Thursday, January 31, 2008

Off He Goes

I always have some level of anxiety before trips, regardless of the mode of travel or the distance covered.

True story:

In my latter college days, I was nervous about flying to Los Angeles. I hadn't boarded a jet since my first time flying (a 1997 chartered flight to Mexico). My uneasiness grew as I passed through security and took my seat in the back of the plane. It wasn't until We were taxiing on the tarmac when I remembered another aerial incident -- flying around Wichita in a tiny Cessna piloted by my friend, the newly licensed Nathan. I'd swooped over wheatfields in a teenage-helmed prop, but now I was nervous about a flight on Southwest Airlines? My pulse dropped as soon as my memory kicked in.

* * *

On February 2, I leave for a two-week tour of Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. I would be too terrified to move were it not for the stoic leadership of Matt, my experienced traveling partner and trip planner. In fact, if either of us knew ANY Spanish, I'd be completely relaxed. As is, I'm only mildly concerned. My anxiety is largely subconscious, manifesting itself in two consecutive nightmares wherein my wallet was stolen.

A few weeks ago, Kim's dad asked, "What's in Uruguay?". I interpreted his question as "Why are you going there?". I didn't really know what to tell him. I find myself pushed south of the equator by seemingly independent forces. First, I was roundly chided by Barbara, Kris, Karsten, Nathan, et al for lacking a passport, so I got a passport. Then, Matt canceled his escape to India and made plans for several smaller vacations. For some reason, Matt was intrigued by Uruguay, and suggested the trip. I never imagined myself in South America, but is anyone really AGAINST the idea of Uruguay? And when you look at a map of the continent, doesn't Chile look like a neat place? And isn't Argentina between those two countries?

I had finally built up a comfortable level of vacation leave at work. My finances were adequate. I was still young, unmarried, with no kids -- at the time the trip was confirmed, I wasn't even dating anyone. I was relatively healthy.

The trip was unavoidable, a rare instance when the logical thing to do was also the most pleasurable thing possible.

* * *

Lest you forget, both Matt (an esteemed member of the Literati) and I are experienced traveloguers. Who knows what updates we'll provide for you? It could range from nothing, to a paragraph from an internet cafe, to a album of photos or even a video (we're armed with both a videocamera and a standard digital point-and-shoot). We're laptopless, so any substantial pieces of prose, such as a full-blown running diary of an in-flight movie, are likely to be posted only after our return.

* * *

Here's how I expect to enjoy each locale, from most enjoyable to least:

Iguazu Falls - unless we get malaria, this can't miss
Montevideo - "I guess we could just head over to the ocean."
Valparaiso - Ibid, minus all the grilled meat
Buenos Aires - delicious alfajores vs. skilled pickpockets
Santiago - possible smog

And you already know what Matt thinks about the itinerary.

* * *

Should I never make it back, please make a big deal out of it. And please water my plant.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Medical Mumbo Jumbo

Things I learned from my doctor at my Monday appointment after I made the mistake of saying, "That's a pretty big cell phone":

--He has owned only one cell phone.

--His daughter has had several.

--He likes that cell phone, except sometimes he accidentally hits the "web" button, and is charged for internet fees.

--He finally decided to get a cell phone after his car broke down in the middle of Missouri.

--That car had some problem with the coil, which he worked around by turning on the heat full blast.

--His friend is getting a divorce, because his ex-wife-elect met somebody on the internet and ran off.

--He might have to testify in the divorce proceedings.

Other things I learned:

--I still feel fine.

--Patients taking Nexium are at higher risk of bacterial infections.

--The copay is still $30.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Halftime Heartbreakers

[This email discussion is several weeks old. It will become more relevant as we near Super Bowl Sunday. Also, prepare yourself for an onslaught of "Tom Petty's face in high definition" jokes.]

* * *

I'm listening to some Petty today in anticipation of his Super Bowl Halftime performance. Normally, artists perform about 3 songs during the break, and I'm trying to determine which 3 he (and the Heartbreakers) will

Right now I'm leaning toward the upbeat numbers:

1. American Girl (obvious, and the only real lock)
2. Running Down a Dream (fits in well with the dream of winning the Lombardi trophy)
3. You Wreck Me (shows America more recent Petty, doesn't mention anything about "the gates of hell" or "mary jane", so it's safe for the TV audience.)

Give me your 3 choices.


* * *

great question...

unfortunately for the purposes of discussion, i think you nailed it. and it's not like i'm rusty on my petty...i just took in the 4-hr documentary over the weekend. although, You Wreck Me is now something like 13 years old, so if he's gonna throw a new one in i'm guessing it would be Saving Grace or Big Weekend (which i think may easily be the weakest TP song ever, but he likes it and it's thematically appropriate).

other possibilities:
You Got Lucky (badass)
I Need To Know (a rocker)
Honey Bee (a badass rocker)
I Won't Back Down (gates of hell notwithstanding, this has to be a frontrunner)
Free Fallin (his biggest hit and essentially the verses are a slice of americana on par with the coug)

i will definitely ponder this one...


* * *

As a tangent, I think the most unlikely three (popular) songs are:

1.> Last Dance with Mary Jane
2.> You Don't Know How it Feels
3.> Stop Draggin' My Heart Around (with Stevie Nicks)


* * *

i'll throw out It's Good To Be King as a least likely choice...i'm sure the NFL wants no mention of dogs (even if it's about them getting opposed to mercilessly ripping each other to shreds)...


* * *

This is a tough question, but here's my best guess of how the sequence will go:

1) Running Down a Dream = Even though the baseball playoffs from a few years ago killed this song, he's still opening with it.

2) Learning to Fly = This is my sleeper pick. Even though this song can be interpreted in a way that NBC would probably not approve of, I think Tom will still want to bring it down a notch before he gets to.....

3) American Girl = Obvious ending. Although, I think they should be required to show the scene from "Silence of the Lambs" where this song was used on the Jumbotron while it's being played. Nothing says "America's greatest sporting event" like images of Buffalo Bill on a Jumbotron.


* * *

You both have pretty much hammered out the three most likely possibilities (I think: American Girl, Saving Grace, Free Fallin'); therefore I will throw out my three Least Expected Tunes.

1.) Crawling Back to You -The un-PC Indian shooting out the lights would cause an uproar in the Southwest.
2.) Don't Come Around Here No More -A good song, yes. But to let this 5:00 song drag out for half of halftime would be half foolish.
3.) Girl on LSD -no comment necessary


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Working For The Weekend

Steps to enjoying the musical stylings of Vampire Weekend:

1. Completely ignore their name.

2. Assume they all went to Columbia on well-deserved scholarships.

3. Pretend they live somewhere less hip than Brooklyn. (I suggest Sacramento, CA or Harrisburg, PA.)

4. Convince yourself you didn't first hear of them through a music blog, but instead from an off-the-cuff, onstage comment made by Bono during the 1992 Zoo TV tour.

5. Imagine all of their material is actually cover versions of never-before-released Paul Simon songs.

You may be able to pick and choose, but I need all five. Now download some tracks and put this advice to good use!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Note that the sidebar to your right includes an "Add to iGoogle" button, allowing you to see the latest Tornado Slide posts from your personalized Google homepage.

Might I suggest using it to replace the Date & Time gadget? Every operating system since 1989 has included a date and time function -- if you need Google to tell you what time it is, you're not very good at this "computers" thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Fecal Roster

Governmento de Argentina

There is a charge to leave your country -- a $20 exit tax. How can that be legal? Even if it is legal, NOT COOL. You'd think a place with "the largest anarchist contingent of any South American country" would be more anxious to send people on their way.

Snow-covered Car Drivers

Even if you've completely scraped all windows and windshields, you're not done. Take the extra two minutes to clear off the snow on your lights, roof, hood, and trunk BEFORE you hit the highway. You might enjoy pretending to drive a comet, throwing off a trail of frozen matter as you speed down the road, but it's NOT COOL.

Ron Paul Supporters

Giving money to a Libertarian candidate? Why don't you just flush it down the toilet? Speaking of...

Toilet-soiling Co-worker

Hey, buddy. It's been years now. An ape could have mastered this "skill" buy now. Jesus, an alien with no concept of an anus could figure it out. It is NOT COOL to smear your feces on the toilet seat. When you're crapping in the comfort of your assuredly filthy home, you can stain whatever surface you want. But every male on the 2nd floor has to use that bathroom, and we'd appreciate it if you can get your shit together. Literally.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Internet Roundup

Patton Oswalt had a bit on his last comedy album where he railed against the existence of KFC's Famous Bowl (you can download or stream that bit here). The Onion recently asked him to eat the food in question:
The cheese had congealed. Even in the heat and steam of the covered Famous Bowl, it had congealed. I stabbed it with the tines of my spork and it all came up in one piece. I nibbled an edge, had a vision of a crying Dutch farmer, and put it down.

Jeff Johnson discusses the Tony Romo / Jessica Simpson affair:
In my own life, I have almost no discipline. No rules. The only principles I have are these: 1) Try to never go to a place where Sammy Hagar has smiled. And 2) Try to never go to a place where Sammy Hagar has experienced pleasure. Tony, in traveling to Los Cabos, obviously doesn’t share my outlook. It will most certainly haunt him.

The gold standard for a catchy introductory paragraph and for an epic suicide:
On a rainy October night in Washington, D.C., the friends and family of Jeremy Blake gathered for a private memorial service at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Blake, an art-world star acclaimed for his lush and moody "moving paintings," shape-shifting innovations mixing abstract painting and digital film, had ended his life on the night of July 17, walking into the Atlantic Ocean off Rockaway Beach, Queens, never to return.

"I am going to join the lovely Theresa," Blake, 35, had written on the back of a business card, which he left on the beach, along with his clothes.

I'm traveling to South America very soon. I have a lot of questions. What music should one listen to on a trip through temperate South America? (I'm leaning toward Bob Dylan and alternative country.) Should I pack heavy or light? And should I go to this theme park?
For 15 pesos (about $5), patrons can stroll through the plaster city, centered around a climbable version of Mt. Calvary, experiencing dance spectacles, popular religious history, and what's billed as typical period cuisine.

After visiting a papal gazebo and a Roman palace stocked with marble and slaves, they can buy candles and pray to various saints, or pose for photos as a humble peasant woman, robe-clad Arab, or imposing Roman soldier.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Juno What I Mean?

If you haven't seen "Juno" yet, return to enjoy this discussion after you have seen it.


Don't cry to me that I ruined the movie for you. Stop reading NOW, and come back when you can talk about it.



"Juno" is a decent movie that deserves to exist.

Still, I find myself agreeing more with this review, which I read before viewing "Juno", and which may have skewed my opinion:

...Juno just seems like something that's here to show us all that it's time to move on from the dominant "indie" aesthetic of the past seven years and figure out something for the next decade. Juno has its moments, and Ellen Page is pretty remarkable in the title role, but the script is nothing special -- much of the snarky humor is just warmed-over quips in the style of Joss Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino, and most of the movie comes across like an extremely dumbed-down prequel to Gilmore Girls. It really doesn't help matters that the art direction and soundtrack are fucking terrible, even when they throw in unimpeachable tunes by Belle & Sebastian and Cat Power. When you get beyond the slightness of the story, the big problem here is that anything that could be considered charming and novel in the film is just past its cultural expiration date. A lot of Juno would've worked really well if it came out six years ago, but at this point in time, it's just tired, deeply unimaginative, and a bit embarrassing, as if one of your friends ran out over the weekend and got a "more cowbell!" tattoo on their arm.

Between that criticism and the movie's does-anyone-really-talk-like-that dialogue ("Honest to blog?!"), it was impossible NOT to watch "Juno" in a hyper-aware state. As a result, several plot details seemed off:

1. The 30-something, well-to-do professionals Juno seeks out to adopt her child live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I have yet to find a good reason for childless, 30-something, well-to-do professionals to live within 30 minutes of St. Cloud.

2. Juno is heard to remark, "Thundercats are go!", meshing the trademark phrases of "Thundercats ho!" and "Thunderbirds are go!" from television series that were cancelled (a year before and decades prior to, respectively) her birth.

3a. Juno loves punk music: she cites 1977 as her favorite music year, and Iggy Pop & The Stooges as her favorite band. Yet when she and her boyfriend jam, they play and sing twee, acoustic anti-folk by The Moldy Peaches?

3b. How does this 16 year-old have encyclopedic knowledge of '70s punk and kitchy television while simultaneously LACKING any information about Sonic Youth, a band that is STILL producing music, who have had hits DURING Juno's lifetime? Maybe you'll just have to trust me on this, but there is NO WAY someone can sing The Moldy Peaches AND draw a blank on Sonic Youth.

Again, I will repeat that I thought the movie was OK. My major complaint has nothing to do with the trivial issues above -- it just could have been funnier.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Greet The Gladiators

[UPDATE 1/10: The Hater kind of trumps this entry.]

American Gladiators made its triumphant return to television last night, complete with new events, old classics, and a ridiculously high cargo net. After engorging myself on the two-hour debut special, I wondered I could love any of the new gladiators as much as I loved Nitro, the breakout star of the show's original incarnation. I headed to NBC online to learn more about a few of the new gladiators. Here's what I learned:


When she stomps into Gladiator Arena, most sensible opponents run for cover rather than risk a Viking funeral. She may have left her horned helmet on the boat, but she hits with the force of Thor's hammer, and quickly sends opponents straight to Valhalla.



Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Roller Derby; Cross-stitching; Explaining to people that she's a Viking sterotype, not a German stereotype


A crippling addiction to pickled herring claimed the life of her unborn child.


The 6-foot, 3-inch, 220-pound Gladiator targets his opponents with tactical precision. With an impressive arsenal of skills at his disposal, he is well equipped for any operation and will do anything to complete his objective. Once Militia has you in his sights, you'd better have a plan, or the game is over.


220 lbs

Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"

War Games

Risk, Stratego

GWAR Fan Club (Street Team Member), Minuteman Militia (Newsletter Editor)

Militia maintains his hulking physique through rigorous training, supplemented by injections of lidocaine and vitamin B12.


When you enter Gladiator Arena keep an eye out for Wolf! Able to smell fear and always going for the jugular, Wolf is 230-pounds of primal fury. He will ferociously defend his turf... and thrives on the opportunity to sink his teeth into any challenge.


225 lbs [NOTE: The conflicting weight reports are both taken from]

Where the Red Fern Grows


Poker, World of Warcraft

Jewish Anti-Defamation League (Wolf is not a member; rather, he spends his spare time picketing the organization's New York offices.)

Although Wolf is actually 100% human, he regularly urinates in Gladiator Arena, most notably on the pyramid, on the wall, and in the 500,000-gallon water tank.


With nearly godlike strength and skill, he is the ultimate warrior. Able to physically dominate foes with his impressive physique, he is equally adept at mind games and will attempt to mentally defeat opponents before the battle even begins. Titan is a double threat who will find a way to win... one way or another.


251 lbs

Maxim's Book of Big Pictures: Hot Babes, Strange Freaks and Bad, Bad Accidents


Trolling for cock at highway rest stations

Human Growth Hormone Club for Men (President, Client)

Titan is the lone sibling of former Video Wrestling Association champion King Slender.


Don't let the winsome smile fool you... Crush earned her well-deserved moniker by smashing opponents into submission. Despite her girl-next-door looks, she's a powerful, fierce opponent who has no problem handling the women competitors, and then going back to breaking men's hearts.


141 lbs

The Bible

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Fox hunts, polo

Westminster Kennel Club (Grooming Specialist)

Saddled by a genetic condition, Crush has only two years to live.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Failed Jokes
First week of 2008

(Everyone is watching football and the occasional segment of "Pterodactyl", the type of quality film you expect the Sci Fi Channel to air.)

TED: You know what else is a bad movie? "The Italian Job".

ME: It's not as good as "The Italian Handjob". It was a Fellini film.

MOLLY: Not as good as "The Italian Blowjob".

ME: "The Italian Blowjob" isn't as good as "The Italian Handjob".

MOLLY: I think a lot of men would disagree with you.

ME: It's just that "The Italian Blowjob" was the sequel, and I think they blew their load on the first one.

TED: (looks down at floor, shakes head)

MOLLY: (raises hand in a gesture of discomfort)

CORINNE AND KIM: (continue to avoid the conversation)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Last Laugh of the Laughter

Failed Jokes
Final week of 2007 edition

Incident #1: The Birthday Party

ME: You are going to love 28. 27 feels like... a big dump. But 28 feels like... God feels after he comes.


CASEY: (restrained chuckling)

Incident #2: New Year's Eve

ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE: (trying to fool Kim with false Harry Potter information)

TED: Dumbledore is gay

OTHER PEOPLE: The whole Griffindore house is gay. There is a big gay orgy at the end. Etc.

ME: Do you know what spell was cast that turned all the wizards gay? ...FABULATIZE!

ALL: (brief laughter)

ME: (trying to stretch it to a double) ...SODOMIZE!

ALL: (silence, headshaking)

[NOTE: I'm sure I've misspelled some Harry Potter proper nouns. Normally, I look up the correct spellings. In this case, I can't be bothered. Also, the "Other People" didn't really say "etc", but you probably guessed that.]