Feb 17

Adoption From a True Story

If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you may have noticed adult adoptees posting their information in hopes of finding their birth parents. This has been encouraged by the adoptionfind blog and this Facebook group, among other sources. I understand some have been successful doing this. I’m all for it.

colton

I’m happy to help this guy, among others.
UPDATE: I’m told he was among the successful ones.

However at the risk of writing something a bit more serious than I want, I feel a need to say something about adoption which may not fit the narrative. You see, I’m adopted as well. I was three weeks old when I was placed, so obviously I don’t remember anything about it.

spock

I’m not THAT good.

What may surprise some is that I don’t consider being adopted a big deal in the slightest. I hesitate to write about the subject in the first place. I do so mainly to address what I consider some erroneous generalizations.

By all measures I had a good childhood. My adoptive parents are my parents, end of story. I never viewed being adopted as a stigma in any sense. As a matter of fact I’m often smug and irreverent about it. In high school I joked my adoption was just a cover story, and that I was actually born in Dresden as part of a Stasi genetic experiment and smuggled to the United States in a crate of oranges. Yes, I’ve always been a bit odd.

I’ve known I was adopted my entire life. I’ve never considered it some dreadful, horrible secret. Not even close. If someone accused me of being adopted, my reaction would have been something along the lines of, “Well, duh.” Truth be told until I was about eight years old I thought it was strange NOT to be adopted. In essence, I thought babies were issued by the government like driver’s licenses.

Ryugyong_hotel_01

And building permits.

Accordingly I was told I could contact the state about my birth parents when I turned 18. That was over 20 years ago; I never made any serious attempt to do so. Indeed, it was just recently I discovered Idaho only releases contact information if both the adoptee AND the birth parents register with the voluntary adoption registry.

Now I’m well aware my experience is atypical in many respects. It’s certainly not my intent to project my story on others. I don’t want to take anything away from adoptees who are actively looking for their birth parents or vice versa. I strongly support such endeavors, as well as reforming laws to make the search easier. However, I take exception to the notion all adoptees are necessarily “hurting” or “incomplete” because of their history, as propagated by cheesy TV movies and what not. That’s simply not how I feel about it.

As adoptees I’d like to think we’re more of an inquisitive group than a maudlin one. Do I think about my birth parents from time to time? Sure, but I’ve never harbored anything more than a sort of morbid curiosity about my origins.

That all said, if either of my natural parents somehow stumble upon this blog they’re absolutely welcome to contact me. I’d be a bit surprised, but not weirded out in any sense. I’d invite them over, have a drink, something like that. I suppose it would be like hearing from someone I haven’t seen since kindergarten. If I don’t hear from them, well, such is life.

Baby Boy “Andy”
Born 15 July 1973 7:46 am Pacific
at Kootenai Memorial Hospital (now Kootenai Medical Center)
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Birth parents born c. 1955

All right, I got that out of my system. I promise to be funnier tomorrow.

Feb 16

That Miku Thing on YouTube

I’m in the 2T this weekend with my daughter. One of our favorite bonding activities is watching YouTube videos together. She’s into things like Annoying Orange, Kids React and, um … Fred.

fred

Seriously, they gave this guy a TV show. Twice.
Image credit: Scott Bedard

But the most perplexing YouTube icon we’ve come across is Hatsune Miku. Now this requires some explanation. Through software developed by a Japanese company, Miku is a programmable anime character who can sing and dance to anything you want. I think that’s how it works, anyway. Creating videos of a fictional Japanese singer is not high on my to-do list.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Miku is big in Japan.


Really, REALLY big.

As one can imagine, this is a perfect formula for creating YouTube videos for people who can’t get dates. There are well over 2 MILLION of ’em, in all their glory. Unsurprisingly most follow J-pop or anime themes, but others dare to be different.

Example: my daughter HATES Justin Bieber. Fortunately Miku has a video for that.


This sums up her feelings on the matter pretty well.

Another example: if you know me well, you know that one of my favorite bands of all time is Rush. If you know Rush well, you know that they’re about as far away from J-pop as one can get. Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with this one ….


Absolutely dumbfounding.

CRACKED.com update: Unfortunately both of my submissions were sent back to the pile. I’m not too concerned about it, though. I have plenty of other submission ideas, and content that doesn’t make the cut may just wind up here.

Feb 15

Friday Crap Roundup

When I’m not writing or herding cats, I spent a lot of time on Facebook. There I and a few of my nearly 700 friends often come across the strange, the stupid and the hilarious, in addition to long-debunked rumors and trite, misspelled memes.

lucy

I try to ignore these.

I wouldn’t dream of keeping this stuff to myself, thus the Friday Crap Roundup.

I’ll also respond to comments in this section, assuming I ever get any worth responding to. If you want to contribute or something, leave a comment or friend me on Facebook.

Right, now that the introductions are out of the way let’s move on to the snark.

Motel 6 Never Looked So Good

As fate would have it, the very first FCR item is literally about crap. For the better part of this week over 4,000 people have been stranded without restroom facilities as slowly they make their way to the promised land of Mobile, Alabama. But NASCAR isn’t in Talladega, which is what usually causes this phenomenon.

Nope, this time the culprit is the Carnival Triumph, operated by the same cruise ship company that used to be one of the primary causes of Kathie Lee Gifford exposure on American television. On Sunday morning a fire broke out in the engine room, knocking out propulsion and seriously damaging the sanitation facilities, among other things. For the next few days passengers and crew alike had to endure “urine and feces (streaming) in the halls and down walls.”

Carnival_Triumph_Half_Moon_Cay

But at least they didn’t have to endure the Black Eyed Peas.
Image credit: Scott L.

This not the first fall-down-go-boom incident involving Carnival Corporation ships in the recent past. In January 2012 the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast due to captain operator error. The result was 32 deaths and the complete loss of a $570 million ship.

No doubt to the great relief of all (pun possibly intended), the Triumph is now in port. Fortunately unlike the Costa Concordia incident there do not appear to be any deaths or serious injuries. While sincere best wishes are sent to all passengers and crew involved, my 12-year-old self can’t help but find this amusing.

beavis

Pictured: My 12-year-old self.
Image credit: Evan P. Cordes

New this fall on ABC, The Turd Boat! Love (and other things) are in the air. Follow the wacky misadventures of the fun-loving crew as they get themselves into all sorts of messes, both in the literal and figurative sense. Scheduled guest stars this season include Fred Durst, Lindsay Lohan, Rush Limbaugh, Honey Boo Boo and Nickelback! Also, don’t miss Raw Sewage Island immediately following.

Uh huh huh huh m huh huh huh m (ad infinitum).

Of Pot and Pepsi

My friend out Texas way, Michael Fortner, often posts some very interesting items. According to one of his latest posts, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to significantly loosen the city’s drug enforcement laws. Specifically, he plans to make possession of small amounts of marijuana about as serious an offense as a parking ticket.

While I’ve tried marijuana in the past, it’s been quite some time since I last inhaled. I never got into it and I doubt I ever will. Even so, I support its legalization. Bloomberg’s decision is a good one.

I have enough vices as it is.

Still, I can’t help but notice this is the same guy who wants to ban large sodas in his fair city. I’m not in favor of banning things in general, so needless to say I find all this rather confusing. It’s not like pot high in riboflavin or anything.

Track of the Week

The Carnival Triumph incident has had this song in my head for days:

Praise the Lard!

Feb 14

A Heartfelt Valentine’s Day Message

Superfluous Bloviations would be remiss not to recognize a holiday specifically designed to sell greeting cards, candy, flowers and mace. Although named after an obscure 3rd Century CE saint who may or may not have been as many as three people according to the Roman Catholic Church, like many annoying things Valentine’s Day can be blamed on Geoffrey Chaucer.

chaucer

Min be the tale, and thin be the travaille.

So break out the mystery chocolates, chalky candy hearts, old-timey Chicago gangsters and guilt trips. Just keep in mind I have a tree nut allergy.

stvdmassacre

“I said NO NUTS, dammit!”
(Photo credit: David Erickson)

Endure the day with as much grace as possible. By the way, cops don’t carry tommy guns.

Feb 13

History Wednesday: The Sad, Pathetic Tale of Qin Er Shi

As a native Idahoan, I take exception to the implication that the only culture around here is in the yogurt section at Albertson’s. In recognition of that, on Wednesdays Superfluous Bloviations takes a look at people in history way dumber than you.

Today’s journey takes us to ancient China, which made the Great Leap Forward look like Burning Man. Qin Shi Huang, the legendary First Emperor, is not only a truly badass figure in Chinese history, but in ancient history in general. Not only did he unify the country for the first time, he also built the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and a still-unexcavated tomb which if ever opened will probably make Tutankhamun’s burial site look a like a rundown swap meet. Sure, he was unspeakably cruel and killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in the process, but Qin Shi Huang was a guy who knew how to get shit done. By 211 BCE he was the unquestioned master of a unified Chinese state of 20 million people.

Qinshihuang

He also invented cross-country skiing.

When he wasn’t busy beating the ever-loving crap out of ungrateful nobility, Qin Shi Huang obsessively pursued the secret of eternal life. As a result he avoided things associated with death, such as writing a will. On a trip to the eastern reaches of his empire in search of the magic elixir of life Qin Shi Huang suddenly died, reputedly due to ingesting mercury pills intended to make him immortal (go figure). Chancellor Li Si, chief eunuch Zhao Gao and the emperor’s younger son, Huhai, carted the decaying and possibly bio-hazardous corpse home to Xianyang while pretending Qin Shi Huang was still alive. Along the way they concocted a plan to take over the empire.

bernies

Like this, but for two months and involving carts of rotting fish to mask the smell.

Back in Xianyang Fusu, the emperor’s oldest son, was the acknowledged heir apparent. However, the trio would most likely lose their influence, if not more, under his leadership. Their brilliant caper? They forged a letter purportedly from the deceased Qin Shi Huang declaring Huhai heir to the throne and ordering Fusu and and his favorite general to commit suicide. Fusu saw right through this lame plot and had the conspirators killed.

Ha, ha. No. The plan totally worked and Fusu obligingly offed himself. With Fusu out of the way Li and Zhao were able to put the ridiculously pliant Huhai on the throne. What followed were probably the most slapdick three years in the entire five-millennia history of China. Huhai ruled under the name Qin Er Shi, or “Second Emperor,” but it should have been something more like “Fredo of Qin” as the inept new emperor immediately proceeded to drive the family business into the ground.

How much of a screw-up was Qin Er Shi? Well, over 20 centuries later his name is still referenced in a Cantonese expression for an incompetent, spoiled child raised by wealthy parents. Ouch.

qinershi

Trust me, you DON’T want this tattoo.

Zhao Gao convinced Qin Er Shi, who was barely out of his teens, that as the “Son of Heaven” he must never speak or show his face in public, which in turn helped to give the eunuch exclusive access to the emperor. Zhao’s influence over the emperor was so strong that Qin Er Shi was effectively a figurehead. In other words, a man with no balls had the emperor by the balls.

Meanwhile through Zhao Gao, Qin Er Shi proceeded to levy trumped up bullshit charges on various out of favor nobles and high-ranking military officials and then put them to death, pretty much for the sheer hell of it. This included three of the emperor’s surviving brothers, who committed suicide rather than face the indignity of certain execution.

Needless to say, with a useful idiot at the helm of a shadowy, brutal regime which only recently subjugated its neighbors, before long the Qin state was engulfed in numerous rebellions. Qin Er Shi, having the leadership skills of a squashed slug, chose to avoid the matter as much as possible. Messengers who brought bad news were immediately put to death. My research suggests 3rd Century BCE messengers were not in favor of being hacked to pieces, so they quickly learned to provide the emperor with good news regardless of whether it was true or not. This gave Qin Er Shi an extremely false sense of security.

custer

Although in his defense, it’s happened to others.

In 208 BCE, Li Si went to the emperor to ask that funds being used to build a palace be diverted to the military since they were fighting, um, you know, wars and stuff. Perhaps realizing a bit too late that installing a homicidal castrato as the power behind the throne wasn’t a terribly smart idea, Li was rewarded with a rather gruesome execution, ironically via a technique he himself pioneered.

Despite this, Qin Er Shi still had an enormous army left over from the First Emperor’s days of glorious conquest. At first it was able to keep the rebels at bay. Finally in 207 BCE, in a stunning victory at Julu in present-day Hebei Province, an army from the rebel state of Chu no larger than 60,000 defeated a Qin army of 200,000. The Qin general, who still had substantial reserves, fell back and requested supplies and reinforcements from the emperor. Zhao Gao then proceeded to tell Qin Er Shi the general, having the temerity to lose a battle, was obviously disloyal. The emperor denied the general’s request. Soon after, the remaining 200,000 Qin troops were surrounded by rebel forces and forced to surrender. The rebels then proceeded to bury all of them alive lest they become a pain in the ass later.

Realizing his father’s once-massive military had been killed dead and that Zhao Gao had been feeding him a load of crap since day one, Qin Er Shi tried to eliminate the conniving eunuch. But true to form Qin Er Shi managed to screw this up too. Instead of being brought to ancient Chinese justice, Zhao and his minions actually forced the emperor to commit suicide.

Soon after Qin Er Shi’s demise, Fusu’s son Ziying seized the throne and finally managed to liquidate the dickish Zhao Gao. But it was too little, too late. The Qin Dynasty, the first unified Chinese state in history, fell after only 15 years of existence. It was succeeded by the much more intelligent Han Dynasty after four more years of civil war.

Feb 12

Fat Tuesday, Eh?

I was going to write an entry on HVAC and home improvement, as Dad is in town today to help with such things here at the Command Center. It wasn’t as funny as I wanted, but I was bound and determined to force the matter. You know, like the later seasons of Night Court.

Fortunately, the Catholic liturgical calendar (something I don’t normally pay any attention to) saved you from all that. It also gave me an excuse to post this. The link is probably NSFW, but you knew that:

“I’ll have the lot.”

Back when I lived in Philadelphia this was the single worst day of the year to go to work. The publisher I worked for was only a couple blocks away from the Fat Tuesday on South Street. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, it’s kind of like taking 30 Slurpee machines, filling them with tequila and turning the entire college-age population of a major American city loose on them. The results were expected and consistent; South Street looked like the Gaza Strip for days afterward. Not even the Philly cab drivers could get through that mess.

Today I’m sitting at home with a cold, my tequila days long since past. NyQuil, however, may be a different matter ….

Oh yeah, here’s the rest of that scene:

“It’s only wafer thin.”

Bon appétit!

Feb 11

80s Commercials Worth Remembering (Maybe)

While researching pitches for Cracked articles I occasionally come across items I want to write about but which don’t lend themselves to Cracked’s desired format. That’s what today’s entry is about. It’s a theme I’ll undoubtedly follow in posts to come. Lucky you.

Today we’re going to take a look at two 80s ads which have perplexed me for almost a quarter century. Yes, yes, I’m showing my age. Nevertheless, the absurdity is timeless.

B-Boy Fails at Math

Like many of you, I remember MTV in the 80s back when they actually played music videos. But it wasn’t a more genteel age with urbane VJs spending their days playing Sonic Youth, New Order and the Pixies. Then, like now, it was mostly crap. Seriously, one could only take so much Mr. Mister and The Dream Academy before the clock tower scenario started sounding like a good idea.

So circa 1985, while jonesing for all-too infrequent episodes of Al TV, I and my like-minded comrades were bombarded with something called breakdancing. You may know it as B-boying, but breakdancing was how it was marketed to an eagerly consumptive mid-80s public. Now while my stiff, Caucasian ass had no interest in participating in any sort of electric boogaloo, I couldn’t help but notice the trend.

One particularly notable pitch came courtesy of a certain Alfonso Ribeiro, who at that time was just barely in his teens. I’ve never been much of a sitcom aficionado, so until just a couple days ago I was unaware Ribeiro was later a regular on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I just remember him from this spot, hawking a breakdancing instruction book, some posters, a piece of cardboard and some proto-Kidz Bop albums, on vinyl no less.

Vinyl was an important commodity in primitive societies.

Apart from the obvious lack of a web site, the ad’s most memorable moment comes at the very end:

Alfonso: … all for under 20 bucks!
VO: Alfonso’s right! Only $19.99!
12-year-old me: WTF?

alfonsofail

Pictured: Cognitive dissonance

It was this sort of thing which prevented me from placing tiny classified ads later.

Buy Batteries! Oy!

Before they bored America with two decades of a pink drumming bunny, the Energizer battery folks – then part of Ralston Purina of all companies – thought it would be a good idea to let a recently-retired Australian rules football player market their stuff. This was the result:

This was years before the energy drink craze, mind you.

This ad campaign starred Mark “Jacko” Jackson, a guy noted for being a bit off in the already-insane Australian Football League. Energizer was apparently looking to cash in on a fad for things Australian in America. Indeed INXS and Midnight Oil were at the peak of their commercial popularity in the U.S. at the time, as was Paul Hogan and his alter ego, Mick “Crocodile” Dundee. Jacko, coming off a minor hit record in Australia, was their man.

In addition to providing some of the most obnoxious ads of this geologic eon, if you were around at the time you know Jacko burned himself into our collective consciousness whether we wanted it or not. I clearly remember Jacko posters offered as booby prizes by carnies at the Twin Falls County Fair. Being around 14 or so my friends and I were much more interested in other kinds of boobies. Hairspray, mousse and fear created a lot of collateral damage in those days.

In any event, I thought with a minor rewrite this would have made a truly epic condom ad. I still do.

Feb 10

Myrtle and the Moose Factory

More stupid DNS tricks today. As noted yesterday I achieved the desired outcome with respect to the web site. However, I also momentarily lost the ability to receive e-mail. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I’m no longer receiving Craigslist-inspired spam from the Russian mob, it does cramp my style a bit. So until further notice please e-mail me at boisealbatross at hotmail dot com.

UPDATE: The DNS beast is slayed. Lane at lanestartin dot org is back online. Rejoice.

Albatross!

On the subject of Craigslist, yesterday I decided to jettison my various dating site profiles. It’s not that I haven’t been successful in the past year or so; on a strictly prurient level I’ve been VERY successful. It’s because I’m sick of it all. Of course, the fact my recent posts referenced nontraditional date site topics such as the French Republican Calendar, Subhas Chandra Bose, technological singularity, the Air Bud series and the Guano Islands Act of 1856, should have probably alerted me to that earlier. So gone are my Craigslist ads, my profiles on OKCupid, POF and Match.com and any further mention of Hamburglar of Arimathea. I feel better now. Robble, robble.

Somewhat coincidentally last night I went on a date, my first since early December. Myrtle (not her real name) and I have been dating off and on for the last two years or so. As it usually does, everything went fine. Nothing terribly remarkable to report about it.

I choose not to use Myrtle’s real name for two reasons. One, she’s a nice kid and I don’t want to embarrass her in this cesspool of snark. Two, she unfortunately has a stalker ex-boyfriend who I’ll refer to here as Moose Factory Boy™ (neither his real name nor his point of origin). Well aware of my dating history, a couple months ago Moose Factory Boy™ took the unusual step of friending me on Facebook. I accepted, because what the hell, right?

Based on my admittedly limited observations, it wasn’t long before I came to the healthy conclusion that Moose Factory Boy™ is what both sociologists and paleontologists refer to as “fucking creepy.” How creepy? Consider this Facebook conversation I had with him:

MFB: Lane, when is the last time you got tested for AID/HIV?
Me: September I believe. It was quite recently.
MFB: Why did you get tested?
Me: Due diligence. I’ve been quite active in recent months.
MFB: Can I get a copy of those test results?
Me: Why would want those? Sounds like you’re a tad … obsessed.

Now while I don’t necessarily release personal medical records into the public domain, I’m also pretty upfront about such things. I suppose I could have sent them, but he’d probably want a stool sample too. The logistics of that aren’t worth the effort.

trashcan

You’d be surprised how hard it is to find these things anymore.

Moose Factory Boy™ hasn’t surfaced recently, but you never know when he’ll strike again. Fortunately he’s not local or even close to it, so the chances of him turning up in person are slim. Of course this is much more of a concern for Myrtle than it is for me, but all the same I’m still keeping a lookout. So yeah, while I don’t want to ignore the Muse, I don’t want to make this situation any weirder than it already is by using real names. I honestly don’t know what happens from here. Maybe this time it’ll work out. If not, oh well. I’m a fatalist like that.

Oh yeah, for the record Myrtle and I didn’t watch any of the Air Bud movies last night.

Feb 09

The Old Kingdom Wasn’t This Gross

Ah, the DNS has renewed. Setting up this web site stuff is not only a pain in the balls, it forces me to recall arcane computer knowledge I learned 10 years ago and hope to YHWH (1) I remembered it right and (2) that it still works. It’s kind of like working on a Lexus when one only knows how to fix Model Ts. The only upside is that I only have to do it once. If you’re reading this, I succeeded without violating the Geneva Convention. That’s more than I can say after I tried to assemble my computer desk. Bent nails galore …

So anyway, I suppose the best way to start a blog is to bore the ever-loving crap out of my audience by talking about my cats. It’s a tradition, and I understand a legal requirement in parts of Scandinavia. That said, my cats are foul, disgusting creatures. Oh sure, they may look cute and cuddly, but they have some bad habits. I adopted them from the Idaho Humane Society back in October, a few months after my previous cat, Loki, went to the great litter box in the sky. Loki was pretty much copacetic with everything, so it was a bit of a shock to encounter these behavioral traits.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Pictured: filthy, disgusting creatures

Sneferu, the smaller black one, has a penchant for dropping things in standing water. This is usually a cat toy and/or a feather in the water dish, but it can be other things in other places. About a month ago I woke up to a dollar bill in the toilet. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture, as visually documenting the contents of my toilet is not high on my to-do list. You’re welcome.

Earlier today I went to check the water dish (these cats, especially Sneferu, drink water like nobody’s business). What I found was a puddle of water approximately the same color as green death NyQuil. Apart from a small bell, There were no other foreign objects. I can only surmise Sneferu took it upon himself to a destroy a catnip-laced cat toy and dump it into the water dish. Disconcerting, but not surprising.

Yes, I did provide clean water. Thanks for caring.

Djoser, the large orange tabby, is not without his quirks either. He’s quite fond of ripping the hell out of the cat box liner. So much so that I’m forced to tape the liner down every time I change the box. If I don’t … well … that makes the water incident look tame.

CRACKED.com update: This is carried over from my Facebook statuses (statii?). I still have two article submissions in the “Ready for Editorial” folder (i.e. they made it past the first round). Imma gonna wait on submitting any more pitches until someone acts on one or the other pitch already in the pipe. Don’t want to overwhelm those guys too much, you know.