Mar 31

Ishtar: Another Bad Review

It’s an auspicious occasion here at Superfluous Bloviations. Not only is this the last post of March, it’s the 50th post overall. Rejoice!

Oh yeah, and it’s Easter too, one of my least favorite holidays. A day of forced church attendance, pastel-colored candy and that damn plastic Easter grass which gets everywhere.

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I don’t even like hard-boiled eggs, dammit.
Image source: Ikonact

As if the self-inflicted, sugar-based tummy ache caused by eating too many cheap jellybeans wasn’t bad enough, I always took exception to being hauled off to church for Easter. This was exacerbated by the fact my family have never been regular church-goers to begin with, at least not in my lifetime. I’m not religious. Never have been.

Besides, Easter may or may not derive from earlier celebrations of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, which would moot the point entirely as far as I’m concerned.

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Either way, Dustin Hoffman is blameless.
Image credit: Alan Light

Oh well. I’ll get by. Happy Easter for those of you who feel differently. Here’s an old video of Beachy singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”

She was metal even then.

Mar 30

Touring the 2T

Being a holiday weekend and all, it was pretty slow around the 2T today. When I lived here, I used to pass the time by driving around town. I figured, why not do that today? It’ll kill some time and perhaps give me some material for the blog. Excellent thought, I must say!

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I’m not the only smartass hailing from here, you know.

So it was settled. I drove around the 2T in search of the weird, wacky and stupid. My camera: the Pantech Jest, tricked out with authentic cat toothmarks. My vehicle: the usual staff car, a 2004 Ford Focus. My music: A Farewell to Kings by Rush. I was ready to find the story out there.

Bask in all its glory, supplicants.

I began with a southbound journey down the main drag, looking for hilarious and/or inane reader board errors. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything worthy of the FAIL Blog. The closest thing I could find was the recently-opened Chick-fil-A, which is neither worth photographing nor patronizing. A quick jaunt to downtown yielded similar results. I suppose this is a good thing, since it indicates a certain degree of intelligence among the populace.

I found material through other means. Being hours away from any major population center of note, sometimes one finds some unintended mixed messages. The smaller towns around the 2T are good places to look for such things.

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Not an LGBT establishment. At all.

The evening’s unexpected highlight came when I was pulled over by the police. Yeah, I was caught doing 35 in a 25 zone. I couldn’t find my insurance certificate, which is particularly embarrassing since my insurance agent is my father. Fortunately I have all sorts of junk in the staff car, so I was able to find a copy of my current insurance declarations. The kind officer let me off with a warning.

Well, I suppose I achieved what I set out to do. With dusk approaching, I returned to my parents’ house to await the Easter Bunny, or something. Perhaps when I get a chance again I’ll go trolling for people who can’t tell the difference between a plural and a possessive. In the meantime, let’s hope for an uneventful rest of the weekend.

(Note to self: Get a new insurance certificate from Dad ASAP.)

Mar 29

Friday Crap Roundup VII

I’m back in the 2T for the first time in over a month. Beachy is currently transfixed by a show called Four Weddings on TLC. The fact an eight-year-old is into this is a bit disconcerting. However, given that she shushed me during a Lumber Liquidators commercial, this is evidently the wrong time to ask. I guess now is as good a time as any for the Friday Crap Roundup.

Getting Bombed

Dang, Good Friday indeed. As of this writing Superfluous Bloviations has already doubled its all-time daily hits record. There’s still a good six hours left in the day too. Call me crazy, but I suspect The B-52s fan club found me.

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The Love Shack is full today.

The one vote for Devo is mine. Oh well.

Seeing Red

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or in Oman, or something, you probably noticed the same-sex marriage issue dominated the news this week. I have just south of 700 friends on Facebook at the moment. I estimate about 400 of them changed their avatar this week to this, or a variation thereof:

redequal

I think it pops well.

I find it curious that red – the same color the Republican Party uses – was chosen for this campaign, however I certainly support its aims. Although I personally have little use for marriage, I think it’s wrong to deny it to anyone else. Either make marriage legal for everyone or remove the concept from the state entirely. Anything else is half-assing it.

These are absolutely landmark cases the Supreme Court is considering, but I feel at this point the worst-case scenario decisions only delay the inevitable. Same-sex marriage is here to stay. Twenty years from now we’ll be wondering what the hell the big deal was.

Northern Remains

A few days ago I mentioned in passing another web site I run called the Quebec Nordiques Preservation Society. Earlier this week I was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal of all outlets about it.

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Yes, I’d love to see them back in the NHL. No, I’m not Canadian.

It wasn’t much of an interview. I last worked on the QNPS over eight years ago, and I’m not involved in any of the current efforts to bring the NHL back to Quebec City. Accordingly I very strongly doubt I’ll be quoted in any article. Yet people are still looking at this obvious web leftover from the 90s. Amazing.

Track of the Week

I recently rediscovered this album. It was one of my absolute favorites in high school. Such a shame Sting went all soft rock on us.

Love the bass line.

By the way, if Beachy wants a regatta setting for her wedding, she’d better be prepared to get married in Burley.

Mar 28

A Post About Nothing

I suppose it happens to the best of us. Call it lack of inspiration, a loss for words, writer’s block or what have you, all of us writers go through it from time to time. Unfortunately I haven’t written an analogue to The Catcher in the Rye yet, so I can’t just take the next 45 years off.

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“Dear fans, piss off. Love, J.”
Image credit: bbnick42

It’s been suggested I could write something about nothing. It’s been done before: Seinfeld, most political speeches, the entire Meat Loaf catalog. The list goes on and on. Eh, maybe I’ll try something like that. I know! I’ll create the blog equivalent of John Cage’s 4’33”, a piano piece (or whatever instrument suits your fancy, it really doesn’t matter) consisting of four minutes and 33 seconds of … absolute silence.

Yes, this is an actual piece of music. It’s been a topic of serious discussion since its 1952 “premiere.” No less than NPR called it one of the “100 most important American musical works of the 20th Century.” Cage himself called it his favorite work. Hrm, I suppose the literary equivalent would be something like …

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Sheer minimalism! Genius!

But then again, this kind of crap doesn’t go over well in Idaho. I doubt anyone from The New Yorker or the The Village Voice reads my dreck, either. So much for that little theory.

Another way to go about this would be to write about my mundane life. It would be like a diary, but it would bore the hell out of anyone who reads it, including any Internet archaeologist who stumbles upon this blog hundreds of years from now. Hey, let’s try it out!

Dear Diary: Well, today was a boring day. Sneferu and Djoser have been running around like maniacs. I did laundry, no whites so I didn’t use any bleach. I did the dishes too. There were a lot more than usual. Oh yeah, I went downstairs and checked the mail. Well, I guess that’s all for today. Love, Lane

Still awake? Good! I could write either one of those things today. Or I could copy and paste the lorem ipsum placeholder text over and over in white letters so you can’t see them on your screen. Yes, dear readers, I would do anything for cheap laughs …

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… but I won’t do that!
Image credit: Christie D. Mallon

Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one. All right, now it’s time for today’s entry!

Ah, crap. Lost the moment again ….

Mar 27

History Wednesday: How to Drive the Family Business Into the Ground

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ve noticed that most old-timey nation-states in Europe and elsewhere were ruled by dynastic kingdoms, with a son (or sometimes daughter) succeeding the parent. As History Wednesday has pointed out before, successions such as these can lead to giving absolute power to complete incompetents. Today we travel to the 14th Century to examine another one of these yutzes.

The Plantagenet Dynasty came to power in England in 1154. Except during a period in the 1210s when King John had his ass handed to him by both the French and his own nobility, resulting in the Magna Carta, the Plantagenets provided decent leadership in England for the next 150 years or so. In 1272 the English crown passed to Edward I, an imposing figure and a very capable military leader.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Who could have been England’s starting center had James Naismith lived a few centuries earlier.
Image credit: Steve Lipofsky, Basketballphoto.com

Edward was all about conquest. After a series of successful campaigns, by 1285 he had effectively assimilated Wales into his domain. During the latter years of his reign, Edward often faced off against the Scots and their fabled military leader Mel Gibson William Wallace. Although Wallace and his cohorts proved to be excellent fighters, Edward had the last laugh by defeating Wallace at Falkirk and executing him a few years later.

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“Mad Max? Never heard of him.”

Edward died in 1307 and was succeeded by his son, Edward II. Unlike his all-business father, Edward II was all about the lifestyle and bling, caring little for annoyances such as, you know, government. More importantly, he “had so little confidence in himself that he was always in the hands of some favorite who possessed a stronger will than his own.”

While Edward II was heir apparent he became close to a knight from present-day southwestern France named Piers Gaveston. Real, REAL close according to some contemporary chroniclers, if you know what I mean. Edward went out of his way to please him, regardless of how ridiculous or extravagant the request. Gaveston proved to be such a nuisance that shortly before Edward I died he was sent into exile. However, once Edward II became king he immediately recalled Gaveston, made him Earl of Cornwall and arranged a sweet marriage package deal for him.

Edward_II_&_Gaveston_by_Marcus_Stone

And there was much rejoicing.

Unfortunately for Gaveston, none of this sat well with the rest of the English nobility. His earldom was especially resented as it was traditionally reserved for members of the immediate royal family. In addition, Gaveston continued to be an arrogant pain in the ass around just about everyone except Edward. Political maneuvering forced Edward to exile Gaveston in 1308 and again in 1311. Shortly after he returned from his third exile, nobles took matters into their own hands and flat out killed him.

Meanwhile the Scots, who were clearly on the ropes when Edward II became king in 1307, slowly but surely began to bounce back. By 1314, the Scots under their king Robert the Bruce had erased almost all of Edward I’s territorial gains against them. Eager to keep a strategic castle under English control, in June 1314 Edward II slapped together a poorly-trained army and marched north. The resulting Battle of Bannockburn was one of the most epic ass-kickings of the Middle Ages, guaranteeing an independent Scotland for the next 400 years.

Robertthebruce

“Haggis and single malts for all!”

Surrounded by suspicious nobility and with his father’s Scottish ambitions in total ruins, Edward II was not in the best of positions to say the least. Even so, towards the end of his reign he took on another favorite who irritated the hell out of everyone, a guy named Hugh Despenser. Depesnser became royal chamberlain in 1318 and with his father (also named Hugh Despenser) proceeded to wreak havoc on the country for the next eight years. While Gaveston was little more than an arrogant ass, the Despensers were straight up tyrants. They engaged in land seizures, torture, corruption and even high seas piracy. As for the king, he simply let them do what they pleased.

Finally even Edward’s wife was done with this crap. In September 1326 Queen Isabella joined forces with the noble Roger Mortimer, raised an army in France and proceeded to invade England. Edward, who by this time had alienated just about everyone in the country, was unable to recruit an army in response. By January 1327 Mortimer and Isabella had de facto control of England. Edward was forced to abdicate and the Despensers were executed. Hugh Despenser the Younger’s demise was particularly gruesome, making a standard draw and quartering look like a deep tissue massage.

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Gibson Wallace got off easy.

Sadly, the truly badass story (pun intended) of Edward’s execution via hot poker up his rectum is likely apocryphal. Even so, he disappears from history after 1327. Mortimer and Isabella ran the country for the next three years until they were removed from power by a young Edward III, who proved to be a far more competent ruler. Contrary to what’s implied in Braveheart, Edward III is not Mel Gibson’s William Wallace’s son.

Mar 26

Tales of a Soda Jerk

I’ve always been a big fan of soda. When I was a kid, around 11 or 12, I was known to drink an entire six-pack in a single day. This was a great source of consternation among my parents, especially Dad. At a certain point they switched primarily to caffeine-free and/or diet sodas, which I found increasingly unpalatable.

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Bleah.
Image credit: Roadsidepictures

Nevertheless, having a much stronger stomach in those days I drank the diet stuff anyway. It tasted like I was prematurely embalming myself, but whatever. Sometimes when money was tight we’d step down further into the bowels of Shasta Cola land. That low-end stuff was just as bad, if not worse. With the notable exception of generic black cherry soda – which I still buy from time to time – I came to hate that stuff with a passion.

Speaking of cherry, a watershed moment in my soda life came in 1985 with the introduction of Cherry Coke or, as the marketing department calls it now, “Coca-Cola Cherry.” This stuff was the bomb and a prized commodity indeed as far as my 12-year-old mind was concerned. It almost made up for the New Coke blunder.

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Pictured: 80s ambrosia.

I don’t know if I was imagining it at the time, but it seemed like back when Cherry Coke came out the intensity of the cherry flavoring varied randomly from can to can. If you got a can with less flavoring, it was still OK. But if you got a can on the high end, oh man, you had yourself the best soda experience ever. I hesitate to say it’s my favorite childhood memory, but it’s definitely in the top 10. Sadly, it appears whatever consistency issues Coca-Cola had with the product are long since corrected, as I haven’t noticed the discrepancy for years.

No entry like this would be complete without a discussion of the long-running “cola wars” between Coke and Pepsi. When I was younger I preferred Pepsi. However, this slowly began to change with the introduction of Cherry Coke. By high school I was a firm Coke partisan.

A lot of people say they can’t tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, but I can. However, the infamous New Coke tasted just like Pepsi to me. So if you’re too young to remember New Coke, in my opinion you didn’t miss much. I suppose in an alternate reality where New Coke was successful Pepsi and Coke taste the same, but not in my reality.

Some of my favorite Coke products, such as Mello Yello and Mr. Pibb (er, excuse me, “Pibb Xtra“), are maddeningly hard to find around here. Another favorite, Surge, has been gone for years. So when I’m in that mood I settle for Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper instead.

Mr._Pibb

With Coke it’s either cutsey marketing names … or bad grammar apparently.

As I’ve aged I become less partial to sweet things in general. As a result I don’t drink nearly as much soda as I used to. As you’ve probably noticed I call it “soda.” Most people around here call it “pop.” I did too as a kid. That changed after I moved back east and stuck. Call it a personality quirk, or something.

Oh yeah. Now that I’m ostensibly a grownup I don’t drink diet soda, at all. I’m not ready to be embalmed yet.

Mar 25

What’s in the Air Tonight?

Ah, spring must be in the air. The last clumps of snow in the parking lots have melted. The HOA is planting pretty flowers. Furry creatures are scavenging anew. Blooms are threatening all over. It’s like one of those old Disney cartoons out there, with dancing trees and shit.

And my nose is running like liquid waste from a paper mill, probably replete with all the environmental hazards that entails.

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“You won’t find Bambi here, son.”
Image credit: Pollinator

Yes indeed. Allergies have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. This first occurred to me when I was four years old. A stray kitten wandered into the backyard, and like any four-year-old I was completely enamored with it. That is, until my sinuses went haywire, my face became became blotched red and swollen, and my eyes damn near sealed shut. No kitten was adopted that day.

Ultimately I was put on a prescription allergy medication and remained on it until I was a teenager. Beachy seems to have inherited this trait from me. Accordingly she can’t play with the Pyramid Brothers unless there’s a bottle of Children’s Benadryl nearby.

Fortunately my allergies have subsided somewhat since childhood, which in turn has allowed me to be the cat person I am today. Nevertheless, the constant presence of cat dander here at the Command Center is not exactly helpful for my sinuses.

Upon waking up with a head full of self-produced, off-white brine at three in the morning, I knew today wasn’t going to be particularly pleasant. This was exacerbated by Sneferu’s nightly chore of annoying the ever-loving crap out of me, which he performs dutifully.

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“Purr! You know you love me! Now let me claw your back!”

Ironically, Sneferu also has allergy problems. While they don’t seem to slow him down, they do often make him sound like Bill the Cat. So I’ve come full circle. I once sniffled and sneezed because of a kitten. Last night I sniffled and sneezed WITH a kitten. Who saw that one coming?

Naturally, I used up the last of the allergy meds when Beachy was here last weekend. Time to hit Albertson’s for a refill. I’ve dealt with my allergies long enough to know they’re not going to succumb to some candy-ass homeopathic remedy. I need to break out the heavy duty stuff. The stuff that takes down an elephant at 100 meters. I’m not screwing around here, dammit!

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Eh, close enough.

The allergy medicine seems to making a little bit of an impact. I was able to write today’s entry without having to squeegee snot off the screen on a regular basis. That’s a good thing by any author’s standard, right? Oh, I do love my craft.

Mar 24

March Blandness

March Madness is all over the news, so I might as well give it a mention. Inspiration is definitely in short supply today.

I’ve never been much of a basketball fan, so every year when the NCAA basketball tournaments come around I give them little more than passing notice. When the subject comes up thoughts invariably turn to Idaho State’s upset win over UCLA to make the Elite Eight.

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And that was way the hell back in 1977.
Image credit: thedraftreview.com

Although I’m not the prototypical American sports fan by any stretch of the imagination, I follow college football much more closely. Even then, my tendency is to check the scores online rather than watch the games. I know how they’re played, so except for the occasional big play they hold little interest for me. If I want to watch the big play later, it’s easy to find.

My sport of choice used to be hockey. I was a fan of the old Quebec Nordiques and to this day host a web site about the team. Many years ago I held press passes to report on Idaho Steelheads and Philadelphia Phantoms games for a long-dead minor league hockey news site. I haven’t been to a hockey game since I lived in Las Vegas. That was nearly eight years ago.

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I haven’t looked at the Nordiques site in some time. It needs some work.

Based on the premise that the person least knowledgeable about college basketball is the one who wins the office pool, I was going to fill out a bracket and post it here. However, I didn’t get around to doing it. Since the tournament is half-over there’s no point in doing it now. Maybe next year.

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Florida Gulf Coast. Really? Well, gotta go with them now.

A closing thought for today. Apparently “March Madness” is also a term to describe the height of the annual European hare mating season.

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Which would have undoubtedly made for a much better article today. Oh well.
Image credit: Takkk

Mar 23

Here We Have Tone Deafness

When I was a wee wiseacre in the 2T I learned about the Idaho state emblems. Every state has them. You know, state bird, state flower, state tree, state cottager ….

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OK, just kidding about the last one. Maybe.

Like every other state we also have a state song. Some state songs are well-known outside their borders, such as “Georgia on My Mind,” “Home on the Range,” “Oklahoma!” and … “Born to Run.” Seriously, you don’t mess with the Boss in New Jersey.

Our state song is “Here We Have Idaho.” Chances are decent you haven’t heard it, even if you’re from Idaho. There’s a reason for that. It’s bloody awful on every conceivable level.

Oh, the humanity.

Now please don’t think I’m picking on the performers here. There’s simply no way to sing this piece without sounding like you’re clobbering a rabid hyena with a Louisville Slugger. I chose this particular clip because apparently no one else wanted to be caught dead singing the song in its entirety on YouTube.

Just look at how this turd was constructed. The music was composed by a Sallie Hume Douglas in 1915 under the original title of (no kidding) “Garden of Paradise.” A couple years later, the original lyrics were written by a couple of people at the University of Idaho who were unaware of the tune’s provenance. By 1930, two other sets of lyrics were written because, why not?

Finally in 1931 the Idaho Legislature, noted patrons of the arts they are, declared the Douglas tune the state song along with lyrics written by the then-director of music for the Boise Public Schools. In other words, “Here We Have Idaho” was essentially written by a proto-Oprah fan and your elementary school music teacher. I’m somewhat comforted by the fact I’m not the only one to recognize its banality.

Oh but it gets better. The lyric, “Here we have Idaho, winning its way to fame” is bad enough. However, the original lyric was, “Here we have Idaho, scourged on its way to fame.” Wow, you can’t get much more metal than that.

Flagellants

Pictured: scourging your way to fame.

This state needs a lot of work in many ways. However, I think we can agree we need a new state song, one that’s not completely embarrassing. Granted, there’s not a lot out there to go on. I tried looking tonight on YouTube, but I didn’t find much. I did come across a band called Idaho in my search. They’re actually pretty good. Check them out. Unfortunately they wouldn’t work for this purpose, as they’re from California and their most recent album is titled You Were a Dick.

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There’s no way that’s getting through this government.

Still, write your legislator. Give Butch a call. Do something. If I give the world one less thing to laugh at us about, I’ve done my job.

Mar 22

Friday Crap Roundup VI

I almost didn’t make the deadline today. Yet here I am for the 41st time. Maybe a slow weekend will get me back in rhythm. That said, it’s time for the Friday Crap Roundup! Um, yay?

Respect At Last

I’ve mentioned a couple times Idaho State University is my alma mater. What I haven’t mentioned is how utterly dreadful most of their sports teams are. Case in point, the football team hasn’t won a road conference game since 2006.

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And being constantly confused with these guys doesn’t help.

So it’s good to see Idaho State finally won a national championship in something this week. What is that something, you ask? Well, we have a national champion mascot in Benny Bengal. He won the 2013 U.S. College Championship Mascot Division in Anaheim this week. It’s always good to win something.

Benny Bengal

And when you’re an Idaho State alumnus, you take what you can get.
Image credit: ISU

He’s All Right

As I’m sure many of you do, I occasionally post memes and other images on Facebook I find amusing. This little gem produced a lot of buzz on my page this week. Absolutely freakin’ brilliant.

kennyjesus

Kenny Loggins is actually alive and well. Jesus didn’t look like him anyway.

History With a Dope Beat

Speaking of brilliant, I love the Epic Rap Battles of History series on YouTube. These guys are not only pretty accurate with their history, they’re also good musicians. Hell, they even got Snoop Dogg to do a cameo. Or is it Snoop Lion now? It’s so hard to keep up with these things.

This one is pretty tame by their standards. Many of the others are NSFW.

Track of the Week

Churning out this stuff every day has been particularly difficult recently. Nevertheless, I just gotta …

… Whip it good!