May 12

A Message From the Cats

Hi there. This is Djoser. Lane isn’t back from Wyoming yet, so I’m writing today’s post for him. Yeah, I know I don’t have opposable thumbs and all, but I found this feline voice recognition software on The Pirate Bay which allows me to blog. It’s pretty sweet, and who the hell is going to sue a cat?

Sneferu and I have been chilling this weekend. He even took time out of his busy schedule of dropping things in the toilet to help me clean up around here. I hope Lane appreciates all the work we did.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

I think we did a good job.

Last night we got on Netflix and checked out this movie called Cats & Dogs. Disgusting. Kids’ movie my furry, tabby ass! I can’t believe they let kittens watch this speciesist, canine supremacist filth. Once I’m done here I’m sending a big, nasty hiss to Netflix. If any dogs out there are reading this, you should do the same if you have any sense of shame whatsoever.

This morning we got up early to play some Blinx on Lane’s old Xbox. Sneferu is really, really good at this game. It’s those fast reflexes he has. He made a point to take a picture of my shame after he humiliated me. “Hey, where did you get that camera?” I asked.

djosergame

“Don’t worry about it, D. Don’t worry about it.”

I hope Lane gets home soon. The food bowl is almost empty, and Sneferu is not fun to be around when that happens. Frankly the box needs changed too. We’ll definitely bring that to Lane’s attention when he gets in.

I’m starting to get hoarse from all this meowing, trilling and purring, so I’d better wrap this up. Why can’t humans communicate by smell and expression like we do? Oh well. Peace out to all Toms and Mollies worldwide!

May 11

Those Damn Ads

I’ve been on the Internet in some form for nearly 20 years. Back then the World Wide Web looked like this:

800px-Lynx_(web_browser)

“Graphics? Are you mad? You’ll crash the entire campus with those!”
Image credit: Russell Boltz

I often miss those days. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was in ASCII text. Social networking? That’s what a Telnet-based BBS was for. I still have an account at one. You should go visit them. They’re lonely.

Before 1996 or so there was a definite Wild West feel to being online, especially if you didn’t tie yourself down to some heinous monstrosity like AOL. If you knew what you were doing there were plenty of ways to interact with interesting people worldwide on a completely noncommercial basis.

aolcds

And you were never, ever short on coasters.
Image credit: techfun

Sadly, those days are long gone. While I’m all for making a buck online, I find it amazing that corporate America is still so bloody clueless about it all these years later. Banner ads? No one looks at those anymore. Pop-ups? Just about any decent web browser can block those. Video spots? Better keep those under 15 seconds, or we’re outta there.

Take YouTube as an example. Given that approximately 99.97 percent of the population clicks that “Skip Ad” button as soon as they see it, I wonder why people bother paying to put up ads upwards of two minutes long, knowing damn well virtually no one will watch more than the first five seconds.

youtubeskipad

“What were they selling? Who knows? Who cares? Play ‘Gangnam Style’ dammit!”

Some advertisers have grown wise to this and (I assume) plunk down more cash so YouTube will run their entire 15-second ad without a skip option. To YouTube’s credit I haven’t seen them force anything longer, at least not yet. Fifteen seconds is at the upper end of my tolerance, I’ll say that.

If you want something really irritating, check out those sites linked at Cracked and elsewhere which feature articles such as “15 Celebrities Who Are Living with Serious Medical Conditions.” You know, those sites so chock full of ads they take forever to load only to provide you with an absolute bare minimum of content? I had to sit through an entire Wendy’s commercial today, just to find out Kim Kardashian has psoriasis.

Kim_Kardashian_portrait_2009

Sneferu has more fulfilling moments when he’s licking my hair out of the bathtub.
Image credit: David Shankbone

I keep hoping technology will eventually allow us live in more enlightened times and that we’re just in a state of transition now. But damn, it’s a painful transition.

May 03

Friday Crap Roundup XII

For the 12th FCR Mau Djoser gave to me, a clawing and a case of TB!

OK, not really, but I often wake up with scratches on my hands. Sneferu does it too. They’re brutal.

fam_hydrogen_peroxide_pint-4080

“I know you’ll do the honorable thing.”

A’ Junketing I Will Go

I’ve made references to it over the past month or so, but now it’s really gonna happen. Next weekend SB goes on the road to visit the teeming metropolis of Thermopolis, Wyoming! Why? Because Daffy Duck told me to, that’s why.

Duck_Amuck

“You will do my bidding, you despicable persimmon!”

So what will I do there? Who knows? Who cares? Remote blogging might be a challenge though, as my laptop has no WiFi capability and a battery life of approximately 38 seconds. I guess I’ll work on those logistics as I go.

An Important Announcement

Mother of crap! This is absolutely shocking. Switch to hydrogen peroxide before it’s too late!

dangerouswater

Rocket fuel? You fiends!

Track of the Week

Spike Jones merited a comment here this week. Although he and his City Slickers are long gone, they left us plenty of atrocities against the classics.

“Beetle Bomb!”

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.

657px-Killdeer_eggs

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.

George-W-Bush.jpeg

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.

800px-Chaine_Citroen_typea

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!

EXIF_JPEG_T422

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 21

My Vision Quest

Since eighth grade or so I’ve been seriously nearsighted. I spent some time in denial, but eventually the blackboard became utterly unreadable. Needing decent eyesight to read, you know, chemical symbols and shit, I finally broke down. For most of the time since I’ve worn both glasses and contacts.

blurredpool

No, not at the same time, dummy.
Image credit: noniq

Today such everyday annoyances as travel, facial recognition and writing would be damn difficult if not impossible without the help of corrected vision. Unfortunately I haven’t been keeping up on my optic health very well. My glasses are at least eight years old and more scratched up than the purple chair in the Command Center (aka the Pyramid Brothers’ exercise apparatus of choice). I’ve also been known to turn those 30-day contacts into something more like 300-day contacts.

Yeah, yeah, I know I should get LASIK surgery. The problem is I’m morbidly squeamish about eye surgery. I’m also not entirely convinced my prescription is static, and LASIK is damn sure something I don’t want to do twice. As for health care coverage, I’m currently on the Michele Bachmann HMO.

Mbachmann

Which has an infinite deductible, but provides complimentary stale bread and generic grape juice.

It would be nice to pick either glasses or contacts and stick with them. Glasses no longer carry a social stigma for me as they did in junior high, but damn, there are times when they’re obnoxiously heavy on my face. This morning, for example. That prompts me to switch to contacts, but I can only keep them in for 12 hours at most before I have to rip those suckers out. I hear many of today’s contact lenses are designed to sleep in, but I’m dubious. I woke up wearing them after too many drunk college nights to buy that line.

Pirhana06

The poor bastard with the glass eye invariably found it in the aquarium the morning after.
Image credit: Greg Hume

Even so, SB comes to you in no small part because of my corrective vision apparatuses and the long line of experts past and present who created them, so you damn well better be thankful. I am. I guess ….

Apr 16

Bits for Vanity

There are two types of people in this world: people who occasionally Google themselves, and damn liars. Last night I felt that self-congratulatory urge.

lanemyspace

Wait, Myspace is still around?

I’ve been on the Internet for some time. It’ll be 20 years in October as a matter of fact. As a result there’s a lot miscellaneous electronic flotsam related to me. For example, a Google search might lead you to incorrectly assume I’m still an insurance agent or even running for Governor of Idaho. Sadly, neither has been the case for years. You might also notice I edited a book many moons ago. That remains true.

librarycite

Pictured: Hardcore writer’s narcissism.

I admit I have an easier time finding information about myself on Google than some. “Lane Startin” is a fairly distinctive name, much more so than, say, a “John Smith” or a “Jennifer Jones.” That means I can reasonably assume anything that turns up is about me.

Which makes results such as this all the more perplexing:

schoolfootball

Flabbergasting.

I suppose when and if this blog becomes an integral part of society they’ll let me have a Wikipedia article again. But knowing Wikipedia as I do, probably not.

More Facebook Crap

Hey! Did you know SB’s staff cats Djoser and Sneferu have Facebook pages now? Click on their names to “like” them. They’ll be eternally grateful, I think ….

Oh yeah, I have a Facebook page to “like” as well. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!

Apr 14

Time to Cut Back?

I’m considering making SB a weekday-only venture, or at least allowing myself to take Sundays off. There was no inspiration in the 2T this morning. There was no inspiration on the long, dull road back to the Command Center, either. That worked before. Not today. Not even old Ministry or relatively new VNV Nation could summon the Muse.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

This is actually one of the more interesting scenes on that drive.

Well, it did give me a few ideas for tracks on the upcoming Taxil and the White Noise EP. I recently came across a cache of public domain newsreels from the early 70s. I could totally sample some of those. Maybe I could play a couple notes on the bass and mix it all together. Hell, I might actually produce something halfway interesting.

Like yesterday thoughts also turned to the weather, especially after I hit the Boise city limits. I beheld a sure sign of spring despite the recent cool weather. There’s running water in the Ridenbaugh Canal, which flows just a little north of the Command Center on its way to Lake Lowell in the dreaded 2C. For the canal-illiterate, they keep them dry around here during the winter months.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

“Dem taters ain’t gonna water themselves, ya know.”

So, um, I’m home. The Pyramid Brothers are well. I’m OK. My audio software isn’t, as it decided to take a 10-minute newsreel track and compress it down to one second. That’s not gonna work. Let’s see if it can bring it back. Perhaps, but it apparently needs all my CPU power, which means I need to shut down Firefox. That means this post is over. See y’all tomorrow.

Apr 08

Resetting the Circadian Rhythm

For years my sleep schedule has been off. Every few months or so, it gets so FUBAR I find it difficult to function during daylight hours in any capacity. I’ve found the best remedy for this is to stay up all night and as much as possible the next day, completing tasks as I go. When I was in college I occasionally extended these “reset” sessions to 60 hours, but I can’t do that anymore.

Well, the time has come to make it happen. Again. My agenda before any thought of sleep is as follows:

– Take care of the daily SB post. If you’re reading this, check.
– Stay up until at least 11 am.
– Call the paramedics and answer their questions about my head injury.
– Pick up a prescription and get some stuff at the supermarket.

That’s it. It may not sound like much, and frankly it isn’t. But when you’re bipolar and on the down side like I am right now, it’s a busy day. I don’t want to let any of this go until Tuesday, y’all. If I let myself sleep until 5 pm again, it probably will.

With that in mind, here’s the timeline of the previous night … and the day. Yup, this entry is going to be even more stream of consciousness than usual.

12:52 am

Caffeine plays a major role in these resets. I have some Cherry Coke, but soda doesn’t really do the job. Nope, this calls for a hot caffeinated drink, and lots of it. My caffeine of choice for a situation like this is Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend coffee.

Unfortunately, I’m out of Peet’s. The only coffee I have in the Command Center at the moment is a contemptuously cheap, obnoxiously bitter store brand “100% Colombian” blend I unwisely bought a couple years ago. Juan Valdez’s goat wouldn’t touch this stuff.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

And it’s seriously expired too. Score.

Well, I guess I’d better try tea. I know I have some of that around here somewhere ….

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Dammit.

Next attempt, an unopened box of Fred Meyer Tea Bags. The date stamp was very faint, too faint to photograph. I think it said … “BESTBY AUG2606.” Holy shit, I haven’t even been on my own that long. That’s bad even by my standards.

One more shot: the Red Rose Earl Grey.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Qapla’!

A truly embarrassing trip to Jackson’s avoided, I press on.

2:27 am

On my third cup of Earl Grey, I began playing Civilization IV: Warlords, which is a great way to kill a few hours. With my Pandora app up, it’s time for some empire-building. Yes, I’m well aware there’s a Civilization V and has been for several years. I’m not much of a gamer.

7:24 am

Wow, that worked better than I expected. These Civ IV games eat up time, but rarely last five freakin’ hours. I won. Then again, I always play on the easiest setting because I’m a wanker like that. Ha ha.

Mao

Chairman Mao thought he could take me on. He was very sorely mistaken.

Time to change the Pandora station. The likes of Yes, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – as much as I dig them – are getting old. Some Erasure perhaps? Nah, too poppy for my current state of mind. Gabriel & Dresden it is.

7:39 am

Contact lenses aren’t meant to be worn for this long, at least as not as far as I’m concerned. Switched to glasses. Also changed underwear. I’m not incontinent or anything; it’s just those damn chafing waistbands ….

8:29 am

The paramedic office has been contacted. I’m glad that’s out of the way.

10:02 am

I’d say I’m about seven cups of tea into things at this point. I started coming down with a headache and a sore throat, so I took some ibuprofen to knock that out. It seems to be working. In the meantime I verified this site with Google, Bing, Pinterest and Alexa. I really don’t get the appeal of Pinterest, but whatever.

10:36 am

Went downstairs to check the mail and take out the trash. I figured this would be a good time to see if there was anything else expired in the kitchen. Turns out there was. To wit, cappuccino mix, microwave popcorn, rice, Pasta Roni, a loaf of bread, horseradish, three cans of soup, two bottles of pancake syrup, mini ravioli, peas, olive oil, garlic pepper, Italian herb seasoning … and a can of spicy Indian poppadum chips. Yeah, buddy.

Saltmill

Apparently salt doesn’t go bad. That’s probably just as well.

11:40 am

Just read Margaret Thatcher died. In recognition I’ve been watching old Spitting Image clips.

Why can’t they import this concept from the UK instead of crap like American Idol?

1:07 pm

The day’s stated agenda is complete. As an added bonus I changed the cat box and did the dishes. My supply of Peet’s is replenished, so I can dispense with the Jean-Luc Picard schtick.

Although it’s rather crisp outside, for the first time this year I saw noticeable leaves on the neighborhood deciduous trees. The HOA also had the sprinklers going. That was a nice way to end things for the day. I’m going to try to stay up a few more hours, but I daresay mission accomplished.

I just hope I don’t have to do this again for awhile.

Apr 06

My Festering Feline Fracas

There are advantages to having cats. Once they realize you’re not a threat, they’re very loyal. They pretty much take care of themselves, so leaving them alone for a couple days is no big deal. I haven’t had a dog since I was 10, so at this point I’m just used to having them around.

They’re also royal pains in the ass. Especially my cats. Especially lately.

A couple weeks ago I mentioned my allergies and the havoc they cause to my upper respiratory system. A primary cause of this is the Pyramid Brothers, who both revel in such things as waking me up by sticking their faces into mine, as well as giving the sheets a nice, thick coat of cat hair.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

“You’re welcome.”

Because of the way the Command Center is laid out, I have to keep my bedroom door open to allow them access to the cat box. There’s simply no other place to put it. However, I have a second bedroom which is strictly off-limits to the Pyramid Brothers. It’s the room Beachy uses when she’s here. When she’s not here it’s simply left vacant. Until recently, that is.

A few days ago I got the bright idea to sleep in there to alleviate my allergy problems. I can close the door, and kitty cats can’t get inside to irritate me in every sense of the word. Brilliant! Why the hell didn’t I think of this earlier?

800px-Gordale_Beck

Nothing but clear skies, chirping birds and shit like that now!
Image credit: David Benbennick

Well, you’d think that, but no. Both cats, Djoser in particular, have become particularly clingy and codependent since I made the switch. I can barely go 10 minutes on the computer anymore without him nosing my hand in a blatant attempt to be petted. He’s done so once already during this writing.

Periodically during the night, they try to break into the room. When I wake up in the morning, they’re both sitting in the doorway. When I go to the bathroom, I always have company. During the few moments they’re not in my face, they’re chasing each other, tearing ass all through the Command Center. Yeah, they did that before, but not to this extent or ferocity. They run as fast as they can, claws fully extended, back and forth, over and over again. I’m surprised they haven’t torn a hole in the carpet yet.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

They didn’t exactly install high-end Berber in here.

Feline behavior modification techniques have proven futile. Neither one likes cat treats. Neither one responds to being sprayed with water (hell, Sneferu actually LIKES it). At this point I merely hope they mellow out as they age, as the late, great Loki did.

kittyloaf

He didn’t give a rat’s ass about much of anything.

Problem children they are, they’re still my buddies. I guess I’ll keep them around for awhile.

Apr 05

Friday Crap Roundup VIII

It’s Friday at the Command Center, so it’s time for the Friday Crap Roundup! But first, I have some cleaning up to do ….

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Cats and Kleenex. Gotta love it.

Trolling for Fun and Profit

Right. Now that that’s taken care of, let’s turn our attention to other beings who strike without warning.

You may have seen this video make the rounds on Facebook this week. It’s a hilarious “interview” by Brick Stone with members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. Stone skewers them for all they’re worth, and then some.

“We’re done here.”

“Brick Stone” is actually standup comedian Dave Sirus, who turned guerrilla comic trolling in general – and baiting the WBC in particular – into his main schtick. He’s starting to get some good ink for it too. I’m happy to help.

Bashing the Classics

Those of you who know me well may know about my healthy disdain for English Lit classes. And for those who didn’t, well now you do. Here’s a diatribe on the matter I posted on Facebook recently:

Reason #1804 why English Lit sucks: Kids don’t want to read books like The Old Man and the Sea, or My Name is Asher Lev, or Frankenstein. Why? Because they’re all about FAILURE. Adolescents have enough pathos as it is. Let them read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or something. It may not be about success, but at least the characters chose their own terms.

I was compelled to read all three of these works at various points during junior high and high school. Hemingway’s prose in Old Man communicated his imagery very well, but after 50 pages of reading about a back-and-forth battle between some dude and a marlin, it got a bit … old. Then after three days of fighting the damn thing he finally hauls his catch in, only to have it eaten by sharks before he returns to port. How … utterly depressing.

bassfishing

Kind of like watching the Outdoor Channel for hours on end, until your dish is stolen by wolverines.
Image credit: Experience Kissimmee, Florida

As for the others, Frankenstein was beyond turgid, while My Name is Asher Lev was so goddamn depressing it made Old Man look like an episode of In Living Color by comparison. I don’t think I ever finished that one, to hell with bad grades.

Naturally this sparked a mixed reaction and a debate on my Facebook page. Others mentioned books such as Lord of the Flies and The Grapes of Wrath. I never read either one, so I couldn’t comment intelligently.

Grapes of Wrath

I’m such a Philistine.
Image credit: scatterkeir

I’d be very interested to hear what you have to say on the matter, dear reader. Please feel free to comment and debate. I may respond in a later edition of FCR. If nothing else, it would be a break from the tedium of deleting spam comments hawking third-rate knockoffs of Michael Kors handbags or some shit.

The Moose and Spam Update

Earlier this week I unexpectedly heard from Moose Factory Boy™, who told me to expect a call or text “very soon.” Well, the most recent text I received as of this writing was from my ex-wife, who informed me Beachy is off of school next Friday. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to that. No word from Myrtle whatsoever.

I haven’t heard anything from my Nigerian 419 scammer either. Apparently he/she fell for my “Church of Satan, Reformed (Nunavut Synod)” gag.

Both of these developments are a damn shame. I need material to keep this blog going. This crap doesn’t write itself, you know.

Track of the Week

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem of the Great Basin:

A fan-made video, and a damn good one I might add.