12 posts from November 2007

It’s old scruffy teddy, he’s been around for years...

This is one of those news bits that tends to push me ever closer to the proverbial precipice... just teetering between sanity and pure lunacy. God only knows what it would take to tip me that final bit over the edge.

Gillian Gibbons, a teacher from Liverpool, England, UK, working in Khartoum, Sudan, was arrested recently for committing blasphemy.

the Sudan, like many Middle Eastern nations, takes religion deadly seriously. And, I suppose, it's their right to do so. I, as a citizen of the United States, do not have to take it quite so seriously. I can choose to accept religious thought, discount it entirely, or pick and choose as I please. But my willy-nilly approach would not likely fly in any Middle Eastern country.

My big beef, though, is with the action that Gibbons performed that was deemed to be blasphemous. She had introduced a Teddy bear in her classroom of seven year olds and gave them the opportunity, as a group, to name the bear. One child suggested the name Muhammad, not just because it is one of the most popular names in both Sudan and the Middle East as a whole, but also because it was his own name. The children voted and Muhammad came out the winner.

One child told his parents of what transpired in class and the proverbial shit hit the fan. Apparently, the name is so sacred that it is considered blasphemy to use it as a name for an inanimate object such as a Teddy bear.

Now this poor teacher, if convicted, could face 4o lashes, a fine, or six months behind bars... FOR NAMING A TEDDY BEAR!!!!!

What the holy hell is wrong with this world??? The woman made a mistake. Actually, it wasn't even she who made the mistake. Her pupils, having been raised in that culture, should have known better and advised against what was happening. But no. Now she will pay the price for what is, ultimately, just plain idiocy. It's not as though she was intentionally trying to offend anyone or a whole region. She was just engaging her students in an act of childhood innocence... the naming of a stuffed animal. If officials would give her the chance to apologize, I'm sure she would do so without even thinking twice about it. And the rest of the world would have learned a lesson as well. And you might gain the respect of people around the world for having used a more positive form of reinforcement.

Give the lady a break.

P.S. I think I'm going out to buy a Teddy bear and name it Muhammad. That's my show of opposition against this stupidity.

Blue, blue, blue Christmas...

If there's any one thing I learned from multiple dorm viewings in college, it's that good scripts and plots are very much the exception in the porn industry. Who needs a script and plot (and acting for that matter) when sex is all you are trying to convey?

Well, me. Back in the day when watching these sorts of films was commonplace for young men, it would've been nice to legitimize the affair a bit by being able to claim that these films bordered (and I use that loosely) on art.

Therefore, I think I'm going to make it a point to start writing the thinking man's (and woman's) porn scripts.

I've actually already got several ideas in my head. No, the other head, you pervert. The one north of my shoulders.

But the problem is that I am a married man. I hope to have kids some day. And I'm a professional in the tech industry. So there really is no way I can legitimately use my real name when writing these scripts.

This is where you come in. I need a good porn pseudonym... basically just a pen name under which I can write these scripts and not rouse suspicion from those I know.

Any ideas?

I'd also like to know... if you were to do something similar, what would be your nom de plume?

MonsterballadsxmasTotally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Today's sign that the apocalypse is on us comes in the form of a CD that I picked up at the library last week. It's titled Monster Ballads Xmas and features many of the great hair bands performing holiday standards. Check some of these out...

  • Skid Row - "Jingle Bells"
  • Winger - "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"
  • Jani Lane of Warrant - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  • Twisted Sister with Lita Ford - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
  • Queensryche - "White Christmas"
  • L.A. Guns - "Run Rudolph Run"
  • Firehouse - "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
  • Danger Danger - "Naughty Naughty Christmas"
  • Tom Kiefer of Cinderella - "Blue Christmas"
  • Nelson - "Jingle Bell Rock"
  • Faster Pussycat - "Silent Night"
  • Dokken - "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"
  • Enuff Z'nuff - "Happy Holiday"
  • Stryper - "Winter Wonderland"
  • Billy Idol - "Christmas Love"

Wow. I just don't know what to say other than I can't wait to hear this one!

On the topic of music, got a meme for you in the extended post.

Continue reading "Blue, blue, blue Christmas..." »

Plug me in...

Do you think God is conspiring with credit agencies?

I ask this because Katie took in the final payment for the carpet we bought last year to Home Despot (intentional) on Monday. Yesterday morning, I go to melt some cheese on an English muffin in our microwave and it goes bonkers.

I simply put the muffin in the oven for 15 seconds and walked away for a moment to do something. Suddenly I realized that it had been longer than 15 seconds and the microwave was still running. I look over and the display shows a solid zero.

Ho boy.

I run over and hit the cancel button. Nothing.

I open the door to trip the auto shutoff. It keeps cooking with the door open.

I run out to the breaker box and find one labeled "kitchen" and flip it. Still cookin'.

I find a second breaker labeled "kitchen stove" and kill it. I can still hear the hum of the microwave.

Finally I run back inside and climb up to the upper cabinet above where the microwave is mounted, pull out several bottles of liquor (it is our liquor cabinet, after all), and rip out the power cable. It finally shuts off.

I plugged the microwave back in and try to hit some buttons and none of them do anything.

When I checked on the muffin, the remaining layer of cheese had cooked paper thin and was hard as rock candy.

Great. Dead microwave. Just what we need.

Wait, I think we got it working... for now. We'll see.

I guess if there's anything I'm thankful for today, it's that we're not cooking dinner for tonight. Heh.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, it's a slightly related aside, but I don't feel like starting a whole new category here. Best to stick with what we know, right?

For the first time in a long time, I'm participating in one of these special blogger holidays. I know it may be a day late, but certainly not a dollar short (I hope). Okay, maybe it's two days late. But it works well as today is Thanksgiving so I'm sure I'll be forgiven, right?

It's Neil's Thank Your First Commenter Day! And I need to thank my first commenter who, if I recall correctly, is none other than Dave2 who commented on a post dated June 23, 2005. I also feel I must give credit to SJ who commented on a post dated June 17, 2005. Of course the comment came in on June 23 at 9:09 p.m. while Dave's came in at 11:19 a.m. But I'm not splitting hairs here. Both are just as important to my blogging evolution.

They are important because both found me and commented soon after my conversion from static HTML to blogware and that interaction is what has made me stick with blogging for a couple years now. I love the interaction that we have both here and on everyone else's blog.

So thank you, Dave and SJ! And everyone else knows who to blame! Heh.

His skin is green, but his mood is blue...

You would think that being an American male I would have an innate love of all things Thanksgiving. Heck, if there's one character trait hammered home by popular culture, it's that any holiday involving food is a favorite of men.

Sorry, not so much for me. Never cared much for it. Thanksgiving always seemed like a misnomer of a holiday to me. Kinda like Columbus Day, which is meant to celebrate the man who *cough* discovered North America and became a *cough* friend of the native peoples. We all know that, despite our grade school education, this entire image of Christopher Columbus is a load of crap. He wasn't even close to being the first one to discover North America and he was anything but kind to the natives.

That's how I view Thanksgiving. The image of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down side by side and enjoying a meal together always struck me as being too much of a stretch of how I perceive the reality of the situation to be. Maybe there isn't historical evidence to support my alternate theory, but it all still feels, well, wonky to me.

When you combine this historical skepticism with my continued quest to lose weight, you'll understand why I'm no friend of Thanksgiving.

But there is one good thing to come of the holiday this year... for the first time in a long time, Katie's not cooking the feast and we're not hosting the get together! Oh, it feels so good. We're actually going to spend the holiday with her family. We usually host it for my family, but we wanted a change this year. I think Katie is feeling a combination of relief and anguish. It's a relief to not have to worry about it, but then we watch shows on the Food Network and they're all about Thanksgiving right now, so she starts to feel like she's missing out to some degree. It's a painful mix for her.

What are your plans?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): When I can find well-done schlock films, I tend to love them. Great stuff like John Waters' Cry-Baby make me feel like all's right with the world.

Zombierights This is why I've been loving the short film Zombie Prom. It's schlock, pure and simple, mixed with comic art and a lot of singing.

Basically, it's the story of an idyllic little American town in the 50s whose world is changed by the arrival of an outsider, Jonny ("without the customary H"), who doesn't buy into the societal norms. At Enrico Fermi High School, he falls for a girl named Toffee but she dumps him because her parents do not condone of their relationship. So, in a fit of atomic adolescent angst, Jonny hurls himself into the cooling tower of the nearby Francis Gary Powers nuclear power plant and he returns as a zombie... a zombie who still wants to take Toffee to the prom, no less.

It's best to think of this film as what would happen if Cry-Baby, Pleasantville, The Mask, Grease, and Creepshow were all thrown in a blender and the puree button was left on for way too long.

Oh c'mon! This is great stuff! And it was free on iTunes when I downloaded it. While it's no longer free, it's still only $1.99. How can it get any better? Oh yeah, here's how... the line "This isn't about civil rights. This is about protecting the traditional values that made this country great" being uttered by none other than RuPaul. Yeah, that's right. Ru-friggin'-Paul ranting about traditional values.

Schlockity, schlock, schlock, and schlockers! Come to daddy!

[production image courtesy of ZombiePromtheMovie.com]

Every one of you is fired...

One of the things I find most fascinating about going on my early morning walks is discovering just how hyperactive my brain can be when it's put to work that early in the morning. It begins firing random memories out like a machine gun and I have no choice but to think about them seeing as how I'm kinda all by my lonesome.

Take, for example, this morning. I have spoken in the past about how I went with some friends to see U2 play in New Orleans, right? We drove down from Chicago to the Crescent City and stayed just outside of town and spent several days in the city hanging around places like the French Quarter and whatnot.

But did I tell you how this event turned into one of the toughest things I've ever had to do in my life?

One of the people that went with me was one of my employees at the job I held at the time. I'm not going into details for obvious reasons, suffice it to say that when I got back, I was told I had to let him go.

It's one thing to fire somebody. That's pretty tough on its own. But to reconcile that with the fact that you had just been on a trip with this person. That was downright painful. And, as would be expected, he wasn't too happy with the fact either. I can't say I blame him for being upset. You get tickets for you and a bunch of friends to see a band play and then invite someone to go who winds up firing you after the fact. Yeah, the tickets were his.

It's still one of those things I beat myself up over even all these years later.

Why does life put you through these hurdles? Does something like firing ever get easier? Do you even want it to be easier? Geez, what kind of heartless prick would you have to be to actually enjoy firing people?

It's a nice day for a white wedding...

Hold on a sec! I think I may be on to something here...

The other day, I was talking to an old friend on the phone and she mentioned something strange that happened to her.

"So The Man (her husband) and I received a wedding invitation today and I'll be damned if either of us know who these people are. We've been sitting here for an hour running through lists of friends, family, colleagues, and their kids and we can't figure it out. We even tried Googling them in hopes of finding a picture and we've got nothing."

After I was done laughing, an idea popped up in my head. How brilliant a scam would it be, if you're about to get married, to just drive around the ritzier neighborhoods in your city and surrounding towns and find the addresses of those people who look very well-to-do. Then you Google their addresses or use some other method to get their name. Next step is to send them a wedding invitation, but you must personalize it as well. For example, handwrite a note at the bottom of the invite saying something like, "I really can't wait to see you again, it's been far too long!"

Odds are they won't show up, but maybe they'll send a gift out of some twisted sense of obligation. And even if they do show up, it's no burden on the bride and groom who don't even know half the people at their wedding anyway because their parents invite a bunch of old friends and lost family members. Regardless of who it is, and I know this from experience, you smile, hug, shake hands, and pretend like you know who they are anyway. It's part of the wedding routine. That's just how it goes.

But don't you think this is a great idea? I know it's too late for me or Alissa or Kilax to try, but how about Suze or Kazaa? You're both soon to be married, right? I think you should give this a try.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie received a catalog in the mail the other day from Urban Outfitters. I think it's the result of having purchased some T-shirts from them a couple years ago for her brothers. I'll be honest, the catalog actually has some pretty cool stuff in it like a replica of Linus' blanket and Chuck's sad little Christmas tree from Peanuts. But I'm afraid to order from it simply because I fear that, packaged within the shipping container will be a packet of suicide-inducing sorrow.

Holy crap, have you ever seen a more morose bunch of models in your life? You can even see some examples on their Web site if you click above. I think I saw one picture in the entire catalog in which one of the models even slightly upturns the corners of her lips.

I know people claim to possess "cans of whoop ass" they are willing to open on a moment's notice, but do you believe in the existence of "sachets of self despair" or "lockets of loathing"? If so, I'm sure Urban Outfitters carries it.

Smile, people!

Continue reading "It's a nice day for a white wedding..." »

Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'...

Katie and I were watching the news the other day and they had a special about successful women in the workplace and how difficult their personal lives are as a result of their professional ones. It was so bad, in fact, that one of the five or six women that were part of this panel interview had actually started a Web site dedicated to successful women attempting to find meaningful relationships.

This floored me. I know that there are many men who are threatened by successful women. They look at it as though their manhood is being trampled.

But I had assumed that the tide had been changing for a while now so that, ideally, maybe it would be a 50/50 split between those guys who are threatened and those who are not. From the sound of things, though, it doesn't seem as though this is the truth. It sounded as though none of the women interviewed had been able to find men who could deal with what these women represented.

Now, clearly, five or six women is not a truly representative sample of the full population of women in the workplace. In fact, it's likely that the panel members were screened ahead of time to get a sampling that was skewed in favor of the viewpoint that the news channel was hoping to present.

But, even so, you have to figure that there is still some truth to it all. And I find this sad. I find it sad that men can't handle the concept of a woman having greater success than them.

Why is it such a sin for a woman to make more money?

Katie and I decided a long time ago that, when we have kids, the one of us that is making the least money with the fewest benefits or who has the greater chance at being able to work from home would stay at home. We're both fine with this decision even now. We talked about it after the news report and we're still find with this choice.

Have any of you made this same decision? How has it worked out? Or have you been in situations similar to these women? This can be answered by the men reading this post, too. Let me know how you would feel if you were in this position.

BTW, got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'..." »

Baby, well, you can bleed on me...

Katie and I were given the opportunity to try something yesterday that we've never been able to try before... a wondrous little affair known to many as "brunch."

Up to this point, I'd only known brunch as being a meal that we eat when we're too late for breakfast but can't wait for lunch. Just an interim sort of thing.

But one of my old grad school professors invited Katie and me to go out with him and his wife to The Mill Race Inn in Geneva. It was here that the Education of Kevin Apgar began.

For example, did you know that there are some places where people still get dressed up to go out for a meal other than dinner?

Or, did you realize that brunch is actually a three-course meal?

I'm sure RW is rolling his eyes that I am only now coming to this realization. Sorry, RW, some people are just more cultured than others. But I'm trying to catch up.

My awe waned a bit after an hour when I looked down and saw that I had a drop of blood on my right forearm. What the hell?!?! I suddenly realized that the weather shifts had made my allergies go nuts on me and caused a nosebleed.

So what would proper decorum dictate would be an appropriate way to deal with this situation? Well, I have no idea what is proper... never have, never will. Instead I grabbed a tissue from my pocket, blamed the nosebleed on a fledgling cocaine addiction, and excused myself to go to the bathroom to "tidy up" a bit.

Seriously, on the spur of the moment like that, could you have come up with anything better? Thankfully my old professor and his wife have a good sense of humor so I was pretty sure I could get away with that. I think I did. But only time will tell if we get another brunch invitation from them.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Can someone tell me how it slipped through the system that a toy was made with chemicals that metabolize into GHB? Wow. I'm just having a tough time figuring this one out. I wonder if this will be spoofed on Robot Chicken sometime soon. I can see it.

There's gonna be trouble, so don't you be around...

Yesterday, for whatever reason, my officemate was asking me if I was the older or the younger brother in my family. Older, why? Oh, she said, I can see you being cruel to your brother.

Really? Funny thing is that I really wasn't all that bad to him. Well, not in my mind, at least. And my perception is really the only one that counts, right?

Seriously, though. I wasn't too terrible to him. In fact, unlike most siblings, we actually got along pretty well. We played together, we explored construction sites, we watched movies, we went for bikes rides, etc. In fact, in school in Connecticut, I was my brother's numero uno defender against the plethora of bullies that he had. As I even mentioned in my best man's toast at his wedding, I even taught him to swear. All the things that a good brother should do.

But, hindsight being 20/20 and all that jazz, I feel I gypped myself out of an adolescence full of physical and mental abuse. Why did I have to be such a good guy? This really sucks. I want to go back and reclaim my right to youthful aggression and beat the living snot out of my brother.

And, by my calculations, I should be entitled to do this until the year 2021. That gives me 14 years of sheer sibling torture. I figure 14 because he's four years younger than me and the abuse would've likely ended when I left for college at age 18.

Does that sound fair? Should I be able to reclaim this right?

Yeah, I didn't think it would fly. So please allow me to live vicariously through your stories... I'm sure some of you were either sibling abusers or abusees. Maybe you still are. Gimme your worst. Please? I need this. Check that, my brother needs this or I'm making my move.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I can't believe I never mentioned this a few weeks ago when we first found out. I was reminded by a letter sitting on our kitchen counter this morning... Katie was accepted into grad school! She starts in January! Soon she will be corrupting the youth of America as one of public education's finest! Muahahahahahaha! ha.

I wish I was a full moon shining off a Camaro's hood...

Shortly after Katie and I got married and before we joined our gym, I would go for morning run/walks in the neighborhood around our apartment. I would get up very early, while it was still pitch black out, throw on some insanely thick layers of clothing since it was November and December, and head out into my own personal Frigidaire.

In the years since we joined the gym and since I gave up my pre-dawn treks into the nether, I have forgotten just how much I actually enjoyed those workouts.

The world is a different place when there are few to no people around. A handful of cars, at most, on the streets. The only lighting being the stars, moon, and street lamps. It is serenity defined. And it tends to make you forget that you are actually exerting yourself physically because, believe it or not, there is so much to see and hear in the virtual void.

This morning, I saw Orion in the skies for the first time this year. To me, the famed astral hunter is the easiest constellation to find. I look forward to seeing it. It reassures me that all is well in the world.

I also saw a crescent moon. But for the first time in a long time, I was able to see the rest of the moon in shadows around it, filling out the orb. It was quite magnificent.

Passing by a tree, I startled a bunch of bats that took off to darker locales before the sun arose in its full glory. Yes, they were actually bats. I have enough experience with them to know.

Lastly, I saw the sun rise. I can't remember the last time I actually watched the sky awaken from black and begin to reflect the entirety of the sun's spectrum back at me. Blues, oranges, reds, yellows... all there.

All this in a single walk. My third morning workout since my announcement last Friday. Three out of four ain't too bad.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The depths to which Dustin will plunge for his dream job. Aye aye aye.

Because I'm fat, I'm fat, you know it...

I've come to a Sad Realization.

I'm fat.

Okay, this is not a groundshattering revelation. It's the truth and I've known it for some time. And, lately, I've been doing little to nothing to resolve my situation. Putting on a pair of my favorite jeans this morning and realizing that they were a bit tighter than I'd like is what kicked this topic off the backburner and into the forefront of my mind. Not that my health is terrible yet; but better to head the problem off at the pass, as it were.

Sadly, I've also noticed that with my job and the work around the house and other stuff that I'm doing -- not to mention my desire to still maintain some semblance of a relationship with my wife in the little free time we both have -- the only time I have to work out on a regular basis is in the morning.

And for those of you keeping score, the morning is when I do most of my blogging.

Enter Sad Realization #2... in order to make the most of my morning by getting in some kind of workout, I need to scale back on my blogging addiction.

NO! Before you ask, I am not giving up on blogging. I'm not going on a temporary nor a permanent vacation. I just need to deliver notice that my presence here in the Greater Blogger Kingdom will be slightly diminished. I'm not sure what kind of posting schedule I will be able to maintain as I feel I need to focus on my health right now.

I'm hoping for this irregular posting schedule to help in another way as well... as you can tell by the substance of my posts, my inspiration is pretty much shot and has been for some time. So maybe by not forcing myself to blog every weekday, the quality will return to my posts and I can rediscover the voice that has been lost for so long.

So this is me telling all of you to make sure your RSS aggregators are properly subscribed to this site. I'm going to try to blog as regularly as I can, but I make no guarantees.

Don't hate me. Once I get everything under control, I hope to return in full force. And with good stuff. I hope so anyway. Please wish me luck.

Heh, I never thought of it this way until just now, but I guess this is also my way of thumbing my nose at NaBloPoMo. Instead of forcing myself to blog more, I'm forcing myself to blog less.

NaBloPoMo... what a stupid concept.

And it all started with a big bang...

One of the things I like about the new show The Big Bang Theory is the interplay of the four leading mangeeks. They do just what you would think four complete and utter geeks would do... play video games, debate scientific theories, insult each other using math equations, etc.

And, before you go and discount their portrayal as geek stereotyping, take this real-life exchange into account.

I was in a meeting with three guys from our IT department when one of them (to be referred to as IT Guy 2) started writing on a dry erase board. His handwriting on the board was absolutely miniscule. So tiny we could barely read it.

IT Guy 1: Yeah, he likes to write small.

Me: Ya think?

IT Guy 2: Is this really that small?

IT Guy 3: Um, yeah it is.

Me: Sorry, I'd never seen your handwriting before today... and I still can't.

IT Guy 1: I think he's writing in hi resolution. His brain is on 1024x768.

IT Guy 2: Actually it's 1600x1200.

IT Guy 3: In eight point font.

Me: Well, at least it's san serif.

And we all bust out laughing because to us, and probably to most of you, everything we said makes perfect sense.

So, while it may not have been the same level of sheer geekery as portrayed in The Big Bang Theory, our conversation was still pretty bad. And you can see that this sort of thing really does happen.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I need to thank El Dariush who sent me a postcard from Rome during his recent trip. Well, actually I should clarify. The postcard is from Rome as in it was purchased in Rome. But Dariush doesn't love any of us enough to justify spending the money to actually mail it from Rome. This postcard has a South Central, KY, postmark.