Sunday, April 23, 2017

Shrimp gets named after Pink Floyd. Seriously.

Researchers recently discovered a new species of pistol shrimp (motto: "Pistols don't kill people, shrimp don't either, unless you're allergic.") It has a bright pink claw which it can click so loudly the noise can kill nearby fish. Scientists have dubbed it Synalpheus pinkfloydi, a nod to a rumor that Pink Floyd once played so loudly in concert they killed fish in a nearby pond. I caught up with the pink critter this week for an interview.

GW: Welcome. May I just call you Floyd?

Floyd: Sure, why not. HEYYY, who knew I could talk?

GW: You were big science news this week. You would think scientists had never seen a shrimp with a neon pink killer claw before. 

Floyd: It never ceases to amaze me what impresses people. 

GW: They say you can click that sucker so hard it hits 210 decibels. A jet engine is only 140. 

Floyd: What is a jet engine?

GW: Well, that's going to be hard to explain. Let's just say it's very loud.

Floyd: Does a jet engine also kill passersby with the manly clack of its claw?

GW: No. 

Floyd: Does a jet engine at least eat passersby?

GW: No. 

Floyd: A jet engine sounds like a wuss. I could take a jet engine. 

GW: Moving on, does the blazing color of your claw serve some purpose? 

Floyd: You're asking me?

GW: Yes.

Floyd: I didn't have a say. I didn't ask for flamingo-paw. I am playing the cards I was dealt.

GW: Why do you suppose nature gave you a flaming claw with which to stun fish?

Floyd: Why did nature give you freckles and a forehead the size of a dinner plate? Nature rolls the dice. Sometimes you get "hard leathery shell, lifespan of a century." Sometimes you get "rockin' pink nutcracker, delicious with cocktail sauce."

GW: I was reading about your cousin, the mantis shrimp.

Floyd: That guy. He can punch through the shells of his prey with the acceleration of a .22 bullet. Trust me, you don't want to high-five him.

GW: Nature is amazing. 

Floyd: Nature should make it easier to find lunch. 

GW: So what is next for Floyd?

Floyd: I am looking into politics.


Floyd: Local stuff at first. Law and order. 

GW: What's the angle?

Floyd: "Fear the claw." That kind of thing.

GW: I can see it.

Floyd: All in all, it's just another brick in the wall. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Eat first!

 I no longer believe in translations.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Steps will be taken...but will they be counted?

It began, as so many obsessions do, with a freebie. My wife's health care provider sent her a tiny clip-on step-counter. It is an oval, dark and smooth, like a river stone but more naggy. You set a goal for the number of steps you want to walk each day, and the pebble holds you accountable. If you check it first thing in the morning, you are met with a little pixelated disappointed face sticking out its tongue at you for only having walked 22 steps into the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker. You would think they could have programmed a motivational morning face. You do not know who you are dealing with.

Apparently the counter resets at midnight, because this morning it showed she had already burned 316 calories in her sleep. She still got the stink-eye from the pebble. Maybe there is a way to change the time zone, to game the system so it thinks she is basically running a 5K in her sleep. If it can be done, people have thought of it. I'll google it, I say. That would be cheating, she says. Who's gonna know? I say. Blue Shield, she says, and shudders a little.

Jen does not have, by nature, an addictive personality, although there was that time that she played Tetris on the Game Boy for eight solid hours until her fingers began cramping uncontrollably. All so she could complete the final level and watch the tiny virtual space shuttle blast off in victory. Or the entire summer she spent endlessly answering questions on Yahoo in a gambit to be voted "best answer" on a wide number of topics and to be rated, by Yahoo, a top answerer. But it's not like she's tried crack.

Suddenly it's all about the numbers, though. "I need more steps" she will say as she breezes in after work, as if she forgot to check the "step" aisle on her last visit to Trader Joe's. "I'm only at 6,000. I'm going to take Skipper a few extra blocks." Our dog is the unwitting beneficiary of the pebble. He will be gifted more sign posts to sniff, more deadly chicken bones to ferret out of lawns, more dogs to inadvisably challenge. Bliss.

I am just thankful this obsession is not something unpleasant, involving me and kale. You know what they say—a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But without a pebble they don't count.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Valveless hog oiler

 There was a time I would not have believed the job could be done without valves. I stand corrected.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

"Cats not as aloof as commonly thought, study suggests"

A study out of Oregon State University this week reported that cats prefer people to food, pleasant scents and toys, a result which took dog lovers, indeed all humans, by surprise. I am fortunate to have one of the cats from the study, Precious, here with me today.

George: Welcome, Precious.

Precious: The girl named me Precious. Call me Duke. 

George: You're awfully fluffy for a Duke.

Duke: Remind me again how many lives humans have.

George: One.

Duke: Think carefully about how long you want yours to last. 

George: So Duke, this experiment offered cats a person, a bowl of food, a nice scent and a toy, and most of you chose to hang with the human. Um, are you batting at my ear buds?

Duke: No, I was just...checking...whether they were Android.

George: iPhone. 

Duke: Good to know.

George: So...

Duke. The study, yeah. Well, you have to understand, the people who we went for instead of food or toys were waving a feather. It wasn't just some dude in a bean bag chair sticking out a finger.

George: A feather is kind of cheating.

Duke: It kind of is. 

George: Was the food good?

Duke: Yeah, it was O.K. Some chicken thing. And the toys were cute. A jingly metal ball on a string, a little squeaky kangaroo. The scent was mouse or something. 

George: But the feather.

Duke: The feather was like prey. Irresistible. To be honest, I never even saw the people's faces.

George: It was a close contest, I hear. Food was a close second. 

Duke: They hadn't fed us in a few hours so that we'd be hungry.

George: But the feather.

Duke: That feather! I barely even saw the hand waving it. So the results should really say cats prefer a waving, flitting, sexy tease of a feather to food or toys.

George: You are reliving it right now, aren't you?

Duke: I'm going to need a minute. 

George: The study makes it sound like cats are not the aloof creatures we tend to think.

Duke: Yeah, but did you read the whole thing? Some of us didn't even complete the test. We lost interest. 

George: You really going to lick that whole leg?

Duke: Well, it's not gonna lick itself. 

George: Last question. Do you like people?

Duke: I like people who scratch my ears and then get on with their lives.

George: There ya go, buddy.

Duke: Ahhhh, that's nice. Hey, you got a feather?

. . .


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Life Wtr

 "We filtered out the vowels for a noticeable increase in pretension."

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Smart toaster makes creativity as easy as 1, 2, me!

Ever since a certain political personality commented on TV that microwave ovens could be spying on us, I have been yelling at mine. "This president is doing a heckuva job!" I will shout as offhandedly as I can, even if the room is empty. "It is good the rich are finally getting a tax break," I will intone, "They will be able to expand their generosity even more to the needy, which is always their first impulse, and one that I commend."

I do not think my microwave is a camera, but these days you can't be too careful. Every night I hum the national anthem to my smart toothbrush in case it is transmitting.

The smart house is a real thing now. Your appliances can communicate with your phone and with each other. I got a text from my freezer the other day, after loading it up with an unusual quantity of gelato, that just said, "Really?"

On Kickstarter they have fully funded a smart toaster which you can program to toast images using an app on your phone.  For today's purposes I'll call it ToastMax. You can toast pre-set images like Pac-man, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Batman symbol, or best of all, create your own. "Unleash your imagination" the ToastMax ads say. Truthfully, I do not think society is ready for my imagination on toast.

Sure, there have been impression toasters for awhile. There is one shaped like a Darth Vader head which toasts "Star Wars" onto your bread. There is one which toasts the image of Jesus, but it is completely out of stock; totally understandable after an election year.

But ToastMax makes these one-trick toasters look like amateurs. ToastMax allows you to toast yourself reminders like "Pay bills" or even char the local weather forecast into your bread. Do not tell me there has been a better time to be alive.

The company is not modest either: "ToastMax has reinvented the way you connect with family and friends." I do not want to call that hyperbole, but let's just agree to disagree on the definition of the words "reinvented," "family" and "friends," shall we?

It goes on: "Secret messages that are only readable on toast is the fresh dose of surprise they're looking for." I think a copywriter is what ToastMax is looking for. I wonder if they would accept my resume on rye.

. . .

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Dave Barry's house

 Finally good directions to one!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"And you thought Godzilla was bad for the neighborhood"

My wife clipped the article from the newspaper and handed it to me without comment: "Radioactive boars run rampant in Japan." We have a shorthand after so many years together. She knows what I like. She knows that if there is one thing I like more than a can of Cheez Whiz exploding on the floor of the Senate, it's radioactive wildlife. (I am actually still waiting for the Cheez Whiz thing to happen.)

After the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011, residents for miles around were evacuated and in their absence the native wild boars have flourished. Radioactivity does not seem to have dampened their reproductive impulses. Perhaps it is easier to find a mate when you glow in the dark. So a boar's life these days in the forbidden zone basically consists of eating radioactive vegetation and making like a tusked Hugh Hefner.

The government is allowing people back to their homes in the zone, though, which means the boars, which number in the thousands now, are a problem. Like deer are in certain parts of the Midwest, except poisonous. There has been talk of using drones to frighten them away. As a suburbanite, might I suggest a phalanx of gardeners walking shoulder to shoulder with leaf blowers, all the way to the sea?

Japan is not even the only place dealing with radioactive boars. Over the past few decades the critters have meandered hundreds of miles from the Chernobyl meltdown region to Germany, where a third of all boars are now too Geiger-countery for human consumption. This is the world we are living in. I am old enough to remember the good old days when a boar would be content to kill you with its tusks.

Chernobyl has been a boon to wildlife, ironically, creating a thousand-square-mile human-free sanctuary for animals who don't mind having a half-life. The Eurasian Lynx, gone from Europe for a century, is rebounding. Wolves too, although there are fears of genetic mutations. I say if there is finally a worthy foe for those ninja turtles, let's do this!

Godzilla was just a metaphor, but his smaller, bristle-haired cousins walk among us. Residents say they must be cleared out before normal life can resume. Who wants to stroll out for their morning paper through a front yard gauntlet of boars? The headlines are scary enough as it is.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Proof at last!

Pfft! And some people believe the moon landing was faked.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This is why a man should never tidy up. Ever.

"I was just trying to help" will likely be carved on my tombstone, right under "I didn't mean to screw it up." There are so many ways for a man to screw up, especially if he is alive. With my track record, even dead I will probably manage to screw up moldering. Witness the following recent exchange:

Wife (looking at the sideboard): "Have you seen my receipt? I need it to return this ugly lipstick."

Me: "The receipt that was right there?"

Wife: "Yeees. I left the lipstick on top of it so I could return it."

Me: "I remember throwing away a receipt. I thought it was one of mine. I was just trying to tidy up."

Wife: "Tidy up? You never throw ANYthing away. You have piles and piles of stuff you don't throw away." (She points to five or twenty damning piles around the room.) "The one thing you 'tidy up' is mine?"

Me: "I don't think the lipstick is that ugly."

I would have had a stronger position if there had not been coins, paper clips, a name tag and several other receipts still on the sideboard next to the lipstick.

I would have had a stronger position if I had feigned an attack by a fruit bat and then run out the front door promising to continue the conversation later, like maybe after a few weeks of rabies shots.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, "As man liveth, so he screweth uppeth." I have thrown away receipts I needed too, on occasion, but I did not try that out on her as a comeback. Years of living as a human man gives you a certain sense of what will assuage a woman's ire, and pointing out your proven consistency in the screwup department is not it.

So she was not getting her seven bucks back for her tube of Peony Pucker. (From the Color Fwap! line of cosmetics: "Color so head-turningly bold, men will walk right into plate glass windows...Fwap!")

Since the universe is not fair when it comes to lips, my wife's preferred shade was no longer for sale locally, and clearly Pucker was no replacement. As penance, I ordered her favorite color, Sassy Shenanigans or something, online.

It isn't even lipstick, it's like a lip felt pen. A felt pen! For lips!

I will never understand why society feels it has to make perfectly good things better.

. . .

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Finger Sack edition

 I do not understand the world.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Daylight Saving Time—Love it or hate it? Yes

I know that I promised to continue the recent discussion here of the three elements, but the only material I came up with on "solids" was not printable in a family paper. So instead, I have executive-decisioned this week's topic into Daylight Saving Time: Sadistic Holdover From Another Era or good thing?

Perceptive readers may have sensed a bias in the topic title.

Daylight Saving Time (which isn't, because it doesn't) is irritating in a lot of ways. For one, there is no final "s" in "Saving," even though you always thought there was. Second, it causes you to go around your house tweaking all your clocks and you always miss the one that is most crucial for Monday morning and when you are late for work, or worse, an hour early, there is no one to yell at because time is only a human construct anyway.

DST is one of those things we partake in because to stop would require getting people to agree on something, which used to be possible, I tell my kids, before Facebook. They are skeptical. At least protesting is coming back, like in the days of my youth, and I wish we could get a good march up over Daylight Saving.

Possible chants:

"Hey hey! Ho ho! DST has got to go!"

"What do we want?" "More sleep!" "When do we want it?" "An hour hour from now! I can never remember!"

"My body clock, my choice!"

There is a lot of lore about the origins of DST; the farmers, the saving of electricity. I do not believe these tales. I think it was conjured up as a money-making scheme by alarm clock manufacturers and age-defying-cream companies. Have you looked in the mirror on the first morning of Daylight Saving Time? RKO used to make movies about you.

It does not even matter if you are "springing forward" or "falling back." It still takes a full week for your body to realize it is a) the victim of a profit-making cabal and b) that there is no recourse. I would say write your Congressman, but he is too busy enjoying free health care to ever need age-defying cream. Here is what Congress's first orders of business should be:

1. Repeal and replace Daylight Saving Time with something called "time."

2. Repeal and replace soccer with rugby.

3. Repeal and replace themselves.

. . .

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Political Fail

 I think Brooks may want to rethink his campaign advertising strategy.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Three states of matter that matter—part two

As promised in last week's column, today we will discuss the scientific property of gases. (O.K., I think we lost the grown-ups with that last sentence. They have moved on to the Wordy Gurdy, so now we can make fart jokes.)

A gas is a type of matter which does not conform to a defined shape, much like your local Congressional district. Examples of a gas:
  • freon
  • radon
  • Jumpin' Jack Flash
There are two major types of gases found in nature: political and harmless.
  1. Political. The first kind is found in elected officials (hereafter referred to as "gasbags"). This kind of gas tends to accumulate in the ambitious and morally flexible. It can be very dangerous in high concentrations, but can also be rendered harmless every 4-6 years. A harder type to get rid of is known as "lobbyist leaks." These are created when an attempted swamp-draining is bungled.

  2. Harmless. Gases which are harmless fall into many subcategories:
  • Steam. This gas is produced when your rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" bounces off the shower tiles at such a volume nature weeps.
  • Helium. Very rare, and only exists when a clown and a balloon love each other very much.
  • Ozone. Much like a calzone, if a calzone were airborne and better protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays.
  • Propane. This is great for cooking on a grill and also for thumbing your nose at all your stupid anti-pane friends.
  • Krypton. This is a noble gas and has an atomic number of 36, but fudges a little by putting 32 on its resume. It is also totally tasteless. I bet you already figured that out.
  • Neon is the fifth most abundant element in the universe, but very rare on Earth, so what we humans do, for its own protection, is we stick it in signs advertising beer.
  • Argon. This is derived from a Greek word meaning "lazy," because it undergoes almost no chemical reactions. I feel a certain kinship with argon on weekends.
  • Xenon. This gas is used in arc lamps and, amazingly, as a general anesthetic. It also, let's face it, has the coolest name. Turn-ons include: long walks on the beach. Turn-offs: people who still only tip 10%.
Do not even get me started about mixed gases, which have been blended together to benefit humans. (I'm looking at you, tungsten hexafluoride!) Next week's topic: Solids, the only type of matter safe to sit on.

. . .

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Three states of matter that matter—part one

As every schoolchild knows, there are five known states of matter, but only three good ones—liquid, solid and gas. The other two are only found in labs or in your older versions of Trivial Pursuit. Of these top three, there are subcategories, and it is to one of these that I turn my lack of scientific knowledge today: liquids. Each of these makes the argument: "People will totally buy stuff if 'liquid' is in the title":

Liquid smoke. I got a hankering for a hickory burger recently, and remembered that in the past century some dude had invented a way to make smoke drip into a bottle. Liquifying ash particulates for the betterment of lunch is one of several things which makes me proud to be human. Also Old Spice.

Liquid paper. This is basically paint for your reports, but call it "paper paint" and you don't even sell 10 units. Liquid paper makes it sound like you somehow made paper drip into a bottle, and people love to be awed. The fact that it is simply chemicals roughly the same shade of paper does not awe. Whoever came up with the name does.

Liquid courage. This one is found most often in wartime trenches and at high school dances. There are some challenges which cannot be dared unless slightly lubed. These include advancing during a mortar barrage and trying to de-wallflower Julie Robinson.

Liquid glass. (Not to be confused with "water glass.") This stuff you swab on the front of your phone and it forms an invisible, protective shield against your gullibility in falling for stuff advertised on YouTube ever again.

Liquid bandage. Ever cut your finger only to discover you are out of bandages? Well, technically you have bandages, but they are those little dots, the ones you haven't used since high school when you tried to pretend you cut yourself shaving but everybody knew you were just covering up zits. Liquid bandage coats and protects your cut just like a normal bandage, except here you wave your hand in the air to dry it and a droplet flies off and lands in your dog's eye, and the vet bill is $240.

Liquid electrical tape. The ads say just dab some on that fraying cord for a waterproof, protective, "dielectric" seal. Personally, when dealing with high voltage, "dielectric" is the last word I want to see.

Next week: Gases; noble/inert, silent/deadly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Scientists find elusive 'trolling' gene in mice

After years of searching, scientists at Sierra Madre City College have managed to isolate a gene in mice which may predict which ones will become trolls on social media.

"We think this has applications in humans as well," said genetics professor Bill Datwall, "since humans can actually depress the keys on a keyboard."

In the study, mice were shown photos of politicians, then offered a piece of cheese. The mice which ate the cheese and went to sleep were deemed "normal." Those which exhibited what scientists call a "barf response" were isolated for further study.

They were then shown political tweets by random Americans, and the mice which began tossing their tiny food at the screen had their blood drawn for DNA analysis.

Researchers also took blood samples from Twitter users who described themselves as "patriotic," "passionate" and "unswayed by facts." While mouse and human DNA cannot be directly compared, there was a visual similarity in the readout which scientists called "striking."

On the human DNA chart, said one researcher, "It looked like a tiny dude in a flag bandana flipping the bird." In the mouse readout, "Same dude, only smaller and furrier."

This research is part of a wider study which includes such recent white papers as "Are dolphins jerks?" and "If you give an tapir a Tumblr." Findings strongly suggest that messing with people is not just something that people do.

"Your dog is probably trolling you all day," says pet psychologist/florist Jim Entusiast. "He just doesn't have the opposable thumbs to get himself in trouble on Instagram."

There may come a day when the trolling gene is not only identifiable but removable before birth. Parents may have to decide whether it is a desired or repulsive trait. They might conclude they want a child who is blonde, athletic and, when grown, a total pukestorm in comments sections everywhere.

Or they might decide to remove that gene, along with skin that burns too easily and an inclination toward death metal.

Of course, it may turn out that people who post horrifically hateful tweets or comments are not genetically predisposed. They might just be acting out of their own fear or pain. Having empathy toward someone who wishes you a fiery death, preferably after you endure a lengthy sexual assault by rabid yaks, takes character.

Or you could, you know, just go offline and maybe crack a book now and then.

. . .


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Put your trust in medical phonetics

Now I know who I will call the next time I have an emerjin-z.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

To boycott or not to boycott—that is the question

One of the hardest things about living in 21st Century America is knowing who to boycott. Boycotting is an important pastime in our country, right up there with tailgating and disdaining soccer.

The trouble is, sometimes to be moral you have to boycott your favorite stores, and that's not going to happen, so then you feel guilty, but you don't tell anybody, because all of your friends are dutifully boycotting them, or so they say.

Like race, friends do not chat about boycotts. If we did, I might let drop that I stopped buying Barilla pasta or eating at Chick-Fil-A because of their bigoted stance on gay rights. That could set me up for a beat-down by my more enlightened friends who know that those brands completely turned around their stances years ago, and then I look like some idiot who shops wrong, which is the worst.

I have been wearing New Balance shoes since my distance running days in the 1970s. Recently I heard that the brand is a favorite of white supremacists, based on a seemingly pro-Trump statement by one of the company's spokespeople.

Couldn't neo-Nazis have maybe given all this love to wearing Crocs instead? What says "white power" more than pushing a rubber shoe that's full of holes through a committee and into production?

Conservatives have a boycott list too, but it is a tough sell. Give up Oreos because Nabisco moved its factories to Mexico? Yeah right. What's next, giving up Pepsi? Actually, yes, because of its CEO's post-election comments.

Boycott Amazon, because its owner also owns the Washington Post, which did a story on the president's past? But then how am I going to get my Crocs by tomorrow as long as I order in the next 27 minutes?

Ben & Jerry's made the list too, for its support of the Black Lives Matter movement. If you look at the butterfat content of their goodies, you have to wonder if any lives really matter to those guys.

It gets funny when both right and left boycott the same company, as with Macy's; the left because Macy's sells Trump brand clothing, and the right because Macy's is going to discontinue selling Trump brand clothing.

To paraphrase Newton, for every boycott there is an equal and opposite boycott. And let's not even open up the whole eat-the-cookie-whole or twist-off-the-cookie-and-eat-the-creamy-filling-first debate.

Things could really get ugly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - never know

 I was gratified to see that my city is prepared for a sudden vampire uprising.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Some executive orders I'd like to see if I were in charge

These days presidents like to write executive orders a lot; the whole "easier to ask forgiveness than permission" gambit. Imagine if us non-presidents could do the same.

Waters' Executive Orders, in order of executivity:

1. Men and women will be paid the same for the same work, but the key to the Thermostat control box will be accessible only through straight-up graft.

2. People leaving their Christmas lights up all year round will be required to give out bottles of wine to neighborhood parents on Halloween.

3. Neckties will be abolished except for politicians, and will double as leashes.

4. All federal agencies currently best known by initials will be identified instead by Slurpee-esque flavors. The IRS, for example, will be known as Razzberry Roids, the CIA as Kiwi-booya!, etc.

5. Nothing but suffragettes' faces on all the money.

6. No prices on anything of any kind will end in any number other than 0.

7. People still writing checks in the supermarket line will be promptly put on a bus to somewhere warm but far away.

8. Yarn-bombing, the act of knitting yarn sweaters onto public statues, fire hydrants, etc., will be a mandatory skill for all fourth graders.

9. Every restaurant has to offer lasagna or pie. Ideally both.

10. People using the word "immigrants" in a sentence will be required to explain in detail what style of tipi their ancestors lived in.

11. Grilled onions. No exceptions.

12. All museums must involve dinosaurs.

13. The overused term "gaslighting" shall be struck from our lexicon, as well as the words "gas" and "lighting" just for good measure.

14. Annual evaluations at work will have to include a taco truck.

15. The locks in the Panama Canal will all be removed simultaneously "just to see happens."

16. Hash browns go to the top of the food pyramid.

17. Politicians telling easily-verifiable lies on Sunday morning talk shows will have their homes filled, floor to ceiling, with all those pennies we don't need any more.

18. If your cat kills a bird, society gets to super-glue a bumper sticker of its choice on the back of your car.

19. Every new update of a computer system/phone will come with a teenager.

20. Pregnant women whose bellies are rubbed by total strangers will be allowed by law to tie the offender's shoes together and toss them up on a power line.

Now all you've got to do is elect me to something.

. . .


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - When specialization gets out of hand

 But what happens after they sell it?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Why stop at Taco Tuesday—some ideas for the rest of the week

Somebody please explain to me why we have Taco Tuesday but not Waffle Wednesday. I love me some tacos, but one day a week does not meet my lifestyle's alliteration requirements. Waffle Wednesday, people.

Thursday is tough. Thousand Island Thursday? Thiamin Thursday? No. I vote for Thocolate Thursday, which sounds like your mouth is gummed with thweets.

FriedDay, obviously. Fries, fritters, tater tots. A good way to end the week.

Satay-day is a no-brainer.

Strudel Sunday has to happen. We have to make that happen. Somebody do a Kickstarter.

Meatless Monday is already a thing, but it is awfully pleasure-less. I say Mango Monday. Or Melon Monday. But that could be taken as misogynist. Or feminist. These days, it kind of depends on the hat you are wearing.

Then again, why does alliteration require food?

Mental Monday. The first day of the week is hard, so let's just assume that everybody is totally mental, as the British say, and give each other some extra slack. We bring donuts to the office. We flip off five fewer people in traffic. You know. Baby steps.

Trivia Tuesday. Coworker needs the Henderson report? "Sure," you say, "but first tell me this—who won the first season of 'American Idol?'" Or "Sure, but first, what is the capital of Andorra?" Your coworkers love trivia.

Wallaby Wednesday. It has always been my contention that Wednesdays do not involve nearly enough marsupials. I am not saying hey, on Wednesdays, let's everybody get a wallaby, because zoos frown on loaners. I just mean invoke your inner wallaby. Wallabies defend themselves with biting and hard kicks, and I suggest that is how you too spend midweek.

Thong Thursday. Get your mind out of the gutter. I jutht like thinging.

Factual Friday. If you are like me, during the week you keep a list of all the lies you have been told on a small notepad marked "Groceries." Celebrate truth. Friday, burn it.

Sacrificial Saturday. Forget watching golf. Pull the weeds you've already put off for five satays in a row.

Sumo Sunday. Why leave grappling to the talking heads on the political talk shows? And don't tell me you want to wear more than a loincloth on Sundays, because I do not believe you.

Tacos are so great, though. Food for thought—instead of just Tuesdays, how about an entire month? Just mull the idea, people—Taco-tober.

. . .


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A non-sports enthusiast on football returning to L.A.

Let me say up front that I am not a sports writer, but I did once see "Black Sunday," so I feel qualified enough for this column.

Saying I do not follow football is like Donald Trump saying he is not a big fan of CNN Sports. I can name more dudes from the original Broadway cast of "Hamilton" than the roster of the Patriots. But football in L.A. is in the news, and as a journalist I feel compelled to cover it.

(Note to new readers—I am a "journalist" in the same way that Hillary Clinton is a "president.")

The Rams came "home" this fall after a hiatus of over 20 years. ("Hiatus" is a Latin term meaning "more money.")

The Cleveland Rams were founded in 1936, then moved to L.A. a decade later in order to feel their toes again. Then they moved to Anaheim, then they moved to St. Louis, whose taxpayers agreed to build them a stadium. (St. Louisians will be paying off the bond on the empty stadium for another five years, giving credence to the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you, hey, whoa, where ya goin'?")

The Rams played 2016 in their temporary home, the L.A. Coliseum, while a brand new stadium is built for them in their ancestral homeland, Clevel—I mean Inglewood.

This fall, their record of four wins and 12 losses provided fans with a level of entertainment not seen locally since "The Day of the Locust." But they succeeded in the most important aspect of sport, indeed, life, in L.A.—doing better than San Francisco.

In 1961, the L.A. Chargers went out "for a pack of cigarettes" and are just now returning from San Diego 55 years later. They will share the Inglewood stadium, along with the Rams colors of blue, gold and white, saving a fortune on changing the banners every week.

With a record of 5-11, never let it be said that they, um, let's see, that they did not help bring football back to Los Angeles. Woohoo! Football.

If you really want to see the Rams at their best, find the movie "Heaven Can Wait" with Warren Beatty from 1978. He plays a Ram quarterback in, I think, the best romantic comedy ever. I could name you half the cast, but I wouldn't want to bore you. I know the conference championships are on. I looked it up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Cutting up

 Sure, but you should get a load of the mouth on their clippers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

On this date in history, January 15

On this date in history, January 15:

In 849, Byzantine emperor Theophylact dies, but his name is quickly trademarked for a new allergy drug.

In 1582, Russia signs the Truce of Yam-Zapolsky. Nobody remembers much about Zapolsky, but the yams were reportedly delicious.

In 1775, Italian composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini dies of syllables.

In 1869, future Kentucky governor and male human Ruby Laffoon is born, not knowing that his future lieutenant governor will be nicknamed "Happy." Despite the tug of the entire universe, Ruby and Happy do not create a TV show.

In 1943, the Pentagon is dedicated in Arlington, Virginia. Originally entitled the Hexagon, budget cuts had a dramatic effect on the project.

In 1962, the Derveni papyrus, an ancient manuscript from 340 BC, is found in Greece. Revealing remarkable prescience, it reads, simply, "Beware the clowns." Or "Don't forget to buy ouzo." Historians are divided.

In 1967, the first Super Bowl occurs, resulting in the invention of advertising.

In 1969, the Soviet Union launches spacecraft Soyuz 5. When asked about the first four, the Soviet Union replies, "Hey! Look over there!" and then runs.

In 1991, England's Queen Elizabeth II, being queen of Australia too, files paperwork allowing Australia to become the first of its commonwealths to use its own Victoria Cross as part of its honors system. This is probably a big deal. Somebody check.

In 2001, Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia, goes online, and since absolutely anybody can edit its listings, accidentally launches the "post-truth" era.

In 2005, the European Space Agency's SMART-1 lunar orbiter discovers traces of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and other elements on the moon. Disappointingly, these are all later found to be concentrated in the spot where Buzz Aldrin spilled a Coke.

In 2009, Captain "Sully" Sullenberger lands a crippled passenger jet in New York's Hudson River with no loss of life. As is the American way, he is vilified for causing people to miss their connecting flights.

. . .

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Wa Pic - Just plain seedy

 There isn't a play on words on Earth clever enough to get me to try a kale mint combo.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A son turning 16 brings back old memories

My son turns 16 this week, a fact which evokes in me a level of sentimentality I have not felt since the final episode of M*A*S*H*.

I remember being 16, but only vaguely, like I also remember seeing "Apocalypse Now," but I can't remember why the natives had to hack up that water buffalo. I was 16 in an era when society wanted you to drive so much, your counselor literally called you out of class to the office to sign you up for Drivers Ed. An era when "texting" somebody meant throwing your math book at their head.

When I was 16, the first "Star Wars" came out. Our minds were blown, but soon they were unblown by repeated viewings of "Happy Days" and "The Love Boat." We learned about romance by sneaking into "Saturday Night Fever," which temporarily damaged our judgment to the point we thought men singing in falsetto for entire songs was "boss."

When I was a teenager, my first priority was avoiding looking uncool. I didn't have to look cool, but I definitely couldn't look uncool. I know. It seems like it would be either one or the other, but there was a grey area where Schrodinger's cat lived.

The thing you can't know at 16 is what you will regret. One day my dad drove me home after a track meet. I was still in my maroon tank top and shiny shorts. He suggested we stop off for a milk shake. I imagined the looks from the other customers, thinking aww, how cute, a daddy out with his boy. Adorable.

Adorable was not cool. I told my dad no, I'm good, let's just go home. I will never forget his look of incredulity. I remember hoping he did not guess that I did not want to be seen with him. I was all grown up, you understand.

My dad died a decade ago, and you can't imagine how much I'd give for one more milk shake with him. My son is not like I was. He appears to be unconcerned with cool entirely, and would no more turn down a shake with his old man than he would turn off his phone during daylight hours.

His generation gets criticized, but I think if it can just come up with something approaching "music," it will be pretty cool.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

White-suiter nightmare becomes all too real

The nightmare is always the same. It is New Year's Day and as a white-suiter, a volunteer helping to put on the Rose Parade, I am supposed to be on duty at 4 a.m. My alarm has failed. I wake at seven, the parade across town only an hour away.

I stumble out of bed naked, even though I don't sleep naked. (I apologize for even putting that visual in your head. Here are some lyrics from Irving Berlin to erase that: "Anything you can do I can do better...")

I stagger to the dresser, throw open a drawer and pull on my long johns (sorry: "Anything you can be I can be greater...") For some reason, my pristine white suit is missing the pants, even though I laid everything out the night before, so I grab my wife's white silk pajama pants out of the hamper and yank them on.

My white shoes have, in the night, inexplicably become a pair of baguettes. I have to speed-eat holes in them so I can wear them.

Nightmare logic declares this just fine. People will totally buy this look. I jump in my car to discover that it will only go in reverse. I speed backwards across Pasadena. There are approximately 100,000 more cars in town than usual. It's gridlock.

I bail on the car and take off on foot. Birds attack my shoes. I can't blame them. They look delicious. I fight the birds off with Wonder Woman's magic golden lasso somehow.

A helicopter swoops low out of the sky, and I hear my name. The pilot is gesturing to the rope ladder dangling, and as I climb it and reach the door I see that the pilot is Oprah. She too is wearing white silk pajama pants, except she meant to. In minutes she air-drops me on Orange Grove Boulevard, ground zero for the parade. As she veers over the trees she shouts, "I would have gone with 'There's No Business Like Show Business!'" and is gone.

There are no floats lined up. No crowds. It is the wrong day! I am wearing bread for the wrong day. It is a Sunday, and the parade's "never on Sunday" rule is in effect, a tradition since 1893, out of respect for churchgoers. The parade is on Monday, January 2nd.

I wake up for real. It is only January 1st. I find, much like Scrooge, there is still time.