The Long And The Short Of It



Dear friend,

I hope that this mail will not be an embarrassment to you. Listen and read carefully, I found your contact from a business journal and that is why I have decided to involve you in this transaction.

I was a woman of substance and of great importance to my nation and the society in general. I will not entertain any act of unseriousness from you in this transaction. You must take instructions from me at blah blah blah blah ...

You know why I have never fallen for this scam? Because I get bored and drift off to play Funny Farm by the second paragraph. Apparently these swindles only work if you include more back-story than Lost.

If someone just wrote “HEY YOU PAYPAL ME $10,000 AND I WILL IMMEDIATELY PAYPAL YOU $1,000,000,000,000 FOR COMPLICATED REASONS THIS IS TOTALLY NOT A TRICK!!!” I might actually do it. If only out of gratitude that the email wasn’t as freakin’ long as Infinite Jest.

Kitten Love

In my recent post about The Squirrelly’s criminal tendencies, I included a photo of the kid wrasslin’ with (and losing to) his stuffed kitty. This prompted one reader to comment:

why does the cat look like it god blood all over it and wasnt cleaned to well?

Good question. I couldn’t have typed it better myself. As the many sticklers for spelling, punctuation, and grammar who read this site are fond of pointing out.

Perhaps you haven’t been properly introduced to Kitty:

Squirrelly and Kitty

As you have so astutely observed, Kitty appears to god blood all over it, as though it wasnt cleaned to well. We have no idea why this is the case, because Kitty was something of a stray and we know little of its history.

Shortly after The Squirrelly’s second birthday, my cousin K. brought over a box of her old stuffed animals, which had sat in her parent’s garage for years. “Thanks,” we said, “but don’t feel bad if he doesn’t take to any of them. He’s never shown an interest in stuffed animals.” Still, after she opened the box, The Squirrelly obligingly sauntered over to it, folded himself in half, and mooned us as he buried his head and torso in the toys. Duckies and bunnies went flying over his shoulders as he rummaged around.

Then, suddenly, he straightened, holding an toy I’d describe as “looking like something the cat dragged in” if cats made a habit of dragging in cats. Scraggly, lacking a nose, and with inexplicably red-tinged fur, it was the stuffed animal you’d expect to find forlornly standing against the wall after all the others were picked for kick-ball.

“Kitty!!” The Squirrelly announced.

We asked K. how Kitty had come to be in such a sorry state, but she confessed ignorance, admitting that she had never been very fond of the toy and barely remembered it at all. But Kitty and The Squirrelly have been thick as thieves ever since.

How on earth could anyone get attached to such an unattractive specimen, you may wonder. As is usual in these case, it can be summed up in two words: rebound romance.

Kitty fills the void left by The Squirrelly’s One True Love, Mia. Mia was a curly red-headed toddler that attended The Squirrelly’s music class, around the time he was 20 months. While all the other children sat quietly in a circle, listening to the teachers play guitar or sing “Shoo Fly,” Squirrelly and Mia would wile away the hour galumphing around the room like a pack of hyenas, exploring every nook and cranny and upending plastic bins of tambourines.

I distinctly remember the moment The Squirrelly fell in love. Each child and each parent had been given a resonator bell — you know, a wooden block with a single xylophone key on top of it? — and a mallet.

The Squirrelly went to town on his bell, walloping it with as much gusto as he could muster, determined to be the loudest in the classroom. Mia, meanwhile, sat across from us, looking serenely from her bell to her mother’s, clearly cooking up a plan. After a few moments she decided upon a course of action. She picked up her bell in one little hand, seized her mother’s bell in the other, held them such that the keys faced each other, and clapped them together like blackboard erasers. The result was cacophony; The Squirrelly immediately stopped what he was doing to watch the spectacle, as pink and red hearts floated out of the top of his head.

Alas, the class ended a few months later, at that was the last we saw of Mia. It was shortly thereafter that The Squirrelly hooked up with Kitty.

We all know that Kitty is just a place holder, until The Squirrelly again meets a woman more adept at making a godawful racket than he. Until that day, though, they are all but inseparable.

Squirrelly Kitty Kiss


Double-Fisted Tales Of Work

There’s a conference room at my place of business that is occupied, every morning from 9:00 – 10:00, with what must be the most attractive people at my company. Seriously, sometimes I peek through the window in the door and just marvel at the miles of whitened teeth. I can only assume that they are planning our Homecoming Dance or something. Man, I hope they pick “Dance the Night Away” by Van Halen as our class song — that would effing RULE!!!!

Today, after having plugged a bunch of money into of break room’s vending machine, I was agonizing over whether to get pretzels or a Coffee Crisp bar, when a large and imposing guy came and stood directly behind me. He was so close to my back that I glanced back nervously. He had dollar bill in hand, and was already holding it perpendicular to the bill acceptor, ready for insertion. It was also clear from the expression on his face that he knew exactly what he wanted, and going to step forward at any moment to make his purchase, regardless of whether or not I had vacated the space. I felt like I was trapped in the Star Wars trash compactor, moments before the walls started closing.

Anyway, long story short, I got a little panicky, and that’s how I wound up with the “Garfield Cocobite.” It was a selection made of desperation.

Research Day: Taco Bell And The Ozone Layer

Why is Taco Bell so named?: When I was nine or ten, I was in the car with my dad when we passed one of the Taco Bells that were springing up all over our suburb. “Why do they call it that?” I asked.

My father, a classical music aficionado, thought for a moment and said “I think it’s a play on the name Pachelbel. You know, the composer who wrote the Canon? And the Hexachordum Apollinis?”

That answer satisfied me for a decade and a half. Recently, though, while driving by another of the ubiquitous fast-food outlets, the question popped back into my head, and it occurred to me that a restaurant boasting a “Cheesy Gordita Crunch Supreme” for 99¢ was probably not named in honor of a seventeenth century Baroque organist. Maybe if they served a “Beef Taccota in C minor,” or their soda machine dispensed “Mountain Fugue.”

So today I headed over to, and pored over their “history” page, looking for clues as to the store’s name. And by “pored over,” I mean I read the first two words in their history, which were as follows:

"Glen Bell ..."

Ah. The founder’s name is Bell. Duh.

And so my fifteen-year investigation comes to a sudden and anti-climatic end. Wow. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life. Possibly just reading through the archives of this fansite.

What ever happened to the ozone layer?: In the late 80’s and early 90’s, the environmental crisis du jour was the rapidly depleting ozone layer. I distinctly remember hearing somewhere that the ever-widening hole over Antarctica had reached some critical tipping point, where all our efforts to stop the damage would be in vain. David Brin’s 1991 novel Earth foresaw a future in which no sane person would venture outside without a hat, glasses, and heavy sunscreen. In the 1992 presidential campaign, George Bush dubbed Gore as “ozone man” for his environmental activism.

Now, of course, Gore is a champion for global warning. (although, technically speaking, I think he might be against global warming) and the ozone layer seems to have been all but forgotten. What happened?

What happened, apparently, is that we stopped releasing the compounds that damage the ozone layer, which took the topic off the polical table — even though the hole still exists, and was larger than ever before as recently as 2000. Even so, most people agree that it is healing. “All other things being equal,” says NOAA, “and with adherence to the international agreements, the ozone layer is expected to recover over the next 50 years or so.” The main “international agreements” here are the Vienna Convention (1985) and the Montreal Protocol (1989). The latter, especially, is largely responsible for the worldwide phase-out of ozone damaging chemicals (halogenated hydrocarbons), and it has been hailed by Kofi Annan as “Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date.”

So I guess the take-home message here is: if we all work together, as conscientious global citizens, we can collectively confront and even reverse the environmental cataclysms that threaten the future of our species. Or perhaps the moral is: if I, Matthew Baldwin, personally ignore a problem for a decade or so, it will go away. Could be either one, no way to tell.

Here you can find a nice overview of the issue, and a chart showing significant dates, both past and future, in the ozone crisis and response.

Project Management

Here’s an easy way to determine which couples are the parents of toddlers: listen for the people who describe five-minute tasks in terms of “a project.”

You: What are you guys up to this evening?

Couple That May Be The Parents Of A Toddler: The batteries in our remote control died, so we’ll be replacing those tonight. Not that we ever get to watch DVDs anymore, hah hah! Hah hah hah hah! Hah hah! Sob!


Great news! As many of you remember, I went to a Seattle audition for a reality program a few months back, but everything was very hush-hush and I couldn’t talk about it much at the time. Well the show has just been announced, and I can finally spill the beans: I’ll be appearing on the fifth episode of FOX’s new cutting edge show Sexual Relations With The Stars!!

I’m kind of bummed that I got paired up with Tucker Carlson. But still: I’m going to be on TV! WOOHOOOO!!!!!

And You Shall Know Him By The Trail Of Stuffed

And We Shall Know Him By The Trail Of Dead

No parent wants to think that the choices they are making will result in their child someday going on a seven state killing spree. But a couple of our recent decisions have left The Queen and I wondering.

First, we got him toy at a garage sale which allows him to mix-and-match a variety of head, torso, and foot pieces to create custom teddy bears.

It seemed innocuous, and The Squirrelly really liked it. Indeed, it was all fun and games — until one morning when I woke up and, half conscious, staggered out into the living room to discover:

I used to think that cat vomit was the worst thing to encounter on my morning shuffle from bed to coffee maker, but now I’m going to have to put “pile of dismembered bears” on the top of the list. It appears that we inadvertently purchased the Fisher-Price Lil’ Psycho Training Kit. I guess I should have been suspicious when I noticed the label on the bottom of the box reading “STORE UNUSED BODY PARTS IN FREEZER!”

Also, we figured out an innovative way to hornswoggle The Squirrelly into learning manners. He was reluctant to use his spoon and fork for a long time, knowing that the quickest way to deliver applesauce to his gaping maw was to simply scoop it up by hand and shovel it in there. So once, about a year ago, I decided to make a game of it. I stood behind him as he sat in his chair, put a fork in his mitt, wrapped my hand around his so he couldn’t drop it, and guided the utensil to the bowl; when we skewered the target foodstuff I cried “stab!”

Oh man, did that go over well. He spent the rest of the meal enthusiastically forking his dinner, merrily shouting “Stab!” with each mouthful.

Unfortunately, he seems to have really taken to the phrase. Even now, while running wild around the house, he’ll occasionally shout “Stab! Stab stab!” at random.

So if you pick up the Seattle Times some morning and see:


Bodies found pierced by dozens of brightly-colored, blunted, child-sized sporks.

Yeah, that’ll be us. In lieu of flowers, please send Bob The Builder DVDs.

Oh well, you needn’t be too worried. Even if he does take to a life of crime, odds are he’ll be inept at it. For instance, his recent attempt to put his stuffed kitty into a sleeperhold backfired:

Sleeper Hold on Kitty Backfires

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