Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear Toxic Waste Dumpers

Dear Toxic Waste Guys,

I realize your lives are difficult.  I mean, what with trying to make a profit and dealing with regulations, you must have almost no time to count all your money.  Still, I think you should reconsider your strategy.

Recently, I was visiting a park with my son's class as part of a field trip.  We saw many things, including this disgusting display of pollution on a bridge:
See that?  Those are globs of foam blowing off our rivers!  Now, our nature guide told us that the foam is created by natural microbes in the water, but it's still gross, and I blame corporations.

Later, as I am blessed with the bladder of a mouse, I found this in the lavatory:

At first, I thought it was a warning not to use the toilet as many have told me I'm pretty hazardous there.  Eventually, I realized it was a warning against guys like you who dump their toxic waste in porta-potties.

Seriously, guys, you need to find a new career.  If you have to take your waste, load it onto a truck, drive out to a national park, carry it down a nature trail, and dump it in a toilet...  Well, there are easier ways to make money.  Digging ditches sounds easier.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Called to Duty


Here's my snarky story of the day:

As a man with three conflicting faiths (Judaism, Atheism, Prometheus), I have some odd views on religion.  I don't believe, but sometimes I think "Well, okay, maybe there is a God."

This past Sunday was one of those times.  We were visiting Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park I had last visited when I was a child.  It's a cute, old west-themed place with lots of rides and shows but low-key in comparison to Disneyland.

One thing that bothered me were the lines.  It was Memorial Day weekend, and the place was packed.  The other thing that bothered me were the wrist bands people bought ($25) to skip ahead in line.  If you hadn't bought one, you'd stand and wait for an hour to get on a two minute roller coaster while those with the bands just walked right on.

My youngest was thrilled about roller coasters, but was only tall enough to go on one.  He's not a patient child, but he was happy to wait forty five minutes to get on.  My son wanted to sit in the front of the first car but, just as we arrived at the front of the line, a man and a woman with those wrist bands stepped in front of us and got those seats.

They were wearing these shirts:


Not as much fun as the real Call of Duty, but the achievements are easier to unlock.
Okay, so they're Christians who use their wealth to get special treatment?  Yeah, Jesus would have loved that!

We sat behind them, and the woman operating the ride helped us push the safety bars down on our legs.  There was a problem, though.  The bars weren't far down enough in our car.  She kept coming back and pushing them down harder and harder until my son started crying because it hurt.

Finally, she told the couple that they were too fat, and they left.  My son and I were allowed to get in the front of the car, and he had a fabulous time.

So, there may be no God, but still there's still divine justice.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Adults Acting Like Children

When I was a child, I overheard some grown-ups talking about music.  When they were kids, it seems, they listened to rock and roll and jazz, but it was expected you graduated to classical music when you grew up.  These grownups were lamenting that adults were now abandoning the classics. 
At the time, I discounted what they said (and everything else adults said, I was a teenager), but I've noticed a disturbing trend myself. 

It all started with the Harry Potter novels.  Don't get me wrong, I love those books, but they're meant for children.  Come on, any book where the cure for getting your soul sucked out is to eat chocolate is for kids.  Anyway, I noticed grown ups reading these books and classifying them as "young adult novels."  Then I noticed it wasn't just Harry Potter; adults were renaming all manner of childhood play to make it seem less childish.

I've compiled a short list:

Childhood Name
Adult Name
Comic books
Graphic novels/manga
Playing dress-up
Cosplay
Plagiarism of mass-produced media
Fan fiction
Saturday morning cartoons
Anime
Children’s books
Young adult novels
Monkeys throwing poop
The Republican Party
The guy who impregnated and abandoned you
Baby daddy
Wasting your life
Facebooking

Hope it helps!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Electronic Arts Building


While I was observing my standard Memorial Day rituals (putting flags on every war memorial within a 500 mile radius, defacing the gravestones of foreign veterans, singing “God Bless America” nonstop for eight hours), I forgot to post a blog entry.  I guess I’m just too patriotic.

Anyway, to make up for the lack of posting, today’s post will be half as funny as normal.

Even if you don’t play games, you’ve heard about Electronic Arts.  They’re one of the oldest video games companies.  I was a fan of their work from the beginning, and how could you not love them?

This was my generation’s introduction to Electronic Arts.  It’s a classic poster showing how they were treating their employees like rock stars.  Okay, entirely white, male rock stars, but rock stars nonetheless.

Anyway, a while ago, they announced they were moving into a new building I was sad.  The old EA buildings were a big part of my gaming experience.  They even showed up in one of my favorite games, F/A-18 Interceptor.
 

That's it over on the right.  Okay, so graphics were sparse back then.
 
At the same time, I was excited.  I mean, how cool was an EA building going to be?  Would it spout fire and strippers?  Would it make your bones vibrate the solo from Bohemian Rhapsody? 

 Finally, I drove over to look at what they came up with.


Wow.  Out of all the possible choices, they went with a rectangle.

I’m not all that surprised.  See, a while ago a friend of mine was walking the halls of EA and heard the CEO (Trip Hawkins) complaining in the hallway one day that he was tired of producing the same tired old crap every year.  The next week, he was gone, replaced by a business man from Clorox named Larry Probst.

Since Probst took over, they became a big, faceless corporation.  Every year, they pump out a Madden game that is exactly 18% better than the last one.

Now, I don’t have a problem with business.  I understand if you put art over money, eventually your company collapses.  Still, EA used to be about art.  Now it’s just another Clorox.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Alice Eve Topless

You may recall, I used to post headlines promising pictures of naked celebrities.  I did it because I was depressed at my low numbers.  Eventually, I promised myself I wouldn't do it anymore, and my readership dwindled to all both of you (hi mom!).

However, I saw Star Trek Into Darkness on Monday and I had an epiphany.  Alice Eve appears about a third of the way into the film for no good reason.  Heck, Spock even pretty much says: "Why do we need her?"  Then, ten minutes later, she takes her clothes off and we knew why.

I realized then it's okay to exploit someone, as long as it's Alice Eve.  Obviously, she signed a contract that said "I'm in this movie for no other reason than to take off my clothes."  So, without any further ado, my picture of Alice, Eve topless.

I would also like to say that this picture is in NO WAY Photoshopped.  I can't afford Photoshop.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Star Trek Into Darkness Was Written


I'd like to post a SPOILER WARNING here, but as Star Trek Into Darkness is already pretty rotten, it seems redundant.

You may not know it, but the FBI frequently does surveillance tapes of Hollywood producers.  I just got this one from an FIA request.

INT. EMPTY WAREHOUSE - DAY
 
               ROBERTO, DAMON, and ALEX (indistinguishable Hollywood types
               wearing blue shirts and ties) wait at a conference table. 
               Damon throws pencils at the ceiling, but they keep landing on
               his face.  Roberto flips through a notepad.  Alex spins
               around in circles in his swivel chair.
 
               JJ, their boss, enters.  He's a short man with glasses a gold
               halo taped to the back of his head.  The other three kneel as
               he comes in.
 
                                   JJ
                         Hey, you don't have to kneel just
                         because I'm Hollywood's golden boy.
 
                                   DAMON
                             (looking up)
                         We don't?
 
               JJ sits.
 
                                   JJ
                             (laughing)
                         I'm just kidding.  If you didn't
                         kneel I'd fire your asses.  Okay,
                         you can get up now.
 
               They all return to their chairs.
 
                                   JJ (CONT'D)
                         I've been thinking about the next
                         Star Trek movie.  As you all know,
                         I hated the TV shows.
 
                                   ROBERTO
                             (clamoring to agree)
                         Too much science!
 
                                   ALEX
                         Not enough lens flares!
 
                                   DAMON
                         All that thinking and philosophy!
 
                                   JJ
                         Now I can make Star Trek as high
                         budget, mindless action flicks, I
                         love it.  But I've hit a snag.
 
               All three yes-men gasp.
 
                                   ROBERTO
                         No!
 
                                   ALEX
                         It can't be!
 
                                   DAMON
                         Say it ain't so, JJ!
 
                                   JJ
                         I've run out of ideas.  I've only
                         got one. (rummages around in his
                         pocket and pulls out a cocktail
                         napkin and reads off it) "Rip off
                         Wrath of Khan."
 
               The yes-men applaud.
 
                                   JJ (CONT'D)
                         We still need a confusing plot
                         that's never explained, an evil
                         government, and a woman who takes
                         her clothes off for no reason. 
                         Just like all my movies.  Ideas?
 
               All three men raise their hands.  JJ points at Damon.
 
                                   DAMON
                         There's an admiral who wants to
                         start a war with the Klingons. He
                         has a fake terrorist kill the other
                         admirals.  He uses that excuse to
                         send the Enterprise with seventy
                         special torpedoes to kill the
                         terrorist on Kronos.  But the
                         torpedoes are secretly filled with
                         invasion troops.
 
                                   JJ
                         Good.  Let's do it.
 
               Alex and Roberto look chagrined they didn't get picked.
 
                                   ALEX
                         Wait, wouldn't Kirk ask why they
                         need dozens of torpedoes to kill
                         one man?
 
               JJ snaps his fingers angrily, and they all turn to him.
 
                                   JJ
                         Did you forget the Bad Robot motto?
 
               He points to a giant banner hanging behind him: NOTHING
               SHOULD MAKE SENSE.
 
                                   DAMON
                         Maybe the terrorist secretly hid
                         troops in the torpedoes to keep
                         them safe.
 
                                   ALEX
                         How are you safe in a torpedo?
 
               JJ snaps and points to the banner again. Alex hangs his head.
 
                                   DAMON
                         Also, he gets to the planet with a
                         super transporter thingy.
 
                                   ROBERTO
                         If they have super transporters,
                         why do they need ships?
 
                                   JJ
                         Doesn't matter!  Now, we need a bad
                         guy with a Texas accent.  His
                         daughter will have a British accent
                         because I know an actress who'll
                         off her clothes.
 
                                   ALEX
                         Weren't we going to have Uhura take
                         her clothes off?
 
                                   ROBERTO
                         She got naked in the last movie. 
                         Let's have her get choked by a
                         Klingon instead.
 
                                   JJ
                         Yes, and throw in the words "cold
                         fusion" because I don't know what
                         that means.  And Kirk should lose
                         his ship and get it back five minutes later.
                                                            
 
               Alex, Roberto, and Damon all jump out of their chairs and
               cheer.
 
                                   ROBERTO
                         Brilliant!
 
                                   ALEX
                         You've done it again!
 
                                   DAMON
                         You're still the golden boy!
 
               JJ smiles and waves, modestly.
 
                                   JJ
                         These things practically write
                         themselves.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pretzel War

This past weekend we went to Maker Faire in San Mateo (or, as I like to call it: 3D Printers R Us).  Since this was a Long Event We Bring Kids To, my wife packed snacks and water bottles.  Not giving our children something to eat when they’re hungry is like kicking a baby rhino in front of its mother.

Partway to the show, my son started showing signs of Charging Mother Rhino syndrome, so I gave him a small baggie of pretzels.  His brother asked for two pretzels of his own which were, grudgingly, given.  It turned out my eldest wasn’t hungry, but wanted the two pretzels to play with; he wanted to imagine the pretzels as the stars of a movie (which we recorded later that evening).

Spoiler Alert!
This was too much for my youngest, who harangued him about those two pretzels the whole trip.  You weren’t supposed to play with them, you were supposed to eat them!  He demanded the pretzels be given back even though my wife and I explained, repeatedly, he had more pretzels than he needed.

After a while, he said he was thirsty, and I handed him back his water bottle.  His favorite bottle has a blue lid that snaps on, and he likes to pull the nozzle open with his teeth.  This time we must not have pushed the lid down tight enough because, a few seconds after handing the bottle to him, I hear a squeal of dismay.  I look back and see him with a shocked look on his face, doused with water, the lid off of the bottle and held in his teeth like a cigarette holder.

 

He insisted we go home so he could change, but we were almost at the show, so we stopped at Old Navy and got him new clothes.  Everything seemed resolved, but that’s when the real Pretzel War began.  Now he had to have his brother’s two pretzels because they were still dry, his bag was wet, and his brother still wasn’t using them the way they were supposed to be used.

“And thus,” I said, “the Republican Party was born.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Quest 5: The Food Bank

My last quest was to bring food to a local food bank.  I had friends bring canned goods instead of birthday presents to my party.  On Monday, I took my trusty squire (seen here, squiring) to the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose.

That's only about half the food we brought in.  The other half is in the can.  Thanks to everyone who donated!

And thus, the quests ended.  The spoils of my achievements:
  • A hot wife.
  • Several pages of drug receipts chronicling how insane doctors can be.
  • Two movie tickets.
  • A birthday party that was, frankly, awesome.
  • A few more sales of my book.
Compare that to Odysseus who, after twenty years of being lost at sea and losing his whole crew, ended up with a house full of dead suitors.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quest 4: Costco


I arrived at Costco at one o’clock on Saturday.  I straighten my outfit, retape my sign, and grab a cart.

The day’s quest is to get a list of food and drinks for my birthday party.  It’s really a test of character more than a “fetch quest.”  I feel a slight, nervous tremor as I walk into the store dressed as a knight with green hair, a plastic sword, and a picture of a grocery bag taped to my chest.  How will people react?  Will I be shunned?  Abused?  Thrown out of the store?

Nobody notices.  When I call home to confirm I have the right cheese plate and shrimp, I bemoan my lack of odd stares.  What is it with people?  Have we become so accepting of weirdos in our culture that we don’t ridicule anymore?  Won’t anyone ask me why I’m dressed like a dork?

I have everything on the list except for the vegetable platter, so I swing through the “cold room.”  I can’t find it, so I do a second circuit.  Nothing.  I call home and confirm we don’t really need one (we have dip and a giant bag of carrots).

When I get to the checkout, the cashier ignores my chain mail and sword and asks if I found everything I was looking for.  I always hate that question.  If you say “no” they stare at you like you’re a creature from another world and do nothing to help.

My cashier is surprised they’re out of vegetable plates.  I get a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Were they really in the cold room?  Wasn’t I thorough enough?  Have I been tricked?

Good grief, I failed in my quest!  I’m Percival failing to ask about the symbols that could have saved the Fisher King!  I’m Theseus forgetting to change his sails as he returned home from the labyrinth!  I’m Link in that Zelda game where you’re supposed to get that big sword but you have to run from place to place really fast and I never could and Miyamoto can bite me.

A failed quest.  I am cursed.

On the way out, a small blonde child waiting in the returns line points at me and squeals.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Quest 3: Escort


If you're familiar with video games, you know all about quests.  Quests are what we call it when the player is given an assignment.  There are a few, basic kinds of game quests.  There are "kill quests" where youfight a monster, "fetch quests" where you get something and bring it back, and "collect quests" where the player gets a bunch of a certain item.

The worst, most difficult, most dreaded quest of all is the "escort quest."  An escort quest is where you follow a computer-generated character from point A to point B and try to keep it from dying (usually, while it does profoundly stupid things, like jumping into lava).  It was with no small amount of trepidation that I tied on my armor, strapped on my sword, hefted my shield and headed off to pick up two small children. 

Something you should know about walking around Silicon Valley, dressed as a knight with green hair: people only notice the hair.  As I walked on to the schoolyard, I heard a child say "Mommy, look, he has green hair!"  I could probably walk around California completely naked if I kept my hair dyed funny colors.

The teachers at the after-school program were mortified by my arrival.  The kids were having snack time when I arrived and all jumped up simultaneously, dropping yogurt cups and juice boxes all over the floor.  They swarmed around me. Why did I have green hair?  Could I lend them my sword to hit that kid over there?  Who painted my shield?

After an extensive interview (where I pinky-swore I wasn't a kidnapper) I took my two charges to the car and drove off.  The idea was to bring them to their mother's work so they understood why she worked such long hours.  Bearing that in mind, I managed to steer our discussion to relevant topics, including:
  • Do you know how much a college education costs?
  • Do you know how much a house costs?
  • Do you think your mom would rather work than be with you?
  • Seriously, do you even know how much college books cost?!
Note: Her kids used to think a car cost "two thousand dollars."  Now they think it costs "about a quadrillion dollars."

We arrived at her work, drawing stares from all passersby (probably because I was with two kids who looked nothing like me).  I spotted their mother and immediately knelt, bowed my head, and said "M'lady, have I discharged your will to your satisfaction?" 
After a long silence she said "I have no idea what to do."
"Well," I said, "traditionally, you give me your eldest daughter's hand in marriage."
Her daughter stared at me and said "But you're really old."

As I went to leave, I mentioned I was supposed to get a reward.  I had expected something with a zero-cash value, but I got this instead.

I'm assuming the "sire" means she either thinks I'm a king or I made her into a vampire.

Two gold movie tickets at a note that says she'll babysit my children while we see a film.  Totally worth it to keep her kids from jumping in lava.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quest 2: The Monkey

A friend named Michelle gave me a quest to make a video.

See, Michelle has had some pretty awful surgeries over the years, many with complications.  After the last surgery, her doctors gave her a prescription for pain patches, but they wrote down the wrong dosage, and she became addicted.  She finally broke free of the addiction, but is now stuck with ten, leftover doses of a highly controlled substance.

The cops won't even take them as part of their drug buy-back program.  So she turned to me.


Okay, you can't actually transport Fentanyl over state lines, but it's symbolic, okay?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quest Video: Progress Report

I'm working on video as part of a quest, which is a bit more difficult than the average blog post.  It's going to take me a while to finish, but here's some of the elements:
Any guesses as to how they all fit together?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

All Dressed Up


...And no place to go.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Birthday Update: Quests


With a last movement of the stone, Sir Matthew finished sharpening his sword.  He held it for a moment, admiring it in the light, before sliding it into his sheath.  Then he knelt by his shield and admired the coat of arms he had painted on it himself.  He could have had his herald do the paintings, but he felt he needed to do some things himself.

It was time.  He was ready.

“Squire!” he shouted and his assistant was instantly in the room.  “What news?”

“Well, we’ve received all the replies to your appeals for a quest.”

“And?”

“And nobody has one.”

“What?  Nobody?  I sent messages to every kingdom within a hundred leagues!”

The young squire merely shrugged.

“Tell the stables to saddle my horse.  And help me get my greaves on.  I’m going out.”

 

* * * * *

 

It was late morning when he knelt in the torch-lit throne room of his neighbor, Lord Snowdaw.

“Rise, good knight,” Snowdaw said from his purple throne, “And tell us why you honor us with your presence.”

“My lord, I came calling about the letter I sent you a few months ago.”

The king looked confused, and stroked his salt and pepper beard.

“About the quest, my lord?”

“Oh!  Yes.  Sorry, I can’t help.  We don’t have any quests for you.”

“But sir, at last season’s harvest festival you told me there was a dragon plaguing your kingdom.”

“What?  Oh, the dragon!  Yes.  We have a dragon, but he’s no bother.”

“You told me he ravaged the countryside, burning crops and devouring cattle.”

“Well, yes, he does that a bit, but we can manage.”

Sir Matthew stared at the king’s earnest face for a moment, confused.

“But, I’m looking for a quest…  And you…  You have a dragon…  I just thought…  You know.  I could slay it for you as a quest.”

Lord Snowdaw shook his head.

“No, no.  Don’t trouble yourself.  Thanks for dropping by, though.  Always nice to see the neighbors.”

 

* * * * *

 

In the middle of the afternoon, he reached the keep of Lady Ellech, who called down to him from the parapet.

“No, sorry, no quests here, good sir!”

“But, m’lady, you told me once a hideous witch troubled your lands.”

“No, I would never say anything like that.”

“I remember it quite clearly.  You said there was a hag who ensnared men to break their marital vows.”

“No, I never-“

Another woman appeared on the castle wall.  She looked much like Lady Ellech, but was younger, with tangled hair and bad teeth.

“What did you say?” she said, practically bellowing at the Lady.

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You called me a hag?  I’m your sister!”

“Don’t remind me.”

“Did she tell you I seduced someone?” the hag said, calling down to Sir Matthew.  “It was one kiss.  One.  It was a party.  He was drunk.”

“He’d have to be,” Lady Ellech said.

Her sister punched her in the arm.

“Ladies, if I may…” he called from below, but they ignored him.

“You’re always driving men away from me!”

“No, that’s your breath.”

She punched her sister’s arm again.

“Ladies!” he shouted, but they continued to fight, ignoring him.  After a few minutes, he turned his horse away from the keep and travelled homeward.

 

* * * * *

 

He reached the edge of his fields as dusk fell.  The serfs working the land were packing in their tools to head home.  Several looked up as he halted his horse and called out to them.  After a few moments of confusion, a short, dirty man came forward.  He climbed down from his saddle to greet the peasant.

“Good evening, Sir Matthew.”

“Good evening to you, peasant.  What is your name?”

“Grunion, sir.”

“Grunion?  Isn’t that a kind of fish?”

“I don’t think so, sir.  My father said he named me that because I was always underfoot, like a grunion.”

“Er, I think he meant ‘bunion.’”

“Did he?  Well, then I guess my name should be Bunion, sir.  Thank you for correcting me.  How may I help?”

“I’m on a quest for…  Well, quests.  Is there anything you serfs need done?”

Bunion looked at the others, confused.

“Like what, sir?”

“I mean, are there any bandits?  Monsters?  Any children missing?  Anything you might need the help of a knight to fix?”

Bunion scratched his head.

“No, I think we’re good, sir.  If you want, there’s an orphanage down by the river.  They can always use some help.”

“No, no.  That’s not a quest.  I need someone to assign me a task.”

Bunion stared, confused.

“See, it’s not a quest if I just go do volunteer work.  If someone were to ask me to volunteer somewhere in specific…

Bunion, still confused, said nothing.

“Someone like you, perhaps…”

Bunion scratched his head again.  The knight shook his head , climbed back into the saddle, and rode off.

 

* * * * *

 

As he reached the drawbridge of his castle, the portcullis raised and his squire ran out to meet him.

“Sir!  A quest.  It’s the Dowager!”

“My mother-in-law?”

“She’s on the enchanted mirror.  She needs your help.”

He practically flew up the stairs to where his children clustered around the Kindle, talking to their grandmother.

“Ah, there you are, Sir Matthew.  I was hoping you’d help me with these paintings I bought in Nice.  I was showing them to your children, but I have trouble pronouncing the painters’ names.  You took French, right?”

He nodded, and she held up a picture.

“Degas,” he said.  She held up another.  “Gaugin.  Renoir.”

And so he continued until she ran out of paintings.

“Thank you,” she said.  “And now you’ve completed a quest.”

“Er, well I suppose.  For it to be a real quest, you’re supposed to give me a reward of some kind.”

She scoffed.

“I already gave you the hand of my youngest daughter in marriage.  What more do you want?”

The magic mirror went black.  With a sad sigh, he went to bed.

Friday, May 10, 2013

On Being Old


One of the great things about growing as insanely old as I am about to be next week, is the youngins start asking you for advice.

“Gramps,” they say, “tell us how we should live our lives.”

I take a long draw on my pipe, put my teeth back in, and tell them.

“First of all, you need to remember to talk more and listen less.  Other people are meaningless and evil and nothing you will learn from them is worthwhile.  Talking is fun.  Listening is for rubes.

“Second, you ever hear the expression ‘Follow your bliss?’  Screw that noise.  Bliss is for stoners.  The point in life is to have the most shit before you die.  Pick a career that lets you screw other people out of their money.  You need a pile of it.

“Third, women are like money.  The more of them you have, the better off you are.  If you’re a woman, you shouldn’t collect other women.  You should collect shoes or ponies or pink dresses.  I never had girls, so I don’t know what they want.

“Finally, old people aren’t really all that wise.  Old things die for a reason: they get in the way of the young and the new.  The elderly cling to outmoded ideals and philosophies that hold us all back.

“Now you kids run off and play with your fancy toys and leave me alone.  It’s nap time and then the missus and me are going to head off to the senior citizen’s home.  It’s euthanasia night!”

Man, I’m getting old.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Birthday Update: The Hair


While she was checking the bleach in my hair my hairdresser commented that usually she starts from the back because the front goes faster due to the heat from your brain.  Mine didn't work that way because, it seems, my brain is cold.

Read into that what you will.