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 …

meatloaf

… 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 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 17

More Embarrassing 80s Videos

A little over a month ago I wrote about a couple video relics from the 80s which stuck with me over the years. As a writer I find this is a pretty good well to go back to. If my site stats are any indication, you agree. So here we are again.

If you know what the image below is, this will all be review. As for the rest of you, prepare for an education.

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No fair Googling or using Tineye.

You Can’t Beat Our Meat

I had the “honor” of working at the Wendy’s in the 2T in 1991. Before I say anything else, let me assure from personal experience that this is 100 percent REAL.

As those of you who have worked fast food know – which I assume is damn near all of you – the job sucks. It’s sweaty. It’s greasy. You don’t get enough hours to qualify for benefits, and you have to wear the same goddamn shirt every day. You’re also controlled by corporate shills who just don’t understand the “younger scene.”

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“But, but, everybody loves Justin Bieber!”

And no, I didn’t live in the “good old days.” Consider this 1989 training video on “grill skills,” which I was instructed with in those dark days. It’s a bit slow at times. I’m posting only the second half, but stick with it and bathe in its innate cheesiness. The first half features a lot of the late Dave Thomas blathering about your “important job” in a curious accent. If you really want to watch that, it’s here.

Who’s up for chili?

Check out the rap and country rock excellence here. It’s somewhere between Biz Markie and, um, Billy Ray Cyrus or something. Incidentally, they had me wearing the exact same teal shirt featured, unfortunately without the glitter.

I was so glad when I got to leave and go to Idaho State later that year. You have no idea.

Canoe, Canoe?

Oh man, every time this spot appeared on MTV I cringed. Just cringed. Even though at the time I had no chance whatsoever of dating a hot chick – and if I somehow managed to succeed I would have blown a gasket – I knew this was just … wrong. If you kids think the marketing for Axe is over the top (and you’d be correct), you should have seen what it was like a generation ago.

So from the same pheromone experts who brought you such venerable female magnets as English Leather and British Sterling, Canoe allows you to talk to hotties familiar with international maritime signal flags, and smell like you raided a 10-year-old’s Christmas stocking in the process.

“We now return to Julius Caesar on an Aldis Lamp.”

I don’t know about you, but to this day I’m pretty sure if the first words out of my mouth in any singles setting were, “Oh! Canoe canoe?” a restraining order wouldn’t be too far behind. Afterwards, every once in a great while MTV would redeem itself by giving me a glimpse of the mystery girl in the Smiths’ “How Soon is Now?” video, but usually this crap was followed by more crap like Night Ranger.

The Proto-King of Cars

OK, this never aired nationally per se, but the basic concept plagued several media markets throughout the country in the 80s. The 2T was one of them. As a matter of fact, this guy like the 2T so much he actually moved there from somewhere back east later in his career. I want to say he was originally based in upstate New York, but I’m not 100 percent certain about that.

Anyway, meet Dave Campo, the undisputed master of local used car ads. In the 2T he worked for an outfit called Latham Motors, which was at the time the local Chrysler dealership. Sadly I was unable to find any Campo-era Latham Motors ads, but in his heyday his modus operandi was the same for all his clients. Take a look:

“With all the candy!”

Campo made what the industry calls a “shitload” of ads during his career, easily over 1,000. To this day anyone who lived in the 2T while he was active can recite the basic ad structure word for word, myself included. Campo died a few years ago. His favorite client Latham Motors went under at around the same time. Yet his legacy lives on in loudmouth used car TV spots to this day.

Is the US a lucky nation or what?

Mar 10

Springing Forward

Oh yippee skippy, it’s Daylight Savings Time “spring forward” day again. Time to reset the clocks on the thermostat, the stove, the coffee maker, the microwave, the car stereo, the cats ….

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Well, maybe not the cats. I do wish they had an “off” switch though.

Still, I wonder why we bother with it anymore. Daylight Savings Time is a relic of World War I and has been gradually extended ever since. Today it’s more standard than “Standard” time, in effect for nearly eight months out of the year. Yup, we won’t be “falling back” until 3 November. Personally I’d be in favor of making DST our year-round “standard” time and dispensing with the old Standard Time entirely. Apparently exactly that was tried in the mid 70s. I was too young to remember it, of course.

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Which is a shame. I understand there was quite a party in the 2T back in ’74.
Image credit: Docob5

Anyway, year-round DST was scrapped because people were concerned about kids leaving for school in the dark. This makes about as much sense as extending DST to accommodate Halloween trick-or-treaters (which, sadly, was also done). Besides, if you grew up in a far western section of any given time zone, you went to school in the dark for part of the year anyway. You know, places like … southern Idaho.

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And I turned out just fine. *twitch*

So America, don’t forget to set your clocks today. But if you live in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Arizona outside the Navajo Nation, parts of western Indiana (where no one seems to know what the hell time it is in the first place), or Pocatello, Idaho (where it’s still 1968), you don’t need to worry about it. Simple, right?

Mar 03

Expired Food

Regarding yesterday’s post, it occurred to me the pronunciation of “x” in Basque is roughly equivalent to “sh” in English. Therefore, I fell into my own double meaning trap by referring to my daughter as “Bitxi.” Crap. And I thought I was so clever too. Well, back to the sandbox with that one.

Sigmund_Freud_LIFE

In short, no cigar.

Anyway, it was shorter than usual weekend with my daughter. That means I’m back to my slovenly bachelor ways sooner than usual. Coffee and hot sauce days are back again.

I’ve been separated and for the the most part on my own for well over four years now. I also have the cooking skills (or perhaps more correctly, the cooking desire) of a sloth on barbiturates. Any dish more complex than “microwave for two minutes” earns a blithe dismissal. I often get nutrition rather in spite of myself.

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Yeah, buddy.

This is not to say I subsist entirely on takeout. I’m not that rich. Like most people around here, I’m familiar with the neighborhood Albertson’s and Fred Meyer. It’s just that most things I buy are prepared foods. Prepared foods have expiration dates and rarely come in sizes appropriate for one. In other words, I wind up throwing out a lot of expired shit.

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Yes, even the spray cheese expired. I’m such a barbarian.

This is one of two things about me that irritates my daughter to no end. The other being that I never carry change, which inevitably comes up every time we pass a gumball machine. My rebuttal of “We live in a cashless society” brings no relief.

The expired food issue came to a head about a year ago when my daughter attempted to eat expired pudding, “attempted” being the critical term here. She then looked in my refrigerator and announced EVERYTHING I had in there was expired. Turns out she was right. Oops. Expiration dates remain a contentious issue when she’s with me at the Command Center.

I suppose she’d appreciate it if I got a girlfriend (or at least a roommate) who could cook. I’d like that too, actually. Or, maybe I could learn to cook for myself and become the Gordon Ramsay of Idaho.

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I’m funny!
Image credit: Dave Pullig

In the meantime, a diet of such culinary delights as frozen chimichangas and chicken nuggets await. Yes, I’m well aware this does nothing for my weight problem. However, barring further freak illness and/or injury I think I’m set to make a return to the gym this week.

Oh, this should be good.

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 26

Coming Attractions

Ha ha! I got tickets to that Rush show I wrote about yesterday. Looks like they’re decent seats, and for less than I thought they’d be. Good thing too. This puppy is going to sell out quick.

Neil_Peart_performing_at_the_Air_Canada_Centre_on_October_16,_2012

Ah, what I wouldn’t give to spend an afternoon with Neil. You know, without it being all weird and crap.
Image credit: Clalansingh

I told my daughter about scoring the tickets. She said in her best deadpan voice, “Of course you did.” Yeah, not it’s like Disneyland or anything (at least not for her). I think she’ll go if for no other reason than to see her baby cousins in Portland. I think this will be her first real rock concert. The Lifehouse show she went to with her mother when she was an infant doesn’t count.

Not long after I bought the Rush tickets I found out Primus is coming here in May to play a show in Garden City of all places. Damn. When it rains, it pours.

ABBA_-_TopPop_1974_1

They have an ABBA tribute band booked there too. I think I’ll skip that one.

As for the immediate future, my daughter will be coming up here this weekend, saving me a drive to the 2T for a change. One of her favorite places to go to here is the Idaho Aquarium. I haven’t told her about the owners’ alleged illegal purchase of some of the animals. Being a pretty hardcore animal lover, more so than most other kids, she’s not going to be happy about that. I see a trip to Pojo’s in my near future.

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Which still beats the hell out of Chuck E. Cheese’s.

CRACKED.com update: Now that I’m feeling better, yesterday I managed to churn out another pitch. It got moved to the second round in less than an hour. Not too shabby. A couple of my other pitches might be salvageable. I’ve been combing through an old copy of The Book of Lists for inspiration.

Yes, The Book of Lists is one of my favorite books from childhood. That should surprise exactly no one.

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:

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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 09

The Old Kingdom Wasn’t This Gross

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

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

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Pictured: filthy, disgusting creatures

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

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

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

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

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