Get the duck out of Dodge

justin Uncategorized Leave a Comment

As has been previously documented, I’m not too fond of the holidays. I love my family, but it has been a hard year and some non-Christmasy downtime was required for sanity purposes.

That being said, squeezle and I spent our fabulous December 25th in sunny San Diego, California. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to expound upon in later postings, but I was reminded by something at the San Diego Wild Animal Park on Sunday: I have an odd fascination with being bitten by waterfowl while on vacation.

No, despite my lack of most morals, this isn’t a sexual thing. When I’m on the road I like to taunt all matter of aquatic avians to take a crack at chomping on me with wild abandon.

It really started on one of our last trips to Disneyworld (yeah, we’re thatkind of weirdo). In a prosecco and beer fueled frenzy (it was Food & Wine Festival season, after all), I managed to get “beaked” by both a male and female mallard as well as some sort of ibis.

Rather than collapse in pain (potentially garnering oodles of cash from the Disney machine), I laughed my ass off and got yet another of my stupid ideas.

So, there I was, a couple of beers into a pretty damn good day around a bunch of animals I could relate to (and the squeezle) and I was faced with a trio of geese who were obviously trying to sleep and ignore the pair of us. I, of course, launch into my approach. It’s horribly easy if you’d like to follow along at home:

  1. Address your waterfowl of choice to make your presence known.
  2. Take one step closer to said waterfowl.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 as needed until beaked.

My intention is never to stress the bird out. The goose who chomped on me in San Diego had been sleeping and was standing on one foot. At the point of impact, he (she, it, etc.) never bothered to put down that second foot and actually tuckered into its wing after masticating me. If that’s not the sign of a non-threatened bird, I’m not sure what is.

I love animals; especially birds. I don’t ever want this to be misconstrued as something done with malicious intent, but, rather, merely for my own amusement. I like to think that my target bird gets a sense of fulfilment from taking a swipe at me without me retaliating in some manner. After thousands of sticky, nasty children potentially provide such horribly undo stress, it’s my public duty to be nature’s punching (or biting) bag.

That emu, however, had better stay the hell away from me.

Decade breakdown 1: The Shows

justin Awesomeness, Dallas, Live Music, Music, Places, Popular Culture, Ravings Leave a Comment

One of the first things that popped in my gourd when I thought about looking back on the decade was food (I’m hungry). After a quick granola bar, what was left was music. Specifically, live music. I attend a lot of live music events and looking back on the long list of shows I attended in the past ten years definitely gets the grey cells firing.

If I can remember anything that happened more than a week ago, it must be incredibly memorable.

So, without further ado, here is a smattering of the top gigs I attended over the past ten years. These aren’t in any particular order, I’m just scribbling them down as they float out of the murky ether that is my memory.

October 21, 2007 – Golgol Bordello @ Granada Theater
This show was utter insanity. I attended this one with my buddy Jason and his girlfriend who was on her first excursion to Texas. With as big a stage presence that Golgol Bordello has, we plopped ourselves up at the very top of the Granada Theater (easy “secret” bar access!) and pretty much danced ourselves sick.

November 23, 2001 – Vandals @ Deep Ellum Live
This was one of the first shows where I realized that I was getting older. The average age around me at the front of the stage was a good ten years younger than me. Regardless, everyone had a great time and I think that was actually the last time the Vandals came to Dallas outside of the Warped Tour.

October 17, 2002 – Catch 22/Madcap @ Galaxy Club
Catch 22 always puts on a pretty amazing show, and Madcap is always good for an offstage laugh since, at that time, they pretty much sold all of their merch out of their travel cases. What stands out at this show was that squeezle nearly had to beat the living shit out of some punk kid. It was glorious. This little bastard wouldn’t stop rubbing up on her, so, after several terse verbal warnings, she took a swing at him. That’s one of the reasons I love her so.

October 19, 2004 – Pixies @ Nokia Live
I had already seen the reunited Pixies at ACL fest, but seeing them up close was glorious. My brother actually came up from Austin to go to the show with me, so that made it all the better.

December 3, 2005 – Pleasant Grove/I Love Math/Happy Bullets (Art Conspiracy 1) @ Texas Theater
What stood out most about this show was the drunken haze. This show was a art auction and live music escapade in the place where Lee Harvey Oswald got nipped for shooting that guy from up North. Now for the important part: it was BYOB. I had me a liter jug of red wine and I made quick work of it. Several drunken catch phrases were created that night that are still a part of the Forkers/Brewsers vernacular.

February 22, 2006 – The Sisters of Mercy @ The Gypsy Tea Room
While a great musician, Andrew Eldritch is more of a diva than Mariah Carey. I had resigned myself to not being able to see the Sisters unless I wanted to travel to some goth convention in Pittsburgh (even though Andrew says the Sisters aren’t goth), but, through some stroke of luck, they came on down to Dallas and played their tunes. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the hell out of it, but what really stands out about this one is that I paid $30 for a freakin’ t-shirt. How stupid am I?

June 18, 2004 – Lars Frederiksen And The Bastards/Horrorpops/The Briefs @ Trees
I came to this show to see Lars and the Horrorpops play, but was pleasantly surprised by the discovery of The Briefs. It was June and it was Trees, so it was hotter than hell. Squeezle and I managed to escape upstairs to have a good vantage point since the crowd was pretty insane. The Horrorpops didn’t get to play because there was something wrong with the drummer and his hands had swollen up to something like three times their size, so The Briefs and Lars each got to play extra long sets. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the swirling and whirling of the circle pit as seen from above.

March 21, 2003 – Jello Biafra @ Ridglea Theater
This one is sort of a cheat. Jello did one of his standard vitriolic/political spoken word pieces. At this particular time, he was wrapped up in a harsh legal battle with the remainder of the Dead Kennedys (then fronted by Brandon Cruz of The Courtship of Eddie’s Fatherfame) and he had a lot to say about that. At one point during his talk Jello said that the legal costs were skyrocketing, but it was a good fight. Without prompt, people started walking up to the stage and tossing money on it. Jello was actually moved by it. Of particular not for this show is that squeezle and I were sitting right next to the Flametrick Subs just knowing that Mike, err Buster, was stocking up on stuff for his next tirade-laden show.

OK, that’s all I’m willing to dig through my addled brain for right now. I might regale you with more live show insanity later, but now I need a nap.

Thinking is hard.

2010? Seriously?

justin monkey, Ravings Leave a Comment

starchildI’ve barely gotten used to writing 200X on the few things I actually have to date and now I’ve got one less zero to worry about (well, come 2011 I will). This, of course, makes me wax nostalgic about the last ten years and all the things that happened in them.

With almost the same fervor that I wanted 2001 to be like the book/movie, I hope and hope that 2010 is nothing like 2001’s sequel. That movie just sucked balls.

Almost as if it were yesterday, I remember spending the rollover of the millennium stuck in my office in downtown Dallas waiting for the world to end. Luckily I was pretty damn drunk and nothing other than the nineteens ending happened. If all hell had broken loose I’m not sure I could have done much more than laugh my ass off. It might have actually been rather entertaining if the bowels of the earth had opened up and all sorts of nastiness wreaked havoc all over the oddly un-empty downtown area.

I digress.

Ever since the piles of magazines declaring “decade in review” started showing up on our doorstep a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about these past ten years (as I mentioned above) and what made them good/bad/indifferent.

Unlike the previous couple of decades that I’ve been privy to, I paid attention to almost then entire aughts or zeros or naughtys? I’ve been pretty happy with how life has progressed for me (outside of a couple of moronic political moves that have driven me to actually give a rat’s ass), and I’d like to say that I’m better off now than I was ten years ago.

Did that sound exactly like everyone else’s summary of the decade? Good.  Lord knows I love being a sheep. In the next couple of days before I go into a self-induced coma to protect myself and my loved ones from experiencing me during what I term the “deep holiday season,” I’m going to go over some of my favorite and least favorite things from our lovely 2000’s. More than just a summary of the past ten years, this exercise will help me figure out what I need to drop on eBay come Jan 1, 2010 so I can begin a new decade of hoarding.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Dealing with the modified – 4th in a series

justin Body Modification, Ravings, Stupidity Leave a Comment

For all that is holy, not all modified folk are gang members and criminals. After reading this article over at BME’s ModBlog, I’m reminded at how irate I get at narrow-minded simple folk.

Sure, I realize that tattooing is a major part of gang culture these days and that identity through ink has semiological implications in the underworld cultures of many nations, but situations like what is mentioned in the article are inexcusable. I realize that most plainskinsâ„¢ aren’t morons and that most are very understanding and deal with things outside of their comfort zone quite well, but discrimination like this boils my blood.

Here’s a simple guideline, and, by simple, I mean that it’s one simple step: look at the content of the damn tattoo before you throw a person out. Gang and hate tattoos are pretty easy to identify. For the most part, they tend to duplicate a common set of characters, symbols or themes. On top of that, the majority of gang tattoos I’ve seen over the past decade or so tend to be black and grey work. A lot of gang tattoos also don’t tend to be professionally done. From the picture in the article I can’t see much of the guy’s tattoos, but that throat-piece alone tells me he’s had some serious professional work done.

I’m trying not to get too preachy, but I’m pretty pissed off. I think BME has set the situation up nicely and has provided people with the right contact information to have their opinion heard well. I just hope the restaurant in question reevaluates their policy and pulls their heads out of their asses.

Sorry about that last part, I feel a tad better now.

Do not jack with my jawbreakers!

justin food, monkey, Ravings, Vice Leave a Comment

jawbreakerI’m a candy junkie. Oddly enough, however, my habit did not form until I was well into my 20’s. I’m almost convinced that it’s related to my body’s craving for alcohol, but I can’t prove anything.

Anyway, I loves me some candy, and, therefore, I can motor through a crapload of the stuff if given the opportunity. On several occasions I have easily polished off a pound bag of Runts and once even got through three gigantic boxes of Hot Tamales before I lost all feeling in my tongue. Yes, I do almost everything to excess.

The one way I have found to curb my excesses is jawbreakers. Even most dime-sized jawbreakers are resilient under the power of my chompers, so I usually take my time and actually pace myself when it comes to the damn little thing.

Unfortunately, unless it’s Halloween or if I’m near one of those creepy candy stores that all malls seem to have, jawbreakers just aren’t in abundance in retail environments. Sure, there are those wacky quarter machines near the front door of most grocery stores, but, after hearing about a news story here in Dallas when I was a kid where a man used one of those machines to get a handful of peanuts and ended up with a couple of newborn baby rats, I’m pretty much out on those clockwork deathtraps for anything other than Homiesand those sticky jelly hands that you can whip out and grab things with. That pretty much leaves me with Wonka Everlasting Gobstoppers as an option at most retail outlets.

This isn’t a bad thing. I grew up on the long yellow box of color changing Gobstoppers, and really have a sense of nostalgia for the indescribable flavor the little monsters have.

Sleeves of three Gobstoppers are a Halloween mainstay, so I’ve been pretty good for the past couple of months. Yesterday, however, I had me a huge craving and none in sight, so I bounced down to the local grocery and picked up a couple “movie sized” boxes (what does that even mean?) of the little boulders to get me through the next couple of weeks.

The invective that came out of my mouth after opening up the box I choose not to repeat here, but I was irate. Gone were the dime-sized, multi-layer balls of sugar; replaced by a smaller ball about the diameter of a plain M&M. Worse, the candy was not scaled in kind, but rather, reduced to merely two color layers before hitting the packed candy powder center. Bottom line, I can crunch through these things like a rat baby’s skull.

Damn you Wonka, damn you straight to hell. I know it’s all really Nestle’s fault, but, just for this slight, I’m going to avoid both Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp movies for the next month or so.

What? Did Gobstoppers last too long and you weren’t able to sell enough boxes to keep your candy-coated yachts afloat? Are children’s bones getting so brittle from modern living that jawbreakers are becoming contraband? Why, Willy, why?

That’s it, I’m headed out to buy me a 5lb tub of Atomic Fireballs.

Please be careful this holiday season

justin Ravings Leave a Comment

biohazard-santaThe holidays are upon us and I want everyone to be extremely careful of the dangerous H0H0 virus, commonly known as chimney flu. If last year’s numbers were any indicator, this year’s pandemic promises to be quite troublesome.

Chimney flu can easily be identified by swelling around the midsection that may be so extreme as to cause distension of the stomach area.  In addition, a localized reddening of the faciomaxillary region is common and may also be accompanied by involuntary vocalizations or “chuffing.”

In extreme cases, reports of sudden white hair onset and rapid facial hair growth have also been reported.

Treatments for chimney flu vary widely.  In some cases, heavy solutions of ethyl alcohol have been known to alleviate the suffering associated with H0H0 as well as some dairy products of the nog variety. Some success has been had with the application of pastry homoniculi of Zingiber officinale origin, but, much as the ethanol solutions, this treatment must be taken in dangerous excess.

There have also been some folk-treatments discovered throughout rural areas that suggest being in proximity to a poisonous, parasitic, berry-wielding plant may be of some assistance, as well as long walking-meditations with vociferous mantras directed towards the disease, but these treatments have no basis in science and must, therefore, be approached with caution.

In worst case scenarios, kill with fire.

Green morning

justin food Leave a Comment

breakfast_saladBreakfast is an odd meal. For Americans at least, breakfast is pretty much the only meal that has predefined “rules” for what can be served. Think about it, having breakfast for dinner is a huge treat and breakfast at lunch is just brunch (though the rules around brunch are odd in their own right). Unless you are a college student (where all rules for just about everything are thrown out the window), you eat your sugar-based bready object in the morning and more protein-related foods in afternoon and evening.

This got me thinking. Why not breakfast salads? The closest most people get to a salad first thing in the morning is a bowl of cubed fruit that is mostly cantelope and honeydew melon filler. Cubey fruit does not a salad make.

What is even more interesting is that many of the best salad fixings are standard breakfast foods. Bacon (a.k.a. manna from heaven) and hard-boiled eggs are standardly accepted; croutons are nothing more than toast, and potatoes are a key ingredient in Niçoise salad. I’m not suggesting anything as radical as a maple vinagrette, but they are out there.

Break convention, people! Throw the rules on their ear. While not as portable as that pop-tart or a cruller, eat some damn green stuff for breakfast.

All this food talk is making me hungry. I’m off to have a Craz-E Burger. Someone call my cardiologist.

Is knowing really half the battle?

justin Awesomeness, Cartoons, Popular Culture, Ravings, Television, Useless Junk Leave a Comment

doll_gijoe2I’m a child of the 80’s. Sure there was a lot of horrible stuff went on (Iran-Contra, Reaganomics, parachute pants), but it was definitely a simpler time for simpler people.

A simpler time for simpler tastes, and my simple tastes were largely cartoon oriented. Cut me some slack, I was ten years old in 1984. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I even knew who George Orwell was or why the year was so significant. I watched the hell out of Transformers, M.A.S.K., Voltron, Robotech, Tranzor-Z, and, my personal favorite, G.I. Joe.

I had nearly as much G.I. Joe crap as I did Star Wars crap. My brother and I held constant battles with some of the coolest toys ever to be made, and that was all fueled by the cartoon.

This weekend my darling squeezle bought for me The absolute ultimate G.I. Joe box set ever, and, throwing her own sanity to the wind, watched about six hours of the masterpiece with me. Sure, she did fall asleep during part of The MASS Device, but it’s totally excusable.

After watching a bunch of these episodes in a row I’ve discovered a few things that actually surprise me.

First off, when I was a kid, I remember Dukebeing a total badass. From the first six hours of cartoon that I’ve watched so far, Duke has spent way more time being a prisoner of Cobra than actually fighting. What the hell is up with that? Sure, being a P.O.W. is heroic and I would never denigrate that, but getting captured repeatedly is just moronic. Yeah, I said it, Duke is a moron.

My second “WTF” moment was the realization that Snake Eyesis constantly getting called on the radio. No lie, the line “Snake Eyes, are you there?” happened several times in the first couple of episodes alone. Hey Joes, can’t you remember that your elite ninja guy is mute? I’m just not thinking he’s going to answer that damn radio.

Third, everyone in G.I. Joe is a horrible shot. I can understand making all the guns “magically” lasers because there is just no way to market a cartoon where 3/4 of the time on the show is spent with the heroes and villains reloading their guns. Plus, in the eventuality that anyone gets hit, a laser shot is way cleaner than being hit by a bullet. Not that anyone ever gets hit. For an elite squad, G.I. Joe, quite literally, cannot hit the broad side of a tank from thirty yards.

All in all, while these things bug me, it’s not like I’m going to stop watching the episodes, or, heaven forbid, reevaluate my childhood. The lessons I learned from G.I. Joe I carry with me even today. For example, did you know that apple seeds are slightly poisonous? G.I. Joe taught me that.

I’m like the techno-Jesus

justin Awesomeness, Useless Junk, Vice Leave a Comment

poplar_wine_rack_product_pageAbout a week ago I got saddled with a project at work that was the ultimate definition of “last-minute.” This little project was so time-sensitive that I got it at 4PM and it really needed to be up and out for consumption by the next morning. Things like this put me in a really foul mood and make me not all that pleasant to be around. Coupled with an already festering bad attitude and I was approaching meltdown even before I got that deep into the mess.

When 2:30AM rolled around I was pretty much deliriously toast. In this fugue state I do unpredictable things: generally involving my PayPal account.

When the dust cleared and I was checking my email the next morning, I came to the realization that I had ordered 32 mini Fortune Cats (made by RealxHead) from Lulubell Toy Bodega. I already had a mess of the little one-eyed freaks, so it wasn’t that big of a shock, but then I got to thinking about just where in the hell I might be able to put these guys once they arrived.

I’ve spent the better part of a week digging around the interwebs for a cubby-like shelf system that would allow me to display the optimal number of these two-and-a-half inch beasties with the minimal amount of used space. I knew exactly what I wanted, but just couldn’t find a reasonable solution.

All that bitching about me “not feeling” the future I felt I deserved when I was eight years old got thinking about my little shelving dilemma. Using my favorite illustration program, I could plot out exactly what I needed to make what I needed, but I’m not the greatest about translating plans into physical deliverables. In addition, I’m notorious for hurting myself when I’m playing with powertools.

Ponoko to the rescue!

I’d used Ponoko a little over a year ago to manufacture some acrylic pieces that I turned into zipper pulls. Basically, Ponoko is a New Zealand-based company that will take your designs and turn them into physical items. More simply stated, they have laser cutters a mess of materials to choose from and a couple of standard sized sheets that you can work with.

I was able to scale my shelf design to their largest sheet size(the P3) and I picked out a nice birch veneer. The whole thing (materials, cutting, shipping) cost me around $51, about $40 cheaper than any analog I had found on the web so far. That gives me more money to buy more kitties with. Plus, I get the added bonus of having shelves “from the future” since they were cut out with freakin’ lasers!

If you don’t feel like making up your own designs, Ponoko also has a storefront where you can peruse and buy designs that other people have made. Many are even offered for free.

Now I play the waiting game. In less than a month I’ll have my big chunk of laser-carved wood that I can snap out and assemble Lincoln Log-style into a groovy grid that will hold my plastic crap.

Carpentry, your future is now.

The future is now?

justin Ravings Leave a Comment

robotWhen I was a child I had the dreams that a lot of kids probably have: the future is going to be freakin’ awesome.

In the future we were going to fly around in airships or with jetpacks, have day-to-day interaction with robots and we’d all vacation in space. The mere concept of moving from 19-something-or-other into the 2000’s was freakish and exciting. I’m sure that steady diet of Apple Jacks and Jetsons cartoons did nothing but set up unreasonable expectations, and Summers whiled away reading Tom Swift books set my hopes up to be toppled like an un-fixed carnival game.

Luckily, I’m not alone. Not a month goes by where I don’t see some reference to our disappointing “future.”

Somewhere in the past fifteen years, however, I’ve noticed that our expectations have shrunk considerably. Maybe it’s just another thing the Internet ruined for us, but I just don’t see people dreaming about flying to work (aside from the random Quaker oatmeal commercial), and the thought of getting a day’s nutrition from a pill is seen as anathema to the “American Way.”

I’d say that grounding ourselves in such stark reality is good for us, but I don’t believe that for a second. Maybe too many installments of the Terminator and Matrix franchises have made us fear the possibilities of a future run amok where those happy robots who were going to occupy our lives turn on us and take over. Hell, it’s been 67 years since Issac Asimov introduced his Three Laws of Roboticsand we still don’t have anything remotely sentient enough to apply the damn things to. Despite the advent of microwave milkshakes, Napster and the Fleshlight, the only thing I’m worried about watching me through my computer and potentially taking over my life is the government.

In the immortal words of Tallahassee, it’s time to “nut up or shut up.” We need that fire back, that grasp of living in a condo with artificial weather. I want a robot housekeeper (don’t even get me started on how bullshit the Roomba is) and a food synthesizer. I want holographic entertainment and a freakin’ Nerf steak (and I don’t mean the football).

I was promised a jetpack.