Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Supplemental Reading

Warning: This post will not be funny. Scroll down if you are looking for humor (or attempts at humor, or at the very least, complete sentences.)

Rather, this post is a plug for another blog I just started. As some of you may know, I studied in Africa for a couple months last year. I wrote quite a bit about the experience and wanted to get it out on the web so more people could read it. The blog, entitled "Letters from Senegal," is a bunch of emails and journal entries I wrote while there, along with some photos. I'll be posting them one at a time, every few days. For me, it will be like reliving the whole thing. As for you, feel free to pretend its 2003 and this is all happening for the first time. I don't care what you do, it's your body.

The emails and journal entries might overlap a bit, but I'll edit them to make sure it doesn't happen too much. I noticed while going back through my journal, that I had a lot of interesting details I never put into the emails. Again, this blog will be informative rather than funny. If you're interested in Africa, you will like it. If not, you MIGHT like it. Either way, I'd say you've got decent odds.

I've posted the first two entries. You can read it here, or you can click on the link in the right column. Never say I don't provide you with choices. Off with you now.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Obsess Me

I've decided I need an obsession. These days you're hardly living unless you're obsessed with something. I realized this while watching a show on the TV called “Totally Obsessed.” There was a pudgy little woman who was discussing her obsession with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For those of you who are too young or too old to remember, the Turtles were basically like crack for pre-teen boys. I remember owning the toys and comics, watching the cartoons and movies, treasuring the trading cards, the party accessories. I loved those sassy heroes in a half-shell.

But I had nothing on this lady. More than ten years after the Turtles' slow demise in popularity, this woman still continues to structure her life around them. She spends her free time wearing authentic turtle outfits from the movies, acquired at great expense. “This is my real skin,” she said, her voice muffled behind a rubber Michelangelo head. Minimum wage worker by day, Ninja Turtle by night, this 30-something woman does not slack in her dedication. She has racked up enormous debts to buy the original outfits and weapons. She lives on a diet mostly of pizza with bizarre topping ideas she got from cartoon show. She spent hundreds of dollars taking karate lessons which she demonstrated on her brother in full costume for the camera. Sadly, after dodging a few of her weak punches, he pushed her onto the ground where she remained, breathing hard. So much for the karate.

Perhaps the most revealing moment was when she quoted a few lines about “believing in yourself” from a Turtles On Ice production--clichéd advice they likely ripped off from a Hallmark card. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears as she melodically recited the lines, her face thick with intensity. This woman really was totally and pathetically obsessed.

Isn't it great? This is why I need an obsession. I've gone over some potential things I could be obsessed with but nothing seems to cut it. I'm pretty devout in my religion, but I'd hardly call it an obsession; I leave that to those who participate in pioneer reenactment treks or attend seminars on food storage. I'm a huge fan of Bjork, but despite owning all her albums, attending concerts and having painted her portrait in oils, I still pale in comparison to my old friend Luis, whose love for Bjork is all consuming. (I kid, Luis, but you ARE pretty into her). True there have been brief stints with Mr. Potatohead dolls, furry rodents, and herbal tea but none really qualify for a true obsession.

I suppose all I have left to be obsessed with is…coke. No, not the soda and no, not the narcotic. The baked coal. Yes, without coke how could we get our furnaces hot enough to smelt ore into the iron we so desperately need for steel? Eureka, I've found it! Coke it is.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Bad Button

There is a little bar on the top of my blog with a button labeled “next blog.” Clicking it will send you off to some other blog, chosen at random. I decided to give this a whirl, you know, see what's out there in cyberspace. Perhaps I would stumble upon something truly engaging, hilarious, educational and/or inspiring. Well, turns out it was all a big lie.

Never push that button. Sure it looks innocent and unassuming, but so does Miracle Whip, which is really just rancid chalk.

“Come on,” the button may coo. “Push me. You know you want to. Aren't you curious? It's just one little click of your mouse. What could it hurt?”

Don't listen to the talking button! Call me naïve, but I thought the point of having a blog was to communicate some message to an audience. But 90% of what I read during my little browsing session was completely unreadable.

To be fair, I realize that there are people who are born with severe punctuation disorders. While some people are born without limbs, others are born without the ability to use periods, spaces or commas. I think these people should avoid the internet. You don't see Mr. No Hands trying his luck with the harp, do you? Same rule applies here. I figure, if you can't type legibly, don't type.

And then there are those who intentionally want to confuse you. I will call these people “Mixed Capitalization Douche Bags.” They type all their sentences like so: “HeLlO Im A dOuCHe bAG!” Why would anyone do this? It just boggles me. If I could ask God only ONE question, it would be about this.

Luckily, if you do a lot of rummaging, wading through all the muck, you may find something worthwhile. Really the best way to insure a safe, eye-sore-free blogging experience, is to avoid the “next blog” button altogether and instead use some kind of search engine. To help you, I’ve added a link to one such search engine, “blogwise,” in the right margin. They screen all the blogs first, at least, which tends to help. Good luck and happy blogging!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Change Comes To Us All

"I'm so grateful to be in a country where I'm not always living in fear of machine guns."

So said a rather odd fellow as part of his remarks over the pulpit a few Sundays ago. No one else in the congregation found this statement to be hilarious, so I had to hold back all my laughter. But today I will have to whole-heartedly agree: I'm so grateful I can change my blog's name without worrying about all those pesky machine guns.

And so I have. If you were counting, the name "Jeremy's Black Pit of Eternal Sadness" won the most votes with a whopping FOUR. "The Skinny" and "Happy Smile Land" tied for second and the name I ended up choosing was in third. Turns out I had been leaning towards that name all along, and my vote counts for at least a million, so in reality it ended winning with 1,000,002 votes. I did receive some other suggestions, but let's be honest: who in God's green earth would want to name their blog "i'M sO cUtE. LoL"?!

But there's a story behind the name I chose. Several years ago I kept a book tucked under my bed. Every morning when I woke, I would grab the book and quickly write what I could remember from what I had just been dreaming. I heard such a practice could help increase one's chances of "lucid dreaming," or the ability to become fully aware in a dream without waking up. It actually worked a couple times, but never lasted longer than a minute or so. And so I eventually lost interest and the book went in a box.

I opened it up again recently, and the first thing I read was, "I'm flying backwards with great speed," and for some reason this line just spoke to me. There you have it. In an attempt to make this whole thing relevant, I will say that many of my entries are about things I consider to be backward. Hah. There you go. The title has meaning.

In other news, this blog has now gotten more than 1000 hits. Thank you to the ten people who pushed the refresh button 100 times each. You will all receive virgins in heaven.

Monday, September 20, 2004

What the Scrap?

Scrapbooking is big business in Utah. I would venture to say it is as big as country music, Republicanism, and Jell-o. Somewhere down the line, Utahans decided that photographs in of themselves just don’t cut it. After all, it's impossible to accurately preserve a memory without colorful backgrounds, cutesy stickers, die-cuts and felt markers. Maybe it's the Utahans' ancestor-loving nature that pushes them towards this craft. Maybe it's just another kooky side effect of living in large, happy-go-lucky Mormon communities. Whatever the reason, scrapbooking is huge. Seems to me it must comprise at least one-third of the Utah economy.

So you can imagine the financial devastation Utah would suffer if scrapbooking suddenly became unpopular. Well give your imagination a rest. I know exactly what would happen. How? Time travel, of course. On my latest jaunt through time, I stopped off in Utah to witness “The Great Scrapbook Crash of 2011.” Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately I managed to recover a soiled newspaper I found in the gutter. I had to wrench it away from a dirty little toddler who was using it as her blanket. She'll probably freeze, but at least you’ll get to read this article:

FEBRUARY 12th, 2011. SALT LAKE CITY – The bread lines grew longer Tuesday as 500 more scrapbook stores were forced to close their doors. The majority of Utahans are now out of work, the streets of Salt Lake City brimming with shanty towns, impoverished families struggling to feed their children.
“I suppose we can only blame ourselves,” said Sheila Peterson, 43, whose family lost everything shortly after the tragic crash. “When you have to take out a second mortgage to finance your scrapbooking habits, you know something isn't quite right. I guess it was all just a matter of time.”
Sheila isn't alone. Millions of Utahans gambled their financial stability on glitter pens, squiggly markers, and specialty scissors. In a state that struggles to curb the steady rise of cheap Methamphetamine, who could have guessed the real danger stemmed from a much more deadly drug; the drug of creative memory preservation, or “scrapping” as it's now known on the streets.
“I'd been scrapping for 15 years,” said Kaydee Young, 32, from Pleasant Grove. “It was more than a habit for me. I couldn't stop. Even after the crash, I just couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I'd raid neighbors' closets, looking for whatever I could find. When things got really bad, I sold five teeth for a few sheets of paper with little American flags on them. I mean, how was I supposed finish the page on my Nephew's Eagle Court of Honor without the proper backdrop? Now pattern pages will cost you a kidney and I already sold one for a couple acid-free glue sticks. All is lost.”
Yet among the rubble and ruin of this once bustling economy, there still shines a beacon of hope. Franklin Covey has reported a dramatic increase in sales. Once shadowed by the scrapping craze, Daily Planners may yet prove to be just the medicine Utah needs. Instead of praying for more seagulls, Utahans would find a better miracle in the personal organizer, whose efficient dedication to time management may soon overshadow the dying art of the scrapbook.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

No Vote, No Voice

Please don't think I'd be so uncouth as to discuss the presidential election on this blog. Everyone knows that's a lose-lose situation. No, this post is actually about voting on a new name for this blog. Yes, I've grown tired of "Jeremy's Blog" as a title, so I'm thinking of changing it. Thinking sometimes requires input. That's where you come in.

So, my blog readers, you single digits you, read the following list of possibilites and vote on your favorite in the comments section. Some I'm really considering, some are thrown in to fill up space. Perhaps you think they all are terrible. If this is the case, feel free to suggest a name, as long as you refrain from suggesting something like "Jeremy's Porn Barn" or whatnot. The last thing I need is this blog attracting animal lovers.

The list:
1. Eat This Mr. Ebertson
2. Happy Smile Land
3. Santa, Elves, and Everyone
4. The Turbo Power 2000 Plus Deluxe Special Edition
5. Flying Backwards With Great Speed
6. Tab and Bon Bons
7. Jeremy's Black Pit of Eternal Sadness
8. The Skinny
9. Stuff To Read
10. Jeremy's Blog (it's so classic)

Do remember to vote, because if you don't, how could you live with yourself?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Damned Ladies 2

A month or so ago I wrote a post called "Damned Ladies," about working in a female-dominated environment. Since then, I've written down some of the things I've heard during their regular conversations right outside my cubicle. I've decided to compile a short list of quotes for which I will provide no context. They are more amusing taken as they are:

"Don't even look at me. I'm so scary looking today it's pathetic!"

"That's what I did with my emotions while I was married to the crazy man."

"Well, I beat my dog, but you don't know what my dog does!"

"I'm just greasy every day."

"I feel like you just told me you're going to marry Paul Newman."

"I was like all frightened of him. Him and his long braids."

"All farmers have bad breath."

"My pants smelled gross. I was so embarassed for myself."

"You mom brings you milk? My mom never brought me milk. She never even nursed me!"

"She's got a growth somewhere."

"Is that why I have a bulbous butt?"

I doubt these quotes are as amusing to you as they are to me, but I thought I'd share them anyway since they make me giggle, all giddy-like.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Would You Like Death With That?

Yes, it's true. Scientists are kidnapping people and replacing their brains with those of small monkeys. I know this because I read a news article today about a Chicago woman who stabbed her cousin to death in an argument over a box of french fries.

Now before we start getting on our high-horse and making self-righteous claims about the degradation of humanity and the effects of too much exposure to casual violence, let's step back and take a look at the larger issue: the deliciousness of those fries.

I can't remember the last time I've had fries so good I'd kill for them. This has to be what's missing in my life. (Yes I know that the thing-that's-missing-in-my-life changes every week, what's your point?)

Frankly, there are too few things in this world I'd be willing to kill for. I suppose I'd kill for my family, but that's rather vague don't you think? Better stated: I'd kill for my family and for the huge wads of cash they'll all happen to be holding in each hand.

Of course this whole thing is tragic. Here are two perfectly stupid human beings involved in a senseless murder. Nobodly likes murder, unless it somehow involves Fran Drescher. Really, people should not be subjected to things like "The Nanny." Shame on you, Fran.

Back to the point. Where did these deadly fries come from? The delicious folks at White Castle is where. Sadly, since White Castle is only available to the tiny-hamburger-loving eastern U.S., their sublime french fries have yet to grace my palate. All I know is that if I ever make it out to Chicago or some other White Castle-friendly town, I plan on sampling the fries. If they live up to the ridiculous expectations I've set for them, I'll add them to my list of things worth killing for. Until then, I plan on living a non-murderous lifestyle, no matter how many times I think of doing in Fran Drescher. And let me tell you, I think of it hourly.

No, I'm not making this up. Read the news article here.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

I Dream of TiVo

TiVo has become my new crack cocaine. Before TiVo, my crack was shopping for furniture, and before that it was herbal tea. Perhaps there was a time when my crack was actual crack, who can say?

Yes, I'm addicted to TiVo. And not because I watch a lot of TV. It's simply this: TiVo makes me powerful. I can pause, rewind, fast-forward and record live TV. Perhaps I can even affect weather patterns. Who can say? TiVo has many powers.

For example, I was watching the very end of the BYU-Notre Dame game last week with some friends, and apparently I missed an amazing catch. Oh no! But was I doomed to a bad reenactment of this momentous event through my feeble imagination? No! Thanks to Tivo, I just pushed the rewind and lived it all over again. (sidenote: it wasn't that cool.)

Sometimes I’m listening to NPR in my car and am temporarily deafened by a loud sound (usually from some dumb semi truck) and end up missing an important point. What was that, Neal Conan? We're still fighting a war on WHAT? The National WHAT is coming in November? I'm listening to “WHAT of the Nation?” So I instinctively reach for the rewind button before I have to stop myself. Holy crap, the radio is not a TiVo! This realization hits me like a thousand voodoo needles. Then I can barely even see the road because I can't stop sobbing.

TiVo would be great in real life too. No longer would you have to sneak peeks at some attractive young thing across the room. Simply reach for the remote, press “pause,” then gaze away. And think of all the dry, meandering conversations you could fast-forward though. Hear that, old man Johnson? Your gardening stories have no power over me.

Yes, life is better with TiVo. But is TiVo better with life? This is the great question of existence. Only God can answer. And I'm sure he will get to it eventually, unless he owns a TiVo, in which case forget about it. He's busy.

Tamped On

This post is about tampons, as you probably couldn't guess after reading the title. You see, it was a PUN. Get it? You know, “tamped”...the act of tamping.

So tampons. Why would I bring them up, you wonder. Being male, I naturally would not have occasion to use them. Which is precisely my point. They don't concern me, so I'd like to forget they exist.

Why then do commercials try so hard to remind me? I could go my whole life without seeing a tampon commercial and be perfectly fine. But the folks at Tampax just don't seem too concerned about my feelings. I'm regularly exposed to ads where clever menstruaters use their tampons to solve little problems. What luck! You can fix a leaky boat with tampons. Oh rapture! You can use your tampons like a rope. Except these cute little ads still only remind me of what I'd rather not remember; that tampons exist to absorb gooey, bloody discharge.

Some feminine hygiene commercials take it a step further, not even attempting to deliver a message in good taste. I will quote from an ad I saw a year or so ago which has been permanently burned into my memory:

"Some things are kept best among friends. Like painful, burning, feminine itch."

Whoa, way too much detail Ad Lady. If it's kept best among friends, why are you telling the whole world? Yes, the WHOLE WORLD. The orphans in Romania haven’t stopped having nightmares.

Now girls, don't tell me I'm being too squeamish and wimpy and that it's a part of nature and I might as well get used to it. How many commercials do YOU see advertising products to eliminate thick, sweaty back hair on men? It's certainly something that some men deal with, but I seriously doubt anyone wants to be reminded of it.

Alas, I'm throwing up my hands. Really, nothing can be done, since the nature of advertising involves pushing a message through thousands of unintendeds to reach that special target audience. I've accepted that. But can I whine about it anyway? Of course I can. I can also make up verbs like "to tamp.” Don't tamp with me mother-tamper.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Golden Age

There needs to be more made-up holidays like Labor Day. Having a day off is a beautiful thing. I spent it at a cabin in Causey resevoir, among the pine trees and Pinesol scented air. You can't beat the mountains. Green things and relaxation go together naturally, like peanut butter and jelly or stomach pumps and Arbys.

The activities were uniform: hiking, stargazing, dvd watching, cheesy game playing. There were ten of us, a perfect number to fill the ten beds up in the loft. But think about it; when there's a bunch of single twenty-somethings, five guys and five girls, sleeping in a tight space in the middle of the woods, certain things are bound to happen...

Like long conversations about Eighties cartoons, for example. As a child of the Eighties, I never miss the opportunity to reminisce about the good old days. How could any boy claim to have had a horrific childhood when there was He-Man, Transformers, Thundercats, and Garbage Pail Kids? And girls had it good too, what with My Little Pony, She-Ra, Strawberry Shortcake, and Jem and the Holograms. Pity the female pre-teen today, with her Gangsta-Skank Barbie and complete lack of Kid Sister dolls.

It was the golden age of Saturday morning cartoons, unequaled by previous decades or any decade to come. What other decade had such catchy theme songs that can be so easily remade into techno songs? I mean the only thing the Nineties offered were thousands of Power Rangers spin-offs and those tended to cause severe mental retardation, or so I've been told. Today we have nonsensical shows like Sponge-Bob Square Pants. He lives under the sea, yet somehow he can go sailing on a boat on TOP of the water. I'm sorry, that's way too trippy.

Times are changing. What are my future kids going to watch? She-He-Man? The Adventures of Girls-Gone-Wild-Endless-Spring-Break Barbie? I say bring back the Eighties cartoons, or at least something like them. Kids need the stability, what with all the dangers that they face from terrorists and Michael Jackson. Who would you trust to protect you: a ripped, panther-riding super-hero or a talking dish sponge? Tight-pink shirts or not, my money's on He-Man.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Yesterday one of my co-workers, let's just call her Denise (since that's her real name), was let go. Denise was a bizarre lady from New Jersey.  She had a distinct, nasal Eastern accent, dressed tackier than a garden gnome, and possessed an unhealthy obsession for horses. The very first day she moved into her cubicle, she junked it up with glittery picture frames, assorted baubles, trinkets, ceramic knickknacks, and old photographs. She was eccentric and loud. She spent all of her free time with her ex-husband, who lives down the street from her. She was such a delightfully weird, freakish woman. Her constant bantering was often a welcome interruption into a slow day at work. Too bad she was incompetent. Despite her long years as a teacher and educator, she seemed incapable of handling simple tasks. To her, a computer was like a mystical creature that had to be tamed, usually by yelling at it and making loud claims that it was possessed. So no more Denise. But it was an interesting 6 weeks.

There just aren't enough strange people in my life. When I look around me, all I see are relatively normal, non-deranged, everyday people. It's getting on my nerves. I miss the odd-balls.

Like the crazy Parisian at my first job home from France, who did phone surveys with a voice so high-pitched it often became inaudible.  I remember clearly her pale, mullet-like blonde hair, the gap in her front teeth... She couldn't pronounce the word "or" (she said "of"), and complained long and loud that our job had no good "benefit." It turned out she was the ex-wife of my French professor, who told me he divorced her because she went crazy. According to her: "Je lui ai foutu par le porte" (I kicked him the eff out).

Then there was Margo, one of my favorites. She lived in the French city of Poitiers, and spent most of her life walking her dogs. She was from Philadelphia, and kept her brash Eastern mannerisms and harsh American accent intact despite her ten years living abroad. She carried baby wipes on her outings and would wipe her dogs' rear-ends whenever they relieved themselves on the sidewalk (which was frequent). I got the feeling the locals were afraid of her. Sometimes I would pass her as she sat in a cafe, energetically gesturing at someone across the table, an acquaintance or a stranger, whose eyes were usually wide with shock, desperately maintaining an uncomfortable smile.

So many loonies, so many memories. These three examples are of women, but I've known my fair share of crazy men: one who communicated primarily in long, cartoonish giggles, one who kept the pre-packaged photos of pretty girls in the frames to display around his home, and my Senegalese friend, Ass Faye, who has no idea his first name is so comical.

Charming eccentrics, all of them. But they're in low supply these days. I need to meet more weirdos. I would turn to the internet but it's too full of the creepy, molest-a-child kinds of weirdos. I want the harmless kind. But where is one to go? Not the library or the park; too many normal families. Not Wal-Mart; too many rednecks. Not church; too many purposeful believers.

I will have to wander the streets, seeking out the strange, the funky, the socially backward. Perhaps my journey will be long, fraught with regular encounters and everyday exchanges. But I will persevere. I will not shrink. Be afraid, freaks of the planet, I'm coming for you.