Hey, word search fans! Print and solve! First person to e-mail me the solutions gets a shout-out, including an atta-boy/girl!
Hey, word search fans! Print and solve! First person to e-mail me the solutions gets a shout-out, including an atta-boy/girl!
Those of you who read my blog (thanks, Mom) know how fascinated I can be with bad sports teams. As amazing great sports teams can be, I find bad teams more interesting. As it takes a certain amount of planning, competency, and just plain luck to be a team of greatness, it requires those same elements (in considerably different amounts) to be a team of unbelievable badness. Incompetence in professional sports can take so many forms within each sport, it's like a performance art piece televised to the American rabble. One bobbled catch here, a wild pitch there, and you have the makings of a ballet of sheer ineptitude. I've said in the past that it takes considerable effort to be truly terrible at something: an entire team of athletes, being paid millions of dollars per, performing badly requires the kind of effort and energy that great generals utilized to win entire wars, artists used to create masterpieces loved centuries later. How can consistent incompetence not be beautiful? In this way, the Chicago Cubs have become a thing of inept beauty.
There have been worse sports teams - in 2008, the National Football League's Detroit Lions lost every one of their games. To be fair to the Lions, however, an NFL team plays only sixteen games over the course of the regular season. The NFL playing comparatively few games can tempt one to believe in the power of bad luck. Perhaps, given the law of averages, the Lions could have won a few had they played more games. Baseball teams, however, have no such excuse. You can't use bad luck as a crutch for a 162-game season. Even a mediocre baseball team with a bad case of Cracked Mirror Syndrome can expect to win forty percent of their games. To be a truly bad sports team, you have to be truly, truly horrible.
Oddly, although Chicago is known for its unsuccessful baseball teams - two World Series victories in the last 100 years, compared to smaller cities (5 in Philadelphia, 7 in Boston, 11 in St. Louis) - it's not necessarily a town full of bad baseball. Take a gander at this list of the worst baseball teams in history; note the lack of Chicago representation. The Cubs and White Sox aren't bad teams; they're just consistently so-so. This year, however, the Cubs are making a go at historical badness.
The team is currently 49-80, second-worst team in baseball. According to the baseball-reference.com (the Holy Bible of online baseball stats), this season is currently the fourth-worst in the team's history. To non-sports fans, you may shrug and ask, "Who cares?" And that's a legitimate question. Keep in mind, however, the Chicago Cubs have been around for 141 years. They're the same age as the nation of Germany. You have to be truly bad to break the top five in worst performances over 139 seasons (the team didn't play for two years due to the Great Chicago Fire. That's how old the team is), and they actually have a shot at being number one. The Cubs lost 103 games in 1962 and 1966; this year's model would have to go 9-24 the rest of the way to pull that off. Given, they've won only six of their last 28 games; this is not beyond the pale for them. Statistically, they've got the talent to do it; they're near the bottom in batting, pitching, and fielding.
I expressed a dream back in the spring that the Cubs and White Sox together would lose 200 games. That obviously will not come true (damned White Sox and their playoff-caliber season), but the Cubs having their worst season since the Great Chicago Fire would make a nice consolation prize. Historically speaking, of course.
Note: I wrote this back in 2000, when I still lived in Portland, when "Portlandia" was normal daily life. The piece was written for a friend's zine, back when zines carried some relevance. Despite the dry tone of the article, I genuinely liked, perhaps even loved, Portland. Unfortunately, as my father pointed out at the time, Portland didn't like me. In the span of less than three years, I worked four jobs, got fired from two of them (one of them three weeks after I quit, but that's another story.), failed utterly at political organization and activism in a city where such a feat was not possible, tried and failed to create a literary magazine (ditto), and my marriage went kablooey. An obnoxious New York Italian failing to impress a laid-back northwestern city? Feh. Anyway, enjoy the article.
For most lower-middle class, postgraduate slime like yourselves, you might find my current situation familiar. For the rest of you, you'll just have to follow along and hum to the words.
It is a quarter after one on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. It's raining every 25 minutes or so. For Portland, Oregon in early spring, this is normal. Portland has the most schitzoid weather in the world. I was walking to the train stop on the way to work the other day. This is normally a five-minute walk along the rail tracks where I can take in the back of the mall and watch my train leave a minute before I arrive at the station. On this day, I left the apartment to meet a cloudy day. Now, in, say, Illinois, this would mean "It's probably going to be cloudy all day, maybe some rain, maybe some sun, who knows?" In other words, you have no idea, but at least you know it would be only two options. In Portland, this means, "say, let's have a hailstorm, followed immediately by sunshine." And that's exactly what happened. If this were ancient Egypt and we were holding the Hebrews, we'd get hit with all ten plagues in the space of twenty minutes, and nobody would notice. "Oh, raining frogs. Big deal. We had that last week, between the alpaca tornado and the freak Cheeto storm." If God really wanted to punish us, He'd make it cloudy, without rain, for months at a time. That would leave us batty.
Anyway, I'm listening to Cracker's latest CD while typing away on an antiquated Macintosh and slouching around in my underwear. Old college habits die hard. In my ten years of sitting in front of a computer, I would bet at least two-thirds of that time have been spent in no other piece of clothing. I find underwear the only comfortable part of protective body accessories: it doesn't pinch in my gut or make it look bigger than it already is. It doesn't remind me that I have tits. It doesn't make my feet sweat. Underwear is loyal, a quiet piece of clothing that doesn't mind being in constant contact with your private parts. It adds a colorful flourish to the carpet, and it's a readily available substitute for Kleenex. Of all articles of clothing, underwear is hardest to part with. My Macintosh, on the other hand, is younger than my underwear, and yet I *must* upgrade immediately or the Hot Hip Mac Police will break down my door and hold me and my wife while they smash my computer to bits and offer me a $50 rebate on a nice new Mac with a bright orange monitor.
So, here I am, on my Mac, typing away. I enjoy typing away on my computer; I've been doing it for years. However, I'm not used to writing (marginally) useful stuff on it. I'm used to useless crap like e-mail, or my poetry. Typing an article is not something I do very often (what? you can tell?). I wrote articles in college and even got some printed in the school paper. Now that I no longer have the assurance of bad college newspapers to get my work out in the open, I now require a sense of professionalism in my work. Here you won't find it, but at least I remind myself of it now and then.
By now, you're asking yourself, "What's the point of this article?" Believe me, this is the most common question asked of me. Believe it or not, this was supposed to be an article about life on the Left Coast as compared to the Midwest and the East Coast. This is what Amandicle, Relay's publisher, requested I write about. So, here goes: I was born on Long Island and split my childhood between there and Kansas City. Both cities gave me wonderful gifts to carry me through life: New York gave me the ability to regard everyone, including my mother, with suspicion. To this day, my wife can ask me to pass the salt, and I'll be thinking, "Yeah, okay, but what does she really want?" Kansas City gave me enough childhood memories to require at least two therapists and the occasional antidepressant, but this is not the city's fault, I'm sure. The cities also gave me sports teams to root for and really good food. In Long Island, you can't walk a block without hitting a deli. Kansas City has the best barbeque in the country. The West Coast, sadly, lacks both.
From there I settled in downstate Illinois (for all you natives of the Left Coast, downstate Illinois is everything south of Joliet. For all you idiots of the Left Coast, Joliet is a city in Illinois). I started college in Peoria where (and no, I don't think this is a coincidence) I went bald and developed allergies to half the universe. I developed nagging respiratory problems involving coughing up substances in colors I thought were only possible through vomiting an entire pound of Skittles. I later managed to graduate college and entered graduate school, where I failed miserably and followed the path of many a grad school dropout: I got married and moved west.
What does the West Coast have that the Midwest and East Coast lack? Mudslides, for one. During the rainy season, you can't watch the news without hearing yet another report about part of a hillside collapsing. You'd think the entire state was beginning to flatten out. I suspect that in fifty years, Oregon will have about the same amount of mountainous terrain as Nebraska.
Another thing the Midwest and East Coast seems to be deprived of is small espresso stands. When my wife and I first drove past Idaho, we began to notice strange little signs along the highway advertising hamburgers, hot dogs...and espresso. Sometimes they'd even add sushi. We found this rather odd. We had just arrived from the United States, where the beverage staple was a nice, cold beer, advertised on American commercials, during American football games, on Japanese televisions. Espresso was the drink of those commie pinko beatnik types who wore black and said "dig it, man" while listening to strung-out jazzbos in a cloud of reefer smoke.
But not on this coast. Portland is the City of Overpriced Coffee. There's a Starbucks on just about every block out here. They attach themselves to everything from bookstores to libraries to hardware stores, like benign but disgusting tumors. And of course, there are these closet-sized espresso bars, peppering strip mall parking lots where photo development shops used to be, happily serving you coffee from your car. And God forbid you ask for a mere coffee; the server gives you a look that screams "you're trailer park trash, aren't you?" Because coffee is no longer a drink; coffee is a *statement*. Before 1992, nobody on the planet Earth ever used the phrase "venti latte." Now, people blab javaology as if they emerged from the womb with a Starbucks cup in their hand. The true definition of fashion: seeing everyone imitate you and realizing how stupid you looked all along. I hate to think what the old coffee drinkers saw in themselves once coffee shops took over the landscape: odds are they switched to tea and hide at home now.
I'm sure there is more to the West Coast than stylized coffee. There is a lot of time to explore. I believe once I acclimate myself to the unique weirdness of this side of the states, I'll write about it with a warmer heart. But for now, I'll end this article, listening to the hum of my computer and the gentle plopping of the Twinkie rain outside.
1. A question for you oldsters. Remember when Tim Burton's 1989 Batman movie was considered the "dark" version of the Caped Crusader? It's all agreed now that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy has singlehandedly made the older run of Batman movies campy by comparison. Here's the query: when a future arteur decides to reboot the Batman franchise (and someone will), what will they have to do in order to make the Dark Knight trio look like campy classics?
2. GOP veep candidate Paul Ryan believes that “The contraceptive mandate [within Obamacare] is an affront to religious liberty." During antebellum times, the Southern Baptists believed that slavery was not just allowed but sanctioned in Holy Scripture. Does that mean that any anti-slavery laws passed before the 13th amendment were Wattacks on the Southern Baptists' "religious liberty?"
3. While we're on the subject, the Mormons in Utah were pressured by the federal government to give up polygamy as the trade-off for their application for statehood being accepted (as it was in 1896). Was this an attack on the Mormons' religious liberty, and was the deal even constitutional?
4. Now that the Olympics are over, can we ignore water polo again?
5. If you could have brought back a deceased English entertainment figure so they could participate in the opening or closing ceremonies of the Olympics: a. who would it be; b. would they be a zombie, and c. if yes to b, which annoying Olympics announcers would you order them to eat the brains of: Bob Costas or Ryan Seacrest?
6. Finally, should NRA members be allowed to take their guns to heaven? Why or why not?
In the wake of former astronaut Sally Ride's tragic death from pancreatic cancer, MSNBC, CNN, the Christian Science Monitor, Salon.com, and many other news outlets asked themselves two questions: why did she hide her illness? Why did she hide her sexuality? Many have tried to answer this question, but perhaps the simplest answer, one that folks have the hardest time wrapping their heads around, is thus: it's none of your damned business.
From the time Sally Ride shot into space nearly thirty years ago, it seemed to me, even at my young age, I suspected she didn't think that being the first American woman (and third woman) in space was that big a deal. I think she was very honored and humbled at being the first American woman in space, and she devoted much of the rest of her life to promote science education, particularly for girls. That was obviously what she wanted to do in her life, and I presume this will be what she is remembered for.
Some gay activists are disappointed and annoyed that Ride didn't come out when she was alive, even criticizing her for not participating in Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" Project. (Never mind that Ms. Ride was fighting freaking pancreatic cancer at the time.) To them I say: to hell with you. Just because someone becomes famous for something doesn't give the world a license to know everything about them. "Famous folks" like writer Harper Lee and actor Harrison Ford are considered almost freakish for the crime of keeping a private life, not telling the world what they do from the time they get up to when they go to bed.
Nowadays, of course, we have a confessional culture. Everything is on the table, and we must know everything about the people we see on our teevees and interwebs. What we do to women in the public eye is especially galling: we demand to know who they're sleeping with, if they'll marry the person they're sleeping with, and when they do get married (after which we demand the wedding photos), we demand to know when she's going to get pregnant, and at the first (true or false) sign of an enlarged abdomen, photos are posted everywhere of the woman with thick yellow arrows pointing to what they call a "baby bump," and if she actually does have a kid, she has to release every baby photo and be asked extremely personal questions about giving birth, as if she were the first woman ever to procreate in this manner. ("Was it natural? Did you get an epidural? Did you take a dump during the delivery?") And if she doesn't unload all this information, she's somehow aloof and "hiding something." Sure, some celebrities love the attention and can't get enough of seeing their names in the gossip rags. They are whores, and if that's the way they wish to live their lives, that's perfectly fine with me. But they are not the norm, nor should they be.
Sally Ride bucked this trend. She didn't want to be known for her love life: she wanted to be known as a scientific pioneer and educator. What she did emotionally, intellectually, and sexually during her 27-year relationship with Tam O’Shaughnessy is the exclusive property of those two women. She didn't want to make public her fight with cancer presumably for the same reason: this fight was hers and hers only, and if she wanted folks to know, she told them. While I type this, I can't even understand why this should be an issue.
I deeply, deeply hope that when the dirt settles onto Sally Ride's grave and grass grows over it, people will remember of Sally Ride how she wanted us to remember her: astronaut, scientist, educator. If she wanted to be primarily remembered as the first lesbian in space, she would have promoted that, but she thought her private life was just that: private. In other words, none of your business.
Note: I wrote this for Tori's crafting blog a couple years back, but for various reasons was never posted. So here it is in its hilarity: picking a bridegroom for your wedding.
So you’re planning a wedding. You’ve called your mother, the florist, the dressmaker, your hairdresser, the deejay, the minister, the caterers, your gay friend who dated the deejay, the baker, the baker’s florist, your mother’s caterer, the hairdress maker, and the caterer’s gay minister’s baked mother. Moreover, you called at least four or five suitors for all these jobs and are now more intimate with your cell phone than any previous (and present) significant other in your adult life. And how has your husband-to-be contributed to the wedding plans since he popped the question? He mastered “Calling Dr. Love” on Rock Band 2 and won’t shut up about it.
I’ll be blunt, ladies: if your fiancé has no interest in any aspect of the wedding, the odds are pretty good he has even less interest in being a groom. Or, for that matter, a husband.
I know, I know: he’s not as big into the wedding as you, and besides, the wedding is the bride’s big day. Everyone is looking at her. Smartass brides will frequently substitute other males for the groom at the altar – her father, her rabbi, her dog – just to see if anyone notices. (They never do.) But grooms are critical to the wedding process: without one, a bride is nothing more than a ludicrously-dressed woman surrounded by people who gave up a day of college football and “Snapped” marathons for free food and booze. So if you’re going to throw a wedding, it only makes sense to have someone standing next to you, and it might as well be a guy you sleep with.
Despite the groom’s lesser presence in the wedding, it doesn’t necessarily mean he can’t contribute. And maybe he even wants to contribute. The key here, of course, is linking the requirements of wedding preparation to the groom’s interests. Sure, your wedding doesn’t require a Nacho Muncher or a Bridesmaid Gooser, but I’m sure your future husband has some interests that can be exploited for wedding gain.
For example, does your groom-to-be like to cook? No? Just barbequing? Ok, how about music? Does he like listening to anything? No? How about alcohol? Just Old Style? And his idea of a bachelor party is playing Wii with his friends? WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU MARRYING THIS BORING LOSER? Replace him with another, more interesting groom. Right now. I’ll wait.
Okay. While you break in your new groom, I’ll offer myself as an example of a groom providing valuable wedding preparation services. As our wedding approached, I was involved with some – not all – aspects of the wedding. Since I enjoy cooking, I participated in selecting a caterer. I also love listening to music, so I helped my wife-to-be hire a deejay. Choosing the wedding cake was also a cooperative effort. The more I helped my fiancée, the more personally invested I was in the wedding.
Given, I didn’t help with everything. I was a passive observer at best when my wife looked into bridesmaids’ dresses, and I had nothing to do with choosing flowers. Why? I wasn’t interested in that stuff. It was okay, though – I participated enough with the wedding that my fiancée wasn’t overwhelmed.
Not every bride has a mother to advise her, or at least a mother she trusts not to drive her into a heroin habit by the time the bride’s wedding day arrives. She may have sisters, aunts, best friends, cousins, and maybe an overenthusiastic co-worker, but the person she should turn to when a wedding problem wears her down is the person she’ll want to turn to after the wedding. It worked out for me, and I’m a happier person for it. Sure, I didn’t get to goose the bridesmaids, but the nachos I’ve gotten out of the deal more than make up for it.
1. Is it just me, or does this photo of Little Richard look like a model of the female reproductive system?
2. Should a man who has fathered several children and refuses to pay child support be sterilized? A man who commits any crimes against his own children? How about a woman?
3. Is it possible to ruin a perfectly good chocolate bar?
4. Speaking of candy, why on earth did we eat those candy buttons as a kid, ending up eating more paper than sugar? Were we that stupid? Does that also explain the wax bottles?
5. Are you sure you oppose sterilizing parents who commit crimes against their own children?
Ta ta, folks!
A while back, I posted a fun little article about how ridiculous it was that some states ban gay marriage but allow bestiality. North Carolina's passage of their anti-gay marriage amendment yesterday reminded me of this post, so I decided to do an overview of the old maps I made.
There were a few things I noticed: one, my original map regarding the legality of zoophilia was inaccurate. I stated that some states, including North Carolina and Arkansas, did not actually bar bestiality when they actually did. (My oops!) Numero dos, the legal landscape regarding both gay marriage and zoophilia have changed since 2009. Florida, for example, made bestiality illegal in 2011. (I must also add that the bill failed in the state legislature twice before passing the third time.) On the other hand, Kansas, in the process of redoing their criminal code, legalized human-animal nookie (presumably inadvertently, although you never know) in 2010.
After a little rejiggering of the map, here is a more accurate map of states that permit bestiality, info brought to you by the fine folks at wikipedia:
Looks like gay marriage is running ahead. But fear not, Rover rompers! Guess which state, in cleaning up their criminal sodomy code, could end up legalizing zoophilia the way Kansas did? No really, take a wild guess at who might join my "brown map..."
It's past 1:30am Monday morning. Far-off thunder perks up now and then, and the cats are puttering around, but for the most part it's a quiet night. I've either had little to say about the world around me over the past month, or I've been too busy with school to post. I did a full-time load in graduate school this semester, the first time I've done since my earlier, failed attempt at a master's degree. It was a tough slog - man, it was tough - but I managed to survive with a minimum of emotional and mental injury, if not fatigue. There was at least one time during the semester where I hit a wall, but I managed to overcome it, thanks to my bud / baby sister Lupu and a very bad casino in the suburbs, who took away my roulette money soon after they had to reboot the scoreboard because it crashed.
I have two more classes to take before I get my Master's degree in Library and Information Science, which should be by the end of the year. I'm taking one LIS class during the summer (it starts in less than 17 hours), and one more during the fall.
Thanks to the State of Illinois, however, I'm not even close to getting my certification. The degree is awesome, sure, and it will hopefully land me a job in library-land. School libraries, however, are a different story. In order to work as a librarian at a school library in the state, I need to be certified in the School Library Media Program, which is a totally different ball of academic wax. Among other things, I need to:
And that's all before I begin work on my clinicals. Once that's all done, then I can work at a school library... assuming there are any left by the time I finish.
Yeah, I'm being a little pessimistic, but it's not that bad. I've turned in 25 observation hours so far, and I plan to contact some very nice librarians to garner some more before the end of the school year. And I passed the first skills test so far, so I'm not doing so bad. It's just a lot of work.
In the meantime, my wife has decided to explore the dead people in my family tree (which is a huge portion of it so far), and now she's checking birth records from Italy, which is a special treat since she knows as much Italian as I do, which is to say none. Hell, I can't even remember half the swear words and obscene gestures my mother inadvertently taught me as a child. I'm no help, either - I couldn't care less about my ancestors. I figure if they wanted me to know more about them, they'd drop by the apartment more often.
Finally, Jack and Felix are getting along just fine. In fact, Jack just dropped by the office to demand why I'm not playing with him. There are reasons for this, the number one reason being I really want to go to bed.
Eh, what the hell. See you folks later.
[Note: Blame Google Translator, not me, for that title. I was going for "A Very Sexy Game Show."
iHola, amigos! Welcome back to ¿Que más loco?, the game show that will lock you in a straitjacket if you try to convince mass transit riders you're Judy Garland. But enough of my personal life; [insert laugh track] on with the program!
A few days ago, the Tennessee state legislature passed bills (House Bill 3621 and Senate Bill 3310) forbidding sex education teachers to "promote any gateway sexual activity or health message that encourages students to experiment with non-coital sexual activity."
What does this mean? Don't ask me. Neither bill provides any examples of "gateway sexual activity" whatsoever. So, amigos, you'll have to help the teenagers of Tennessee out!
For ten points per "yes" answer, would any of the following activities be considered "gateway sexual activity" to the politicians in Tennessee and thus illegal for sex education teachers to discuss?
5. Speaking Spanish like Gael García Bernal
9. Watching "Mad Men" for more than just an interest in 1960s advertising
10. Pickled pepper-picking
Aha, you are mucho smart! 90 points! (You were correct: gun-fellating is not considered an illegal gateway sexual activity in Tennessee!) But these next activities, they are much harder! Twenty points for each one you get correct! Watch out: some of these are muy tricky!
4. Weiner roasts
6. Making up a word that starts with vag- (e.g. "Steven Seagal is ... VAGILANTE OF JUSTICE!"
8. Listening to any music by Marvin Gaye
10. Sitting on a washing machine, no matter which cycle it's on
iDios mio! You are on a roll! Okay, on we go to the bonus round: 100 points! If you select the correct answers, you'll win YOUR VERY OWN SEAT IN THE TENNESSEE LEGISLATURE!
1. Donating to Planned Parenthood
2. Teaching your child about birth control
3. Being an adolescent
Congratulations!!! Thank you for playing ¿Que más loco?