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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCVII

January 28, 2011

I grew up Methodist. Or, actually, I grew up United Methodist. There's some very fine hairs that need splitting when discussing the various wings of the various Protestant religions. As a youth, I was very active within my church. I made a lot of friends, attended nearly every week, volunteered, spent time around the church, blahblahblah.

As with most people in the Protestant wings of the Christian Kingdom, the United Methodists like to look upon the Catholic church with a wary eye. Not an evil eye, of course, because that would just be inviting the devil in. However, the United Methodist church likes to intimate that the Catholic church is really just a thinly-veiled disguise for the Devil's minions.

This sure didn't stop them from rooting for Notre Dame on Saturdays, though, I would like to point out.

As the Catholic church had a long history of holding masses in Latin as well as writing and translating sacred texts into Latin, this meant that Latin was akin to the black tongue itself. This was not just merely insinuated; it was actually brought up at a Youth Group meeting once.

One night, we were discussing the merits of the various foreign languages offered at my high school: French, Spanish, German and (for many of the people in my backwards slice of the world), English. If enough people were interested, they offered Russian. There was no Latin, though one of the neighboring school systems offered it.

When the debate, which was about as lively as a debate centered upon foreign language courses could get, died down, my youth pastor, Chuck, offered a story about how we needed to be careful of foreign languages and why he was glad that my high school did not offer Latin. It seems as though one of his seminary friends was doing some research in order to get her degree, and was sitting in the library, alone, at night, flipping through a book of spells from the forbidden section text of some sort when she came across..."something in Latin". As Friend-of-Chuck wrote down the..."something in Latin"...for her research paper, she read the words out loud.

Suddenly, as she finished transliterating and speaking the words aloud, she got up from the desk and ran through a window! She doesn't remember anything until she woke up in the hospital much, much later (a week, a month, seventeen years...I don't remember the duration). It was a valuable lesson never to recite anything that we didn't understand or could translate when it comes to a foreign language.

Now, allow me to put my Mask of Disbelief on for just a second...

I'm not sure where to start with this one. How about...if she didn't understand what she was translating, how could she have pronounced the words correctly for the possession or the spell or whatever brush with evil she had just endured to have been fulfilled? If you can pronounce Latin correctly, chances are you're going to have a fairly decent grasp of the meaning of the words. Hell, you can surmise what most of the meanings of the words are based on familiar strings of letters that show up in modern English.

Second, just why the hell would it make any sense at all that Satan or Beelzebub or Lucifer or the Devil or Old Scratch or whatever the hell name he's going by this week would speak Latin? If I have my Biblical history correct, then Lucifer rose up against God thousands of years prior to the creation of the universe. Right? Because once God got to creatin', he didn't stop in order to stave off a usurper and his cronies, and the serpent was in the Garden by the time Adam and Eve began gallivanting around. Therefore, the language in Heaven (and Hell, if Lucifer took it with him after the fall) wouldn't be a language that wasn't developed until thousands of years after the creation of Man, right?

But, then again, this is religion, and logic doesn't always have a place in the sacred texts. So, apparently, Latin is spoken all over Hell, no matter how little sense that makes. With that in mind, here's a little phrase that is sure to come in handy:

Diabolus fecit, ut id facerem!

Pronounced: "Dee-ah-boh-loose feh-kit, oot id fah-kay-rehm!"

Diabolical translation in the hovertext

The word "devil" actually comes from Greek diabolos, which means "slanderer, accuser", ultimately coming from "one who throws something across". "Demon" also comes from Greek, daimon, which means "lesser deity", and picked up its negative connotation thanks to an old root "da-" meaning "divider". It gradually came to be known as anything that divided the believer's attention from God (it was used as a translation of the Hebrew word for idols).

"Lucifer" means "light carrier" and was used as the name for the Morning Star. Biblically, at least, Lucifer was actually a reference to a King of Babylon who fell from Grace, but Christians believed that any fall had to be a reference to the Devil, and so decided that Lucifer was his proper name. Finally, "Satan" comes to us from Hebrew--the Greeks adopted it, gave it to the Romans, and then it was passed off into English, all with very little change. It's actually a Hebrew word meaning "adversary" and was used as a reference for angels sent by God to block human activity.

So...with all this information...what is the Devil's real name, and what language does he speak?

In Which Our Hero Becomes an Unintentional Stalker

January 27, 2011

It all started with a dream.

Well, er, sort of. The other night, I had a dream about a girl that I had a huge crush on back in high school. It wasn't a sexy time dream; it simply featured her on some talking tour and she happened to be coming through North Carolina, so I met up with her and had lunch.

Not much of a dream, I know. There were no flying monkeys or pork knights or lusty babes in it. Except for her. She pretty much still is a babe. She was a babe back in high school, and, according to her profile on the Book of Faces (I looked just to verify and stuff *shifty-eyed*), she's still Babe-a-licious. Schwing!!!

Anyway, this girl's name was Elizabeth and I had a major thing for her in high school. She was blonde and had a killer body; she played soccer and she was very good at it. Good enough to be invited to the US tryouts. I would have paid really good money to see her score a goal and rip her shirt off in celebration. Schwing!!!

Okay, enough with the Wayne's World references. Party on.

To make a long story short, I asked her out, she said no, and we went on our separate ways happily ever after. The end.

Not so fast, my friend. Since Elizabeth was pretty smart, we ended up in a lot of the same classes, which is kind of how I got the crush for her in the first place. We had English, Trig/Pre-Calc and French together, and I think we had a semester of typing together. The way she worked that keyboard was mesmerizing. And that was all mostly in our Junior year, the year in which I had asked her out and was met with derisive laughter and finger pointing a gentle rejection with a sweet, soft smile.

And then, our senior year arrived.

As I was hellbent on getting into college, I was taking all the courses necessary to both graduate and look good for college application: calculus, physics, AP English, Government and Econ. I threw in French IV and Drama for shits and giggles (but mostly shits). It was a pretty good little schedule, if I do say so myself. I had Calculus and physics in the morning, and then wrapped up the day with English (which you might have noticed is one of my better subjects) and Drama.

The best part of all this?

Elizabeth had the exact. same. schedule.

Except she had government first semester when I was taking economics, and she took economics second semester when I had government. Everything else was exactly the same. Calculus, Physics, French, Econ/Government, English and Drama.

As the first day of senior year progressed, I found it amusing that we were in the first three classes together. By the end of the day, I wondered what sick-and-twisted master of the universe had done this to me? Here was the object of my desire dangled in front of me, sweet fruits tantalizingly out of my reach, and there she was in every class of the day. Since our class schedule was the same, our lunches also coincided. Fortunately, she didn't live near me, otherwise we would have ridden the same bus together.

Yes, I was a loser who rode the bus all four years of high school.

I imagine that Elizabeth had the same reaction as I did: what sick-and-twisted master of the universe decided to put this goofball mooning over me all day in each of my classes? I'd file a restraining order if I could.

And that's when I realized that I had become a stalker...but not just a stalker. I had somehow unknowingly, unwittingly, unintentionally transcended mere stalking and made an entire new art form out of it. And I had nothing but the Huntington County School Corporation to thank for it. It was almost like I was beyond a a ninja stalker or something. Yeah, I like that. Ninja stalker.

Wanna see my katana?

Totally Blowing Stuff Up Tuesdays: Darwin Awards

January 25, 2011

Oh good Lord. Whoever decided that we shouldn't have any three-day weekends between the beginning of the new year and the end of May should be publicly horse-whipped, perhaps even nude, somewhere in Vermont. We haven't even made it through January yet, and I'm looking forward to the holidays, 2011 style.

Or, if not the holidays yet, at least a weekend where I can be somewhat lazy and not wrestle dead flora out of my living room and into the woods next to my house. There's no need for the Ents to come mooting around this place; I let that tree live the life of Riley for at least two weeks after it should have been relegated to compost. House guests and fish smell after three days; Christmas trees get dry, brittle and leave rings of needles everywhere for you to sweep up later.

Fortunately, the house is mostly recovered from the holidays. I sure haven't recovered yet. Something about my ass and the couch becoming one for a period of nearly two weeks puts the damper on that whole "ambition" thing. So, I don't know about you, but I need a pick-me-up. Since I don't really drink anymore, and I have all the naked women I ever need lying in my bed right now, I guess I'll have to exercise some other vice.

Oh, hey, videos of explosions!

Here's one of someone who...didn't know what he was doing, or at least has a hard time figuring the heat of enthalpy of a reaction. He also didn't realize that constricting the area for the explosion to take place in was a very bad idea.

In case you missed it, he's lighting a mixture of acetylene gas (the stuff they put in blow torches) and oxygen. Oxygen is there to support the combustion of the organic gas. I'd write out the balanced equation, but you guys don't come here for science, you come here for videos of shit being blown up and egregious use of the word "fuck".

I want you to pay special attention to how the hood sash ends up after all is said and done in the video. To say it was left askew would be an understatement; homeboy's lucky he still has both hands, use of his eyes, or even that he still has a head.

Granted, at least he tried being safe with his explosion gone awry, unlike this dumbass:

Too bad that ugly-ass shirt didn't get taken out in the explosion, Mr. Goggles Would Ruin My Fashion Sense.

Well, it's still a long time until May, but watching these videos does take away the pain of the long slog through the ass-end of winter and the opening weeks of spring. How long until college football starts back up again? Nine months? Fuck.

I Don't Hate the Steelers

January 23, 2011

But I've got two weeks to learn!

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. XCVI

January 21, 2011

In 1985, a great travesty was afflicted upon this nation. I am speaking, of course, of the discordant din that bled forth from our radio speakers, piercing the ears of the nation's youth, insinuating itself into their brains, and poisoning their minds.

Some people called it "The Superbowl Shuffle."

I call it "Six Minutes of Hell."

As an aside, let's not ask my wife what she calls "Six Minutes of Hell."


Anyway, if anyone has every been curious as to how some gangly kid from northeast Indiana could become a Green Bay Packers fan, this is it. Before this travesty of ear rape was unleashed upon the greater masses, prior to this cacophony of musical masturbation, I was fairly ambivalent toward professional football. After being constantly assaulted by this auditory pack of Dickwolves, I knew only one thing: I would, from henceforth, hate the motherfucking Chicago Bears.

Because of my location, most of my classmates climbed aboard the Bears' bandwagon that year--you know, like most Bears fans--and this song was played, over and over and over. Ad nauseam, which is Latin for "I'm going throw up if I hear that fucking 'Super Bowl Shuffle' one more time!" Just searching for it on the interwebs has incensed me in ways that I didn't think possible, or at least in ways that had slumbered deep within me since...Thursday afternoon.

And so, if you must know, gentle sportsfan, why it is that I am a Green Bay Packers fan, this is it. I knew nothing more than that I hated the Bears. In order to make that hate deliciously complete, I sought out their greatest rivals and rooted for them. The hapless Lions couldn't allow me to fully embrace my hatred; no more could the Minnesota Vikings, though I would pull for both teams against the Bears.

The logical answer to my Bears hatred was the Green Bay Packers, and this was long before Purple Voldemort poisoned the air with his camera-whoring and 5,000 season-ending interceptions. Before the Ole Gunslinger was out there, like a kid, just having fun. Before the Packers even remembered that there was a post-season. I rooted for them.

And so that's why, this weekend, this Sunday afternoon, my hatred will be focused like a finely-honed blade, focused solely against Jay-sus and his band of soft-brained miscreants, this wretched hive of scum and villany. Oh sure, it was nice to see the Packers destroy the Vikings and Purple Voldemort twice this year. It was delicious to see their season implode. It was most satisfying to see him slink off into the sunset, his tiny peezer between his legs, but all of that will be moot come Sunday afternoon. Then it will be full, unadulterated Bears hate.

And I'll be saying this. Early and often.

Futuite Ursos!

Pronounced: "Foo-too-ee-tay Oor-sohs!"

Delicious hate in the hovertext

Aside from the football team, however, bears are pretty fucking awesome.

What I Should Have Said Wednesday: Shop Class

January 19, 2011

I don't know if this is the start of a blogging meme. I don't know if anyone else would be interested in this. I don't know if I have enough stories to generate momentum to keep this thing going.

What I do know is that this story has been dancing through my mind for a while, and I wasn't sure how to tell it. It doesn't really fit into a TMI story. And the story just kind of peters out if told any other way. Plus, I just finished reading Mike Birbiglia's book, and I remembered that he had a bit where he would tell a story and then pause and then say "What I should have said was nothing." Well, this is a bit of a twist on that.

Okay, I'll also admit that I shamelessly threw Birbiglia's name in there so that he would find my blog while he's Googling himself while eating pizza in bed. Maybe then I can crack into the comedy world and I, too, can have women ask me backstage if I think their boobs are two different sizes. I'm daring to dream today, friends.

Back to the story.

In middle school, specifically seventh and eighth grade, we were compelled to take shop class. One whole semester was dedicated to doing nothing but making stuff with our hands. Crappy stuff, but we were supposed to make it nonetheless. In seventh grade, we worked with plastics. In the eighth grade, it was all wood.

I was terrified of eighth grade shop class. Not so much because I wasn't used to working with wood (I was in the eighth grade, after all, I had been working with a specific kind of wood for a couple of years at that point), but because the previous semester Stu McDaniel had had a...we'll say "lapse in judgment"...and had tried to stop a band saw with his forearm. The band saw would have none of that, and filleted Stu's arm open, from wrist to elbow, all the way to the bone. By all accounts, it was fucking nasty, and three people passed out. One of them while running one of the buffing machines.

This did not seem safe to me at all.

When people weren't dismembering themselves with large pieces of ancient woodworking equipment, we were expected to work at these high, square tables. Before we went to work, however, the teacher gave us a five minute pep talk about the latest waxing technology or what a certain saw was for, and then he'd unleash us upon the world of woodworking.

During the lecture, we all sat on the tables, which were about four feet above the poured concrete floors. One afternoon--shop class was right after lunch--we were sitting on the tables and the teacher was droning on and on about coping saws versus keyhole saws versus jigsaws and my attention...lagged. Most of the time, my attention was solidly focused on Mindi Rhamy's shirt, but today, I let my head wander off into the clouds.

As such, I began to drift off to sleep, wherein I lost my balance and began to fall. Not wanting to have my head come in contact with the concrete floor, I did what any logical person would do: I woke up. It was too late, however, and there was no way to stop my momentum. I grabbed a hold of my friend, Joe to stop my fall. He jumped and said, loudly, "What the?" This caused everyone to look over and they all realized that I had fallen asleep and nearly killed myself. Everyone laughed.

I loved the attention.

As everyone quieted down, I turned to my friend, Ron, who was sitting beside me. "Oh man," I whispered, "I think I just shit my pants!"

Ron laughed. I don't know why, but making Ron laugh was something I really enjoyed. There was just something satisfying about making him laugh. Then Ron asked the follow-up question that begged to be asked: "Are you serious? Did you seriously shit your pants?"

Now, what I should have said was "No, man, I was just trying to be funny. You know, maybe flash a little of that sardonic humor of mine, show the ladies how witty I am, make them laugh. I hear they like that kind of thing. I didn't really shit my pants. That would be disgusting."

What I did say was "Oh, yeah. Just a little, but man, I think I shit in 'em."


You know, middle school is hard enough as it is. You've got a crush of emotions coursing through you, hormones are racing, acne, grades, and you've got a reputation to maintain. Well, it's really tough to maintain that reputation when suddenly, because of one feeble attempt at comedy, you've suddenly become known as the guy who shit his pants in shop class. The title, much like the shit-filled drawers that you've imagined into being, sticks with you for the rest of the year. And "news" like spreads through the school. Fast. I had second-graders giving me shit about...shitting my pants. And you can't haul off and punch a second-grader in the mouth for being obnoxious.

Trust me, friends, you don't want to be known as the guy who shit his pants in shop class. Fortunately, the ignominy of that particular title has faded with history, but it sure as hell made my life rough for six months until I got to high school.

And it's kind of sad that high school is your escape from the embarrassment of middle school.

Me and the King

January 18, 2011

Earlier today, hyperactive terrier and noted ND alumnus Regis Philbin announced he was retiring from his show. While I've never watched a single episode of Regis' show, I am familiar with his body of work. And the body of co-host. *rimshot*

I am, however, a fan of his interactions with David Letterman. I've always trended more toward being a Letterman fan, mostly because of the slacker Indiana doofus connection we share. I like Jim Gaffigan for much the same reason. Anyway, back when I watched Letterman faithfully, I always enjoyed the nights when Regis was a guest because Regis and Dave made for some wonderfully goofy interactions.

And I told Monsieur Philbin this once, while shaking his hand.

Unfamiliar with this tale? Let me fill you in (that's what I said to her...hmmm...doesn't hold the same amusement, does it?).

When I started my illustrious career at Notre Dame, I joked with anyone who would listen that I would really enjoy it when I finally got to meet Regis. Once there, I upped the ante to proclaiming that I wasn't graduating from Notre Dame until I met Regis.

As an aside, I also boasted that I was going to steal a bike and ride it through the main corridor of the library...which I didn't do. Epic. Failure. On my behalf.

My time was winding down at ND, and in the spring before would eventually graduate (I left in the fall and graduated the follow May), the opportunity presented itself. At the time, my daughter was about nine months old, and I would go home for two hours at lunch to watch her until my wife came home from teaching Latin at the local Catholic high school.

It just so happened that Regis has donated a large sum of money to ND to open a media center for students wishing to get communications and theater arts majors and the like, and he showed up for the groundbreaking ceremony. The campus was abuzz--"Holy shit, Regis is here and we're getting a new building! Huzzah!"--but I didn't think too much of it. I was wandering through the main corridor of the library when I looked up and saw a bunch of people decked out in their fanciest clothes standing near the exit.

"Oh shit, it's Regis!" I said to myself. And then I wondered if I was man enough to celebustalk him. And then I decided I had nothing to lose.

They were all gathered outside the exit and I kind of hovered on the periphery until Regis noticed me. We made eye contact and I kind of dove in, hand extend. "Mr. Philbin, I'm a big fan. Especially when I see you on Letterman."

He took my hand enthusiastically, pumped it a couple of times, grinned in his big, dopey Regis grin and said, "Oh, then you're in for a treat in a couple of weeks, young man! I'll be on Dave's show!" And then he gave the date, but I forget now. It's been nine years.

After shaking hands, I smiled, thanked him for speaking to me, wished him safe travels, and left. In all, he was very friendly and very congenial. I then passed his limo on the way home (I lived close to the airport). Instead of honking and waving or some stupid shit like that, I smiled. I had actually met the man I had joked about meeting for the previous four years. For some strange reason, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

I watched him the night he was on Letterman. It was funny--his typical antics--but there was no mention of the gangly, goofy fucker at Notre Dame that shook his hand and talked about how great it would be to watch him on the show again. I should probably also point out that Regis is on the short side--he only came up to about my nipples. A nipple-high guy, we called them in college.

So, here's to you, Reej. May your retirement be filled with good sleep and dreams of large women.

A New Hope

January 17, 2011

The scene descends upon a dimly-lit, black-and-gray control room. Three figures are in the room. Wide windows open to a sweeping vista of the inky darkness of space, a thousand stars thrown across the velvety blackness. To the right, the glowing arc of a blue-and-green planet can just be seen. One of the figures is sitting in a chair above the other two. The two lower figures' attentions are fixed on the figure sitting.

Palpatine: Now, young Skywalker, behold the power of this fully-armed and functioning battle station! Palpatine presses a button. You may fire when read--

Off-camera, there is a persistent, hollow, metallic knocking.

Palpatine: What the? Guards, open the door.

Two red-cloaked Imperial Guards move to open the door. Two doors slide apart mechanically. Revealed are two girl scouts in full uniform, eyes bright, smiles wide

Girls in unison: Good afternoon, sir. Would you be interested in helping fund our Girl Scout troupe by buying some delicious Girl Scout cookies? They are only $3.50 a box. You can even donate boxes of cookies for troops stationed on the front lines.

Palpatine: apoplectic What the? How did you get in here? Who let you in?

Girl Scout 1: We were just making the rounds, sir. Your chamber was next.

Girl Scout 2: Someone named 'TK-421' let us into this hallway.

Palpatine: groans Oh, that guy is always missing his assignments. Anyway, go, shoo, begone. I want none of what you're selling.

Girl Scout 1: big eyes fill with tears, low lip quivers But...but...

Palpatine: No. No! There will be none of that. Get out of here and don't try making me feel guilty.

Girl Scout 2: My mom was right. You are a big jerk!

Luke: Hold on just a second. I'd like a couple of boxes. Um, why don't you put me down for two boxes of Thin Mints, heck, a couple of Peanut Butter Patties as well. You take Republic Credits?

Girl Scout 2: Hey, if it spends, we take it.

Palpatine: to Luke Stop that! You'll only encourage them. Turns to girls Look, girls, this is a really bad time right now. We're in the middle of a sort of 'this ends here' thing. So, why don't you come back in a little while and we'll sort this out.

Luke: Oh, and a box of Lemonades, too. 3PO loves those things.

Vader: What? Someone's been tinkering with his programming I see.

Luke: No way. He's got this whole yellow fetish thing. It's really...well, we'll just say it's messy. I've never seen someone spring so many 'fluid leaks' when we're on Naboo with their stupid yellow fighters.

Vader: Oh, God, those things are ugly. I can't tell you how many times I tried to get your mother to get someone to change the designs on those things, but she wouldn't budge. She said it was her planet, she'd run it how she saw fit. shakes head

Vader and Luke simultaneously: Women!

Palpatine: Will you two take this seriously? Turns to girls: Like I said, if you just come back later.

Vader: Hold it. Before you go, I want some Thin Mints, some Peanut Butter Patties and a box of Thanks-a-Lot.

Palpatine: What? Not you, too. That doesn't even make sense! You eat through a freaking tube!

Vader: waves Palpatine to silence ...and about five boxes of Samoas!

Girl Scout 1: Actually, they're called Caramel Delights. Apparently, the Island People didn't like being associated with all that coconut, caramel and chocolate. They said it was 'offensive' or something.

Vader: Man, that's weak.

Luke: Oh, I can't believe I forgot the Samoas!

Girl Scout 2: Caramel Delights!

Luke: Whatevs. I'll take three boxes of those. No, make it four. I do like the coconut. You should totally try the Lemonades, too, pops.

Vader: Oh, I don't know. I'm buying a lot already. Ah, what the heck. I'll take a Lemonade, too!

Luke: You won't be sorry!

Girl Scout 1: And would you like to donate any cookies for the troops on the front lines, sir?

Luke: No, no, that's alright. It kind of helps me out if those guys have low morale, if you get where I'm coming from here.

Palpatine: sputtering Alright. Stop it. I told you to cut it out! You've forced my hand. stands and holds hands out in front of him, firing purple lightning at Luke Actually, you've forced both my hands! cackles

Luke: Ahhhhhhhh! It burns! It burns! And your puns are terrible.

Palpatine: You're not in a position to be judging my jokes, boy. shoots him with lightning again If you won't join me in not buying the cookies from the Girl Scouts, then, young Skywalker, you will die. more lightning and cackles

Vader looks from Palpatine to Luke to the Girl Scouts back to Palpatine then to the Girl Scouts and down to Luke and to the Girl Scouts...scene goes on longer than it probably should before he steps over, picks up Palpatine and chucks him into the power core shaft

Luke: slowly climbing to his feet Man, this place is just chock full of design flaws.

Vader: Again, no one consults me on these things. So, are we done here? looks over to Girl Scouts

Imperial Guard: Yeah, so, two boxes of Thin Mints and two Samoas, please.

Girl Scout Two: Caramel Delights!

Everyone: laughs

Vader: So, wanna go get a drink? We've got some catching up to do.

Luke: Sure, I'm good. It's not like I have to get back down there shakes head in direction of Endor, looming in the window or anything. Damn, I've felt so dirty since Obi-Wan told me about that whole sister thing.

Vader: How is old Obes these days?

Luke: Well dad, you kind of killed him...

Vader: Oh, right...

Six weeks later

Vader and Luke are sitting in the old Jedi temple on Coruscant, surrounded by boxes of Girl Scout cookies

Vader: Confound it! That old bastard was right. This is impractical! Luke, help me get this helmet off.

Luke: But, father, you'll die.

Vader: holding up a Caramel Delight These things are worth it, boy! Now, help an old man out, would ya?

Luke helps Vader take off his helmet, revealing a scarred, pallid face beneath it. Vader promptly pops a Caramel Delight into his mouth and chews, smiling. His breathing stutters, and his eyes look pained

Luke: Come on, father, let's get you some help.

Vader: shoves another cookie into his mouth It's too late for me, my son. shoves two Lemonades into his mouth and chews Oh, these are delicious. You were right, Luke. Tell your sister, you were right. dies

Luke: Oh, father. sighs Well, I guess that means more Samoas for me.

Girl Scout (off camera): Caramel Delights, goddammit!


If you want Girl Scout cookies, let me know. I'll even mail them to you.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol XCV

January 14, 2011

If you're anything like me, you've just spent nearly three very...long...weeks...trapped in a house with your children. And, if you're like me and have no fucking backbone at all, you don't tell the screaming little shits to go clean their rooms or to shut the fuck up, Daddy's not got his special drinky juice yet, when they've stepped out of line. Which is hourly, in my house.

And, if you're like me, you sort of just let your eyes unfocus and you stare through the television screen for hours-long marathons of iCarly and Wizards of Waverly Place when you're home on guard duty with them.

Occasionally, though, the long periods of Tweenage Tomfoolery is broken up by commercials...for more Tweenage Tomfoolery. The one of which I speak this morning is the most recent incarnation of the Kidz Bop franchise.

If you are unfamiliar with the Kidz Bop franchise...then I envy you. I envy you so much I hate you. *dark glower* If you are familiar, then, well, you know my pain. It is, for the unenlightened, a series of CDs sung by squeaky-voiced pre-teens who have been suckled on Hannah Montana and weened with the Jonas Brothers, each thinking that they will be the next big thing to come down the pike and make millions that they can blow in their early twenties on alcohol, hookers and blow.

It's better to burn out than to fade away, kids.

The commercials feature the kids singing and dancing around, Terpsichorean moves abounding, and there is usually one or two young ladies dressed as if they were going to hit the clubs hardcore. You know, their outfits consisting of a full-order of slutty with a healthy side of Lolita. And I look at the screen and I think...Jesus, Self, you're a terrible person.

The most recent Kidz Bop features an amazing new talent that no one over the age of sixteen has heard of named Hunter Pecunia. And when I first saw this, I laughed my ass off.

How Hunter became a name, I don't know, but lots of cultures have names for boys meaning "hunter". How Hunter became a name for a girl I don't understand. Unless you have a daughter named Hunter. In that case...oh, it's a beautiful name. Did you name her after the horse or the dog? Because, obviously, hunter means "one who searches for something" or "a dog or horse used for hunting".

Pecunia, though, you might not recognize right away. Pecunia is a Latin word meaning "money", "scratch" or "wampum." So, this young lady's name means "One who searches for money", and if that doesn't summarize the Kidz Bop phenomenon perfectly, then I don't know what does.

Without further ado, I present to you this week's money-themed Latin phrase:

Cunicula, ubi mea pecunia est?

Pronounced: "Cue-nee-cue-lah, oo-bee may-ah pay-cue-nee-ah est?"

Translation in the Hovertext.

Pecunia, pecuniae gives us the word "impecunious", which means "my dad". Okay, so it really means "cheap, tight with a dollar, I have a coupon for that". Interestingly enough, pecunia has its roots in an older word, pecu meaning "cattle". In the early days, after the domestication of animals and before the rise of, let's say, the car, cattle were seen as a sign of wealth. The more cattle you had, the more likely you were to make it rain. Granted, you'd be throwing cow shit in the air instead of c-notes, but *holds hands up in front of himself* do as you see fit.

If you've ever read the closest thing that the Irish had to an epic, The Tain, the entire story revolves around an argument that Queen Medb (pronounced "Maive") had with her husband Ailill (pronounced "Steven") over who had more cattle, and the war that was started over the theft of one of the cows. The argument was had when the two were in bed together one morning, and it occurred during some pillow talk right after they got done fecking. I'm not lying. If you're looking for an epic story to read that involves as much gratuitous flesh as there is gratuitous violence, I heartily recommend Tain Bo Cuailnge.

Also, yesterday, while commenting on Bev's blog, I got the word verification "potojack". This amused me because poto, potare means "I drink booze" (as opposed to bibo, bibere, which means "I drink"). So, "poto Jack" would obviously mean that I am drinking a certain delicious Tennessee Whiskey.

Poto Jack, indeed.

Jiggity Jig

January 10, 2011

First off, big thanks to everyone who helped out with the voting for J.R. Salzman's video entry for the Vail, CO trip. I think we got them up to ninth place, which doesn't get them the trip, but it did get them a nice prize. Thanks again to everyone. It doesn't amaze me anymore when people do nice things, mostly because I kind of know you all now, in a way, and I know that you're all good--no, great folks. Thanks again for the help.

In other news, I'm home. I've been home since Friday afternoon. It was a whirlwind tour of the southeastern parts of the United States. As promised, I saw a lot of Interstate 40. My favorite part of it? Altus, Arkansas, but only because it's a Latin word meaning "high, deep" and also because I didn't go to Jenks, Oklahoma.

So, I flew out Wednesday night, and the flight from Raleigh-Durham to Atlanta was fine. I had my own bank of seats with no one pressing in around me. I was behind the stewardess' station in the back of the plane, so I didn't have to look down the cabin at anyone. I was basically alone in my own little world, reading my book and staring out the window.

The flight from Atlanta to Tulsa, however, was not as pleasant. The plane was full, and it was a smaller plane, to boot. When I was lining up for my tickets, the person in line behind me was one of those people who doesn't respect personal space. She was right on my shoulder and hip and I turned to stare her down and mentally tell her to back the fuck off. She couldn't understand my mental clues.

We boarded the plane, and as I made my way down the aisle to where my seat was, she was still clinging to my backside like a fungus. I went to stow my bag in the overhead, and she pushes past me...into the seat next to mine. "I have the window," she said, in slightly accented English. Fuck you and the window seat, I fired back at her, mentally.

She sat down and promptly dialed someone on her cell phone and yammered for thirty minutes about some guy who invited her to come to Colorado and how she slept on the plan from Moscow to New York and--SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!!! Fortunately, she slept on the ride from Atlanta to Tulsa. Unfortunately, she farted the whole way there, too. I was calmly sitting in my seat, reading, when something would reach up and assault my olfactory sensors. Being that I wasn't tooting, I knew it had to be her. And then she would shift and her leg would be brushing up against mine and...well...if we were in a car, I would have reached over and opened the door and let her roll out. Unfortunately, we were in a plane, and I did not have the escape hatch seats.

I got to Tulsa with no problems, helped my mother-in-law with some stuff and talked with my wife's grandmother. Then it was to bed. The following morning, I got up and out the door and, after leaving my grandmother-in-law's house, I promptly got lost. I made the wrong turn--or didn't turn enough--or something and I was headed toward Joplin, MO instead of Meskogee, OK. I knew something was wrong because the sun wasn't in the position where I knew it should be if I was traveling south and east. I was able to cut back through some scenic Oklahoma countryside (read: flat, scrubby, brown) and find my way back to I-40. From there, it was simple: head east.

I'm terribly sorry that I didn't bring my camera with me, because I would have loved to have taken a picture of myself visiting Toad Suck Park in Arkansas. Alas, since I had no reason to, I didn't stop. I'm going to regret that for a long, long time I fear.

I was able to outrun the snowstorm that's now targeting the southeast and I was just ahead of another storm dropping from the north that hit Nashville shortly after I drove through it (no time to go to the Parthenon this time...). I made it to my wife's aunt and uncle's house and stayed the night there in Knoxville. They were calling for a good snow storm, too, so I got up early so I could find my way through the mountains (which was being forecasted to get 5 - 10 inches of snow overnight and into Friday) without incident.

And, it was largely without incident. I continued on my merry way, stopping for gas occasionally, but then I had to stop for a restroom break and I pulled off into Conover, North Carolina.

Never, ever stop in Conover, North Carolina, if you can manage it.

I swung into a BP station so that I could use the facilities. BP shit on the US last summer, so I thought I'd shit on them. Only thing was, I knew it was a mistake almost the minute I put the car into park. I went into the restroom and was surprised when vermin didn't flee before the light being turned on. I sat down, looking at a floor that I didn't want the bottom of my shoes touching, let alone my pants. I hurried along and left quickly, my entire being feeling touched by the uncleanliness of the establishment. I then caught the furious stares of some of Conover's finest citizens, envious of my upright posture, my full set of teeth, and...I don't know what else. I was just not very comfortable in that village.

After a twenty minute wait to pull back onto the road, I headed home. No further incident. I stopped off to see my wife at work and then home to see the children and try to work on cleaning up the house some more. So, I once again have wheels, which is a nice feeling, to be certain.

And, as usual, whenever I'm on long trips where I'm mostly just listening to the voices within my head, I generated another story that I want to write. I've gotten some notes written down at home that I came up with over the course of the trip and I've got a couple of lines of a prologue written. I basically started coming up with the idea on the flight from Raleigh to Atlanta and then further refined it on the flight from Atlanta to Tulsa. I had a few characters that that I had been kicking around in head for a while that fit into this story nicely.

Now I just need to finish what I'm working on now and then the three other stories that I want to refine and finish before I get to this new one. If only the house would clean itself...

Do Me a Solid, Wouldja?

January 5, 2011

I'm not going to be around much over the next few days. You know, the whole flying to and driving from Tulsa, OK. *stares blankly into the distance*

Anyway, while I'm cruising down Interstate 40 in my shiny Saturn coupe (it almost fits the cadence of the song...go with it, he's rolling), I'm going to bother you all to help out a friend. Er, a friend of a friend. So you'd be helping out a friend of a friend of a friend, and then if he wins, you've got a hilarious anecdote you can use at parties for small talk.

Plus, you get to feel all better about yourself for doing something nice for someone.

So, the background on the story goes here: There is a contest where people submit videos of themselves explaining why they should get a free trip to Vail, CO. It's a Facebook thing, so you know there are lots of self-centered bitches with their spray-on tans and collagen-inflated lips and troweled-on mascara throwing around some pitiful Jersey-shore excuses as to why they should be granted permission to ruin the beautiful Colorado mountains (and I can personally assure you, them mountains in Colorado is beautiful).

But then, there's J.R.

J.R. is a veteran from the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, while his heart and soul are here in America, he left a little piece of himself in Iraq; namely, his right hand.

You can watch his video testimony here, which is also the place where you can vote for him.

So, let's do this up Chicago-style, friends: vote early and vote often. You can vote once every 24 hours. Voting runs through Saturday, January 8th.

Do it, or I'll be forced to eat this bowl of delicious charmingly adorable kittens:

Oklahoma Bound

January 4, 2011

I'm hell on wheels.

No, really. I'm hell. On wheels.

More specifically, cars. See, because they're on wheels and I'm hell on cars.

It seems that every car I've ever owned has tried to one-up the previous vehicle in terms of cataclysmic reasons for it no longer working.

My first car--which I loved, by the way--was a 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix that I got while in college. It was awesome. I used it to smuggle all the cheap beer I could from Illinois into Indiana when I was in college. My friend, Big Willy Style, nicknamed it "Smugglah", since I was all about going to Scotchman's East AND West in Watseka, Illinois. 32 ounces of Old Milwaukee never tasted as sweet as when they were delivered by the loving, cushy backseat of Smugglah.

Smugglah, unfortunately, died in a parking lot of a Ryan's in Mishawaka, IN while I was in grad school. I was able to get it to limp down the road to a dealership where I traded it for a lemon of a Ford Contour that was such a terrible car, it deserved no nicknames. That car got me to North Carolina where it decided that it would start eating timing belts. Smugglah liked to eat alternators, but those were $100 to fix and would last for about three years. Timing belts are five times as expensive and the Ford tore through those in about two weeks.

I finally traded the Ford in for a Saturn Vue a little over five years ago. About a year into owning it (and, naturally, after the warranty wore off) it developed a rattle in the engine. It was nothing big, but it was a touch annoying. I didn't think anything of it. I got it serviced, it ran, so I continued driving it.

Until last week. Last week, I got the car serviced. The rattle had become more pronounced so, in my blissful ignorance, I thought it just needed a service tune up. The day after I got it worked on, it died. Battery failure. Again, not a big issue, however I had to get it towed--almost literally around the block--for a little over $100 and then put $100 worth of battery and labor into it (I had them do a diagnostic on the electrical system, in case it wasn't just an old battery). I started the car up, it sounded great, and so I drove it.

And a week later, the rattling was far worse. It was accompanied by a popping sound, almost like when a soda bottle expands when its laying on the floor of your car under the heater. A lovely, reassuring sound when you're driving down the road, to be certain. Then a loud, screeching squeal would sound intermittently from the car. Unpleased, I took the car to the same place that had serviced it prior. I explained what was going on and they said they'd look at the catalytic converter, see if that was the issue or not.

Apparently, not would be the correct answer. The guy who looked at the car was nice enough to shoot straight with me. He told me I needed a new engine; something inside was broken and they couldn't fix it. He went on, blah blah, something something, get some quotes, blargh...but I didn't hear him. I was quietly weeping, wishing that just once in my life I could pay a car off before it decides to die on me.

If you're keeping score at home, thats a service, tune-up, tow, battery replacement and a diagnostic test--about $300 worth of work--for a car that is now all but undriveable. What a happy fucking New Year this is turning out to be.

Because I had to, I reclaimed the car, driving it home about as fast as I possibly could--which is to say "not very". The car runs, but loudly, and it doesn't like driving in first gear (you know, something that is kind of important in city driving) and doesn't like driving up hills (again, something important in North By God Carolina piedmont driving). The car now sits at the top of my yard, quietly watching the world go by. I dare not drive it very far, as I'm unsure of if or when it will die and not restart.

Which means, I'm without wheels for a while.

A short while, as it turns out. Shortly before Christmas, my wife's grandfather passed away. He was a man who had several cars, and my wife's grandmother, out of the kindness of her heart, is going to lend me a car for, essentially, as long as I need it. The trick is, I have to figure out a way to get it from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to North By God Carolina.

Which is why I'm Oklahoma-bound. I'm flying out either Wednesday or Thursday, taking care of what I need to out there, and then driving from Tulsa to my home here in North Carolina. The plan is to stop in Knoxville and bother my wife's uncle and aunt for a night's rest, and then the drive home after that. I'm going to see a lot of America. Specifically, I'm going to see a lot of I-40.

And unfortunately, I'm not going to be driving a big old pickup truck.

Driving Down Highway 40 In My Big Old Pickup Truck

Skyler | Myspace Video

I guess the good news is that I won't have Freddie Prinze, Jr. in the car with me.