Jul 06

Anticlimax on Benjamin

Nine days until 15 July. That’s all I have left until I turn 40. As if that wasn’t weighing on me heavily enough, by sheer coincidence my driver’s license was set to expire that day as well. Like many people, I’ve come to look forward to a trip to the DMV in the much the same way I look forward to a Drano colonic. The midlife crisis element made it just that much worse.

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As the late, great Leslie Nielsen might have said, it left me hollow.
Image credit: Alan Light

Nevertheless, yesterday I ventured out to the Ada County offices on Benjamin Lane to keep myself legal and stuff. Hell, at least it gave me good material to write about over the weekend.

Or so I thought anyway ….

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Jun 18

The Stuffed Pilgrimage

I think my daughter and I solved the Beachy issue from a few days back. Although she wanted me to refer to her by her real name here, her mother vetoed that. Fortunately we’ve come up with a solution which should satisfy everyone. She has agreed to be known here on SB simply as “Σ.” If you like you can call her Sigma. Along those lines, my twin nieces – who are toddlers living in the Portland, Oregon, area – will be henceforth known as “π” and “μ” respectively.

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No, none of us are even remotely Greek. Just work with me here.
Image credit: PHGCOM

This is a fortuitous turn of events, since all three young ladies figure into today’s narrative.

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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.

Mar 24

March Blandness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mar 04

A Tale of Two Wesleys

In 2002 when I lived in Las Vegas I had a chance to see Wesley Willis. At the time I figured, meh, I could see him later. Well, I was mistaken. Willis died suddenly at age 40 in August 2003.

If you’re not familiar with Wesley Willis, you should be. He was a Chicago-based proprietor of awesome. Willis was responsible for some of the most inspired stream of consciousness observations of all time. He imparted them with the help of a cheesy keyboard too. He wasn’t a musician as much as he was a modern-day Muse. Sheer freakin’ genius.

NSFW, but still bloody brilliant.

By coincidence my first name is Wesley too. I’ve just gone by my middle name, Lane, my whole life.

Wesley Willis was schizophrenic. That was common knowledge among his fanbase. Indeed, some have accused his handlers of exploiting him as a result.

You know what? I call bullshit. I just happen to be severely bipolar. Nevertheless, I’m a published author, a former candidate for Congress and – if I may be so bold – a damn good writer in spite of it all. Indeed, perhaps BECAUSE of it all. I’m also a member of Mensa (albeit one who hasn’t paid dues recently). I use this blog to express my stream of consciousness in much the same way Willis did with his music. SB in many ways is my therapy.

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Being a bit off seems to be a prerequisite for good art.

By the way, as much as I respect Willis I don’t like being called Wesley myself. Please call me Lane, or at least something else. It’s all much appreciated.

Rock over Boise. Rock on Chicago. Franz, the good bread!™

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 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.

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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.