Hit Of The Year

Also, I heard actor Jim Caviezel will reprise his role for the next film in the series. Hopefully he’ll only appear in flashbacks sequences or play his twin brother or something. I mean, the whole “bring the lead character back to life in the sequel” thing is so played.

Books: Never Threaten To Eat Your Co-Workers

Wow, this Best of the Blogs book is pretty good! In fact, I’ll go out of a limb and say that of all the books I have reviewed here on defective yeti, it’s the one I am the most in.

But don’t let my staggering lack of impartiality dissuade you from buying several dozen copies. After all, my posts only comprise, like, 1/300th of the text. The bulk of the book is made up of entries from a bevy of my favorite blogs, such as Choire Sicha and Dooce and What’s The Fuss. (The only bummer about being in a book with Choire and Heather and Mrs. Kennedy is that the book is not erotica.) And I’ve had these sites on my sidebar since forever, right? So, in a sense, it’s as if I endorsed this book way before it became wildly inappropriate for me to do so.

Plus, it’s got Wil Wheaton in it, the guy who was in that one movie you saw that one time! And if this book sells really well maybe they’ll turn it into a movie and cast Wil Wheaton in the role of me, although I guess he would be busy playing the part of himself unless they got another actor to play the part of Wil Wheaton, maybe George Clooney, which would be totally cool because I’ve always wanted to be in a movie with George Clooney, except I guess I wouldn’t technically be in the movie since Wil Wheaton would be playing … okay, now my head kind of hurts.

In summary: purchase!

Sing Me To Sleep

I learned a lot of stuff in preparation for The Squirrelly, but, alas, the words to popular lullabies were not among them.

I know the melodies to most of the classics, but I can usually only remember the first verse of words; after that I have to resort to improv. I figure it doesn’t matter what I say, as long as I sing it softly and keep the beat. Unfortunately, this philosophies results in calamities like the Brahms Lullaby sung as:

And goodnight
La la blah blah
Blah something
I think this song
Is in German
Eins zwei drei vier funf

Girls gone wild
Where’s the beef?
I’ve got Pacman fever
Four score and
Seven years
Bingo was his name-oh.

The great thing about this strategy is that you can tailor your lyrics for the situation.

[Fifteen minutes and six made-up “Brahms Lullaby” verses later:]

No, for real
Go to sleep
Or we’ll sell you
On E-bay …

Of course, coming up with words to lullabies off the top of your head takes some mental acuity, something I am often lacking at 2:30 in the morning. Then I resort to singing the only songs I know by heart: (a) 80’s tunes that I listened to so frequently as a teen that they are indelibly etched into my synapses, and (b) 80’s tunes that I learned the lyrics to by reading them off of a karaoke screen while drunkenly belting out them out in a bar. Unfortunately for The Squirrelly, the these two categories combine in a playlist suitable for the Worst Mix Tape Ever:

  • Careless Whisper by Wham
  • Love Cats by The Cure
  • Kiss by Prince
  • Stay Up Late by the Talking Heads
  • Just a Gigalo by David Lee Roth
  • Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Bennetar
  • Happy Hour by the Housemartins
  • True by Spandau Ballet
  • Stragelove by Depeche Mode
  • Forgive me, but, yes, Two Princes by the Spin Doctors

These work pretty well for calming the kid down but they don’t really help him doze off. Getting carried around by a guy bellowing Bizarre Love Triangle is not exactly Nature’s Narcotic, it turns out.

Last night, having run through all my pop tunes and at the end of my rope, I resorted to singing the only song in my repertoire that approximates a lullaby: Asleep by The Smiths.

Well, it worked — he drifted off about halfway through. But we’ll probably have to pay it off in therapy bills somewhere down the line.

Research Day: Carpool Lanes and Outdoor Survival

Do infants count toward the carpool lane? Driving on 520 the other day, The Queen urged me to use the HOV lane. “The carpool on this freeway is for three or more people,” I told her. “We are three people,” she rejoined. “You, me, and baby.”

I said that I was sure the baby doesn’t count. “The whole point of an carpool lane,” lectured I, “is to reduce the number of drivers on the road.” The Queen reiterated her belief that I was wrong; I challenged her to our standard bet (“one beer”) and then moved over to the HOV lane all the same, since. As with many husbands, I have long since learned that the key strategy for harmonic spousal relationsis is “make your point and capitulate.”

But I still wanted my brewski, so I looked it up on the Washington State Department of Transportation webpage. What do thay have to say about the issue?

Damn it!

From the FAQ:

Why are parents with kids younger than driving age allowed to use HOV lanes?

HOV lanes have simple objectives: to maximize the number of people that can be carried on the highway and to provide a reliable trip to as many people as possible. Developing and enforcing a more complicated definition of who is eligible to use HOV lanes would be difficult to explain and enforce and would reduce the number of people who benefit from the reliability that HOV lanes offer. Allowing adults with children to use the lanes enhances enforcement, simplicity, and efficiency.

Fah! Allow me to translate: “People are too dumb to understand rules, so we accommodate them by making rules dumb.”

Wouldn’t you know it: the one time government opts to eschew bureaucracy and it costs me a beer.

What’s the story behind Outdoor Survival? In gaming circles, Outdoor Survival has an almost mythical reputation as one of the worst games ever, a kind of Plan Nine From Outer Space of boardgames.

The game has the players lost in the wilderness, relying on their wits (and a bevy of favorable die rolls) to survive. As they struggle to make their way to the edge of the map, they must find food and water to stay alive; typically they do not, and the whole game becomes one of slowing starving to death. In a USENET discussion entitled “Worst Game“, one poster described Outdoor Survival as “sad, depressing, and frustrating.” As another fondly recalled, “we always referred to it as ‘that one where you die’.” It’s like Hi-Ho Cherry-O, except, in the end, raccoons eat your desiccated corpse

According to rumor, the game was literally invented on a dare and designed in a week. It’s a fun story, but it sounds too good to be true. So I wrote the designer, James Dunnigan to get the scoop. To my surprise, he told me the the legend is essentially correct, writing:

I told [then head of Avalon Hill] Tom Shaw I could design a game on any situation and he challenged me to do one on "getting lost in the woods." He said if I designed it, he would publish it.

It took several weeks, but I only spent a few hours a day even thinking about it ... Considering how busy I was at the time, I believe there was assurance of publication, otherwise I would not have wasted my time.

Curiously, Outdoor Survival went on to become one of Avalon Hill’s bestselling games, not only because many people genuinely enjoyed playing it (as with most “worst evers,” its reputation for awfulness is largely exaggerated), but also because the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons specifically mentioned the enclosed map as a good player aide for outdoor scenarios. Adds Dunnigan, “It also became popular with hikers and campers. D&D made it a best seller, otherwise it would have simply been a success (made a profit).”

Still Getting The Hang Of This Job

The Queen puts The Squirrelly in the stroller and sets out for a half hour walk. Ten minutes later she returns.

Me: Back so soon?

The Queen: It started to rain, and I didn’t want the kid to catch cold.

M: Aw, that’s too bad. I know you really wanted to get a walk in.

Q: Yeah.

M: Well, why don’t you and I go for a walk, just the two of us?

Q: Because we can’t just leave him home by himself, that’s why.

M: Oh, right: he’s a baby. I keep forgetting.

Domo Arigato

Email from a friend:

An elderly and perhaps indigent woman sat next to me on the bus the other day.

She was repeating the following phrase to herself, over and over in a calm tone: "Mmmm, Mmmm Good. Mmmm, Mmmm Good."

She did this for a little while before stopping and saying, "That's the sound a robot makes when it turns itself off."


Today was my first day back at work after a four week hiatus. My group moved in the interim, and my office is now in an entirely new building.

Before my departure I was asked if I wanted to go over and see my new digs, but I declined, thinking the visit unnecessary. I was also asked if I wanted the building coordinators to arrange my desk and chair so that I was facing the door or facing the back wall. Again, thinking this an inconsequential decision, I opted to face the wall.

But moments after waltzing into my office this morning, I realized that I had made a grave error. The entire back “wall” of my office is, in fact, a window, one which looks out over the building’s central atrium. This open area contains a huge, winding staircase that employees use to traverse the five floors.

Because this window serves as a backdrop to my monitor, I need only move my eyes a few millimeters to instantly transform between Guy Diligently Working On A Program and Guy Watching People Walk Up And Down The Stairs. This is a problem for a host of reasons, the two main ones being (a) I’m almost certainly afflicted with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, and (b) my new building boasts a seemingly inexhaustible supply of pretty girls, all of whom, at any given moment, are either walking down the stairs to the Expresso stand in the lobby or walking up the stairs as they return to their desk. If I had a webcam perched on the top of my monitor today, a viewer might well conclude that I was watching the French Open.

I asked my office manager if I could manhandle my desk into the center of the office, turn my computer around, and position my chair so that my back would be to the window. He said I could not. To get the office rearranged, I was told, I would have to submit a special request; If approved, the building coordinator / furniture movers / feng shui experts would come and do the deed in the dead of night.

I’m not sure I want to go through bureaucratic channels to get this problem resolved, but I picked up an Office Reconfiguration Form all the same. In the “Reason For Request” box, I plan to write “Women.”

The Bad Review Revue

Welcome To Mooseport: “A comedy so devoid of wit and point that not mentioning the actors trapped in this rathole would be an act of charity.” — Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE

Agent Cody Banks – Destination London: “As family entertainment, it constitutes child abuse.” — Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST

Twisted: “Would be offensive were it not safely neutered by its own stupidity. ” — Scott Brown, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Taking Lives: “The film’s finale is a laugh-out-loud combination of ludicrousness and sadism that someone somewhere probably found scary, assuming they never saw a thriller before.” — Luke Thompson, DALLAS OBSERVER

Club Dread: “About as funny as malaria.” — Desson Howe, WASHINGTON POST

Dirty Dancing – Havana Nights: “One of those rare films for which a blooper reel would be redundant. ” — Elvis Mitchell, NEW YORK TIMES