Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Feast Of Winter Veil

I hesitate to admit this, but one of my Christmas traditions that I've been keeping over the past three years involves World Of Warcraft. One of the in-game events,  the Feast of Winter Veil, coincides with the Christmas season. It involves a Santa Claus-like dwarf named Greatfather Winter who gives out presents for all the good little denizens of Azeroth.

Each year, the folks at Blizzard cook up some cool gifts for the WOW characters. Usually, they involve some sort of pet. The big gift this year is a BB gun. It's an official Red Rider carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle. After 200 shots, the thing is gone. You can use some of the shots at enemy kings and earn a special achievement. Seems like a long way to go to make a pop culture joke. I'm not impressed with the gun, and I'm pretty sure it's not a genuine Red Rider. I mean, the thing doesn't even have a compass in the stock.

One Of My Characters Posing With Greatfather Winter in Ironforge

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Loot

When it comes to Christmas presents, I subscribe to the axiom that it is better to give than it is to receive. My outlook on this matter has little to do with any grand notions about spreading good cheer or making people happy. Getting presents just makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I didn't always feel this way. As a child, up until the age of about 12, I used to be the first up on Christmas morning and was notorious for tearing into my beautifully wrapped presents with a fervor akin to a hungry tiger ripping into an injured zebra. I'm leery of discussing my discomfort with people, because they overwhelmingly respond by telling me I'm nuts and that getting presents is one of the best parts of Christmas. Am I to become a social pariah because I'm weirded out by the idea of getting presents?

An old friend recently took me aside and put it simply to me: "People love you. They have good reason to love you. Some of them express it by giving you presents, so get over yourself and let them express it however they want to". I could have gone to therapy for six months over this and still not had the idea expressed so well or so succinctly.

Once again, this year, Santa Claus failed to deliver on my more outlandish requests. I'll deal with his sorry elfin ass post-New Year's. I did, however, get a lot of thoughtful, interesting, nice gifts from people. By far, the best gift came from my daughter. She bought it from the Santa shop at school. It's a combination lock.

"It's blue", she said. "You like blue".

Yes. Yes I do.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas. Count Your Blessings Today

In December of 2005, my life was falling apart. My marriage had crumbled to dust and my ex had already started to move on. I was stuck living in a town where I had no family, few friends and nobody I could trust. The ex and I managed to pull it together enough to give our kiddo a very nice Christmas, but after the frantic morning of present opening, I found myself sitting with my daughter in a now empty house just zoning out as "It's A Wonderful Life" flickered across the tv screen. No family around to wear out their welcome, no friends around to guzzle down my last beer, and no dinner to come back to haunt me in the wee hours of the morning. If felt wrong. So, I decided to do something about it.

I scooped my daughter up, put her in the car, and drove to one of the local churches. They were having a Christmas dinner in the basement. I hardly knew anybody there, and the people I did know were all too aware of my circumstances and kept shooting me "Aww, poor guy" looks. I felt like I was eating at a homeless shelter. Even though I had my daughter with me and there were people all around me, I couldn't remember a time when I had felt more alone. And that's when I took out a pen and some scrap paper and decided to count my blessings.

I won't list them all, but among the things I am lucky to have is a wonderful daughter, a small but close immediate family, a good job, a warm house, and a comfy bed. I reminded myself that I never had to worry about where my next meal would be coming from, nor did I have to worry about where I would be spending the night and whether or not I would be able to stay warm and dry. Many people in this world spend Christmas wishing that they had these things.

With that, I scraped off my place, picked my daughter up, thanked everyone around me and wished them well, and then headed back home. We didn't need the traditional Christmas dinner. We'd be making our own Christmas traditions from then on.

I still have the list. I had it laminated a few days after I made it. I take it out every so often to remind myself that, no matter how bad it is, it could be a lot worse.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Does It Matter?

I had a lot of running around to do today. With my own car being in pieces at a local automotive repair facility, I borrowed a friend's and cruised across the county and back in a frantic effort to get some last minute gift shopping done before 10:00 am. I had only one item that I needed to pick up at Wal-Mart. As I reconnoitered the available express check out lanes, I saw that they were all at least four people deep. One of the regular lanes was only two people deep, so I hopped in line. The lady directly in front of me had a cart load full of groceries.

"Ah, chestnuts!", I said under my breath, but just loud enough for the lady in front of me to hear. I was intending to prevail upon her sense of Christmas spirit in the hopes that she'd allow me to cut in line ahead of her.

I was successful. The lady, noticing that I had only one item cheerfully allowed me to pass. I thanked her, paid for my purchase, and again turned to the lady and said "Thanks again, and Happy Holidays".

Her face turned sour. "You mean, Merry Christmas", she said as if she were my sophomore English teacher correcting me.

Great. Another salvo in the "War On Christmas" was shot across my bow.

I smiled at this woman as she turned away from me. "Look, lady", I intoned. "When I say 'Happy Holidays', I'm wishing you the best for the week between and including Christmas and New Years. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, Happy Kwanzaa and you're welcome".

The poor cashiers probably are no doubt on pins and needles this time of year because of stuff like this. Say "Merry Christmas" and you risk offending a non-Christian. Neglect to say it, and you might just tick off an overly sensitive Christian.

I was raised Catholic, but I have come to think of Christmas, not so much as a religious holiday, but as a very old, traditional festival that has Christian and pagan origins. As a child, I had no clue that Christmas was related to the birth of Jesus. Legend has it that I asked our Pastor if he knew that Jesus' birthday was on the same day that Santa Claus came.

Here in America, we have a rich tradition of celebrating Christmas as a nation. It's a time for national unity; a time to reflect on previous years and look forward to the next one; a time for taking a break from life and showing your friends and family that you care. And if you want to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth on that day, that's okay too.

So, for you non-Christians who take offense at people wishing you a Merry Christmas: Realize that, no matter what your beliefs, whoever said it to you honestly hopes that you have a good day on December 25, however you're intending to spend it. And to you Christians who insist on putting Christ back in Christmas at every opportunity, I will remind you that Christmas didn't become popular in this country until the 1800s. This nation was first settled by Puritans who loathed the notion of celebrating Christmas. To them, Christmas offered far too much revelry and was dangerously packed with pagan idolatry. They looked to The Bible to justify this. See Jeremiah 10:3-4: “For the customs of the peoples are false: a tree from the forest is cut down, and worked with an ax by the hands of an artisan. People deck it with silver and gold they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.” So, really, Christ wasn't in Christmas in the first place.

So, in the spirit of Christmas itself, whether you see it as a religious or secular holiday, I ask you, can't we all just get along?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Claus Doesn't Exist......Or Does He?

I remember the day when I found out that there was no Santa Claus. It was a cold December afternoon in the late 70's and I was five years old. I had been searching around the house for the family dog. She was known to nest in my mother's closet, so I decided to check in there. As I pushed through the forest of polyester dresses and shrubbery made of shoe racks, I found the dog hiding out. Behind her was something much more interesting and made the excursion more worth while. It was the Millennium Falcon playset. It was on my list of things that I wanted for Christmas. I immediately knew what this meant. Santa Claus didn't exist and Mom and Dad were the folks who brought the presents. I had already suspected as much; the uncovering of the Millennium Falcon proved it.

The pieces soon fell into place. Mom and Dad were very elaborate in their deception. They would go up into the attic crawl space on Christmas Eve while we kids were dozing off and stomp around in order to make us believe that reindeer were walking on the roof. I left out letters to Santa Claus on Christmas Eve (with writing assistance provided by my sister) which were promptly answered by Christmas Day. I never noticed that Santa's handwriting matched my father's.

Mom concocted an entirely plausible explanation for the Millennium Falcon being in her closet, but, by the time she arrived home to spin the discovery, she was too late. After a few minutes of debate, she could see that my mind had been made up and owned up to the truth. It was the first "real" conversation we ever had. Discovering my parents' deception in the whole Santa Clause affair didn't adversely affect me. Nor did the knowledge that mom and dad were aided and abetted by my older siblings. I didn't feel betrayed or lied to or feel like my childhood had been crushed.

Having a child of my own, I often wrestle with the whole Santa Claus issue. I don't like lying to her. However, who am I to buck generations of tradition? Santa Claus is the ultimate snipe hunt. Besides, there's something very cool about the idea of a kind old man who likes go give out presents. My mother still hands me an envelope every year that has "From: Santa Claus" written on it. When she started doing this a number of years back, I was convinced that she was starting to lose it and so I put the local nursing home on speed dial. She isn't going nuts or sipping too much egg nog or smoking mistletoe, though. In her own way, she's trying to tell me that Santa Claus does exist. He exists in the very spirit of gift giving and in the innocent wonder we see in our children's eyes when we encourage them to believe in Santa Claus. So, when Mom hands me a present supposedly from Santa Claus every year, I feel like a kid again for a few seconds, which I suppose is the point. And that's a greater gift than the present itself.

Remember: Just because something is imaginary doesn't mean it isn't real.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gingerbread House

Normally, when the Christmas season starts falling upon us, I'll whip up a batch of Grandma Mac's bathtub egg nog until that holly jolly feeling is washed away with a good drunken buzz. This year, however, in addition to the egg nog, I was induced into purchasing a gingerbread house kit. The recipe for gingerbread house icing seems to be a bit off, as the overall results were not at all impressive. I did, however, put together a little Christmas themed video centered around the atrocity I had built. It's simply called "The Gingerbread House". You'll find it below, presented to you in festive widescreen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You Call This Customer Service?

It was just another day at work. Time was winding down and the weekend was quickly approaching. My mind was on the departmental Christmas party that would be happening tomorrow afternoon. Before I could party as heartily as I wanted, I had some actual work to get done. One of my long term projects involves setting up a new ticketing system from scratch for our call center. In order to do this, I needed to talk with the software vendor to get the minimum specifications for the software so I knew what kind of servers to order for the project. This should be a no brainer, right? Wrong!

The tech support line kicked me right over to the marketing department where I was met with a thick foreign accent belonging to a woman named "Sara". I explained the situation to her and she attempted to transfer me back to the tech support department. I told her that they had just sent me to her and that I was shocked that such basic information wasn't readily available to either department. After failing to placate me with promises of a call back from a software representative, she transferred me to her supervisor, another thick accented person named "Christopher". I explained the situation again.

"The software works on any platform", he said.

"Any platform?", I responded, somewhat dumbfounded. "So, you're telling me that this software will work on an old 386 from the 1980's?"

"Yes, that is so", he said.

"Okay", I continued, hardly believing what I was hearing. "Let me ask you this. Will your software work on my Commodore 64?"

"I believe it will", he said.

"I see", I said, amazed at how versatile this software seemed to be. "So, your software will work even if I have 2 kilobytes of RAM?"

"Yes", he said. He then launched into another attempt to get me off the phone. He promised to have someone call me back with the specific information I needed. Again, I was incredulous that such basic information, information essential to the use of the software they are selling wasn't readily available to their customer interface staff.

I became resigned to the fact that I wouldn't get my question answered today and that I'd have to wait for a call back. Before getting off the phone, I had to ask something. "Where are at right now?"

"You were routed to our call center", the voice on the other end said.

"No, what I mean is, if I wanted to call you directly, what city would I be calling?"

"You would have to call our base of operations in San Diego and be routed."

"But where are you sitting? What city are you physically in?"

"I'm in San Diego", he said. I smelled the distinct odor of scripted corporate bullshit.

"Oh yeah?", I asked, "How is the weather in San Diego today?"

"I don't want to talk about the weather", he said.

I just about blew a fuse right then and there. "Come on, buddy! Hell, just look it up on the internet or something or just tell me it's clear skies and 65 degrees! You've lied about everything else! What's one more?"

My co-workers overheard the whole thing and I think that, due to my nature of playing practical jokes, they initially thought I was faking the entire phone call. The sad thing is, it would have been a pretty funny joke if it wasn't so sadly serious.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Open Letter To Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

If you compare me to the celebrities and the politicians, I've been pretty good this year. Relatively speaking.

Yes, I was the one who tipped off the tabloids to Tiger Woods' little extra-curricular activities. I figured a mega-scandal like this would push him out of the limelight for a while. I thought I was doing everyone a public service! How was I supposed to know his wife would go all Chris Brown on him?

Also, I admit it, I was the one who put the exploding cantelope chunklets in the fruit salad at the mathematics convention earlier this year. Dr. Grace's hands are fine now. Nobody needs all ten fingers these days anyway.

I guess that the less that is said about the "Fluffy" incident, the better. Let me just say, though, that as God is my witness, I thought Pomeranians could fly.

Being "naughty" is a matter of degrees, isn't it? With all the dubious goings on happening in the world today, surely I rank well below the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il and Sarah Palin on your naughty list. That being the case, let's make with the Christmas list, shall we? I've tried to be more reasonable this year.

What do you get the nerd who has almost everything? Here's a brief rundown:

  • A bottle of Sam Adams Utopias Beer. It normally runs about $100 a bottle. I know that's a lot, but, hey, if you can build a toy factory at the North Pole that pumps out gifts that seem to be exact copies of popular toys, then surely you can build a brewery and have those elves brew me up a bottle or two.
  • The Phantom USB Keystroker. This opens up tons of possibilities for pranking.
  • USB Doomsday Device: Last year, you failed to bring me a castle just like Dr. Doom's like I had asked for (again). I'm a reasonable guy. This should be easier to fulfill This isn't even a real doomsday device......or is it?
  • The 2010 Demotivational Calendar. As if I hadn't been demotivated enough in 2009.
  • The Cubes! I must have them all! These have such great movie making potential. Appeal to my creativity while you contribute to my delinquency. I'll even give you an "Associate Producer" credit on all the videos I make with these things.
There you have it, Santa. Another year, another Christmas list. I'll leave you the requisite cookies and milk, and you make with the present giving. AND DON'T YOU CHEAP OUT ON ME AGAIN!

Merry Freaking Christmas.


    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Caught A Tiger By The Tail.

    Tiger Woods and his multiple affairs has been very good for the news business. “God Bless Tiger Woods”, said Yahoo! chief executive Carol Bartz. “This week we got a huge uplift: Front Page, News, Sports, Gossip. He just filtered through the whole place. It is better than Michael Jackson dying; it is kind of hard to put an ad next to a funeral”. Mental Note: In the world of online news, divorce is preferable to death. Gotcha.

    I honestly don't see what the big deal is. Certainly, this is the most interesting story to come out of the sport of golf since it was invented. But, that's not saying much. Woods' rampant infidelity flies in the face of his carefully cultivated squeaky clean family man image. He's not the first golfer to be caught with his putter in the sand trap, but he's certainly the most famous, and seems to be well on his way towards being recognized as the Wilt Chamberlain of golf.

    Even Woods' recent announcement that he'll be taking an indefinite break from golf isn't really news. Of course he's going to take a break. Things are going to need to cool down so that won't have to endure the creative color commentary that will ensue from this social debacle. I can almost hear it now (assuming here that I fell asleep on the couch and somehow the TV got tuned to golf. Hey, it could happen!): "Woods swings back and.....A SHOT! My God, he drove that ball like it was Rachel Uchite after hours at Tao".

    He'll be back for Augusta, he'll start winning again, and this will all be old news. The sooner this happens, the sooner I can go back to ignoring him.

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Super Mario Bros. Wii

    That the Super Mario Bros. franchise is hugely popular cannot be denied. I'm still trying to figure out why the public has such a massive hard on for it. Maybe, deep down, we all wish we could be an Italian with a speech impediment. Whatever the secret formula is for its success, Super Mario Bros. Wii continues that tradition and shows that the franchise is still going strong.

    Gameplay is standard here. After two decades, the basic aspects have not changed very much. This isn't rocket science, and it isn't supposed to be. Once again, you move your character across the screen and push ever forward to the flag pole, all the while avoiding various traps, bonking monsters and collecting coins. For the first time, multi-player action is an option so you can have three of your friends join in assuming you have enough of remotes. And friends.

    The only real gripe I have with the game concerns the multiplayer mode. First off, you can't pick your own character. I guess it doesn't really matter because each character has the exact same abilities, but I get tired of watching Mario's smug face all the time. Second, there's no Internet playability. In order to play with other characters, you have to actually have friends over physically. No more team playing in your boxer shorts. Unless your friends don't mind you playing in your boxer shorts.

    All in all, though, with terrifyingly difficult levels, great replay value and an overall fun theme, Super Mario Bros. Wii is a great game and is well worth the price.

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Jason Gets A New Entertainment Center

    Christmas time is here again, folks, It's the time of year when thoughts hearken to peace on Earth, good will towards men and heavily discounted electronics. I recieved a call from Jason last night and he excitedly told me about his brand new 46 inch LCD television. Now, he finally had an excuse to fire up that Blu-Ray DVD player he got last Christmas. Of course, what home entertainment bundle is complete without a pressboard entertainment center to show it all off? Being the good friend that I am, I tagged along with Jason to the local retail shop to help him get one. Not wanting to wait a half hour for a retail drone to help us, we lifted the box and placed it directly onto the shopping cart. I was surprised the cart didn't collapse under the weight. I shot a short video from my cell phone.

    The irony of the situation is that, once we got the entertainment center back to Jason's place and got the TV set up, it turned out that the Blu-Ray player was fried. Bah. Humbug.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    Okay, I'm Playing World Of Warcraft Again

    My loyal readers (both of you) know full well about my love/hate relationship with World Of Warcraft. I'm sorry to report that I have recently fell off the wagon with the game and am back to playing. I'm not putting in more than two hours a night, and, aside from having recurring dreams about the zombie apocalypse, I have suffered no ill side effects. Recently, however, I've had to wonder why I bother, as it appears that a Taiwanese man has reportedly completed all 986 of the game's achievements. No doubt, when he did this, a portal of white light appeared and sucked him into the game itself, where he now reigns as King Of World Of Warcraft.

    It's guys like him who make me think that WoW is nothing more than a mindless treadmill to nowhere. Which is okay for me in the Winter, because decreased daylight seems to shutdown my brain so much that I actually NEED some sort of mental treadmill to stay sharp. There's nothing like spamming my attack rotation over and over again during a raid to keep my mind alert. And there are occasions, like when I spent 3 hours last Saturday morning working on the Bloodsail Admiral achievement, where I think that I am little more than a tool for Blizzard.

    All in all, WoW is a strange game. It would seem that the only winning move is not to play.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    Squanto Wanted To Gobble Gobble Gobble Us Up!!!

    The story of Tisquantum (better known to most of us as Squanto) is quite well known among the American people. Without his assistance, the Pilgrims would never have survived their first winter in the New World. Squanto's command of the English language proved to be invaluable as he served as a mediator between the Pilgrims and the native tribes in the area. Also, Squanto's knowledge of farming and fishing techniques ensured that the Pilgrims would have plenty of food to survive on and also ushered in the traditional Thanksgiving Day feast as we know it. Indeed, Squanto's intervention proved that colonial expansion in North America was viable and allowed for the future expansion of the human population, which is just what Squanto and his alien brethren wanted.

    When Squanto's alien overlords first seeded this planet with a strange variety of hairless primates known as humans, they intended to allow the population to spawn for a few hundred thousand years so that they could come back, do a quick culling and feast upon the soylent green fruits of their labor. The problem was, these pesky humans were prone to population crashes. The Toba catastrophe in 70,000 BC and the Black Death pandemic in the 14th Century showed the aliens that, in order to successfully farm humanity, humans needed to be seeded far across the planet.

    Attempts to get the Vikings and the Chinese to take root in North America failed miserably. Europeans would prove to be a more interesting prospect in the 16th Century, though those hopes were dashed when Roanoke colony collapsed. It seemed that humanity would need direct alien intervention, which is something that the alients were reluctant to do after the Mayans stumbled upon their plans to harvest humanity by the end of 2012.

    Posing as a Native American human, Squanto passed himself off as part of the Patuxet tribe and allowed himself to be captured by English explorer George Weymouth. This, and a subsequent staged kidnappings by Thomas Hunt lent credibility to Squanto's story. While he was away in England, an alien STD (you probably know it better as SmallPox) infected his adopted tribe (you might say that Squanto liked to "play" with his food) and killed them off, thus lending further credibility to his position.

    When he finally returned to North America, Squanto was ready to put his plan into action. He simply gave the English Pilgrims what was then considered to be advanced farming techniques. Using fish as fertilizer was unheard of in Europe, as it was thought that it would have resulted in stinky crops. Squanto's techniques were successful, and, along with diplomacy and a propensity to smite the Pilgims' enemies when nobody was watching proved to the powers of Europe that colonization could be profitable, which inspired more colonial exploits. Once he saw that he had been successful, Squanto faked his own death and returned to his home planet to prepare for the upcoming feast 400 years hence.

    What sprung forth from the well that was Plymouth Colony allowed for a population boom. Once the stability of the North American population was well established, Squanto's successors made sure to move the plan to the next level, which involved fattening us up for the harvest. As we head into the year 2010, world population is nearing 7 billion and obesity rates are at unprecedented highs, which is right on course for the yield that the aliens are expecting to have near the end of 2012. The First Thanks Giving was way for the Pilgrims to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Our alien overlords are planning ahead for theirs. They are scheduled to feast on December 21, 2012.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Making A Withdrawl From My Bank Of Bad Habits

    I haven't been feeling well these past couple of days. I'm a little burned out and a little under the weather, so I took a much needed day off to relax, rest up and revert back to my gelatinous state for a few hours.

    Reaching some semblance of personal equilibrium usually requires that I act out in some form. Normally, I might achieve this by knocking back a six pack of my favorite beer and smoking a cigar. I'm not much for drinking alone or before 5pm, though, so I limited my activities to blasting loud music, playing video games and eating food that is incredibly bad for me.

    Years ago, a friend of mine who had a particular affinity for German culture introduced me to something he referred to as "German breakfast". He insisted that we get some french bread, smother it with liverwurst, and top it with Havarti cheese. The bread and cheese sounded fine, but there was no way I was going to eat Liverwurst and I protested vociferously. My friend relented and said we'd get braunschweiger. Sounded fine to me. Braunschweiger is a type of sausage that you can spread like butter. Nowadays, I refer to it as "meat paste".

    The so-called "German breakfast" turned out to be really good and I thanked my friend for suggesting it and for allowing me to forgo the liver sausage. There was no way I was going to eat liver. My friend smiled and said "The difference between braunschweiger and liverwurst is that braunschweiger has more liver in it". Even though the after thought was disgusting, I remained committed to the breakfast and I have it whenever I feel a little run down.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    My Ongoing Struggle With The Coffee Machine

    There's a "Gourmet Coffee" machine in the administration building where I work. The thing acts flakier than HAL 9000 on a mission to Jupiter. Early on, it seduced me with its propensity to distribute cups of frothy French Vanilla goodness for free. I often invented reasons to cruise through the administration in the hopes that free coffee would be awaiting me. It didn't last long, though. Either the vending machine techs figured out what was going on or the coffee machine itself realized that it had me hooked and so the price got jacked up to a buck a cup. And the amount of coffee actually distributed was cut back.

    The occasions where I find myself in the administration building are few and far between these days. When I do go there, however, I make a point of stopping at the machine. It's always a zen experience. Some days, I offer my dollar, and it is simply refused. Some days, the dollar is accepted yet the machine acts as if I didn't hand one over. "Dollar? What dollar? You didn't give me a dollar. Look, mister, if you want some coffee, you're going to have to cough up a buck for it". In that case, I'm usually content to see the bogarting of my dollar as a sacrifice to the coffee gods (pagan bastards). Either that, or I'm paying back the negative coffee karma that I accrued from getting all those freebies.

    Most of the time, the machine operates within expected parameters. Money is offered, accepted and delicious caffeinated beverage is dispensed. If it's having an off day (maybe somebody kicked it, or the Pepsi machine turned it down for a date the night before) it will flake out on me and just issue a cup without coffee, a coffee without the cup, or even the dreaded hot water only switcheroo. It errors out enough that using it has become a gamble; one I seem all to willing to pursue when the chance arises. Today, I found myself in the administration building to surrender the check I was issued for my recent jury duty to the payroll department. The check included the standard mileage allowance as well, so I was refunded a dollar. One whole dollar. That meant coffee!

    I approached the machine with equal measures of trepidation and respect. Would the gourmet coffee machine shine its countenance upon me, or would it swipe my dollar from me yet again? I offered up my dollar and heard the telltale electronic burp of the machine processing the deposit. I nervously pressed my favorite sequence: 1-H-1. The next two seconds seemed like an eternity. SUCCESS! The cup dropped into place and the coffee flowed forth. Sometimes the coffee gods giveth. Sometimes they taketh away. But, today....they brought forth the caffeine.

    We'll see what happens next time.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    My Daughter Lectures Me On Dinosaurs

    My six-year-old daughter watched archival footage of Mister Rogers talking to a paleontologist about dinosaurs. When I asked her to give me a summary of what she had learned, she took the opportunity to pass along what she had learned and ask me a few questions.

    "I thought all dinosaurs were big, but some were really small", she said.

    "Yes", I responded, "some were even smaller than you and me".

    "And some could fly", she offered.

    "Yes, we're pretty sure some could fly, but we'll never really know because nobody has ever seen one since dinosaurs aren't around anymore".

    "They're extinct", she said confidently.

    "Right", I said, smiling.

    "Dinosaurs were gone 70 million years ago and people haven't even been around for 1 million years" she said. I had to wonder if she understood the length of time involved or if she was just repeating what she had heard in the video.

    "That means that people and dinosaurs were never together because people came a long time after all the dinosaurs were killed".

    "How did all the dinosaurs die?", she asked.

    "Most people thing a big asteroid fell to the Earth. The dinosaurs that weren't killed when the asteroid hit died soon after because there wasn't much left to eat. No animal bigger than a lap dog survived that", I said.

    My daughter thought about that for a minute or two and said matter-of-factly "I don't think I'd want to be a dinosaur on that day".

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Good Eats At The Turkey Testicle Festival

    Yesterday afternoon, I attended the area's 17th annual Turkey Testicle Festival which featured cheap beer, live music and deep fried turkey testicles. Yes, folks, turkeys do have testicles. This seemed to be a source of much confusion among the crowd and I heard one young lady exclaim "Yes, turkeys do have testicles. They are mammals!". I shook my head. I'm sure most of you know that turkeys are birds and birds are NOT mammals, and that the testicle is not a gland that's exclusive to mammals. While birds do indeed have testicles, they tend to keep their testicles inside their bodies as opposed to most mammals who let it all hang out.

    Anyway, a good time was had by all and the whole event benefited a great charity. Below, you'll find a video of me sampling the fried turkey balls. Thank God it's only once a year.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Expanding My Musical Interests

    I often listen to stations I created on Pandora.com while I'm at work. Pandora.com, also known as the Music Genome Project streams music to you based upon songs and/or artists that you are already interested in. Most of the music I have purchased over the last six months, I have found through Pandora.

    Recently, I have taken a deeper interest in older R&B music. I created a station that included artists like Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, B.B. King, Ray Charles and The Blues Brothers. After rating a number of songs, my station began to stream me myriads of different versions of "In The Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally". Time to add more variety to the station.

    I don't know how services like Pandora manage to stay in business. They are currently being charged a royalty rate that's higher than any other form of radio. Sure, they make some coin via ads, premium subscriptions and the commission they get when you buy a song through them, but it can't be all that much. So, I contriubte when I can buy purchasing music through them. It's the least I could do to thank them for introducing me to Regina Spektor and making me not hate Teenage Fanclub.

    If you want to get a good idea of the type of music I've been listening to, you can listen to my "AlternaPop" station that I created. Follow the link: http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh34217265780154929 and you'll be treated to music by Jellyfish, Paul Westerberg, XTC, Imperial Drag, Elliot Smith, The Wonder Stuff, Superdrag, The Lemonheads and more. Sit tight and listen keenly.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    I Actually Liked A Disney Movie

    It seemed to me like a recipe for disaster. Jim Carrey and Disney joining forces together in a remake of a classic Christmas film. I was certain that it would be like mixing pickle brine with prune juice and slamming down the resulting toxic brew. Instead, it was more like pairing chocolate and cheese: It's tough to get right, but, when you do, it's a pretty good match.

    My daughter wanted to see this movie pretty bad, but I had no desire. For me, the classic film adaptation of A Christmas Carol has always been the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim followed by the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. The previews of this new version highlighted the slapstick aspects along with Jim Carey flailing about, making me certain that it would veer more towards Mickey's Christmas Carol than it would any of the adaptations considered to be classics.

    To my surprise, however, Jim Carrey did a good job, even if there were a few too many instances of Carrey being Carrey. The slapstick and the exaggerated physical comedy and outrageous reactions are part and parcel when it comes to a Disney film, though. I've come to expect that, and was pretty happy that they chose to stick close to the original Dickens work and make only the occasional stray into forced comedy.

    This was my first sampling of modern 3D technology. Before seeing this flick on the big screen, my experience with 3D was limited to the 3D films hosted by the Son of Svenghoulie once per Summer back in the 80's on Chicago's WFLD TV. You'd go to 7/11, buy your Big Gulp (I preferred mine to be a mix of Pepsi and Mountain Dew) and the cup would have a pair of 3D glasses attached to it. You'd wait about two weeks and whip them out so you could watch a cheesy monster movie in 3D. Apparently, 3D technology has evolved to the point where you no longer need Red/Blue colored glasses. Now, you get what looks like a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses which you can keep on for the duration of the film. Sitting in the dark with my funky glasses on, I felt like I was a Blues Brother. I leaned over to my daughter and sang a few verses of "Soul Man". She promptly shushed me and reminded me that the film was about to start.

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    Worse Than A Nic Fit

    I haven't logged into my World of Warcraft account since early June. Before that, I hadn't been on since January of this year. I'm happy about that. Once upon a time, I was, for all intents and purposes, addicted to that game. I shudder to think about the number of hours I spent knocking back cans Mountain Dew while raiding some dungeon in the hopes of obtaining some obscure piece of equipment that would incrementally increase my character's stats.

    To be honest, when I was last on back in June, I got bored pretty quickly. World Of Warcraft relies on a system where you repeat certain tasks over and over again and eventually get rewarded. It's sort of like sitting in front of a slot machine, but the graphical content is much prettier and you don't have some old lady on a gambling junket from Florida sitting next to you, crying into her gin and tonic. I've got better things to do than repeat the same daily quest every morning until I get randomly rewarded with some item I've been looking for.

    Still, with Winter quickly approaching and the days getting shorter, I'm starting to feel the pull again. I've got myself convinced that I can play through Christmas before I get bored with the whole thing again. We'll see what happens, but I'm biting my nails in anticipation at the moment.

    In order to distract myself, I've put some new music and apps on my iPod Touch:

    Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens
    Where We Gonna Go from Here - Mat Kearney
    Eet - Regina Spektor
    Why Georgia - John Mayer
    Ain't That Enough - Teenage Fanclub
    Talk Of The Town - Jack Johnson
    Ever After You - The Gabe Dixon Band
    Breakfast By Tiger - Imperial Drag
    A Fond Farewell - Elliot Smith
    Comfortably Bummed - Superdrag
    July, July! - The Decemberists

    Five Minutes To Kill Yourself

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009

    Uncle Sam Pontificates Further

    The Virtual Sink caught up with Uncle Sam again and he offered a few words regarding his own stimulus plan.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    Walking Around Dressed Like Uncle Sam

    My daughter and I went trick or treating together on Halloween. She was dressed as the Statue of Liberty, and, in an attempt to carry on a theme, I had rented an Uncle Sam outfit from the local costume shop, complete with white hair gel. Going door-to-door, I didn't think we'd get much of a reaction beyond how cute it was that father and daughter matched thematically. It turns out that Uncle Sam is quite the popular guy.

    I resisted the urge to carry my own basket around in order to collect candy for myself. Been there. Done that. Barfed up the contents. Still, I was often asked if Uncle Sam wanted some candy. I either replied "No, Uncle Sam takes his share on April 15" or "This is the one night a year Uncle Sam won't take anything from you".

    Later that evening, Jason met up with me for dinner at one of our local haunts. I was still in costume. I joked that I was ordering drinks and food as part of an economic stimulus plan. The bartender was trying to sell some shots and I indicated that it's the best way to stimulate both the libido and the economy.

    Sunday, November 1, 2009

    Uncle Sam Wants YOU To Follow VirtualSink.com

    Who can argue with an American cultural icon like Uncle Sam? Better do what he says or else he'll gouge a little more from you come April 15.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Jason Succeeds In Scaring The Crap Out Of Me

    I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood. Most of the houses surrounding mine are occupied by people so elderly that, should one happen to walk out of their house and into the sunlight, I fear that they might crumble to dust. There are some pockets of college kids living nearby, but, aside from the occasional stray drunken idiot, we don't get much traffic from them. So, I am content to live quietly and not over-stimulate my dessicated neighbors by putting out an excess of holiday decorations.

    The only time I tend to violate this pledge is during Halloween. My daughter insists on carving a number of pumpkins each year and putting them out on the porch. Like any good father, I do my best to accommodate her, letting her design the pumpkin but insisting that I take care of the actual carving. Each year we put the pumpkins out on the porch for about two weeks, watch them attract lady-beetles, slowly watch them rot, and then promptly discard the pumpkin corpses come November 1.

    When I got home from work this afternoon, something strange greeted me. The pumpkins had been moved. Not only that, but pieces of sidewalk chalk, which my daughter had used earlier in the week to decorate the driveway, were pitted into the corner of each pumpkin's mouth. My first reaction was to think that stoner's had robbed my house. My second reaction was to lament at how useless my two lapdogs were as watch dogs. They wouldn't do much more than beg for treats while some stoned college student walked off with my television.

    As I entered the house, I noticed that all was well. The television was still there. What a relief. I had obviously been the victim of a Halloween prank. But, by whom? None of my neighbors had the strength to manipulate their opposable thumbs, much less lift an entire pumpkin. Cautiously, I made a call to Jason. After the requisite small talk, I had to flat out ask him if he was the culprit. A laugh exploded from my cell phone. In a fit of creative inspiration, he had given each of the pumpkins a cigar. Brilliant. I was relieved that someone with a brain was toying with me, rather than some drunken frat boy stumbling home from Four O'Clock Club.

    Good one, Jason. Kudos to you.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Another Dead Celebrity Endorsement

    Just in time for Halloween, the rotting corpse of Chris Farley apparently signed his name on the dotted line of a Direct TV endorsement contract and allowed a scene from the movie "Tommy Boy" to be re-cut with footage of David Spade interacting with him, extolling the virtues of Direct TV's sweet, beautiful HD programming. Some viewers are outraged, calling the spot "distasteful" and a "stupid idea". Personally, I'm finding it hard to care. I guess the ad in some way diminishes the cultural significance of the "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" shtick, but I'm not really seeing how it disrespects Farley.

    The fact is, dead celebrities have been shilling for corporations since before Fred Astaire danced with a Dirt Devil vacuum. And, let's face it, Chris Farley was far from some sort of saint who would receive a persona non-grata exemption from TV portrayal. When you make your living on TV, no matter how long you live, your work will be used long after you die for purposes other than the original intent. It's probably even in the standard boilerplate contracts now. And, as zombie celebrity commercials go, this particular one isn't nearly as bad as the stuff that has been done to Frank Sinatra. It actually makes me want to watch "Tommy Boy" again.

    Besides, David Spade needed the work.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Finally Saw Zombieland

    Aside from "The Hangover" earlier this Summer, "Zombieland" is the most fun I've had at a movie theater all year. This includes the time that the popcorn lady got all flustered at me and spilled buttery popcorn goodness all over the counter.

    "Zombieland" stars Jesse Eisenberg as a Michael Cera type character who actually out Ceras Cera. Woody Harrelson stars as a self appointed zombie hunter. They're joined by the always hot Emma Stone and some kid starring as her little sister whose name I haven't bothered to remember. The film is much more character driven than it is plot driven and evokes comparisons to "Shaun Of The Dead", though, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that "Zombieland" is the superior film.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Attack Of The Ladybug Beetles

    It's Fall, which means that Asian Lady Beetles, also known as Harmonia Axyridis, are flocking from their summer feeding grounds in search of shelter from the cold. They look a lot like traditional ladybugs, aka Coccinellidae, but are much more of a nuisance as they tend to swarm and congregate.

    Jason called me earlier this week to tell me what he was being overrun with swarms of the lady beetles. Initially, I thought we were safe on this side of town. I lightheartedly chuckled at my good fortune. But, oh, what a fool I was. They invaded when I least expected it: while I was at work. I took a walk along the street early in the evening yesterday and was constantly running into the annoying little buggers. A large group of them decided to gather on my porch outside and some of them pushed their way into the house. Thankfully, my dogs find them to be rather tasty and seem to prefer them to their dog food.

    I'm not going down without a fight. Cry "Havoc!!!" and let slip loose my dogs who like to eat bugs. Once more unto the breach. Meanwhile, the bug zapper is set on its maximum kill setting and is zapping away into the night.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Jury Duty

    I was called to jury duty today, Even though I find it to be horribly inconvenient and an all around pain in the ass for the potential jurors, I do believe that everybody deserves a jury made up of intelligent people who will seriously consider the facts in the case. If I were on trial, I wouldn't want a jury made of people who were just too stupid to get out of jury duty. The right to a jury trial is a fundamental civil right guaranteed by the United States Constitution. So, yes, it's our civic duty as US Citizens to report for jury duty. It's a small price to pay for having the right to a trial by jury.

    Still, couldn't they do something to make the whole process a little less tedious? Sitting around waiting to get your turn in front of the attorneys is one step above waiting around for your turn in the dentist's chair. At least, at my dentist's office, I can sit in a room that has some sort of news program playing on a television. Increasingly, courts are not allowing people to bring in any electronic devices that might be capable of recording voice and/or video, so using my iPod to tap out some blog entries was not an option. I decided to do some reading while I passed the time.

    In the end, I was quickly released from service and went about my merry way, content that they wouldn't be calling me back during my assigned two week availability cycle.

    This reminds me of the first time I was ever called to serve. I had just graduated from college and was working as a C++ programmer for an insurance company. Not even a month into my job, I got called to Daley Plaza. I had been given a lot of outlandish advice on how to get out of having to serve on a jury. Someone even suggested I show up dressed as Barney, but purple just isn't my color. The first person called indicated to the judge that the defendant "looks guilty". After insisting several times to the judge that he could not be impartial, the judge excused him from the jury, but ordered him to remain in the audience until the jury had been picked. It was 8:45am. The poor guy was stuck there until 5:00pm and had to watch as everyone with legitimate dismissals were allowed to go home.

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    An Important Thing I Learned From The Conference

    I was, of course, very happy to be invited to travel to Alabama in order to participate in the conference. Being primarily a web guy, many of the mathematical modeling concepts introduced by the other speakers were quite far above my head. After considering much of the subject matter used to expressed the modeling concepts, I have come to understand this simple truth: Math kills!

    Much of the mathematical modeling centered around potential damage caused by theoretical chemical attacks. While pursuing these sort of modeling techniques are necessary in order to be prepared for an actual attack, I just found it incredibly sobering to see how much damage could actually be caused.

    That's not to say that the entire conference was all gloom and doom. There was a promising demonstration on the treatment of cancerous cells. And, of course, my own presentation rocked the Internet Security section of the conference simply because I managed to get it finished within the time allotted. These math guys may be great with numbers, but they have no concept of time.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    JohnMac Joins The Party

    A business trip shouldn't be all business. Luckily, my trip to Alabama allowed me to hang out with my older brother, JohnMac who lives nearby in Georgia. I hadn't seen JohnMac since December of last year, so I was pretty excited to be able to have some pizza and beer with him.

    We headed out to a place called the Tilted Kilt. I apparently lead a very sheltered existence because I had never heard of the place before and had no idea that it was some sort of chain. If you're not familiar with it, Tilted Kilt is sort of like Hooters, except the waitresses wear mini kilts and push-up bras. It's a pretty fun atmosphere to get a few beers in. But, like any of these sort of themed bars, it's loud and there's a lot going on, so there's not much to do besides yell and ogle the waitresses. Which, don't get me wrong, it's a great environment to ogle in.

    I was going to smoke a cigar that I had bought, but apparently Alabama has joined the growing list of states that don't allow smoking within restaurants. If I can't smoke it, I can still look cool in a picture with it, right?

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Road Trip!

    It was a very interesting 8 hour car ride to Alabama. I have to send out my deepest sympathies to my traveling buddy, Dodge, for putting up with my incessant chatter during the whole ride. All told, it was a pretty good trip, aside from a few bad omens, including my lunch ringing up at $6.66 and our sudden realization that we booked ourselves at the wrong hotel.

    For dinner, we staggered into a place call the Full Moon BBQ which claims to be "The Best Little Pork House In Alabama". I ate some BBQ that was so good, I could crap out a pig and still be happy.

    Now, That There Is Some Awesome BBQ. 

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    The TommyMac Is 'Bama Bound

    Tomorrow morning, I will be embarking upon an 8 hour road-trip to Birmingham, Alabama. I'll be attending a conference for three days and am currently scheduled to be the last speaker on the last day of the conference. The prospect of me being able to pontificate to a captive audience is thrilling by itself. But, I'm also excited because I've never been to Alabama before and I'm hoping to make the most of the experience.

    So far, I've got a small list of things I am going to try to do while I am there:

    • Hang out with my brother, John Mac, who lives fairly close
    • Interview some of the locals
    • Eat some real southern BBQ from a roadside BBQ pit
    • Eat some crawfish
    • See how long I can give a serious lecture without cracking a joke or flashing my sideways grin. 
    Watch my Twitter feed for updates on the trip.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Letterman Gets Some Late Night Action

    I grew up being a huge fan of David Letterman. In my mind, he was second only to Johnny Carson on the comedy food chain.  Over the years, Dave has gotten a bit grumpier with age but he still knows how to work a crowd and still puts on a great show.

    There has been a lot of talk lately about Letterman being, at worst, a perverted old man and, at best, a hypocrite. This all stems from recent revelations that Letterman had, over the years, had a number of sexual affairs with women who worked for him. Letterman has always been quick to skewer politicians who were caught up in the same type of shenanigans. The difference here is that Letterman, unlike folks like Palin, has never claimed to stand for a certain type of moral agenda. The worst that Letterman is guilty of is fishing off of the company pier, which probably isn't that big of a deal at CBS, considering what happened between Les Moonves and Julie Chen.

    The so-called 'scandal' is nothing of the sorts. He had consensual relationships with women of age, who, while they did work for him, none of them have ever even hinted at feeling harassed. The true scandal here is that a sleazy CBS producer tried to blackmail Letterman in order to get back at his ex and earn a little payola.

    Out of this whole thing, I have come to respect Letterman more. Consenting sexual relations between two adults is a basic tenet of our society. And if the women felt in any way pressured, they would have sued Dave a long time ago. It's actually refreshing to see anyone, celebrity or not, take ownership of their flaws.

    As difficult as this whole thing must be on Letterman, his family and the women involved, you can bet for sure that Letterman's ratings are going to go through the roof. Stuff like this is Late Night TV ratings gold.

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    They Blew Out My Vein

    I had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday. After the War on Sobriety, I decided that I should get myself checked out just to make sure I hadn't done any permanent damage to myself. You never know when Sobriety will try to secretly kick up your liver enzymes in a last ditch attempt to win the war. So, I got a complete blood workup done.

    The last time I had blood drawn, the nurse was practically wetting herself over my veins, calling them beautiful and easy to plump up. Yeah, yeah, I get it. All the nurses love my sexy veins.

    On Tuesday, the nurse took two vials of blood. It didn't hurt, and I watched her do it. She was moving the needle around a good bit and it was stretching the skin, but I thought little of it. Yesterday, my arm started hurting, so I rolled up my sleeve to rip off the band aid. The entire inside of my arm was bulging out around the needle site and there was a huge bruise around the needle site! I called the doctor's office and the nurse told me to elevate it and put ice on it. I couldn't find any ice, so I sat on the couch with a bag of frozen peas rubber-banded to my arm, with my arm in the air.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    I Might Start Using My Wii Again

    I'm not a hardcore gamer by any means. There was a stint beginning about two years where I spent every free moment of my time playing World of Warcraft, but, aside from that, the gaming culture never held much appeal to me. Still, having a console in the house has been a tradition in my family ever since my father bought us a Pong console. So, when my daughter began to show an interest in playing games, I went with the Wii. I knew going in that the graphics are sub par compared to other consoles. What I was interested in was playability and a decent library of titles, which was something I knew I could depend of from Nintendo ever since I bought my first NES console.

    I like being able to play the old NES and SNES titles on the Wii via Virtual Console and I'm even happier that there are a number of Wii games that both my daughter and I can play together. One of our favorite things to do is to play Rampage: Total Destruction. The old standby, however, has always been Mario Party 8.

    The Wii has been sitting unused for about 6 months now. Summer came and we just got tired of it. I guess we got caught up with that MMORPG known as reality.

    Recently, the blue bar of the old Wii shined to life like an idle Cylon rebooting itself. I knew what this meant. Someone sent some mail to my console. Perhaps an old gaming friend had written an angry missive about me not being available to play Mario Kart. No. It was a letter from the good folks at Nintendo telling me that the Internet Channel was now free for the Wii. Previously, you had to spend $5 to install it.

    This is something that should have been included for free from the get go. Now, with the Wii, I can watch TV shows from Hulu and Youtube (sure the quality isn't great). Discovering this, I looked over at my daughter and invited her to play a few rounds of Mario Party.

    Oh, and Super Mario Brother Wii comes out November 15.

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Go Fly A Kite!

    When we were kids, JohnnyMac and I used to love to fly kites. We'd pool our money and search under the couch cushions for change in order to buy one. I don't remember much about those days, except that launching was tedious and often required multiple attempts. Once we got the damn thing in the air, though, it was an awesome experience. We felt like Mission Control guiding Apollo 11 to the Moon. Unfortunately, even the most seemingly harmless crash would crack the balsa wood skeleton of the kite, thus rendering it useless and making us feel like we were Mission Control for Apollo 1.

    I recall that, on at least one occasion, we tried to fashion a crude kite out of Popsicle sticks and a garbage bag. I'm pretty sure that contraption didn't get too far off of the ground.

    Three months ago, I found myself in some miscellaneous seasonal section of the store. My daughter inquired about the brightly colored kites and wondered what they were for. I told her about kite flying and, out of nostalgia more than any expectation that we'd actually use it, I bought one. It was shaped like a lady bug. I would have preferred the Spider-Man kite, but this was my daughter's choice and she wanted the lady bug, damn it. The kite sat on the shelf for nearly three months. Until yesterday.

    Early in the morning, the winds were gusting. As I took her to school, my daughter remarked "This would be a good day to fly a kite". She was right. After school, we set out to the nearest open field. Kite technology had certainly changed over the years. Instead of a balsa wood skeleton, this kite employed flexible plastic. I'm sure the skin of the kite was something more advanced from what I had been used to as well. Whatever had been changed had certainly been changed for the better. The kite launched within seconds. No longer would I have to run with it until the wind caught it. The slightest gust of wind took the kite from my hands and pushed it into the sky. It was so easy to launch that my daughter got the hang of it within minutes.

    After getting the kite up a respectable distance into the air, I proudly handed the controls over to my daughter. She did well, learning how to get the kite to do some basic tricks. Remarkably, when the kite crashed, it didn't break apart. She just picked it up and launched it again. Gotta love modern technology.

    Eventually, she felt it was time to go home. "One minute", I said. "I need to have a turn too".

    A late afternoon of fun for $2.00 and a little bit of effort. What more could you ask for?

    Wednesday, September 23, 2009

    Lucid Thoughts From After Vegas

    In the midst of getting myself back into the swing of things back at my real life, I wondered if perhaps I should have stayed in Vegas. And if I did stay in Vegas, what would I have done to make money? This video has the answer.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Returning To The Grind

    When I'm not galavanting around Las Vegas or making goofy videos or writing up my latest conspiracy theory, I'm just your average, work-a-day code monkey. Okay, maybe I'm not so average. Still, I have a day job. And today, after a week of vacation (involving only one minor work related interruption) I had to go back to that job. I didn't really mind. I hardly expect cake, balloons, flowers and streamers to celebrate my return. A simple "You were missed" from the boss was all I needed.

    I'm still answering all my e-mail.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    The War In Perspective

    Vacation. It's a time for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. It's a time to not only get away from the rat race for a while, but also a time to reflect on what it is that keeps putting us through our paces in the first place. A very wise old man once said to me that, whenever he feels that the demands of the workplace begin to overwhelm him, he just takes his phone off the hook and relaxes with a cup of coffee. I have often tried to apply that line of thinking to my life in general. So, while we may have termed this little vacation, "The War On Sobriety", it might have been equally well termed as "TommyMac's Extended Coffee Break".

    What was originally supposed to be a vacation involving all of the Mac siblings ended up involving only the youngest two. That may have been a good thing, because I got to know my younger brother all over again. Amidst all the partying and people watching and general mischief, I gained a very interesting perspective into CJ Mac. Seven years separate us. We have vastly different perspectives on our parents, differing childhood experiences, and different aspirations for our futures. For two guys with the same set of parents, there are some very stark contrasts between us. Yet, wherever we went, nearly everyone we met could tell that we were brothers. "It's in the eyes", I would often hear.

    I would have to say that the best time I had was at Casa Fuente, smoking cigars and drinking mojitos with CJ Mac. We were having such a great time, that we decided to place a call to Johnny Mac. So, three of the Mac brothers, talking trash together, forgetting their cares for a while and letting it all go up in smoke. It doesn't get much better than that.

    So, to CJ Mac, many thanks for accompanying me, being a good "soldier" and putting up with my overall bullshit. No matter what, you're always going to be my "kid" brother. And to the other Mac siblings, the three of you each owe me an "extended coffee break" of our own. 

    TommyMac and CJ Mac smoking cigars at Casa Fuente

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Pictures From The Front Lines

    Here they are folks, pictures from the front lines of the War on Sobriety.

    Sobriety won't be looking at the Mac brothers with that smug little grin anymore, thanks to a hard fought six day war that ChrisMac and TommyMac waged against it. The backdrop was Las Vegas, Nevada. Their headquarters was a suite in the Luxor hotel. They left no beer undrunk, no cigar unsmoked and made sure each party was partied heartily indeed.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    The Last Battle....

    We decided to check out Downtown Las Vegas last night. The booze was incredibly cheap and the people were very cool. I met a nice young lady who had the unenviable task of having to go bail her boyfriend out of jail. I told her to come and party with us instead. I think that, had she not been checking out the dealers who doubled as go-go dancers, she might have actually joined us.

    I also tried, for the first time ever, a deep fried twinkie. And it is awesome! It's a heart attack wrapped in a coronary, but, still it is amazingly good.

    In the end, we managed to yet again beat back the forces of sobriety into submission. I sense that its surrender is imminent. We're hoping former President Bill Clinton will negotiate the peace treaty.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    So, Maybe We're Not Up For Clubbing

    CJ Mac and I got dressed in our finest Vegas ware last night and hit one of the few clubs that is open on a Monday, which is Jet. The place seemed over-filled with douchebags for our taste, so we just hiked along the strip stopping in various casino bars.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Sobriety Strikes Back

    Mental Note: When having incredibly fair skin and deciding to take a swim in the hotel pool, make sure that the sunblock you are wearing does not wash off. Both CJ Mac and I were afflicted with terrible sunburn yesterday afternoon on our chest and legs. I look like a cheeto and I am thinking that I probably glow in the dark.

    Also, from all the walking we have been doing, we have our share of blisters.

    That's it? That's all you've got, sobriety? I'm disappointed. I would have thought we'd at least have cirrhosis by now. We are laughing at your pathetic efforts to defend yourself. All you've managed to do is slow us down. Last night, we re-stocked the fridge, watched the Bears lose to the Packers and drank quite a few beers. In a little pain, but still in great spirits.

    Nice try, sobriety.

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    It Was A Cold Battle...

    The Mac brothers kicked off another battle in the War On Sobriety by taking a leisurely walk along the strip, beers in hands. We stopped along nearly every little convenience store whenever our frosty beverages were depleted. Outside the Imperial Palace, a number of whistle blowing waitresses were offering 2 for 1 beer bottles, which we took them up on. We were then ushered into the club, where the price was inexplicably higher. Screw it. We finished our beer, went out the back, bought two more 2 for 1 beers and got back in.

    We eventually made our way into the Imperial Palace casino itself which was not nearly as much of a crap hole as I had been told. In the middle of the casino area, they have a bunch of celebrity look-a-like dealers who take turns doing lip synch shows. Not bad.

    CJ Mac and I eventually hiked back to the Luxor and headed into the Mandalay Bay area where we visited the Minus 5 ice bar. The ice bar is pretty cool. Wait. Strike that, it's FREAKING FREEZING. Who would pay $30 to drink two mixed drinks in a room that's minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I don't care that they give you a parka and gloves to wear while you're in there. No way. NO WAY. Wait....there are pretty girls dressed as bikini clad eskimo babes outside? Do you take debit?

    We met a cool group of people in there and the drinks were so incredibly strong, that I somehow agreed to pay way too much for a picture of me and our new friends.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    A Recap Of Last Night

    CJ Mac and I kicked the night off by hanging out at Casa Fuente. The poor waitress was so overworked that she must have mistaken us for another pair of handsome brothers, because she came by and brought us two beers without us having ordered them. No big deal, as we Mac brothers tend to believe that any beer is a good beer. We each bought a cigar and then had two of the best mojitos ever created. Casa Fuente is a fine place, and the staff was very friendly.

    We popped around various casino bars and, en route to Carnival Court, I spied a Burger King. The sweet siren call of $1 double cheeseburgers was too much to ignore. I waited in line, giddy with anticipation. The woman next to me asked me why I was so happy and I explained the lack of Burger King back home. We made some small talk. She got her order and left. I watched her leave. She turned around, smiled and I waved goodbye. She walked back to me and asked "Are you here alone?". Damn. Another hooker. I thought I had been getting better at detecting them,

    We ended up at Diablo's where, in attempting to order one of their $3 margaritas, I somehow got THREE $3 margaritas. And I drank each one. The problem with Diablo's is that you cannot leave the way you came in and it took us forever to find the damn exit. And not because of the margaritas. We ran into a group of other folks with the same problem. I feared that The cantina would become my tomb.

    The war rages on and the Mac brothers are on the way out to stock up on provisions.

    -- Post From My iPod Touch

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    The War Rages On...

    I'm happy to report that the Mac brothers fought well last night in what is sure to be a long and perilous battle against sobriety. Here's are a few random observations I've made, plus a video of the aftermath of last night's battle.

    • There are a lot of French speakers in town today. I've had a number of conversations (en francais) with varying degrees of success. 
    • CJ Mac and I met a pair of ladies from Ireland last night. I'm pleased to hear that them say that, during stay in the U.S., people have been incredibly polite and nice to them. That makes me feel good about my fellow countrymen. Our new friends do report that they think the French are terribly rude and the English just plain suck.
    • I suspect that, after 3PM, the pool at the Luxor consists primarily of Bud Light and pee. 
    • I need to stop filming myself singing with street musicians. 
    • People watching is incredibly cool in Vegas. CJ Mac and I hung out and drank a few beers and chatted up random strangers. 

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    I Sing With Elvis

    It wasn't long before I found an Elvis impersonator. I'm told that there are three Elvis impersonators for every hooker in Vegas

    The Declaration Of War.

    Here's a little video where I taunt sobriety.

    Lest We Forget That I Hate Flying

    Enen in my Xanax induced calm, I still feel a bit uneasy about this flight. Maybe it's the fact that I am seated so far back. Maybe it's because the plane sound like a sputtering old Ford Pinto. Maybe it's because "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock is the in flight film and people actually seem happy about watching it.

    Wish I had put "Iron Man" on my iPod.

    -- Post From My iPod Touch

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    Waiting For CJ Mac

    It would appear that CJ Mac forgot to leave the door unlocked as promised. I'm out in the parking lot waiting for his negligent ass to get home from work. Here are some things I am doing to keep me occupied:

    • Bothering JoJo on the phone
    • Watching South Park episodes on my iPod
    • Wondering if God has an exit strategy for the Universe.
    • Searching for open wireless connections
    • Watching out for drug dealers
    • Wondering how long it will take before one of the tenants suspects I'm casing the joint and calls the cops on me.
    • Thinking of creative cuss words to call my brother. Right now, "Buttlick Balls" appears to be the front runner.
    • Wishing I had a beer.

    -- Post From My iPod Touch

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Packing It Up

    I think I can safely say that I have everything I need all packed up for the trip. Aside from essentials such as adequate clothing (we're talking high 90s during the day and mid 70s at night), traveling cash and toiletries, I've also made sure to include the little things that will make this trip as successful as possible.

    • My iPod Touch loaded with tunes and some episodes of Star Trek and South Park. I also packed the charging cable.
    • My camera, including the charger, docking station and an extra memory card
    • A small set of business cards for promoting the website. Hopefully these will not find their way into the hands of TOO many hookers.
    • My cell phone charger
    • My laptop
    • A copy of I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas R. Hofstadter for when I am inclined to read on the plane
    The first leg of the trip begins tomorrow as I travel upstate to meet up with my younger brother, CJ Mac. We're going to have a drink with an old friend or two tomorrow night before the flight.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    The Mac Brothers Declare War On Sobriety

    My brother Chris and I are in dire need of a much deserved vacation. To wit, we are headed for Las Vegas for a week of uninhibited partying. It may sound cliche, but we have declared war on sobriety. I just hope our livers and kidneys and stomachs are up for the battle. Here's a little teaser video I made for the trip. Keep watching this site for updates on the trip.

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    Michael Jackson Is Dead Again (Sort Of)

    This guy was never a smooth criminal, but, Michael Jackson is dead, nonetheless. No, the zombie popstar didn't push his way out of the morgue. This time, the Michael Jackson in question was a leading beer critic who helped start a renaissance of interest in beer and breweries worldwide in the 1970s. He was found dead yesterday of an apparent heart attack at his home in West London. He was 65.

    And the kid is not his son.

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    How Hot Is Taco Bell's Volcano Taco?

    After seeing so may commercials for Taco Bell's Volcano Taco, I was hoping that the fast food industry had finally produced something that approaches "Hot". Here are the results.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Illinois Hikes Tax On Booze

    As of today, it's going to be more expensive to buy alcohol in my home state of Illinois. Facing a tremendous budget deficit and a lack of ability for Governor Pat Quinn and the Illinois State Legislature to reach an agreement on anything but their own pay raises, state lawmakers enacted the tax to help keep state coffers filled during these tough economic times. Here's how the new tax increase breaks breaks down:

    • Beer/Cider (0.5% - 7% alcohol) - $0.231 per gallon - about 2.6 cents more per six pack.
    • Wine - $1.39 per gallon - about 13 cents mor per bottle
    • Hard Liquor (less than 20% alcohol) - $1.39 per gallon
    • Hard Liquor (20% alcohol or more) - $8.55 per gallon - about 81 cents per fifth
    Doesn't seem like much when you get right down to it, does it? But, in an already depressed economy, every penny counts, and for afficianados and winos alike, this is going to add up over time. Myself, I'm out. I've resorted to resurrecting my Uncle Max's recipe for bathtub gin and kitchen brewed beer. The large liquor cloud hovering over my house will be particularly evident on stressful weekends.

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Disney Buys Marvel. 'Nuff Said

    The corporate hive mind entity known as Disney is preparing to assimilate yet another entertainment company. Disney announced Monday today that it has agreed to purchase comic book and action hero company Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion. Nerds everywhere gasped a collective sigh of exasperation so great, that the course of Hurricane Jimena was altered.

    Personally, I'm not all that worried. All the licensing deals currently in place will remain in place for the duration of their scheduled terms, which means that Universal Studios' Superhero Island will remain intact for now and the movie deals involving Sony/Spider-Man and Fox/X-Men will also be unaffected for now. With regards to Marvel's comic universe, Marvel has been destroying that from the inside out since the 1990's, so it can't get much worse.

    We will, however, be able to look forward to some exciting new storylines:
    • An epic battle between The Mighty Avengers and Scrooge McDuck
    • The untold tale of how Spider-Man met the Little Mermaid
    • Goofy replaces The Thing on the Fantastic Four
    • Mickey Mouse battles Galactus while the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance
    • Wolverine will now pop claws that are made of nerf foam and tickle his opponents into submission
    • In 8 months, Mephisto will appear and alter everyone's memory of the sale so that nobody remembers that Disney bought Marvel and Hannah Montana's secret identity will be restored.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    You Know You Are Screwed When The Monks Refuse To Bless You

    It started out as a simple road trip across the Indiana border. Jason had said that we needed to get out of town and chum some new waters. He was probably right. With the college kids coming back into town, getting a decent beer in this berg was going to be a task. I had already grown tired of watching the sunset from my porch, getting lost in the coming chaning of the seasons, only to be interrupted by the sound of some drunken frat boy puking in my neighbor's lawn as the music of Enya creshendoed in my mind. "Sail away, sail away, sail away".

    With GPS in hand, we set a course for a little dive bar in Terre Haute. We met up with old friends and made some new ones. I was served beer in a bottles that looked like they had been created in a deformed glass blowing machine. We sang kareoke (badly). As the night ended, we found ourselves at a Denny's pondering our next move.

    Halfway into drunkinly arguing with his Moon Over My Hammie, Jason had a revelation. "We suck", he said.

    It was a simple statement, one that I could not argue with. "I agree that we do have the stench of epic fail on us lately" I said as I over-peppered my scrambled eggs.

    "We should go to a temple or something and have a bunch of monks bless the fail off of us" Jason said.

    I immediately thought of the Ba'hai temple in Wilmette, IL. I lived near it once and was always awestruck by it. I suggested that we make a trip up there sometime in the next few months.

    Dave, who had been uncaracteristically silent this whole time offered another option. "I know of this monestary outside of Cincinatti. I could get in on some of that bless-the-failure-off-of-us action. I bet they'd do it. And there's great Chili Five Way out there".

    I felt, as the only sober and sane one at the table, that I should offer some kind of counter-argument, but my words had failed me. I knew that there could be no stopping this. I sat silent in tacit agreement hoping that the tip jar known as Destiny would be full enough to get us to where we were going.

    Some four hours later, we found ourselves at the doorstep of the Monastary of Saint Claire. We pounded on the door and were met by a guy with a vague resemblance to Friar Tuck. A curious look was cast upon each of us as we silently processed what was confronting us.

    "Dude!" Dave exclaimed, breaking the silence. "I didn't know monks could be chicks!".

    He was right. The monk who answered the door was indeed a female. We had stumbled upon a monastary of sisters, not brothers. "What my friend is saying", I offered, trying to be the voice of reason, "is that we'd like a blessing. We feel a little out of God's sight these days, you might say. We'd like to have the...uh...sisters...gather around and pray for us to receive a little guidance".

    The sister shook her head and said matter-of-factly "We don't do that. We pray for the needs of the church and the needs of the world".

    "I thought monks weren't allowed to talk" Jason said under his breath.

    We were invited to pray in the chapel or share service later, neither of which any of us felt comfortable doing. In a last ditch attempt to elicit a blessing from the sister and wrest a win from the gap-toothed jaws of defeat, I faked a sneeze. The sister just shook her head. Not so much as a "God Bless You" or even a "You're So Good Looking".

    And Chili over spaghetti noodles is the Devil's work. Of this, I am convinced.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Brett Farve Comes Out Of Retirement Again

    Quarterback Brett Farve is coming out of retirement yet again. Normally, I wouldn't be able to muster enough effort to care about it, but I'm starting to think that, contrary to what most NFL fans are saying, this may actually be a good thing. Farve may very well be the flakiest quarterback of all time, but I want to see him play the game until they have to wheel his rotting corpse out of the stadium. I want to see the guy throwing interception after interception while riding on a hoveround. And I want that hoveround to be insured through an AARP approved insurer, complete with a roadside assistance clause.

    And it comes as no surprise to me that the Vikings would sign him. They have two inconsistant quarterbacks as it is and could probably use a future hall-of-famer on the team. Plus, they can get $4,500 from the government when they turn him in at the end of the season through the "Cash For Clunkers" program.

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Drunk Guy Camps Out In The Middle Of My Street

    Fresh off of my triumphant return as DJ TommyMac, I drove onto my street to find what looked like a heap of garbage lying in the middle of the road just past my house. Upon letting the dogs out to do their thing on my lawn, they headed straight for the heap in the middle of the road. The thought of my dogs trying to gobble down the contents of a trash pile alarmed me, so I yelled at them to turn back, which they did. Surprisingly, though, the trash heap seemed to move in reaction to my voice. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the trash heap was actually a person.

    Putting the dogs back into the house, I cautiously approached the person who had the misfortune of collapsing in the middle of my street. I thought about how lucky he was that a car hadn't run over him due to the nonexistent lighting on the street. I got close enough to see that the person was a college-aged guy but didn't dare approach any closer. How could I get him out of the street? Kick him? Throw water on him? Tell him that there's another house party two blocks over?

    I rang the city's non-emergency police line and reported the incident. Within seconds, a squad car turn onto my block. Minutes later, three more showed up. They tried to rouse the guy but didn't get him to respond with much more than a few groans. The officers summoned an ambulance. As they loaded him in, one officer came over, thanked me for my time and assured me that Rummy would be alright.

    The whole incident had me thinking about a few things.
    • Somehow, I resisted my powerful urge to take pictures and video of the incident
    • The police were very professional and helpful and nobody was tazed in the incident
    • When I was a college student, even though I drank heroic amounts of booze in single sittings, I always managed to keep from passing out in the street.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    The Return Of DJ TommyMac

    Once upon a time, I was a semi-professional DJ who spun tunes at weddings, clubs and a ship called The Spirit of Chicago. I fell into that line of work, not as a natural progression from my radio career, but thanks to some lucky intervention from my old room-mate Keith. I could write a book about the crazy adventures Keith and I had in that line of work along with tales of the insanity exhibited by the douche-bag who lined up our jobs and rented us our equipment. Overall, though, I look back fondly on those days. I was a damn good DJ.  But, that was a long time ago.

    A former grad assistant of mine had asked me earlier this year to DJ her wedding reception. Part of me wondered if I still had what it took to keep a crowd entertained. I resolved that, if I was going to do it, I would try to maximize the entertainment potential while minimizing the overall hassle involved. My biggest gripe with my DJ career back in the day was the labor involved in lugging the equipment around. For this endeavor, I used a sound system I already owned. I had planned to use the same mixer I had used for The Virtual Sink internet show years ago, but I found that, years of storage had rendered it useless. I instead purchased a 4-Channel Microphone Mixer from Radio Shack (Catalog #32-2056). It offers 4 microphone inputs and two line-level inputs all over four channels and was very reasonably priced. For music, I alternated between a conventional CD player and my iPod touch.

    Overall, I think I performed pretty well. Although I had a few slip ups and felt a little rusty, I still kept the crowd dancing through most of the evening. It was nice to see that some of the old tricks were still hits and it's also nice to find that line dancing at weddings no longer seems to be popular. The YMCA still packs the floor and Michael Jackson was hugely popular last night.

    By far, the weirdest request of the evening came from some guy asking for Ghostbusters. I told him that if I wanted to clear the dance floor, I'd play it, but I usually rely on Yoko Ono's music for that. At the end of the night, I mentioned to the crowd that I can provide DJ services as well as videography, and, if they are so inclined, I'm also an ordained minister who can perform the actual service. With me, you get music, memories and eternal salvation all in one package.

    In the end, I wouldn't say that last night signals a return to the life of a mobile DJ. For now, I think of it as a mere featured appearance. But, who knows? I might just be inclined to step back into the role for special occasions.

    DJ TommyMac Returns. One Night Only.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    That Education Connection Commercial

    I have been watching Adult Swim way too much these days. They play this Education Connection commercial ad infinitum and it has started to stick into my brain much more than the phrase "Head On: Apply Directly To The Forehead" ever had. There's just something about the dull tones, monotone beats and droning cadence that captures my thought processes whenever it's on. It's just so strangely hypnotic. It's like watching the replay of a Nascar crash over and over again. I can't look away.

    Watch if you dare. The Virtual Sink will not be held liable if you develop the urge to throw your television out the window upon hearing this song.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Woman Brutally Attacks The Mona Lisa....With A Cup Of Tea

    The Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, known in France as La Joconde was brutally attacked by a Russian woman last week according to officials from the Louvre, which is home to the famous portrait. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece is protected by bulletproof glass almost two centimetres thick, and is also contained in a special sealed box to protect it from vibrations and humidity, so, the work was undamaged and viewing was only briefly interrupted. The woman who attacked the painting apparently bought a ceramic mug full of English breakfast tea at the museum cafe and was seen to throw it over the heads of other tourists. The mug then bounced off of the paintings protective barrier and shattered on the ground. Officials have speculated that the woman was angry over being denied French citizenship. Others have speculated that she's just another nutbar in a long line of crazies who have attacked the painting, including:

    • The theft of the painting in 1911 by an Italian nationalist. It was returned in 1913.
    • Being doused with acid in 1956.
    • Having a rock thrown at it later that same year.
    • After the painting was encased in bullet-proof glass, a handicapped woman, upset by the museum's policy for the disabled, sprayed red paint at the painting while it was on display at the Tokyo National Museum in 1974.

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    The TommyMac Turns 36

    I can hardly believe that another year of my life has gone by. It has been a real roller coaster with more than its shares of dizzying highs, terrifying lows and long waits in lines behind smelly people with bad manners. Growing up, I had always had premonitions about never making it beyond the age of 27, so every year I get further past that mark is some sort of gift. They are gifts wrapped up in the love shown to me by my fabulous siblings, my supportive parents and my dear friends. They are gifts that contain the memories of an infinite amount of experiences and a set of unique relationships with a number of diverse people. They are gifts topped with a bow that is my beautiful, blue-eyed daughter.

    I spoke with a friend recently who happens to share the same birthday as me, and I'd like to paraphrase her in proposing a toast to those of you, friends, family and fans who'd like to raise a glass to me on the anniversary of my birth. Drink to my coffin. May it be built of the wood of a 100 year old oak, one that I shall plant tomorrow.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Breakfast Technology Is Failing Us!

    I have been keeping odd hours as of late, and my body has been reacting in a number of odd ways. While driving around late this afternoon, I found myself craving McDonald's breakfast . Sure, I can do to Denny's or IHOP or some other hash house connected to a national chain that caters to folks who are contantly on the lookout for breakfast food (I figure, old folks, truckers and stoners mostly). But, I don't want to go to a sit down restaurant to have breakfast. All I want is a Sausage McMuffin with egg at 2pm. Why is that so hard to achieve? We can put a man on the moon, but I can't get a breakfast sandwich after 10:30 am?

    Although I have been eating much healthier lately, I do have the occasional desire to eat something that would be so incredibly bad for me. Every so often, I crave that feeling of decadent naughtiness that accompanies eating something you know is going to start clogging your arteries. It's like giving Death the middle finger. My dream is to have a Quarter Pounder with Cheese topped with one of those egg and ham thingies from an Egg McMuffin. I want a Buger King double cheeseburger served on a croissant from a Crossanwich. No matter what time of day it is, they've got all the necessary ingredients in the kitchen somewhere. But, no, I can't have that, becuase they don't serve breakfast after 10:30.

    Monday, July 27, 2009

    Robot Chicken - Season 4.5

    I was watching the mid-season premiere of Robot Chicken on Adult Swim last night, and all I can say is what.....the hell......was that?

    I didn't laugh once. Thank God for Season 1 and Season 2 DVDs.

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    Yo Muerto Taco Bell

    I knew that I had been craving a chicken gordita supreme (no tomato) for a reason. It seems that the chihuahua made famous in the "Yo Quiro Taco Bell" commercials passed away on Tuesday. The dog lived to the ripe old age of 15. More shocking than the death itself (yet another July celebrity death....this has been a horrible month to be famous) is the fact that the Taco Bell dog's real name is Gidget. Gidget!!! I had always thought the dog was a male.

    Michael Vick could not be reached for comment.

    All dogs go to Heaven, right?

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    A Beastie Boy Has Cancer

    The Beastie Boys have recently announced that founding member, Adam "MCA" Yauch is suffering from cancer. In a video announcement, Yauch reveals that he noticed a lump in his throat, which, rather than being an indication of pent up pathos, has instead turned out to be a tumour.

    I've got fond memories of the group. Back when I was in eighth grade, our school newspaper voted "Licensed To Ill" as album of the year. Our faculty advisor (and, thus, editor) refused to run the album as titled and insisted that it be referred to as "Licensed To Be Ill". It was one of those rare albums where every track was a solid one.

    Still, I can't help but poke a little fun at the poor guy. This is, after all, The Virtual Sink. It's what we do.

    "Now, my name is MCA, I got a license to kill. I think you know what time it is, it's time to get ill (with Cancer)".

    "You gotta fight.....for your right......to recover from Cancer".

    Okay, I think that's enough. Feel free to leave your own.