Friday, April 29, 2011

Yet Another Shoe

I got this in my email this morning.  At first I was thinking “Wow!  Someone reads my blog.”  Then I realized “It’s the same guy who turned me in the last two times.”  I don’t know which of the two of you went all narc on me, but I have a hard time believing it’s my mom.  Or my wife.  Hm, do I have a third reader?  Hey, this is good news!

On the other hand, I need to meet with my lawyer (Hi Peter!) again.  Nice to know I can put his kids through college.

Dear Mr. Kogle: [sic]

It has recently come to our attention that you have posted material on your website “I’m Funny” [sic] in violation of our copyrighted material (eg. The Peanuts Gang).  Moreover, you have claimed that you did so with full permission from our organization.  This material infringes the rights of the Charles M. Schultz estate under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and makes you liable for statutory damages as high as $250,000 for each violation of our copyright.

We demand that you immediately make the following changes:

1. Immediately retract the claim that you have been authorized by the estate of Charles M. Schultz.  The only organizations with such authorization are upstanding pillars of the community, such as Met Life, Burger King, and Playboy Inc.

2. Replace references to Schroeder dying in the bathroom of a Starbucks.  Our contractual agreements (see above) require he dies in the bathroom of a Burger King.

3. Add material to cover the endings of the rest of the Peanuts Gang, especially Franklin.  Perhaps Franklin could be a hip-hop artist, or a gangsta.  In any case, people of color must be more fully represented.

It gets a little odd from there.  It seems they’d rather Lucy became a dominatrix than the president and they want a full story behind Pig Pen’s attempts to work at the FDA.  I’ll post more news as I get the legal process underway.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peanuts Today

I was a fan of Peanuts comics as a child, but as I grew up, became slowly more and more disappointed.  The comic just went on too long.  What I really wanted was for Peanuts to end and give me closure.  Eventually, it did end when Charles Schultz started to die, and he gave us a final strip.  It wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Okay, yeah, it was sad and sweet, but I wanted to know what happened to the gang when they grew up.  I wanted to see them as adults and find out how their lives turned out.

Well, I contacted the estate of Charles Shultz they authorized me go ahead and write a better ending.

Schroeder was the musically inclined kid who was obsessed with Beethoven.  He spent almost every waking hour playing a toy piano.

Schroeder Today
A musical genius, Schroeder attended a conservatory, quickly decided he knew more than his professors, and dropped out to start his own band. In spite of his obvious talent, few crowds came to hear his “heavy thrash classical” music. He became addicted to caffeine and eventually died of an overdose in a Starbucks bathroom.

Peppermint Patty and Marcie

Peppermint Patty was a bossy girl who seemed to have a crush on Charlie Brown (whom she called “Chuck”).  Marcy was Patty’s best friend (whom she called “Sir”).  Patty and Marcie had an odd relationship that seemed a bit… lesbian.  You can guess how they turned out.

Peppermint Patty and Marcie Today
Peppermint Patty graduated from high school with a GED and married a man who owned a chain of restaurants on the east coast. They have three kids Patty quit her job to raise.

Marcie joined the Navy after college and eventually became a neurologist in Connecticut. She married a cardiac surgeon but didn’t have any kids.

Lucy was the bossy, mean girl who taunted Charlie Brown and gave misinformation to her smarter brother Linus.

Lucy Today
President of the United States.


Linus was the nerdy, smart kid who knew everything yet was completely credulous to anything his big sister said.  He always carried along a security blanket at all times.

Linus Today
After his six hundredth beating in high school, he went on a shooting rampage, killing six, before hanging himself by his blanket in the cafeteria.


Snoopy was Charlie Brown’s dog.  He had a strong imagination and a bird friend named Woodstock.

Snoopy Today
Oh, come on!  How long do you think dogs live?

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown was the lovable loser who was inexplicably bald.  Much like Chaplin’s Little Tramp, you felt sorry for him and the terrible things that happened to him.  Only Charlie Brown would end up with a bag of rocks on Halloween.

Charlie Brown Today
This was a tough one to write.  What would happen to a kid who was obviously smart, but so hated that parents (parents!) actually got rocks to give him on Halloween?  What would become of a brilliant child after a lifetime of derision and oppression?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If I Could Draw: Collaboration House

The great thing about not being able to draw is that you don't get upset when your artwork is...  Well, I was going to say "destroyed," but I think "collaborated" is closer to what I was thinking.  Hm.  No, still not quite right.  How about: "Collaborated all over."  Yeah, that's better.  If you can't draw, you don't get mad when someone collaborates all over your work.

This was an attempt to paint a house while my son collaborated on it.  It doesn't bother me much at all that my work is so collaborated.  Certainly, it bothers me more when he collaborates on my laptop with his crayons.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Inappropriate for Children

It’s almost May, and you’re running out of time to do that thing you’ve been putting off.  You know what I mean: your child’s Halloween costume.  I’m not going to tell you what costume to pick, because I know you’re all going to make a costume this year.  You’re not going to be that one, pathetic loser who buys some cheap piece of plastic crap.  No, not you.  You’re better than that.
However, I am going to tell you the costumes not to make your child.  Before you put all that time and effort into making a costume, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of building one of these examples of bad taste:

 Okay, okay, I’m kidding.  Only white supremacists, morons, and members of the British royal family would dress a kid this way.  Now that I know you’re paying attention…

Darth Vader
Ha!  I’m kidding again.  Even I dressed as Vader once (in the late seventies).  Nothing wrong with being a fictional bad guy once in a while.  Heck, if a Dracula costume is okay, why not Darth Vader.  I mean, sure, Vader killed a few billion people on that planet, plus that school full of kids, and there’s that guy he strangled, and those admirals who pissed him off and his own wife and all the Jedi and…  But, yeah, Dracula was bad, too!  I mean he killed Renfield (in self-defense) and one of Lucy’s suitors (in self-defense) and…  Hm, only two.  Come to think of it, other than Vader, are there any other mass murderers kids dress up as?  Me neither.  Yeah, don’t let them be Darth Vader.

 Maybe you didn’t know this, but pirates used to kill people.  They got these ships and went to sea and attacked other ships.  They stole, killed, raped, and kidnapped.  I suppose some of them were silly and constantly drunk like Johnny Depp’s character (Didn’t you know Jack Sparrow is always drunk?  Why else would he constantly slur his words and twitch uncontrollably?), but most of them were total bastards.

Contrary to popular belief and popular movies, Spartans were the some of the worst monsters in human history.  Sure, they were badass fighters, but they had to be that way because three quarters of their population were slaves and kept trying to win their freedom.  Instead of, I don’t know, setting them free, they instituted this system where male children were raised (and molested) by old soldiers to be ultimate fighting machines.   Young Spartan men, as a rite of passage, would go on killing sprees where they would murder every slave they came across with their bare hands.

Any Republican
See “Spartans,” above.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bad Children’s Book Reviews: Ready Freddie

When you’re driving in a car for a long time with children, your mind turns to thoughts of suicide.  The problem is that children’s music has been shown to induce suicidal tendencies.  Of course, you can play books on CD, but there are problems with that solution as well, mainly that you have to listen to the books, too.
Recently, we’ve been listening to the Ready Freddy series.  They’re about a first grader named Freddy Thresher and his classmates and family.  My son really likes these books, and I’ve read/heard them over and over again.  On the surface, there’s nothing that bad about them; they seem well-aimed at children, but after a while, you see a great danger to children: stereotypes.

Below is the most detailed description of the personalities of many of the principal characters:
  • Freddy - Scared
  • Mom – Overprotective
  • Dad – Ineffective
  • Sister –Annoying
  • Max – Bully
  • Chloe – Priss
Notice anything?  Yeah, they’re all have one-word personalities (and I honestly couldn't come up with anything more than that).  Since these are kid’s books, one-dimensional characters aren’t all that bad.  However, I didn’t list all of the characters, only the Caucasian characters.  Here’s the African American:
  • Robbie – Brain
Nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with having a smart, African American character at all.  Here’s the Mexican American:
  • Jessie – Mexican
No, seriously, that’s her entire personality.  This is what freaks me out.  She throws in random words from high school Spanish for no reason other than to translate them.  She introduces Freddy to tamales and guacamole, which of course he’s never heard of before and completely adores.  What does this do to a child’s expectation of a minority group?  Are they going to think that anyone of Mexican descent lives in a Chevy’s?

And why are the minority characters (and the teacher) perfect?  I mean, they never do a single thing wrong or annoying.  They're incredibly helpful and sensitive.  Hm.  Okay, with the Caucasians I know, that might not be all that off.

Oh, and speaking of the teacher.  Here’s her personality trait:
  • Ms. Wushy – Stupid name

Friday, April 22, 2011

DBIM: Mars Attacks!

I've never liked Tim Burton movies.  I've always tried, but they all seem devoid of...  What's the word?  Oh, yeah, plot.  And characters.  And emotion.  Ever since Batman, I've tried to appease all my fanboy/girl friends who think he's a genius and by watching his films, but I've always been disappointed.

Severity: 3 (2 deaths, played for humor, -1 mitigating, +1 aggravating)
Genre: Movie
Date: 1996
Description: The evil aliens are terrified of birds. In one scene they shoot one out of the sky and in another they kill one in a cage.
Mitigating Factors: The movie is pretty gruesome to non-birds too.  They kill a dog, in one scene and, heck, almost everyone else on the planet.
Aggravating Factors: The birds are fried into skeletons.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I Could Draw: Monster at a Theme Park

I told my son that, when you draw a monster, if you make a mistake, nobody will notice.  My other son told me he wanted the monster to have a train on his head.  I imagine that this monster went to a train-based theme park and bought a souvenir.  As I said to my children, the only thing scarier than a monster coming at you is a monster with a silly hat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Screenplay Excerpt

[I was going to write this as part of a movie, but just realized it wouldn’t work.  There really isn’t much point to this scene; it’s just a long lecture that I made up.  I still like it, though.]

Allison: Young founder of a chip fabrication company.  She has recently decided she wants a family, but doesn’t have a lot of time to meet people, so she’s going on (disastrous) blind dates.

Brent: Allison’s personal assistant and takes care of her non-work scheduling, makes her dinner, buys groceries, does her hair and make-up etc.

Allison is sitting in a chair in front of the mirror in her bedroom while Brent fixes her make-up and hair for her date.  She’s nervous.

Brent: Now remember, men fall in love with two kinds of women: those who are pretty and those who are-

Allison: Smart.

Brent: No.

Allison: Funny.

Brent: No.

Allison: Successful?

Brent: God, no.

Allison: Ummmm.

Brent: Can I finish?

She nods.

Brent: Men fall in love with two kinds of women: those who are pretty and those who are good in bed.

Allison: You’re kidding.

Brent: Nope.

Allison: That’s terrible!

Brent: No it isn’t.

Allison: Men are pigs.

Brent: No we’re not.

Allison just stares at him through the mirror.  Brent sighs and stops messing with her hair for a moment.

Brent: You can’t be pretty unless you’re healthy: nice hair, clear eyes, good skin.  Healthy women have healthy babies.  You can’t be good in bed unless you’re fun.  You have to be adventurous, comfortable, and experienced.  Women who are good in bed are great best friends.

Allison: So, men want families or friends?

Brent goes back to fixing her hair.

Allison: Why didn’t you just say “mother or buddy?”

Brent: Because men don’t know that’s what they want; it’s a genetic imperative.  It’s like a big “kick me” sign tattooed on our backs.  You have to pretend you don’t see it.

Allison: I’d like to kick someone.

Doorbell rings.

Brent: Your kickee awaits!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


A couple of nights ago I had this dream.  I was visiting a friend I had met through Las Madres.  Like a lot of women I met there, she didn’t work.  Her husband ran a business.  They were uncomfortably rich.

In the dream, she showed me the gigantic house she had built and, like many of the women in her situation, was unhappy with.  She had decided her palatial mansion was just too small.

“There’s never enough room for my family when they come to visit,” she said, leading me outside.

Out back, they were building a small hotel on to her house.  No, seriously, it was a hotel.  She was even having them install a Comfort Inn sign.

I woke up.  I went back to sleep.

I dreamed I was a convict who had just been released from a rehabilitation facility up on a hill.  They took him to a small, idyllic town that had embraced an agrarian lifestyle: large grassy fields, no cars, quaint 60s shops.  I had no memory of my crime or my imprisonment and that frustrated me; it frustrated me so much I couldn’t fit in.

Finally, I snuck out of town and went back to the place on the hill.  It was deserted, with a few empty buildings that looked just like those in the town.  When I found nothing in the buildings, I went over to the other side of the hill.

Only, there was no other side of the hill.

Everything, as far as I could see, was fire and lava and burnt rock.  The entire world had been reduced to a flaming wreck and all that was left was a tiny island of grass in the middle of a sea of hell.  The world was dead, and the people in town were all that was left.

I woke up.  I stayed up.
Like that, minus the futuristic cities.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Last Trip to the Dentist

Here we go again.

I finally got my gold filling in.  It took two weeks for them to make.  With gold, they have to send the impression of your tooth out to a jewelry store (but it comes with matching earrings).  Most people get white or silver fillings nowadays, but my dentist insists that gold is better.  He says gold lasts longer or wears better or makes it easier for him to pay his mortgage or something.  I can’t remember.
"And this is what paleontologists will see when they dig you up in a thousand years!"
The procedure was needle-less, which was nice.  And my temporary filling had broken AGAIN, so it wasn’t hard to get out.  The only discomfort was when he had to dry the hole in my tooth by blowing air at it.  Yowie!  I guess having a lot of saliva is a bad thing, but the ladies never complained.  Okay, ew, sorry I made that joke.

Anyway, here’s the new tooth in place.
I wanted a sillier picture, but the dentist wanted to show off his handiwork.

And here’s what I look like with it in.
In other news, I look like Will Smith.

And here’s my dentist’s card.  It has floss built right in!
If they could fit it with piano wire, James Bond would love it.
If you choose to use his services, there’s a secret contest.  Count how many times he says “I’m putting on a little vitamin E.”  If you get to five times, he’ll give you a free whitening!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fun With Freecycle: Ironing Board/Pretty Table

I’d like to give away my ironing board to someone who…  I don’t know… Irons?  Right now we iron our clothes every other presidential administration.  When we do iron, we do it on the bed, or the carpet, or the back of a misbehaving child.

This is your standard ironing board with a flower print cover.  It squeaks when you open it up and, to collapse it, you have to pull this metal rod doohickey.  Sometimes you really have to mess with the metal rod doohickey a lot.  Still, it works well enough.

(And, yes, “metal rod doohickey” is the real term for it.  I wrote a Wikipedia page just to make it official.)

The only problem with the ironing board is that my children have grown attached to it.  I can’t tell you why, it just sits in the corner of the garage, but they get upset every time I try to get rid of it.

“Don’t get rid of the pretty table!” they cry.

(It’s not all that pretty, unless you really like two-color prints of flowers.)

So we may have to transfer the ironing board to your possession through dead drops, assumed identities, and under the cover of a moonless night.  When it’s over, I’ll tell my children you took the pretty table to a “bad place” because it wouldn’t eat its vegetables and kept screaming in the house.

You may have to agree to let my children call you in the middle of the night to “talk to the pretty table” and “make sure it’s okay.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DBIM: Lost (Episode 14): Special

Severity: 2
Genre: Television
Date: 2001

Description: Walt, a kid with psychic powers, gets angry and causes a bird to fly into his window and die.  In some of the web-only content, we see he's summoned (and killed) more birds, for no readily apparent reason.

Mitigating Factors: It's a pretty violent show.  In one part, a character shoots and kills a polar bear.  However, that's a clue about what's going on in the show.  The bird doesn't seem to have any purpose other than to die.  So, I'm not deducting points.

Aggravating Factors: I'm not thrilled about the ending of the series, but other than that, none.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Last Glen Beck Show

Believe it or not, I have a friend who works on the Glen Beck show.  We met in Atlanta in the late 90s when I was going to E3 and he was giving tours at CNN.  I was hoping to work in games; he wanted to break into television.  We exchanged cards and kept in touch over the years.  When I stayed at home to raise kids, he was mortified.  When he started as an Production Assistant at Beck’s show, I was, too. 

We argued a lot over the years; he told me I was giving up a chance at my career, and I told him he was hurting the country with rhetoric.  Over all that time, he kept insisting that Beck was a consummate professional and, if I watched the show regularly, I’d see something amazing.  I didn’t watch the show, but my friend (yeah, I’m keeping him anonymous) showed me something amazing.

It seems Beck taped the last segment for his last show in advance.  Nobody knows when it will air, and Beck is keeping the tape hidden, but my friend saw it for a moment (there was some problem with the audio).  It blew his mind.  He signed a contract to keep this kind of thing secret, but he had to tell someone and everyone else he knows is in mass media.  So he told me. 

After all, I only have a couple readers, who’s going to know?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the genius of Glen Beck:

And now, we’ve come to the end of the show.  The last show.  I want to thank you for watching.  Just knowing that you were there has given me….  It’s given me great joy.  Together we’ve changed this nation, made politicians tremble, and pushed back the advancing liberal horde that threatened our values.

You know, back when I was starting my career in radio, when my show was called Captain Beck and the A-Team, (yeah, terrible name, I know) I couldn’t imagine I’d be standing here, in front of the millions of you, saying goodbye, trying not to cry.

Believe it or not, I really did try not to cry.

But mine aren’t tears of sadness or resignation.  Mine are tears of joy.  Why?  Because it worked.  I did what I set out to do.  And now that I’m at the end, I have a confession to make to you, the American people.

I’m a big fan of Andy Kaufman.

If you aren’t familiar with Andy, he was a master of the prank.  With Andy, you never knew if you were watching a hoax or if he really was insane.  He drove people crazy and then, suddenly, he died of cancer.  To this day, decades later, nobody knows if he’s really dead or just hiding out somewhere, waiting for the right time to drop the punch line.

Well, now is the time for me to drop mine.

I’m not crazy.  I’m not a frothing, right-wing, loony.  I’m not even a Mormon.  Well, not after the LDS church sees this, anyway.  I’ve been pulling a prank on you.  I’ve been feeding you crap just to see how much of it you’d swallow.  Man, you swallowed a lot.  You swallowed that Obama was a communist, that the government was out to get you, and that liberals were trying to destroy America.  Heck, I even got you to invest in gold.  Sorry if you fell for that one, chumps.

Now, it’s time for me to go.  I’m going to follow Andy into hiding for a while.  There’s going to be a lot of you who are pissed off at me, mostly Tea Party and Nine-Twelver whack jobs.  Someday, however, you’re going to calm down, and think back on what I did here and, I hope, you’ll laugh.  Then I’ll come back, and we can laugh together.

Good night America!  Sleep well, suckers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

I started out the day with a glimmer of hope.  With a full day of grandparental babysitting ahead of me, I figured I could get a heck of a lot done.  My to do list looked like this:
·         Clear email/respond
·         Get new business bank account
·         Finish library book and return it
·         Work on game design documents
·         Blog
·         Edit two chapters of novel
·         Exercise
·         Clean House (laundry, dishes)

Ah, the best laid plans.  I made an appointment to talk to a bank and played with my kids while waiting for the babysitters/parents.
No, but I did yesterday.  Why?
You may remember, I had to go to the dentist and they put ina temporary filling.  Well, while sucking on a mint (on the other side of my mouth), the filling fell out.  I had to make an appointment for the afternoon to see the dentist again.
Not that kind of DBA.
I went through my files looking for evidence of my DBA statement (a letter from the county saying I was “Doing Business As” my company), but couldn’t find it, although I did manage to make a mess of my files and waste an hour looking.  I found what I could and went off to meet the bankers.

As it turns out, they really needed the DBA statement.  When they went online to confirm I had one, it wasn’t there.  I told them I’d look again and left.
No, not like that.
Side note, have you ever noticed height charts on doors in banks?  It turns out they’re for measuring bank robbers as they run out.  I tried to take a picture of the marks, but it turns out you can’t take a picture in a bank.  Go figure.

At the dentist, my hygienist chewed me out for flossing my temporary filling.  You read that right.  For the first time in human history, a dentist told a patient he shouldn’t have flossed.  I promise I never will again.
This seems familiar.
Anyway, she tried, but couldn’t put the filling back in.  They made another temporary, but it took another half hour and I still have to go back for the permanent, gold one on Monday.
"My, you have a lot of saliva, sir."
Another side note: I have no idea what my hygienist looks like, but she has amazingly well-manicured eyebrows.  If you have good eyebrows, dentistry might be the career for you.

Back at home, I found more documentation for my DBA statement craftily hidden next to where I had been sitting.  I called the county and found out that they had misspelled my company name.  Seriously, who spells vacuum with two Cs?  They said they’d fix it and I went back to the bank.
No, wrong again.
Once there, I showed the bankers my misspelled company DBA online.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t issue me an account to Vacuum Genesis. They could only make me an account for Vaccum Genesis.  I had to come back later.

And I was out of time.  So much for my big plans.

Monday, April 11, 2011


This is a short story I made up for my son.  I used to improvise bed time stories. This one came from him suggesting a name for the main character: Pabeles [Pah-BEH-lez].  I’ve put important names [in brackets] in case you want to have your children suggest their own.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was very, very sad.  She was sad because she had the worst name in the whole wide world.  Her name was [Pabeles].  Every day, [Pabeles] would complain to her parents about the terrible name they had given her, but they didn’t understand.  It was a tradition in their families to give their children awful names.  Her parents, [Stinky Face] and [Ugly Bum]thought they had given [Pabeles] a really nice name.

“If you really hate your name,” [Ugly Bum] said, you can go to the scary hall in the middle of town.”

But [Pabeles] was too scared.  So, instead, she decided to go fishing for a new name.  Everybody knew that you couldn’t fish for a name, but [Pabeles] was going to try anyway.  She built a boat, and made a sail.  She bought fishing gear and tackle and went out to sea.  Every day she fished for a name, but all she got were fish and sharks and an occasional whale.  One day, she caught the biggest fish she had ever seen.  When she was pulling the fish aboard, it spoke to her.

“Please little girl,” the fish said, “let me go.  I am no ordinary fish.  I am a magic fish.  If you release me, I will grant you anything you want.”

“All I want is to have a new name,” [Pabeles] said.

“You can’t wish for a new name.  If you want a new name, you have to go to the scary hall in the middle of town.  However, you can trade names.  If you let me go, I will give you my name.”

[Pabeles] thought about it and decided nothing could be worse than [Pabeles], so she released the fish.

“Very well,” the fish said, swimming away.  “From now on, I will be known as [Pabeles], and you will be known as [Purple Tongue].”

“Nooooooo!” screamed the little girl, but it was too late.

So [Purple Tongue] gave up on fishing for a name.  Instead, she decided she was going to catch it in the sky.  Now, everybody knows you can’t catch a name out of the air, but [Purple Tongue] was going to do it, anyway.  She sold her boat and fishing equipment and sewed a hot air balloon and bought a basket and wove a big net.  Every day she would float up into the air and cast her net out for a new name, but she never found one.  All she ever got were clouds, and kites, and the occasional party balloon.

One day, when [Purple Tongue] brought in her net, she found the biggest bird she had ever seen.  As she was bringing it into her balloon’s basket, it spoke to her.

“Please little girl,” it said, “I am no ordinary bird.  If you let me go, I will grant you any wish.”

“All I want,” [Purple Tongue] said, “is a new name.”

“You can’t wish for a new name,” the bird said. “If you want a new name, you have to go to the scary hall in the middle of town.  However, I will trade names with you.”

She decided that there couldn’t be any names in the world than [Purple Tongue], so she let the bird go.  As it was flying away, it said:

“From now on, I will be known as [Purple Tongue], and you will be known as [Icky Blood Stump].”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” screamed the little girl, but it was too late.

So, [Icky Blood Stump] gave up on trying to catch a name and decided to dig for it instead.  Now, everyone knows you can’t dig for a new name, but [Icky Blood Stump] landed her balloon, and found a mine and bought shovels and dynamite.  Every day, she’d ride a cart into the mine and dig for a new name, but all she ever found was rocks, and coal, and an occasional diamond.  One day, she dug up the biggest worm she had ever seen.  As she was pulling it out of the ground, it said to her:

“Please, little girl.  I am no ordinary worm.  I am a—”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” [Icky Blood Stump] said, dropping it, “just give me your name.”

“Very well,” said the worm, burrowing into the ground.  “From now on, I will be known as [Icky Blood Stump], and you will be known as [Hsssslllllltttthhhhsssssssspppppptttttthhhh the Third].”

NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” screamed the little girl, but it was too late.

Under the ground, she heard the worm say:

“If you really want a new name, you should go to the scary hall in the middle of town.”

So, she gave up digging.  She sold her tools and went to the middle of town.  She went into the scary hall and walked up to the creepy man behind the desk.  She gave the man money and he gave her a piece of paper that she wrote on and gave back.  Then she went home.

Two weeks later, she received a letter in the mail.  Her name had been legally changed to [Tracy].

“What an odd name,” her parents said.

The End

Friday, April 8, 2011

DBIM: Changes in Severity Levels

Half of my readers, who seem to live in western Montana, sent me a note.  He was perplexed about the severity levels on my Dead Birds in Movies entries.  Almost all of them, he pointed out, had a severity of one.
Mr. Missoula has a point.  I had set the severity level to being equal to the number of birds who die in the film/book/comic/whatever.  However, most of the time I’ve encountered a bird death, they’ve only happened once in that particular show/film/novel/whatever.  So the severity level has become useless.

Therefore, in appeasement to Mlle. Bozeman, I present:

The New DBIM Severity Scale

1 – Entry level.  Every entry starts with a severity of one and can’t go any lower than that.  (Hey, it’s on the list for a reason!)

+1 for every aggravating factor

+1 if more than one bird killed

+1 if it’s a whole heck of a lot of dead birds

-1 for every mitigating factor

+1 if played for laughs

+1 if the bird is eaten

+1 feather burp

+2 if the death is the fault of the bird

+1 if the bird is shown as annoying and people are relieved it dies

-1 if the death is sad or in any way tragic

That’s all I have so far.  I may change it from time to time.  Feel free to suggest modifications.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

If I Could Draw: Eyes

If I could draw, I'd draw people in comic books.  I've never been able to.
My attempts to make two eyes that look like a matched set.

I think it has something to do with symmetry.  I can never make anything look the same way twice.  Kinda hard to make a comic book where all the characters disappear after one frame.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Costa Rican Oxcart Day!

If you aren’t familiar with the Costa Rican Oxcart (and why aren’t you?), then you are missing out on a fascinating aspect of the culture of Costa Rica.  You see, they take these oxcarts and they paint them and then they…  Um…  I don’t know.  My son’s school seems to think they’re important, so we had to make one.
They sell oxen in two-packs at Costco.
The guidelines were pretty simple.  The carts had to be less than 3 feet by 3 feet and look oxcart-y (or, at the very least, oxcart-esque).  I, of course, couldn’t let my son do something simple like build it out of cardboard.  Oh, no, we were going to take the note that a “working” oxcart would be worth extra credit to heart.  Ours wasn’t just going to have wheels that turned; it was going to be pulled by robot oxen.
I tried this one, but he untied himself from the cart and went after Sarah Connor.
My father found a kit to make a wooden, covered wagon replica.  I got some precut wooden shapes.  My son and I measured and marked them and I cut the wagon in half.
This may be what happened to the Donner Party.
We sanded.  We glued.  We spray painted.  My wife mentioned it had to have eight pointy things sticking up, so we added those.
What are those pointy things for, anyway?
My son painted decorations.  I nailed the wheels in.
It's festive.
Then came the tricky part.  How does one hitch a wind-up toy to a miniature Costa Rican Oxcart?  There weren’t any oxen toys (although there was a bull, but I didn’t have the heart to make it an ox).  I eventually settled on snails.  The snails had big eyestalks I could tie the cart to.  However, one snail wasn’t strong enough alone and two tended to turn into each other and stop.  After a day’s work, my father and I rigged them up in series and got it to work.
Part of our cunning plan was to cut off its tail and shove a copper wire through its butt.  You can tell its embarassed, can't you?
My son insisted that the cart had to pull coffee beans, so we went to the local store to buy some.  It was late, so we were in a hurry.  When we got in line at the cashier, we had to wait for the guy in front of us to fill out a check (twice, since he did it wrong the first time).  Then they had to send a runner to go do a price check, so we let two people go in front of us.  One of those people had to write a check, and then argue about how much cash back she got.  So much for being in a hurry.  If you get a chance, please spread the word, if you pay for your groceries with a check, I WILL KILL YOU.
"No, take your time.  Take all week.  Nobody else here has anything more important to do."
And it was done.  As it turned out, my son didn’t have the hand strength to wind the toys himself, so he had to have his teacher help, and it still didn’t work out.
Just wind them up and watch 'em...  Er... Sit.
Oh well, as they say: “The best laid plans of ox and men, often snail away.”