Mar 01

Friday Crap Roundup III

It’s Friday, so it’s time for SB’s least popular section, the Friday Crap Roundup. Given that no one reads the FCR anyway, I’ll keep it short this week.

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In the words of Neil Hamburger (and Primus), they can’t all be zingers.

Potpourri

Here’s a very interesting article in The New Republic worth reading. The Republicans may become a regional party, but for the foreseeable future “regional” means Idaho. When it comes to our legislature, all rational people look forward to the annual release of sine die.

Another gem out of Texas from the Hub City Progressive. Fox News is down 29 percent in prime time with the 25-54 demographic. I’ve long been of the opinion that TV news in general sucks, or as an old friend back east would say, “blows dog.” But I only have a college degree in journalism, so what the hell do I know, right?

Speaking of old friends, an old, old friend – I mean one dating from the Jimmy Carter years – suddenly got married this week in Las Vegas. Of course I wish him and his new bride nothing but the best, but my bias of experience is one of trepidation. Her birthday was yesterday. My ex-wife’s birthday was also yesterday. Happy birthday to both.

Still freaky, freaky shit y’all.

CRACKED.com update: As of this writing I have two submissions in the “Pitches We’re Considering” folder, including one which was left for dead only a few days ago. Surely, the powers that be over there have noticed that too.

Track of the Week

Speaking of Primus, Les Claypool is as good a choice as any this week.

Nice Cold War reference there, Les.

Feb 25

In Concert With Indifference

I understand the Oscars were last night. Yippee skip. Did Gilbert Gottfried win anything this year? How about Penn and Teller?

Behold, unheralded geniuses.

Yes, I don’t give a rat’s ass about movies. Hell, I only recently bought a DVD player because my daughter wouldn’t quit bugging me about it. I don’t watch a lot of TV either. If I didn’t like my cable modem so much I probably would have dumped that bill a long time ago.

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Too much “ghost hunting” crap. Not enough Rik Mayall.

That leaves music. I have a large collection of 20-year-old scratched CDs I’ve been slowly converting to corrupted MP3 files. I hosted a live music show on public access in Pocatello in the mid 90s. Recently I picked up an electric bass. Left-handed, of course. More on my bass skills (or lack thereof) in a later post.

lanermi

Need an on-air bathroom break? Look no further than “The Gates of Delirium.”

Despite that, I haven’t made it to very many concerts. Let’s see, I saw fIREHOSE at the Crazy Horse in Boise in 1993. Um, there were a some opening acts I checked out: Cooler Kids (meh), Elkland (decent) and Mr. Big (no comment). As a matter of fact, there’s only one band I’ve seen in concert more than once.

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I may very well be Erasure’s straightest fan.
Image credit: Andrew Hurley

The best concert I ever went to was way the hell back in May 1992. I turned south, journeying into the dark, forbidding lands of Salt Lake City to see Rush on their Roll the Bones tour. Ever since then I’ve vowed to see them at least one more time before they retire. Given that all three of them are around 60 now, the clock is ticking.

As I write this I’m waiting for tickets to go on sale for a late July show at the unfortunately-named Sleep Country Amphitheater in the Vancouver, Washington, area. I chose that venue over Salt Lake City because (1) my sister, brother-in-law and twin nieces live in Portland and (2) screw Salt Lake City. I’m hoping my daughter wants to come. She likes Rush, but I’ve been accused of overplaying Clockwork Angels in her presence.

But it’s so good, y’all.

I’ve been told I need to get out more, preferably without knocking myself out in the process. I quite agree. So I’ve been checking out other events as a result. Another one of my longtime favorites, They Might Be Giants, is playing at the Egyptian Theatre in June. I’ve been following these guys since high school. Unfortunately the show is not all all ages. Despite the fact TMBG has made several children’s albums, no one under 14 is admitted (a rather arbitrary cutoff in my humble opinion), which means I can’t take my daughter to see them. I’m not sure I want to go alone either.

Does this mean I should re-open my dating site profiles? Feh. I’m not ready to pull the trigger on something that drastic.

Feb 24

What’s the Word?

I don’t have my daughter this weekend. There’s nothing on my social calendar either. While this gives me plenty of time to write, it doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for inspiration.

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Besides, Djoser is a terrible copy editor.

And so once again thoughts drift back to a simpler time. A time when I was still young, vigorous and under the impression a college degree actually meant something in this economy. I was also broke.

I think you see where this is going.

The legend of Thunderbird dates to well before my time. Even so, I never actually got around to trying it. That’s probably just as well. However in my 20s I became somewhat familiar with some of its cousins, especially after I started to seriously question my college degree. Primary among these was a concoction called Olde English 800, also known as OE or 8 Ball. For lack of a better description, this is what you drink when you no longer give a shit.

OldeEnglish-Stars

And look where Eazy-E is now. Oh wait ….

By the time I got to Philadelphia on those nights when I only had quarters from the change dish I occasionally got St. Ides too. What’s the difference? Um, a different label as far as I could tell. Yeah, I was a straight-up gangsta’ outta south-central.

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For those who don’t get the reference, the 2T is in south-central Idaho.

The real nastiness didn’t hit until I moved to Las Vegas in late 2000. When I was living in an apartment behind Palace Station, I made the unfortunate decision to hit a 7-11 to try this:

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It still gives me the jibblies.

This was without a doubt the worst drinking experience I ever had in Vegas or anywhere else. And this coming from a guy who several years earlier walked back to the hotel from a strip club goosestepping down a high crime area on Las Vegas Boulevard whistling the Hymn of the Soviet Union at the top of his lungs.

I don’t plan on dying boring.

If you want to learn more about this subject, check out Bumwine.com. It’s yet another valuable Internet resource on a subject not many people think about. And for good reason I might add.

Mmm. Devil’s food cookies.

ED NOTE: We here at Superfluous Bloviations no longer engage in these activities. We don’t recommend anyone else doing it either. Seriously. Listening to right wing talk radio or beating yourself with a shovel accomplishes the same thing much more efficiently.

Feb 23

My Saturdays Were Once Animated

It’s 6 pm on a Saturday and I just woke up. Yes, really. I’m not an early riser to begin with. I’m also still shaking off the effects from my fall. My head feels fine, but my side is still a bit sore.

Even though the day is shot to hell, I guess I’ll write something for y’all anyway. My daughter, who never knew a time before the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and such, has no appreciation for the concept of the “Saturday morning cartoon.” Those of us who do know that once upon a time waking up this late on a Saturday would have been sacrilegious.

I remember the routine more than the cartoons themselves. Circa 1981 for me this would begin on Friday night with The Dukes of Hazzard. In my defense, at least this was before they replaced Bo and Luke.

After that it was time for bed. I made a point of setting my alarm to exactly 5:55 am. I had the radio tuned to a frequency between static and a country station for maximum effect. 5:55 am was early enough for me to get up and go downstairs, but it wasn’t so early that I’d have to waste time spinning my wheels.

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Pictured: too early.

As mentioned there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the cartoons themselves. This is probably due to the fact many of them were blatant 30-minute commercials, more so than anything on TV today. Within a couple years my sister joined me in this ritual. She liked watching shows such as The Smurfs, which bored and annoyed the ever-loving crap out of me. There was many a morning I wished Gargamel would catch the little bastards and put me out of my misery.

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“Screw it. It’s breakfast time anyway.”

Then again, at least Gargamel was a somewhat credible antagonist. When it came to The Care Bears or *shudder* Cabbage Patch Kids, when it came to villains I swear they just locked some poor writer in a closet with a tube of airplane glue and hoped for the best.

“But Lane,” you might say, “even then cartoons weren’t just on Saturday. What about after school cartoons and shows like Captain Kangaroo and Hotel Balderdash?” All right, all right, all right. Yes, we had those too. I couldn’t tell you a lot about Captain Kangaroo, as I wasn’t near as gung-ho about waking up on weekdays. He was a bit past his prime by the time I came around anyway.

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Yeah, not really feeling it.

The after school cartoons became important later, around junior high or something like that. I’ll tell you about that some other time. I don’t want to use up all of my good ideas.

By the way, if someone from Kellogg’s is reading this, consider bringing back C-3PO’s. Not everything from the 80s sucked, you know.

Feb 22

Friday Crap Roundup II

This week’s FCR was written with a slight headache, a sore shoulder and a spotty memory. I feel a bit better than yesterday though. Thanks for caring.

Seconding That

I caused quite a kerfuffle on my Facebook page when I re-posted this Someecards.com meme:

gunecard

Note to Sarah Palin: a bell, not a gun.

Needless to say, given that I live in Idaho and all, this brought the NRA lobby out of the woodwork. I think a few clarifications are in order. As I’ve mentioned earlier in this space, I don’t support banning THINGS. Things include guns. If you want to build a collection of whatever to obsessive and sociopathic heights, go for it.

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Pictured: obsessive, sociopathic and perfectly legal.
Image credit: PINKÉ

However, I also think health is more important than having a gun. It’s basic psychology. Recall your studies of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in high school. You did study that, right? It’s pretty simple, really. Health is at the base of the pyramid as a physiological need, while gun ownership is further up. At best, it’s a safety need. Therefore, health is a more fundamental need than gun ownership. Call me crazy, but I think government policy should reflect that.

As fate would have it this conversation took place mere hours before my accident, so for me it hit home literally. The ER bill is going to suck ….

Damn Cats Update

Much to my surprise my previous post about the adventures of Djoser and Sneferu, such as they are, is one of the more popular on Superfluous Bloviations. Only my missives on being fat and adopted have more hits. Since I’m still fat and adopted, here’s a bit on the cats.

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Caught them hitting the ‘nip again.

Sneferu’s fascination with standing water in general, and dropping foreign objects in said standing water in particular, keeps growing. I woke up a few days ago to two $5 bills in the water dish. Most recently I found a piece of a plastic bag in there. Give it a few hours and there will be something else.

Djoser has been a crushing bore lately. The older of the two, it’s as if he’s settling down and becoming an upstanding member of society. Well, as cats go. He’s not waking me up every couple hours like Sneferu is, and he’s not nearly as claw-happy as he used to be. This could very well be due to the recently-installed ceiling fan. He’s constantly entranced.

In any event I’m hoping Sneferu, who’s about six months old now, follows suit one of these days.

So, uh, that’s what’s up with them. Hope you enjoyed it. Maybe next time I’ll borrow a chihuahua from someone for a better story.

Jim Risch: Conservative and Irrelevant

Well hell, I could have told you that. The real tragedy is we’ll probably re-elect this goofball next year.

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Sorry about that.

Track of the Week

Dedicated to myself:

RIP MCA

Feb 21

Why I’m Such a Fatass

Until I was 23 or so I had amazing metabolism. I could eat what I wanted. I had great endurance. Most of all, I was never anywhere near fat. As my 20s wore on that tapered off a bit, but I still wasn’t bad.

Then came a horrific bout of depression which has only recently let up. As a result I’m pushing 270 pounds. For the international audience that’s about 123 kg or, um … close to 20 stone. Although I’m tall, this sort of weight is really beginning to look bad on me.

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“I’m Albrecht from Düsseldorf, und I lost 3 stone mit Hydroxycut!”

A few months ago a $10/month gym opened not far from the Command Center. I signed up and started going in. I can just barely make it five minutes on the elliptical, which is particularly embarrassing given that I used to be a cross-country runner. I did better on the weights, but not much. Still, there was reason to be hopeful. I would get to the point where I could run a 5K again, dammit.

Although I’m not spiritual in any sense, I’m beginning to believe forces are conspiring against me to keep me out of the gym. I’ve never endured a series of illnesses and injuries like this in my life.

Not long after I joined the gym I broke my ankle. I thought it was a sprain for three days. I was mistaken.

broken ankle circled

It’s not a sprain, y’all.

As one can imagine, that knocked me out of action. Fortunately it wasn’t a serious break, so after a few weeks it was healed to the point where I could start working out again. Huzzah!

Then I got shingles of all things. Well, mother of crap. I’m way too young for that.

Shingles feels like a sunburn that won’t go away. Naturally, I got it on my face which is about the worst possible place to get it. Being somewhat contagious and all, I felt I should stay home out of common courtesy, so I did. There were no lasting ill effects, but there was another couple weeks down the drain.

Then came my annual bout of colds. While it appears I missed the flu this year, hitting the elliptical when hacking up a lung is probably not a good idea. Call that laziness if you must, but I decided to err on the side of caution. There’s another delay.

So this past weekend I was finally getting over my cold, my ankle was feeling fine and the shingles were long gone. I was psyched; it was finally time to go out and make something of myself!

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Well, maybe not THAT psyched.
Image credit: Angela George

Then earlier this week I fell, knocked myself unconscious and possibly bruised my ribs. I was out for the count for at least an hour, so I don’t remember a lot of details.

That earned me a trip to the ER. You may have noticed there was no Superfluous Bloviations post on 19 February. Well, that’s why. It’s a good thing this week’s History Wednesday was already written, or I would have missed that too. I guess I’m out of action for ANOTHER few weeks. Le sigh.

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My head wound looks a lot like Venezuela.

So as I sit here with my forehead crusted over and my right side in pain, I wonder what’s next? Well, circumstances can’t keep me from the 30 minute workout forever. I just hope I don’t lose a limb in the process.

Feb 18

Thoughts on the Drive Home

Today is Presidents’ Day in the United States. Plenty of great sales of the “stack ’em deeper and sell ’em cheaper” variety. That’s what ‘Merika is all about.

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“Now with one-third less arsenic!”

Since I can’t spend the day punking banks by writing checks on dry ice, I suppose I’ll tell y’all about my weekend. Yesterday evening I drove home after a couple days visiting my daughter. The Command Center in Boise is about two hours away from the 2T. It’s a drive I’ve taken all my life. It’s also … how do I put this … desolate as all hell. When driven alone it gives one a lot of time to think.

Yesterday was a clear, crisp Sunday, very much like those I spent in the 2T as a boy. A typical Sunday in those days involved watching whatever PGA Tour event was on TV. To this day golf is the only sport Dad really gives a damn about. At tournament’s end I would resume the rigorous intellectual training which dominated my childhood.

The cultural significance of Hee Haw cannot be understated.

Those days are long gone. Yesterday was spent listening to a mix of Rush and the Cocteau Twins before the CD player in the staff car got too hot. Afterwards I had the radio on the local NPR station, although I understand 89.9 in Boise is not bad either. I’ll have to check it out.

Saturday I went to the movies with my daughter. We went to see Escape from Planet Earth, one of those Pixar-esque animated films. It was a cute enough movie. I’m sure we’ll get it on DVD once it comes out. I just wish I could have seen the end of it. Apparently Magic Valley Cinema 13 has never heard of an uninterruptible power supply. Also apparently they’re not aware every time some tanked-up idjut galoot crashes his 1992 Mercury Tracer into a power pole that parts of the 2T suddenly return to the 14th Century. At least we got free movie tickets out of it.

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But now that I think about it, perhaps the 14th Century in the 2T wasn’t that bad.

In spite of it all my daughter said the weekend was a win. That’s good enough for me.

That night I got a text from Myrtle saying she didn’t want to date anymore. The sorrow I felt was about the same as being told my $1 off coupon at Jack in the Box was no good anymore. For one, this is not the first time this has happened. For another, I wasn’t particularly emotionally involved in the first place. I guess that makes me single again, so… heeey sexy ladies!

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Ada County Style!

By the way, does anyone else have a problem with overheating car CD players? It annoys the shit out of me.

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?

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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.