Friday Afternoon Scratchpad

Annual Call of Slacker Guide Items

I’m working on my annual Holiday Survival Guide For Slackers for The Morning News, and I’m looking for suggestions. So if you know of some stupid crap available for purchase on the intarweb, please mention it in the comments of this post or drop me an email. Thanks!

Previous Slacker’s Guides

2007 2004
2006 2003
2005 2002

LtROI is my Anti-Twilight!

My review of Twilight has been getting a lot of link-love since the corresponding movie was released. If my assessment of the novel deterred you from seeing the film, (a) you owe me a doughnut of gratitude, and (b) may I recommend Let the Right One In, now playing at your local art-house theater. (You know, the one with all the cats? Where they put nutritional yeast on your popcorn?) It’s definitely one of those the-less-you-know-about-it-the-more-you’ll-like-it kind of deals, so just close your browser now and go see it. But I will tell you this: it is so great that it actually made me glad to have read Twilight, because now I can say that I have experienced both the nadir and apogee of vampiric fiction.

TMN Annual

Speaking of The Morning News and my less-you-know-the-better-it-is philosophy regarding entertainment, the TMN Annual is now available. In it you will find a long essay, written by me, regarding my loathing of spoilers and the white-hot rage they kindle within in. WHY YES, “ITS A SLED” WOULD BE A HILARIOUS COMMENT TO THIS POST, THANKS!!!

Great Shakes

So a few weeks ago I’m at the counter of a local diner, eating a breakfast of french toast and trying to read a novel, when an elderly man sits on the stool two down from me. He came armed with a copy of The Seattle Times and, after averring to the server that he’ll have “the usual”, began summarizing the articles aloud in an attempt to draw me into conversation. “Yeah, I don’t know about this big bank bailout deal,” he would declare in my general direction, while I did my best to ignore him. “No one is offering me a bailout,” he’d add.

Eventually his food arrived, which meant (I thought) that he’d clam up a bit. But just as I let my guard down, he abruptly turned to me and said, “I guess they were talking to Joey Cora about maybe managing the Mariners next year.” Caught by surprise, I accidentally said “oh, really?” and, having breached my defenses, the man launched into a long and convoluted tirade about our local and abysmal baseball team.

For the first 15 seconds I politely nodded and uh-huhed in response, frantically trying to concoct an exit strategy. But then I noticed something fascinating: as the man spoke to me, half turned in his seat and facing my direction, he was also shaking pepper onto his breakfast. And I don’t mean he was giving the shaker a few desultory jiggles now and again, I mean the entire time he spoke he had the mill in an elliptical orbit over his food and was moving it up and down as rhythmically as a piston. This went on for so long that I could only assume that he was doing so absent-mindedly, unaware of the huge volume of seasoning that was raining down on his eggs and hash browns.

So then I tried to keep him engaged as long as possible. “I was always a fan of Joey Cora,” I said truthfully. “How likely is he to take the position?” And that got the guy going for another 20 or 30 seconds, shake shake shaking all the while.

Then, having reached a stopping point in his analysis, he abruptly set down the shaker and grabbed his fork. And I was all, like, “oh man, this is gonna be GREAT!” But then he began wolfing down eggs without any apparent discomfort. Not even a Scooby-Doo style sneeze. Rats.

Anyway, I thought of this guy the other day when I first tried Nabisco brand Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil Triscuit. Maybe Old Man Rambler works at the factory that makes these or something, or maybe someone dozed off and slumped on the “Pepper Dispenser Lever” when this particular box was trundling down the assembly line, but this is like a joke snack, something you’d order out of the back of a comic book, surreptitious swap with a real box of crackers when an unsuspecting victim wasn’t looking, and then guffaw loudly when they are rushed off to the ICU with acute peppercorn toxicity syndrome.

All told I think I ate four of them. After the first I swore I’d never touch them again, but I kept drifting back to the box. It was like one of those arcade machines where you see how long you can hold on to an increasingly-electrified handle before your instinct for self-preservation kicks in. I imagine there are tribes in indigenous people in Brazil where, when a boy reaches puberty, he must eat a 20 of these in a row before they will consider him a man.

Ow! My mouth!

And I love how the “serving suggestion” has you topping the cracker with a tiny piece of cheese, a little tomato, a sprig of green, and more pepper! That’s like ordering a pizza and having, as your three toppings, pineapple, Canadian bacon, and another pizza. My serving suggestion is that you just keep a few in your pockets at all times, in case you are ever on the lam and need to throw some tracking dogs off your scent.

Tuesday Afternoon Scratchpad

Building A Bridge to the Late 20th Century

An excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s Super Tuesday speech, delivered a moment ago:

I hope all of you will join our campaign at double-you double-you double-you dot hillaryclinton dot com. Because you know that politics isn't a game. It's not about who's up or who's down. It's about your lives, your families, your futures.

Seriously, though: anyone who still includes the www when mentioning a URL is unfit for office.


Romney, meanwhile, did best among “self-described conservatives.” This despite the fact that, until recently, Romney was pro-choice, in favor of stem cell research, a proponent of gay rights (“All citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preferences.“), and busy instituting Universal (or, at least, Massachusettsal) Healthcare. This guy is so phony it’s as if someone Photoshopped him into reality. Apparently “self-described conservative” is pretty much synonymous with “least likely to do the research.”


If McDonald’s “Happy Meals” are named after the emotional state children are in while consuming them, shouldn’t the adult versions be called “Self-Loathing Meals”?

Private to the Guy I Just Finished Playing Racquetball With

I may have lost to you 2-15, but at least I didn’t bellyache like an affluent toddler every time I missed a shot. So, between your admittedly superior athletic prowess, and my ability to stoically endure misfortune, I think we both proved our masculinity today. Except for you, ya fucking craybaby.

Waxy’s Links

I started my linkblog (did you know I had one? It’s over there ——>) about a year ago because, at the time, my favorite linkblog–that run by Andy Baio of–was only updated sporadically, leaving me to search out more time-killers on my own. Well, now Mr. Baio is blogging full time, and his linkblog typically features so many great links a day that I am spending less and less time on my own (not that I ever devoted more than 40 seconds a week on it …). So if you like the stuff that I post, you owe it to yourself to check out Waxy’s Links or subscribe to Andy’s XML feed.




Friday Afternoon Scratchpad




Jesus Christ, these bloggers are getting more aggressive every year.

Sorry, Man

Sorry, Man


Because I am a staunch opponent of animal cruelty, I’ve decided to stop using KY jelly. I recently learned that it is made by taking an adorable little ducky and cutting off its first three letters.


Porn Films For Robosexuals

Some Like It Bot
Rebel Without A Program
Output Anything
Uncanny Valley of the Dolls
The Old Man and the PC
Anode What You Did Last Summer
Cool Grasping Mechanism Luke
Neural Network
Cape Amphere
Schindler’s Array
The Cogfather
A Roomba With A View
In the Heat Of The Byte
An Affair To Cache
Chariots of Wire
Men In #000000
The Best Gears Of Our Lives

Friday Afternoon Scratchpad

Tap Dance

This Domestic Surveillance story is the gift that keeps on giving. First they assured us that they weren’t tapping any phones without a warrant; then we discover that, well, okay, they were recording some conversations without a warrant, but only a few; now come to find out that the phone records of millions of Americans were requisitioned.

It’s like of those horror stories that just gets progressively more ludicrous as it goes along. I can only imagine what’s going to come next.


As both a geek and father to a toddler, I’ve noticed that I tend to use the phrase “well-formed” a lot at work in reference to XML and lot at home in reference to poop.


Last night I dreamed that I was putting dirty bowls and glasses into a half-full dishwasher, only to suddenly realize that the dishes that had been in there before I started were already clean!!.

Seriously, my subconscious: Is that the best anxiety dream you could come up with? It’s like you’re not even trying anymore.

Eye Where

Yesterday I saw a young women in the library wearing a pushup bra under a t-shirt that was at least a size too small. The shirt had an arrow pointing up and the text “MY EYES ARE UP HERE!”

Come on. That’s practically entrapment.

Friday Afternoon Scrachpad

Practice What Your Preach

Today I saw a guy in a “Rage Against The Machine” t-shirt angrily slapping the side of an ATM.

Venomous Verdict

Dear Peoples of Teh IntarWeb: you can stop sending me this quotation for inclusion in the Bad Review Revue:

“If it had been called V for Vasectomy I could scarcely have found it a less enjoyable experience.” — Jonathan Ross, BBC

Though I appreciate everyone who did.

Carefree Throws

I love that there’s a Basketball team called The Cavaliers. I like to imagine their courtside huddles go like this:

Coach: Okay, guys: there’s only forty-three seconds left on the clock and we’re down by five. We’re going to need some major hustle to win this.

First player: Oh, it’s always “win, win, win” with you. There’s more more important things than winning, you know.

Second player: Seriously. It’s just a game, coach — chill out, already.

The Doctor Is Back In

Someone must be sending around the link to my Dumbass M.D. post, because I’ve recently received a spate of email from folks begging for the answer.

Well, I kept you in suspense for two and a half years … I guess that’s long enough.

Go read the puzzle, try and figure it out, and, if you get stumped, highlight the following paragraph:

Cut all three pills exactly in half, taking care to keep the two groups of halves separate. Take another Pill A, cut it in half, and add one half to each of the groups. Each group now contains two Pill B halves and two Pill A half. Take one group of halves today, the other group tomorrow.

Three Games

  • flOw: Hypnotic little game, beautifully made. Reminiscent of the forthcoming Spore. Browser-based flash.
  • Dumb: The Game: Forty-four puzzles to solve, ranging from laughably easy to I-don’t-even-know-where-to-begin difficult. Browser-based php.
  • Truck Dismount: Sadistic & addictive. Download.

All via Jay Is Games.

Dollars & Scents

Sean “Diddy” Combs has come out with a new scent called Unforgivable.

As The Queen will attest, I too have produced some unforgivable fragrances in my time — especially after jambalaya night — but I never once thought to bottle and sell ’em for $25 an ounce. I guess that’s the difference between me and Mr. Combs. Well, that and his impressive collection of risible nicknames.

Friday Afternoon Scratchpad

Do-It-Yourself Oscar Pool Creator

In case you missed the announcement: the Do-It-Yourself Oscar Pool Creator is available here.

The Spheniscidae Candidate

The flight from Seattle to D.C. only took 4½; hours, as we had a 100 knots-per-hour tail wind; consequentially, the return trip took 6½ hours. It was so long that they showed two films: March of the Penguins and The Manchurian Candidate.

The woman sitting beside me watched the first hour of Penguins and then fell asleep with the headphones still on. She slept through the rest of the film — in fact, she didn’t wake until several hours later, as Denzel Washington, in full uniform, kills a man and woman with an assault rifle.

The woman next to started awake to the sound of the gunfire, gawped at the television screen, and looked sublimely confused. I could almost hear her thinking, “Man, I’ll have to rent this March of the Penguins movie when I get home — there must be some major plot twist in the middle!”

Pop Quiz!

How much does an adult, male, African elephant weigh?

Go’wan, take a guess. Please don’t do any research in advance — I want your off-the-top-of-the-head reckoning. If you happen to know the answer (because you’re a professional zookeeper, or whatever) please participate as well — I’m trying to get as random a sampling as I can, so I don’t want anyone to self-select themselves out of the pool.

Let’s Sleep On It

We bought a new mattress. As The Queen and I put it on the bed, I noticed this tag.

The guys at the mattress company are fans of the blog, I guess.

Games For Toddlers

After my rundown of Games For Kids, a few people wrote and asked me to suggest games for toddler. Here are a few that The Squirrelly and I are playing (or will be soon):

  • Go Away Monster: We’ve been playing this since The Squirrelly was 18 months (though not exactly by the rules) and he loves it. Whenever the perennial “what should my child’s first game be?” question is posed on any of the boardgame newsgroups I haunt, Monster is always the consensus pick.
  • Snail’s Pace Race: I just bought this for The Squirrelly last week, but he already says “want snail game” at least once an evening. A relaxing, non-competitive game that teachers twerps colors, turn-taking, and dice rolling. Plus, the wooded snail pieces are awfully nice.
  • Cranium Cariboo: Not a party game, like the others in the Cranium line. Instead, Cariboo is designed to teach youngsters shapes, colors, numbers, and collaboration.
  • Hisss: Draw tiles from a bag and try and build snakes by matching colors. Total luck, but fun nonetheless.
  • Max: Another cooperative game from Family Pastimes, this one for the 4-5 year set. Try to race the tiny animals to their homes before they are caught by Max the cat. One of the rare games for the very young that actually has the players making real, meaningful decisions.

Friday Afternoon Scratchpad

  • I can do a pretty good impression of the lead vocalist for The Psychedelic Furs. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve found that the demonstration of this skill impresses fewer and fewer girls.
  • As long as we’re talking about banning people from using cell phones while driving, can we also prevent people from driving around with small dogs in their laps? I don’t think it makes them drive unsafely or anything, it just really annoys me for some reason.
  • According to the book Prairie Babies, which I have read to my son every evening for the past week, woodchuck offspring are called “chucklings.” Who knew?
  • Friday Afternoon Scrachpad

    Another Item On My Lifetime ‘To-Do’ List

    Establish a retirement community for washed-up comedians and call it “Wise Acres”

    Our Product Will Make Your Teeth Fall Out

    From: Lamar <>
    Subject: DREAMS


    To: Lamar <>
    Subject: Re: DREAMS

    Thanks for the email, Lamar, but that sounds like overkill. If you ever invent something that can make just some of my dreams come true -- those involving flying, for instance -- while skipping over the ones where I haven't done the required reading for a geography exam or I'm being chased by The Wiggles, feel free to write me again.



    Do not start playing Bowman because then you will not stop playing Bowman.

    This shareware text editor is pretty great.

    Nigritude Ultramarine.

    Hoisted By His Own Petard

    In a recent interview, Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, ripped filmmaker Michael Moore for his appropriation of the science-fiction novel’s title. “Michael Moore is a screwed asshole, that is what I think about that case,” said the 84-year-old writer. “He is a horrible human being — horrible human!”

    In other news, the latest issue of Rolling Stone features an interview with William Shakespeare, in which the Bard of Avon decries Bradbury’s use of the phrase “something wicked this way comes.” “That mewling cutpurse plucked the title from the pages of my MacBeth direct,” carped the long dead poet and playwright, who later went on to describe Bradbury as “sick in the world’s regard, wretched and low, a poor unminded outlaw sneaking home.”

    Speaking Of Which …

    I assumed that someone had already made a porn movie entitled “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” but I can’t seem to find it via Google. Man, there’s a vast untapped market right there: adult films based on the works of William Shakespeare. The Taming Of The Screw. A Midsummer’s Night Ream. The Merchant of Penis. The Two Gentlemen of Veronica. And I think we can all agree that Henry VIII could only be improved by the addition of girl-on-girl action.

    Update: In the comments, Marcy says: “I took a class … called Shakespeare, Transnational Cinema, and Mass Media. We had to read entire essays devoted to the use of Shakespeare in porn films. More information is available here and here.” The later page includes a review of — yes! — The Taming of the Screw. Thanks, Marcy!

    Friday Afternoon Scratchpad

    Oscar Pool Creator

    In case you missed it, my annual “Make-Yer-Own Oscar Pool Page” is here.

    Thank You Mr. Bus Driver

    I almost missed my bus yesterday. As it was pulling away from the curb I ran alongside it, waving my arm, and the driver kindly brought the behemoth to a stop and allowed me to board.

    Moments later, as I sat panting in a seat halfway back, I could hear the driver’s voice boom from overhead. He was having a private chat with the person sitting in the front row and was clearly unaware that the intercom was on. I, and everyone on the bus, heard him say, “I probably wouldn’t shouldn’t have stopped for that guy, but I kinda felt sorry for him. He had such a dopy, desperate look on his face as he ran.”

    How Many …?

    Moderator: If you are elected president in 2004, what will your administration’s policy be in regards to changing the lightbulb?

    Kerry: “Like most Vietnam veterans who fought in the Vietnam war, I know a little something about changing lightbulbs, on account of my experience in Vietnam.”

    Edwards: “No need to change the bulb — I’ll just light up the room with my sunny optimism!”

    Bush: “Someone needs to change a lightbulb? Woohoo — we created a job!”

    Nader: “These is no fundamental difference between a lit room and the darkness.”


    Conversation with my single female friend R.:

    R: I was trying to find a copy of that card game, Mamma Mia, so I went to the game store you suggested.

    Me: And?

    R: And omigod — the guy that worked there was so nice and friendly! And cute!

    Me: [Incredulous] Cute? The guy working at the game store?

    R: He was totally cute!

    [Momentary pause. Then, hurriedly …]

    R: I mean, “cute” in a Geppeto kind of way.


    No Squirrely yet. As of this writing The Queen and I are still living in 2004 BC (before child).

    This, That, and the Other

  • As a follow-up to my Silvergirl Research Day entry below, I ask you, the dy reading public: what albums were you raised on? For me it was Bridge Over Troubled Water by S&G and — lord help me — Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits. (The latter was a 45. Ha! (except the laugh is probably on me since I bet a fourth of my readers don’t even know what a “45” is (or maybe this site doesn’t skew nearly as young as I like to imagine (and maybe I have no fucking clue how to use parentheses correctly.).).).).

    If there is a record you remember fondly — or if you have kids and have found a CD that both you and the twerps enjoy — lemmie know in the comments.

  • Freaks & Geeks on DVD. Awww yeah.
  • I don’t think of it as wearing a hand-free headset despite not owning a cell phone, I think of it as free license to talk to myself on the bus.