilet paper as a tissue substitute.
PM drugs become my best friends, making sure I get to sleep with minimal amount of drip onto my pillow. However, the same wonderful medication that ensures time in dreamland forcefully wakes me up four hours later to flail around at three in the morning, nostrils encrusted with mucus, lips chapped and begging for a kind and merciful god who clearly doesn't exist to just put me out of my misery, because it is just too much damn effort to go take another FUCKING dose of this wonder pill.
A week after I'm over the brunt of this damn 'common cold', one nostril is still blocked, breathing is still labored, and certain body parts are operable only by ingesting dangerous amounts of caffeine, praying to the aforementioned nonexistent god, and then giving up and begging for more soup. In a breadbowl. That I can eat. And then take more PM drugs. And then again four hours later.
With more soup.



Remember the cereals we used to eat as little kids? Or, rather, the cereals that some of us still eat as a guilty pleasure? Lucky Charms, Cookie Crisp, Cinnamon Toast Crunch...All these high sugar, high calorie cereals with charming cartoon mascots to entice kids to eat them. What did we see in these things? Did we really think that Lucky's charms were going to grant us magical powers? Did we really want to invite a vampire into our homes under the promise of chocolate in the morning? Did we ever question what happened to the other two chefs that Wendell hung out with? As the fat one, did he eat them?
After diabetic shock sets in, I'm sure we'll all put the spoons down, maybe. I'm just personally concerned, because it seems I've never had a childhood. The closest I got to eating cartoon-sponsored cereal was Honey Nut Cheerios. My favorite cereal as a small child? Cracklin' Oat Bran. It seriously does not get more boring than that.
What happened to me as a child? Was I struck by this crunchy cereal, above all cartoon characters, primarily aimed at geriatrics who needed to be more regular, as fun somehow? What animated showoff would've spoken for COB? A peppy old man, decked out in his brown and green Sunday best, pennies in his loafers, quad cane in one hand, bed-pan in another?
Forget it. Now I'm depressed and cereal can't help me.



If it’s one thing I pride myself on, it’s my hair. It’s huge, thick, and no matter what I do, it’s got the perfect amount of shine. Yeah, it’s a shallow thing to feel superior about, but dammit, I’m lucky to have it. The men in my family either lost it by their late twenties or are taking pills and using the most powerful anti-balding shampoos known to man to keep it. Nearly every time my family gets together, my cousin will look at me with mild envy, first at the three inches in height I have on him, then at my thick blond widow’s peak. Hair loss? Bah!
However, ever since the discovery of hair gel (a recent find, only four years back) I’ve strived for a kind of freeform follicle architecture perfected by my Doctor, David Tennant. Sure, his is brown, but I’ve got thickness.
Because of this fondness for what is essentially head glue, I’ve begun scientific experiments at The Pit where I am currently employed. Take bugs, brightly colored depending on how deadly their poison is. I’ve noticed a certain degree of trepidation towards people with especially freaky hair, a friend of mine going so far as to wear a wig in her exact natural color, but with huge dreadlocks instead of her usual bangs and slight curls. People take pause, wondering if they should’ve found a different supervisor to complain to. Like a man in a jungle trying to remember what that damn rhyme is about coral snakes, an aging woman with rough eye shadow and a bad perm job is something to approach slowly, or possibly back away from, hands in the air, no sudden movements.
At the best of times, I have what my girlfriend calls a “Clark Kent” haircut, like a comb over without the baldness. On days like that, I get approached by all sorts of folk, asking me questions about televisions and remotes and cameras and on occasion, compost. But yesterday I started it out small, unthreatening, gelled but in no way threatening. By the end of the day, I had haphazardly sculpted a do of colossal and frightening proportions, pointing all directions (although if I wasn’t attentive, I’m pretty sure it would calm down to pointing magnetic North), daring people to approach.
Sadly, my findings are thus inconclusive, as giant scary hair seemed only to attract more people. Maybe freaky hair is a sign of knowledge in an electronics department. Maybe people didn’t care. Maybe the people at The Pit are Just Damned Weird. More experiments are in order.
Share your hair stories in the comments! I’m striving for reader interactivity here, even if there are only three of you.



I realized the other night, on the drive home from work, that I had a problem. A little red light on my dashboard was blinking, the one that tells you your copilot is a God-Damned Idiot and has not buckled their seat belt. I began to worry, not because my passenger was in danger, but because I had no passenger. Clearly, I have a phantom aboard my Toyota. Not that that's the biggest threat these days anyway.
After some brief tests, I realized my backpack, and therefore all that is in it, is enough weight to trigger the seat belt light. How heavy does that bastard have to be?
Eleven pounds.
Eleven fucking pounds.
Average weight for a newborn baby is only eight. What the living hell do I strap to my back that weighs more than a new human life?
Quite a lot, actually, the pack rat I am. iPod (with waterproof, drop resistant case), headphones, two types of deodorant, several old pay-stubs I keep forgetting to file away, compass (I don't know why) binoculars (for when I need to use the compass, I guess), vitamins, weightlifting gloves, antidepressants, Idea Notebook, schedule, whatever hardback book I'm reading at the time (this week: The Complete Sherlock Holmes), glasses case with spare glasses (and sunglasses!), and, on occasion, a 17.3" laptop that adds a further eight pounds.
Why do I carry so much junk? Because I like to be ready? Ready for what? A foul-smelling brightly lit monster that is actually friendly but disgruntled and disoriented, and needs to see something that is far away and then needs to know which way is north? Is it because I just keep my life in my backpack? How much does yours weigh? Wasn't this a message in Up in the Air, starring George Clooney? Yes, but he was a misguided dick in that film, so never-mind that.
Step on the scale! Share your weights and knick-knacks!


Fat Gandalf

Let us talk about fat.
I've never exactly been skinny, voting "Yes" to cheeseburgers and fries whenever they came up in conversation. And now, as an addict of my local gym, weight is not exactly an issue, being slightly above my target for my height. However, there was a period of time that I am slightly ashamed of, and that period has a name.
Fat Gandalf.
As a fan of the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf has always been a favorite character of mine. And having then recently discovered the wonder of Ren Faires, I pulled out my costume sword and staff, and ready to shout "YOU SHALL NOT PASS" whenever the opportunity arose. It was only afterward when I saw the pictures friends took of me on Facebook that I realized I may have a problem. The costume was a poor take of that from the movie, cloth tight in the wrong places, made of stretchy cotton rather than the rough heavy wool Ian McKellen was fond of. Instead of Gandalf, and made me look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man decided to go cos-playing. I was about as pale as him, and my inability to grow any sort of facial hair enunciated the baby-faced pudgy nitwit that buldged in all the wrong places, nearly overlapping the belt I wore around my "waist."
Did I mention how pale I was/am? When people shouted "The White Wizard!" they were not kidding.
Skip a few years/girlfriends/anti-depressants down the line, I've dropped 60 pounds, and picked up new hobbies in jogging and weightlifting (still no luck on a tan), boosting my self-confidence by a thousandfold, regardless of whatever medication my therapist says I need.
So if Fat Gandalf can make it, so can you! The magic is inside you all along.
You pasty freak.


Dear Past Self

I sit in my comfy computer chair, swiveling away, as I attempt to change my e-mail address. After twenty minutes of it being a pain in my ass, I realize something dreadful.
I'm a weak-ass pansy.
And so are we all, if you think of it. Even in the military they don't expect you to take down a mastodon for food and clothing. Hell, when was the last time we thought of mastodons? And Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers doesn't count. I mean in the 'Oh shit oh shit this big furry thing with the tusks the size of GOD is trying to squash me like a bug I'm so sorry for anything I've ever done' kind of sense.
Dear past self, you are a sissy wimp who couldn't track a limp rabbit with ADD.
After I e-mail myself my password hint, I tell myself, I'm going out and teaching myself spearhunting.
Angry at your cell because it takes too long to text? Cranky at your laptop because it takes too long to load porn? Leave all comments below...