Thursday, October 30, 2008

Imaginary Cabinet Positions I Would Excel In

Thanks to cheesoning for the blog topic.

A day doesn't go by when I don't imagine myself in the halls of power, making decisions, attending steering committee meetings, heading discovery working groups. And let's not forget drafting legislation and speaking firey tirades to a legislature populated by 17 sleeping members of parliament.

That's the life for me.

And even before that, you got the dry and pablum campaign trail where you say nothing of substance and try and repeat the most catchy if inaccurate soundbite twenty times a day. On TV! Repeating phrases that my handlers and political analysts have deemed best 'resonate' with this or that demographic!

But I think I'd really excel if they created certain Cabinet Positions for me. The sort that might not exist in a single democratic regime, or even in the crazy ones where the warlords drive Bentleys and the children learn the fine art of AK-47 assault rifle maintenance at the age of 7.

Such as:



Director of "That's What She Said"

This might be the trickiest of all of them. I'll have to sit in on any public hearing and scream, with little voice modulation, "THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID" to anything that may be construed as vaguely sexual. I'll get bonus points if I yell it at quotes that make no sense at all.

The thin line here will be to mock the actual use of it, as in, the sort of person who might say this habitually, without becoming that person.

Sort of a Frodo/Smeagol thing.



Deputy Minister of Antics

This job will entail pulling off absurd stunts when the media is giving undue attention to something the government would rather forget.

Kick backs being traced dangerously close to an appointed official? I got this Edgar Allan Poe Short story I'd like to perform for you all in backwards Klingon, my assistent will be juggling three empty flames... in esperanto.

Another senator getting caught in a sting against deviant and highly sexy bathroom behaviour? Hey everyone! I'm going to now question the purpose of pauses in modern theatre, starting with Pinter and ending with Dr. Seuss. This will be performed in a large vat of mint and jalepeno Jello.

No flash photography, please.



Head of the Department of "Boooooring"
It'll be my job to sit in on speeches to a general audience in which complex and far-sighted solutions are proposed. The answers will be thoughtful, backed by scholarly research, and overall better for the country, if difficult to understand. Unfortunately, they are being championed by my party's opposition, so I'll yell out "BOOOOORRING" as soon as they get too 'in-depth' and or start to present 'scientific evidence'.

We'll seemed down to earth, and to be bringing some common-sense to those big wigs up on Parliament Hill.

Hopefully I'll be able to parlay this catchphrase into a short-run and universally panned talk show.



Minister of Peppermint
What? I just really like it. It's like a fresh April shower in your mouth!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Names And The People I Imagine They Create

So Mrs. Owl and I are expecting another baby. Don't worry, I don't expect gushings or cigar passing. We are quite happy about it, no need to expect semi-strangers to feel the same way, you heartless succubi.

Anyhoo, we're doing the usual knock-down drag-out bare knuckle fighting that ensues when an otherwise normal couple tries to think of a what to name the baby.

Owlet was relatively easy. It was just a pretty (albeit a somewhat popular) name. No, not Owlet, the name we actually use. In real life. Where there are no links and blog rolls and tags and google adsense.

But this new one, he's going to be a he. Which I'm pretty ambiguous about, I guess. As long as they are healthy, etcetera. On the plus side, I don't have to worry about those hell-spawn boys slavering after another daughter. On the other hand, I have to worry about a child that will most likely think nothing about jumping off the roof of the car onto gravel "because it looked fun". So, pros, cons, whatever.

What follows are the names we've thought of, and some we wish never crossed our minds, and the sort of guy I'd imagine my son would grow up to be if he got the name (my profuse apologies if you have named your son this, or this is in fact your name):

Hank : Hank'll change your tire for ya. He's got some pretty serious opinions about the Boston Red Sox and fly fishing, otherwise, he's just a stand up sort of feller. He doesn't eat cereal unless it's hot, and parlsey is just another word for salad. Meat is either red or chicken.

Enzo : I immediately think of 'speed' when I hear this name. Perhaps because Ferrari's first name was Enzo. Perhaps because Enzo just strikes me as the sort of person who does parkour on the weekends and street luge every month.

Nikko : Nikko joined an Eastern European mafia outfit at the age of 13. He has voluminous chest hair and loves his gold rings. When he breaks knee caps, he doesn't use more force than is necessary and just has a admirable technique.

Stanley : A modern medical miracle, Stanley was born, fully formed, as a 67 year-old, complete with a trusty toolbox and a rocking chair. He doesn't think much about any single issue, relying, instead on tried and true cliches ("You can tell when a politician is lying because his lips are moving", "A only good lawyer is a dead one", "Drill baby, drill.").

Wyatt : I love this name. Mrs. Owl doesn't. This is the name of a guy who likes westerns, does bullriding on the weekend, and has retired from the career of smoke jumper to the more idyllic, slower lifestyle of a firefighter for a large uban metropolis. He drinks only one type of beer, you've never heard of it but it has 23% alcohol and three times the legal hops limit.

Matthias : Does watercolours soley about the large colon. Has a vintage tie-dye collection and only listens to Rush. Finds four-leaf clovers terrifying.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some People Saw The Meltdown Coming, in February.

Sorry for the lame YouTube post, and one not even featuring Terry Tate(!), but this video is really excellent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rough Draft For Coronation Acceptance Speech, Emperor. 3rd Iceberg to the left, Antarctica

Thanks to betaray for the topic suggestion.



Many of you are worried about the regime change. The changes I shall instigate are things that you've all been wanting anyways. Whispering about on the floes, gossiping about during our Egg Sit.

Firstly, no more waddling. It's undignified and makes each of us look like a clumsy waiter with a glandular problem. It's quick steps and sliding on your belly or nothing. Yelling 'whee' while your sliding is not acceptable.

Next, I'm not sure what sort of twisted god made us most adept at water but still made us walk over land to get to our nesting site. I'm having none of it, we're moving to Chile.

Thirdly, well, this is about walking too. Let's just move on.

We are never going to get any respect as long as we mournfully look after our eggs that have rolled away. Any men who lose their eggs, buck up, keep a stiff upper lip. No mugging for the camera. Related to this, we're going to start hunting really big things. None of this flying through the water with the greatest of ease to snag fish of all things.

We're going after big game people. Walruses, crippled sea lions, particularly near-sighted orcas. We'll move up from there. I'm projecting that by Q4 we'll be launching full combined assaults on a grey whales. At least.

We as a people gone through some rough time with credibility. First the heart-warming documentary, then not one, but two animated movies. You don't think the Grizzlies are still feeling it from the Pooh debacle of '67? We all have to pull together, step it up.

Nobody wants to end up like the Pandas.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Halloween


Thanks to Xian Pitt for the photo.
Thanks to gregodactyl for the topic. Not edgy and reeking of whatever the hipster-literary elite take for 'funny', but a solid topic.


It's hard not to get nostalgic about Halloween. Wait, not nostalgic, what's that other thing? Diabetic shock.

Well, ok, and nostalgic.

Halloween is a bloody great holiday. A truly kids holiday. Staying out late in the dark, wearing costumes meant to maximize pedestrian danger, and all to get candy. Remember when it was all the rage to dress as a ninja? Black mask, black top and pants, running around with swords? How did any child make it through that not shot or with a large American auto-maker's logo embossed on their forehead?

And the loot! Those candy corns and related sweets that one ate only at Halloween. The McDonald's coupons for a free cone that you swear that this year, you are sooo going to use. The mini-candy bars that tasted somehow entirely different from just a small bite from a bigger bar. The Holy Grail, the full-sized candy bars given out, invariably, by the rich, childless couple at the end of the street with the impossibly long drive-way, who were always in Europe, and just set out the candy bars on an 'honour system'. You can tell they both neither had children and don't remember the 'Lord of the Flies' power struggles that arise around free candy.

It's also about danger. Superstitions and evil and so forth. Death and skeletons and zombies oh my! The Occult! Some of the more bloodthirsty druids! Witches, but not like the friendly Wiccan down the road with the sleep apnea, chronic fatigue, and adult onset diabetes. Witches as they were meant to be. Hungry for children! Cauldrons!

I get sucked right back into my childhood when Halloween rolls around. The somehow eternally morose Charlie Brown specials with the Great Pumpkin really gets me in the mood. (What was it about smooth jazz in the 80's? It seemed to be everywhere. Mr. Rogers, Peanuts, Safeway. Which for the adults, I guess, made it really modern and cool, but to me as a kid, made me consider 'depressing' a musical genre).

Our neighbourhood had everything that is necessary for a true Americana Halloween. The Neighbour Who Hated Children (possibly beat them or shot at them with some sort of home-made riot gear), the Older Cool Kids Who Owned A Datsun, the Ultra Mean Dog That You Swear You Heard From Your Best Friend's Uncle Ate A Kid a While Back.

Legends.

All things in childhood becomes iconic, totemic, the base from which all other experiences become allegorical to. Cool is only experienced as a mere flutter of how cool it was when The Older Cool Kid With The Datsun took off one side of his walkman for the half-second it took him to look at you with mild recognition and say, 'Hey'. Fear as only a shadow of that insidious, slithering thing that crawled in your belly when you looked up the driveway to the Neighbour Who Hated Children. Greed as a mere whisper of the sensation you got holding an entire pillow case chock-full of enough candy to shut down the pancreases of twelve grown men.

And no holiday will ever be as cool, indulgent and opulent as Halloween. Looking cool in a sick Darth Vader costume, while in constant danger from whatever terrors the neighbourhood provides, to say nothing of the serial killer they say once lived a week and a half in Mr. Henderson's shed; the promise of more and more candy; the almost freedom of running around in the dark with friends.

God, being an adult really sucks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Indie Bands Too Edgey For You

Thanks to katya and cheesoning for the blag topic! What can I say, I lack creativity and iniative.

NOTE: I'm censoring swear words because I don't swear often (if at all) on this blog, and thought it'd be weird just to start dropping the F-bomb like I was in a movie about the Boston mob featuring Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci. 


SkullF**kers
A gregorian chant/ska collective featured primarily in underfunded Hungarian pornos. Their 2003 album, "Hectoring In Bliss" was a major influence for Banksys's "Ironic Stencils That Speak Truth To Power" period.


Diligent B**tards
A British pop band sensation that made it to number 63 in the UK Charts in 1979 with the flowery and chronically cheerful hit 'All's Alright Then, Yeah?'.  Went on to drive the metal-core-jungle-double-beat-death-speed scene in Glasgow. Penned the original theme song for M.A.S.K.


Stabbing Rapiers
Purportedly Johnny Depp's favourite band. From France, features three double bassists, a throat singing Tibetan monk, and a 8-year old girl on spoons. Best described as transient-uber-hip-melodic-under-faal. Starred in two seasons of their own reality series, "Oh No You Din't!", an original series by PBS.


Hammernuts
Norweigian lute band. Plays experimental acoustic ambient retro-disco. Has made an entire career out of protesting various unseasonal algae blooms in south eastern India. Little known fact: they made the sound effects for the Oliphants in Lord of the Rings : The Return Of The King.


Kraag
A solo xylophonist from Argentina. Son of a fishing magnate and is currently on a self-funded -3 year Pan-Asia tour bringing awareness to the perils  of unpasteurized wasabe. Does work as the voice for Eeyore for "Radio Cuba!".


Gipsum Stash
Retired pharmicists whose smooth, acapella stylings have won various Pennsylvania state fairs. They are the voices sampled in Beck's unreleased B-sides compilation "Titillating Xenu Fists The World". Featured in numerous chewing tobacco commercials. All are currently doing time after a massive rohypnol/cotton candy ring was busted in 2006.


Kill Joys
Urban banjo duo which used to be a trio. The third banjoist? An up and coming comedian named  Steve Martin. His attempt in 1986 change the group into an "electric banjo armageddon of sound" was met with not a little chargin from the other two members, a mother and daughter from Reno. They cover the ups and downs of doing circuit board design for medium to large scale corn post-processing plants. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hephaestus Buys a Lava Lamp

Thanks to betaray for the topic.



When you're as ugly as I am, you find it useful to use black lights exclusively in your home. Yes, I know, I hear you thinking, "But surely, Hephaestus, the skill you have to craft wonders of warfare must make utter and shocking hideousness a small price to pay." All I have to say to that is, when the goddess of Love can't hum a tune and shut her eyes long enough to have embarrassing and awkward congress, no gift is enough.

Now, back to black-lights. They aren't black, of course, but calling them deep-violet-and-quite-lovely-lights doesn't sound as badass. I'm the blacksmith to the gods, I need to maintain my level of cool. I am, in your parlance, the kid who did really well in shop.

I've been hearing about it from everyone who's come over (shout out to my homies at the Theseum, wut wut!), that I really need a lava lamp.

It's not like I was expecting something that would upset the 'too-pretty-for-you' Olympus types.
I mean, all I wanted was something that, for once, was as advertised. When I crafted the winged shoes for Hermes, I didn't make brogues and say, "Oh, sorry about that, 'winged' is just what we call wingtips down here in Lemnos."

Sure, I had hopes for something that tamed powers deep within the earth's crust, a golden contraption that bent very magma to its will. But to be honest, I would have been happy with a nice stone bowl and some well lit lava swirling around in it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Hobby To Be Mildy Ashamed Of

I'm a gamer. No, not a rapacious player of Monopoly and Scattergories; not a chess player or someone who plays contract bridge with 67 year-old retired storm-door repairmen with fond memories of Nixon.

I'm the other sort.

There can't be another hobby that garners as much disdain and derision as video-gaming. If I spent my afternoons staring at small pictures printed on non-resusable stickers sold by major governments at OUTRAGEOUS prices, I'd be considered 'bookish'. Not weird. If I whiled away the weekends in the garage with an engineer's cap faithfully re-creating a 100 year old oak from plasticized brocolli and making sure the 6:45 Stony Creek runs on time; people would smile at my sense of child-like wonderment. But if I spend my evenings yelling at 16 year-olds over the internet to "Just cap the goddamn point", or "Do you even know what cover fire means" suddenly I'm puerile and 'need to grow up'.

Er.

There are many ways to think of video-gaming in layman's terms. Or, if you will, lay-grownup's terms.

Some of the more strategic games are like chess. You have a mental picture of chess in your mind? Now imagine that nobody takes turns. Now imagine instead of a rook, pawn, bishop, knight, queen and king, you have about 3 more hierarchies of classes. Try not to imagine the sort of person who would find this entertaining.

For the more bloodthirsty sorts of games, imagine playing darts in teams, and everyone goes at once.

These are helpful analogies, I think. Many of the older generation still think of Pac-Man when they hear video games, or if they are really hip with the times, Doom. The younger generation will probably not have to talk in low tones about their gaming hobbies (apparently 97% of them game), or shrug and look bewildered as other adults discuss sports or reality TV.

And, if I may put forward an odd and wildly unpopular viewpoint, there isn't that much to be ashamed of.

Gaming is still gaming. Whether it's Monopoly or Team Fortress 2, it's still people getting together, forming teams, and trying to beat the other side following some arbitrary rule-set. It's still, I know this is crazy, social. And, if you're not playing online, at least it's still a mentally active hobby. You are engaged, you're thinking, you're trying to frag that goddamn 13-year-old who you swear never ever logs off, don't kids get any exercise these days?

It also fulfills a deep cultural and evolutionary need. Just as TV, movies, and books fill the need for story, gaming fills the need for the tribal activity. Whether that's hunting mastodons across the steppes, digging through rotting logs for grubs, or carrying a pigskin ovoid across painted lines in the astro-turf, humans are pack animals. We evolved working together, towards a common goal . We crave problems to solve and objectives.

And gaming all too well fulfills that need for the nerdier of us. Or if you are part of the youth, fulfills that need for almost all of you.

But, if cornered in a cocktail party, I'm still going to say I go antiquing.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Slogans

I'm alarmingly adept at slogans. 

Lemme rephrase. 

I'm alarming adept at slogans that no company would use. 

Slogans are like the poetry of humour. Short, fast, and whoever takes it seriously insists there's much more craft in it than say, writing a 1200 page historical fiction novel about physics, the financial derivatives market, and the rise and fall of Cromwell. 

Er, but I guess that analogy falls apart, because at one end, they're paid quite well, and at the other end, the poor sods end up paying other people to publish it. Or read it, for that matter. On the other OTHER hand, there are no Nobel prizes for slogans.  

Here are some slogans I made on the spot for a fictious tech company:

Meganaut Corporation : almost completely unfraudulent
Meganaut Corporation : lawsuits pending and unfounded.
Meganaut Corporation : what, it's 'high tech'.
Meganaut Corporation : it's impressive because we make our own acronyms.
Meganaut Corporation : tell your friends!
Meganaut Corporation : most of our shit is almost ready for production.
Meganaut Corporation : settling out of court since 1973.
Meganaut Corporation : doesn't support child labour (for certain values of 'child')
Meganaut Corporation : sure, let's just call it a dongle.
Meganaut Corporation : supplying small militias and puppet state dictators for over 30 years.
Meganaut Corporation : so eerily above board we have no need for our interrogation room.
Meganaut Corporation : we put the ethics back in 'definitely not insider trading'.
Meganaut Corporation : almost better than getting cockpunched by an ex-boxer holding a roll of quarters and taste for the sauce.



And a few for company's that are less fictious:

Republicans : Yes, we're evil, but hey, lower taxes!

Democrats : Sometimes we hem, sometimes we haw.

Libertarians : We are mostly right about some things, horridly wrong about others, but have more smugness than an Apple Convention.

Microsoft : Evil, ubiquitious, and not crashing nearly as much as we used to.

Apple : We wrap old ideas in clean lines and minimal design and charge your first-born for it.

Nike : We need their tiny hands for the fiddly bits.

Ford : Quality Schmality, It's AMERICAN!

Wal Mart : Gutting Small Town America Has Never Saved You More!

Starbucks : Coffee for the price of a reasonable lunch.

Rolex : Ostentatious.

DeBeers : Conflict diamond  means more drama.

Volkswagen : Shocking Decline In Quality

Carlyle Group : We do some evil stuff, but it's too complicated to worry about.

Enron : Trust us.

Phillip Morris : A family of nicotine delivery systems.

Monsanto : We control what you eat, and why you eat it.

Blackwater : Mercenaries For Hire, kinda like the A-Team.

Union Carbide : It's not our fault natural selection works so slow.

Pfizer : You want a cure to cancer or vigorous coitus into your 80's? Yeah, we thought so.