Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MENSA Question 1

A train leaves St. Louis at 86 mph. Simultaneously, another train leaves New York at 93 mph. Why?
(show your work)

No Sleep For The Excited

Sunday night, I couldn't sleep. Like a five-year-old on Christmas Eve, I was just too excited. I'd close my eyes and pop awake every five minutes with a giddiness that in normal cases of insomnia is replaced with annoyance. But, not this Sunday. Oh no, I couldn't sleep and I didn't care! I was too pumped up! You want to know why? So do I.

I woke Monday morning after three hours of restless sleep, rushed upstairs to find a bowl of oatmeal and my train pass, which I used on my way to work. A half-hour train ride and a cup of coffee later, I'm at work-where I, surprise, surprise, worked. All that past on the train ride home was another half-hour. Ate dinner. Had a workshop to go to, but wasn't particularly excited about that either. Got home from the workshop and finally realized that NOTHING EXCITING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!

So, why? Why the snapping awake with uber-excitement? Why the nervousness that comes with too much caffeine? The easy answer would be caffeine. My answer, however, is not. I had no caffeine on Sunday.

So, if anyone is aware of me winning something or some piece of amazing news involving my life that I'm not, please contact me and let me know. It'd be much appreciated.

Older, Longer, Healthier

A study of older men in The Netherlands indicated those who ate the equivalent of 1/3 of a chocolate bar every day had lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of death. The researchers also say, however, that it's too early to conclude it was chocolate that led to a healthier life. Among the many other statistical similarities in the lives of those men are that they:

Drink a cup of coffee a day.
Eat four-six eggs a week.
Watched at least three episodes of MASH and/or Cheers in their lifetime.
Prefer loafers to sneakers.
Would choose retractable wings of their own over flying in an airplane.
Stopped putting candles on their birthday cakes after fifty.
Hate commercial breaks.
Sleep with their eyes closed.

Wikipedia for your iPod

the mashup 44% of geeks have been waiting their whole lives for, wikipodia puts the entire wikipedia on your ipod. in a word, awesome.

via macbytes

Is That What I Think It Is?

I was on the Orange Line the other day (The CTA train that runs to Midway), and it passed what I can only assume was a diving board factory and warehouse. Do they have those? Are diving boards made, assembled and stored all in one place? If not, what could I have seen that bore a striking resemblance to a stockpile of diving boards?

Dude, Seriously, Stop That.

On my flight to Pittsburgh, I sat next some forty-something guy who would eat his peanuts in the most annoying way possible. He'd pour a couple into his hand (which is fine), then he'd do this thing I'd never seen anyone do: he jiggled the peanuts around in his hand, using a motion not unlike the one we use to symbolize jerking off, cocked his head back so it was perpendicular to the rest of his body, and slammed the peanuts violently into his mouth. It took seven of these action sets to finish off the tiny bag of peanuts they gave him (yes, I counted). So...irritating.

Monday, February 27, 2006

If 99.9% were acceptable...

I was shooting a sketch in an office complex last weekend, and there was a hand drawn poster hanging up outside the break room that said the following:

If 99.9% were acceptable...
• 1128 babies each day would be given to the wrong parents
• 124 flights out of O'Hare would crash every year
• 3168 words in Webster's Dictionary would be mispelled (sic)

those aren't the real numbers, but you get the idea. Sigh. Oh, corporate America. I had an idea for a rebuttal poster:

If 99.9% wasn't acceptable...
• Zero of the people in this office would have graduated high school.

A bit presumptuous on my part? Maybe, but I stand behind it nonetheless.

"new" sketch online

This stretches the definition of new quite a bit, but old Animal Club favorite HItler Oh's is up. For the record, I think it's the first sketch I ever wrote, pre-dating the Animal Club, going all the way back to my days in the broke-up-before-we-ever-did-a-show Thirsty Camels sketch comedy group. I wrote a dozen sketches for that group, all of one of which was good enough to actually produce, and of course it's a cereal sketch. Sigh. Anyway, enjoy it.

SkyMall Part Four

Part Three
Part Two
Part One

I flew back to PIttsburgh last Thursday, and you know what that means- more quality time with the American version of the Canterbury Tales, SkyMall!.

This week's featured item is actually a trifecta of consumerist excess; ladies and gentlemen, I present to you three new and different though not necessarily better ways to cook a hot dog.

Choice number 1: The Hot Dog Rotisserie Griller. For all of us who have longed for the hot dog that tastes like it was cooked in a 7-11, the long sought home hot roller system is finally here. Also included is a skewer style bun warmer, for those of us who simply can't have room temperature hot dog buns. Counting the two skewers and four hot rollers, that's six surfaces upon which you can give yourself a second degree burn! As an added bonus, you can impale yourself with the bun warmers, too! Now that's what I call progress.

Choice number 2: The Pop-Up Hot Dog Cooker. If necessity is the mother of invention, unnecessity is the mother of the Pop Up Hot Dog Cooker, the makers of which apparently asked the question none of us have been asking: "Do hot dogs taste better if they're cooked vertically?". The answer is "I doubt I'll ever find out", as by the time I've gone through enough regular hot dog cooking mechanisms like grills, stoves, and broilers, this company will have long since gone out of business. As you can see it's basically a toaster with hot dog shaped slots and, again, a bun warmer. What is it with the bun warmers? I can't ever recall having a hot dog served on a heated bun at any point in my life. Ah well. C'est la stupid idea.

Choice number 3: The Party Maker Oven. The name implies that this item makes parties, but I'm pretty sure that the only thing coming out of it is a warmer hot dog than the one you put it. This product falls short of the personal injury possibilities offered by the Hot Dog Rotisserie Griller by placing a door over it's bun warmer, so that's one strike against it. The description states that it "practically cleans itslef", which means you still have to clean it. A more accurate phrase would be "It doesn't really clean itself, it just collects the mess in one place so you only have to clean that!", but I guess that doesn't roll off the tongue or sound like that strong a selling point. The best line in the product description, though, is this gem: "With this innovation, you can get rid of that hot dog griller and that toaster oven". That's great and all, but last i checked combining two rarely used appliances into one just creates one rarely used appliance. And what happens when someone creates a combination Party Maker Oven and, say, Waffle Iron? Then all six people that have a hot dog griller, toaster oven, and waffle iron will just buy that, and half your customer base is gone.

Believe it or not, I found six things even dumber than these hot dog cookers. Keep waiting for me to fly places and then post them here!

My Life Is Now Complete.

I just shared an elevator ride with a middle aged Japanese man wearing an Indiana Jones hat. YES!!!

Shiver Me Vomit

On the days I work at my day job, I pass the only Chicagoland Long John Silvers on my commute. This morning I was greeted with a sign there that activated my gag reflex something awful; Buttered Lobster Bites.

The Long John's website is pushing the new "delicacies" pretty hard, creating an unbearably lame character named Lobsterhero, and offering a 101 level class on the kind of lobster they use (in this case, Langostino Lobster, which sounds to me like the last-name-used-as-first-name of a high school character in a National Lampoon movie; the one who the principal is obsessed with bringing down-"I'll get you Langostino!" This was a very long parenthetical.)

Let me remind you all that for a brief period in the 80's, you could order extra "Barnacles" with your Long John Silvers' meal (Barnacles being extra droplets of fried batter). With that in mind, I'm sure you'll join me in giving LJS Butter Lobster Bites an unprecedented 12 on the Fast Food Grossness Scale (which only goes from 1-10).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Working, Building, Never Stopping Never Sleeping

I've spent the past five hours doing the following:

• Take a stack of stacks of data sheets printed on 8.5x14 paper
• Find page 15 in each stack
• copy half of page 15 to an 8.5x11
• write an ID number on it
• repeat ad nauseam

Boy, it's a good thing I went to college.


When you've spent a good four or five hours filing, the world becomes a quirkier place. Names keep passing by your eyes, getting alphabetized, getting filed, and you start to think, "Hey, I wonder if I ever passed Julie Rundgren-maybe sat next to her on the train or shared a smile when that guy in front of us tripped. And what of that guy? Was that Gordon Milichap?" And inevitably, you move past the point of wondering if you shared seconds with any of these people and you start to wonder more personal. Is Allisa Bagoyan married? And if ancestors of Smiths and Coopers were smiths and coopers, than what did Andre Gharakhanian's ancestors do for living?

I suppose we do this to help pass time, but also I think there's a general desire to know. It's the human experience-subdued and forced to file paper in an office-but the human experience just the same.


New mammal found! New mammal found! New beaver thing! Hot off the presses!! Paleontologists piss themselves for the first time in decades!! YOU WILL TOO!!!

A Movie Watching Invite For Our Friends In The East

In an attempt to promote Chinese cartoonists and prevent the Chinese people from seeing Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mary Poppins, and Space Jam; the Chinese government announced a ban on "so-called cartoons that mainly feature real people and only occasionally have computer-generated elements".

So, I am writing to all you Chinese citizens who want to see Julie Andrews dancing with penguins and Bob Hoskins kissing a rabbit and Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny schooling some aliens on the court. Please come to our house. Seriously, you're all welcome. And I mean all. We've got a futon. You bring the popcorn. We'll bring the films.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Dripple And A Pop

You know what would be fun?
Like basketball, there's two hoops and a ball and the same rules apply, but each player has a belt of darts around their waist (bandeleiro style also available) that they throw in an attempt to burst the ball whenever the opposition gains possession.
Just saying think about it.

To Any Nebraskans Who Might Have Won The Powerball (Yes, All Eight Of You),

First of all, congratulations on your Powerball winnings! I realize that, what with splitting the winnings, none of you have the entire 365 million dollars (a million for every day of the calendar) and you're all left with a mere 22.1 million. But, I beg you to see that this is more than most people have and that puts you in a new position. Sure, go ahead and retire from ever working and give some to your family. Who wouldn't? But, after that, don't drown yourself in cars and houses and boats and parties and butlers and caviar. Take a lap in the vat of money and then, instead of vanishing from the world in a solid gold hummer, I challenge you to do something to actually better the world.

Raise 1,000 orphans
Donate to cancer or AIDS research
Send a couple of food-loaded cargo planes to disadvantaged countries
Fund some space research (who doesn't like space?)
Fund some wildlife parks (who doesn't like trees?)
Send 1,000s of kids to college (who doesn't like the future?)

Do something worthwile for pete's sake! You've got 22.1 million dollars! That's more than entire countries have! It's possible to be a millionaire forever and still be generous. And if the above ideas are too grandiose, there's 22.1 million other things to do to help people. Like:

On rainy days, buy everyone on the street an umbrella
Create a twenty dollars for a quarter day
Take an elementary school on a field trip to the center of the earth

Seriously, if you make an attempt to make a difference you will be remembered with a smile instead of joining the ranks of past lottery winners who took their money and abandoned the world.

A Useful Mess

Hey. Save your dog poo. There's a company in San Francisco that's collecting it and creating methane gas out of it. Hopefully, it'll be coming your way soon. Until then, just put the poo in a Ziploc bag and stack the bags in your freezer. Don't waste your dog's poo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Furry Family Member

For those of you not in Chicago, let me recap for you a major news break.

Bart, a German Shepherd police dog, was returned to his owner after two days on the lam. Wonderful! Heartfelt! It's got Disney feature film written all over it. We all love animals and animals who help people, like police dogs, have that little something extra behind them.

So, here's the thing. Can we please, as a whole united world media, stop using these kind of opening paragraph descriptions:

"He loves to play catch. He walks on four legs, is covered in fur, and, oh yeah, he's a cop."
"Woman says ball of hair was part of the family."

Why? An attempt to be "silly" or a clever journalistic skill used to get us to believe there are werewolves among us if only to pull the rug out and expose a "real" scenario? Does that really heighten the drama or leave you with a fulfilling belly laugh? And can we all agree that pets are loved by people? Great, now let's all just agree to say, "Police Dog Lost".

Dietary Wealth

I've constructed an equation that determines your poorness based on your diet. It's pretty foolproof, and surprisingly simple:

x/7=y (where x = the number of times a week you eat ramen, and y is your poorness quotient)

if y>0, you are poor.

yes, i was eating ramen when i came up with this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New videos up

Occasionally, just occasionally, we actually do sketch comedy. I'm redoing the website, for better or for worse, and one of the first things to go was the old video page.

Two recent "hit" sketches, both of which were seen on Sketchfest TV, are up on our video page. Choose from high or low res versions of fan favorites "The Orphan Spelling Bee" and "Dolphins vs. Fighter Jets".

I'll let you know as the rest of the stuff is uploaded.


SketchFest TV - Episode 7

Episode 7 is live from the Charleston Comedy Festival, with The Royal We, a Week of Kindness, and The Cupid Players.

How do we broadcast it live? We don't. We're just using that term very loosely.

You can download it on iTunes, or get the YouTube or Quicktime versions.

Thanks to the Charleston Comedy Festival, and The Have Nots for letting us film at their awesome festival. Also, for the residents of Charleston for patiently letting us run around and be louder than they generally are.

If you're one of the more than 1000 viewers per episode of this podcast, and you like what you're seeing, leave us a comment either here or in the iTunes store. And spread the word...

Next week: Back in the NYC, with three more awesome sketch comedy groups.

Monday, February 20, 2006

If there's one thing I know about President's Day...






As Much For Shane As For the Rest of You

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made sure my persident's day got off on the right foot with an in depth multimedia presentation on one of Abraham Lincoln descendants living in Pennsylvania.

Like Honest Abe, Ralph C. Lincoln is over six feet tall, maintains a trimmed beard, and was shot in the back of the head at a production of Mama Mia. Read the article for some tidbits of information that are slightly truer than the ones I just gave you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

That Damn Right

Internet contributes to eroding of spelling and grammar.

Tells me, about it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

il fait froid

It's like -600 in Chicago today. That's the temperature where urine freezes in your bladder. It's like the arctic tundra without the penguins. The radio this morning issued a severe cold advisory saying that no one should go outside unless they absolutely have to. And yet, the gym is loaded with people and the streets are far from empty. Either people are that brave or no one listens to the radio anymore.

I wish the mayor would give everyone free ear muffs.


Also, on the train in to work, I noticed this silly (meaning stupid) piece of human behavior. Each car has four doors-two on each side and each door adjacent to one of the other side's doors. One of the adjacent sets was unable to open for one reason or another. And it really was the most amusing of sites to watch people riding the train for 15 minutes and going through 8 or 9 stops all with these doors not opening. And then, when their stop came they stood in front of those doors as if they would
magically open only for them. When the doors ignored the magician (which was always) there was frantic pulling and pushing and swearing and general rash annoyance until they missed their stop entirely instead of walking ten yards to the other set of doors that had been functioning the whole time. And this happened a handful of times. Ah, people. You gotta love 'em...or feel sorry for them.


On the way to work, the train brayed this warning:

"Soliciting is prohibited on all CTA trains. No smoking, eating, drinking, or listening to radio and other loud devices."
And I thought, why stop there?

"The CTA prohibits punches to the gut, ribs, face, and punches in general; public urination; petty theft; petty crime in general; racial or sexual harassment; racial and sexual discrimination; prostitution; organ harvesting; child, animal, or spousal abuse; identity theft; bribery; forgery; extortion; incest; arson; embezzlement; aiding and abedding of known criminals or illegal aliens; practicing medicine, law, public teaching, operating heavy machinery, hunting without a license; poaching; sale and purchase of illegeal contriband (including illegal narcotics and fireworks); armed robbery; nepotism; rape; torture; assassinations; or any sort of murder in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree on any of its trains."

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Rash

Not since my infant years, have I had a rash of any concern. And that's not a figure of speech. I mean to say a rash of any concern. Those infant years brought about the dreaded diaper rash and even if I could remember, I'm positive the rash didn't reach farther than my little baby buttocks. I know this because I only wore diapers on my ass. But now, here I am at 25, a coating of red blotchy chain mail adorns my arms, torso, and legs.

Poison ivy or posion oak? Maybe, but I live in the city and, besides the occasional tree and patch of grass, the only vegitation I encounter regularly is a couple of houseplants-which I know are not poisonous. And the other telling factor in it not being an ivy or oak plant of the poisonous family is that it's not contagious. No one else I've come in contact with has picked it up, hard as I've tried to rub it in someone's face.
So, what gives? Or, what has given?

Here's the solution: Laundry Detergent. We switched detergents recently and I've begun to wear those clothes washed in this new concoction meant to help you wash whites and colors together more effectively. So, last night, I did a rewashing of as much of my wardrobe as quarters would allow. And today, the rash is fainter, but still annoying as all crap. And that's the thing. It's not really itchy. Maybe a little itchy, but not enough that it couldn't be ignored (like children in the 1900s). But, it's so damn annoying that I want to scratch the hell out of it to get even with it, you know? Does that even make sense? I know it doesn't. But how do you get back at a rash? Call it ugly? Go ahead. It won't listen.

oh yeah...do it...oh...another inch...oh yeah...

for my me hair pretty someday post the other day, i googled "haircut", hoping to find a picture. what i found out was that the number one google result for "haircut" is a fairly comprehensive and specific haircut fetish video site, focusing mainly on women who shave their heads.

i feel dirty linking directly to it, just know it's there, and if you want haircuts to completely lose their innocence, go ahead and check it out.

It's about fucking time.

Guess what amazing LA sketch group that isn't Ten West just started a blog? That's right. Please welcome the Official Troop! Blog, to the lonely, lonely world of sketch blogging.

One piece of advice for you guys:

Any post that references Dusty Warren must include this picture. That's a rule that we set up after Cory found out that was the number one google image result for "Dusty Warren".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Did I Miss Something Beautiful?

I was putting in some extra hours at IO last night when, right in the middle of a show, a transformer blew and the whole block went dark. The emergency lights came on a minute later, and by then, the interns had scrambled and lit some candles, the staff had grabbed some flashlights, and the performers gamely continued, not missing a beat.

It would have been beautiful, but I was not there to perform or be entertained. I was there to edit video, which requires electricity. The project I was working on was lost, and I had to high tail it back to my place and pull an all-nighter. So, no. I did not witness something beautiful, but I'm pretty sure the people who weren't there to edit video did.

And I will not be witnessing anything beautiful today when I go to my office job at 6:30 AM, then to IO by 1:00, then home to finish editing the Animal Club (this sketch group that I'm in) video stuff for the new web page. No, that will probably be more like a train wreck. Or a car wreck, as I will be driving to and from these places on 4 hours sleep in two nights.

Still, I thought I heard Del Close conversing with me last night. So that was cool.

What I Did On Valentine's Day

• Set my iPod to wake me up with "I thought about you" by John Pizzarelli

• Made breakfast for myself then ate it in bed.

• Took a shower, shaved, brushed my teeth.

• Played my "It's Not That Bad" playlist on the way to work.

• Wrote a poem

• Seriously considered sending a certain someone a singing telegram.

• Backed off that idea.

• Worked for another 8 hours.

• Came home

• Got into bed

• Watched Amelie (alone), fell asleep.

• Had a really sweet dream where we got married. We had three kids. One of them had your skin tone. One was left handed. You taught him how to play baseball, and I taught our daughters how to play hockey. We lived in a townhouse in San Francisco. There were a lot of hills. Every mundane moment felt real and honest and pure. We didn't work. The kids didn't have school that day, so we took them on a picnic. We sat on top of a lush rolling hill overlooking the bay. The sky was wide open; the water was just a shade just shy of Technicolor® blue. We sat back, your hand on top of mine, watching our kids chase the dog from one side of the hill to the other, the city's gentle chorus softly filling the gaps between shrieks of delight when one of the kids would fall. The sun wanted to set, but it couldn't. This was too perfect. So it let us play for a bit longer. Long enough for me to wake up without ever having to feel like it ended.

• Had a Frappuchino, brushed my teeth, ran out the door because I was late for work.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

90% of my phone conversations...

...start off with a lie. I know who's calling because I see their name on the display. But I still say, "hello?", like I don't know who it is.

Me Hair Pretty Someday

If you've known me for more than a year, you know my hairstyle followed a dependable cycle: rock the close crop ceasar cut, followed by six months of growth to below-the-ear length, and repeat as necessary. Those first couple weeks of the short hair are kind of sad; I look very sickly, more so than usual, I mean. I don't think I can go back to that. What's more, I think I've developed a Samson complex, whereby my long hair grants me super-bazular* powers. Unfortunately, my hair is rapidly approaching mullet status, and at some point in the very near future, it will cause more hooking-up problems than opportunities (which is the rubric by which any haircut should be measured).

Now normally I'd just buzz my hair off myself, or if I was lazy, I'd run to Supercuts and have them do it. Since I've decided to keep the hair long for the time being, that's not an option, what with Supercuts being the Special Olympics of hairstyling. I'd trust them with a discus, but not a javelin, if you know what I mean. If you don't, I meant the clippers were a discus, but actually crafting a male long-hair coif is a javelin.

So I think I'll be forced to find a "stylist", which has it's own pitfalls. Notably the one whereby hair stylists consider themselves artists, and take a fair bit of license with your look. I'm sure they know how to make me look my best, but looking my best isn't necessarily what I'm after here. So I've decided to interview potential stylists, and have them shadow me for a week while I go socializing. Then and only then will I feel comfortable in giving them free reign on my appearance, and I think that will be the most confident haircut they'll have ever given. It's a win-win, so long as you ignore the week I'll have a hairdresser following me around.

* Apparently super-bazular is a word. SpellCheck did not have a problem with it. It probably has to do with the hyphen, but I rather like the idea that the word bazular (which SpellCheck does have a problem with) means something. Preferably something like "incomparably brilliant" or "flawless".

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Help

As the years go on, it gets harder and harder to find a gift coming straight from the heart. So, here's a simple idea. This year, give your loved one a Valentine's Day card from Jesus:

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love you, (Name Here).
I also love your mom and dad and siblings (If you have any-which I know you (Circle One: Do/Don't). You (Circle One: Have/Haven't)(Number Of Siblings Here)) and grandparents, too. Also, the house you live in and the food you eat (Fun fact: I love (Your Favorite Food Here), too).

I'd love to spend this special day with you, but I have this whole heaven thing going on right now. Someday, I'll be back (You know to seperate the sheep from the goats.) and we'll have a kickin' V-Day then. Then, we'll be able to hang out more, maybe play some (Your Favorite Game Here) or something-as long as you're not a goat (lol). Until then, I'll be watching you at all times as a scentless, soundless, invisible presence (Like a healthier carbon monoxide.). Keep on keeping on at (Your Place of Employment Here). I remember how much you (Circle One: Love/Hate) your job!
All My Love,

*Sidenote: For extra poignancy, put your name in and see how much Jesus loves you.

SketchFest TV - Episode 6

Stoobe on a train, with Becky and Noelle, Animal Club, and Defiant Thomas Brothers.

Where in the world is Stoobe? He's everywhere! If it's not Chicago, or New York, it's on a train. And this week, we take the one way choo choo to funny town, with three amazing sketch groups. Be sure to watch closely, there's cameos galore!

The episode is available on iTunes, and YouTube. A quicktime 6 compatible version is available here.

Next week: Broadcasting from the Charleston Comedy Festival!

Valentine's Day




Drunk at work.




Dream Weaver

I just tied to make it all the way through "Dream Weaver", the 70's ballad, without pressing skip. I made it 1:30 in, then gave up. I think I deserve something for my effort.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Holy Chip

Regular Everyday Tortilla Chips. Notice No Virgin Mary.

Seriously, the miracle food apparitions need to come to an end. Elizabeth Gould just came forward with news that the Virgin Mary graced tortilla chip that she was given on a JetBlue flight to Miami. There comes a point when you just have to say that sometimes burns, mold, and popcorn kernels look like shadowy people. Sometimes pretzels and chips just get baked into forms that resemble faceless blobs of bearing a minute resemblance to a human but that makes them no more the Virgin Mary than it does visits from Sojourner Truth. Isn't it an insult to keep food on display at goldenpalace.com when a single chip could feed an entire family in Ethiopia? And the Virgin Mary, of all people, would be more than welcome to having a chip-version of herself fed to the starving.

Prison Stats

On Saturday, eight inmates were injured in the latest prison riot in a
detention center in Castaic, California forcing authorities into research
on how we can make our detention centers safe for prisoners and employees
alike. Here's some of the most recent data collected.

Inmate Injuries Accrued Nationwide Due to Force

Guard and Employee Injuries Nationwide Due to Force

Amount of Hugs Given From Guard to Inmate

The New Belle and Sebastian album

I'm halfway through it, and here's what it's not:

• frail
• sad
• silly
• punk
• anything like the first three albums

here's what it is:

• poppy
• much more like DCW and Jonathan David.

here's what it might be:

• good
• very good

there's at least one track that sounds like a john foggerty song from the 80's. there's a lot that sounds like the kinks. i'll keep you posted?

Super Bowl XL Sob, Sob, Sob. Sniff.

Last night, I caught the first viewing of the NFL films slightly melodramatic highlight documentary on Super Bowl XL. I cried. Granted it was 3:30 in the morning, and I was loopy from the sleeping pills I'd taken, but still. I cried. I cried for Coach Cowher who got the big win he needed so bad. I cried for Jerome Bettis getting a chance to go out on top. I cried for Duce Staley who a year ago was the featured back for the Steelers, only to watch everyone else on the depth chart steadily replace him.

I even cried a little bit for Seahawks fans, who rightfully felt robbed of a chance to win the game. I cried for Dusty and Cory and John, and anyone else I know from Seattle who actually care about football. But mostly, I cried for myself.

I have to say this, though. After watching the slow motion versions of the infamous holding and offensive pass interference calls, I have to say they were both borderline- it's not a stretch to say either were penalties. If I were a ref, would I have called them? Absolutely. I mean, that's the Steelers playing. But if I were a non-biased ref, I probably would have let the holding one go.

I'm actually glad there's all this controversy. It'll give the Steelers an excuse to play that "we don't get no respect, even though we are the champs" card next year.

Come on Get Happy

I'm 95% sure I just saw Danny Bonaduce talking shop on Clark Street.

He was using a bluetooth headset, so at first it just looked like Danny Bonaduce was just talking to himself, and that actually made perfect sense to me. "Oh, the Dootch is at it again," I thought. He kept saying things like, "No it's a good show, and I'm totally behind it. Let's make this happen." I felt kinda bad for him. Then I saw the headset, and just thought it was annoying. Like he was showing off. And he was doing it right in front of IO, kind of like hoping Charna would walk out onto the street, overhear him and say, "What you got going on there, Danny Bonaduce? Something that might work for my theatre?"

I realize that it could have just been someone who looked like Danny Bonaduce, but what are the odds that there's someone else out there who looks like that AND is on the fringe of show biz? Hence, I'm 95% sure I just saw Danny Bonaduce talking shop on Clark Street.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Michelle Kwan withdrew from the Olympics today, effectively ending her life-long pursuit of a gold medal. It's a disappointing end to a wonderful career, and has figure skating fans around the world in tears.

Let's take a look at the other Olympic figure skating disappointments over the years:

• 2006: Michelle Kwan withdraws from the Olympics

• 2002: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1998: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1994: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1992: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1988: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1984: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1980: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1976: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1972: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1968: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1964: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1960: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1956: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1952: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1948: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1936: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

• 1932: Figure Skating is in the Olympics

That's it for our look into the history books. Good luck in the Icecapades, Michelle. Or, failing that, in "Finding Nemo on Ice".



Friday, February 10, 2006

A Depressing Parable

As the repel line slipped through the carelessly constructed harness, Erin Maxwell, daughter of Eleanor Maxwell, granddaughter of Elaine Maxwell-Smith, saw her life flash before her eyes.

She saw herself in the sandbox at The Community Church of God Preschool. The teacher, Margaret, had just brought in a rosary and all the other kids gathered around to gawk and touch. But Erin was content, focusing her energies on the six-flat condo complex she was designing in the sand.

She could smell the burnt flesh first, then saw the woodburning pen singe her thigh. The mark it left looked like a hammer.

She heard the clarinet solo in "Edelweiss", the fat kid demonstrating the slide of the trombone. She felt her knees shaking as she stood to play the C-scale on the flute.

"Jesus. Get on with it", Erin thought.

She tasted the tears that poured down her face when she failed her drivers license test for the third time, and then she tried to drown out the flashing of her life before her eyes by plugging up her ears and humming "Lost in Emotion" by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, but that just made her think about the time in Brownies when they had a Talent Show and Eve Lipton lip synced "Escapade" by Janet Jackson. That made her think about "Escapade" by Janet Jackson, but the reprieve would be short lived, as that brought her back to her first boy-girl party, where Leandra Moore made her dump Eric Brotsky for her.

"How high up could I have been? This is ridiculous."

By now Erin was desperate, and had turned her body around mid-air, and was making useless swimming motions, trying to hasten the sweet release only death could give. This, of course, reminded her of swimming classes at Magee Pool, and the crush she had on the lifeguard Drew. Drew. Drew Carey? Why was she thinking about Drew Carey? Remember the episode where Drew had to fire his girlfriend? She hated that show, but preferred even it to the Marching Band taking third place at the Cities, or closing night of "The Wiz".

The last thing Erin did before her body collided at long last with the sharp rocks at the base of the overhang was to try simply counting. Just counting. There's no way my life can intrude on this, she thought. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

"What is that? Is that a pinball machine or what? I don't get it. Who drew these fucking cartoons in the first place? Kinda trippy for a kids show if you ask-"

Smash. Sweet, merciful smash. And at long last it's quiet.

Hines Ward for "Great Leader" in 2008?

Why not? Let's compare stats for Ward and current North Korean Great Leader Kim Jong Il:

Hines Ward (2005):
Games: 15
Receptions: 69
Yards: 975
Average: 14.1
Long: 85
TD: 11
Unexplained Explosions Large Enough To Be Seen From Space While Nation Was Under His Control: 0

Kim Jong Il (2005:)
Games: 0
Receptions: 0
Yards: 0
Average: 0
Long: 0
TD: 0
Unexplained Explosions Large Enough To Be Seen From Space While Nation Was Under His Control: 1

Insert Korean Characters That Say "Our Hero"

Hines Ward's celebrity in South Korea is reaching critical mass. He's planning a trip to his native Seoul in the Spring, starting a bidding war between two Korean airlines for the honor of flying he and his mother "home".

Moreover, Hines' fame is helping to change Korean's long-held dislike for tattoos, and forcing Koreans to confront the rampant discrimination that mixed-blood Koreans face. Is Hines Ward becoming Korea's Mohammed Ali?

Even with all that good stuff, I think the best part of Ward's Pan-Asian fame is that many Asian media outlets covered the Super Bowl, and the English translations of these recaps are filled with near-Shakespearean descriptive favorites, like this:

"Riding the athlete’s wave of activity on the field, the Steelers were able to muster enough hustle to once again rise to the zenith of the sport, after 26 years of naught." - Digital Chosunilbo

Yay for media not written for a third grade reading level!

If my iTunes Library on Shuffle was a Radio Station with a DJ

"Hey Baz, that was "Quality Control" by Jurrasic Five, and before that we heard "Kid for Today" by Boards of Canada, and earlier on we had "Eros" by Tortoise, and some great stuff from The Band and Joan Baez. We're gonna be getting some comedy tracks with Harland Williams and Mitch Hedberg later on, but first, let's get back to the music with "Sunshine on My Shoulder" by John Denver. And you know what we say here on iTunes FM, if you don't like it, it's your fault, because you bought it!"


I just walked in on a conversation between a know-it-all conspiracy theorist and an enterprising real estate prospector. The conversation went from 'maintenance costs on rental property' to 'they let 9/11 happen so they could draft everyone' in the span of three minutes. Then, the prospector left me alone with the conspiracy theorist and I didn't know if I was supposed to say something or not. So we both made guttural noises, "mmph", "hmmm", and I left.

Like I said, awkward.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

SkyMall Part Three

Part One
Part Two

Picture this. It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining bright. You just bought a new pair of running shoes, and your brand new iPod is loaded up and ready to go. You grab Sparky's leash, and go to take your best friend for the best walk of his best life. But he won't budge. You try everything. You lay a trail of food going towards the door, you use reverse-pet-psychology, you exit and leave the door open just a crack. Nothing. Sparky isn't going anywhere. And you can't go by yourself because you've got some weird psychological issues about leaving the building alone. What are you going to do?

You're going to pack your dog into one of three fine products, each apparently designed to help you take a hesitant canine on your constitutional.

Aside from the obvious point that these carriers completely defeat the point of taking your dog for a walk, they come perilously close to dog-torture. Of all the dogs I know, zero of them hate being outside, and of those zero, another zero like being a cage. I'm not a mathematician or anything, but I'm still pretty sure that zero minus zero is zero, and I'm not a statistician, but I think we can trust my sample as being representative.

It goes without saying that I don't see what makes these products appropriate for in-flight shopping, but I'm beginning to think my definition of appropriate is too strict. I can't really think of anything that would be appropriate for in-flight shopping.

I could litteraly blog about each and every item in the catalogue, but word on the sketch scene is that San Francisco's Kasper Hauser is working on a book on the subject, so maybe we'll just call this the end of an absolutely average trilogy.

Suppressed Memory

This morning I had one of those moments where you're walking blankly and leaving your mind open to get side-swiped by a memory long ago suppressed, not neccessarily for bad reasons, but suppressed just the same. The suppressed memory of this day was:

When I was eight or nine years old, my elementary school decided to show us this movie about school bus safety even though there were no injuries or deaths related to buses in our area. I guess they wanted to scare us the hell into keeping it that way. And scare us the hell they did. It was like one of those warning videos you watch in driver's ed where it's just a montage of pancaked cars and pancaked people in all their blood and guts. The film didn't go so far with the blood and guts and it wasn't actual footage, but it was enough to make you wonder if it was appropriate for elementary-aged children.

The video was a typical warning film in that the acting was over dramatic and the film was fifteen years too old. The entire film was woven together by a soundtrack. Sung by that guy who clears out every open-mic night by milking drama so skim that it hurts (the generic Harry Nilson-type), this series of sad ballads pertained to who was going to get hit by a bus next
and what life would have been like if they hadn't been hit by the bus (sidenote: life would always have been better if they weren't hit by a bus).

Song after song and scene after seen about kids and teenagers chasing balls, ignoring traffic signals and crossing guards, and general horse-playing that all lead to death by bus.

The one etched in my sub-conscious was the story of Mary. A red head with bell-bottoms of tan and a new scarf. Everyone at school loved Mary and Mary's parents loved Mary. Mary loved Mary. She had a winning smile and a winning attitude and loved life. She also followed all the rules. Yes, even bus rules-well, usually. Until that one day when Mary's scarf fell off by the bus' front tire when she was unboarding on her way home. She bent under the tire to find it. The bus driver couldn't see her and, well I guess the song says it all. From what I can remember it went something like this:

Mary, Mary,
Heart of gold and hair of red,
Bent too far for your scarf
And a bus squuished your head.

Mary, Mary,
We'll miss you so,
Cry as we walk to school,
And pass your mark on the road.

Britney's Baby's Driving Lessons

I'm sure everyone and their puppy knows about Britney Spears putting her baby on her lap whilst sitting in the driver's seat, a feat that sent many a parent to hysterics and many a celeb gossip-hungry consumer into foaming at the mouth. Her reason was the paparazzi was chasing her and apparently she feared for her baby's life or maybe she was just annoyed enough to put the baby's life in danger. Either way, the funniest part about this story is that the LAPD sent authorities to her home to "collect information". And, really, in a case like this, what can you possibly collect-the car, Britney, or the baby?

Land Ho!

A team of scientists discovered a previously unknown world on New Guinea island, a remote province of Indonesia. The mist covered mountaintop is home to rare plants, a new species of bird, and tree kangaroos. But no Jimmy Hoffa.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

SkyMall Part Two

Part One

I just flew home to Pittsburgh for a little doctor appointment action and a lot of Super Bowl watching. As is my custom, I took time from busy in flight schedule of looking like a big shot for the girl sitting across the aisle (this consists of opening my laptop, typing like a mad man, and getting angry from time to time. it never works, because I'm usually flying Southwest, and if I really was a big shot, I probably wouldn't be) to flip through the SkyMall catalogue.

Every season brings a new SkyMall, and this was my first flight of the Winter Post-Christmas season, so I excitedly turned the pages, looking for the new stuff. I didn't have to go far. On page three was this beauty; a Phillips HeartStart Automated Defibrillator.

This defibrillator, once only available to those with...well...heart problems...is now available to the deathaphobic public for the low, low price of $1495. (that's only $45 a month!) Since it's likely very, very illegal to use price as an incentive to pick one of these up (or at the very least, in Adam Carola-esque bad taste), they've sweetened the deal with some great pack-ins; an American Red Cross First Aid Kit (pretty handy actually), Adult Practice Pads (what?), and an attractive wall mount. That's right. A wall mount. For your new defibrillator. Which you don't need. Unless you're dying. Which you might be. So you should probably get one. Definitely. You should definitely get one. And wear it all time. Just in case. Because you might die soon.

If I had an extra $8970, I'd buy one for each of my roommates. Then, I'd get custom made rubber suits, with a logo of a heart with a lightning bolt going through it. Then we'd wander the streets of Chicago with our defibrillators, looking for someone, anyone who'd just suffered sudden cardiac arrest, and then we'd mash play on a boombox, the theme to Greatest American Hero would blare out, and we'd swoop in and save the day. Then, when the person wakes up and says "Thank You", we'd say "Don't thank us. Thank SkyMall!". Then we'd mash play again, and throw smoke bombs on the ground, and escape leaving everyone to say, "SkyMall sells defibrillators?".

The second to last thing I'd like to say about this is that I cannot for the life of me imagine a person who:
a) flies Southwest Airlines and
b) has an extra $1495 to throw around

irrational fear of death is irrelevant; this is a crash cart with out a horse.

The last thing I'd like to say about this is that I have been a satisfied defibrillator customer since 2000. My St. Jude Photon has saved my life over a dozen times, and I don't want to be crass about something that has done so much for me. But Still! SkyMall?! This makes the Gandalf Sword in the Lord of the Rings section downright practical.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Phone Calls And The President

Speaking of using politics for evil, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified in front of the US Senate about the legalities and possible illegalities of the wire tapping that occured. Happily, some Republicans have joined in accusations. Judiciary Chairman, Senator Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) had this to say, "The president does not have a blank check...You think you're right, but there are a lot of people who think you're wrong." To which Gonzales responded with such cryptical phrases like, "We are continually looking at ways that we can work with the court in being more effecient and more effective." That could mean anything from cooperation to blatant ignoring of the courts and since there seems to have been, even currently, no effort to cooperate you have to assume the latter.

I know that it's improbable, but I think it's funny to picture George W. listening in on all the calls. Perhaps at the breakfast table over a bowl of Froot Loops. And, inevitably, the picture always goes something like this:

Person A: What a day I had at work today. Man, it was just awful. I'm so beat.

Person B: Yeah, I know what you mean. Hey, so how about that Al Queda?

Person A: You know, it's so funny you asked that. I was just going to ask you the same thing.

Person B: That's so funny!


Person B: Did you just hear that?

Person A: Yeah. Some kind of clicking.

Person B: Is someone tapping into our conversation?

George Bush: Uh, no.

Person A: Then, what was that?

George Bush: Nothing. Continue to talk about terrorism with no restraint.

Person B: Mr. President?

George Bush: No. Uh, it's not the President. It's his brother, uh, Wallace.

Person A: Your brother's name is Jeb, Mr. President.

George Bush: Oh. Well, uh, your pizza will be there in five minutes.

Hangs up.

Chicago Politics

In other Chicago news, our city clerk, James Laski, just resigned Monday amid rumors and a pending investigation on corruption charges. Judging by the slew of resignations and indictments here in the past year, this seems to be the way a tenure in Chicago politics works. You get elected or appointed, do some corrupting for as long as possible, and depending on how well you've corrupted and covered up, you resign some time later in a storm of conspiracy. Makes you admire the boys and girls in ties here in Chi-town. And makes you wonder if this is more of a national trend and the others are just better at the middle part of it.

Will The Real R. Kelly Please Stand Up?

Hey, did you hear this? On April 26th, R. Kelly will make an appearance at the Chicago Theater under the alias Mr. Show Biz. You know, as if to say, "Look it's me! The guy who sings, dances, and doesn't pee on young girls!"

Better Off

I just read a brief story of the band Europe, best "known" for their "hit" "The Final Countdown", which is in turn best known as the song GOB dances to when he does his magic show on Arrested Development.

According to the article, Europe broke up because the lead guitarist (pictured to the right) left the band, wanting to do something more like his favorite influences; the Scorpions and Dokken, while the rest of the band wanted to sound more like Journey and Toto.

Sounds like a lose-lose to me. Rumor has it the drummer wouldhave preferred to sound more like Gloria Estefan, but was afraid to speak up. I'm curious why they felt the need to suck like somebody else in the first place. Did they honestly think they didn't suck enough? Or that they didn't suck enough in the style of someone else? It's just as well, I guess. If they'd been more comfortable in their awfulness, they'd have made a few more CD's, and that would have been a pretty big waste of natural resources.

Related: Europe is not from Europe. They're Scandinavian. And they're technically based in the Cayman Islands. And they suck.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Super Footballs

This year 108 footballs were DNA encoded in an effort to crack down on an ever-growing problem here in America. That of illegal counterfeiting of Super Bowl footballs. You have to wonder whose DNA they're using since footballs don't tend to have their own DNA. I'm guessing it's all from two-time Super Bowl hero, Bart Starr

Sure, the amount of people who could possibly counterfeit balls is significantly reduced, but with every person comes a virtual bottomless mine of DNA. So, maybe not everyone can counterfeit, but Bart Starr could counterfeit footballs until the day he dies and his family could keep scraping the DNA off him long after he's passed on. So, have they reduced counterfeiting? Sure, let's say they did. But, have they stopped it? Certainly not. And more importantly, how much can we trust Bart Starr?


Super Sunday is over. A new day has begun. Pittsburgh rejoices. Seattle mourns. Meanwhile, in Cleveland there is hope for during the broadcast there came a commercial and in that commercial there appeared a fan with a coat. And on that coat, for millions to see, was the Browns logo shining like a beacon. And, just like that, although they would not come away with the Lombardi Trophy, the Browns made it into the Super Bowl.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


'CNN: English Class Is Out'

Apparently CNN editors aren't watching ABC's hit sitcom "Perfect Grammar" starring Kelsey Grammar as a Grammar Teacher Larry Grammar, who's called in to tutor a group of retarded news website editors. In grammar.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Betty Friedan Dies


One of the most mind-blowing experiences of my young life was reading The Feminine Mystique in college. It's not that I was a sexist pig going into CMU or anything, I'd just never been exposed to the details, the realities of life for a woman in the 1950's. That book, and the class I read it in, changed my life in a lot of ways, and inspired me to think just a little bit harder; to think beyond my own experiences.

She later went on to found the National Organization for Women and in her autumn years, turned her focus to the aged population. The world's a much better place for her contributions, and here's hoping she gets the send off she deserves.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Something very strange happened to me on the train today. I get on and have to stand for the first two stops, but then a seat clears. I walk over to it and start to sit down and, as I do, the train doors open for another stop and the couple sitting across from me gets up and leaves. And in a matter of seconds, I felt the pang of loss. I missed those two. I didn't know them and couldn't even point them out on a street, but I genuinely was hurt that they left before I could meet them.
Why? What does it all mean? Will these pangs happen often when strangers exit? If so, I'm in an assload of trouble. I see strangers often. I mean daily. I can't go through life missing people I never met. That's crazy. I'm crazy. The only sane thing about these moments is the exiting of strangers. Strangers should exit. It makes sense. The train stops near your home and you have to get off. Maybe if I keep telling myself that, I won't cry every time I ride the train.

It's Back!

Puppy Bowl Returns. Were the Steelers not playing, I swear to god I'd watch this instead.
Video preview of Puppy Bowl II.

Go Red Day

Today, February 3rd, is National Go Red For Women Day, a day where people are encouraged to wear red to call attention to heart disease in women. As most of you know, I've got heart disease, and as most of you know, I'm not a woman. So I'm feeling lots of stuff today. Jealousy. Envy. Anger. Sadness. Solitude. Left-out-ness. It's like when I was a kid and it was my sister's birthday.

However, my mom taught me that I'm a white middle class man, and as such, the other 364 days are effectively a celebration of me, so I can get over myself for a day, and encourage you all to find some way to do something about heart disease in women. Preferably, go to medical school and cure it in some people (again preferably women), but failing that, make a donation, or join Go Red and learn how to avoid getting heart problems in the first place (because in all likeliness it's too late for you to get a Make A Wish like I did, so really it's not worth it).

Hooray for getting involved!

Cheaper by the Dozen 2

Actual Tagline: This Christmas, You'd Better Watch Out!

Better Tagline: Twice the Cheaper! Twice the Dozen!

This post was inspired by a laboriously painted bus, done up all around to promote this past Christmas' Cheaper By The Dozen 2.

The Blue Hour

Still a shade short of sunrise, I greet the morning with a hint of sarcasm- daybreak doesn't have the same refreshing, rejuvenating, invigorating effect if you haven't been to sleep yet.

My sleep troubles are old hat here at the old Animal Club blog, so I'm just doing this to put you, the reader, on notice. The last time I blogged midst an all-nighter-come-work-day, I interpreted the lyrics to "Born to Run", thought a copier looked like a robot butler, and nearly wrapped my car around a tree. This fine TGIF promises to hold all this and more, as I take my stressed out self to the office for a truncated lap at the pond of corporate america, and try to follow that up with video editing and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of loving.

Your eyes? Peel them. Your ears? To the ground with those. Your heart? Is mine. It's crazy blog day at theanimalclub.blogspot.com.

The over/under for super bowl related posts today is 2.

P. fume

Diddy just released his first perfume out on the market. It's called Unforgivable. I still think it should be called Diddy Juice.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Punxatawny Phil Sees His Shadow

But I don't know what that means.

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

On my way to IO this morning, I had a beautiful experience. an old man, who looked more like blue from old school than the guy to the right, was riding a bike with what was essentially scaffolding adorning the front and back of the bike, much more like the exoskeleton of the statue of liberty than the bike pictured to the right, and "change the world" by eric clapton and babyface was playing on the radio.

there's no way to do this moment justice in words, so just imagine a much better version of what i just said. boo to not being able to write well this morning. boo!