Reversing the Numbness

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Classic Calvin

The Heely Debate

You've seen kids Heelying around town. One second they're walking normally, and the next they hop back on their heels, wheelie their toes up, and voila, they're Heelying down the road.

I'd always thought these were just for kids, but then my friend spooge got a pair. He's 35, and they're size 12.

At first I laughed at him. But if you know spooge, you know that if any adult can pull of Heeleys, he's the one. Turns out he pulls them off easily. I went down to visit him last week, and he wore his Heeleys out on the town. Want another beer? spooge Heeleyed right up to the bar. He was having a blast.

Later that night I tried them on, as I wear size 12 too. And you know what? They freakin' rule. No joke, I love those things. I could ride them right off the bat. But I'm also 35, and I'm just not sure I can pull them off like spooge can.

To Heely or not to Heely. That is the question.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Puttin' it to The Man

There's something deliciously appealing about busting into an assembly of snobs and dropping the smack down on them with a little dose of your own brand of reckless reality. But to really have the right effect, you have to be careful how you do it. Allow me to give you a quick lesson in the right and wrong ways to put it to the man.

Right Way

Wrong Way

Then again, James Spader's character snagged Kim Richards' with that number, and Treat Williams' character got killed in 'Nam, so maybe I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The A Confederacy of Dunces Excerpt of the Day

I'm way overdue for one of these.

It is a great pity that John Kennedy Toole is not alive and well and writing. But he is not, and there is nothing we can do about it but make sure that his gargantuan tumultuous human tragicomedy is at least made available to a world of readers.
--From the Forward by Walker Percy

Records Matter

Every time I go to my in-laws house, I drool over my step-father-in-law's record collection. He doesn't even have a record player anymore, but he's still got all of his vinyl, and it's fabulous. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, Bill Withers, CSNY, Neil Young, John Denver, Donovan, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Elton John, Jackson Browne ... he's probably got 150 or so albums, and it's all stuff that was born on vinyl. A lot of it I've never even heard of.

So I drool over it, and it's gotten to the point where I obsessively think about getting a record player. I don't want a nice turntable that plays through a nice receiver on nice speakers. I want a cheap, all-in-one record player, like the one pictured, or like the one I had when I was a kid. My dad was a DJ when I was a small child and he had a nice little collection of 45s. It's where I met the Beatles' "Penny Lane," "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and best of all, "Strawberry Fields." I listened to Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" over and over and over again, my friend. I listened to "Snoopy and the Red Baron," to Electric Light Orchestra, and to so many more songs that I still know all of the words to. I forget a lot about being a kid, but I don't forget those records.

Later I got my own albums. Kenny Rogers, of course, was one of the first, and eventually I became a Billy Joel fan via vinyl. I also bought a lot of 45s. I loved Joan Jett's rendition of "Crimson and Clover" and also the Bangles' "Manic Monday." Also Elton John -- I had "Empty Garden" and "Nikita" on 45s. And who can forget the Beatles montage "Stars on 45"? Classic.

So I'll have a record player soon, and it's going right in my living room. I actually bought four old Billy Joel albums in Philly this past weekend, for a buck a piece, to start my collection. I can't wait to add more.

As much as I like music, I'm not much of a stickler for sound quality, so I won't care that my records will sound like shit compared to my CDs and iPod. I'll be too busy eating up the atmosphere they'll create. I can't wait to gently drop my first "new" record down on the turntable. The smell of old vinyl! I can't wait to lift the arm and lightly lay the needle down on the edge of the record, to feel the record take control of the needle and engage the first song. I can't wait to hear the snap and crackle of audio imperfection as Billy Joel sings "She's Got a Way" to kick off Cold Spring Harbor. I can't wait!

Sure hope it lives up to my expectations, because the anticipation is sort of making me feel like a kid again.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ghost Hunters

I've never had a paranormal experience. I thought perhaps I had when I blogged about a strange flying neon orb back in January, but after careful examination, and with the help of my mother-in-law, I (she) determined that it was probably a paint-ball that missed its target (my car). Later I found out a guy I know who lives by the "incident" has had his car hit by a paintball before. Case solved.

But I'm interested in that stuff, so the DM and I used to watch Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi Channel religiously. Most of the time Jason, Grant and their crew would debunk claims of paranormal activity, but every now and then they'd capture evidence that was pretty compelling.

The best case of this in my opinion is the St. Augustine Lighthouse episode. During their investigation they caught what appears to be a ghost chase up a spiral staircase inside the lighthouse. They clearly hear something, and then the video they capture seems to show someone peeking over the railing, and then moments later, over the railing a couple of floors up. When they make it to the top of the stairs, all they find is door that's locked on the inside with a padlock.

Here's the video from when they reveal the footage to the keeper of the lighthouse. Because it's Youtubed it's not nearly as clear as it looked on my TV screen, but you may be able to get the gist of it:

If you didn't see it on TV, it's probably not that impressive, but it's the closest thing I've ever seen to paranormal activity. It definitely made for a good episode, anyway.

On a side note, I interviewed Jason Hawes for Racer X last year. Turns out he's into dirt bikes. He was a cool guy.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. But I don't need music!

The Dalai Mama and I are leaving in few minutes for Zee's wedding -- can't wait! -- so the only request I have today is that the weather stays great and Zee and the lovely L have the day they're hoping for. In their honor, I leave them with a gushy love song by the incomparable Sade.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hot Spots

I almost hate to write this post because I think it could support negative stereotypes of West Virginia, but we've got a bizarre thing going on that's just getting out of control. I know this is happening in other places too, but I'm not sure how widespread it is.

A few years ago legislation passed that legalized video gambling machines in small doses. Naturally bars started taking advantage of it, and it didn't take long for a whole new breed of place to open: the hot spot. These new gambling bars often go into some pretty weird locations, spots that would never host a bar otherwise. It's pretty insane how many of these places are popping up.

There's a three-mile stretch of road on the way to my house, partly commercial and partly low-income residential, and there are six of these places on that route. Check 'em out.

This place used to be a used-car lot:

Here's where someone put one in a gas station:

I really don't know what kind of building this one was. Maybe a house?

Old retail plazas are prime locations for hot spots, like this one:

This was a little NASCAR restaurant that converted. Cool paint job on the garage door:

So I was driving down this road the other day and I noticed a guy painting his place in WVU blue and gold. The Dalai Mama noticed the same thing and mentioned it later that night, because it was just strange. It wasn't until a couple of days later that we found out why he was painting it that way:

Yes, it's a trailer. And not a modular-in-a-commercial-lot sort of trailer, but a crappy-old-trailer-park sort of trailer.

I'm going to start calling them crack houses, I think. Seems applicable.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

Everything is off. Complete sensory deprivation. Pitch black, numb. Nothing to smell. Nothing to taste. I hear nothing.

Wait ... a sound! A note! More notes! I'm starting to make it out. Is it ... could it be ... William Shatner "singing" Blur? Is this happening?

It is. I seem to see something move in front of me. I feel a cool breeze dance across my face. What's that smell? Oranges. And there's a slight ... metallic taste.

With every song I hear, the rest of my senses come back, and I'm once again completely alive.

Bring me back to life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Sleek Awards: Best Family Picture

Who am I kidding? I loved this movie way before I had a family. This is just one of the best pictures of any genre, ever, end of story. And since the 20th anniversary of its release is only a couple of months away, now is as good a time as any to bestow this award on it. So....

The Sleek Award for best family picture goes to:

The Princess Bride

You've all seen it, so I won't bother with the synopsis. Instead, here's a little reenactment some dude did of one of the most famous scenes from the movie. If you're as familiar with this film as I am, you'll know just how good this kid is.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Sleek Awards: Best Episode of Three's Company

We all watched it. Jack Tripper's zany adventures with his hot roommates made Three's Company one of the most beloved sit-coms of the late '70s and early '80s. You might think it would be hard to narrow all of the awesome episodes down to one ultimate show, but through much deliberation I've succeeded. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce the latest recipient of the increasingly prestigious Sleek Awards:

The episode where there was a misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the episode, but if I describe it I'm sure you'll remember it. I think it was Crissy who opened a door and heard Jack and Janet talking about something as innocent as can be, but Crissy misunderstood the meaning and thought there was some kind of hanky panky going on. Later Mr. Furley -- or was it the Ropers? -- got the low-down from Crissy about what she thought was going on, and then when they next saw Jack and Janet, the young roommates said something that again was innocent but, in the context of Mr. Furley's/The Ropers' confused idea of what was going on, propagated the misunderstanding! Add to the mix the introduction of Larry, who also somehow got the idea that Crissy was in love with him, and then later Jack made dinner and somehow had a mishap with a bag of flour that ended up on everyone involved. This is when the truth was finally revealed, and everyone went to the Regal Beagle and had a drink.

It was the best episode ever, for sure, and therefore deserves this award more than all of the others. If you ever see that this episode is airing, set your TiVo immediately!

The Sleek Awards: Best Ending to an '80s Slasher Flick

And the winner is:

Sleepaway Camp

Spoiler warning! If Sleepaway Camp is at the top of your Netflix queue and you don't want to blow it all by watching this ending, skip this post! Also, you may have to have a Youtube account to be able to view this because of what some may deem as objectionable content.

UPDATE: You don't need an account to watch this clip. View away!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Sleek Awards: Best Non-Domesticated Animal

This is the inaugural Sleek Award, and it's an important one. With the millions of species of animals roaming the earth, it might seem a daunting task to single out one as the best of the non-domesticates, but I've done it confidently and definitively. Without further ado, the best non-domesticated animal on planet Earth is:

The bat.

There are about 1,100 species of bats worldwide, so it would be hard to single out one species as the absolute greatest. So bats of all kinds -- chestnut short-tailed bats, mastiff bats, black myotis bats, long-tongued bats, disk-winged bats, fringe-lipped bats, and all the rest -- can share in this prestigious award.

You may be wondering why the bat was chosen as the recipient of the inaugural Sleek Award. The reasons follow:

1. Flight. Bats are the only mammals that can really fly. Sure, so called "flying" squirrels can get a pretty good glide going, but let's see what happens when they need to get back up into the tree. That's right -- they have the climb the bitch. No, only the bat can make a mammalian claim to the sky.

2. Echolocation. Bats can "see" better through echolocation than most mammals, including yours truly, can see with their eyes. Dolphins and whales use echolocation as well, but are they plucking bugs out of the air with it? I don't think so. I shot a beetle out of the air with a BB gun once when I was a kid and I've been talking about it ever since. Bats do it hundreds of times a night. You should see the greater bulldog bat echolocate frogs -- maybe ten a night! -- that are trolling along the surface of the water. They're hopeless -- the bat will win that fight every time. All of that said, it's a myth that bats have poor eyesight. Most bats actually have an acute sense of vision, particularly at distances greater than their echolocation can reach.

3. I hate bugs. At least the ones that mess with you when you're trying to have a beer on your porch. Bats will not only let you have your beer, but they'll also munch the bugs that are trying to thwart you. Bats rule for this.

4. They have insanely cool wings.

5. They're super cute. Face it, bats are about as cute as it gets. Think I'm crazy? Check out this adorable little spotted bat:

What a little sweet-pea. You think this bastard can't hear? And how about the giant golden-crowned flying fox?

Nothing short of gorgeous.

6. They've got great poop. Bat guano is an excellent organic fertilizer.

7. They're so not rodents. Bats are so far from rodents it almost makes me vomit. I hate rodents, as you'll see when I announce the Sleek Award for worst non-domesticated animal. Some bastards think of bats as flying rodents, and these are often the same people who double-park their Corvettes and chain their dogs up. Bats are more closely related to whales than they are rodents. Seriously.

8. They're creatures of the night. In order to be cool, you have to stay out late. Bats do.

9. Long tongues. One species of bat has the longest tongue relative to its body size of any other mammal. Gene Simmons, you rotten poser, eat your heart out.

Okay, so bats sometimes carry rabies, and most people in the US who get rabies actually do get it from bat bites. Big whoop. I'm not going to let this little detail get in the way of the magnificent bat getting its rightful claim to the Sleek Award for the best non-domesticated animal in the world.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Who's the guy on Twenty-One Jump Street?

If you're a fan of Homestar Runner, one of the funniest sites on the inter-web for some seven years now, then you already know the answer.

Started as a goof by two brothers in 2000, Homestar Runner has become a true internet phenomenon and straight-up cultural icon. Homestar Runner himself is the loveable, armless buffoon for which the site is named. Homestar, Strong Bad, his sidekick The Cheat, and a legion of whimsical characters that comprise the Homestar Universe are featured in a hodge-podge of 3 minute cartoons, songs, commercial parodies and random funny things. There are even cartoons and games that are "created by" the characters themselves (such as Strong Bad's Teen Girl Squad).

Every few months I become obsessed with HSR. I watch everything on the site 5 times over and then tire of it and forget about it, only to re-discover it all over again months later. Guess where we're at right now?

I could waste your time rambling on about everything great on Homestar Runner or you could just go there and see for yourself. So what are you waiting for already?

Feel free to ask what my favorites are if you are overwhelmed. Enjoy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Friday Music

It's Friday. I need music.

We're having a few people over from the office tonight, and here's the playlist I've got going so far. (For some reason it's taking a little while to load.) I still need to move some stuff around and maybe even add a few songs.

What am I missing?

Monday, July 2, 2007

What a Pisser!

It was a good trip. I arrived on Tuesday and took a cab to my Hotel, the beautiful Banks Mansion on Herengracht. When staying in Amsterdam, there's no good reason to stay down in the Dam area, as far as I'm concerned. The city is much cooler away from all the hustle (literally) and bustle.

One of the great things about foreign travel is the bathrooms. Countries simply do bathrooms differently. The one in my hotel room wasn't too far from an American bathroom:

The only thing unusual here (if American stuff is usual to you, that is) is the push-button flusher on the top of the tank. But this bathroom also had an amazing feature in the rain-fall shower:

Yeah, my own in-room steam shower with the eucalyptus option. And believe me, the eucalyptus option was money!

Sure, I was spoiled by my hotel's push-button flusher and steam shower, but when I was out and about on the streets of Amsterdam, I lived like the locals and used this baby:

Here's the inside view:

Step right up, ladies! Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the public urinals that don't even have the shield around them. Hey, if people regularly just piss on the street, you might as well put a urinal there!

More later.

Amsterdam Magic

Wow, it's been way too long since I've posted on here. I just didn't have much extra time in Amsterdam, but I'll definitely post more about the trip shortly. It was a damn fine time. In the meantime, here's a pretty cool image I captured at about 10 pm on Friday night. (It doesn't get dark until almost 11pm there at this time of year.) We stepped off the train at Centraal Station that evening into a magical Amsterdam that was aglow with soft, late light. The intense rainbow that arced over the whole city was like icing on top. People everywhere were gazing skyward at the spectacle. It was breathtaking.

More later.