Friday, August 09, 2002

Wanted: Professional Hermit for Cave-Dwelling Duty
The best quote is "it had been very fashionable in the 18th century to have a hermit living in a remote corner of an estate." What?

UK bought 'wrong' smallpox vaccine
The UK Government has bought the wrong vaccine to protect the country from the threat of a smallpox attack by terrorists. Which can put a real damper on things. Unless you're living in a computer simulation.

Have some RealAudio fun with Nardwuar the Human Serviette.

Never say that this blog does not serve the public good. Stop pop-up advertising.

Rapid fire time. I'm getting sleepy.
--Movie reviews? Check the Grid
--Christopher Agou has some beautiful photos of New York on his site.
--Play engrossing Flash games at Orsinal

Here's something that we were planning to put on before that sucker got put to bed by our own innate laziness. It's a bit long, and I was high on Ricola when I wrote it 7 months ago. The premise was a column written by a bitter single guy (me).

The Straight Scoop

Maniacally Focused about being your damn self.

I’ve been sick for the longest time ever in my life, aside from childhood chicken pox and once when I got poked in the eye and had to go to the hospital. I’ve been coughing and sniffling and spreading my disease for 3 weeks like a giant walking virus, which is not as bad as it sounds, because a) I’m not really confined to my bed and b) I get to stay home and watch all the terrible programs brought to me by my DirecTV.

So, my recent sickness has gotten me back in touch with human frailty, and led to deep trances of meditation where I asked important reflective questions like “Should I keep watching this terrible Freddie Prinze Jr movie?,” “Where are my socks?,” and “What is to become of my life?” The last one stuck with me, and since all sorts of mentoring figures ask me a derivative of it every once in awhile. Let’s see. There are the parents, the various friends, married and unmarried, and random people just getting to know you, who feel like this is a surefire topic for conversation that will put off awkward pauses for at least, oh, five minutes.

The inevitable question, if you get caught in one of these conversations, and the asker has any genuine interest at all, is about marital status. And if you’re like me (in that you’re single and twentysomething), you hate this question, because you can see the numbers being crunched as you give your answer “No.” Your progress and value as a productive human being on the Golden Path to Adulthood is judged by many people by how many notches you have on your belt at this point. College degree? Check. In grad school or working? Check. Married? No? And the alarms go off.

Then comes a little bit of good-natured joshing, usually in 2 forms: the “hey, what’s the matter, you gay or something? Hahahahaha” or “oh that’s ok, you’ll find somebody eventually.” Namely, they think you’re a Scrooge-level misanthrope, finding no need for people except for when you take time out from counting your large piles of gold coins, OR you’re a lovesick, desperately heat-seeking smart bomb that will fall for the first thing that looks stable enough to get settled down, have kids and live happily ever suburban. The moment comes, and you’re tempted to rebut the conclusions you see them making in their heads, to say no, I really DO enjoy counting my coins, but still like being around people, or no, I might think “Sleepless in Seattle” is cinematic genius but can still talk about normal things like baseball or food. And you spend the next ten minutes trying to do so, but you can’t quite shake the feeling that the other person is walking away thinking you’re some sort of rationalizing, self-hypnotizing Prozac junkie out of touch with reality. Feelings like this can drive you to drink.

Whatever you want to say about it, post-undergrad life has been a little crazy in terms of social interaction. You feel stuck out in the cold without your cocoon of readily accessible friends, and it takes more work to maintain new friendships. And at the same time, you’re dealing with remaking your identity since you’re no longer a student, and for most of us, what we’re doing now for work is not what we truly feel like we are. Like, I’m not Investment Banker, or Marketing Analyst, or Entertainment Reporter. It’s not something I think I want carved on my gravestone.

And this makes people panic. Not having an identity, not having security in relationships. People I know are taking up interests I thought they’d never get into. Things like swing-dancing, foreign films, going into the clergy, or opera. I was talking to this one girl who said she was going to see the Van Gogh exhibit down at the Art Institute. She knows almost nothing about art, and I recall having conversations with her of how much she disdained the theater majors at our school. Another guy I know is almost positive of his calling to become a missionary down in the South American rainforest. Either that or out in the Russian steppes with the nomadic Mongols, but no, he swears, he’s almost sure of it. He, of course, tells this to the various attractive young women we run into (trans: who we rudely commandeer for our attention) in our weekend forays into the city’s finer establishments.

I’m all for people broadening their horizons. This is a good impulse, and should generally be encouraged. God knows that my own interests and hobbies are disparate enough, from Nerf-sculpting to throwing things at high velocity at my friends’ crotches then running like hell. I never would have discovered any of these joys if I hadn’t branched out. But I don’t do these things to impress other people. I do it because I enjoy doing them, not primarily in the hopes of finding somebody. I do it because it holds my interest and stimulates my mind, not because I’m lonely. But to take up things like this, just to put another bullet point on your personality “resume” seems dishonest. How would you feel if you’re taking pottery at your local community rec center (because pottery actually interests you) and somebody comes up to you with “Hey good-lookin’, you want to come over and make terra cotta bricks sometime? I got a new kiln in my basement you should come check out.” You’d throw that bastard out in a minute. These sorts of people are maniacally focused with being desirable.

It’s more fun to explore your interests or broaden your horizons with some genuine intent to them. I cannot stand people who read everything on Amazon’s bestseller list and think that makes them well-read. Please. Deep down, you know it’s only a matter of time before someone who actually is well-read roots you out for the lowdown fraud you are. So take yourself seriously and sit down and read, if that’s what you really want to do. That “someone special” is not going to find your pretend knowledge of books more appealing than your self-honesty. That’s the straight scoop.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Shocking Appetite to Cut Calories
It's like this collar my friends have that shocks their dog if it barks. If you really want to lose weight, EAT BETTER, and, GET SOME EXERCISE.

Back to the drawing boards, geeks, cuz the speed of light might not be constant. I envision a rash of physicists flinging themselves out of windows, which might cause a few blips on the up-to-the-minute World Population tracker.

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones full script
There have been some alterations:
The word Jedi has been replaced with Monkey, The word Force has been replaced with Ass, The name Anakin Skywalker is now Chubby Clowneater, Amidala is now Stallone and Mace Windu will now be known as Ka-raaazy Shaqfu. Enjoy.

The weather is the best it's been all year, and I wonder why I don't get out and enjoy it more. I was reminded of the reason five minutes later when I went back inside because of the racket made by those damnable cicadas. I've been in good spirits lately, so I tried to ignore it and keep reading. No dice. My neighbors, who are the nicest people in the world, shrug the noise off as "just a part of God's creation" and go back to their gardening. I just want them to die. All of them. The cicadas, not my neighbors.

A little poetry for you. Dylan Thomas' "Fern Hill"

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

It's a slow news day.

A tale to warm the cockles of the Derfman's gypsy heart.

I'm sure everyone's heard of the conjoined twin girls, but here's the update.

My brother and I helped our buddy Todd build a dresser last night for the nursery. It's starting to sink in that he's gonna be a dad soon. Sorta. It actually felt like we were building something too, since isn't one of those Allen wrench, Lego pieces of IKEA furniture.

The National Rifleman Association's Kooky Kidz Korner
Uncle Chucky's keepin' it real!

Abolish the United States Central Intelligence Agency

Get paid for having a unique, non-permanent advertisement tattooed on your body. Not necessarily related to

I know this is old, but Mark Prior threw 135 pitches in a complete game win a few days ago. It was worth it, though, because it pulled the Cubs to within 12 1/2 games of first place in the NL Central and to within 14 games of the Dodgers in the wild-card race. Letting your nominal franchise pitcher throw 135 pitches in a meaningless game is inconsistent with any kind of plan for success. Letting him bat in the bottom of the eighth having thrown 119 pitches is grounds for firing. I'm not getting all huffy about it because I hate the Cubs, but because a 21-year-old whose livelihood is the health of his arm should be handled better, especially when an organization has that much money invested in his success.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn dies at 85
It's a little weird to get overly sad when someone you haven't even met passes away, because it feels fake, or media-driven, or something. But I'll miss Chick Hearn, who was a fixture for basketball fans growing up in Los Angeles. He was funny, interesting, and you could tell that he loved what he did, and had a real personality, which is a rarity now among broadcasters.

The biology department of Davidson University wants you to be aware of the dangers of platypus attacks; specifically, platypus venom. Gotta love the use of "envenomation." I am more interested in hippo attacks, because the potential for comedy with animals that big and angry is greater, and because I never before knew that hippos have a reputation for being surly and vicious.

Betty Bowers is a better Christian than you.

I always thought that Aquaman was the worst hero on the old Superfriends cartoon. Superman's value was obvious, Batman was the detective, Wonder Woman was the token scantily clad chick, the Wonder Twins were the comic relief. But Aquaman? They were constantly pulling his sorry ass out of trouble. Oh, he could talk to animals and rode a giant seahorse. I cannot think of a greater token of impotence than riding a giant seahorse, the most harmless animal ever created on God's green earth.

I got into a conversation last night about church plants (not that I really know a thing about them). I understand that God calls people to do things, and I do not want to devalue his ability to inspire people with vision, but why are there so many new churches being planted? Are the churches that are already established doing so well? I wonder.

Monday, August 05, 2002

I had a pretty dull weekend, getting over being sick.

I haven't seen Signs yet, but here's some info on crop circles. I said crop circles, not these weenies who create crop circles.

Joe Rogan has a website? Are you serious?

Try out the Biblical Curse Generator when Monday starts to get you down.

Right now I'm watching "The Repossessors," which documents the exploits of various repo-men and women in a COPS-like documentary style. It's the greatest thing I've found on TV in a long time.

Snake rips crabs apart
I just think it's cool, because snakes normally swallow their food whole. Like my brother used to do with Fruit Roll-ups. His preferred way of eating those was to roll them up until it was a tightly wound, dense little package, a little bigger than a big gumball. Then he'd chomp on it for a good minute before swallowing. I hypothesized that during the time he did this often, his crap was probably hard as stone, because of the tightly wound Fruit Roll-ups. The observation didn't seem to deter his intake.

This looks like it could potentially be funny, but it doesn't do it for me. I dunno. Stuff like the Anti-Telemarketing counterscript is more my flava. Telemarketers make use of a telescript - a guideline for a telephone conversation. This script creates an imbalance in the conversation between the marketer and the consumer. It is this imbalance, most of all, that makes telemarketing successful. The EGBG Counterscript attempts to redress that balance.

Looks like my job search is over. Most likely some pregnant woman will beat me to it.

Experts Say Computer Hacking Becoming Easier
Great. Just TELL everyone.