Friday, September 22, 2006

It's officially a good day...

It's the first day of fall, and good news abounds...

More on the good news in a second. First I just want to say that I love fall. It's the season of Halloween and my wedding anniversary. It's the season for jeans, sweaters and jackets. It's when the air is crisp, and the season when Shane stays outside extra long, and when he comes in I grab him and give him a big hug and press my face into his fur and he smells like dead leaves and fresh fall air.

Fall is for lazy Saturday mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper. It's the season for backyard bonfires and mulled wine, hard apple cider and scotch on the rocks. It's the season when you leave the bedroom window open because you want to, not because you have to; because you want to snuggle under the covers, not because you are desperately trying to lower the temperature in the bedroom to just below that threshold that prevents any sleep at all.

Fall is simply the best.

And now on to the first bit of good news.

First, I have to say that I am very excited about tonight. Tonight, I will be fortunate enough to witness one of those things that will be henceforth known as an event. It's a cinematic event of proportions that probably won't be topped for quite some time, and in fact will most likely become a modern standard to which modern films will be compared. It's like witnessing Citizen Kane before everyone knew Rosebud was a sled or the Blair Witch Project before you knew what it was about (I can say I did the latter one).

Jackass 2 comes out tonight.

I am all over this one like a donkey on a waffle. I will get there early, at the Emagine Theater (they serve beer there), to get my tickets, and to prepare for this monumental event.

I love the Jackass guys. Not only are they geniuses for figuring out how to get paid for this, but these guys are my friends. They're not literally my friends, of course, but they are an interchangeable metaphor for my friends and I, and the assorted stupid stunts we have pulled and will probably continue to pull until we are subdued by forces beyond our control (possibly injury, but more likely... god forbid... maturity).

Now on to the next big news, on a related, but more serious nature.

This is one of those confessional blog posts that I am often against. It's where people reveal items of a personal nature because they feel protected by the anonymous nature of the interwebs. My friends who read this already know about this, so I feel comfortable talking about it here.

For years, I have been afflicted with psychological condition. My friends and family have been very supportive of me as I deal with it, attempting to (often unsuccessfully) control its symptoms. It's been a long, strange confusing trip, but it is what it is.

The medical field has now given it a name, therefore recognizing it for what it is; it's a condition, not a quirk. It's a sickness, and not a flaw, and that makes me feel immeasurably better. It makes me feel less alone.

The disease has a name. It's called Psychological Neoteny.

Psychological Neoteny is an inability to reach psychological maturity. It's often a by-product of an overactive desire to learn. The brain focuses on new ideas and experiences with "a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility," preventing "the attainment of psychological maturity."

It's a smoking gun; the medical discovery of Peter Pan Syndrome.

It's what leads me to race my mountain bike, decorate my Christmas Tree with beer caps, carry a bacon wallet, play flameball (ask me about that some time) and to think that Jackass 2 is the be all and end all in filmmaking.

It's what makes me me, but now I have the added bonus of responding to those who tell me to grow up with a simple, "I can't. It's a medical condition."

So far, there's no known cure.

I wouldn't take it if there was.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


So here it is. Another International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I hope you're doing it up.

I am crazy busy today, or I would have done a long, pirate-themed post today. Instead, I'll leave you with this. It's strangely addictive... and strangely disturbing...

Then, once you've watched, go back to 1:28, and look at the freeze frame of the guy... you'll have nightmares...

Avast ye!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Book Now! Chicago Will Be Safe For A Few Days...

Remember these guys?

These are the wheeled warlords that cruise the streets of Chicago spreading mayhem. I mentioned them in a photo essay from Chicago earlier this year. They are one the things that make Chicago the frightening apocalyptic wasteland it's become.

If you were thinking about visiting Chicago soon, now would be the time to do it, because all Segways are currently under recall due to "a software glitch that can make its wheels unexpectedly reverse direction, throwing off the rider -- and in at least one incident, break some teeth."

Even if these guys don't get theirs in for repair right away, there's still the chance that they'll be zipping around, out of control and being thrown about. That's a rather comical image.

The Segway was a major bomb; it was intended to revolutionize the way we get around. It was supposed to make walking obsolete, and move us more quickly toward the day when our children's children would be born without legs, modern technology having atrophied their limbs into uselessness.

Fortunately for us as a race, it didn't catch on. People decided that walking wasn't that difficult. Score one for our lazy, obese species. As a result, only 23,500 were sold, a large number to police stations around the world.

I don't know about you, but if needed, I could outrun a cop on a Segway. Score one for the perps.
According to the Segway Website, this thing "makes businesses more productive by allowing workers greater visibility, versatility, mobility and carrying capacity. It does it all by harnessing some of the most advanced, thoroughly-tested technology ever created." In short, it eliminates the need to get around under your own power, and prepares you for the days you'll spend sitting on the couch doing nothing, because in addition to your motor and balance skills, your brain has atrophied to the point where a robot has taken your job.

So this is one technology that I am glad is having a hard time catching on; even being a gadget whore, I can only condone making life so easy. And an anti-walking vehicle doesn't make my list. Especially when it's one anybody can use.

Well, almost anybody.

Link to news story.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In Honor Of The Barkeep On His Special Day...

When you're in a business such as mine (and I'm not talking about what I do to make money, I'm talking about the frequenting of local drinking establishments), you make friends with many bartenders. You have favorites. Often the bartender of a particular place will become a definitive reason to visit a particular place.

Bartenders are not just members of the service industry. At least good ones aren't. They are entertainers, counselors, teachers, debate opponents, critics and friends. The fact that they are also providing you with alcoholic beverages is beside the point. It's a calling, almost a holy order, and I look back at the days that I tended bar with fondness.

At my wedding, my mother made the observation that "only my son would invite the owners of his favorite bar to his wedding." To be fair, they are old friends and we have visited them at home and hung out socially, but the fact of the matter is, we met them at their bar.

Now here's a new one. Saturday will be the wedding of one of our favorite bartenders. Mickey from the Belmont is getting married, and he has asked Nicole and I to honor him by providing the ultimate service - he asked us to bartend his wedding. After all the time that he served us drinks, to know that he thinks enough of us to ask him to return the favor for an evening, it's an honor and a privilege.

I hope I'm up to the challenge.


I purposely hid from my blog yesterday. I didn't want to get wrapped up in saying something about the state of the country, the world, or where I was on 9-11.

I don't know why. Maybe I just felt that other people would say it better than I would, and they did.

With a little bit of perspective, I'll say a few things because it's the right thing to do. It's probably not right to write a eulogy for the Crocodile Hunter and then lapse on this tragedy's anniversary.
On the day in question, I was at the office, in a meeting. One of my employees (back then I was actually in charge of people, before they learned better) stuck her head in the meeting and said that they'd just announced that a plane had smacked into the World Trade Center. Like many, we assumed she was talking about a Cessna, and joked about how someone had screwed up royally.

The second plane hit just a few minutes after I got back to my desk.

My company was a tight-fisted advertising agency with a pathetic client base who forced us all to stay and assume business as usual. It wasn't of course, and while we were held there, nothing was accomplished the rest of the day.

I spent much of the day trying to reach a cousin of mine who went to school in Detroit but lived across the border in Canada. With the borders closed, I knew she was trapped in the states and wanted to tell her she had a place to stay. I never reached her, and she drove several hours to her parents' house.

Nicole was sent home, and she went to be with her mom. They went to a bagel shop (their regular coffeehouse had closed). There was a little boy there, excitedly telling anyone who would listen it was his birthday, not understanding why his parents hushed him.

My friend who worked on Manhattan and lived on Staten Island had to walk several miles to get home because the ferry shut down. She bought slippers in Chinatown because she was in a pair of dress shoes, and the smoke and dust gave her breathing problems that persisted for months.

As the economy crashed, a lot of my friends lost their jobs. I actually had an interview scheduled for 9-11, but the position went poof!

That was my 9-11. Nothing compared to the people who lost their lives, or their families, but pretty typical. We were all hit pretty hard that day, and thinking about it now still hurts, still feels fresh.

Now for 9-12... in observation of 9-12, I am returning you to your regularly scheduled madnessositynous.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In Honor Of The Holiday

There were a few things I've wanted to mention, but I really didn't have the motivation to do so today. Then, I found out that it was Fight Procrastination Day, and I figured I could get it together to ramble on about a few things.

Steve Irwin

First off, I was always a fan of Steve Irwin. I used to watch the show a lot. As a kid, I grew up with Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, as well as any National Geographic Shows I could find. They were interesting, and I loved to learn about animals.

But then, along came The Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin was the Johnny Knoxville of nature shows. He taught you about animals in a much more exciting way, by placing himself in what appeared to be harm's way. He knew what he was doing, though, and although you knew he would always be able to escape the croc's jaws in time, there was always that thrill, that adrenaline ruch that maybe, just maybe, this time he wouldn't.

And then, one time he didn't.

It doesn't matter that it was a stingray, or that it was a freak accident, eventually things caught up with him. Regardless of his skill or knowledge, it was bound to happen in his line of work They say you're more likely to die in a car accident than be killed by terrorists, but if you hang out with terrorists all day, I bet it skews the odds.

So it was really tragic, and I think that the world has lost a great entertainer, one who taught kids about the world, nature and conservation while at the same time making them scream in a giddy sort of terror.

RIP, Steve.


Those of you that read Life In The Pumpkin Shell are Familiar with this Pickles. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about real pickles - the kind that we spent all day Monday canning. Making pickles is a smelly, labor-intensive process, and nobody in their right mind should do it. It's expensive, the house smells vinegary for days after, and there is no instant gratification. It's weeks before you even know if they're any good.

Still, that's what we did for over 12 hours on Monday. It felt good. It felt like the way summer should be brought to an end. It felt like tradition.

Nobody would ever make their own pickles unless they wanted to, or they had to. And it felt like we were carrying on the traditions of our ancestors, preserving the summer's harvest to last all winter (nevermind that our harvest came from the farmer's market, not from the sweat of our brows or the bounty of our lands), just to have the energy to plant again in spring.

I will say that the most satisfying part of pickles (other than eating them, which won't happen for quite some time) is that tiny metallic *ping!* that echoes through the house as the jars cool and they begin to seal. The *ping* is an integral part of the process; it means that you've canned them right, and even if they taste awful, at least they won't kill you.

So, I'll let you know how they taste in a few weeks, but until then, we have tomatoes to can...

The Bacon Wallet

In a way that made me feel really hip, people started blogging all over about the bacon wallet a few weeks ago, like these posts here and here. I felt particularly hip because I bought one in Seattle weeks prior at the world's greatest store, Archie Mcphee.

I think this makes me a sort of trendsetter, even if it's a geeky trend...

If you want a bacon wallet of your own, go to the source. Go to Archie for it.

Four-Legged Chickens

Abishag and children were over at my house for hot dogs this weekend, and as their little dog ran about the backyard chasing and being chased by Shane, it came up that he had stolen a drumstick from her daughter a few nights prior. Her daughter was bummed because it had been the last.

We joked briefly about the leg being the best part of a chicken, and how it was a shame that they only had two. Then I forgot about it.

Until I saw this story.

A four-legged chicken was born in New Zealand.

Now, you all know how much I enjoy the discovery of new animals to be eaten, so I wonder if there isn't a way to breed chickens this way. According to the story, it's happened before (and in fact, I remember a story on The Daily Show years ago where it was pointed out that it looked like they had taken one chicken and simply shoved it up another chicken's ass).

I can't find anyone mentioning that they've eaten one of these chickens or discussing the possibility of breeding them.

Just think, though, if there were two more legs on the table. It would resolve more than a few arguements, I'm sure,

Link to story

And lastly...

One Hell Of A Souvenir

So this guy from the UK goes on vacation in Ireland and dies of a heart attack. They perform an autopsey and send him back to the UK. When he gets to the UK, they discover he's got an extra heart and lungs thrown inside him.

Do they just have extras lying around over there? Are they used like packing peanuts to keep his own guts from rattling about during shipping?

It's just a bit odd, don't you think? Link

So, that's all I have right now. Until next time, have a happy Fight Procrastination Day, and be sure to do something you don't feel like doing!