Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Winter Wonderland

I have lived in Utah for about 5 years now, and every year I go home to California for Thanksgiving. When I leave, there is not a flake of snow on the ground and every year I come back and the place is covered! This year I was so hoping there would be an exception to this bizarre rule of fate. California wasn't particularly sunny these last five days -- especially since I spent much of my vacation at my family's mountain cabin where it also snowed. I was hoping Utah would be nice this time. Alas, no such luck. (Shakes fist at Utah)

I really hate snow. Yes, you snowboarders and skiers out there, I hate it. It's like bubblegum. It's good for the first few minutes, but then you soon get sick of chewing, the flavor is all gone, and you wonder why you ever bother started in the first place. Snow gets old. Old, I tells ya! If I wanted to feel something cold and icy on me, I'd sleep with Barbara Streisand.

Ick, that was a bad comparison. Let us all delete that from our memories.

On top of dealing with the snow, I get to help my sister with her car today, which broke down on the way to my house last Wednesday. I went to meet her on the shoulder of the freeway where she was stranded. When I got there, she told me she had to relieve herself really bad. We were waiting for the toll truck guy to call so I told her to find a bush. She did so just as the toll truck guy called, and asked for her, so I started walking in her direction, not really thinking about what she was doing, until I noticed she was stooped down, frantically waving me off with her arms.
“She's uh. . .away,” I told the toll truck guy. Of course that didn't make a lick of sense since we had nowhere to go. But I wasn't about to say to the guy, “Oh, I'm sorry, but she's peeing on the side of the road right now.”

Not counting break-downs and snow, my vacation was great--a much needed five days. It's not like I have a stressful job, far from it, but it was nice to spend time away from the computer. So much food. It was pure gluttony, folks. Pure gluttonous bliss.

I also got to attend the 10th annual Thanksgiving get-together I have every year with my high school friends. We've been throwing these since sophomore year but, unlike snow, these gatherings never seem to get old. There's nothing like catching up with good friends. They actually told me they thought I'd gained weight. Me, gain weight. Hah! I wish!

Speaking of freakishly thin, so is my time. I have much to get to this morning at work but wanted to fire off another post considering I've written nothing since the lame joke about Otter Pops. Here's to a fantastic Thanksgiving for all of you. I hope you did some serious binging people. And maybe some purging. Whatever floats your boat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Old School Frozen Syrup Revelations

There’s a lot of hype going on right now over the new movie, “Alexander." Greeks are threatening to sue Oliver Stone because he depicts the famous conquerer as bisexual. Stone claims there is ample historical evidence for this inclusion, but these Greeks disagree. I think they’re both wiggling around the REAL issue here. This shouldn’t be about whether Alexander the Great had the occasional man-friend. What we should really be worried about is Alexander the GRAPE, the Otter Pop. Think about it. Alexander the Grape was purple, a gay color if I’ve ever seen one. Plus, he tasted FRUITY. Can the evidence be any more blatant? Now that I think about it, Sir Issac Lime and Little Orphan Orange were a little iffy themselves. I always suspected there was something strange about those delicious frozen snacks, but never this. Never this!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Holy Sandwich, Batman!

It’s not easy being the Virgin Mary. For one thing, no matter how much your life has changed since the Immaculate Conception, people still call you a virgin. For another, crazy idiots keep claiming they see your face in everything from tree bark to ketchup. The latest Mary sighting to make the news is her blessed appearance on a toasted cheese sandwich. The holy sandwich almost sold for $30,000 before it was removed by eBay authorities. I can’t find the original listing, but here’s one of the many replicas by some other jerk preying off religious fervor in the name of profit.

The owner of the original sandwich, Diana Duyser, claims that in 1994 she was taking a bite into her lunch and saw the Virgin staring back at her. You can imagine her awe and her joy--I mean, with these kinds of miracles happening, who needs a cure for cancer?

But the story doesn’t stop there. This Mary sandwich, or Virgandwich as I’ve decided to call it, has brought Diana special blessings. On her eBay listing, she claimed the Virgandwich had helped her win over $70,000 at casinos. She even has the receipts to prove it.

Well, that’s it, I’m convinced. She’s got receipts people. Receipts!

Now I’m going to really have to reevaluate everything I think about biblical figures. For one thing, they must be starved for attention. I can only guess they spend most their time daydreaming about life back on Earth and how they wish they were a part of it again. So, in the case of Mary, they make little cameos on sandwiches and whatnot. It makes them feel important again. Plus, helping their followers succeed at gambling is the kind of thing people do in heaven. Reminds me of Jennifer Lopez's mom, who after winning a shload of cash, gave all the credit to the Virgin Mary (who of course had everything to do with it.) Don’t question this stuff. You’ll understand when you get to heaven. Or should I say IF you get there, you faithless swine.

I don’t understand why people just can’t be realistic and trust the sandwich. The sandwich has PROVEN its power. All this cynicism has made me so mad that I’ve gone and spilled my soda all over my desk. Look what you made me do!

Wait...hold on a second...could it be?...yes, the subtle pattern of spilled pepsi...it’s Mary! Praise God! It’s a miracle, a blessed blessed manifestation from heaven.

And now for some manifestations from Reno. Blackjack, baby!

Monday, November 15, 2004


I think it's high time I wrote a post about Tab. If you're too young, too old, or too drunk to remember, Tab was a soft drink developed by coke with saccharine instead of sugar, was bottled or canned in pinkish-red pin-striped aluminum, and had zero calories. It also tasted like monkey-groin. I speak of it in the past tense because even though it is still around, it is no longer being marketed and is thus dead as far as the world is concerned. It was introduced in the sixties, but really reached its peak in the eighties. I have personally been addicted to it for years.

Why do I drink Tab? Well, not for the taste, that much is clear. Coke tastes better, and so does pig sweat. Do I drink it to be cool? Not really, since drinking Tab is pretty uncool as far as that goes. It is a beverage for old ladies. Do I drink it to keep the weight off? Girl, if I lost any more weight, I’d have to cling to trees during wind storms.

For me it’s about nostalgia and about habit. I started drinking it in high school while working on a literary magazine. The advisor would often bring in food to our meetings: large cookies from Trader Joe’s and 6-packs of Tab. There was nothing else to drink, except maybe sink water. Thus, much of my high school years were spent downing Tab--delightful, filling, piss-nasty Tab. There's just something about it, and I'm not talking about the amusing “Warning: May Cause Cancer” label it had for many years.

I kept buying it in college. It's got more caffeine than coke, great for staying up late studying, and it brought back pleasant memories. At one point I did a Tab advertising campaign for a class (see one of the ads below). It's amazing what you find when you do research on something you think is long dead. Does Tab still have a following? You bet it does. There are forums where people write post after post expressing their love for the sickly sweet liquid. Finding grocery stores that sell 12-packs equates to instant ecstasy for some fans. Others discuss the road trips they've taken to stock up on fridge packs. Of course these people are crazy, but they are crazy Tab-drinkers, so they're okay in my book.

Next time you're at the supermarket, pushing a creaky cart down the soft drink isle, keep a look out for Tab. If you're feeling adventurous, grab a 6-pack. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you won't. The point is, one of these days you're going to get cancer, and when that day comes, you're going to be very confused. “Why, God, why?!” you will ask. And for you atheists out there: “I hate you God, even though you don't exist!” And just when you are feeling like nothing makes sense in this world, think of Tab. Yes, Tab gave you cancer. After all, saccharine is a known carcinogen. Of course, you would have to drink an ocean of the stuff for it to really make a difference. It doesn't matter. Blame Tab. I intend to. Good old piss-nasty Tab.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Much Ado About Feet

I make books for a living. Most my time is spent doing layout design, plus photo manipulation and some illustration. When I tell people I design books, they always assume I just place words on a page. If that was my job, I would have driven an ice pick through my eye a long time ago, just to alleviate the boredom.

When you look at a book, magazine, billboard, or something of that nature, you don’t usually think of the process that goes into it. There is so much media out there, a lot of people think that printed material just “happens,” as if some gigantic, magical machine is pumping out what they read and see everyday. Along with this obliviousness, often comes unrealistic expectations and, in many cases, outright stupidity.

My editor found a painting she wants to use for the cover of a 4th grade textbook I’m designing on Pennsylvania history. The image belongs to a museum. Don’t be fooled. Just because someone works at a museum does not mean they are sophisticated and intelligent. In fact, when you see small, yellow buses parked outside a museum, don’t assume they are for “special” children on a fieldtrip. It’s just as likely that the buses transport in the museum employees.

So the museum agrees to give us the rights to use the painting on our cover. There’s an enormous fee, of course, there always is for this kind of thing. But then the museum decides that we can only use the image if we agree not to put any type over it. This is when you begin to question their intelligence. It’s a BOOK. Books have titles. There is going to be type. Finally, after my editor explains this to them and I send a mockup of how the title does not detract from the image, they agree to make an “exception.”

Problem solved? Hardly. They contact my editor again and tell her that we must show more of the old lady’s feet at the bottom of the painting. They don’t like the fact that the old woman, a tiny obscure element in the foreground, is cropped at the ankles. Did I crop the painting? I did no such thing. Why, then, do they accuse me of ankle slicing? I looked on the internet for other prints of the painting and every single example depicted a feetless grandma. Perhaps Edward Hicks painted no feet! I would think the museum people, who own the painting, would know this. In frustration, I grabbed my digital stylus, drew on some feet, and emailed it to my editor. Drawn-on cartoon feet are better than no feet at all, right? My editor was amused, but didn’t pass on the email to the museum. Too risky. If these people’s sense of humor is on par with their intelligence level, then we’d be in big trouble.

It will all work out. If the version of the painting they send us has feet, then by golly, the children will get feet! If not, no feet for them. What are feet anyway, if not fleshy entrails for our socks? Answer me that, museum.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

November 11

It’s Veterans Day and I have to work. It’s not right. My ancestors didn’t give their lives for some country in some war so I’d have to commemorate their sacrifice by clicking on a mouse all day. I should be out celebrating by torturing communists and murdering Germans.

My grandmother is German, but I think she’d be hard to murder. For one thing, she watches “Murder She Wrote” all day. I figure she must be an expert on the subject. She also has become a bit dotty in her old age and tends to forget episodes right after seeing them. Every time she watches, it’s all completly fresh to her, the suspense untouched and still exciting, Angela Lansbury’s phoned-in performance as new as ever. How nice would that be? I hope I spend my days watching reruns of the Simpsons when I get closer to death, thinking that every episode is one I haven’t see before. Yes, that would be fantastic. As it is, I’ve seen every episode multiple times, thanks to TiVo and to Fox for airing it twice daily.

My great-grandmother, before she passed away a couple years ago at age 100, was hooked on “the Young and the Restless.” Don’t ask me when this all started, but for as long as I can remember she has been attached to the show. When she traveled, she took around one of those little mini televisions so she wouldn’t miss anything. Now that’s dedication. Of course we all have our media-based addictions. I think I’m becoming addicted to ABC’s “Lost.” Still, my love for Lost pales in comparison to her love for that Soap, or her “story” as she called it. I suppose a dramatic character-driven Gilligan’s Island scenario has nothing on the addictive power of So-and-So’s daughter turning out to be So-and-So’s long lost mother.

There’s nothing like a great story. I mean storytelling has been in our history since the cave man’s ancient scratchings all the way up to our modern blogging. Find something that draws you in and you soon find that there’s no escape. In fact, it doesn't even have to be good -- just engaging. As much as I make fun of lame Harry Potter fanatics, I am ashamed to say that I’ve been addicted to Robert Jordan’s “The Wheel of Time” since I was 14. The series is now totalling 10 books and over 8,000 pages. Over the years I discovered that Jordan’s writing isn’t very good and his characters are a bit stereotypical, but the story! Quite the engaging story.

There you have it. For lack of a way to give any of this meaning, I will go back to Germans. They are people too. You shouldn’t murder them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Hold the Ham

Dear Idiot Celebrities and Pompous Newscasters,

Please shut up. Honestly, there is no good reason for you to be talking. Sure, everyone has a right to their opinion, to speak their mind, yaddity yaddity. Fine, go on speaking, but at least surgically remove your tongue first. I’d much rather hear gurgly throat noise than anything you have to say.

Yes, Bush was re-elected. Is this a bad thing? Most probably, yes. Does that give you an excuse to say idiot things like you’re going to leave the country? No. Please give up the melodrama! I know that you’re paid to be melodramatic, but save it for when you’re reading a script or a teleprompter. The world is not going to end because you don’t like the President. Fifty percent of the U.S. population is not comprised of ignorant, slack-jawed yokels. Sure, we have plenty of those, but I’d like to think that they aren’t one out of every two Americans. If you think so, you are seriously out of touch.

For all your talk of open-mindedness, you refuse to even attempt to understand what drives many Americans. If you want to write them off as religious fanatics, war-mongers, or too-stupid-to-know-better you are being more ignorant than they ever could be.

I suppose I wouldn’t care so much, except it’s getting out of hand. Today I went to the website of a very talented author who will remain nameless. I’ve been reading his books for several years now. I’m eagerly anticipating his next book, the progress of which is announced periodically on his site. What did I see today? One long, obnoxious whine. He is so upset over the election, that he announced he is too depressed to write. He says it could take weeks before he gets out this funk. I’ve never wanted to slap a person more in my life.

Was I upset over the election? Yes, it made me rather sad for about a day. Did the results surprise me? Not really. Do I think the Bush family is going to turn America into a stinking cesspool of filth and corruption? Listen, we’ve had many a President making many a wrong decision. The history of this country is not coated in sequins and glitter. Life goes on. Things are never as bad as they seem. Light up a pipe, suck down some caviar, do a little yoga, whatever calms your nerves. We’ll be okay.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Weird Science

Genes are silly things. This became clear to me while working on a slideshow for my grandmother’s big 80th birthday celebration, sorting through some photos that my dad sent me of her and my grandfather. I was shocked at how much I look like my grandfather when he was my age. So I took a photo of me, and one of him and fused them together. (See below). The bottom half of the third photo is his face, and the top half is mine. The scary part is, if I only saw the third photo, I would think it was me.

Don't you think that's a little lazy and uncreative? My genes are just recycled Grandpa. I'm a 1980 rehash of a 1920s creation. It's like fashion, how it spits out old styles with slightly new twists every few decades. Pretty soon our genes are going to completely run out of ideas and we'll all just look like Mariah Carey. Pray that day is long in coming.

(left to right) Jeremy, Orlin, "Jeorlin"

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Punch, Punch, Punch

Anyone who believes that the elderly rule the country have only to look to their nearest voting station for complete confirmation. We are at the mercy of the elderly when it comes to the electoral process--they're the ones with the time to volunteer at the polls. They can make all the mistakes they want and blame it on Alzheimer's. Fear the elderly.

The cranky old woman at the elementary school where I voted took five minutes to write down my name. Her hand was so shaky that single letters seemed to be a great task for her. She was often distracted, snapping at her co-volunteers and babbling with a neighbor who came in to say “hi.” I had to reign in my desire to snatch the paper from her and finish filling it out myself.

I did get to vote though, despite the old lady's best efforts. Which brings me to my next point: punch card ballots are the downfall of democracy. They are just TOO fun to punch. After voting for the candidates and issues I had actually researched (the president, the governor, and whether or not to keep putting fluoride in the water), I was left with a whole slew of names I knew nothing about. Perhaps the responsible thing would be to not vote any further, since whatever voting I did would be horribly misinformed. I don't like voting along party lines, so that wasn't the answer. But I couldn't go and leave the thing blank. It was calling to me to make little holes in it. So I punched away. Punch, punch punch. Who should be in the congress? Let's give the Libertarian a try, his name sounds fun. Punch, punch, punch. What about such and such council member? Let's go with the Green Party; it's a nice color. Punch, punch. Reverse fund allocation in district X? Sounds good to me. Punch, punch, punch.

Punching completed, I put my ballot in the slotted box and received what I had really come for: the coveted “I voted today” sticker. If self worth can't be measured by cute little stickers, what can it be measured by? I walked out of that elementary school feeling glorious. Thank God for the stickers. Thank God for democracy.