Sunday, May 28, 2006

All Float On Okay

This weekend was our second-annual trek to southwest Missouri for camping and canoeing among hillbillies. I have returned unharmed, once again thwarting our sun's ultraviolet radiation.

Floyd and I shared a canoe again this year. To keep things fresh, I decided to wear the hat I bought Friday from Lawrence's best costume shop, Fun and Games, and count the number of racial epithets it provoked. I didn't bring my digital camera, so you'll have to imagine what I would have looked like. Here's a hint - I looked a lot like this woman:

...except I was more pale, sitting in the front of a canoe, wearing $10 orange Gap swimtrunks and an American-flag-adorned, God-Bless-America-sloganed white T-shirt.

As we launched into the Elk River at 10:30 a.m., we immediately heard the first inappropriate comment. Before our 5 hour ride was through, our canoe alone heard 31 slurs. Nonsensical Asian chatter (i.e. "Ching chang chong") was the most popular phrase, followed closely by the riff from "Kung Fu Fighting" (e.g. "ba na na na nah nah nah nah nah"). Many chose it simply inquire about an Asian dish I might serve them (including rice, fried rice, and cashew chicken). A minority attempted to use an actual Asian phrase (e.g. "Diddy mao!") or reference (e.g. the Ho Chi Min Trail).

I received plenty of compliments, too, from, "Nice hat" to, "Where did you get that hat?" to "Raiden wins!"

One kind youth was so enamored with my headwear that she offered to show her breasts in exchange for the hat. I declined. "This hat will last forever - your boobs are fleeting," I said.

Two other moments from the trip will stand out in my mind. One was hearing Matt shout, "Hambone! Hambone!" just before he and Grant's canoe tipped over. The other was playing Catch Phrase while sitting around the campfire, being pelted with mulberries from the tree above us. My two favorite clues were:

"This began its life as a cucumber, and was soaked in brine." (Dill pickle)
--Shawn, sober

"If I'm like, 'fuck you want me to...did...something, but I'm not going to...did it like that.'" (Do it my way)
--Nathan, drunk

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Movie Magic

This news is not so fresh anymore, but it warrants mentioning. Earvin "Magic" Johnson has purchased the movie rights to Jason McElwain's story.

Who is Jason McElwain, you ask? Jason is a young man with autism. But it's not just the autism that distinguishes him from his peers - he's been on ESPN.
McElwain, a Rochester, N.Y., senior nicknamed "J-Mac" by his friends, never made the varsity team because of his size and instead served as its student manager. But in the waning minutes of the final game of the regular season in February, his coach rewarded McElwain's dedication and attitude by putting him into the game.

McElwain's first three-point attempt was an air ball, which he followed with a missed layup. He then scored six three-pointers, his last one the final shot of the game -- a feat that Johnson said would be nearly impossible for a seasoned pro to accomplish, nevermind a high schooler not accustomed to playing time.
Oh, Magic. You liar.

First, it's not nearly impossible for a professional basketball player to go 6-8 in garbage time. And it's not such a big deal to see a high school player do it, either. But that's not the main issue here.

The main issue is that everyone thinks autistic people act like Rain Man 24/7. They expect Jason to stumble out on the court, get hit in the head by a lob pass, then announce the exact number of toothpicks that fell on the floor (presuming someone spilled a box of toothpicks). Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your love for Dustin Hoffmanesque characters), not every autistic person acts like Rain Man. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior. It has nothing to do with a person's ability to toss a ball through a hoop.

Rain Man was a good film; Jason McElwain's story will make a terrible film. We all know that Magic is no stranger to terrible entertainment, but can't someone reason with him? There's barely enough of a story here to warrant 30 seconds on ESPN - it can't be stretched into a feature presentation.

It's hardly noteworthy. The Wow Factor of an autistic individual scoring a bunch of 3's ranks somewhere below "Marc Summers hosting Nickelodeon's Double Dare for years, despite his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" and somewhere above "Marc Summers hosting The Food Network's Unwrapped for years, despite his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder".

So. Magic. I've been very good about my HIV jokes, so please do me a favor in return. Make this movie like your viral load - undetectable.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Yoshimi Battles The Magnet School Graduates

My high school graduation: the bishop gave the speech, and I, the class president, was denied a chance to speak. We were on a tight schedule, I was told.

So imagine how much better my life would have been if Wayne from The Flaming Lips spoke at my commencement:

(part one also available - it's mostly stale background, but he does tell his alma mater, "I am not technically a high school graduate, even myself. I'm neither ashamed nor proud ... It is well documented that I worked at Long John Silver's and sold pot out of my apartment...")

(found via

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Aside from the obvious, people I've never met whom I assume, should we meet, I'd like to punch:

Kenneth Branaugh
Pat Sajak
Any member of 311 (or is that obvious?)
Pete Coors
Dan Brown
David Foster Wallace

Monday, May 22, 2006

T-1000, Number 1 In Our Hearts

ME (speaking of Alipete): Sell her on T2.

(Nick thinks)

NICK: Do you like motorcycles?


NICK: Or milk?

(a smattering of oohs and aahs from those that recalled the milk carton scene)

NICK: Or molten metal?

* * *

Despite being the greatest film ever made by anyone ever in life, many unfortunate humans have never viewed Terminator 2: Judgement Day. These wrongs can be righted. I'll see you unfortunate souls tomorrow (Tuesday) night for an overdue screening, preceded by a brief overview of the original Terminator film, and followed by a panel discussion.

7 p.m. sharp.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


As you know, I judge a graduation party by the quality of its badminton. After playing for nearly 2.5 hours this evening, I became convinced that my little graduates threw quite the shindig. Hat's off to you all, and sorry about the two broken rackets.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Theory of Disqualifying Statements

This excerpt, from best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell's Slate diary, is somewhat similar to a prior Tornado Slide topic:
As I've gotten older, things have gotten worse, particularly since I stumbled across the Theory of Disqualifying Statements.

This was a principle that came to me several years ago, when I was seated next to a very attractive woman at a dinner party. During a lull in the conversation, I asked her where she went to college, whereupon she launched into an elaborate explanation of how her grandfather went to Harvard, her father went to Harvard, her mother went to Harvard, and her brothers went to Harvard--but she was way too much of a maverick to do something that safe and predictable.

"So where did you go?" I asked, imagining this young rebel at Oklahoma State or the University of Kinshasa or even UTEP.

"Brown," she replied, without missing a beat--and, at that moment, the Theory of Disqualifying Statements was born: For every romantic possibility, no matter how robust, there exists at least one equal and opposite sentence, phrase, or word (Brown!) capable of extinguishing it.

There was a time when I was something of a connoisseur of Disqualifying Statements, and actually compiled a short list of the most compelling. (My favorite: A friend moved to a tiny town in uppermost New England and began to date a local. She managed to overlook their difference in class and perspective, until one night, during their inaugural amorous encounter on his couch, he removed her shirt, and, slack jawed, blurted out, "Nice Tits!" At which point, the Trans-Am and the Naugahyde furniture and the Pabst Blue Ribbon suddenly became unendurable. She walked out, never to see him again. "Tits," until then a word of harmless connotation, was the disqualifier.)
* * *

I have nothing more to add, because Speed is on TV right now, and it's sucked up all of my available focus.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I Am Serious. And Don't Call Me Kaylee.

It's baby name season!

After reading about the most popular baby names in the U.S. (congrats, Emily and Jacob!), I checked out the most popular names in Kansas. The article was unsurprising until I reached the end:

There are THIRTY-FOUR ways to spell Kaylee? I'm going to give it a shot:

1. Kaylee
2. Kaylea
3. Kay Lee
4. Kayleigh
5. Kay Lea
6. Kay Leigh
7-12. Everything above with a "C" instead of a "K"
13. I fucking give up.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Even Funnier Than McLaughlin Group

American Experience is my favorite show on PBS. Tonight, the episode is about building the Golden Gate Bridge, which I saw for the first time earlier this year, remarking, "I thought it would be bigger."

I have many fond memories of American Experience viewings, from the sad tale of the Bubble Boy to the sad tale of Mary Todd Lincoln. My favorite memory is from a few weeks back, when I watched the episode about the Alaska Pipeline.

I found a transcript of the show's greatest moment (emphasis mine). If only I could get it in mp3 format...
Narrator: Alyeska finally went to work at the end of January 1974. They had to haul in road building equipment and temporary housing while the ground was still frozen. By spring the tundra would be too soft to drive on. Cargo planes flew in more freight, landing on frozen lakes.

By fall, the 360-mile-long, gravel road was finished, and the race was on to be ready for construction the following spring. Three million tons of pipe, machinery, spare parts, fuel and food would be hauled in over the next two-and-a-half years.

Dave Smallwood, pipeline truck driver: It was just bumper-to-bumper traffic. It was pretty much insanity. It didn't really pay to pass the guy ahead of you. Well, I was living on the road back then. Just one trip after another. We didn't have a scale. We didn't have logbooks. Virtually just lived in the trucks and ate in the camps. I'd get into town and just load and go. If you met another truck that didn't know you was coming, if you just clicked your mirrors you'd call that a good pass. And the motto then was crowd the other guy, not the ditch. Because you'd end up over in the ditch laying on your side. It was a long way down in a lot of spots.

Narrator: At the end of March 1975, it was time to start laying pipe. No one had ever attempted construction on this scale in such an extreme environment... under such intense scrutiny... or on such a tight schedule.

The only hope of finishing on time was to divide the route into five segments and build them simultaneously.

The man in charge of getting it done for Alyeska was Frank Moolin, a veteran big project engineer who had just finished BART, San Francisco's rapid transit system. He was a tireless worker who knew how to motivate.

Bill Howitt: You kind of got the feeling like if you didn't do your part this whole thing was going to fall apart. You know, there's 20,000 guys working on this thing, you know, but, but that's the way you felt when you talked to Frank. And you felt like you didn't want to let him down.

No one worked harder than he did. Friends believe his relentless style contributed to an early death not long after the pipeline was done.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tee Tragedy

So I was told a certain apparel company wanted ideas for T-shirts. Their best-sellers referenced "meat" and movies.

I thought I could combine those two great topics into one tee that said, "I'll be your wingman anytime", and showed a picture of hotwings. Looks like the design wizards modified the original idea.

In my opinion, the change is for the worse. It dumps the Top Gun reference...and for what, exactly? Does somebody in men's apparel hate Val Kilmer or something? "Designated wingman"? That's hardly an oft-used phrase. And it's gay. And I take no responsibility for it. I'm like that guy that directed the Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" video. I'm just like him.

Sigh. It is mildy upsetting. I planned on buying the shirt, wearing it to the fanciest parties, using it as a conversation starter - a wearable trophy. If I wore the result to said occasions, I'd be beaten. Either way, this shirt has beaten me.


Shawn, regarding your comment about the "pleased to meat you" shirt, they've come dangerously close:

Hams would be funnier, though.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm A Believer

Everyone's talking about Dave, also known as Dave Diamond, also known as former T-Bird catcher extraordinaire, also known as the winner of the "closest to the camera" award from the most recent Catholic School Party.

Drunk or sober, I always enjoy his Neil Diamond tribute, and so should you. If you're not at the Jazzhaus Saturday night, I pity you. You'll have to settle for this:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Careful People

The careful people are always careful. They do not drive drunk. They wear a helmet. The careful people have never spilled their drink - not on a person and not on a person's furniture. The careful people do not use the armrest when sitting in the window seat, the middle seat, or the aisle seat; when it's time to de-board, they retrieve their luggage without hitting anyone, without slowing the pace. The careful people see you coming on the sidewalk, and give you lots of room. They check their blind spot before changing lanes. They value their possessions. The careful people always return your calls. The careful people do not track mud into the house. They do not smoke, but if they did, they would always dispose of the butts properly. The careful people rarely have sex, and if they do, they always use a condom. They ask permission. They say please and thank you. The careful people offer you a drink, and are careful not to mention anything about your coaster use, or non-use. The careful people don't speak until they are certain. The careful people don't make a move until it is sure. They get the insurance. They use two coats of paint. They have emergency kits - a blanket in the trunk. Their CDs are not scratched. Their shirts are not wrinkled. The careful people keep the receipts. The careful people break for yellow, as you drive through. You get there first. You get there fashionably late. You leave first. You have the benefit of the doubt. The careful people are just happy to have you.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blaine Buzz

The thing about publicity stunts is the publicity:

For the record, David Blaine isn't married. I mean, duh - if you were David Blaine, and could do whatever or whomever you want, would you really get hitched? Don't be an idiot. And moreover, don't be a Google idiot - use quotes to Google "David Blaine's girlfriend" and find what you're looking for.

Monday, May 08, 2006


This idea has been saved as a draft since October 26, 2005. It's one sentence long:
jerk songs to play at funeral: Everybody Hurts
I thought of one more tonight, James Taylor's Fire and Rain.

But that's it. And now I'm going to go upstairs and read. David Blaine, I still believe in you, and still think that your magic is real.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Other Archives - My Beard

[Written in the early fall of 2002. Posted because, a.) Some people still haven't seen my legendary beard, and b.) I told Heather I had written reasons for the beard, and she asked me to share.]

I haven't seen Dana since I left Manhattan. It was strange, then, to see her waiting for my bus on the first week of school.

I was downtown, next to the library, waiting for a 50 or 16 to take me to campus. The girl looked very much like Dana - especially the lips - and I found myself staring at her a little too much.

She sat one seat in front of me on the bus, an opportunity I took to stare at her a lot more. I miss Dana. I should talk to Dana sometime. I need to get her number in Dallas.

The bus stopped at the west bank and continued over the Washington Ave. Bridge. "Dana" laughed when she saw the shoe tree to our right. (The shoe tree is a tree that has a lot of shoes in it. The shoes' laces are tied to one another, and then they are draped like ornaments in the tree. I have no idea who does this and why it is done.) She turned her neck, allowing herself to see the tree for the maximum amount of time, and our eyes met while she was smiling, mouth slightly open. After making eye contact she stopped smiling and faced forward.

I was probably frowning. I'm always frowning. Mom used to always say I frown while I read - it probably applies to when I'm staring at chicks, too. Or buying groceries. Or whatever. I'm such a sour little fucker. Why can't I just have a slight smile on my face when it's apparent the girl I'm staring at on the bus is going to see me?

Maybe it wasn't the frowning. Maybe it was my beard.

* * *

If I were to guess what the most commonly asked question is, I'd say, "What's up?" Lately, however, it has been, "What's up with the beard?" Below are my reasons for growing a beard.

In the movie (presumably the book) Fight Club, there's a line: "How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight? I don't want to die without any scars." I don't want to die without having grown a beard. Why not grow a beard?

After all, that scene in The Royal Tenenbaums with Richie cutting off his huge beard is a pretty neat one, set to Elliott Smith music, and Richie is a pretty cool character...

I've always wanted to come home after an absence changed. I really wanted to experience coming home to friend and family and hearing them say how much muscle I've gained. "You look a lot bigger," they'd say. "Wow. You look hot," the ladies would say. I've accepted the fact that I don't have the drive, and possibly don't have the metabolism, to gain a lot of muscle through weightlifting. So, instead of the bodybuilding thing, I'm accomplishing the dream with a beard. It will not be nearly as cool, and people will just say, "A beard? Why?" but whatever.

Finally, I was pretty sure that I shouldn't date anyone for a while. It seems like I don't know exactly what I want, and until I figure out what to go after I should have some sort of assurance that I can't hook up with a lady that isn't the best lady around. A wild, unruly beard was just the thing.

[Thanks to Pick for the hardware to scan this photo. Note the sliding door in the background - you might remember that door and that apartment from last summer in Oklahoma.]

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Trick Is Something A Whore Does For Money

Pop Candy wrote last week:
David Copperfield recently fooled a criminal by using magic. Jealous, David Blaine?
Let me fill you in, Whitney Matheson. First, David Copperfield did not use magic. He used an illusion. He is an illusionist.

Second, David Blaine does not get "jealous". David Blaine lives on a higher plane than we mortals. (And, occasionally, he lives underwater.)

David Blaine is not an illusionist. David Blaine is not a magician. David Blaine IS magic.

Do you know what David Blaine would have done in that situation? I'll tell you what David Blaine would have done in that situation. First, David Blaine would have advised his female companions (David Blaine needs no assistants, male or female, and rarely interacts with other humans for whimsical purposes, but I will assume in this hypothetical situation that two women were near him, and were being taught how to suspend their impish perspective of reality) to remain calm. David Blaine would have insisted they did not hand over any belongings or money, with the possible exception of a quarter, which David Blaine would have bitten in half, then reconstituted via magic. Next, David Blaine would have faced the would-be criminal, and asked him if he wanted to see a trick. Avoiding David Blaine's piercing eyes, the youth would have responded affirmatively. David Blaine would have presented him with a deck of cards, and instructed him to remove one card, and forbade him from revealing the card's value. David Blaine would then have asked the assailant to look down. Horrible screams would have echoed through the West Palm Beach streets (not that David Blaine would dare trespass in such vapid territory, preferring instead the only city large enough to manage his worldly vessel, New York City) as the thief saw his legs had morphed into snakes, which were slithering away, across the street, down the sidewalk, and into a Cheesecake Factory. As the man succumbed to shock, David Blaine would have calmly and clearly uttered the last words he would ever hear: Eight of Diamonds.

I trust I don't have to tell you that David Blaine would have been absolutely correct.

Monday, May 01, 2006


The wedding photos are up on my Flickr account.