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Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays: A Science Lesson

March 31, 2009

Did you miss me yesterday? Yeah, I missed you, too. I had one of them meeting things that the corporate world is so fond of. It was alright. I got free lunch, I didn't have to work in the lab, and I giggled and tittered and tee-heed at my boss' picture from a recent skiing trip in which his goatee--coated over with snot-drippings and snow--caused him to bear an uncanny resemblance to Wilford Brimley and/or Diabeetus Cat. The only drawback was the chair I was sitting on made my ass hurt. A lot.
Anyway, let's talk less of my boss' resemblance to old men with oatmeal fetishes and more about blowing the living hell out of some shit! Remember last week's post, in which a bunch of morons were blowing up a balloon and deafening themselves at the same time? Here's a link to take you back in time and refresh your memory, should you need it.

The comments section (spurred on by my own concrete lack of knowledge) brought about quite a number of guesses about what was in the balloon in order to cause it to detonate so grandly. I originally wavered between hydrogen and methane (both readily accessible); Scope thought it had to be something else, something incendiary; Hap thought that since it wasn't fully buoyant that it had to be something like methane.

This is where blogging life spills over into real life. My friend Joe--the third smartest person I've ever met, right behind Dr. John Nichols and Dr. Xavier Creary--knew exactly what was in the balloon. Apparently, when he was in undergrad, he had a professor who showed the kids how to make good homemade bombs. After Joe told me about this guy, I suddenly thought that maybe I would make a good teacher...except for that whole stare lingering too long over the comely lass in the front row with a short skirt. Wait, where the hell was I?

Oh, yes, last week's explosion. Apparently, if you combine hydrogen and oxygen in a stoichiometric mixture, you get a bang like that. It just flashes and "boom" and very little fire is given off from the explosion--it's gone in a flash. For instance, there's this; apparently, someone snuck a camera into Joe's professor's lectures:



Now, compare that to a "pure" hydrogen fire. There's plenty of sound and there's plenty of flame...which I've never understood because hydrogen itself burns with no visible flame, according to experts. Being as how I'm just a schlub, I'll take their word for it, but I've seen it burn this bright yellowish-orange flame. In fact, here's a pure hydrogen balloon going up.


Notice how that guy was all safety first, what with the gloves and the long pole to ignite the fire. Fuck safety glasses, he said. Tsk tsk. We'll have to write you up, Mister Hydrogen Balloon Man.

So, what's the difference? Apparently, the presence of oxygen is the key here. See, in the second balloon, the oxygen is pulled from the surrounding atmosphere. In the first, I assume that the hydrogen has been mixed with the correct amount of oxygen in order to undergo the accordant combustion or combination reaction (take your pick which you want, since--technically--this reaction falls into both).

How to know the amount of oxygen to mix in there? That's a good one. You need to balance you some equations. For instance, we know that what we have here is hydrogen reacting with oxygen. Hopefully, you also know that hydrogen and oxygen mix to form water. I'll also assume that you know that hydrogen and oxygen are both diatomic molecules. What, were you sleeping during chem class? So, we write the reaction like this:

H2 + O2 ---> H2O

Except, you'll notice, that on the left hand side of the arrow (which is used to show a reaction has taken place), you have 2 oxygens and on the right hand side, you have only one (remember, subscripts go with the element in front of them). Since matter cannot be destroyed nor created, we have what is called an unbalanced reaction. Therefore, we must put numbers out in front of our reactants (on the left hand side) and our products (on the right hand side) so that all the amounts of atoms match up. It should look something like this:

2H2 + O2 ---> 2H2O

So, essentially, what that tells us (other than the fact that you can't subscript on Blogger), is that you need twice as much hydrogen as you do oxygen in order to get the big ass bang that we saw last week and in the first video.

And who says science can't be fun? Oh, right. Everyone. And they'd be right.

And now...I'll let Chemgeek--a Real Professor of Chemistry--pick apart my post.

Six Word Saturday, the Second Coming

March 28, 2009

Okay, so I had some fun the last time I did this. But then, the last time I did this, I was talking about pie and blow jobs. How can you not have fun with that???

Anyway, today's six words:

I should have been a cowboy!


Back when I was in graduate school at Notre Dame, the very first reaction sequence I tried could be summed up in the words "epic fail". Nothing went right with the material I had made, and it was a simple reaction of adding a Grignard to an epoxide in the presence of a Lewis acid. Simple stuff, right (trust me, non-chemists, a monkey could do this shit).

Problem was...it never went.

I changed solvents (from anhydrous THF to THF from a still to THF run through our purification system); I changed the source of the Lewis acid (used three different bottles of copper(I) iodide from three different groups on the floor); I even remade the epoxide, thinking a different batch would help. Nothing. Still no product.

Now, for you non-chemists out there, a Grignard reagent is a kind of highly-reactive organometallic reagent, which means it mixes organics (carbon and such) with metals (bright and shiny and malleable) to give you something that will react wicked fast if you look at it cross-ways. That being said, you get a little water in there, and it all goes to hell. Fast. And being that northern Indiana in the summer is a bit...what's the word...*snaps fingers*...right, humid! A little bit of moist air and the bottle of vinyl Grignard you've got suddenly becomes magnesium-based sludge.

I suggested as much to my graduate school advisor. I know. The audacity of a first-year grad student saying "Maybe this highly reactive and water-sensitive reagent over here is the problem." My advisor insisted I was full of beans--or shit, take your pick--and gave me some different conditions to try, all using the same bottle of vinyl Grignard, all the while reminding me that what I was trying to do was a "literature reaction" (which, essentially, means that someone else has already figured this out, all I had to do was follow the recipe like a good monkey). Finally, after one of the last conditions still failed to yield the desired product, I closed my eyes, rested my head against the cool hood sash and said to myself (because everyone else in the lab was down at Happy Hour) "I should have been a cowboy..."

Yes, it was about that time that the Toby Keith song was popular, and if you've ever spent any amount of time in Northern Indiana, you'll know that country music is the aural poison of choice. Plus, I kind of liked Toby's sweet mullet.

To cap that off, I skipped work the next day (it was Saturday) and moved my stuff from my old, crappy apartment into the house I was sharing with three other guys. After moving, I was too tired to go to work, and--honestly--too pissed off with chemistry to worry about it. Unbeknownst to me, my advisor was in, running that exact reaction.

I came in Monday morning to find him standing near my hood. Figuring I was fired, he simply stated, "That bottle of Grignard is bad. Order new." And left. Vindicated, I ordered the new Grignard (actually, I ordered two, the bromide and the chloride). The reaction worked just fine after that.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that I dislike my job. I love my job. I love the people who work with me. I love the project I'm working on. I might not bust out of bed every morning like Spongebob screaming "I'm ready!", but I do hop out of bed and head off toward work and do my job with a big, dumb smile on my face.

However, every so often, a cascade of events affects me in the lab that goes so far beyond absurd that it thrusts itself deeply into the realm of situational comedy. This past week and a half has been one of those eras in my life. See, I've had this compound that we've really wanted to make, and I've made it. Problem is, it's not getting pure. And, I've tried everything. I tried traditional chromatographical ways of purifying it. Still dirty. I've tried recrystallization. Still dirty.
It might not be thermally stable, so I haven't tried sublimating and depositing it. Finally, I decided to work on the HPLC--essentially, a robot whose soul sole purpose in life is to purify compounds. Problem was...when I took my stuff up in methanol (a very polar solvent)...it didn't fully dissolve. Thinking that I would help it along with a few drops of DMSO (an even more polar solvent), my stuff suddenly crashed out of solution. Yes, I recrystallized my material with methanol/DMSO. My supervisor laughed and said, "Well, maybe we can get a paper out of that..." I took the polar solvents off and tried again. This time, however, I decided to see what would happen if I added water, since the HPLC uses water to purify the compounds.

My reaction essentially puked orange-white stuff onto the sides of the flask.

Heaving a heavy sigh, I shook my head, looked at my friend Joe, and simply said:

"I should have been a cowboy."

Did Someone Actually Think This Would Work?

March 27, 2009

Yesterday, after my review of What in the Word?, Soda & Candy posted a link in my comments section to Schott's Vocab Blog at the New York Times website. Therein, the author describes, as he puts it, "unconsidered lexicographical trifles", or strange words. For the most part, it's entertaining.

And then...I found an entry for "sea kittens". The definition of sea kittens:

A bizarre euphemism for fish – advocated by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in an attempt to persuade children that fish are too cuddly to eat.

Seriously, PETA? This is the best you could come up with? Like my friend, Joe, suggested, couldn't PETA have though of some euphemism that would indicate that it's something you don't want to eat, as opposed to something as ludicrous as making fish into cuddly--if slimy--entities? My suggestion, of course, was to call them "Sea Dick". Of course, that's going to bring a whole host of foul images to mind when someone screams "Thar she blows!" Someone better get a towel.

While PETA was trying to liken fish to their cute and cuddly land-based relatives, they heinously forgot sea kittens' other taxonomically related land-based cousins: the Sweater Kittens. When compared to fish...er...sea kittens, Sweater Kittens are far more cuddly and warmer. Not to mention, they taste a lot better, too.



Although, this does lend a whole new aura to the Shakespearean phrase "groping for trouts"! Have a nice weekend, everyone!

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Volume XVII

Wow. Is it Friday already? My, how time flies when you're trying to purify a compound and every trick you use doesn't effing work. I love you, too, chemistry, you fickle bitch.

Anyway...we're here for some Latin, so I'm going to steer the S.S. Education away from the world of carbon-and-hydrogen bonds and make straight away toward the Sea of Dead Languages.

Ladies...I don't think any of you would doubt that you're hot. Let's face it. I've got quite the bevy of good-looking readers in the audience. Let's also face it: guys suck. We act on instinct, and that instinct is, if it's hot, you want to nail it. This leads to many awkward and lousy pick-up lines in bars, restaurants, cafes, parks, grocery stores, Touchdown Jesus...name it, some guy has probably approached you there with hopes of boning you later in the night.

Let's see a show of hands: how many of you fine, sexy ladies have wanted to eloquently and classically tell these guys where they can go? Ah, Sass, Gwen, Red...Boudicca? Well, I guess that covers Touchdown Jesus...Anyway, I'm here to provide a service to you, the fine women of the internet. Take this little phrase and tuck it under your hat for the next time some douchebag guy approaches you with some shit-tacular line and the gleam of hope in his eye that he'll be parting your thighs later that night.

"Si te futuas, gaudeam!"

Pronounced: "See tay foo-too-ahss, gow-day-om!"


Remember to hover the cursor over the picture for translation!

Next week: What happens when a teenie band grows up?

Can I Get Another Word for 'Ho-Hum'?

March 26, 2009

Let's continue on with the "books I'm reading to make me a better author", shall we? Excellent. Today's installation is What in the Word? Wordplay, Word Lore, and Answers to Your Peskiest Questions about Language by Charles Harrington Elster.

In January, I reviewed The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. Read that one. Leave Elster's book on the shelf.

Oh, you probably want something to substantiate those instructions. If that's the way you're going to be, fine. I'll play along just the once.

Elster is a contributor to the "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine. As such, he gets lots of people writing in lots of questions about words, usage, and etymology. As such, this book is written in a question and answer format which makes for some nice natural breaks when reading this book on the shitter. Otherwise, it's just kind of annoying. Now, I will say that, when answering questions based on etymology, usage or "is there a word that..." describes a certain situation, Elster does a stand-up job. However, in several chapters, Elster decides to exercise his "wit" by crafting new words. Sure, creating new words is nice and all, but it was difficult reading these chapters and not imagining some smug motherfucker talking down to you while he creates a word to describe the holes in Swiss cheese or some other useless entity.

Added into these are sidebars where he makes up more stupid words, as well as "Bodacious Brainteasers" which are supposed to be quizzes but end up being impossible to decipher because he will randomly change the rules of the puns that he's using, oftentimes in the middle of the quiz itself. At the bottom of every couplet of pages is a pun in the vein of "I could have been a doctor, but I didn't have the patience". Get it? Laugh, clown, laugh!

I did, however, like the "Unfortunate Eponyms" piece that he wrote, telling stories about people whose lives or actions were so fucked up, we used their names to describe a similar situation. For instance, to "bowdlerize" is to go through and cut out all the "offensive" material from a written document. For instance, if I were to bowdlerize this blog, it'd look something like this:


Hi.


In Elster's defense, some of his best work is in the pronunciation questions (he has a separate book just on mangled pronunciations). Herein he reminds everyone that, yes, there is a /t/ on the beginning of "tsunami," despite the media deciding it was pesky and dropping it back when they covered the one on Phuket Island. Also, he tells us that it's pronounced "homm-edge" and not "oh-mahj" like some self-important cocksnots have decided in recent years *cough*Alex Trebek*cough*. Also, he clears up that whole question of the plural of octopus: it's octopodes. See, the ending "pus" is a Greek derivative of foot, and as it's a Greek word, the proper pluralization is "podes", thus giving us "octopodes." See, the pluralized form of "octopi" is a Latin pluralization, so you're taking a Greek root and forcing a Latin rule on it, despite the fact that they're two different languages. It's kind of like the bastard who decided that we can't have split infinitives in English because they couldn't have split infinitives in Latin...despite the fact that it's impossible to have a split infinitive in Latin. Latin infinitives are all one word (you'll learn that in the upcoming weeks)! Should you think octopodes too silly, octopuses is also acceptable.

The other big reason for reading Bryson's book The Mother Tongue is that Elster cites it constantly (along with Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words), so you're just cutting out the middle man and going to a better written and more enjoyable source. However, if you feel like being talked down to by a book, by all means, read What in the Word?

A Helicoptor, Garter Belts, and Dry-Humping a Pink Cadillac

March 25, 2009

I've got a GREAT idea for some family fun: let's all go watch some Asian whores dance!
Last week, I won tickets to the production of Miss Saigon down in Raleigh. Last night, the Comely and Buxom and Easily Terrified and Strangely Attracted to the Engineer Boudicca and I shuffled off the mortal coils of parenthood, dressed in clothing that isn't stained, and went down to the theater in Raleigh in order to watch the show. Despite having been married 8+ years now--and also knowing that I was a thespian in college--my wife still wondered why I wanted to go see Miss Saigon, of all things (for instance, Fiddler on the Roof--another fantastic show--was playing in Durham last week, and we didn't go see that).

"Well, it's one of my favorite shows," I told her.

About thirty seconds into the show--when all the girls pile onto the stage and begin removing their outer vestments--she suddenly became aware of why it's one of my favorite shows. Okay, honestly, I like the story and I love the music. In fact--a fact which the Comely and Buxom and Easily Terrified and Strangely Attracted to the Engineer Boudicca has forgotten--I own a copy of the soundtrack and in our early wedded days, she made fun of me for it. However, as much as I love the music and the story, having a dozen toned and attractive women strip down to bikinis and underwear and then grinding sexily out upon the stage does lend itself to putting a smile on my face.

The show was magnificent! I will admit, I am unabashedly a theater whore. This was the first play I had seen since the year after I graduated, when St. Joe put on Godspell (where my man, Mic Mancuso, played Stephen perfectly). When the show started and the pit orchestra began playing, my heart leapt inside my chest. *sigh* I wanted to be backstage and not in the crowd and it was the first time in a long time when I really missed doing something (occasionally, I'll get the same feeling when I watch my daughter play basketball). Sadly, I realize that trying to get back into theater is impossible because I'm not fit enough, I've never had voice lessons, and I'm not willing to force my family to endure the sacrifices it would take simply so I could have that rush of emotions that comes when the curtain rises and the lights blind you and--despite all that--you keep that smile on your face and start in with your lines or song, because this is it. All eyes are on you. Do not break the Fourth Wall!!! Ah, I can feel that rush of adrenaline wanting to course through my veins once more.

So, I remained in the crowd. And I loved every minute of it...well, maybe not the acrid taste left in the wake of the fire extinguishers-turned-smoke machines, but still. I had also forgotten just how fucking fabulous dancers legs are. *heavenly sigh* And trust me, from the second row, you get to...appreciate...the shapeliness of their legs. A lot.

Did I mention this is one of my favorite shows?

Anyway, here's a quick run down that doesn't involve me slobbering over the nearly naked Asian girls. Jennifer Paz played Kim, and she has an absolutely beautiful voice. Eric Kunze was Chris and he, also, did a magnificent job. However, the show was stolen (rightfully so) by Kevin Gray as the Engineer. Oh. My. God. This man call pull off sleazy in a way that still makes him endearing. And, it's not like it's a type cast. You get the feeling that he can play just about any role. At one point during the performance, I thought, "Christ, this guy could play a Batman villain and still be the best person on screen!" He was that fabulous. If you ever get a chance to see Miss Saigon with him as the Engineer, do it. You will not be let down.

My wife and I both had a wonderful time. However...we were a bit...confused...by the family of five that sat down in front of us, with their probably 14-year-old son, their probably 11-year-old daughter, and their maybe-six-year-old daughter. In case you're not familiar with the story, here's a quick recap: the show is set in Vietnam during the war, starting out in a Vietnamese whorehouse run by the Engineer. Here, Chris meets and falls in love with Kim, he promises to try and get her back to the States when he returns, they have sex, Saigon falls, Kim is left behind in the scramble to get everyone out, and three years later it is revealed that she has had Chris' child. They escape to Bangkok where the news finally gets back to Chris that Kim is alive and that she has had a child by him. Thinking Kim lost after he returned to the States, Chris remarries, and so they have to sort all of that out. It's all very Madame Butterfly. Wait...

That all sounds fine, right? Yeah, well, except for the lascivious nature of the girls when they are in the Vietnamese whorehouse and later when they are selling themselves for sexual pleasures in Bangkok. That part might be a little...racy...for a six-year-old. My wife and I agreed that these were probably the same people who took their kids to see Watchmen, thinking it would be like Spider-Man. Idiots.

Also, the woman who played Chris' wife, Ellen, turned out to be a redhead. On the ride home, my wife was like, "So...did you identify with Chris when he had--?"

"Yes, dear. When he had to make a choice between the cute little Asian girl and the beautiful redhead with the great set of...pipes...I felt a kinship."

Did I mention this is one of my favorite shows?

Here's the North Carolina Theatre's Blog, where they have posted several videos from the performances and some other pictures (notice, I stole one from the American Dream number in Act II that was mind-blowingly-awesome) along with a historical break-down of the events during the Vietnam war and how they are linked in with the storyline of Miss Saigon.

Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays, Part Deux.

March 24, 2009

I'm not sure what is going on in this video, aside from a bunch of jackasses with two much time on their hands, and some extra combustible gas laying around. I don't know if this is a methane balloon or a hydrogen balloon (it's listed on YouTube as a "Helium Balloon Explosion", which I can assure it's not). I can guarantee you this because I know that helium is not a flammable gas. I can be sure because helium is non-reactive--it's king of the inert or noble gases...I dubbed it king because it sits on top of the column and because the sun likes to make lots of it. If it's good enough for the sun...and all that shit. Now, if they overfilled the balloon with helium and it blew that way, I'd give it to them, but there's a countdown and what looks like some sort of ignition when the Ringleader of the Fellowship of Jackasses gets down to one. That tells me that they simply did not overfill the balloon and cause it to burst.

All of the mylar confetti as a result of the explosion is pretty cool, though. Also, that might be helium in there...if mylar is flammable/explosive...I'm not sure about that. Being an organic chemist...metals scare me.

Anyway, this group of morons has decided that detonating a balloon filled with something combustible would be a good time had by all...except, you know, for the permanent damage it did to their hearing. Watch and learn.



My ears are ringing so loud. Mine, too. So loudly, in fact, that when you said "I can't take any more", I heard it as "I want to be your whore." Well, alright then. But, first things first...let's talk about the relative flammability of gasses. Topless.

The Bawdy Bard: A Review of Filthy Shakespeare

March 23, 2009

You guys have no fucking idea how long I've been waiting to write up this fucking review.

Oh, okay, wait, wait...trying to be somewhat professional here. Filthy Shakespeare by Pauline Kiernan is one of the best fucking books I've ever read!

I am failing miserably here on this whole lame attempt at trying to be serious, so I'll just write like I normally do. If you don't like it, here's a rope you may go piss up.

You guys know how I'm trying to get this book thing published. Late last year, I started picking up and reading various books about grammar and the English language, with usage, word formation, and other various aspects of etymology. This was an attempt to make myself into a better writer. I figure, as I'm slowly grinding my way through my magnum opus, if I could become a better writer while I'm doing yet another read through and rewrite, then my story could be as close to perfect as I could possibly hope it to be.

Enter Filthy Shakespeare. My wife, the Buxom and Comely and Easily Terrified and Truly Appreciative of a Good Sexual Pun Boudicca, bought me this book for Christmas, kind of as a humorous gift (I bought her a book of X-Treme Latin the prior Christmas) and kind of as a nod to my love of the Bard. Right away I took to the book and quickly devoured it. And I loved every second of it.

Granted, it's an easy read. There's a lot of excerpts from various Shakespeare plays which take up large portions of the pages. These are followed by "translations" from the English of Shakespeare's time into a more modern flow of words. The author, Pauline Kiernan, is a Ph.D. from Oxford, where she taught for many years on the subject of Willy the Bard and Renaissance Drama, so she obviously is very familiar with Shakespeare, the language of the day, and the meaning of the plays.

She starts the book by giving a brief oversight of London in Shakespeare's day, of the everyday life of a typical Londoner, the political climate within England, Puritanical movements, and sexual practices, both legal and illicit. People of the day were as fascinated by sex as we are, but some of the political clout held by the church and by the growing population of Puritans caused Shakespeare to use some clever double-speak in order to hide some rather overt sexuality. Most of the time these come off as rather amusing, and I was often reminded of that famous Shakespearean symbolism that we were supposed to digest and regurgitate on tests in high school.

For instance, Mercutio, Romeo's best friend, is perhaps as big a perv as I am. A lot of times, it seems, he appears to Romeo like Bluto Blutarsky on Larry Kroger's shoulders, essentially screaming "Fuck her! Fuck her lights out!" into Romeo's ears. Also, some of the interactions between Hamlet and Ophelia reflect a deeper, more sexually charged relationship, all while deepening the two roles for the characters: Hamlet of pretending to be batshit crazy and Ophelia being driven mad by Hamlet's nuttiness (and apparently his desire to fire off a wad in her face, Peter North style).

However, there are times when I feel that Kiernan is reaching on the double-speak. For instance, in Othello, when Iago is setting up Roderigo to kill Cassio, he tells him to "wear thy good rapier bare, and put it home." I mean, I understand that the dick is a "meat sword" and all, but it seems quite a stretch to take the whole scene and interpret it as a veiled reference to Roderigo masturbating over the thought of fucking Desdemona. Sometimes, a sword is just a sword.

Despite this, Kiernan does a wonderful job illustrating the sexual imagery and punnery within Shakespeare's plays. She even goes so far as to show us that the Bard's name itself is a pun on masturbation: shake one's spear. Brilliant, no? I also learned that, when I picked a name for my blog, what I thought was a harmless reference to my book was really a veiled reference to a gangbang (crown = round, implying the circular opening of the female genitalia, and thistle = penis, pluralized here, implying many) or anal sex (crown = the crown of a hill, hill implying the smooth, rounded mound of a buttocks, thistle = penis). I also learned that a lot of "filthy" words aren't nearly as new as I would have imagined; in fact, "cunt" was actually used by Chaucer (himself a rather bawdy teller of tales) in The Canterbury Tales (therein found as "queynte"...remember that, at the time of Chaucer, English still had a heavily...French...influence, and so the /qu/ is not pronounced like we do today, but as a hard /c/ sound). Shakespeare made reference to "cunt" quite often, most of the time hidden in words like "country" or "counter" or "contrary" (look at the first syllable). Oh Willy, thou canst turn a phrase, canst though?

At the end of the book, Kiernan provides an appendix wherein you can find all the references that she cites across Shakespeare's various plays, sonnets and other writings. This, inadvertently, helped me to complete the Shakespeare quiz on Sporcle in under three minutes. Coriolanus indeed. Also, Kiernan provides a list of Shakespeare's various sexual references, puns, and symbolism in the appendix, again culling them from all of his writing. It was here I found perhaps my most favorite euphemism for sex: "groping for trouts". Expect to see that popping up around here in the future.

It might not seem like the best source for self-improvement, but I can already see myself reaping the benefits of reading this book in my own writing. I completely reworked an entire chapter, and, thanks to this book, I became a touch more creative with some of the hidden symbolism. It wasn't exactly as lewd as Mercutio's conversations with Romeo, but I thought I did an excellent job. When a character meets her future husband (unknown to either character), she feels a writhing in her stomach and a heavy weight on her shoulders, referencing a possible future pregnancy and bearing the weight of his arm across her back or, more naughtily, his sexual weight upon her back. I've worked in a few other things, but I don't want to give all my tricks away here. Suffice it to say, I feel I've become a better writer by having a more covert approach to some imagery and foreshadowing.

In short, if you like sex (which all of you do), I recommend this book. If you like Shakespeare (which all of you should!), I also recommend this book. If you're a stuck-up prude, I also recommend this book, so that, perhaps, it will get you more inclined to "stretch the velvet"...if you know what I'm saying.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Volume XVI

March 20, 2009

Today is the first day of spring. Because I'm an incredible dork, this post hit the interwebs the exact same time as spring hit the northern hemisphere...at least according to the countdown clock on the Weather Channel. If I'm wrong, I blame you, Nicole Mitchell.

You know what happens when spring hits, right? Of course, you do. This is the time of year when we start moving away from our winter physiologies: our blood thins, our hair lightens, our hormones race. *breathes deeply* Ah, Spring Fever. Raise your hand if you're horny! Ah, good, Scope, Cow Guy, Zibbs...yep, we've all got it.

It's also spring break for many colleges. Ah, that wonderful time of the year when you get to go south for a week, drink quantities of alcohol roughly equivalent to Olympic sized pools, and generally act like a whore. That's right. Not since those whacky days in the public baths has nudity and casual sex en masse been so acceptable than on Spring Break. But what's a guy to do when he has so many beautiful women around him, and has no way of breaking the ice?

Don't worry, guys, I'm here to help. Imagine you're on the beach and some busty, lusty co-ed comes bounding along with treats so enticing that you cannot help but want to bed her. Okay, okay...admittedly, guys will stick themselves in anything that can't or won't move away fast enough, but still, let's just play along for this exercise. I'm here to give you the confidence and the ability to walk up to the object of your desire and tell her exactly what you think:

"Venustas habes mammas!"

Pronounced: "Way-noose-tahs hob-ace maw-moss!"


Don't worry, ladies. Next week, I'll teach you how to deal with these douchebags!

Happy Saint Joseph's Day!

March 19, 2009

Good Lord...how long has it been since I actually have written a saints post and not just linked into older ones? I don't know how long it's been, but Anthony of Padua is beginning to give me the eye.

Anyway, today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph. You know him better as the earthly father of Jesus H Tap-Dancing Christ, our buddy savior and various other sweet epithets that really spice up a resume. Joseph, as you know, was a carpenter. As such, he was fond of nailing things...except for his wife, the ever-virgin Mary.

I've always thought Joseph must be history's most patient and forgiving man, because, honestly, can you imagine how that conversation went down?

Mary: Um, honey, great news. I'm pregnant.
Joseph: *spit take* Jesus Christ! What?
Mary: Exactly.
Joseph: No, I mean...how? You know how a baby gets in there, right?
Mary: Yes, Joe, I know how they get in there. I had fifth grade health class, you know. We sat in the back together and giggled.
Joseph: Then, you know...you've got some 'splainin' to do, woman.
Mary: Well, see, the midichlorians in my blood exuded an all powerful aura and from there the child was conceived.
Joseph: Don't give me that 'midichlorian' bullshit. Who's the father?
Mary: You're right. That story is completely unbelievable bullshit. The father is God.
Joseph: God??? You slept with Morgan Freeman? What's he like? Is he as nice in person as he seems?

As Joseph served as the earthly incarnation of a father for Jesus, many countries--especially those that have a highly Catholic population, like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium--celebrate Father's Day on St. Joseph's Feast Day. The Feast of Saint Joseph, itself, is one in which the community seeks to help the poverty-stricken members. On many altars, along with food, there is a small dish for donations to help the poor, and the food collected on the altar is also distributed to those who need it most.

Due to Joseph's gentle, forgiving style, St. Joseph has been tabbed as the Patron Saint of fathers (naturally), expectant mothers (makes sense), against doubt (reasonable), married people (does that come with an "I Heart My Marriage" t-shirt?), unborn children (isn't that redundant?), house hunters (huh?) and people who fight Communism (what the hell?). Because of his chosen career, he is the Patron Saint of carpenters, craftsmen, cabinetmakers, wheelwrights, workers, confectioners (mmm...cake) and civil engineers. A whole host of places have adopted Saint Joseph as their Patron, including Croatia, Belgium, Canada, Sicily, San Jose, Mexico, Korea, the New World, Louisville, KY, Hartford, CT and Blueball, PA.

A tale comes from Sicily (where Saint Joseph is Patron Saint) of a drought that threatened the entire population. Everyone got together and prayed to Saint Joseph to break the drought. When the rains finally came, everyone was so thrilled that they celebrated by preparing a feast. On Sicily, the crop that saved everyone from starvation was the fava bean, which is why fava beans traditionally are eaten on the Feast Day of St. Joseph. No word on whether liver and chianti are also part of the celebratory meal.

My undergrad institution, St. Joseph's College, is obviously tied in with the patronage of St. Joseph. Traditionally on this day, the students at SJC will get up, think about going to class, stumble into a boring Core lecture, and spend the rest of the afternoon drinking and bitching about the cost of tuition followed by a hearty game of beat the shit out of Rich Gallo. No, wait, that last part was only for fire drills.

Not much is known about the actual life of Saint Joseph, except that he was a carpenter (or a woodworker of some sort) and loved bass fishing. He never speaks in the Gospels (probably because he kept muttering stuff under his breath about ever virginal) and it is not known where or when he died, but it is commonly accepted that he was dead before Jesus was crucified. Traditionally, Mary is shown as a widow at the time of Christ's death, and from there it was interpreted that Joseph had already shuffled off this mortal coil. Some traditions claim that he died in Nazareth, but no one is exactly sure. The Catholic tradition has him dying in the arms of Jesus and Mary, which would also imply in Nazareth, but no cause or ailment is mentioned.

If you happen to work with or sit next to or otherwise harass on a daily basis someone named Joe, make sure to wish them a Happy Saint Joseph's day. Also, you should probably drink an extra cup of coffee.

A Legendary Tale

March 18, 2009

A cold, dismal rain fell upon the walls of Camelot. King Arthur sat, brooding, in his personal chambers. He rested his brow upon his left hand while he clutched a chalice of wine in his right. Staring into the fire, he barely heard the knock that came upon his door.

"Enter," he barked. As Merlin strode through the portal and made to bow, Arthur waved off his genuflection and silently gestured to another chair, tacitly instructing his court magician to seat himself.

"What bothers you, my king?" Merlin asked as he sat, "Your summons seemed pressed and urgent."

"I need to travel north, my old friend," Arthur immediately stated. "I have arranged for a meeting with the chiefs of the Pictish and Caledonian tribes." Arthur sighed. "I cannot hope to repel the Saxons if I must guard against attack from the north. I seek to foment peace with the northerners, with an eye toward an alliance against our invaders."

"Well thought, my king," Merlin countered.

"I will be leaving in a week," Arthur continued. "Since northern blood courses through your veins, I am asking that you accompany me on the journey."

"Of course, my king," Merlin beamed. "It will be good to see my old homelands once again."

"I wish to travel lightly," Arthur stated flatly, "It will just be the two of us, and, my friend, we travel as equals. I do not want the northerners to see me as a conquerer, but rather as an ally. At the same time, I want the Saxons to think that I remain holed up in the castle, awaiting their attack." The king sighed. "To that end, I will leave the Knights of the Round Table here to guard Camelot."

"A bold plan," Merlin stated, rubbing his chin.

"To be sure," Arthur replied, "but the real rub is in my Lady wife. I want absolutely nothing to besmirch my Lady's good name while I am gone. I need you, Merlin, to think of a way to protect her while I am gone."

"But, my king, the Knights of the Round Table will be here. They have taken oaths to protect you and Queen Guinevere!"

"The knights are my main reason for concern," Arthur stated. "I trust them in battle to remain true to me, to follow the code of chivalry that I have established, but when presented with an unparalleled beauty like that of the Queen's..." Arthur's words trailed off into a sigh. "They are only men, Merlin, and as creatures crafted of flesh, they are susceptible to carnal temptations."

"I understand, my King, and I think I know of a solution," Merlin said, nodding.

"Good, then, return to me in three days with your solution. After that, we shall prepare to leave for the northern kingdoms."

In three days time, Merlin returned and met with the king in Arthur's chambers once more. This time, however, he brought with him a contraption that looked much like a chastity belt, save that it had a guillotine-like blade at the front opening to dissuade potential penetrants.

"Brilliant!" Arthur stated. "Prepare your things, my friend. We leave two mornings hence." With that, Arthur swept from his chambers with the chastity belt in his grasp so that he may fit it upon his lady wife.

True to his word, Arthur and Merlin left two mornings later, setting a brisk pace for the northern kingdoms where they were met with warm greetings and open minds. The meetings with the northern clan chiefs was a success and, after several days of celebrating, Arthur and Merlin set out to return to Camelot, a peace treaty and mutual protection pact with the northern tribes in place. The Picts and Caledonians had agreed to join with Arthur to repel the foreign invaders in the east and Arthur promised to not try and conquer the north for his own.

Returning triumphant, Arthur summoned the Knights of the Round Table to his war room where they would discuss their strategies for battling the Saxons. However, he noticed that several of the knights came limping into room, and Arthur was given to a fit of rage where he demanded that every knight remove his pants immediately. Upon inspection, Arthur saw that the knights were mutilated from where they had tried to circumvent Queen Guinevere's chastity belt. As Arthur continued to inspect those men he trusted as his friends, he saw that all of them--Sir Bors, Sir Kay, Sir Gawain, Sir Percival--were damaged beyond repair.

Finally, at the end of the line stood Sir Lancelot. A simple glance showed Arthur that Lancelot was unmutilated and whole. Overjoyed, he embraced the young knight.

"Lancelot, my dearest friend whom I love above all others," Arthur lauded the youth, "I knew I could trust you. You, among all of my friends and allies, I could trust with the sanctity of my marriage and the honor of my wife. Thank you...thank you, my friend. Now, please, speak and remind your fellow knights of the oaths each of you took to never force a lady or a gentlewoman."

However, Sir Lancelot was speechless.

An Irish Saint and a Confession

March 17, 2009

I have already detailed the life and times of St. Patrick (or was it Saint Palladius?), so I won't rehash old posts, merely provide you with the link. However, do remember that today is the feast day of the Patron Saint of Ireland, which means lots of drunken revelry coupled with the phenomenon I like to call "Erin Goes Bra-less" along with countless sad motherfuckers stumbling around bars strapping on fake accents and asking the fair, drunken lasses "Pardon me, dear one, but do ye have any Irish in ye? Would ye care for some more?" God, horny drunks are so creative.

I, however, won't be participating in such activities. Not that I wouldn't mind bedding a fair Irish lass--oh, wait, I already have one...wan, fair complexion, red hair and a filthy mouth all included! No, this whole drinking thing isn't for me, not any more. Oh, don't worry, I'm not going to get all high-and-mighty on your sinners asses, no, not today. The reason for my teetotalism isn't out of some overdevelop sense of higher morals, it's strictly physiological.

It's with a heavy, sober heart that I come before you and admit: I've developed a wicked allergy to hops.

If you know me, you know that I love beer. Not the macro-swill that you pound down at a tailgate in order to be able to stomach the sad state of affairs Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham have put on the field...no, I love craft brews. I've sampled well over a thousand beers in my day from 37 different states and 17 different countries (if you count Scotland and Wales as their own countries, that is). I even drove way the hell out of my way in order to stop off at a crappy microbrewery in West Virginia so that I could add one more beer and one more state to the list.

That microbrewery trip was the one where I finally had to start facing up to the truth that I had a problem. See, with the merest sip of a beer these days, my throat begins to close, my breathing becomes ragged, and my stomach lurches. The sad thing is, I used to absolutely love my beers with hops. I've had 90 Minute IPA from Dogfish Head shot through Randall the Enamel Animal where the hops was so powerful, it felt like I could pick them from my teeth. I've had a slightly chilled Stone IPA where I thought, "Hmmm...yes, that's about right", despite the fact that Stone's beers are typically offensively hopped (as much as I love hops, some beers are ruined by an overabundance of their oils). Research even says that hops could be good for the heart and most likely they would exhibit positive anti-oxidant levels in your blood (hops are antioxidants for beer, thus their use as preservatives). But none of this is for me. Not any more.

60 Minute IPA is what the Gods themselves drink.

I used to run my own beer blog where I was attempting to review beers, breweries and beer-based books. I even used a picture of a naked woman festooned with strategically-placed hops as the "mascot" of said blog, but as the hop allergy became worse, I had to suspend my work and, with a heavy heart, delete my beloved blog from the blogosphere. Even now, I'm tearing up a little.

So, my friends, while you're out in the bars wearing your plastic green bowlers, pretending to love Guinness and pinching the asses of those ladies who had the bad foresight not to wear green tonight, I ask you to down at least one pint and think of me. I'll be at home sipping on my Diet Dr. Pepper and watching Notre Dame piss away their first-round NIT game.

Regardless of my personal afflictions, let me wish you all a Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Also, happy birthday to my old drinking buddy Pat, aka Dr. Assy. Hopefully, he got a replacement laptop for the one that was stolen from his apartment and can read this once more.

Another Brush With Fame?

I realize domestic battery isn't funny...however, I felt compelled to post the following story, partly for the irony of the t-shirt, partly because I'm pretty sure I went to college with this guy. He was actually a pretty good friend and didn't mind that I talked about dry-humping on my radio show every week (he was one of the station managers). Ah, good times, good times. I should point out that Brad was one helluva nice guy and a good friend, and I was totally blown away to hear his name tied in with all this.

Anyway, I consider this a brush with fame because I heard about it on the radio today here in North Carolina, which means that it's semi-national news. Of course, I heard about it because of the unfortunate shirt that he was wearing. *sigh*

I double-checked with the alumni page on my college website. Turns out this is my friend. I am so rubbing elbows with the stars.

EDIT: My friend, TWCWTBSPDHB, pointed out that Brad also made the front page of the Drudge Report. My stock is flying up the charts! FoxNews now also has the story up.

Also, this really isn't a laughing matter guys. I mean, Brad and I had a lot in common: both from northern Indiana, both graduated in 1998, both lived in Gallagher Hall, both have wives who better have the dishes done when we get home...

Warning Labels

March 16, 2009

Yesterday, for lunch, I bought myself one of those cans of Hormel chili. I must admit that, while in grad school, this was one of my staple foods (that is, until I met the Comely and Buxom and Easily Terrified and Gunshy Boudicca). I tried to recapture a little of that youthful enthusiasm for life and chemistry this weekend by buying and partaking of the Hormel chili.

I'm not sure about recapturing those things, but I will say that Hormel probably should put a warning label on their cans of chili. It should read something like "While the contents of this can are undeniably delicious, this product should be eaten and digested in a well-ventilated room."

Mercy.

Sunday Free For All

March 15, 2009

Not a lot of people read this on the weekends, so I thought I'd just throw up a grab bag of shit that I've accumulated recently, thinking "Hey, that would make a fun little post." But then I didn't get around to it because, remember people, my lack of ambition at overcoming entropy sometimes outweighs my desire to tickle your fancies. If you need help plotting the relationship between my love of your comments versus my inherent laziness, I suggest the Arrhenius equation.

Anyway, remember that book thing I'm trying to work on and publish and all that shit? Well, for one, I'm waiting a bit for the economy to not be so dour before plunging headlong into the submission pool once anon. Hopefully, with the president telling everyone NOT to believe the media hype (for once), things will slowly begin to tick up. Now, if we could get more institutions to not take bailout money, the stock markets would begin to slide back up and then some enterprising agent would be like "awesome, let's print this thing!"

So, as you remember, I'm working on a big fantasy story. Since I've basically crafted an entire world for my characters, I decided to work in the whole element of realism that follows along with history, political structures and religion. For the religion aspect, I based my deities on Norse and Germanic mythology, with a healthy dose of Celtic, for good measure. When I did that, I busted open my guide to the gods and read, cover to cover, the section on Norse mythology. Imagine, then, my sheer giddy glee when I stumbled across a web comic centered on the dysfunction surrounding the Norse gods. I've been delighting in this for weeks now; here's the link to Brat-Halla. It might help to read it and keep open the Encyclopedia Mythica, in case you're not familiar with who Hod, Heimdall, Syf, Tyr, Frigg and Baldur are (I assume you know who Thor, Odin and Loki are...oh, and the Valkyries).

Brat-Halla's cast of characters

Jidai posted this the other day, but I have to steal it and leave it here, in case you missed out on it. There are some excellent nuggets of geeky reference in this.
Saturday Morning Watchmen Cartoon:



If you're a football fan and you're not reading Kissing Suzy Kolber, you're doing yourself a disservice. For instance, here's their recent Watchmen parody as played out by NFL players. I'm not sure which I like more, Silk Steeler or BoobsAssTits.

More Watchmen shit. Here's the PvP parody of Watchmen, using classic comic strip characters. It might not be as funny as the first two links, but it's still quite clever. Pfangirl originally had the links up for me.

Okay, last Watchmen thing. No matter how brilliant this is, this comic is disturbingly funny. It makes a lot more sense if you've read the comic or at least seen the movie. Thanks to Theory of Everything for making this possible.

And in case you missed the twin celebrations yesterday...or thought I was making it all up...here's the histories behind Pi Day (it's 3-14, in case you couldn't figure it out) and Steak and Blow Job Day (kind of NSFW link). Now, where's Nej to tell me that she learns something every time she reads my blog?

Six Word Saturday

March 14, 2009

I don't usually participate in these things (except for totally blowing shit up Tuesdays), but since today is a national holiday, I figured I'd sum things up in the requisite six words, as determined by Cate at Show My Face.

So, in six words...

It's Pi Day! Eat some pie!

I'd say that pretty much sums it up.

Oh, also, it's the men's version of "Valentine's Day"...Steak and Blow Job day. Celebrate afterwords with pie.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Volume XV

March 13, 2009

Great Caesar's ghost! Today is the two thousandth and fifty-third anniversary of the soothsayer telling Julius Caesar to "beware the ides of March." Okay, I don't know if today is that day, but I think that it was a couple of days before Brutus and Cassius went all stabby-stabby in the Theatre of Pompey when the seer warned Caesar to watch hisself on the ides.

Time for some genuine edumication, kids. The "ides" is the fifteenth day of March, May, July and October. For all the other months, it is the thirteenth (so, the Ides of April is April 13). The phrase, in Latin, is "Idus Martias" (ee-deuce mar-tea-oss), and literally means "the half division of March". It is thought to celebrate the full moon of the month, and as March celebrates Mars, the Roman God of War, it was a day filled with military parades and celebrations of the vast Roman legions.

Being that Caesar was quite the military man, what better day to name himself emperor of Rome? None, and so, in 44 BC, Julius Caesar summoned together the Roman Senate in order to inform them that he would now be dictator of Rome for life...which he was. It just happened to be a title he held for all of five minutes. As soon as the title was bequeathed, the senators, led by Cassius and Brutus, decided that Caesar would be better fit as the dictator for life of Switzerland (Helvetica) and thusly filled him full of holes.

In Shakespeare's interpretation of the events, Caesar fought back valiantly until he saw his good friend, Brutus, among the assassins. Once recognizing the brute, Caesar projected, for all to hear--especially those seated in the back--"Et tu, Brutei? Then fall, Caesar." However, according to various reports, Caesar actually said "Kai su, teknon?" (Greek for "And you, child?"), while Plutarch says that Caesar simply hoisted his toga over his head and suffered the pointy ends of the Senators' bared bodkins.

How timely, then, is this week's Latin lesson? Very, is the answer you should be looking for, along with "wow, I shouldn't be wearing this shirt. I shall remove it now."

Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare!

Pronounced: "Saint-ee-oh oll-ee-kwose toe-gah-tose cone-trah may cone-spear-are-aye!"

The best time to work this into conversation, of course, is during a toga party in which there will be individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prevents listing them here.

They took the bar! The whole fucking bar!

More Indiana Fun

March 12, 2009

I. Am. Speechless. Speechless because I'm laughing so hard at this guy caught masturbating by his mailbox.

Yorktown, IN dude arrested for public spanking.

Can anyone else think of a better excuse to tell police? Neither can I.

Quis Custodiets? Me, That's Who!

March 11, 2009

I went and saw Watchmen last night. I went by myself and sat in a theatre with about sixty other folks. The good thing was that they were there to see the movie and--I'm going to guess--most of them either knew the story or at least knew what to except. There was no extraneous giggling about Dr. Manhattan's peezer, though there was laughing at the appropriate times when Rorschach was just being the complete badass he was supposed to be.

So, here's my review, but if you want to read reviews by people who do a much better job than me, check moog, Jon, Rider or Jidai. Pfangirl will also have a review up soon has an excellent review up, as well.

The short review: I wanted to get up and walk out of the theatre...to buy a ticket to the very next screening. I really enjoyed it. For one, it was as true an adaptation of the comic as possible. There were a couple of things left out that I thought were important: Laurie's favorite toy, the snow globe, that she broke when she saw her mother and her mother's husband fighting (I realize that Doc Manhattan's glass palace played the same role) and Sally kissing the picture of the Comedian from the group photo of the Minutemen. I thought that, when she did that in the comic, it wrapped that subplot up nicely. Also, I thought that the movie made it too obvious as to who the antagonist was. That could have just been because I knew who was behind the diabolical plan and I picked up on the clues more readily.

I wish that there had been more to the story as to why the Keene Act was set in place. I thought that was touched on a little too quickly. Also, I wish that we could have explored Dr. Malcolm's reaction to Rorschach's story more so that it was more obvious that he understood why Rorschach became what he became. I realize that these additions would have taken up more time, and the movie was already nearly three hours long (not that I minded).

Of course, I also know that the Black Freighter story arc will be in the extended version when the DVD hits shelves later in the summer, so I'm not upset over that.

That's all the negative I could pull out of it. At first, I thought Dr. Manhattan's voice wasn't right, but then, given what he has developed into, I realized that having a soothing, placid voice was better than the cold, almost Vader-esque voice I always read in the book. Also, I liked Silk Spectre II in the movie much better than the book.

Needless to say, Rorschach and the Comedian were fucking unbelievably good. Everyone has talked about them, but I also really liked Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II. I thought Patrick Wilson didn't get enough accolades (in the reviews I've read) for balancing the impotence/vulnerability/cowardice of Dreiberg versus the crime fighter persona of Nite Owl.

As for the ending...it's different than it was in the book (which will, of course, make Alan Moore fly off the handle over how Hollywood has ruined his art...right after pocketing yet another check), and I have to say, the ending that Snyder orchestrated was...if not better, then more believable. It tied elements of the story together more cohesively as opposed to leaving things to chance like the ending in the book did. Plus, it didn't involve a gigantic vagina-squid in the middle of New York.

The fight scenes, I thought, were well-done, despite the fact that they jumped from real time to slow motion and back. It was a little easier to follow this way than, say, in Batman or a Wolverine fight scene where things are crowded, close and fast. Rorschach's origin story was tweaked a little, but that didn't bother me; it still fit in with the character.

And as for the criticism that I heard from people on the radio that the movie had too much talking and not enough action...what the fuck movie were you watching? Yeah, it slowed down a little bit after the initial fight scene, but so did Iron Man, and you fuckers weren't bitching about that. The only problem I saw in the pacing is where Nite Owl and Rorschach are about to figure out what's going on and then we jump back to Mars to see Laurie and Jon discussing the fate of the world and Laurie's past...which is exactly how it happened in the book. Nothing felt rushed or crammed together or hurried or clipped. In fact, the only way that I noticed the three hours were nearly up (aside from knowing where we were in the storyline) was that my Cherry Coke was nearly empty.

I would recommend seeing this if you are at all a fan of the genre. If you're not necessarily, but you still would like to see it, maybe wait for the DVD. I still recommend reading the book first, just so you can follow along a little easier. I don't think it's necessary, but it might enhance your enjoyment of the film.

To top the evening off last night, I came home to find my wife laying on the bed reading my copy of the Watchmen. Talk about instant chub...

Totally Blowing Shit Up Tuesdays!

March 10, 2009

I don't know Tova Darling, but I know she's the one responsible for the "Totally Awkward Tuesday" thing that PooBomber lampooned a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure she's a lovely person and everyone seems to really enjoy playing along with her little awkward game. Why not play along? I thought to myself...but let's do it the PooBomber way. I mean, who doesn't like seeing shit blow up on a Tuesday morning?

Lord knows I do. Why do you think I work in a chemistry lab? Nitric acid makes purdy red clouds when it goes up.

Ever wondered what might happen if you had a finely-ground powder and touched a flame to it? I'm pretty sure comedy would ensue. Let's find out, shall we?

To that end, I give you the following clip to enjoy, over and over again, if you like. It's from one of my favorite shows, Brainiac, which is made by Britain's Sky One. For a deeper, more pleasing experience, I find it helps if you hum Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" from Die Walk├╝re while this is playing. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the 'splosions.

It Figures

March 9, 2009

So, it was 80 degrees here this weekend. Sunny. Beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky. All you could ever ask for in a weekend and more.

And I was sick.

Not only that, but I didn't go see Watchmen because I was sick. I knew this would happen, too. My kids and my wife all had this cold, so I figured I'd get it the weekend that Watchmen came out. And I did. Power of positive thinking, huh? Couple in the time change with Daylight Saving Time and I was out of it for most of Sunday. I mean, I laid on the couch, bleary-eyed, for most of the morning and then sort of putz around the house in the afternoon. On Saturday, the coach for my daughter's basketball team had a cookout for the girls and their families, so we went to that. In that manner, the weekend wasn't a total bust. Being that this was the first nice weekend, I naturally forgot sunscreen, and so my two kids were kind of pink-faced when we came home Saturday evening.

Did any of you not named Scope go see Watchmen this weekend? I did get to finish my re-read of the book, so I might go during the week some time. I heard from a fan that it was awesome, and then on the radio this morning I heard some nub who called in and said, "We went with our entire family, and we were thinking it would be something like Spider-Man, but it wasn't. It was all dark and depressing and there was a lot of talking."

Are you that dumb? Did you not at least look into the movie before you went? Isn't everything revolving around the movie's release hinged on the words "Alan Moore's dark take on costumed superheroes"? And, of course, everyone was talking about Dr. Manhattan's blue dick. The rest of him is blue, so did they think his man parts would be any different? I mean, I realize what Laurie's role was when she lived with him, but I didn't expect her to be that good at it.

Also, this weekend, I realized that I totally missed doing my basketball prediction post. I even had things all written down on a scrap piece of paper with analysis and predictions and everything, but then I got distracted last week and didn't get it done. I can tell you that I successfully picked Cornell, Morehead St. and Radford, but the last two were just sentimental guesses.

Just remember, at Morehead State, the cheerleaders yell out what you want from them.

Update! No sooner had I pushed "publish" than the phone rang, and my wife was informing me that the school called informing her that Cookie was, well, tossing her cookies and had that fresh, warm feeling of just coming out of the oven (in other words, a fever). I rushed out the door to go get her only to discover that they wanted me to take Tank home, too, because he knocked his nose on another kid's forehead in the bathroom. He was bloody or had anything broken, but he was "inconsolable" over the affair, so I whisked them both home where they are recovering nicely. As my boss said as I was running out the door earlier, "March is shaping up to be one helluva month for you, huh?"

Yep.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XIV

March 6, 2009

I'm kind of sick and I've had a long week. My wife came back last night and so I was once again allotted that eight inches on the side of the bed to cling to throughout the night. I woke up about every 20 minutes, partially because I'm sick, partially because I was hot, and partially because someone kept jabbing me in the ribs with her elbows. Other than that, how the hell are all of you?

With that in mind, let's get straight to the Latin lesson. I'm well aware that it's now after noon and therefore no longer Friday morning. If you don't like it, perite! Sorry, that was the Target-brand cough drops talking, not me. Please forgive me? I'll give you a hug.

Why are you running away?

Anyway, yesterday, Michael Jackson announced that he'd be going out on tour again. It's been twelve years since the King of Pop went on tour. Some people were excited. Me? I didn't realize he said a damned thing until I heard it on the radio this morning. Did you know that Guinness Book of World Records considers Jackson the most accomplished solo artist ever? Yeah, I just vomited in my mouth a little, too.

No, wait...that was the cough drops again.

Anyway, I thought I'd honor my fellow native Hoosier (if we're still counting Gary as part of Indiana? It is? Oh, okay, fine) with a little Latin lesson revolving around an unfortunate event from the 80s wherein Michael's geri-curl cream and a cascade of embers and sparks and the 21% of the atmosphere comprised of oxygen didn't mix so well. Billi Jean may not have been his lover, but the fire extinguisher sure as hell was. Pepsi execs thought the ad was hot, hot, hot! Who says Michael doesn't have a brilliant stage presence? Okay, okay...enough puns. Flaming pedophiles just aren't funny, they're also hilarious.

Mei capilli sunt flagrantes!


Pronounced: "May-ee cop-eel-ee soont flog-rahn-taze!"

Here's an image of the event. Apparently, Michael was unfazed by the flames burning upon his scalp. He must be a Pentecostal. Translation in the hovertext.

Seven Hours? I Can Do It In Ten!

March 5, 2009

So, my wife made it to Atlanta safely on Sunday night to be with her family. Of course, she had to drive through pretty nasty conditions, with blowing snow and a lot of ice build up on the roads. She would call me with updates about the road conditions, her position, and what level of road rage she was experiencing. Most of the time, it was code red. You know, the "I'm going to get out and pummel the guy in front of me with my bare knuckles if he leaves 200 car lengths of space between him and the car in front of him one more time...and turn off your effing blinkers, Smackass!"

I doubt you've ever made the drive to Atlanta from the Raleigh-Durham area. It, in theory, is a nice little jaunt down I-85. Charlotte's a nice town to drive through, the Upstate of South Carolina is scenic-ish, there's lots of ads for topless truck stops. You know, standard interstate travel. It's also about a six hour drive, but since we're northeast of the city and my wife's family all live on the northwest side, it takes about seven because you have to drive down to nearly the heart of the city, catch 285 over to I-75, and then come back up. As Hap said, it's a spaghetti mess. In theory, it should be an easy commute, but it's not.

We've also never had any luck on the drive.

This past weekend, of course, my wife was driving through what constitutes a blizzard around these here parts. She was cruising along at a break-neck speed of 2.5 miles per hour. She knew this because she went from exit 300 to exit 302 in an hour. She sat and stared at the same Waffle House for that entire time, wondering if she'd run out of gas and have to hang out in it's smoke-filled walls until someone came and rescued her. In theory, Waffle Houses are awesome--it's a dive restaurant built around a breakfast menu. However, trying to cut through the grease-addled and smoke-filled air to find a table that is wiped clean with some spit and a dirty rag by a waitress who hit her prime thirty years ago and permanently has the stub of a lit cigarette dangling from her lower lip brings the notion of a dive restaurant to an all new low. This ain't Mel's diner, and if you don't think you can hide a lot of health code violations in the biscuits and gravy, you've got another thing coming to you. Fortunately, she was able to find a gas station and refuel so that she could avoid a greasy death at the hands of Bear the Trucker and his sidekick.

It took my wife just about three hours to get from the Georgia-South Carolina border to Gwinnett county, which is on the north east side of Atlanta. You might remember Gwinnett county as being the home of Laura Mallory, the harpy stay-at-home mom who sued the county to get the Harry Potter books out of the school libraries. If you need a refresher, here's some links to her sad tale. Anyway, in Gwinnett county, the interstate opens up from two lanes to six. Also, here is the point where the snow plows from Atlanta decided to stop working and turn around and go home. The road from the border to the widening of the interstate was a solid glare of ice that less resembled the aftermath of a storm and looked more like Lou the Zamboni Driver put in another job well done. At one point, the car beside her or in front of her or something parked, everyone got out and had a snowball fight, because the rest of the traffic wasn't moving. I think that's when the vein in her forehead began throbbing, and she called me up to tell me that she was "going to die or kill someone."

Also, she saw the true signs of a southern snow storm on her commute: snow plows in the ditch. I'm always amazed and amused any time we get a snow or ice event (they're not storms down here, they're events, truly) and the snow plows are stranded in the ditch because the drivers don't know to turn into the slide. Overall, it took her about ten hours to get there.

The summer when my son Tank was just about to turn 1, we went down to Atlanta to visit my wife's family. Again, what should have been a routine drive turned not-so-routine when we were stopped, once more, on the interstate just after crossing the Georgia border. We sat there for hours. Apparently, as we finally creeped around the scene, we saw guys in hazmat suits cleaning up a tanker spill of some kind. I never found out what it was, but it was a very unpleasant time sitting in the car with an 11-month old and a three year old for three hours and not moving. When we finally were able to pull off and get some gas and hopefully a little snack, I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A and ordered a milkshake, because Chick-Fil-A milkshakes are the milkshakes they serve in Heaven (probably has something to do with that not open on Sundays thing). Only problem is, much to my chagrin, the milkshakes were not national yet, and only select cities had them. Durham, North Carolina had them; Commerce, Georgia, didn't. Muttering curses about shrunken genitalia and the fleas of a thousand camels to infest their body hair, I returned to the car unsated, but with my blood-sugar and cholesterol levels remaining in the "safe" category.

However, neither of these times top the first trip we made to Atlanta where we had an unfortunate traffic tie-up. We had just gone past Greensboro, North Carolina and were sailing down the road when we were met with a wall of traffic. This was shortly after my son was born, so all four of us were in the car and sitting, dead still, in traffic. The area was being lashed by some terrific thunderstorms at the time, so we figured that was the cause for the delay. However, the storms moved off and the traffic remained. We finally were able to limp up exit 118 to get gas and for a bathroom break. Unfortunately, at this juncture, there was only one option: a lone BP standing atop the hill overlooking the interstate. This means that everyone who needed to piss and refuel got off here. I had to wait fifteen minutes to get to a gas pump. In the meantime, my wife and daughter got out and stood in line for 25 minutes to get to the bathroom...which had six inches of standing water on the floor. Cold, brown, fetid standing water. My daughter's shoes got soaked while she waded through the sludge to get to the potty, and we left the shoes there as a souvenir for the owners. Looking out over the interstate, we saw that the cars stretched to the horizon and beyond, so we decided to cut cross-country to I-77, where we would go south and hook back up with I-85 in Charlotte.

First, though, we came to Business I-85, and so my wife and I decided to risk it. We turned on it, and things were going splendidly until the business route merged back in with I-85. Here, the cars were still backed up and still not moving.

That's when I lost my shit.

Fuming, my wife tried to calm me with a snack. For some reason, we were trying to eat healthy or some shit, and so we had some celery in the car. She gave me a piece of celery, and I vented my frustrations on the celery, slamming it against the steering wheel, screaming, "I don't want a piece of celery, I want the fucking traffic to move. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck FUCK!!!" While I continued to weave a tapestry of expletives that flowed out over the hood of the car and onto the lanes of traffic around me, I took the tattered remains of the celery and hurled them out the window as hard as I could at the guard rail, where they met the metal with a dull thud, clung to it for a moment, and then tumbled to the ground. With the celery valiantly sacrificed and my enraged tirade over, I rolled the window back up and worked my way through the traffic.

Again, three hours later, we finally passed the source of the trouble. Apparently, a semi truck had decided to take the scenic route into a deep, kudzu-lined valley, and the authorities were trying to pull it out. Half the road was blocked off and, as the wenches and cranes strained to pull the shattered remains of a once-functioning semi cab and trailer from the ravine, they would have to close the other lane, as well, to ensure people's safety. Once we were allowed past it, we had no other issues for the remainder of the trip. However, that trip was the pinnacle of road rage frustrations on our trips to Atlanta, and has forever been dubbed "The Celery Event."