May 17

Friday Crap Roundup XIV

It’s Friday, and I’m tired of writing about Wyoming. I’d much rather share this giant, larvae-filled ant colony Beachy and I found in Grandpa’s backyard this evening. It was pretty awesome.

The ants were not amused. They’ll be even less amused when Grandpa goes to spray them.

How’s that for an intro to this week’s FCR?

It Shouldn’t be THAT Difficult

My good friend Trevor Dodge, a fellow 2T refugee and an accomplished snarkologist in his own right, came across this little slice of heaven this week.

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At the library, no less.
Image credit: Trevor Dodge

Now while I suppose there’s a market for such privileged information in case of a rapture (or more likely, an eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano), I really don’t see how one could write a whole book about it. After all, if what happened in Europe after the Black Death is any indication, all you’d have to do to prosper is show up.

Oh yeah, you might want to avoid Wyoming too. Just saying ….

Service With a Sneer

I normally don’t pay attention to reality TV, but when someone genuinely makes the likes of Gordon Ramsay look as calm, rational and unbiased as Walter Cronkite, it’s hard to look away.

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“Non-stick. And that’s the way it is.”
Image credit: Blofeld Dr.

Of course, I’m referring to Ramsay’s now-infamous encounter with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Amy’s Baking Company as depicted on his series, Kitchen Nightmares. The utter lack of civility, decorum and common sense demonstrated by these restauranteurs – whom Ramsay declared beyond help – is breathtaking.

While there’s a great deal of speculation regarding Ramsay’s work in reality TV, specifically as to how much of it is actually “real,” that’s beside the point here. Among other things, no one in their right mind opens a sit-down restaurant and refuses to let servers keep their tips.

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I don’t know about Arizona, but in Philadelphia that would get real ugly, real quick.

Sadly, the YouTube clips I watched were taken down. Still, I encourage you to find and watch the full episode rather than just the highlights. Absolutely stunning.

Track of the Week

While martinis can be made with vodka, purists argue this classic cocktail should always be made with gin.

Yes, I’m sure. Even in Wyoming.

May 16

That Thermopolis Junket, Part 3

At some point after passing through Shoshoni, it dawned on me that the highlight of this trip wasn’t going to be in Thermopolis after all, but in Riverton. Yes, Riverton. A town I didn’t even consider until I checked out the hotel rates in the area. The small-town weirdness I was looking for on this trip was there.

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A place where they take their building materials VERY seriously.

With a population of approximately 10,000, Riverton is the largest city in Wyoming’s expansive Fremont County. It looks larger than that, as it reminded me somewhat of the 2T back in the 80s. The downtown area near my hotel proved to be very walkable. Shortly after returning from Thermopolis I came across a secondhand store known simply as the Flea Market. It had all the stuff you’d expect to find at such a place, and the pricing policy seemed to be very simple. “When in doubt, it’s 20 bucks.”

Nothing really caught my eye until I wandered into the back of the store and came across a complete 1970 Fisher-Price Play Family Garage, with its original box no less. I had one of these as a kid, but unlike the Sesame Street play set – which after me was owned by my sister, my cousins, Beachy and now by my twin nieces in Portland – the garage is long gone. I seriously considered picking this one up.

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But alas, I don’t have enough storage as it is.
Image credit: Judy’s Vintage Fisher Price Toys

Eventually tiring of picking through brick-a-brac, I noticed it was approaching twilight on a Saturday. Although my hard partying days are well behind me, I remain a sucker for a good craft beer. There are plenty here in Boise, and even the 2T is beginning to produce some good local stuff. I figured Wyoming couldn’t be too far behind.

I figured … incorrectly. I don’t touch the ubiquitous American style pale lagers such as Coors and Bud, and trying to find anything more highbrow than a Michelob Amber in Riverton is an exercise in futility. I came across a single bottle of Guinness, but it was so old it must have been brewed by Arthur himself. Blech.

While on this wild goose chase a woman came in and ordered a martini. Despite it being a long-established standard, I could tell right away the barkeep wasn’t familiar with this particular cocktail. I was a bartender for a short time in Center City Philadelphia, so I cheerfully offered my assistance. First, use the right glassware (which they obviously didn’t have).

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Eh, close enough.

Second, if you’re going to make a gin martini Bombay Sapphire is the way to go. “Tanqueray will be fine.” Well, whatever.

Finally, use just a little bit of dry vermouth. “Vermouth … vermouth …. We don’t have that. Would you like some gin in a glass, ma’am?”

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Wait, seriously?
Image credit: fortinbras

And thus this junket’s moment of Zen was attained. Me, the kid from the 2T who lives in the teeming metropolis of Boise, Idaho, is now the big city asshole. With that, it was time to call it a night. Oh, how I looked forward to seeing that teeming metropolis again.

To be concluded on Saturday ….

May 07

Idaho Has an Accent?

I spent my entire childhood in the 2T. I didn’t live outside of Idaho until I was well into my 20s, when I spent almost a year in the Chicago area. I suppose that means I grew up with an “Idaho accent.”

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It also probably explains why I have recurring dreams about wind.
Image credit: Wagner Christian

I personally don’t think the Idaho accent is much of an accent at all. For what it’s worth, corporate America seems to agree. Purportedly they base call centers in Boise and other cities in the region because of our friendly, “neutral” speech mannerisms.

That said, I’ve always been intrigued by the differing accents and dialects in the English-speaking world. Indeed, there are obvious differences in accent between the 2T and places like Chicago and Philadelphia, both of which I lived in at one point. I lived in Las Vegas too, but I didn’t notice much of a difference there.

During my time out of state I began to pick up on several different accents I wasn’t exposed to as a kid, notably the Boston and Long Island varieties. In my estimation the Philadelphia accent wasn’t as “strong” as those, but it was stronger than the accent heard in, say, Washington, D.C. As I noted when I lived in Philadelphia, it seemed like the further northeast one went up, the thicker and more unintelligible the accents became.

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Until one eventually hit Francophone Quebec.

Earlier today I came across a terribly interesting site created by linguist Rick Aschmann. Aschmann has exhaustively researched and mapped the various English accents and dialects spoken in the United States and Canada. It’s an impressive work. Unfortunately, like many other works of a national or continental scope, it’s a bit lacking when it comes to Idaho-specific material.

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A Mike Crapo speech sample? C’mon, people, we can do better than that!

Now I could sit here and complain about it, because that makes for good blogging material. However, I could also do something about it, which … makes for good blogging material. On his site Aschmann asks for voice samples from native American and Canadian English speakers like me who spent most or all of their childhoods in a particular place. I was happy to oblige, especially since the ever-so-slight Chicago and Philadelphia accents I used to have are long gone.

Naturally, I pointedly informed him there is no “Z” in “Boise.” I’d be horribly remiss if I produced something like this and failed to do so.

I also read him a bedtime story. You’ll probably fall asleep too.

This turned out to be a fun afternoon project. I encourage others to try it as well.

May 06

The Clouds Prepare for Battle

Well, well. Summer might be threatening the Command Center after all. As anyone who’s spent any amount of time in Idaho can tell you, what passes for spring around here often tends to be more like “silly season.” One day it could be 80 degrees (um, around 25 degrees C if that suits you better). The next day, frozen tundra. This is especially true in March and April.

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Although other places had it worse … this year.

Usually this nonsense settles down by May. Today’s weather event was definitely a sign of summer: a thunderstorm. This is something I normally associate with later in the year around here, such as in July and August, so it came as a nice surprise.

Not to mention a convenient excuse to play “Jacob’s Ladder”

Idaho thunderstorms are typically brief, yet intense. I recall one in particular about 20 years ago, when I drove the ice cream truck in the 2T. When storms like that come around, nothing to do but shut the doors and wait it out. Don’t try to go home; it’ll be over before you get there. Besides, with everything smelling so nice in the aftermath, business is good.

Weather.com, a site which puts SB to shame in terms of sheer concentrated crap, says we may get another T-storm tomorrow. Apparently Weather.com still features weather forecasts. How nice of them. Now I know that, as well the 10 worst foods I can buy, and that the most exciting city in the United States is … Oakland?

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Hrm. I suspect some bias there.
Image credit: jndotcom

We’re also looking at highs around 80 for the rest of the week. This is a good thing as my upcoming Wyoming junket has already hit a minor snag. I don’t want the situation to get worse.

The snag in question is no big deal. More on that in an upcoming post.

May 05

Relics of a Geek

Earlier today I stumbled across a Facebook conversation regarding those wedding dress shopping shows on TLC and what not. Like my friend, I fail to see the allure of something like Say Yes to the Dress. Beachy, however, is steadily moving away from Disney Channel and towards TLC. That show is one of her favorites.

“I’m pretty sure second-graders are in TLC’s target demographic now,” I commented to uproarious approval.

Then the conversation turned to what sort of things we watched or played with at that age. Some like to play “marriage.” Others liked to play “doctor.” I suppose I had more in common with the latter.

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Although I’ve never been terribly fond of roleplaying.
Image source: crackedmoon

They were my sister’s Barbies. Weirdos.

Anyway, Beachy’s sometimes odd behavior has plenty of precedent. In 1981 my class made Easter Bunny figures out of eggshells. Naturally most of my colleagues went with springy, pastel and/or religious themes. Finding that shit boring as hell, I dressed mine as figures from the then-recent assassination attempt on President Reagan.

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“Chasing Jodie Foster’s tail, up and down the bunny trail ….”

Then as now, not all of my interests revolved around the prurient and/or borderline psychotic. Not even close. My most cherished childhood possession? That’s a no-brainer. It’s my copy of the 1976 World Book Encyclopedia, which I still possess. Every time I sit down to write SB they’re on a shelf less than five feet away, acting as something of a talisman of a simpler time. Or one when Jerry Ford was still president, anyway.

Although I don’t refer to them anymore in this era of Wikipedia, they still rest in a place of honor here in the Command Center, all 22 splendorous volumes. I also have the complete 1945 Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia set originally owned by my grandmother.

So while other kids were reading stuff like Charlotte’s Web and various Judy Blume titles, this was what I was reading. A lot.

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A LOT.

I wasn’t entirely a mutant, though. As a matter of fact, I have an original Optimus Prime from around 1985 in the staff car trunk right now. It’s not in Antiques Roadshow quality to say the least, but I still can’t bear to part with it.

I also can’t figure out where else to put it. It’s been in my trunk for over four years now.

Apr 30

Repulsed by Radio

A couple days ago I regaled you with my thoughts on 1980s TV. I suppose it’s only fitting I make a few comments about 1980s pop music as well.

My fascination with music can be traced directly back to 15 July 1984, my 11th birthday. As a gift I received a small “boom box.” This in turn led me to an obsession with the weekly Top 40 show as hosted by Casey Kasem and later Rick Dees. It aired on at 4 pm on Sundays on the local Top 40 FM station, and I often taped the whole frickin’ thing.

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There’s no cheese like the Dees.
Image credit: lax.hyundai

I freely admit I liked a lot of the stuff they played on Top 40 radio back then. Still do. However, as time wore on I increasingly came across songs I didn’t like. That’s to be expected, of course. Even so, there were some tracks I found so loathsome that just a few notes would compel me to turn the radio OFF until the offending audio went away.

The following are some of the worst offenders.

Anything by Prince

At roughly the same time I embraced the Top 40, a Minneapolis-based singer/songwriter named Prince Rogers Nelson released a film called Purple Rain, along with a soundtrack album of the same name. For approximately the next three years, Western civilization wouldn’t shut up about the guy. At certain times Prince seemed to be more overexposed than the King of 80s Cheese himself, Michael Jackson.

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I’d post a YouTube clip, but he’d probably have it taken down before I hit the “Publish” button.
Image credit: Yves Lorson

Why I hated it then: When I was 11 years old there were two things in this world I absolutely despised: Cabbage Patch Kids and Prince. There was no single reason for my loathing of the diminutive Minnesotan, but it probably had to do with his eyeliner, his ruffled shirts, a bouffant which put Kim Jong-il’s to shame, his repeated dissings of Weird Al Yankovic, and the fact he seemed to be everywhere for a very long time. Whatever it was, I couldn’t stand the guy.

One Christmas during this period there was a present for me under the tree which was clearly in a cassette tape box. For several days I feared some well-meaning but profoundly uninformed grownup bought me Purple Rain. As it turns out, it was The Best of Spike Jones. My sense of relief was enormous.

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Possibly the only time in recorded history anyone was so relieved to receive a Spike Jones album.

What I think of it now: My view of Prince has moderated considerably over the years. He’s an undisputed musical genius, and I have to to admit even today “When Doves Cry” is a hell of a dance track. Nevertheless, I still haven’t seen Purple Rain (or any of his other movies, for that matter).

“Always” by Atlantic Starr

If there ever was a song written specifically to be played at wedding receptions, this 1987 track is it. Apologies in advance if this is “your” song.

Perhaps the best-known single by this upstate New York R&B group, “Always” is four solid minutes of the most concentrated shlocky sweet cheese produced to date. Repeated exposure to this track is bound to cause hyperglycemia in just about anyone. Consider yourselves warned.

Atlantic Starr was responsible for many, many awkward high school slow dances.

Why I hated it then: This sort of thing is exactly what a sexually confused 13-year-old boy DOESN’T want to hear, especially in heavy rotation. Sweet YHWH this was a painful experience.

What I think of it now: OK, OK, they were a talented group and it’s crystal clear why newlyweds gravitated to them. Still, if I ever get married again I’d much rather hear Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” at my reception.

“Kyrie” by Mr. Mister

In 1986, someone at the Top 40 station in the 2T must have really, REALLY liked Mr. Mister, as they tortured the whole of south-central Idaho for months with these guys. Overplayed doesn’t begin to cover it.

Remember styling mousse? They do.

Why I hated it then: If it weren’t for the excessive overplay, Mr. Mister would have likely merited little more than a footnote in my memory. But once the damage was done, there was no holding my rage back.

What I think of it now: I still don’t miss it.

“Hippychick” by Soho

If you’ve never heard of this one-hit wonder or their reputed “hit,” you’re forgiven. “Hippychick” was released in 1990, did its requisite tour of the Top 40, and then was quickly forgotten. Or at least I wish it was.

In 1996, some years after I swore off the Top 40 (more on that in a moment), I was a regular listener of an “alternative” radio station out of the Sun Valley area called KSKI. At the time KSKI was an independent, free-wheeling station which wasn’t afraid to play good music, even after an infamous incident involving “special brownies” among the morning drive crew.

Good music, with the glaring exception of “Hippychick.”

Gah!

Why I hated it then: This song is essentially a clumsy sample of Johnny Marr’s iconic guitar riff from “How Soon is Now?” followed by a crappy dance tune. That alone is bad enough. What really set me off is that it was broadcast on KSKI, a station one could reasonably expect to actually play The Smiths. But instead of Morrissey’s plaintive wailing, you were presented with this. Gotcha! I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be KSKI’s idea of a practical joke. If so, I sure as hell didn’t find it funny.

What I think of it now: No wonder why Queen fans hate Vanilla Ice.

“Do the Bartman” by The Simpsons

When The Simpsons premiered in December 1989 it was a big deal. I liked it. Possibly you liked it. In any event, it’s a TV show that’s still in first-run prime time nearly a quarter century later. It’s clearly a groundbreaking series.

Which is why we can almost forgive them for dropping the festering turd known as The Simpsons Sing the Blues on us a year later. “Do the Bartman” was the lead single.

I don’t care if he’s dead. I still want to bitchslap Michael Jackson for writing this.

Why I hated it then: Although by the time “Do the Bartman” came out I had given up on pop music (again, more on that in a moment), my hatred for it was nearly automatic. Unlike Mr. Mister, it didn’t need to be overplayed. Being the most ham-handed attempt to cash in on a fad since the advent of The Archies a generation earlier, there were plenty of other good reasons to despise it.

What I think of it now: Yeah, it still makes me want to go out and break stuff.

“Just a Friend” by Biz Markie

Oh my, this is the granddaddy of them all. Not only did this track elicit an immediate, visceral response, it also triggered a significant watershed moment in my life. For a variety of reasons, including some of the aforementioned songs, by the time the Biz hit the radio in late 1989 I was already quite disgruntled with the whole pop music thing. Then one fine day I was presented with this:

Absolutely stupefying.

Why I hated it then: As I recall my initial reaction was something to the effect of, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?!?!?” Don’t get me wrong, I like old-school rap. At this point I was the proud owner of Run-DMC and Public Enemy albums. But this … this made Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” sound like Sgt. Pepper.

It was at that moment I shut off the radio and resolved never to willingly listen to a Top 40 station ever again. Over 20 years later I continue to make good on that promise. Not long after I started discovering the good stuff, including Living Colour, R.E.M., The Police, Jane’s Addiction, The Dead Milkmen, Erasure, the Pixies and – of course – Rush.

What I think of it now: In all seriousness, I think today is the very first time I managed to listen to “Just a Friend” the whole way through. In an odd way, I’m almost thankful to Biz Markie for delivering the coup de grâce to my Top 40 habit.

Damn, I feel dirty now. I think I need to take a shower and listen to Permanent Waves for awhile.

Apr 28

A Vast Wasteland

I find few things more irritating than the arguments of traditionalist scolds, especially the tired old tropes of “what about the children?” and “the good old days.” Generally speaking, with a bit of guidance children are quite capable of making their own decisions. Also, “the good old days” is often code for “nostalgia for an imagined past.”

I’ve been told Beachy sometimes watches television too mature for her. While I agree at her age she certainly shouldn’t be exposed to such things as graphic sex and violence, I assure you what she watches is much, much better than what I grew up with.

Seriously, would any children’s channel today air programming depicting this? (Click the image caps for video)

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This isn’t Porky Pig! Shocking!

Or this?

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No Curly? Outrageous!

Or this?

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No Sgt. Slaughter? Disgu … nah, this is still pretty hot.

Guess what? I watched all of the above and more during my formative years. Repeatedly. I didn’t even have to sneak in any Cinemax to do it.

Growing up in the 2T in the early 80s, where locally-produced kids’ programming was little more than a foreign legend, on a typical weekday morning you essentially had two options: soap operas or game shows. Guess which one I took? Yeah, there’s nothing like beginning an unexpected day off than with an hour with Bob Barker.

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“Cutting school again, eh Lane? Well, don’t forget to have your pets spayed or neutered.”

And that’s the high water mark. I was born in 1973, so for the sake of argument let’s say my prime years for children’s programming were between 1980 and 1985. Fine. Here’s what the world was like back then:

Children’s programming was limited to certain hours (usually school hours) on weekdays. You had Saturday morning cartoons which ended by 1 pm, and on Sunday you were flat out SOL. The golden age of animation was dead and buried by the mid-70s. There was no Cartoon Network or DreamWorks Studios. In short, no one was catering to kids very well. Even the pre-Pixar Disney spent about a decade dropping turds on theaters every couple years before they finally realized they should stick with fairy tales.

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And Martha Raye’s Polident ads were more entertaining than the early Disney Channel.

With few exceptions, children’s programming of the day fell into one of three categories:

-Prime time reruns and old short films not necessarily intended for children in the first place, including I Love Lucy, The Addams Family, The Munsters, The Flintstones, The Little Rascals (or Our Gang, whatever), The Three Stooges and Looney Tunes. Throw in Leave it to Beaver and The Beverly Hillbillies too. What the hell.

-Reboots of old cartoons and TV shows, including The All-New Popeye Hour, The Flintstone Comedy Show, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, The Real Ghostbusters, the (apparently fake) Ghostbusters and various incarnations of the Scooby-Doo franchise.

-Shows which amounted to little more than hard-sell commercials, including G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, Saturday Supercade, M.A.S.K., Challenge of the GoBots, and anything involving Care Bears, Shirt Tales, Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch Kids, Popples, He-Man, She-Ra, the ThunderCats or Lazer Tag. It’s a wonder some nitwit TV executive didn’t greenlight a show about a fad puzzle game.

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Oh wait, they totally did.

So in addition to the torture, alcohol abuse and risque content noted above, what else did these shows depict to kids of the day? How about misogyny, gender and racial stereotypes, juvenile delinquency, frequent armed conflict, gratuitous violence, dangerous stunts, glorification of war, animal cruelty, terrorism, elder abuse, unrealistic life expectations, attempted genocide, reward for misbehavior and/or incompetence, borderline plagiarism, and commercialism so crass and over the top it would make even Vince Offer wince?

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Yeah, plagiarism. The Flintstones blatantly ripped off The Honeymooners.

I and millions of others suffered through long years of this drivel. Watching this stuff again just makes it worse, as one notices the shoddy production values one disregarded as a kid. Bright spots were few and far between. Off the top of my head I can only think of one animated series from the era that was contemporary, genuinely funny and not a 30-minute commercial for a piece of plastic.

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Even if he did drive on the wrong side of the road.

So there you have it. Programming on today’s children’s cable networks isn’t anywhere near as bad as it was 30 years ago. What’s more, I turned out just fine, and today’s world isn’t an amoral, dystopian void after all.

Indeed, I’m glad I wasn’t sheltered and allowed to watch only “wholesome” crap like Superbook and The Flying House. I probably would have shot up a Taco Bell by now.

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“More like, ‘Live No Más’ bitches! HA HA HA!”
Image credit: Coolcaesar

Apr 27

Lane Has Some Mystery Crap to Share With Their Friends!

Beachy is more proficient with the computer with each passing day. All in all, this is a good thing. She’s relatively comfortable with Windows now, and she’s finally stopped calling the mouse the “remote.”

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Which I think she did to annoy me.
Image credit: Jim Rees

Surprisingly, we made it through the day without watching a single Smosh video. That’s because Beachy remembered she had some Facebook games going. So, we spent the better part of the morning playing YoVille and Café World. This is a slow, painful torture for me, not only because of the surfeit of cutsey tween crap in these games, but also because Grandpa’s DSL connection has all the pep of a Trabant 601.

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“DAAAAADY!!!!”

As you’re probably aware, YoVille, Café World, Mafia Wars, FarmVille and several other Facebook games are created by an outfit called Zynga. While these games have many diverse themes, the basic gameplay is the same. To wit, click to get and/or make stuff, click to annoy friends to give you stuff, complete “quests,” and experience Sisyphean labor firsthand as Zynga constantly bombards you with new tasks and features without giving you time to master the existing ones.

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Their logo should be a coked-out hummingbird.
Image credit: Mdf

This last bit is important, because Zynga offers a myriad of features and labor-saving utilities by charging you credits. That is, credits you buy with real money. Yes, people buy said credits by the millions. However, they comprise fewer than 10 percent of those playing Zynga games overall. This, along with the games’ inherently annoying qualities, probably explains why Zynga’s stock today is worth roughly one-third of what it was when the company went public in December 2011.

I admit these games are addictive to the uninitiated. I played a few of them myself for a time. Finally I got tired of the aggravation, as well as the never-ending Facebook wall posts to loan a hoe here or taste a pie there. So a few months ago I uninstalled all the apps and set my game notifications to “ignore.”

Here’s the rub. Even though I don’t play anymore Zynga still has all my game profiles loaded on their servers. Yeah, you can still visit my CityVille town or plow my FarmVille fields. Beachy still has me as her Café World “employee.” Before I stopped playing she took the liberty to “dress” me.

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Which I KNOW she did to annoy me.

Apr 26

Friday Crap Roundup XI

It’s another Friday in the 2T, so it’s time to pollute the Internet with another Friday Crap Roundup. Beachy is in a foul mood because some kid trashed a killdeer nest at school today. As for me, it was yet another boring-ass drive down here. At least I got to use the air conditioner today.

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But come Monday, bullies goin’ down.
Image credit: Вasil

This Here’s a Union Blog Now

In terms of finding stuff that’s funny and/or stupid, this week sucked. Maybe I should try harder, or maybe people should try to be funnier and/or stupider.

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Well, this guy opened a library, but who gives a rat’s ass?

Anyway, for lack of material the week’s highlight is that I officially became a union thug. That’s right, I’m now a member of the National Writers Union, which is a local of the United Auto Workers. I figure it’s high time I went out and shopped my skills for income, or something like that. So if you wanna hire me, you know where to find me.

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And no, I don’t get the juxtaposition either. Just go with it.

And Now, a Shameless Plug

Hey! In case you hadn’t heard, you can like me on Facebook. You can even like Djoser and Sneferu now!

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Cute kitties! You can friend cute kitties on Facebook, or something ….

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as well! Pinterest too, I guess. Can someone explain the appeal of Pinterest to me?

Track of the Week

Ah, what the hell. Let’s take it down another notch to finish the week.

Smooth.

Apr 25

Winded on the Central Bench

OK, I know all six of you who read this blog religiously have been wondering when I’m finally going to go to the gym. Well … I haven’t done it yet. However, a couple days ago I went out and exercised, dammit.

Back during the dark days of Milli Vanilli and New Kids On the Block I was a distance runner. I was on the cross country team in fall and on the track team in spring. Although I never seriously contended for any sort of championship, I was a fairly decent athlete who usually finished in the middle of the pack in varsity races and in the top 10 in JV races. I was also a hell of a lot thinner back then.

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Note the awesome “Flying T” uniforms of the day.

I was pretty hardcore about running, too. During the season I’d run up to seven miles in a single practice. That’s a little over 11 K for you metric types. During the off-season and in summer I’d occasionally compete in community “fun runs.” I never ran anything real intense like the Rim2Rim in the 2T or Robie Creek here in Boise. I might have had I not lost interest in the whole deal during my senior year.

Nevertheless, the experience earned me the enduring symbol of the musclehead jock: the varsity letter. I lettered twice in cross country, once in track, and once in, um … debate. I still have the jacket, even though I haven’t worn it in years. For one thing, people my age really shouldn’t wear such things in public. For another, it doesn’t fit anymore anyway.

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Voir!

Anyway, where the hell was I? Oh yes, exercise. Some two decades later my fat ass decided to reprise an old cross country workout known as wind sprints. Cross country workouts were usually conducted on the 2T’s country roads. Since these roads are laid out in a grid system with an intersection every mile, it’s easy to judge how far you’ve run. Like most country roads, they’re lined with telephone poles at fairly regular intervals.

As far as the 2T cross country coaches were concerned, wind sprints worked as follows. From a starting point one walked to the next telephone pole, then ran at their 5K pace to the next pole, then sprinted to the next, then repeated the process. This typically went on for three to four miles and possibly preceded and/or followed a traditional practice run.

2Tstreet

Not quite a 2T rural road, but you get the idea.

Being old and fat I adjusted the workout a bit. I replaced the 5K run pace with a power walk, conducted my wind sprints to the suburban Central Bench (where the telephone poles are closer together than out in the sticks), and limited myself to one mile. It felt like a good four-miler back in the day, but I completed the task with minimal embarrassment.

runshoes

Maybe next time I’ll wear the right damn shoes too.
Image credit: jacob earl

I’m going to the 2T for the weekend tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll do some more wind sprints there. Not at the old practice venues, however. I don’t need another ambulance ride.