Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes, I Would Like to Share One!



A Guinness, that is. But don't tell Murphy's that I'm cheating.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reason No. 11 Why I'm Glad I'm Not a Woman



As a guy, I never have to deal with this particular tableau (names have been changed):

The setting is an office cubicle. A woman, Tara, sits at her desk on a conference call. A second, *slightly* slimmer woman approaches from behind her and places her arm next to Tara's as if comparing wrists. Tara notices and...

Tara (Covers the phone): I'm on a call -- What are you doing?
Christy: Arnold is giving his wife a bracelet and wanted to know what size. She's bigger than me, so I thought of you.
Tara: Me?
Christy: Yes, I have small, delicate wrists -- yours are much bigger.
Tara (Barely suppressing rage): I have to go.
----

This would never happen between two guys -- the whole charade to imply that one person is fatter/flatter/less attractive just doesn't happen. Not that men are perfect at human interaction, but this particular annoying tactic is almost entirely restricted to the ladies. You have fun with that!

What DO They Produce?



I'm not sure how much you'd have to pay me to be CEO of a company called "BJ Services", but $34 million would probably be enough. That's what James Stewart (not the guy from "Vertigo", I checked) made last year -- even as the company's stock price cut in half. The company was bought last month by Baker Hughes for $5.5 billion.

Please insert your own joke about the value of BJ Service. Here are a few to get you started:

- The opening of the Russian markets apparently has flooded the marketplace with cheap competition.
- At half the price, BJ is a better deal than ever!
- Apparently, Stewart's decision to get rid of "the Bear" was a disastrous choice.
- Fran Hughes, wife of Baker Hughes founder and owner Baker "Chuckles" Hughes commented, "If I'd known he was willing to pay that much, I would've changed my name to Monica Lewinsky Hughes."
- The stock is the most traded stock amongst Wall Street brokers -- and the only one that brokers request being withheld as a line item on expense reports.

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Live" Blogging the TSoS Podcast



You have to give it to King Wally -- unlike most old people, he may not be regular, but he is funny. He and the Jester did their first Drunk Lunch and since I couldn't call in*, I decided to give you a quick recap. This is known in the blogger world as "post-mooching"**.

0-19 Minutes - I'm sure they brought the funny, but I was too focused on work. The main theme was that $20 bottles of beer aren't the best investment ever.
19:30 - I'm going to take the Jester out of context -- "I'm not interested if it doesn't moo or oink"
23:00 - King Wally lives up to the title as he and the Jester spend 2 minutes arguing over KW's website. It ends up KW was wrong.
27:00 - The Jester is bitter about beer and relationships!
29:00 - CSI: The Village! Tonight's episode: Do two local unemployed drunks hear a crime or does the neighbor just enjoy screaming?
34:00 - The Jester and King Wally seem to be on the Merv Griffin set or at least they think they're hosting a talk show.
38:00 - Hey! I clicked 3 times!
42:00 - Just thinking about the Jester as a freshman in high school makes me laugh
45:00 - It's "The View"! The guys display a "little hostility in here" as they talk about losing 20 pounds each.
48:00 - Clearly both hosts are familiar with Afternoon Delight...
50:00 - ... and also with bukake.
53:00 - Does Jebus want King Wally to take the job or not?
55:00 - The Jester implies that he has a Brazilian wax. Single life has not been kind to him.

* Mainly because I didn't know about it.
** Actually, it probably isn't. But I like the term.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Bipolar Movie Night!






Last night was my semi-regular* Bipolar Movie Night. Last time it was "Taken" and "Confessions of a Shopaholic"**. Since I was solo last night, I went for manly movies -- "Frost/Nixon" and "Wolverine". One was the story of two men locked in a battle of wits over one man's past and both men's futures, with both lead performances Oscar-worthy. The other, of course, was about a talk show host interviewing the man who made Americans realize that their Presidents weren't just human, but possibly sub-human. I kid. I don't really think Hugh Jackman was Oscar-worthy. Maybe just a Golden Globe.

The prognosis? "Frost/Nixon" was fabulous, though it did make me want to punch Frank Langella. "Wolverine" wasn't nearly was bad as I'd heard, at least until the end. Then, rather than kicking up the action a notch, it kicked up the stupidity several notches. So, enjoy "Frost/Nixon" for a battle of wits and a surprisingly sympathetic insight into the Sleaze-In-Chief, and enjoy the first 80 minutes or so of Wolverine. Adamantium memory-wiping bullets. Ugh.


* Or is it bi-regular? I can never remember.
** Guess which one was my pick?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Citi CEO Is McFly -- Does This Make Geithner Biff?



Unfortunately, my day job precludes me from being able to competently mock every mock-worthy bit of news about my former employer. This tasty tidbit slipped past me last week, but it's a doozy. The author stops just short of openly mocking VikiP and his merry band of idiots but leaves little doubt that he doesn't think much of the direction of the company.

The author highlights the company's recent discovery that “there is a group of people who were in their 20s and are now in their 30s, and actually have some money,” then moves on to Citi's executive brainstorming that has decided “to embrace a more client- and customer-centric approach across our product lines and delivery channels.” Apparently, the previous GFY* approach to clients and customers wasn't really setting the banking world on fire**.

However, it's the author's comparison of VikiP to Marty McFly in "Back to the Future" that most amused me. Ever since, I've been thinking of Tim Geithner with VikiP in a headlock rapping his skull while saying, "Hello! McFly!***"

While on the subject of "Back to the Future", I also thought this was pretty funny.



* You'll figure it out.
** It did burn a lot of bridges with customers, though.
*** Was the guy filming this drunk, or was he suffering from vertigo?

Have You Registered YOUR Safeword Card?



One of the beauties of being a former Citi employee is that they still send me moronic corporate emails. Some are works of subtle comedic genius, like the quarterly earnings announcements where VikiP talks about how they've raised the capital ratio and how this means that the bank is incredibly strong -- without mentioning that he's said this for 6 straight quarters. Then there are the ones from Corporate Communications* that seem to be written solely for an audience of smartasses. This is one of the latter:

Subject: Registering Your Safeword Card

At Citi, we understand the importance of providing alternative and flexible work solutions, and the opportunities they bring to employees and our company.

******

Um, what kind of alternate work solution requires a safeword?

* Motto: Bringing you Citi news only minutes after it leaks to the press!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

They're Doing WHAT?!?



Enjoy this memo from a friend at a major company in the USA:


It has come to our attention that we have some very specific and disturbing hygiene issues in our men's restrooms and kitchen facilities that are primarily used by [censored] resources. Complaints from your fellow team members and maintenance crews have prompted this reminder that our workplace requires we treat each other with respect. This includes personal hygiene and behavior that can be offensive or even unhealthy to others.



These examples include but are not limited to:



* Use of the kitchen sinks for oral rinsing
* Placement of food in sink drains where there is no disposal
* Standing on toilets and toilet seats
* Placement of mucous on walls
* Failure to properly aim when using the urinals

This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Persons observed exhibiting such behavior could be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter and for your compliance.

****************************

Um, standing on toilets? Mucous on the WALLS? WTF? And how bad does urinal aim have to be for the housekeeping to complain?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Germany Brings You Das Funny




Unglaublich lustig!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

You Stay Classy, Serena



Um, wow. To say that Serena lost her cool would be an understatement. Her tirade at a lineswoman was amazing -- I'm pretty sure she'd have been given a straight red in soccer for this.

According to ESPN.com's report on the match, she said "I swear to God I'm [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God."

I do like McEnroe's complete silence on the tirade -- he limits himself to criticizing the lineswoman and says nothing in relation to Serena's rant. Which is disappointing, since he is definitely the person best qualified to dissect the quality of her meltdown. It's like having Bobby Knight announce a game and refuse to discuss a coach throwing a chair. I have to give Mac a point penalty his performance.

"Disingenuous" seems to have been her choice of tactics for the press conference afterward:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Video That Made Me Into An Adonis



I know what you're thinking, "I don't believe JT could get any hotter -- he's only a few degrees* short of unbearably hot!" Well, I believe there's always room for improvement, even for me. But after following the instructions in this video, I think I'm maxed out. I'm now sexier than Brad Pitt wearing George Clooney as an overcoat.




* A masters in comparative literary theory and a PhD in art history, to be specific.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Year of Good Books: June



Since I was a bit of a slacker (or unimaginative -- I didn't think of using the Year of Good Books as a topic until July), so I'm covering the first 6 months of the Year of Good Books in reverse order.

June should have a been a month of lots of reading, with a 2 week vacation, but I read very little. I blame Dan, April and Ultimate DeLux for being so much fun to hang out with. I need to get some losers to travel with so I can read more.



A VOYAGE LONG AND STRANGE: Rediscovering the New World - Tony Horwitz's intertwining of the historical stories of European explorers between Columbus and the Pilgrims with his own trips to unearth the information leaves a bit to be desired. He's clearly going for humorous travel stories that Mary Roach or Sarah Vowell (who covers similar ground in "The Wordy Shipmates", at least for Pilgrims) might tell, but he's just not that funny. I wanted him to spend more time on these unbelievable stories (would you believe someone that walked from Florida to Mexico along the Gulf Coast while fighting to escape slavery and becoming the center of a cult?) and less on his own whining. If his bit had been better, I'd have been happier.



McCarthy's Bar - Pete McCarthy's 8th Rule of Travel: Never pass a bar with your name on it. Being a McCarthy and traveling through Ireland either makes this rule a burden or a blessing, but either way McCarthy makes it enjoyable. Lots of good anecdotes, though the final few chapters (a pilgrimage to an Irish saint's shrine) are a bit of a departure from the rest.



A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin - As a nerd, I love epic fantasy. The problem is that this book has two moments of "fantasy" -- and they're in the first and last chapters (ok, fine, there's a third one stuck 2/3rds of the way through). This means the rest is entirely political maneuvering. It's gripping maneuvering, but maneuvering nonetheless. However, I'm intrigued enough that I bought book two, so I guess it was a successful introduction.

Schadenfreude Update: Break Out the Lines!



After having been beaten like a rented mule at home by Brazil on Saturday, Maradona again tried to install his mascara-based offense with unsatisfactory results.

"We must re-start and do the puzzle again. I didn't think we were going to be like we are. I wanted to be higher (in the table). This is the reality we must live and I will face it like always in my life -- high as a kite on the best Columbian bam-bam" (clarification in italics mine).

It's really unfair to CONCACAF teams -- the 4th place will likely be in a playoff against Argentina for a World Cup berth. The Argentina football federation's insistence on keeping Coach Clueless at the helm only instills false hope. I think this is the clear reason Costa Rica lost to El Salvador -- a few minutes of injury time probably seemed like more work than playing a home and away series with a team that appears to be coached by Margaret Dumont (after gaining a few pounds):



Monday, September 07, 2009

The Year of Good Books: Anathem




When people find out what a huge nerd I am, they often ask me what my favorite book is. I try to give them an answer of something I've read in the last five years, and the sequence has been "The Lord of the Rings", "The Power of One", "The Poisonwood Bible" and now, "Lamb". Unfortunately, it's been 5ish years since I read "Lamb". Fortunately, I just finished "Anathem".

Unlike my other previous favorites, "Anathem" is going to be anathema to a large portion of my friends -- it's 1000 pages, it's sci-fi (or "speculative fiction"), and it's filled with invented words and historical figures that are fully justified in the scope of the novel but that will annoy the living shit of some of my friends (*cough*LB*cough*). But for those that stick with it, it's fabulous. It's filled with action, humor, and lots of big ideas (and smaller ones). Unlike, say, Thomas Pynchon's dreck, these ideas are not there to wow you with the author's knowledge -- they are the key to the book. This will be a good thing for some, and a really, really bad thing for others.

The book starts in a concent (basically a monastery for mathematicians) just before its decennial 10-day opening of its gates to the outside world. The narrator, Erasmus, is about to go from being a fid (novice) to a full fraa (monk, minus the celibacy). Around this time, Big Stuff happens. Lots of it. Credit to Stephenson that he blends legitimate mathematical, philosophical (it's the first time I've seen any real value in pondering the meaning of consciousness) and moral discussions with serious action and plenty of humor.

Like Stephenson's "Cryptonomicon" and "Snow Crash" (both highly recommended by me), the ending is a bit rushed, but unlike his previous novels, it is an ending and not just a final period. I absolutely loved it, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. Give it a 100 or 200 pages and you'll either be sucked in or Thrown Back. If you hate it, though, I DID warn you.

Boston or Minneapolis? Let Me Help You, Ricky Rubio



A lot of sportswriters have been tearing into Ricky Rubio for "betraying" the Timberwolves. Let's all just settle down. He's 18, and correctly making this kind of decision takes years of experience with making tough decisions and seeing the emotional and physical devastation these choices will bring. So, I'm here to help you, Ricky. Sure, you can handle the rock, but I can bring the pain*.

Leaving the money part aside, let's look at his choices, which cover two main topics:

A. Playing for the T-Wolves vs FC Barcelona
B. Living in Minneapolis vs Barcelona

A. Sure, the NBA is the best hoops league on the planet, with the best players. But is playing for the worst team in the best league better than playing for one of the best teams in the second-best (Euro League) league? I'm thinking no. The T-wolves are not bad -- they are a malignant lump in the NBA's armpit. This is a team so inept that is being sued for copyright infringement by the Washington Generals** AND the estate of the Three Stooges.

B. This one needs a bit more exploration, so let's break it down, point-by-point:
1. Weather: One is a popular beach destination in summer and pleasant in the winter. The other has two seasons: winter and road repair. Advantage: Barcelona
2. Food: Paella vs. Cheese Curds: HUGE Advantage: Barcelona
3. Famous Residents: Barcelona claims Pablo Picasso, Antonio Gaudi and Salvador DalĂ­ -- All dead. The Twin Cities have Prince.
Chappelle's Show
True Hollywood Stories - Prince
www.comedycentral.com
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story


At least he'll cook you pancakes after beating your ass in hoops. Advantage: Minneapolis.
4. Women: I've been to both cities, and non-tourist women in Barcelona seemed to come in two varieties: Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz. In Minneapolis there are also two categories (but no tourists): My smokin' hot friends/crushes from college and women wearing shapeless clothing because it's too damn cold to care. If Ricky can stick with Kristen, Annie, Sara, Julia, Carrie, Nicole, etc., then it's MN. But otherwise, he should stick with... Advantage: Barcelona
5. Nightlife: One starts at 1 am. One ends at 2 am. Advantage: Barcelona.

So, it's clear, Ricky had no choice but to spurn the frigid wastes of the Midwest and head for MidMediterranean. Let us all hope that


* I can't, but it sounds tough, right?
** The Clippers and Knicks are co-defendants

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Internet Tool Developed to Accelerate Insanity Process



The good folks at mediotiempo.com have a simulator allowing obsessed soccer fans like me to figure out how the CONCACAF standings will play out over the next 3 games. With a win last night over El Salvador, the US is in decent position to qualify, though the other results have made it closer than I'd like. The results of my time playing with the simulator have told me that because the USA failed to get points at Mexico and Costa Rica, the Hex is likely coming down to the final gam against Costa Rica. The only way to avoid this is to win the next two road games -- somewhat likely in Trinidad & Tobago, not so likely in Honduras. Which means the final game against Costa Rica won't be for winning the group, as it appeared in May, but to avoid the playoff games against the 5th place CONMEBOL team (currently Colombia, possibly Argentina if they can fire Maradona in time to stop the bleeding).

In Schadenfreude news, Diego Maradona oversaw Argentina's first home loss in World Cup qualifying. In his defense, he said that his players were not allowed to following his recommended training regimen of snorting a line of coke off a hooker before each half. "If the authorities will allow me to train my players as I trained, we will be dominating the world in no time. Messi has the potential to be better than me, if only he can gain 100 pounds and clear his mind with the sweet, sweet powder."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Other Thing The Internet Is Useful For*



While my resolution in 2008 to have more non-Simpsons quotes at the tips of my fingers was a near-complete failure, there is hope yet. Thanks to a new website, www.arigoldquotes.com, I have the wit and wisdom of everyone's** favorite agent, Ari Gold. Some recent faves, though I have to warn you that there is some very (im)mature language:

- "Not everyone can stay young by sucking the blood of their employees."

- "Ok, first, let me counter by saying .. fuck you!"

- "Lunch is on me, provided that uh, Joyce, you still have your stomach stapled."

- "You either owe me an apology or a blow job. Your choice."

- "If you need a kidney Adam, I’m not willing to donate, but I am willing to watch you slowly die if you’re looking for that kinda thing."

* Obviously, the primary use is porn.
** Except Steve

And We Thought Nancy Reagan Was Crazy...




I think this is pretty exciting! One of the keys to being a good political spouse is to have just enough crazy to make life interesting for the populace, and it looks like she has this covered.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Blow Me, You Lazy Jackasses



For a country full of people obsessed not only with following rules, however arbitrary, but also with making sure complete strangers follow rules, Germany seems to have only one* law that is ignored by EVERYONE except foreigners -- the poop scoop law. In 3.5 years here, I've seen ONE German (but every foreigner) pick up after their dog and every gd day I see dog shit every-fing-where. Here's my message to you useless son/daughter-of-a-bitch** owners:

(Note, I semi-edited this rant that was rattling around my skull while working out.)

GFY, you lazy mf'ers. Get a plastic fing bag, put it on your fing hand, and pick the feces up. Then throw it the f away. Is that so fing hard, you troglodytic morons? You're so gd fing excited to yell at people for jaywalking when there's no fing traffic, how about following a fing law meant to keep your city from smelling of dogsh!t.

Thus ends the rant.

* My first year, I thought it was the one outlawing overtanning, but apparently there is no such thing as overtanned in Deutschland.
** Not cursing in this specific usage!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Year of Good Books: August



While the good weather in August lent itself, in theory, to lots of reading on the balcony, the monthly book total doesn't really reflect that. It was odd that the 2 non-fiction books had far less believable stories (Oppenheimer tried to poison his tutor? and wasn't even expelled?!?). September is looking like it might be dominated by "Anathem", which is fine by me -- I love me some Neal Stephenson.


Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe - Laurence Bergreen's story of Magellan and his apparently cursed crew of lusty, wine-swilling sailors is riveting. The tripe we were fed in school about his trip can't match the real story. Wow. Make sure to read it only when you have a steady supply of vitamin C on hand.


A Most Wanted Man - John Le Carré weaves an intricate tale of a lawyer and a banker fighting for personal redemption and the freedom of a man either on the run from torture in multiple countries -- or a terrorist. Or both. While there's almost no action until the end, it's gripping throughout. Though I have to say, "heavy-handed" doesn't quite fully describe his description of the American intelligence community.


Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell. Unlike some people*, I do love his books -- even when I get annoyed with his random departures from the subject at hand. A great read with some interesting tidbits for thought.


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Martina Lewycka's novel got rave reviews as hilarious, but I didn't laugh all that much. The twentieth century Ukrainian history was fascinating**, the humor wasn't all that funny. An easy read, but overrated.


* OK, not "some people". Just "a person" -- Schmubb.
** Possibly less fascinating if you're not dating a Ukrainian