Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year’s Resolutions for 2012


Let me propose something radical.  Sure, we know that the ancient Mayans had an advanced civilization.  They survived the Spanish Conquistadores.  They had psychic powers far greater than any seen today.  Their knowledge of herbal medicine allowed them to cure diseases from the common cold to advanced forms of cancer.  They had rocket cars.  They colonized Mars.  They invented a machine that would have stopped George Lucas from creating the Star Wars prequels.

The Movie Doctor: Sky High


In my continuing tradition of dredging up old movies that have been bugging me for years, I present to you a new installment of the Movie Doctor.  In these segments, I talk about a movie that I think I would have done a great job if they had hired me on as a movie doctor to massage the script.  Since they didn’t, their movie is destined to be remembered as “not as great as it good have been if they had hired Matthew to help out.”

As always, these are spoiler-heavy.  What else did you expect from an HMO?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fun with Freecycle: Curtain


Behold, the world’s greatest invention: the curtain with tension rod!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Et Tu Disney?



I used to have a great deal of respect for Walt Disney.  Sure, the man was an egotist who insisted that the company change its name from Disney Brothers Studio to Walt Disney Studio.  Sure, he strong-armed P.L. Travers, adding an anti-feminist message to the end of Mary Poppins.  Sure, he created sanitized, bland versions of fairy tales to the world.

No, wait, that's the wrong sleeping beauty.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Annual Christmas Tradition


This year, I am spending my Christmas Day the same way I do every year.  It is a tradition that I have taken part in for over a decade, ever since I worked at Oracle Corporation.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heating and Air Conditioning, Part 5


I have discovered a vast conspiracy.  This conspiracy has infiltrated all levels of government, not only at the state, federal, and city level, but also the National Park Service, and the people who make Duraflame logs.

You heard that  right, bitches: Duraflame is in on it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Generic Alternatives

When I was a kid, someone invented the idea of Generic Food.  Generic was a cheaper, frequently more disgusting, copy of a name-brand product.

I only assume generic was cheaper to make because they saved money on label ink.
Generic became very popular.  My home town even had a generic bus.  Then, one day, generic disappeared.  I was puzzled by its absence, then realized what happened.  They didn't go away; they just got sneakier.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Comcast Doesn't Suck?

After the events of Friday's post, I didn't expect much from Comcast.  If you didn't want to read my last post but want to understand my experience, follow these steps:
  1. Call Comcast and ask them to take away their old cables.
  2. When they don't come by, call them back and ask again.
  3. Repeat for nearly a year.
Sure, there were some exciting moments, like when Comcast told me they were coming and then didn't, but mostly my experience stuck to the above script.  Anyway, out of frustration, I emailed the head of Northern California public relations and posted to my blog an appeal for both my readers to do the same.

Well, Comcast retaliated.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Comcast Sucks

What should I write about today?

Silliest pic I could find of him.
The passing of Christopher Hitchens?

Hm.  While I have never read any of his works and only have a peripheral idea of who he was, I know he was a great man because he pissed so many people off.

Nah, not narcissistic enough.  You two come to this blog to learn more about me, not some old guy with cancer.

"Daddy, I don't feel well."
 My son’s stomach flu?

While it was certainly harrowing for me to have to change the sheets five times last night (not to mention brushing his teeth, bathing him, and dealing with his other symptoms that kept me from sleeping), the details of it was a little gross.
Wrenching my back?

My actual x-ray.  Note the presence of radioactive particles in my spine.
Meh, not interested in physical humor today.

Comcast technical support being punk-ass bitches (whatever “punk-ass bitches” means).

"Give me a subscription service with frickin' lasers on it!"
 Oh, yeah.  BINGO.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sigma Phi Epsilon


Like all both of my readership, I was shocked to hear about the survey the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity sent to its members.  According to this news article, the survey included the question: “If you could rape someone, who would it be?”

First of all, it’s "whom would it be?"

Second, the question wasn’t nearly as shocking as what the recipients of the survey answered.  It turns out that the frat (who has an impressive set of alumni) has been giving out the survey to members for decades, although they only recently changed the word to “rape” from “screw over.”

The police seized the giant trove of completed surveys and read some of the answers at a press conference.  Here’s a sampling:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time to Put This to Rest



Point being, real heroines aren't defined by their relationships with men.

Unnatural


Parker Kay accused stood before the judge, with thick chains hanging between his wrists and neck.  Behind him, the crowd in the gallery jeered and laughed, waiting for justice to come crashing down on him.

“Mr. Kay,” the judge intoned, “you have been found guilty of inventing an unnatural, processed food product.  Furthermore, you introduced said food product onto an unsuspecting public without warning them of the dangers.  Uncounted numbers of men, women, and children have been stricken with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, infertility, depression and obesity because of your actions.  Do you have anything to say before I pass judgment?”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reindeer Rentals


Yesterday, I went to the California Academy of Sciences for the first time.  As I wandered around with my children, I thought it seemed like a standard, well-rounded science museum with the obligatory IMAX theater, displays on global warming, fishtank with a guy in a SCUBA suit answering questions, and corral of reindeer.

Yeah, you read that right, they had reindeer in a corral in back.  As I walked up to ask what reindeer were doing in a science museum, I noticed the woman answering questions (while showing off a reindeer antler) wore a jacket that said “California Reindeer Rentals.”  She wasn’t with the museum, she was a reindeer specialist brought in for the occasion.  There are in fact, reindeer professionals.  You can rent reindeer.

Sensing a blog post, I began to ask questions.

Friday, December 9, 2011

War On Christmas

The War on Christmas is very real.  It takes place in our schools, our homes, and our shopping malls.  I know this, because I am a foot soldier in the war.  It is my mission in life to bring Christmas down.

I.  Hate. Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Search Terms 3


It’s time once again to look at the few meager search terms that people use to get to my site.  When I look at these terms I try to figure out if I can use them to change my site into something that gets more hits.

So, here’s what I got:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why She's Hot

I thought I'd settle this once and for all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Heating and Air Conditioning, Part 2



I’m currently writing this from the toilet, which I made the mistake of sitting on earlier today.  Hopefully, the sun will eventually warm the house up enough to unfreeze me from the seat.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Heating and Air Conditioning, Part 1


There are a number of problems with buying a house.  Since the housing crisis, mortgages are insanely hard to get, it’s hard to get down payments together, and (if you live in California) Prop 13 will kill you with property taxes.  The worst thing about owning a house is that you are responsible for fixing everything that breaks.

My house breaks a lot.
There were only sixteen other bids!
On Saturday, between fixing the dishwasher, the kitchen drawer handles, the vacuum cleaner, and the bed (as well as scheduling my sons’ swimming and Mandarin classes, playdates, and doing everything else parents do) I noticed the furnace hadn’t turned on in a while.  I checked the thermostat, which said it was telling the heat to turn on but the furnace was refusing to comply.
My next thermostat.  "Raise the heat; you have fifteen seconds to comply."
I walked over to the furnace and checked it out.  Ten minutes later I realized I had no idea what I was looking for.  I called our contractor who took time out of his busy schedule of counting the money I paid him and sent over his friend who worked in heating and air conditioning.

First, he opened up the filters and explained that I had three filters for the furnace and I should have only had one.  Then he showed me the disturbingly thick mat of gunk that covered up the first filters.
“That’s your problem,” he said, “there’s several years of dust built up in there.”

I looked more closely at the gunk, not believing we could have had that much dust in the three years we had been there.  Then I noticed the composition of the dust.

It was all cat hair.  In one year, our two fuzzy cats had choked the furnace to death.  I considered returning the favor.
I don't care if my wife thinks you're "fuzzy wuzzy woo woo!"  You cost me three thousand dollars!
Once the filter was removed, the furnace kicked back in again, and he checked it out with his flashlight.  He was impressed that it had lasted so long (it had been installed in the mid-70s) and then whistled.  He pointed at some long brown lines in the back of the furnace.

They were cracks.  The furnace had been pumping carbon monoxide into the house.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “Legally, I can’t just leave this thing on.”

Then he reached up and turned a handle.  Our furnace died one final time.

TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fun With Freecycle: Knives


You might be wondering why these knives are sitting in my front yard.  I found them there this morning.  Once again, they made a run for it, and I had just managed to grab them before they got to the street to hitchhike.  When I picked them up, they made it very clear that they wanted to find a new home.

Then they stabbed me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Taking Kids to Dinner



Normally, I don’t do product endorsements.  It’s not that I have anything against being paid for doing ads.  It’s just that I’d need more than a thousand-fold increase in readership before I got one.

(By the way, if any of you have 49,955 friends, feel free to send them here.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Five Million People You Meet in Limbo

Imagine this for a moment.

You’ve just been killed.  Maybe you were hit by a drunk driver, or stabbed by a mugger, or sick from food poisoning.  It’s up to you what the cause was, the point is that you’re in Limbo waiting to find out if you’ll end up in Heaven or Hell.

Someone appears out of the mists and approaches you asking for forgiveness. It’s your killer.  Maybe he’s the man who shot you for drug money.  Maybe she’s the chef who didn’t wash her hands properly before preparing your meal.  Maybe it’s a group of terrorists who poisoned the aspirin you bought.

The point is, your killer can’t enter Heaven without your forgiveness.  After all, how fair would it be for the two of you to spend eternity together?  Whatever choice you make, it’s final and eternal.  When you decide to pardon or condemn, your killer or killers disappear.

The mists clear and someone else is standing in front of you, someone you killed.  Maybe it’s someone you killed on purpose, but more likely it was an accident you weren’t even aware of.  It could be a man who died in the street after you evicted him from his home, or a child who got sick from a toy your company manufactured.  Whoever it is, you have to ask that person for forgiveness if you don’t want to spend eternity in Hell.

Maybe it goes well, and they accept it was an accident.  Maybe they forgive you, even though you killed them on purpose, tortured them, spat in their faces.  That person smiles and turns away from you, and you realize there’s someone else waiting for a turn with you.

It’s another victim.  There’s a line of victims.  There’s a long line of people stretching farther than you can imagine.  Everyone who died as a result of something you did or something that was done for you is waiting to judge you.

Halfway through that impossibly long line, it’s not people any more.  Every deer you shot while hunting, every snail you stepped on in the night, every weed you sprayed with pesticide, every microbe that passed through your lungs: they’re all waiting for you.  Each one has the same question: “Why couldn’t you let me live?  Why was my life so odious to you that you couldn’t have spared me?”

Sometimes you can say it was an accident, or that you needed to kill them to survive.  Sometimes you had a good reason.  Most of the time, you don’t.

Think about it when you are about to scrape a shrimp off your plate and into the garbage.  Think about it when you are about to yank a flower out of the ground because it was starting to wilt.  Think about it when you squish a spider.

Just think about it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anti-OWS Campaign

Recently, I read an article about how a Wall Street lobbying group plans on spending $850,000 to undermine the influence of Occupy Wall Street.  Some reporter managed to get a leaked memo from this lobbying group that talks about strategy and the fact that they might need to pay for advertising to help their efforts.

Now, I'm a staunch Democrat/progressive and support OWS, but I like money even more.  In hopes that I might get some of that advertising cash, I put together a potential ad campaign.  Any lobbyists want to buy it?  Anyone? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dragonriders of Pern: The Screenplay

Dragonflight Screenplay
Anne McCaffrey died one week ago today.  Her death passed most major media outlets because she was a science fiction novelist whose works hadn't even been turned into movies yet.
And because she wasn't a teenybopper.
More on that in a moment.

McCaffrey is best known for her twenty-two Dragonriders of Pern novels, which I started reading back in 2004.  My father had been a fan of the books, and I had heard a few of them on tape, so I had been curious.  I went to the library and found the first book: Dragonflight.

I got hooked on the prologue, which described how the native fauna of one world found a way to attack the people on the other, and how dragons had been developed.  Having recently completed a screenwriting class, I immediately saw how the book could be made into a movie.

Of course, I had to make some changes.  Many of the characters needed to be fleshed out.  Some of the plot threads had to be dropped and others elaborated.  Anne had changed how a few things worked over the course of the books, and I had to pick which versions I liked best.  When I didn't have all the information I needed to finish the screenplay, I read the other books and scoured the web.
Someone even made MAPS!
It was the most fun I had ever had as a writer, perhaps because I knew what I was working on was good.  When I was done, I called up the publisher and asked for the rights.  Someone had not only taken the rights to Dragonflight, but to the whole series (which they offered to sell me when the rights expired).

Crushed, I stuck the screenplay in a corner of my hard drive and tried to forget about it.  Every time I heard rumors they were working on a television show or a movie, I sighed and hoped I'd find an excuse to bring out my screenplay to show the world.

Heck with it all.  Anne is dead.  Here it is.


Friday, November 25, 2011

What I Am Thankful For

Like many families, one of our Thanksgiving traditions is naming something we are thankful for at the dinner table.  My wife always used to say “I’m thankful that farts aren’t blue,” which I think more people ought to think about.  In addition to invisible farts, I am also thankful for:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wink's Big Island

I’m back!

Who Discovered Hawaii?

I’m afraid Wink De Bivouac won’t be available to help me with today’s blog post, as he’s tied up.  He’s also gagged.  Then, I pinned him down with a small boulder.

Still, the show must go on and today I’m going to cover a discovery I made yesterday.  It’s pretty mind blowing.  No, really.  You know how the Book of Mormon proves that Jesus Christ came to North America after his crucifixion and preached to the Native Americans?  This is even more mind blowing than that.

Ready?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bikinis


Today, we’re going to talk about the bikini!  Everyone in Hawaii wears a bikini! Bikinis are awesome!  Everyone should wear bikinis.  Everyone!

The bikini was invented by the French during World War I when they decided to make people LOOK FABULOUS!  The Nazis surrendered right away so the French would sell them bikinis of their own.

Did you know they make bikinis for toddlers?  And old people!  And men!  And-

Dear God, what are you wearing?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Luau


For a few days, I’m going to be writing about my vacation to the Hawaiian islands.  I always hate reading about people having a great time on vacation, so I’m only going to talk about the bad parts.  My wife said that would be too depressing, so I got a guest writer (Wink De Bivouac) to “punch things up.”

I’m going to write it all on my manual typewriter, because old things are always better!

Er, right.  Anyway, today I’m going to cover the luau.  Luaus always seemed like something people made up to appease the tourism gods.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Vacation Report 1

I'm going to be away on vacation next week.  I was thinking about how I was going to write about my vacation and then I realized how miserable it would make you if I did.  Nobody likes hearing about how great other people's vacations are.  We just like hearing about how miserable they turned out, because it makes us feel better about not going ourselves.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Am Smarter Than Heinlein 2

Yesterday's post was satisfyingly controversial, so I've decided to continue on with part two.

The problem is, the list ("What a human being should know") from yesterday was meant to be short and, mostly, silly.  After some thought I realized there needed to be a few more items.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Am Smarter Than Heinlein


A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Loyalty


I am a living being.

I am a human being.

I am an American.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Buttocks Alert System


You’re probably wondering why, after years of posting pictures of hot women, that I put up a picture of my own behind.  I recently found out that my behind has a useful purpose, other than as a backup bottle opener.

Friday, November 11, 2011

RIP Bill Keane

"Mom!  Some reporter just called and said we don't have to be cutsey and annoying anymore!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tailchaser’s Song


I can’t let things go.  Some event happens to me and, decades later, I’m still hung up on it.  I’m also obsessed with my inactions.  My Netflix queue is almost four hundred movies long because it’s filled with all the movies I never saw.  It would be longer, but I must have forgotten about some of them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Tattoos


I’ve always looked down on tattoos with a degree of contempt.  Tattoos never looked good to me.  In most cases, I thought they made people look worse, like breast implants.
Lady, I'm not imagining you naked.  I'm imagining putting a tarp over you.
I can’t tell you why I started wanting them.  Maybe it’s my mid-life crisis; if I can’t have a young blonde and a convertible, I’ll get a tattoo.  Maybe I banged my head; I get whacked by my kids often enough.  Maybe I saw pictures of glow in the dark tattoos.
It's a fish caught near Fukushima.
Whatever the case, I started having an odd desire to get a tattoo.  There were only two big questions:

Question One: Where do I put it?
Most people don’t have too much problem with location.  They have their whole bodies.  Me, I look like this naked.
Waiting for my turn in the shower.  I made a bandolier to hold soap.
The only places on my body that aren’t completely covered with hair are my wrists and the back of my neck (and, I assume, my anus, but I can’t get a good look back there to check).  It really limits my choices.

Question Two: What should I get?
If you can’t think of how to permanently alter your body, you shouldn’t do it.  Think back to what you were into twenty years ago.  If you got that as a tattoo, would you be happy with it now?
This is what I would have gotten twenty years ago.  Seriously.
I went through a bunch of ideas in my head.

First, I thought I might get a microchip tattoo.  I saw someone who had a cool one, once, that went around his bicep.  I couldn’t think of a good place to put mine.
Although it would be useful if I owned a Buick.
Second, I thought about a bar code on the back of my neck.  That would be really cool if I could scan myself at a store.  But what if the store tried to charge me for myself?  What if I couldn’t afford me?  What if I GOT MARKED DOWN?!

Then I saw the Chinese character for “human being.”  Because, you know, if someone in China ever doubted I was a human being, I could just swing around and point at my neck and yell “Oh, yeah, buddy?  What about this!”
"Sir, that's a picture of a wishbone."
Problem is, I don’t speak Mandarin.  I tried to learn Mandarin, but stopped when I learned the words for mouth.  That’s right, I said “words.”  There’s three words for mouth in Chinese: ko, zwei ba, and ba.  MAKE UP YOUR MIND!

Then, out of the blue, I thought about getting a mystic symbol like a wizard might have.  If I was going to get a mystic symbol, I’d get one for “irresistible to women.”  Turns out they don’t have one for that.  Then I looked for “power.”  Turns out they don’t have one for that either, but I came across the modern one.
Or, it could be a hot dog seen from one end.
And then I remembered how much I always liked the symbol for ground.  In physics, you learn that the earth has a practically infinite neutral charge.  Any charge that touches ground, no matter how powerful or what polarity, goes away.
Not exactly as I remembered it.
And, if you’re going to have mystic powers, you want them to go out your hands.
I held the pen just for contrast.
It's for contrast!  I really got tattoos!
 Well, I'm not sure what I thought that would accomplish.
Oh, now I remember.