Friday, December 31, 2010

Icons of Badassery: Darth Vader

Icon of badassery: Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones)

Record of badassery: Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Synopsis of badassery: Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was the terror of the Star Wars galaxy, second in command only to the Emperor. His presence was intimidating both visually and audibly: his tall, cyborg body was encased entirely in stylized black armor and a flowing black cape, and he had a deep, commanding voice and robotic breathing apparatus that made ominous whooshing sounds. A fearsome warrior and powerful proponent of the Dark Side of the Force, he had once been a noble Jedi, but turned against his former brethren. Vader helped the Emperor systematically hunt down and execute the Jedi and solidify control of the galaxy. He wielded his power with impunity, killing enemies and even his own generals in cold blood, and using fear and calculating precision to drive those under his command. His control of the Force was absolute, allowing him to choke someone from a great distance, move large objects with his mind as if they weighed nothing, and deflect blaster fire with his hands. He was also one of the best fighter pilots in the galaxy, and a master of light saber combat. In the end, the unconditional love of his son was able to make him see the error of his ways; he died a hero from wounds suffered while killing the evil Emperor, showing that even the most reprehensible person could be redeemed. Star Wars creator George Lucas later botched the Darth Vader mythos with an unnecessary and nonsensical prequel trilogy, but in the original films, every moment of Vader screen time was electrifying.

Badass quote: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Badass website: Time Capsule: Darth Vader 1980

Badass clip:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Icons of Badassery: The Fonz

Icon of badassery: Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler)

Record of badassery: Happy Days (television series, 1974-1984)

Synopsis of badassery: The Fonz was the coolest of the cool in everything he said and did, a 1950s era personality who became one of the 1970s’ most beloved characters. Fonzie was an auto mechanic and all-around “tough guy” with a heart of gold, serving as mentor and protector to the kids who hung out at Arnold’s restaurant in Milwaukee. He had a penchant for leather jackets and Harley Davidson and Triumph motorcycles, but he didn’t smoke and mostly set a good role model. He had a way with the ladies and anything mechanical: he could make a juke box play his favorite song just by bumping it with his fist, or make girls jump to his side just by snapping his fingers. He was a man of few words, often saying just “Aaayyy!” or “Whoa!” or giving his signature thumbs-up sign. Several episodes revolved around Fonzie performing dangerous stunts on his motorcycle, and in one infamous episode he ski-jumped over a tank filled with sharks.

Badass quote: “Sit on it!”

Badass websiteWhat Would Fonzie Do?

Badass clip:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Corp. Factsheet

Founded: 1840

President & CEO: Nicholas “Kris” Kringle (a.k.a. “Santa Claus”)

Headquarters: North Pole

CEO residence: Korvatunturi, Finland

Manufacturing facilities (year built): North Pole (1869), Antarctica (1954), China (1998)

Employees*: 22,312 elves, 398 reindeer, 62 yeti, 4 humans, 1 snowman

Annual revenue*: $90.4 billion

Revenue sources: licensing deals (for example, use of the Santa Claus image by companies like Coca-Cola), patent fees (Santa Corp. owns patents on everything from the game of checkers to the technology behind Xbox Kinect), defense development contracts (stealth and project management technology for the U.S. military), toy manufacturing contracts (Hasbro, Parker Brothers, Tyco and others)

Annual charitable giving*: $59.7 billion

Annual corporate taxes paid*: $0

Distribution: “Santa's main (North Pole) distribution center is a sight to behold. At 4,000,000 square feet (370,000 square meters), it's one of the world's largest facilities. A real-time warehouse management system is of course required to run such a complex. The facility makes extensive use of task interleaving, literally combining dozens of distribution center activities (putaway, replenishing, order picking, sleigh loading, cycle counting) in a dynamic queue... the elves have been on engineered standards and incentives for three years, leading to a 12% gain in productivity...The WMS and transportation system are fully integrated, allowing (the elves) to make optimal decisions that balance transportation and order picking and other distribution center costs. Unbeknownst to many, Santa actually has to use many sleighs and (teams) to get the job done Christmas Eve, and the TMS optimally builds thousands of consolidated sacks that maximize cube utilization and minimize total air miles.” (source: SupplyChainDigest, December 16, 2004)

Controversy: “Occasionally you run across an adult who doesn't believe in Santa Claus, which of course is just foolish. Santa's existence is well-documented by forensic scientists, and there are several new sightings by credible sources every Christmas Eve. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is even able to track his movements globally with the aid of a sophisticated, multi-billion dollar tracking system built specifically for that purpose. Santa is elusive to be sure, but the evidence is there. In the 1950s and '60s, teenagers in the U.S., and later in Great Britain and elsewhere, began spreading rumors that Santa was a hoax. Why these allegations were able to gain traction is beyond me, although it should be noted that smoking was also popular among teens during this time, so apparently they were willing to believe anything. That the rumors persist to this day speaks to the deep, underlying cynicism in our society - no doubt attributable to those adults who were naughty enough as children to never enjoy the magic of getting presents from St. Nick to begin with. And of course, the role of the major toy companies in perpetuating these rumors cannot be discounted, for while Santa is now heavily invested in them - and indeed directly manufactures many of their toys at his North Pole, South Pole and China facilities - there was a time not so long ago (the Great Toy Recession of 1972) when that relationship was severely strained.” (source: Wull Street Journal editorial, April 11, 2009)

* Source: 2007 Santa Corp Annual Report

Friday, December 17, 2010

Icons of Badassery: Michael Knight and K.I.T.T.

Icons of badassery: Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) and K.I.T.T. (voice of William Daniels)

Record of badassery: Knight Rider (television series, 1982-1986)

Synopsis of badassery: Not even being shot in the face could stop undercover cop Michael Long from fighting crime. With the support of a mysterious benefactor (dying millionaire Wilton Knight, chairman of Knight Industries), he received a new face, a new identity – Michael Knight, and the resources he needed to target criminals who operated “above the law.” He was aided by K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand), a virtually indestructible, fully automated, talking supercar. K.I.T.T. was one bad-ass vehicle: a sleek, black, customized Pontiac Trans-Am that was superfast and loaded with cool gadgets like flamethrowers and infrared sensing devices. Best of all, K.I.T.T. was programmed with advanced artificial intelligence and displayed a fully rounded personality that made the car as compelling a character as its driver. The show was kept exciting by the genuine bond and engaging banter between laidback Michael and uptight K.I.T.T., as well as by fantastic stunts and memorable villains (such as K.I.T.T.’s evil doppelganger, K.A.R.R.).

Badass quote: Michael: “K.I.T.T., they’re still shooting at us!” K.I.T.T.: “Why, thank you, Michael, but I’ve noticed myself.”

Badass website:

Badass clip:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twisdom 4

Every once in a while, I tweet something that stands on its own. Sometimes it's poetic, sometimes silly and sometimes just a little observation that has a kernel of wisdom in it. Here are some of those tweets.

Bumped my knee and now it hurts. That's not cool. You know what is cool? A fire tornado.

The interior decorator at the Salt Lake City airport apparently had nothing left to live for.

I lose faith in humanity every morning during rush hour.

I only have two speeds: "balls-to-the-wall" and "off."

There is no such thing as a "Chocolate Frosty." It is either a "Frosty" or a "Vanilla Frosty." A "Frosty" is chocolate. End of discussion.

I hate food.

I want to die in outer space.

Is it wrong that I feel like I wasted my time voting, because I didn't get a sticker?

God invented sweet potato fries just for me.  :)

i retract my previous statement - there is no zombie ninja government conspiracy - i HavE onLy resPect for the governMEnt

Every time someone gets a text message, an angel gets its wings.

Lois Lane dies. In his grief, Superman flies so fast he reverses the rotation of the Earth - killing everyone else on the planet. The end.

Yuck, Diet Pisspee.

I'm smarter than I look. And better looking.

I'm using my powers for evil today.

fejujenbkd... this time of night no longer sane... if ever... not sure what I need... try sleep again... not disney channel... suite life...

Was just listing Life Savers flavors, and I was doing ok at pep-o-mint and wint-o-green, but I think I took a wrong turn at butt-o-scotch...

Everybody gets a monkey!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Way out of the office

If you email me while I’m out of the office, you’ll usually get a bland, functional reply:
I am out of the office on business. I will be checking messages, but may not be able to respond immediately. I will return (date) and will respond to your message at that time. If you need immediate assistance, please contact (alternate contact) at (alternate contact’s email address), or call me on my mobile phone at (number).

Best Regards,
(my name, fancy title and contact information)
Yuck. How drab. As a marketing person, I think I can do better. Here are three new out of office messages I am thinking of trying out…

1. Anachronistic:
Thank you for your too kind message. I assure you that it breaks my heart not to be able to respond right now, as I am away. Please have patience and strength as you await my reply, unfortunately delayed. I will return to the office two days hence and will be overjoyed to converse with you by electronic mail at that time.

Your Humble Servant,
Rico Detroit
2. Bacchanalian:
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, I am on a corporate boondoggle and not in the office right now. I am not checking email this week, just living large on the company dime. (Carpe diem!) I’ll be back in the office on (date), but to be honest it will probably be such a bummer to be back that I won’t feel like catching up on email, and I’ll probably just “recycle” my entire inbox. (Oops!) Why don’t you hold onto your thought and email me again in a few weeks, once I’ve sobered up. If they haven’t fired me by then, I promise I’ll think about emailing you back.

Go Saints!
Rico Detroit

3. Cheeky:
I am not in the office right now. I will return on (date) and will answer my emails in order of priority at that time. To help me do this, I am using automatic prioritization software. For example, use of the following terms will increase your email’s priority: beer, football, naked, taco, Vegas and Xbox. On the other hand, use of the following terms will lower it: efficiency, meeting, optimize, romantic comedy, return on investment and team-building. The program’s algorithm will also raise your priority if you sound “hot,” but lower it drastically if you’re an asshat. (I don’t know how it knows, but it knows.) If I take longer than a week to respond, assume the latter.

Rico Detroit

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cow or alien?

This is how the seemingly innocuous cow mask was intended to be worn:

And, having stumbled across it, this is how my eight-year-old assumed it should be worn:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alien Robot Zombie Skeptic's Law

Just about everyone is familiar with the bit of folk wisdom known as Murphy’s Law:
Anything that can go wrong, will.
And many of us add Finagle’s corollary:
…at the worst possible moment.
I got to thinking about this recently and realized that while Murphy’s Law can’t possibly hold true every time, there is a certain undeniable kernel of truth to it. You see, there is a reason that truth is stranger than fiction and that underdogs overcome seemingly impossible odds all the time. That reason is statistics.

When you have billions of billions of people living their lives day after day, hour after hour, even ordinary activities are bound to generate extraordinary results once in a while. And, of course, nothing limits us to ordinary activities. Hence, the Guinness Book of World Records. And the kid you knew in second grade who could blow boogers out of his eyes. And the fact that somebody invented Jello. And all of the things that people do with Jello to get in the Guinness Book of World Records. Including that booger kid.

The next time you hear someone ask, “Can you believe…?” – stop and think seriously about the question for a minute: is it really so inconceivable, given the endless possibilities of our theoretically infinite multiverse?

Indeed, our entire existence demonstrates the principal. Biologically, it is the one-in-a-quadrillion principal that makes evolution possible. Cosmologically, it accounts for the great diversity of star systems, including ours having a planet just right to foster life as we know it. Put them together and – BAM! – no more dinosaurs.

This leads me to a “law” that gets to the heart of why Murphy’s Law is true even when it’s clearly not:
Whatever can happen, will (eventually) happen.
I’m just going to let that one hang out there. That’s an infinite universe truism and as such is difficult to discuss without getting overly conceptual. But here is a variation that applies to the finite universe: that part of God’s creation that we can directly observe and start to comprehend:
Whatever people can do, they will (eventually) do.
By “people” here, I don’t mean that every single person will do every single thing – just as Murphy’s Law doesn’t necessarily come into play in every single situation, even though it seems to. But overall, as a species, I think this law holds more empirical weight than Murphy’s Law ever did and the implications are stunning. Human beings exist to push boundaries. At its worst, this means we get genocide and Flavor of Love. But at its best, we get a cure for cancer and interstellar travel.

Make no mistake: at a very basic level, everything that can go wrong, will – somewhere, somehow. But everything that can go right, will, too. The good thing for all of us is that we are capable of learning, so innovations like crop rotation and transistors don’t necessarily die with the unstable genius that was crazy enough to think of them.

But there is another implication of this law; namely, whether or not something is “ethical” doesn’t make a bit of difference on the large scale: somewhere, someone will do it if given the chance. That means that human cloning is inevitable, and most likely human-animal genetic hybrids and human-robot cybernetic hybrids as well. And a lot of other things that we can’t imagine yet. But we will. And in hindsight, we will call at least some of them “progress.”

Well, at least until we cause the alien robot zombie apocalypse.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Short fiction: "Fishbowl"

My best friend is a millionaire. Some would say it was years in the making, but I think he would agree with me that it was pretty much an overnight thing. One day he was a normal guy, tinkering with his computers, and the next he was a genius inventor, a revolutionary thinker. A patent and several lucrative licensing agreements later, my friend emails me that he is moving to Chicago. The details are fuzzy. The chain of events dizzying.

I step off the train and am instantly embraced. It has been a long time since Larry and I have seen each other. How long? How long? The money has not changed him at all at first glance. His shoes are well-worn. His hair needs cutting. He has lost weight, I think. He tells me that he tried growing a goatee, but shaved it off his last day in Denver. You should have waited to let me see it, I say. Don’t worry, he says, I took Polaroids. (Yes, he says Polaroids.)

I can’t remember if we walk or take a cab. Larry babbles about his kids, his business, quantum mechanics. I babble about my life to him, my career change, my divorce. I keep trying to remember how we were when we were 14 and I helped him with his paper route after school. How much have we changed?

I didn’t know they had apartments in the John Hancock Building. Larry is renting a penthouse suite. Modern furniture. Everything black. The entire south wall of the living room is glass. We are giants and Lake Michigan laps at our toes.

The lights are dim. There is faint music in the background. Tortured, beautiful. A woman’s voice, dry, cracking. Barely audible above the music, there is no sign of emotion in that voice, no anger or tears. Unfeeling but fully resolved she repeats over and over, I can give you no more. I can give you no more.

Larry returns with my drink. He finds me with my forehead against the cold glass, my breath clouding over the stars. Looks like a storm, I say, noting the lightning dancing among the skyscrapers.

What people don’t realize, Larry says, is that there is almost always some lightning up this high in the city. It’s just not bright enough to be seen at ground-level.

Beautiful, I say. And it is. Below us, the great lake stirs restlessly and waves roll in and crash silently against the shore. The wind howls. I sip my Scotch slowly.

This is living, says Larry, as he sinks into a huge black chair and puts his feet up. I don’t move from the window. I hear Larry humming to the music. I have no more. I can give you no more.

The waves are growing in size. I see the lights of the city below. Floating. Blurry. The toy cars are washed from Lake Shore Drive, their headlights dancing, bobbing in the waves before sinking into blackness.

I turn to look at Larry. He is babbling again about Colorado, about his kids. When are they coming here, I ask. His reply is vague.

The waves continue to grow. Streets are swiftly becoming rivers. The roar of the rain is deafening. I can feel the building shake. There is mist on the window, and the electricity flickers.

It’s all right, Larry says, we’re not in danger. But I am not concerned. Ahead of me and to my right I can see the top few floors of the Aon Center, illuminated by lightning, battered by waves. Nothing else is visible beneath the cold, black water.

And then we are covered completely, and there is water coming in around the edges of the window. Larry laughs about building codes. Do you know how much I am paying for this place? He is laughing hysterically. Too much, I think. He is laughing so hard he is choking. I close my eyes and try to let the crashing waves drown out his voice.

Cracks widen in the walls and ceiling, and we are tossed about the room by the invading water. I lose my drink. My grip on it was too relaxed. I know I must brace myself, but I feel indifferent.

And the water is not so cold after all.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I spotted these all over Detroit Metro Airport.

For the record, it's only "litter" if you DON'T put it in this can.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Only natural

I recently saw a new soda called "Sierra Mist Natural" for sale. Apparently, the only thing that differentiates this beverage from regular Sierra Mist is its use of real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. I'm a marketing professional, so I know all about choosing the version of the truth that is most flattering to you, but I fail to see how this makes the drink more "natural."

Most "real sugar" in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, which require processing to extract the sugar, just as corn does to yield corn syrup. And like the production of high fructose corn syrup, this processing induces reactions that partially change the chemical composition of the sugar. (Sugar from sugar cane is also treated with various chemicals during the refining process and may undergo some molecular change depending on the amount of refinement.)

So are beets inherently more "natural" than corn? (No wonder corn growers are so desperate to change their product's image.)

The truth is that most food products we buy are heavily processed in some way or another. Apple juice doesn't just rain down from heaven to be caught in the leaves of plastic bottle bushes. The apples must be picked and pressed and the juice strained and bottled. While I'm all for trying to minimize the amount of unnecessary refining that's done to our food, some processing is necessary. If we all became organic locovores today, most of us would starve to death tomorrow because of lower crop yields and quicker spoilage.

But back to Sierra Mist. Even more unbelievable than the claim that corn is artificial is the claim by Diet Sierra Mist that it contains "100% natural flavors," despite the fact that it contains the artificial sweetener aspartame. Several other aspartame-sweetened diet drinks make this same baffling claim.

Is "sweet" not considered a flavor now? Or are they really trying to tell us that aspartame is somehow more natural than corn?

I beg to differ. In fact, here is a list of ten things more "natural" than aspartame, and  at least as natural as any other ingredient in Sierra Mist. (Yes, all of these are legitimately naturally occurring.)
  1. Arsenic
  2. Asbestos
  3. Botulinum toxin (a.k.a. Botox®)
  4. Crude oil
  5. Estrogen
  6. H1-N1
  7. Hemlock
  8. Opium
  9. Plutonium
  10. And, of course, bull shit
Well, to be fair, that last one may not be in the Sierra Mist bottle (I hope!), but it sure can be found in Sierra Mist's advertising...

Friday, September 10, 2010


I wrote this in high school. It was published in a school paper and a lot of people really went crazy for it. Still not entirely sure why. I thought it was ok. Anyway here it is.


     hohum humdrum

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rock snob quiz

Ten questions to test your rock knowledge... and taste. (Answers below - don't peek!)

1. What is the best Pink Floyd album?
a) The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)
b) Meddle (1971)
c) The Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)
d) Wish You Were Here (1975)
e) The Wall (1979)

2. On which album did Led Zeppelin become mortal?
a) Led Zeppelin III (1970)
b) Houses Of The Holy (1973)
c) Physical Graffiti (1975)
d) Presence (1976)
e) In Through The Out Door (1979)

3. Which of these acts did Gram Parsons not record with?
a) Blind Faith
b) The Byrds
c) The Flying Burrito Brothers
d) Emmylou Harris
e) The International Submarine Band

4. The original lead guitarist of the Beatles was...
a) Pete Best
b) George Harrison
c) John Lennon
d) Paul McCartney
e) Ringo Starr

5. According to famous graffiti, which guitarist (then age 20) "is God"?
a) Jeff Beck
b) Eric Clapton
c) Jimi Hendrix
d) Jimmy Page
e) Pete Townshend

6. The Fillmore East and Fillmore West were located where, respectively?
a) New York and Los Angeles
b) New York and San Francisco
c) Philadelphia and Chicago
d) Philadelphia and Los Angeles
e) Philadelphia and San Francisco

7. Which of these band names is the most outrageous if you know the reference?
a) Buffalo Springfield
b) Derek & The Dominos
c) Jefferson Airplane
d) The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
e) Steely Dan

8. The best solo album by a former member of the Beatles was...
a) George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass" (1970)
b) Paul & Linda McCartney, "Ram" (1971)
c) John Lennon, "Imagine" (1971)
d) Paul McCartney & Wings, "Band On The Run" (1973)
e) John Lennon & Yoko Ono, "Double Fantasy" (1980)

9. Bob Dylan...
a) is overrated
b) gets better with each listen
c) is producing the best records of his career now
d) is a great writer, but can't sing at all
e) is simply the best rock artist of all time

10. Which of the following artists is seriously underappreciated?
a) Big Star
b) Can
c) Nick Drake
d) The Modern Lovers
e) All of the above



1) d - actually any answer other than e is acceptable (The Wall is fantastic, but it pales in comparison to some of their other albums)

2) d - the first six albums were almost flawless (we can overlook "The Crunge," can't we?)

3) a - the father of country-rock (seriously, go buy a Gram Parsons anthology)

4) b - trick question: Pete Best was the original drummer

5) b - fact

6) b - today, there's a bunch of them, including one in Philadelphia

7) e - Google it

8) a - disregard the jams on the final third of this otherwise Beatles quality triple album

9) b - really, any of these answers is defendable, but give listening a try

10) e, and a lot more - I'll write about the significant contributions of all of these artists eventually...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Short fiction: "Streets"

Every day I pass Marv on the street. Only now he has a beard and an accent and he doesn't recognize me. What route did he take to get from there to here? How different he is from me. I grew older and he grew more abstract. I have a hard time holding onto him now, watching him fill holes in the asphalt this week, hammer holes into it the next. He sold me coffee this morning. He looked troubled, distracted. I wonder how he is, and if he has seen me lately, roaming the streets of Tucson or Tuscaloosa. I guess I miss him, but I don't know him anymore. I can feel him slipping away, dissolving into the sea of anonymity around me. And I feel some small part of me is being lost as well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Seinfeld: what really happened

Sometimes a brilliant series - be it in television, movies, books or whatever - hits a horrible, horrible bump. Sometimes this bump happens in the middle and the series never recovers: that's called "jumping the shark." (For example, the Star Wars series jumped the shark somewhere during script revisions for Return of the Jedi.) Sometimes the bump is explained away by the introduction of something new that negates what just happened: that's called "retconning."

But sometimes, the bump comes at the end and no one ever bothers to fix it; the series just dies along with everyone's hopes and dreams. Such is the case with Seinfeld, a brilliant sitcom with one of the worst finales ever - where none of the characters behaved the way we expected them to and the unspoken "rules of engagement" for the Seinfeld universe were violated.

More than a decade later, I still can't believe how bad it was. I'm obsessed with it like George Costanza was obsessed with the missed opportunity to deliver a snappy comeback. The real shame is that they could have done so much better. Before the finale, I had actually sketched up what I thought was a great plot for the series-ender. And so, without further ado, here is what - in my mind - really happened on May 14, 1998.

First of all, the tone is just like any other Seinfeld episode. The episode may be longer than normal, and have more story lines running at the same time, but it is essentially just another episode. (That's only fitting for a "show about nothing.")

The plot involves a big TV event that none of the characters want to miss. This frees the writers to insert all kinds of jokes about the shallowness of hype for hype's sake, relevant because of all of the hype around the Seinfeld finale itself. One of the catch phrases for the finale is "It's must-see TV!" - making subtle fun not only of the show but of the network it aired on. They can get away with that, because they've earned it.

Jerry decides to hold a viewing party for "everyone I know" and rents a spacious ballroom with lots of screens. This allows you to reintroduce a million former characters, who interact with Jerry and with each other before and at the party. It also lets you replay on the jumbo screens some slips of Jerry's stand-up routines and various videotaped segments from the entire cast throughout the series (for example, George eating a sundae at the U.S. Open, Elaine dancing or Kramer appearing in an episode of Murphy Brown).

Madcap hilarity ensues when Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer get tied up and are running late for the party. After many hilarious hijinks, they all meet up and make their way against all odds to the party, just as the "must see" event is starting. Unfortunately, just as they get there, the power goes out throughout the city - caused, of course, by a chain reaction started by Kramer half-way through the finale. (Coincidentally, the power really did go out in Baltimore during the Seinfeld finale.)

All of the guests leave, and we are left with just our four main characters. George says "Well, I guess we missed it," and Jerry replies, "Yes, it's all over now." After a pause, Elaine adds, "Well, it's just TV." They then all laugh and walk out together as the camera sentimentally pulls away. In the distance, we hear Kramer scheming to fly to Argentina, the one country where the "must-see" event doesn't air until tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Twisdom 3

Every once in a while, I tweet something that stands on its own. Sometimes it's poetic, sometimes silly and sometimes just a little observation that has a kernel of wisdom in it. Here are some of those tweets.

Bagpipes make any song badass

 The teeth of the demon monkey skull, I say.

 Please, someone, use this word in a rap song: "superluminous"

 Those new super-high-speed hand driers don't work any faster than the old ones. They're just noisier.

 They should have "Diet Pepsi Throwback" with saccharine. "Tab Throwback" would also work.

 I have eight arms and a baby shark head.

 I was talking about Amsterdam, and the boy thought I said "hamster dam." Hilarity ensued.

 Change is inevitable (but that may change...)

 You can never safely get into a "yo' mama" fight with your dad - it doesn't bode well for anyone involved

 I think the other superheroes must drive the Flash crazy. Imagine sitting around waiting all the time. "Can we PLEASE hurry this up?!"

 A group of frogs is called an army. It should be called a froggle.

 Seven-year-old physics: "When you talk into a balloon, the helium creates friction which causes static that pulls your voice in and adds weight to it."

 If I were Superman, I would shoot my eye-lasers, like, ALL the time.

 Open up! This is the academic police. We have you theoretically surrounded.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Seven things I learned about seven-year-olds on my seven-day family road trip

  1. Seven-year-olds can concentrate on a video game for hours on end, but cannot concentrate for 10 seconds on what you're saying.
  2. No matter how much fun you have somewhere, what a seven-year-old will remember most about it is the trinket they acquired there.
  3. Whatever word you least want them to say ("badonkadonk") is the one seven-year-olds will say incessantly.
  4. You should never teach a seven-year-old what it means to "moon" somebody.
  5. Seven-year-olds think the word "don't" means "hurry."
  6. Even the best seven-year-olds would be considered psychopaths if they were adults.
  7. Seven-year-olds make any family vacation more fun. Eventually. After they finish complaining about it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unhidden Connection

This is a "party game" I invented. It is very simple and a very effective ice breaker. My company has used it twice at employee meetings (breaking into groups of about 8-12 people), and it can also be used at private parties. It is especially good when the group assembled is not very familiar with each other.

Everyone works together as a team in this game. To begin, everyone forms a circle. (Throughout the game, people do not need to stay in their original seat - they can move anywhere in the circle in order to make the "links" work.)

The goal of the game is to form unique links with the people on either side of you. These links must be something that only those two people - and no one else in the circle - share in common.

The links may not be anything obvious from looking at the people. (For example, the only two people with mustaches or the only two wearing green.) Beyond that, anything goes. For example, in the first game, I formed a link with the only other person who had read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. (Although I had read an English translation, whereas he was Russian and had actually read it in its original language!)

Even after people form their own links, they can still participate, helping to find common ground between the people remaining. The last links are always the hardest!

For smaller groups, you can optionally have everyone uncover a unique link with every other person playing.

At the end of the game, every person in the circle will have formed two unique links: one with the person on their right in the circle, and another with the person on their left. And the entire group will have learned a lot about each other, which will hopefully keep the conversation going.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bullet Killer

I’m a gladiator ninja, don’t mess with me

I drive an army helicopter and I live in a tree

I’ve got grizzly bears and guns as far as I can see

You gotta pay for my rhymes, you don’t get ‘em for free

I’ve got rocket fuel bubbling in my veins

Voodoo lightning charging through my brains

I eat fossils and apostles and atomic trains

And my wallet grows fatter every time that it rains

I’m an insane Kung-Fu genius, I can’t die

I can shred you just by giving you the evil eye

All my bears have wolves and all the wolves have knives

I’ll sell a nickel for a dollar and I don’t even try

You’ll get a soul stopping smack if you get in my way

I break the laws of time and gravity every day

I’m a predatory player, but I don’t play

When I lay the rhymes down, you must obey

Thursday, April 22, 2010

R.I.P. Frosty the Snowman, 1950-2010

Flags were lowered to half-staff at the North Pole today as Global Warming claimed its latest victim. Frosty the Snowman died at home yesterday surrounded by loved ones and elves, after a long battle with melting. He was 59.

Frosty had a very successful career in Hollywood from the moment he had been brought to life in 1950, purportedly by a magic hat. He had suffered from melting several times throughout his life, but had always been able to convalesce at the North Pole, where he maintained permanent residence.

Frosty had last been seen publicly in the 1992 CBS special Frosty Returns, where his appearance and voice had already been noticeably changed by his illness. Like his earlier work, Frosty Returns did not hide Frosty's sometimes edgy political agenda, as it argued against behaviors that cause climate change. Indeed, even though Frosty kept a low public profile in his later years, he still remained a strong voice for environmental responsibility. In fact, Al Gore says that it was Frosty who came up with the term "An Inconvenient Truth," which Gore used for his award-winning documentary and book. "There is literally no one for whom it is more inconvenient than Frosty," said Gore in 2007.

A spokesman from Santa Corp. read the following statement: "Today Mr. and Mrs. Claus grieve with children throughout the world over the loss of this beloved hero and symbol of Christmas magic. Frosty was our family, and he will be missed."

Doctors related on condition of anonymity that Frosty had grown so small and featureless towards the end as to be almost unrecognizable. "Still, he retained his sense of humor," one said. "There was always a twinkle in those lumps of coal."

Frosty had been married and widowed 15 times. His closest living relative issued the following statement from his home in Mankato, Minnesota: "My great great great great great great great great grandad wouldn't want anyone to cry for him. Most snowman only live for a few weeks or months, but Frosty was able to spend decades doing what he loved and making children smile. He considered himself very fortunate."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I do, yo-yo!

As I wrote last year, I met someone special and we really clicked. Today, the two of us began the next phase of our lives as husband and wife.

In doing so, we bring together four people into a new family: me and her, plus our two boys - who are just a few weeks apart in age, so I've started calling them the "step-twins."

We're a little bit of an unconventional family, because we share custody with our boys' other respective parents, so they have other family members who love them, and they need come and go. I joked that we're a family of yo-yos: each of us has other commitments, so we leave from time to time, but our heartstrings are tied together and our yo-yos always come back eventually. (Sometimes we may have to roll up the string by hand, but we do come back!)

In case you missed it, here are some of the special vows we wrote for the ceremony:

Declaration of Consent

___, will you have ___ to be your wife/husband, and will you pledge yourself to her/him in all love, honor, faith and tenderness? To live with her/him, cherish her/him, support her/him, comfort her/him, care for her/him and protect her/him according to the ordinance of God in the holy bond of marriage?

I will.

Question to the Boys

___ and ___, what your Mom [said to ___] and your Dad [said to ___] just said to each other affects you too, doesn’t it? They have come here today to make a promise to each other and to God to love each other. And a big part of loving each other is to love both of you and to build a strong, happy and supportive family for both of you to grow up in.

When you leave this church today, you will each have gained a new step-parent and a new step-brother. Your new family members do not replace anyone else, but rather add to the love that surrounds you. And as a family, you will all share that responsibility to love one another and support one another.

___, ___, ___ and ___, will the four of you pledge to be a fair and loving and supportive family?

We will.

Wedding Vows

___, I love you. You are my best friend. Today I give myself to you in marriage. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle. I promise to love and cherish you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.

Ring Vows

___, this ring is a symbol of my love for you. Let it be a reminder that I will always be a faithful partner to you and a devoted, loving member of our family. With all that I am and all that I have, I give it to you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Twisdom Two

Every once in a while, I tweet something that I find entertaining. Sometimes it's something poetic, sometimes something silly and sometimes just a little observation that I feel has a kernel of wisdom in it.

So just in case you missed them the first time around, these are the ones I feel stand on their own.


Kapow! How ya like me now? Diggin' up rhymes like I was pullin' a plow!

plastic grocery bag = urban tumbleweed

I thought rain was supposed to melt zombies? No, damn, that's witches.

The Magic 8 Ball never lies. Sometimes we just don't understand how it has interpreted the question.

duh = no duh

pepper is the new salt

what part of the pork is a chop? do people have chops?

new favorite word: "nerfzooka"

My God / How is it I remember / His hat, too big, flopped across my head / Watching zebras in the rain

my side of the street is not getting any taco love

feel like I've slipped out of the time stream and into a narrative prose

silver is kinda like gray, but shiny

you don't realize how many things you do with your thumb until you get a big cut on your thumb

you don't realize how many things you do with your thumb until you cut off your thumb

music is what numbers feel like

when did we start looking for opportunities to queue?

my best email response today: "I would like to be moved to the CC line of this conversation"