Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Now that we've got that Doctor Who thing out of the way

I posted that so you could all get up to speed on the Doctor Who, so I could post this.  This is a bike that parks at the end of my block sometimes.  Somebody has cleverly affixed a TARDIS to the inside of the box.  It's clever because the TARDIS is bigger on the inside -- so you can fit whatever you want in there!  Total city-dweller lifehack.


My writing.  She is not as good as she used to be.  Give me time -- I just need some practice.  Thank you.

Funundrum Recommends

For a couple years now, I've had the nagging feeling that I should be watching Doctor Who. I mean, I fit neatly into the demographic of people who already do -- believe me, I spent about half an hour trying to make a demonstrative Venn diagram of categories.  I failed, but what's important is I spent that amount of time trying to do it.

It turns out I should have been watching Doctor Who all this time.  I ran this by my friends, and the nearly unanimous response was, "Well, we thought you knew about that already."  And with that, I finally found justification for lo, these many years of me being pushy about Stuff You Should Be Looking At.  I don't just do it on Funundrum, either.  Believe it or not, I have opinions all the time about stuff.  Sometimes I get told it's wrong to tell people they're wrong.  Those people are wrong.  Let's not confuse the wrong people with the people who should have told me about Doctor Who.  Wrong people and my friends usually fall into two different categories.  Usually.  Now, believe you me, I've got a Venn diagram for that:
Being pushy about Stuff You Should Be Looking At is why I've bought and given away at least five copies of Terry Pratchett's Guards! Guards!.  Have you read it yet?  You should.  This brings us to today's Funundrum Recommends.

In case nobody told you, or assumed you've been along for the ride the whole time (see above diagram), Doctor Who is the greatest show to ever have been shown on television*.  I just did a quick mental indexing of this blog, and I don't believe I've ever made such a claim before, so I reckon I'm in the clear.  Here's a fun and easy checklist to determine if you, too, might enjoy Doctor Who as much as I do.  I've listed them in order of importance, so if you answer "no" to the first couple of questions, you can leave off before getting too tired.

  • Are you a super-duper dork?
  • I mean are you an extra-strength, super-duper dork?
  • Do you like sci-fi stuff?  Especially the Star Trek: Next Generation episodes with superior writing? This obviously excludes all Wesley and/or Troi's Mom episodes.
  • Do you like British shows? This one is Welsh, so... honorable mention I guess.
  • Are you willing to put up with occasionally goofy alien bad guys?
One of my favorite things about this show, aside from David Tennant, is the fact that you never really know when an episode is going to feature an over-the-top rubber suit monster, or SERIOUS NIGHTMARE FUEL.  The fun is in not knowing.

*I am referring to the revival of the series that starts in 2005 or so.  I have not yet viewed the even-dorkier episodes from the 60's and 70's.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hubris, thy name is Wilton.

Ever since I took a couple cake decorating classes a while ago, I've been pleased to be an entry-level Frosting Ninja, capable of rendering in buttercream such masterpieces as R2-D2 and this thing.  Decorating cakes the "Wilton Way" takes a lot of time and patience.  These days, I've got plenty of patience, but very little free time that can be spent in the kitchen.  The free kitchen time I do have I'd prefer to spend making beer.  But a few weeks back, I decided to make a birthday cake for my friend Katie, who is an internet nerd like me.  Without thinking much about it, I asked her what meme she'd like on her cake.

She responded with Hipster Ariel, which I regretted immediately, because she looks like this:

And though it is funny as all get-out, I am not that talented.  So I substituted with Socially Awkward Penguin, which is a penguin-sponsored representation of all the insecure, self-doubting things we've ever done as a species.  For example:

Here's the cake:

It was checkerboard red velvet and white.  A pain in the ass, but such fun to look at!

So here's where I'm going with this.  Since I don't have time to be making royal icing dandelions and marzipan unicorns* or anything anymore, I'm instituting the following cake rule:  unless it's for my son's birthday, I shall make cakes only portraying internet memes.  It's just like any other artist pursuing a focused vision.  But more cakey, and likely with more advice animals.

*Why yes! "Marzipan Unicorns" WOULD make an excellent name for a rock band.  Ten points to you.

Awww, you guys are awesome.

And by "you guys," I mean the internet in general, and the SEVEN (7) (!!!!) of you following my blog.  I reckon 7 internet people is about the same as 2 real people, so to both of my readers, I continue to salute you.

Looks like Funundrum may be on again.  My life is slowly starting to have stuff happen to it again -- aside from the small monkey-creature who continues to abide in my home despite our best efforts to persuade it otherwise.  I believe it's because we keep feeding it.  I always promised myself this blog wouldn't be about him, hence the large amounts of nothing recently (the term "recently" is being used here in the framework of epochs-to-ages).

Anyway, here we go.  I even have some CrapCam pictures!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Somebody just told me

That my last post makes them laugh.  I'm sorry, it shouldn't be.  My intention was for it to be the saddest thing ever.  Either you've got a bad sense of humor or I've got a bad sense of writing.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

This is my dog watching the "Dog Whisperer" show.  Yes, really.  Yes, I was watching it too, so it's not like I turned on the TV just for her.

The cow says "muczeńá."

I found this child's toy at a secondhand baby-thing store here in Chicago.  Pictured there is a Polish cow.  A krowka, if you will.  I almost bought it, but I thought that was a great deal of trouble and plastic just to teach my kid a few words of Polish.  All I really need to do is drop him off at about 2500 North, somewhere west of the Kennedy and tell him to make his way back home.

It really does bother me quite a lot.

Reminder: The "Saving" in "Daylight Saving Time" is singular, not plural.

Please be forewarned that if you complain about the end of Daylight Savings Time, then I will be silently judging your poor diction in addition to your weak character.

Thank you for your attention.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

As heard on the El platform

Conductor: "All aboard for the Brown Line experience."

Was he high, or does he just have a great sense of humor? Could have been both. Fortunately, I didn't have to get on that train.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Sure, why not?

My dog isn't too bright.  With that in mind, please make a quick mental list of the things you think she might rub up against after a bath, in order to get dry.  Ready?  I bet you didn't come up with her own reflection in the mirrored closet doors.

Oh, dog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where? Who knows.

I'm going through a stack of a couple hundred postcards I just found in a box downstairs.  They were originally purchased on eBay for the purpose of decorating my awesome vintage travel-flavored wedding.  I'm doing what I wanted to when I first bought them, but didn't have the time -- read through all the messages on the ones that were actually sent.  Here's a gem:

On the front: Photo of Radio City Music Hall, NY NY
Postmark: Not readable, but internet stamp dorks tell me that the FDR $0.06 stamp was issued in 1966.
Hi Mary, we got to N.Y. this morning about 8:30.  We went to the top of the Empire State Bldg. this afternoon. Stood in line about 1 1/2 hrs. Tonite we are going out -- Where? Who knows.
Love Mom & Dad
Can't you just hear the giddiness?

Update:  Mary appears to be on Facebook.  I think I may have just found a new obsession.  Let me finish sorting these, and I'll let both of my readers know whether I'm going to be Facebook Creeper Postcard Santa.

Friday, July 15, 2011

There's something in my brain

...that's (nearly) not on the Internet!  Does this constitute an emergency? Is there someone I can call? Am I under some sort of obligation to begin a Wikipedia stub article? This has never happened to me before!  I mean, if a fact isn't found on the internet, does it really exist?  I reckon I'll blog about it, and at least then it will be crawled and cached by Google's friendly little bots*.

I am the proud conservator and curator of thousands, maybe even hundreds, of nearly-useless facts.  Were I to categorize these facts into broad areas, I might go with "the natural world," "cultural oddities," and "crap that will somehow never come in handy in a pub trivia quiz, but will bubble up in an irritating know-it-all fashion when talking with friends."  For example:

  • The correct way to eat asparagus stalks at a fancy dinner is to pick them up with your fingers.
  • The Masai people of Kenya get a good portion of their protein by bleeding their cows and mixing said blood with milk. 
  • The Wrigley Load

Now, I bet you were nodding your head while reading the first two things.  Sure, the asparagus thing makes sense, and anyone who took Honors Geography at Fullerton High School knows more about the Masai than about their own family.  But the Wrigley Load? Oh no.  Not on the internet at all, save for one mention in what appears to be a fiction novel.

I was yammering at Chris the other day about something, and I brought up the Wrigley Load.  He had heard me mention it before, but finally called me out.  "I believe you, but I'm going to need some internet backup on this alleged Load," he said.  Always glad to be proven right, off I went to the computer.  And... nothing.  Just the aforementioned book mention, in Turn of the Century by Kurt Andersen.  Based on his description of the Load, which is crap, I'd recommend against the book as a whole. You've seen the Load all your life on TV ads -- it's how marketing people decided gum should be introduced to a mouth.  To Load properly, one grasps an unwrapped piece of gum at one end, opens one's mouth just wide enough to receive gum, touches the free end of gum to one's lower teeth, then continues to apply inward pressure with the gum-holding hand until it bends double and disappears inside the mouth.  One is then contractually obligated to make big TV eyes and smile irrepressibly.

Anyway, I've known this move to be called the Wrigley Load for years now.  I have no idea where I learned this fact, but I will remember it long after I've forgotten my child's name (I will just refer to him as "Danger") and the year the Cubs won the World Series (2035, with H. Arehart on shortstop).  I now present this Juicy Fruit commercial, which was ubiquitous in the 1980s.  It generously features the Load at :08, :17, and :22.  You will be humming this stupid song for the rest of the day.  You're welcome.

Juicy Fruit.  Available where you buy groceries.

*Who, in my mind, look like the Nanites from MST3K.

"La la la!"

Monday, July 11, 2011


My child started napping sometime earlier this morning.  Based on previous nap experience, I expected him to awaken shortly after I finished folding a bunch of laundry.  But he didn't.  Figuring he'd still probably wake shortly, I sat down at the computer to participate in the internet for a while.  Still nothing.  Then, it dawned on me -- ZOMG I COULD STUFF LUNCH IN MY FACE.  GO GO GO

Normally, I would be using this space to complain about how a completed ham sandwich, sitting on a plate, is what activates a napping child.  And then I'd be all, WHYYYYYYYYYY?  But in this case, I stuffed said sandwich in my face and he's still asleep.  I'm certainly not complaining, and I don't think I'm gloating either.  It's more like I don't know what to do with myself right now.

This must be what it feels like to work in an emergency room on a day when nobody comes in.

Friday, July 01, 2011

A long way from home

You know you're not in LA any more when you turn on the local evening news on a holiday weekend Friday and see a perky reporter doing a live standup from the side of the packed freeway.

That's right, they sent out a news team and satellite truck to do a report on traffic.

You'll be surprised how this post ends with obsessing about corn syrup.

Sometimes, there will be a little marketing catchphrase that gets my attention in such a way that once I've heard it, I'm incapable of focusing on the product at hand.  These little phrases have clearly been focus-grouped to within an inch of their lives, and with the assistance of millions of dollars to boot.  Obviously they're effective, else they wouldn't be used so damn often.  Once I tell you which one I'm thinking of, start listening for it in commercials and in print ads -- I bet you'll hear or see it at least three times in the next week.

"Powdermilk Biscuits, made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they're not only good for you, but also pure, mostly.  Look for them in the big blue box with the picture of a biscuit on the front of it.  Available where you buy groceries."

First of all, my apologies to Garrison Keillor for implying that the noble Powdermilk Biscuit company would stoop to using such vacant ad copy as this.

Second of all, how on earth did "they" decide that "where you buy groceries" was the best way to encourage people to look for and purchase the item in question?  It's the sort of non-specific framing that might accompany a general-audience mention of religion.  "Your place of worship."  That makes perfect sense, since just about everyone's got one, but they're called lots of different things.  But "where you buy groceries"?  I don't know about you, but I buy groceries at the store.  The grocery store.  Sure, you might call it "the grocery," "the market," "the food market," or even, improbably, the "grocery food market store," but I'm sure nobody would be too confused with any of these interchangeable terms.

Now, if they'd prefer to go with the also-popular "available in the _______ section," I'm with them.  How much of your life have you wasted wandering through the aisles at the place where you buy groceries, looking for one thing that you've never bought before and have no idea where it lives?  The manufacturer of the product is really helping out in this case.

Pop quiz --  where in the place where you buy groceries do they keep the corn syrup?

Corn syrup quiz answer:  Next to all the pancake syrup.  I know that's wrong because nobody should be putting corn syrup on their pancakes.  This is not 1950, everybody.  Please move the corn syrup to its rightful location with the rest of the baking ingredients.  I recommend just beneath the shredded coconut. Yeah, bottom shelf is fine.  Great.  Now take this pricing gun and go mark up all the junk food sky-high, and make healthy stuff dirt cheap.  Now run, because Big Corn's a-coming for us!!!

Funny story -- I went looking for an old corn syrup ad, one that shows a scrappy young boy pouring clear gooey corn syrup all over his hotcakes, and found this instead.  It turns out that in 1910, 101 years ago, we still had to be told where to buy things.  But you'll notice they just go with the most common sense approach.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Henry's room

Here's a few pictures of Henry's room.  I'd still like to paint another picture for behind the crib, but that will have to wait for just the right weekend when I can spare a few hours and be covered in paint for a while.

I got the idea for the bird mobile from this site, and was pleased to find I could make it without using the eyehooks they suggested.  Both Chris and I have done well in not yet poking out our eyes, but we don't want to move it up because we like how it looks.  We'll raise it up quite a bit when Henry can sit up on his own, and then when he's too old for it, we may just move it elsewhere in the house.  It represents many, many evening hours on the couch, handsewing stupid little birds.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

16 June -- Bloomsday once again.

And someday, someday I'll make it back to Dublin on this day.  I first read Ulysses ten years ago* during a cold January trip to Dublin -- armed with the Cliff's Notes to help me through the nasty bits (and there are many), I sat on a bench in St. Stephen's Green for a while each day, watching the ducks slide across the frozen pond and trying to figure out what in God's holy name Joyce was getting at.  Then, when it got too cold to sit still, I'd walk somewhere else and read some more. It's a thick read, to be sure.  But it was terrific fun for a dork like me to walk the same streets and know that not much had changed in 80 years.

Today is Bloomsday.  The whole baffling entirety of Ulysses takes place on the 16th of June, so every year on this day Leopold Bloom's steps are traced through Dublin city, with readings and costumes galore.  Davy Byrne's pub probably does more business that day than the rest of the year combined, and can likely charge whatever the hell they want for a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy.

At any rate, I was leafing through my backpack-worn, strawberry yogurt-stained** copy of my book, looking for bits to post on Facebook so I could class the place up a bit.  To my delight, I found the following:

  • A brochure for Big Pit National Mining Museum of Wales -- presumably picked up only for use as a bookmark, because not only did I not visit Wales on that trip, but I reckon the BPNMMW would factor in kind of low on my Welsh must-see list.
  • A piece of paper, written on in pencil in my handwriting: "'Be humble, for you are made of earth; be noble, for you are made of stars.' -- Serbian proverb." A lovely sentiment. I'm glad I saved it for myself.
  • A ticket stub for Cast Away at the Savoy Cinema on January 12, 2001.  I seem to remember we were quite a large group that night.  Very, very good times. 

* Wow.
**I don't know if Avalon House still serves the best hostel breakfast in town, but back then it was enough food to stash away some for snack later. Note -- delicate yogurt cups should be stored in a different bag pocket than hardcover books.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Solidarity! And at least one liar.

I've been home now with this little monkey for just about three months, and the long-term effects are beginning to settle in.  For example, I have a really hard time talking to adults.  It's not that I use baby talk with Henry, because I don't, but more that I've forgotten how to regulate both rate and length of conversation coming out of my mouth.  It's probably because I don't get to go outside very much.

If I go to the post office, the clerk might have to repeat a question a couple of times because I've forgotten how to do "post office" things in favor of reprogramming my brain to be able to change a baby's clothes in the middle of the night without either party falling to the floor crying.  It's a skill.  Alternatively, I'll find myself at a house party, talking to someone and suddenly, inside my head, I'll hear myself and say, "Self, shut the hell up. Even I am tired of listening to you."  So on the outside, it looks like me talking a whole bunch, then stopping and apologizing, then realizing I have nothing else to say.  I am now the awkward person at your party, trying desperately to apply mustard to a bratwurst while holding a squirmy baby. Nobody wants to talk to that person. I don't blame them.

See, even now I've forgotten where the hell I was going with all this.  Oh, right. Okay, so I'm really excited to start going to a new group tomorrow that's all first-time, stay-at-home moms.  It's 8 or 9 ladies and their babies, all getting together at someone's house every Wednesday for three weeks. I'm far too excited for my own good, because 1) it's something to go to that is not inside my house and 2) everyone else will be just about as clinically retarded as I am.

It feels like the first day of classes at a new school, wondering if I'll make any friends and whether I'll fit in. The host emailed everyone, asking us to reply and say a little bit about ourselves and the kids, etc.  I was afraid I was going to have to read emails from a bunch of Mommybots -- you know, the ones that go, "Little MycKyhnzyie is the greatest gift I've ever been given.  From the moment I saw her, we just fell in love with each other and every waking second since her birth has been indescribably precious and joyful." For those of you who haven't had any children, I am here to tell you that that's the fattest line of horseshit ever. Ever. And for those of you who have had children and been deceitful enough to say anything like this in hopes of making yourselves sound like a better person, I hope you're ashamed of yourself.

That whole last paragraph goes better if you read it out loud in the voice of Lewis Black, featured in the "Back in Black" segments on The Daily Show. Wait, I'll go put in a picture.  There.  Now, if you've read it out loud with the right amount of vitriol, I'll give you a second to wipe the rage-induced spittle from your screen.

The good news, if it can be called that, is that everyone else seems just about as overwhelmed, bitter, and lonely as I am, with the exception of one woman whose email approached Mommybot status. I shall not judge her quite yet, and shall assume that she'll be more honest in person. But really, I'm so very excited to meet people just like me.  It must be what kids at the Special Olympics feel like.