March 05, 2014
Phoning it In
I often hear it stated that we’re lucky to live in an age where technology makes our lives so much easier and that staying in touch with friends and loved ones is now just a screen swipe, mouse click or speed dial away.
I suppose there’s some truth to all that, but all it takes to nullify those perceived benefits is to accidentally run your cell phone through a washing machine.
Yes, yes, I did exactly that.
It was just one of those stupid things that happens. I was wearing carpenter jeans with all the extra little pockets, and I had stowed my cell phone in one of those said pouches. It was a long day, and my jeans ended up getting particularly dirty, so I just threw them in the washing machine when I got home. When I went to put my clothes in the dryer, I felt the familiar block of plastic sliding along the bottom of the washing machine.
It was odd, because I knew in my sinking heart that the phone would never sing a ringtone ever again, but then again it just looked so undamaged and, well. . . CLEAN. So, naturally, I tried to turn it on, thinking “maybe, just maybe, it survived its trip through Maytag’s cyclone.”
Of course, it didn’t. My cell phone was dead. Clean, but dead. It even smelled fresh, like Tide, but it was still definitely dead.
I stood there for a few seconds, with one question going through my head: “What is my wife going to say?”
Putting my cell phone through the washing machine is just one of those things I don’t particularly want to tell my wife. Even though my cell phone wasn’t an expensive, uber-smartphone capable of driving a car, it was still something that I have to replace, and I’m almost certain the memory card also didn’t survive the washing machine, so there’s going to be some inconvenience involved, and I don’t like to tell my wife about impending inconveniences. I prefer complete domestic tranquility instead.
But she’s going to figure it out eventually—probably when she reads this, I’m betting. So, maybe I should be more proactive about breaking the news.
WIFE: Why didn’t you answer your phone today?
ME: Oh, that’s right, I forgot to tell you: my phone stopped working.
WIFE: What? When did it stop working?
ME: Well, that’s hard to say, although I’m betting it happened somewhere between the agitator starting and the spin cycle.
WIFE: What is that supposed to mean?
ME: Oh, oh nothing. Hey, look at my new phone!
WIFE: Why do you have a new phone?
ME: No reason.
WIFE: You’re not making any sense!
So, in closing, I think I’ve proven that technology actually makes communicating with friends and family much more difficult.
March 04, 2014
Putin Stresses Strategic Importance of Crimea
Russian President Tells Obama: Crimea River
MOSCOW (Rhodes Media Services) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin took time today to respond to President Obama's repeated claims that the Russian invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine would result in serious consequences.
"Russia is on the wrong side of history," said Obama, before listing several obscure steps that may or may not be taken. "What we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they're on, that we are examining a whole series of steps -- economic, diplomatic -- that will isolate Russia."
Putin responded, saying Russia is already pretty much isolated, and that it couldn't care less if economic or diplomatic steps, or any series of steps, were being examined, looked at, scrutinized or appreciated from a distance.
He then went on to stress that Crimea represented a very real strategic geography due to its position on the Black Sea, due to sea ports and economic trade that he said must be protected.
"To Russia, it's the Crimea Peninsula that's important," said Putin. "But, I want Mr. Obama to realize how important it is for him to Crimea River."
While acknowledging there is actually a Crimea River in Crimea, and that it serves some mild economic advantage, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Mr. Putin's remarks were probably poorly translated.
"Quite frankly, Putin's comments made no sense as they were delivered," said Carney. "I think they accurately reflect German Chancellor Angela Merkel's belief that Putin is 'out of touch with reality.' For example, Mr. Putin also said--while laughing so insanely hard he had to drop to his knees, I might add--Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Kiev, could 'Crimea Lake' before Mr. Putin rolled over on his back in hysterics and said 'no, no, he can CRIMEAN OCEAN!'"
Carney then went on to insist there was no such thing as a Crimean Ocean. He didn't think. He had to check with the President.
February 19, 2014
So, the Metrodome is going down. Leaving aside all the dumbery of it going down in the first place--to be replaced by something I'll probably never be able to set foot within unless I strike a nice vein of gold under my basement--let me just pause and consider what the Metrodome meant to me.
- I remember my father taking me to a few Twins games. I don't remember the games in particular, but I do remember the batting practices, waiting for the hopeful stray ball to make its way into our obscure seats on the upper tier. A couple years later, when we were on the lower tier, along the foul ball line, my father sat between my brother and myself, so he could reflexively push our heads down and out of the way in the event of a line-drive foul. Never happened, but they were awesome seats all the same.
- The 1984 Harmony Cardinal Class C football championship team. I still can't tell you much about that game, beyond the fact Harmony won against the Glendon-Felton Buffalos, and I was there, and the town talked about it for years.
- There were a couple of years when I was a member of the Minnesota School Patrol when we were gifted free tickets to go to Twins games, and we were transported to the Cities in a van. Again, I remember the van rides and the batting practices much more than I recall the actual games. Why I remember van rides with a bunch of kids and a strange adult should probably be left up to a psychiatrist.
- 1990 Harmony Cardinal football year. We had a really good team, and made the state tournament. All the tenth grade players were brought up to varsity to make the overall team seem like it had massive depth. I spent all the playoff games sitting on the bench with my belt cinched up so unnecessarily tight that I subsequently spent the halftimes lying on locker room benches on my stomach battling epic gas. We got within one game of being able to play in the Metrodome, but ended up losing in overtime.
- 1991 Harmony Cardinal football year. We had another good team, but we ended up smacking into a state playoff team that had a running back that was apparently a stone golem. The guy didn't seem too bright, but they handed him the ball and it was like Forrest Gump built like Hitler's bunker. "ME TAKE BALL! ME RUN! FOR EVA BRAUN, JENNY!" The guy would run through our line, trailing tacklers behind him like a kite tail. I watched the whole thing from the bench, thankfully, because it looked like it really hurt getting hit by that massive pile of asshole. We lost, but we did get to go to the Metrodome as spectators. We almost were detained by dome security because we tried to walk on the turf to "see what it felt like." It felt like we were really close to being detained by dome security, in my opinion.
- 1997 Vikings game. I attended this Vikings game with several friends. Two things to note. Thing 1) The quarterback, Brad Johnson, threw a pass that was deflected by a defender. He then caught his own pass, and ran it in for a touchdown. The only such incidence of a quarterback throwing a pass to himself for a touchdown.
Thing 2) I had gas so bad that day, that I kept farting and farting and farting, until the people a few rows up from us started chanting "STINKY BOYS! STINKY BOYS!" Unfortunately, I have no video of that.
1998 Vikings Game (yes, THAT Vikings team). Same group of friends attending (plus Jeremy Stevens). Thing 1) Randall McDaniel was penalized for taunting the opposing team as he loped into the end zone for a defensive touchdown.
Thing 2) I had gas so bad that day, that I kept farting and farting and farting (and Jeremy Stevens kept telling me to "do it again" *giggle* "do it again" *giggle*), until a woman a few rows up from us yelled "What, did you shit your pants!? It's fucking disgusting!"
So, yeah, they're pretty much tearing down the Metrodome because of me.
February 01, 2014
I Put That Under Where?
I think it says something about myself when there’s a breaking news item, and then my Facebook page is bombarded by “Friends” repeatedly linking to that particular news item. Some people may think it reflects the fact I’m a journalist, and my friends are simply pointing me towards an important news story that absolutely requires my attention.
In this case, however, the news story in question was about a stepson who somehow managed to kill his stepfather using an atomic wedgie. While the story didn’t carry the weight of, say, the Watergate break in, I have to hand it to my Facebook “Friends” for pointing me towards the kind of story I can really sink my teeth into, so to speak.
Now, I could pick from hundreds of sources to cite this particular news item, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. According to a Jan. 9 news report from ABC News: “A brutal fight between a former Marine and his stepfather in Oklahoma ended in the stepfather’s death by “atomic wedgie,” also known as death by underwear.”
First off, let me just state that I’m shocked this incident happened in Oklahoma. Second off, I’m leafing through the AP Stylebook right now and nowhere does it indicate that “atomic wedgie” is also known as “death by underwear.” Maybe I’m looking in the wrong section. Back to the news item:
“Denver St. Clair had been arguing with his stepson, Brad Davis, 33, last month when the two began to fight. Davis told police that St. Clair had spoken “ill of Davis’ mother,” and then threw the first punch. The men had been drinking, investigators told ABC affiliate KNXV.”
There’s a lot to digest in that paragraph. Firstly, the victim’s name was “Denver” and he lived in Oklahoma, so that just doesn’t fit. Secondly, I highly doubt St. Clair shouted “Your mother is foul, and I speak ill of her!” before unleashing a fierce round of fisticuffs. Thirdly, the men had been drinking? I simply have a hard time believing that. Now, the article really gets into the inverted pyramid guts of journalistic story telling:
“Davis said he fought back and then gave his father an ‘atomic wedgie” in which he stretched the elastic waistband of St. Clair’s underwear up over his head. The move is most often used as a prank among children and teenagers.”
Underwear—particularly brand new underwear—can exhibit astonishing properties, so much so that scientists are considering including it in the periodic table of the elements under the designation “Sm” for “Skidmark.” Among those properties is extreme elasticity, including the capability, in some cases, to be stretched in between the buttocks and over the forehead.
I’ve actually witnessed—and experienced in one unfortunate case— underwear suspend a person in mid-air, before the elastic band separated from the rest of the garment. But, an atomic wedgie resulting in death? Consider me skeptical.
“According to the affidavit obtained by the affiliate station, police said the underwear left a ligature mark around St. Clair’s neck and noted that there was blood around the kitchen and living room.”
If the underwear band was made of barbed wire, I could maybe see this as a plausible scenario. As it is, I suspect, er, FOUL play was involved.
Just in case, however, I think there should be a nationwide underwear ban. You know, to be safe.
January 24, 2014
A Tale of Two Shitties
In contrast, the Minnesota exchange is expected to have these features available this fall, making our state exchange both easy and attractive to use for businesses and their workers. It’s clear that the state team working on the exchange’s development put a high priority on meeting business needs. In turn, that should boost the confidence of the business community in this new marketplace as fall enrollment nears.
In measured, almost clinical tones, outside experts called in to review the state’s new MNsure insurance marketplace delivered a grim diagnosis of the fledgling website’s condition. Just two months before another key deadline to sign up for 2014 coverage, MNsure has deep technical design flaws, unreliable functionality and a woefully understaffed call center — problems that make it unlikely initial enrollment projections will be met.
January 13, 2014
Never Feed Him After Midnight
I simply have to learn Photoshop. MS Paint just isn't cutting it.
January 02, 2014
Seared Into My Memory
The retail giant, Sears, is pulling up stakes at the Apache Mall, thereby leaving a gaping hole in the mall shopping experience. It's almost impossible to imagine Apache Mall without Sears, because it's existed there for as long as I can remember.
Some 20 years or so ago, I bought a Dungeons & Dragons game from that Sears for a Macintosh Performa 405 computer. The game consisted of six floppy disks, so I knew it was state-of-the-art. So, it's difficult to consider Sears being no more, at least in the mall.
Still, time marches on, so Sears has to go. But, they didn't blink out without a retail assault that included sending out employees bundled in 50 layers of clothes to stand outside in frozen wintry awefulness holding signs that read "Up to 60% off!" I assume that referred to going out of business sale prices, but it may have been announcing how many fingers the sign holders had lost to frostbite. Maybe both.
Both my kids had to undergo haircuts at the mall while Sears was undergoing its last retail death throes, so I suggested to my wife that we stop in and pick over the bones.
It was quite the surreal scene, what with the throngs of shoppers eager to snap up the retail remains, and signs announcing "Everything must go, down to the bare walls!" I wasn't sure I wanted to see Sears' bare walls, because that sounded somewhat intimate and shameful, but I felt compelled to visit the spot where I purchased that Dungeons & Dragons game two decades ago.
Most of the remaining merchandise had been moved to the ground level, but the escalators were still operating, which meant my children simply HAD to ride them. The scene on the second floor was somewhat shocking: it was just a bunch of empty racks and shelves bathed in florescent light.
But there, on the floor, were two full size bed mattresses. They were the floor model samples, but they were in excellent condition, and I immediately saw my wife's eyes gleam excitedly. I knew right then and there that we were about to own those two mattresses.
My four-year-old boy had long since outgrown his crib bed, and my three-year-old daughter is not far behind. My wife had been mattress shopping on and off for the last couple months, and I knew, standing in that mostly-empty Sears wasteland, that her mattress search was over.
So, as Sears blinked out of existence from the mall, it nevertheless managed to snag one more purchase out of me and usher in a new sleeping era for my children.
Sears made my children grow out of their cribs. I'm not sure I can ever forgive Sears for that.
January 01, 2014
Happy New Year
And on the seventh day, God made vaginas, and they were good, but then He made them bleed for no reason, so they weren't too good.
December 27, 2013
One nice thing about obtaining "absolute zero" is you probably don't have to take into account wind chill. That would be nice.
December 11, 2013
December 07, 2013
Getting the Axe
FULL DISCLOSURE: For a few months, 13 years or so ago, I used Axe Body Spray. I admit it. I’m not proud of it. My body probably still resents me for using it. But, hey, at least I admit it.
Let’s be honest here, Axe Body Spray is horrible stuff. You could douse yourself in charcoal lighter fluid, and you’d smell better than if you spritzed yourself with Axe. That’s just scientific fact.
To be fair, I have a good excuse for trying Axe all those years ago. Specifically, I’m stupid. And I’m also lazy. I was grocery shopping, and I saw Axe, and I bought a few bottles. It was personal hygiene packaged as Lysol. How could I go wrong?
I still have two of those original bottles. Full. I would throw them away, but the earth has enough problems without me adding those two Axe bottles into a landfill. Plus, they may come in useful in the event of a zombie apocalypse, because even zombies would be repelled by Axe—they prefer people with brains, after all.
A little known fact about Axe: it was introduced by Unilever in 1983 in. . . France. Yeah, France. If there’s a nation requiring an aerosol blast of fumigation, it would be France. But, did France have to go and export the vile stuff to America? Yes. It was payback for the ridiculously low price we paid for the Louisiana Purchase.
So, yeah, Axe is disgusting, despite all those ads showing women flocking to Axe-infused men as if they recently rolled in a pile of sticky $1,000 bills. Those ads are incredibly deceitful.
All of that said, I simply must point out that Axe is not alone when it comes to odor abominations. The Bath and Body Works (BBW) chain is perhaps the world’s foremost nasal offender when it comes to peddling assaulting scents. What makes BBW particularly nefarious, however, is that you don’t realize how horrible some of their products smell until AFTER they’ve had a chance to adhere to your skin for a few minutes. Oh, sure, the fragrances smell great when you hold the bottle up to you nose and give it a gentle squeeze, but squish the liquid into a luffa and lather your body up, and half an hour later you’re wondering why your children are in a corner gagging for air.
This morning, for example, I was in the shower and I noticed a new BBW body wash fragrance my wife purchased called “white citrus,” which in retrospect is a peculiar, misleading name. I mean, you wouldn’t tear into an “albino orange,” would you? No, you’d think it was a snowball.
Anyway, I saw the “white citrus” body wash and decided to give it a try, and as I was lathering up I thought it did, indeed, have a modest citrus smell to it. After I dried off and was throwing on some clothes, however, I found myself wondering “What in the world is that smell that’s all over my body?”
I smelled exactly like the glue I used to assemble plastic models when I was nine years old. I was immediately transported back in time to all those airplane and motorcycle replicas with a veneer of excess glue smeared over all the pieces, because I couldn’t put models together to save my soul. AND I COULDN’T ESCAPE THE SMELL. I WAS the smell. And I couldn’t very well get away from myself, now could I? I was stuck with that stink all day.
So, yes, Axe Body Spray is atrocious, but BBW has its own unacceptable array of horrid odors that no one ever tells you about.
I mean, seriously. WHITE CITRUS?
December 03, 2013
I've been ignoring my ThunderJournal in favor of Facebook for a long time. Years, in fact. But, occasionally, I like to re-purpose stuff I post on Facebook here on my trusty ThunderJournal.
At our store, Antiquity Furniture, we bring in some unusual items from time to time. About a month ago, we received an old viewfinder--originally called a "stereoscope"--dating from around 1895.
It's in remarkable condition, considering its age. Of course, these things were made in abundance, so it's only worth about $30 or so. But, it came with hundreds of 3-D slides, which provide an amazing historical record that's also often unintentionally hilarious. And also racist.
I've been scanning these images and posting my own personal commentary to my Facebook page for weeks now, and while it amuses me greatly, it amuses only about five of my Facebook "friends." So, I'm posting them again here on my trusty ThunderJournal, because my ThunderJournal is trusty.
We'll start with a fairly racist slide:
Here, Guinan from Star Trek TNG bursts forth from her shackled imprisonment in the cellar, much to the surprise of the two privileged white lads napping atop the doors. And what does Guinan have to say for herself, back in 1898?
"Deed Child's, I's Didn't Know You's Was Dare."
This slide is titled: "Mrs. Brown Returns; Unexpected."
Oh, snap! For his part, Mr. Brown doesn't seem too upset about having his infidelity discovered so abruptly. Then again, the combination of him draining the bottle of wine, and his mistress's absurdly hypnotic striped shirt (and socks), have probably dulled his reflexes a bit.
This is even more disturbing in 3-D, if you can imagine that. It's titled: "A Man! At Last, a Man!" You have to wonder what the hell this guy was doing under the bed, and why he chose such a hostile environment to begin with. The woman on one knee is about to really unleash a serious beatdown with that shoe, but the woman with the hairbrush, straddling the footboard is ready to act if that bastard dares to stand up. I would almost feel sorry for the guy, but then again he did voluntarily choose to hide under the bed of the Stygian witches.
"2 A.M. And He Rolls in Quite Early"
It takes some doing to remove a jacket sleeve while clutching a bottle of hooch, but this guy has talent. The look on his face just screams "I'm in so much damned trouble, but it was WORTH IT!" The wife just seems resigned to the whole routine, and will deal out punishment after he sleeps it all off.
I are serious cat. This is serious rat.
Actual slide title: "Rat on Toast--For Dinner."
Well, that's good. You don't want to eat rat for breakfast; it makes you sluggish and thick-headed. But, for dinner, rat is a great choice, provided you follow it up with a good nap.
Ah, the good old days, when Gabe Kotter would hoist you up by your jodhpurs and rap your ass with a red wooden board. And that was just for talkin' sass, by crackey. People don't wear jodhpurs as much as they should nowadays. I should invest in a pair and start a new jodhpurs trend.
This is even more racist in 3-D, which is saying something. But it's also just so darned funny. And adorable. When I was flipping through the slide stack and saw this one, I literally shot Diet Coke out my nose, and I'm here to tell you, that freakin' STINGS.
"Did You Say Watermelon Was No Good?"
"Help!; or, The Housemaid's Hard Luck."
How boring was life in 1898? Imagine loading a viewfinder with this image, focusing it just right, taking in the scene, and asking yourself "Gosh, I can't wait to see what happens next!"
So, you load up the viewfinder with the second image and OH NO, THINGS HAVE GONE DOWNHILL! Can't say I feel too bad for her predicament, honestly. Why did she go that far down the dock to fill those jugs? And why would you use a unmoored boat for stability. This girl is clearly dumb as a bag of hammers and so deserves her impending, watery fate. But, morbid curiosity dictates we must load the third image in the series into the viewfinder.
And you get the third image loaded up, focused in--by now you've invested ten minutes of your life into this nail-biting drama--and you see SHE DID INDEED FALL IN! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! TOTALLY DIDN'T EXPECT THIS! And apparently a guillotine blade fell from the sky, cleaving her neatly in two.
Now we're segueing into the "Sportsman's Series" of viewfinder slides, which are both funny but also interesting historical snapshots from 1898.
He always knew it was just a matter of time before his son came out of the closet, but did he HAVE to announce it before THE RACE?!
This one surprised me at bit, for a couple of reasons. A) Why was this part of the "Sportsman's Series?" It would be like going into Dick's Sporting Goods today and seeing a noose for sale. B ) How was a lynching considered an appropriate subject for a viewfinder? "Gather around kids, and look at the dead man hanging from a tree. IN 3-D!"
"The Last Buffalo (Dead)."
It's a good thing they put in the parenthetical "dead," or I'd be thinking the buffalo was simply pining for the Badlands. What's cool about this image--besides the Russian hat--is the rifle looks to be an actual "buffalo rifle," or a Sharps model, which gave rise to the term "sharpshooter."
"A Yearling In Hard Luck."
Pretty accurate description. Not even a year old, and now it's dead and about to be slit from groin to thyroid. That's pretty hard luck.
"Sam Black Gets a Shot at 'Br'er Rabbit"
Segueing back to racist-ish-ness-y. Sam Black. Really? Sam BLACK?
If he misses the rabbit from that range, with the rabbit basically posing for him, he has no business being out hunting. Then again, his son is hoisting some other dead rabbits, so he must have at least some proficiency with a rifle. Right? Right?!
"Lordy, Dad! Be Yous Kilt?"
So, in answer to my previous question: No, he does not have proficiency with a rifle. Thus, I have no idea how he managed to bag all those other rabbits. Perhaps they were frozen in place, and he plucked them like carrots. Regardless, he's obviously pretty shitty with a rifle, getting knocked on his ass by the kick. As for his son's terrible grasp of turn of the century English, I can only chalk that up to Common Core.
"Oh! Golly, But Dat Ol' Gun Done Kick."
Again, why is he just discovering the gun's kick now? Has he never fired it before? How the HELL did he get those other rabbits? Did he run them down and tackle them? Now, the text itself can be construed as being slightly racist-ish, but there's actually more to these slides: the backs consist of explanatory paragraphs that are hilarious in their own way. This particular slide reads: "By the time he gets home, his cheek will be so swollen, mammy will think he is using it for a pouch to carry a rabbit in."
They actually did use the word "mammy" back in the day. That's just freakin' AWESOME!
"Reducing the Surplus. 'Now, Pull Hard!'"
Nowadays, we call this "scrunching up the fat." Okay, we don't actually say that, but we should. You know you're really pushing the limits of your corset when your best friend has to bury her foot in between your butt cheeks to scrunch in all that "surplus."
"What Did I Tell You If I Caught You Again?"
Huh. There's a lot going on here. For reasons that escape me entirely, somebody scraped the policeman's face off, so that's one disturbing component to this image. Another disturbing thing is "WHAT DID HE TELL HIM IF HE CAUGHT HIM AGAIN?" What perverted interplay is about to transpire? We'll never know, because this is the only image in the set. CURSES!
"Celebrating the Great and Glorious 4th of July"
Seems like an excessive reaction on her part. I mean, it appears to be a pretty wimpy looking cannon firework to me, especially compared to the half stick of dynamite by her right foot.
"The Day After the 4th of July Celebration"
What the hell, man? Did they send him off to war? The little cannon barely looks like anything happened to it, and there's no damage to the steps at all. More importantly, if this is the day after the celebration, why are they wearing the same clothes? That's a pretty nasty gash on his left shin. They can put an "X" bandage on his cheek boo-boo, but the exposed shin bone is left to the gangrene gods.
"Still There's No Place Like Home"
By 1909, viewfinder technology had advanced by leaps and bounds. The slides were now available in black & white images, which had to be a marvel of the time. Yes, now you could settle in with a viewfinder to see a domestic scene where children tinker with a proto-Erector Set and granny entertains herself with a . . . viewfinder! No doubt she has that 1898 image of the naked boy butt and the police officer focused in, so thus we know the true culprit who scraped the officer's face off.