Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Not that I'm in love with Fatal Farm, necessarily. I'm just saying that I'd let it fill me with babies.

This: generally, the result of getting four people to play any four-player video game ever. "

Real-Life Mario Mushroom

Fungal shenanigans abounded a few months ago over at Kotaku. First, they relayed info from Tokyo Mango about a mushroom that looks a helluva lot like the kind that make Mario grow tall — red with white spots. (Scientific name: Amanita muscaria.) The next day, Kotaku posted a video of the mushroom actually growing.

One should note, however, that Amanita muscaria doesn't affect the shape of people who eat it. It just kills them.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spinach Rag

I am pleased to announced that Fatal Farm's Lasagna Cat has delivered what people promised it would. Most auspiciously, its debut ditty manages to mash both Garfield and beloved childhood pastime Final Fantasy into one solid, tribute to Jim Davis's failures as a person. Enjoy!

For those of you not aware that the parodied video game is both Final Fantasy 3 and Final Fantasy VI at the same time, I'd imagine the parody works less well. But trust me: It's good.

[ Source: Spencer, Batalla, and every blog ever. Seriously, I'm probably the last person who would conceivably post this who hadn't already.]

A Lighthouse in Her Soul

Based on this morning's experiences, I now believe that iTunes actually cares too much about my welfare.

Next up: warnings about bad posture.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Your Sunday Night Weird

Maybe it's just that I only will sit for long-haul TV for the Fox Sunday night line-up, but occasionally I draw weird connections between the four shows that air on these nights. (I've done it before, when I realized that the leads for The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy each feature characters who lust after their best friends' wives. Moe, Bill Dauterive and Quagmire. What the hell is that?) Like the time Family Guy had the one-hundredth episode, in which Stewie tried to kill Lois by knocking her off a cruise liner and then, shortly thereafter, The Simpsons aired an episode with a vaguely similar plot point that had Mr. and Mrs. Van Houten also falling off a cruise and into the ocean. Both Lois and the Van Houtens were presumed dead. Theoretical hilarity ensued.

Anyway, the Van Houtens-gone-overboard episode aired again tonight. I blogged about it the first time, but focused more on the fact that the script made the odd choice of poking fun at Santa Barbara's wacky neighbor, Solvang, the famed butter cookie source city. Another weird coincidence happened tonight: The 9:30 airing of American Dad also mentioned Solvang, with Roger the Alien recalling that he had gone there to buy chocolate. An incidental reference, yes, but a strange one nonetheless.

I don't know what's weirder: Solvang's prominence on animated sitcoms or the fact that different shows seem to be offering up the same plot points.

Say Hi to Fred

One of the more positive consequences of the screenwriters' strike and resulting TV hiatus is that Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen will be performing at Stateside on Tuesday. Since he began on SNL a few years back, he's proved that a genuinely creative approach to comedy pays off. Proof: The Weekend Update bit he does with Kenan Thompson in which Fred plays a deaf comedian and Kenan plays his translator, who quickly becomes irritated with the apparently racist nature of his otherwise unintelligible jokes. When we got word of Fred's appearance in Santa Barbara, I jumped at the chance to talk to him.

Fun things learned from the below interview article: The state rock of Oregon is the thunderegg, which, it turns out, isn't actually a rock. Jason Sudeikis likes musicals more than you'd think. Bill Hader is friends with The Arcade Fire, allegedly. Fred leaves messages on Tina Fey's answering machine in which he pretends to be a member of Hamas. Fred also likes Rogue Wave

Say Hi to Fred
SNL Regular Armisen Performs in Santa Barbara

Be happy about Fred Armisen. Not just that he exists, but that he will soon be performing in Santa Barbara, a city not exactly known for drawing a lot of high-profile comedy acts. While the screenwriters’ strike may have interrupted his fifth season on late-night mainstay Saturday Night Live, it has also offered the New York-born comic and musician a chance to diversify his act. Regular SNL watchers have no doubt seen Armisen deftly impersonate the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Law & Order’s Sam Waterston. They should also now that Armisen generally likes some music in with his comedy. (Or is that comedy with his music?) His unplanned time off has given him a chance to branch out with ThunderAnt, an online comedy project with former Sleater-Kinney rocker Carrie Brownstein—a fact by itself makes him cool enough to demand your attention to excite your about his upcoming appearance in town.

Armisen was kind enough to speak with the Independent.

Can you talk about what your stand-up act is going to be like, especially for the people who are more familiar with you from SNL?

It’s going to be some drumming—like me playing some drums and doing some impressions of drummers and doing some character named Jenn Hannaman, who is like this guy who is a drum instructor who did a DVD on drum instruction called Complicated Drumming Techniques. It’s a little bit of that, some talking and some other impressions. It’s laid-back. It’s an evening of talking about music and things like that.

Oh, well that answers my next question, which was going to be “Will there be music?”

Yes, there will be a little bit, definitely. I try to incorporate that into the show. It’s a mixture of that and the talking. And also, it’s not all planned out so much. That’s the most important thing, because who knows what will happen.

I feel like, maybe now more than in previous seasons, SNL has a lot of very musical castmembers. Could you talk about different castmembers’ musical takes and what it’s like to work with them?

As far as the current cast goes, we’re very musical. The one person who seems most musical, in a way, is Maya Rudolph, who comes from a musical background and sings really well and is a musician. We definitely found a kinship when I got to the show. Amy Poehler is also really musical. She’s a really good singer, and I don’t think she does that much of it on the show. She’s also a really big music fan. She’s connected to a lot of bands. Andy Samberg obviously has his own musical career, in a way, and his success on the show has come in large part to songs. He’s a brilliant lyricist. And Jorma Taconne, a writer on the show, writes a lot of the music pieces in the digital shorts. That’s a musical duo right there. Kenan [Thompson] is great. He has a musical style. Will Forte is really funny musically and plays some guitar. Jason Sudeikis is actually a good singer and plays some guitar, but he secretly likes musicals, like, more than I ever expected. He knows them all, he knows who was in the original shows. It’s like, “Where was this guy hiding?” Seth [Meyers] is a big musical fan and has written some music for the show. Kristen [Wiig] is really funny at musical impressions. She can do so many different female singers. And she’s also a really good singer… Bill Hader is great at musical impressions as well, and he’s also friends with bands like The Flaming Lips and a bunch of bands. He’s in that scene. I think he’s also friends with The Arcade Fire. And Darrell Hammond was in a musical on Broadway this summer. So I’m not leaving him out. He’s also got a musical background. He’s actually probably been the most employed musically, since he’s done the Broadway shows.

Is it unusual for that many people who are there for comedy reasons to also be so musically inclined? Or is that pretty standard for groups like the SNL cast?

[SNL] is my only experience, really. It’s one of the first TV show jobs I’ve ever had. It seems normal to me but who knows what other casts are like. But I think a lot of comedians gravitate toward music anyway.

Well, when I heard that you’d formed a duo with Carrie Brownstein, I just assumed it was a band, but it wasn’t until I went to the website that I found that ThunderAnt was actually more of a comedy duo. How did that come about?

Carrie and I have been friends for a while. And before her band broke up, I would go visit her up in Portland and we’d always have a really good time. One time, I think I had to make a video tape for a Democratic fundraiser. And I asked her if she would help. And we ended up working really well together. She’s a good writer and a good performer. I just find her so funny. So we made this one thing and it made the rounds and people seemed to like it. Then we made more and more of them. Before we knew it, we had all this tape, and we were like “Why don’t we just call it something?” We put up the site for it and see where it goes. It’s something that makes me more happy than anything. I love doing it so much. Literally yesterday we did another one. I flew to Portland and we shot it. Sleater-Kinney, by the way, is my favorite band. So I was happy to become friends with them. But then this other thing just took off for us. Ands we’re not like “Oh, we’re the funniest people in the world.” We just like it and we just have to keep doing it.

It’s funny to me because I feel like even people who are huge Sleater-Kinney fans might be surprised to find out that Carrie does comedy—and a pretty good job of it, maybe even better than people might expect from somebody who’s so good at doing something else.

Yeah, she’s hilarious.

Where did “ThunderAnt” come from?

The name? The state rock of Oregon is the thunderegg. And we had planned to use that name, but then we decided we should look online and see if there’s any other band called Thunder Egg. And sure enough, there was this band on the East Coast somewhere called Thunder Egg. And we were like, “Oh well. That’s that.” We still liked the “thunder” in there and felt that “thunder-something” would still sound good. Carrie came up with ThunderAnt. So it’s like an opposite, you know. That’s where that came from.

As far as being on SNL, you guys are on hiatus at the moment as a result of the strike. Is that frustrating for you, especially in light of the fact that we’re going through presidential primaries and there’s a lot out there to be made fun of?

In a way, it is frustrating. But at the same time, it’s really opened a lot for me mentally and performance-wise. It’s pushed me to do other things. It’s actually given me time to concentrate on ThunderAnt. It’s given me time to work on the drumming character I was telling you about. So there’s that. But it’s actually been frustrating most of all to not be able to hang out with my friends at work. As corny as it sounds, I love those guys. We have the best time ever. I miss them, I miss Lorne [Michaels], I miss the writers, I miss all of it. But this has still opened up a lot of stuff for me. Even live stuff. Going out and performing live is not something I do a lot, so it’s not like the Santa Barbara show is just some blip. I do very few shows. Even allowing me to do the Santa Barbara show is something that’s brand new to me. So it’s frustrating for me, but it’s a huge opportunity.

So can you tell me how it came about that you did the episode of 30 Rock, on which you played the non-terrorist terrorist?

Oh, that’s a combination of things. I’m pretty good friends with [former SNL cast member] Tina Fey and her husband Jeff. They live close by to me. Sometimes when I call them, I pretend to be somebody else. I think one time I called them and pretended to be someone from Hamas, some sort of terrorist. That’s just a joke we’ve had, where I call and pretend to be a terrorist guy. By the way, when I say that, I’m not saying that I thought of the idea [for the episode], but Tina knew that I could do the accent. Then they separately wrote the episode about having a neighbor who’s a terrorist. So that’s how that happened.

I noticed you’ve also been keeping the SNL blog for It’s not been updated lately. Is that a result of the strike? It’s a cool feature. I like getting insight to what happens backstage at SNL. I remember you said once that Amy Poehler does impressions that you don’t see on the show — like Katherine Moennig from The L Word or Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs — that we don’t ever get to see on SNL.

There’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of impressions that go on that don’t necessarily get on the show because we don’t know how it would work. But it happens all the time. It’s great. There’s this other show going on, with Amy Poehler doing impressions and Bill Hader doing his impressions. It’s pretty great.

I thought a nice way to end the interview and return to your background as a musician would be to ask you what you’re listening to nowadays. I feel like you have good taste and I’d imagine people might be interested in what you’ve been playing.

Well thank you. I take that as a compliment. Petra Hayden is someone who’s been working on some new stuff that I’ve been enjoying. There’s a group called Rogue Wave who have a good song out called “Lake Michigan.” Azita Youssefi is another good one. There’s a whole bunch of stuff. I don’t want to cheat by going to my iPod and looking thought it.

Well, I wouldn’t want you to cheat. I hope you can get back to work soon. Thanks for talking with me. I hope your show here in Santa Barbara goes well.

Thanks. I’m really looking forward to it.

411: Fred Armisen will be performing at Stateside on Tuesday, January 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13.
And when I say "I'm really looking forward to it," I of course mean that I'm looking forward to the idea of it, since Tuesday is news deadline day and I'll probably be working until late.

Bonus, semi-SNL downer that I learned while researching Fred: This season is purportedly the last for both Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, the latter of whom only decided at the last minute to continue on the show this season. Post-strike, the cast will be joined by Casey Rose Wilson, to help make up for the upcoming lack of female performers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Choice-Cut Meats Form Derelict Boulevards

From New Year's at the Mercury Lounge. I found a green lei and it helped me start 2008 on the right foot.


Photos by Spencer. Faux photobooth strip format by me.

There's also this other time the subject of photobooths came up here.

The Calendar on Your Wall Is Ticking

Dina, to answer your question.


This is Kami and I on Halloween in 2005, I think. I'm a Crazy 88 from Kill Bill, Kami is a flamingo. I'm stabbing her because that's what Crazy 88s do to waterfowl. I scanned this photo, which previously did not exist in digital form, because Kami recently emailed me with the below image.


This is Kami and I. I'm not sure when, but possibly in 2004 or 2005. She had been invited to a school-themed party in which attendees were expected to dress up like they went to a private school and then follow a class schedule that had people shifting from room to room. Flaming Dr. Peppers in the science lab, body shots in Sex Ed, drinks vaguely associated with historical figures in history. You get the idea. In all, the party worked pretty well. But Kami had the idea to dress up as exchange students and act like we didn't understand anything. Hence the awkward, vaguely foreign clothes.

Now you know Dina. World, you too.

Friday, January 25, 2008

There's a Stranger Out to Find You

Right off the bat, bonus points for reminding the world of Mrs. Beakley's granddaughter daughter, Webigail. Super fantastic bonus points for sexualizing Webby in a way that's so very wrong.

From, of course, Fatal Farm, who also did wonders with Doogie Howser, M.D., Designing Women, Golden Girls and Dynasty.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Faster Than the Speed of Love

Wait, so does Daryl Hannah have one wooden finger or not?

Action Movies and Bad Decisions

Discussed herein: bad decisions, pompous movie reviewers, Cloverfield, various kinds of death, Scream, whether Sofie Fatale's dismemberment in Kill Bill was realistic or not, the difference between watching a movie and being in a movie

People think highly of themselves when it comes to reviewing action movies, I’ve noticed. Even the most self-depreciating schlub will credit himself with having laser-precise critical thinking abilities in bullet-ridden, explosion-rattled action scenes. He’ll criticize a movie’s characters for making decisions that seem illogical, all from the comfort of his theater seat and with the buffer of reality between him and the on-screen action. Given the luxury of retrospect, which action movies rarely provide, these characters might also realize the flawed nature of their actions, I suppose, though the more frequent result of boo-boos in shoot-em-ups would probably be getting shot up.

Mr. Naysayer irks me just a little. Though he has every right to say that a characters’ illogical actions prevented him from enjoying a give n movie, I feel like he might be holding folks on screen to higher standards than he would himself if he were plunked into a real-life version of a hokey action scene.

A discussion of Cloverfield on a blog I’ve started following prompted this train of thought. (And for the record, stop reading if you have any desire to see Cloverfield without knowledge of what kind of horrible end the film’s characters meet.) More than a few readers said they felt annoyed at the inherent stupidity of the movie’s human protagonists. (I specify “human protagonists” because the real star, of course, is the monster.) I admit that these people’s decision to travel back into a destroyed Manhattan to rescue a friend was a foolish one. The characters themselves probably realized this two, seeing as how all but one dies in some kind of horrible fashion. (In order: taken down along with the collapsing Brooklyn Bridge, swollen to the point of bursting as a result of some evil monster venom, eaten and then spit out, and then broiled the military-initiated inferno that ultimately destroys all of Manhattan. Only one of the six escapes the island on a helicopter, and even her survival isn’t assured.) But given their fractured mental state and the events leading up to their ill-fated trek through the city, I wonder if they could have been able to make a good decision.

In the film, de facto leader Robert (Michael Stahl-David) seems shellshocked enough by the arrival of the monster and the subsequent death of his brother Jason (Mike Vogel) on the bridge that a phone call from a seriously injured Beth (Odette Yustman) sends him back to rescue her. Lily (Jessica Ford), the only apparent survivor and the girlfriend of the newly dead brother, agrees to come along too, possibly out of some displaced grief over the end of her relationship — if she and Jason are no longer, then why shouldn’t every effort be made to help Robert and Beth? In a way, her decision to come along can almost make sense in light of the fact that whatever heroics she performs could erase her guilt at letting Jason die. Finally, two more — amateur videographer Hud (T.J. Miller) and sardonic hanger-on Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) — follow along in a manner one reviewer accurately described as lemming-like. But even then, does walking into certain death with people you know beat out risking possible death alone? Hud and Marlena seem to think so, even though people in that situation probably wouldn’t have ever consciously processed that thought.

Yes, the decision is a terrible one. But it’s easy to say that because we the audience members don’t share the bonds of friendship that we’re led to believe drive these characters to act like assholes. (A thought: Saving Private Ryan meets Godzilla.) My defense of the characters' collective lack of logic was perhaps a lousy one: It’s a monster movie and therefore it doesn’t matter. But even the review that the Independent ran this week noted that Cloverfield’s human protagonists are essentially the extras in the movie. The heroes working to stop the beast don’t figure largely into the story, and, much like the unimportant normals appearing in most such films, these "extras" do stupid things and die. For some, it seems, these people’s decisions proved far more problematic. I have to wonder, though, even if they didn’t make choices as horrendously bad as the Cloverfield cast’s, would they really be so on top of their game? How, exactly, does one not die in a monster attack?

The situation reminds me a lot of Scream, a good movie that spawned a whole genre of deathly boring imitators whose characters seems all-too-aware of how people should act in movies but died anyway. In Scream, Neve Campbell’s character has that awesome line about slasher movies in which she calls them “insulting” because they routinely feature “some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door.” Then she’s promptly put in her place when the killer comes after her and she stupidly flees up the stairs, proving that even the most self-aware person might cease to function so calmly and coolly when thrust into an adrenaline-raddled state. To compare this all to another film, I’m going to recall how some friends deemed Kill Bill unrealistic for having Bellagio-style fountains of blood flowing from body holes. I countered with “That’s the point, you shit,” and followed up with the notion that most of them haven’t ever chopped off somebody’s arm with a samurai sword and for all they knew, Sofie Fatale’s dismemberment happened entirely realistically.

In the end, I guess my point is entirely moot. As I already said, everybody has their own opinion about what in a given movie worked and what didn’t. However, I just hope that people declaring that the girl running down the alley in a life-or-death frenzy should have totally turned left when she instead turned right. (The idiot.) Movie characters definitely must be held to some sort of realistic standard for the choices they make, but those critiquing these movies should also stop and ask themselves two questions: “Would I have actually been able to think clearly, given the situation?” and “Do this quibbles in motivation really matter in this kind of movie?”

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gingerbread Endowment

Taken this morning at the Williams-Sonoma in La Cumbre Plaza.


I'm not sure whether the Mister or the Missus has more to smile about.

Bentley Banana, Ltd.

It is happening again.


See, it already happened before. I'd like to think this incarnation refers to a company that imports, like, the most fancypants bananas ever.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

And She Probably Lives in Tahiti

For the love of God, somebody help me out.

All day today, I've had the chorus of a song stuck into my head. Only the music. No words. The most I could explain to anybody was that this chorus vaguely sounded like that awful Sting song, "Fields of Gold." After rolling it through my head enough times, I began to assemble words that my then-earworm-riddled brain began to think might be lyrics. "Whole," "wide," "world" — in that order. Hoping that the title might include this phrase, I looked it up on iTunes, and with some searching I've found that the song is in fact called "(I'd Go the) Whole Wide World." It was originally recorded my somebody named Wreckless Eric, who I'm sure I've never heard of before. Both The Monkees and The Proclaimers have released covers, as have a quite a few also-rans, but no version I've heard yet sounds quite like the version in my head. I can't find a single reason why I would have heard this song recently enough to have it stuck in my head. According to this blog, Will Ferrell plays "Whole Wide World" in Stranger Than Fiction in the scene in which his character learns how to play the guitar, but I saw that movie in theaters well over a year ago. (On that note, Wikipedia tells me that the song is frequently learned by beginning guitarists because it contains only two chords.)

So this is where you come in. Can you tell me if there's any recent thing — a movie? a trailer? a TV show? a commercial? — that features this song in such a way that it could have popped into my head today?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Remembering Mother Winslow

As a result of a Wikipedia chain too long to remember, I ended up on the page for Rosetta Lenoire, the actress who played Mother Winslow on Family Matters. I think that I actually began the series with trying to find out what habit the various C-levels appearing on VH1's Celebrity Rehab are trying to kick. In her profile, I found a great example of why Wikipedia should allow editing by a smaller chunk of the population than does now.
As a young girl, LeNoire suffered from rickets, which her godfather Bill "Bojangles" Robinson helped her overcome by teaching her to dance. LeNoire made her acting debut in a 1939 production of The Hot Mikado, starring Robinson (wherein she played a Japanese!).
If you caught the sentence that seems like it was written by a person who has never read an encyclopedia, then you just might be smart enough to edit the Wikipedia. Let's focus on this for a moment: Not only does the parenthetical sentence chunk use an exclamation point, it also both uses the unfortunate phrasing of "a Japanese" and includes a pronoun with no clear antecedent. Well, it's actually clear that the "she" is Rosetta, but the sentence sets the "she" up so that it seems like it refers to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. Which is just funny.

Oh, Mother Winslow, as long as I can see your reassuring face, all is right in the world.

Raw Egg Biscuit Factory

A post at PopSucker pointed me in the direction of a now-defunct website that once offered a collection of quotes from right-leaning message boards. Browsers could even rank the selected comments between one ("meh") and five ("fundie!") based on the deduced likelihood that the quoted person was, in fact, a Bible-thumping fundamentalist whackjob. I'm tempted to say that the quotes strain plausibility, but upon the recent revelation that a friend knows a woman who doesn't believe in dinosaurs in spite of the fact that she works as an elementary school principal and could conceivably have to take children on a field trip to a museum that displays dinosaur bones, I ready to believe that fundamentalists would start worshipping GOB if a printing error somehow misspelled each instance of their bearded and decidedly male deity's name.

One of the alleged comments stood out, and I'm reprinting it here because it I think everybody should cast their friends in small-scale dramatic readings of it. Way fun. The skit is titled "Atheists as a Majority." The misspelling of "atheist" is the fault of whoever originally wrote this.
This is what it would be like, if the majority of people were athiests.
ATHIEST KID: Mom, I'm going to go fuck a hooker.
ATHIEST MOM: Okay, son.
ATHIEST KID: Afterwards, I'm going to go smoke pot with my friends, since it's "not addictive."
ATHIEST MOM: Okay, come home soon!
The athiest kid leaves the room. The father comes home from work several minutes later.
ATHIEST MOM: Hi, honey! I'm pregnant again. I guess I'll just get another abortion, since "fetuses don't count as human life."
ATHIEST DAD: Okay, get as many abortions as you want!
ATHIEST MOM: Oh, and don't go in the bedroom.
ATHIEST MOM: There are two gay men fucking eachother in there.
ATHIEST DAD: Why are they here?
ATHIEST MOM: I wanted to watch them do it for awhile. They just aren't finished yet.
ATHIEST DAD: Okay, that's fine with me!
Suddenly, their neighbor runs into the house.
ATHIEST NEIGHBOR: Come quick, there's a Christian outside!
ATHIEST MOM: We'll be right there!
The athiest couple quickly put on a pair of black robes and hoods. They then exit the house, and run into the street, where a Christian is nailed to a large, wooden X. He is being burned alive. A crowd of athiests stand around him, all wearing black robes and hoods.
RANDOM ATHIEST: Damn you, Christian! We hate you! We claim to be tolerant of all religions. But we really hate your's! That's because we athiests are hypocritical like that! Die, Christian!
Isn't that great? The script does present a few problems, however. The scene with the burning X would make this all a little expensive to stage, I feel. And the sudden change in the mother's demeanor bothers me. She brought the sodomites into her house so she could watch them, but she's so quick to leave to watch the execution of the Christian. Are we supposed to believe that athiests like Christian death more than perversion?

This comment, at least, seems to have not been posted as a joke, at least based on its original context.

Homer and Marge Save the World

Some nifty promotional art that came packed in with my copy of The Simpsons Movie. Seemed worth scanning and posting, if not outright saving.

Perhaps the full-scale version is even better.

Snotty Pot

Thank Dina for this. Note: Despite how I may have titled this post, snot does not figure into the below video. You may safely watch this at work.

It doesn't so much surprise me that this product exists, as I understand that people will be anything if they think it will cleanse a body part they perceive to be dirty. However, I find it strange that the video seems to encourage users of this product, the Neti Pot, to exhale nose particle-infused water all over their bathroom floor. Final thought: Must they have hired an actress with a Heaven's Gate haircut? Was she somebody's wife? Or, rather, life partner?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Le Bad Nanny Battle

For unknown reasons, our office has one of those movable letter signs that restaurants use to announce the day's special or tell you to seat yourself. Only our sign has only the letters you see in the below photo.


The arrangement is mine, and it's the first I can recall doing that used all the letters. The sign and its enigmatic, anagramatic messages amuse me and I think I may start documenting them.

Stamped, Flat

How bad off must you be when ripping off the American Pie franchise is your best hope at making a buck? But not even copying American Pie, exactly, but just trying to trick people into thinking that you've made

This past week, I've seen a few advertisements for a Wedding Daze, an irritatingly titled film starring Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher that I don't remember ever seeing in theaters, by which I mean that I never noticed even being advertised as being in theaters. I certainly wouldn't have paid to sit through it. From the looks of it, I'd guess that it's a storm of crap, despite the fact that it was written and directed by Michael Ian Black, who can on occasion be good. Wedding Daze's And IMDb page doesn't list a U.S. release date, so it seems plausible that Wedding Daze's upcoming DVD release might be its American debut. (Mark your calendars! And then shoot yourself!) Even more strangely, the IMDb page isn't for Wedding Daze, per se, but for The Pleasure of Your Company, which is irritating in a different way. Even more confusing: a third title, The First Girl I See is also listed.

In addition to the mystery of where the hell this movie came from or what it's called now, something about the commercials for it struck me as familiar, though I couldn't place why. Only today did I realize: the title font.

Does that look familiar? It should if you, like me attended high school during the post-slasher resurgence that was the teen movie resurgence. Think Ten Things I Hate About You, think She's All That, think...

Curious, no? It would seem like whoever got stuck having to market this movie is trying to piggyback on the success of the American Pie films, even though the third proper one ended with the main character — who just happens to be played by Jason Biggs — marrying Alyson Hannigan's character. Who knows? Maybe marrying Alyson Hannigan didn't take and now she's sought out Isla Fisher.

I wondered if maybe the same people or studio might have put out both Wedding Daze and the American Pie movies, but found that neither its production company, GreenStreet Films, nor any of the eight people credited as some type of producer seemed to be also involved with any American Pie. (Which makes sense, really. The American Pie movies made money.) Even the distributors are different: MGM for Wedding Daze, Universal for American Pie. But even more oddly was what I found while looking around for this info: promotional materials for Wedding Daze from what I'm guessing is it's theatrical run.

Red text, sure, but no distressed rubber stamp font, which seems strange. Why should the original promotional materials have one font and the DVD release another? The only answer I can think of is that this movie did so colossally poorly during its first run that its creators had no choice but to make it over in the fashion of the more successful American Pie movies in hopes that people would mistake it for one of them — after all, there's been no less than three separate spin-offs in the last three years — and waste money renting it. (Except for you now, you enlightened American Pie junkie, you.) Can this even be legal? Isn't this the movie marketing equivalent of putting a burger in a wrapper that has slightly misshapen golden arches on it and calling it McFonald's Fig Mac? Michael Ian Black, what have you done?

Also, if this snooping tickles your fancy at all, you should check out a You Thought We Wouldn't Notice, a site that makes it its business to point out when logos, art and general aesthetics are re-purposed in perhaps less-than-honest manners.

EDIT: I just noticed that the release date for this is listed on IMDb as 2006. The fact that it took more than a year for it to hit DVD does not bode well.

Thursday Night, I Think I'm Pregnant Again

Dina: drew drew drew
me: dina dina dina… weena
Dina: 8 pounds of me is skin!
me: ah! oh no! what happened? did you take a skin thickener?
Dina: To estimate the weight of your skin, divide your weight by 16.
me: and then what?
Dina: and then you find out that you're covered in skin. just covered in it. 8 pounds of skin. on a small frame i know i have a small frame
me: in places
Dina: “To determine the size of your frame, wrap a dollar bill around your wrist. If the ends of the bill touch, you have a small frame. If there's a finger's width or less between them, you have a medium frame. Anything more than a finger's width and you have a large frame.”
me: how scientific is all this?
Dina: it's not. it's the best website ever. i am highly engrossed
me: oh? can anyone make these up?
Dina: presumably. are you going to dilute my fun with all kinds of shenanigans?
me: like, to find out how large your brain is, stick your hand in your mouth and pull the corners apart with your thumb and pinkie. that distance, cubed, times pi, is roughly equal to the volume of your brain
Dina: yes. of course. but only if you put it on the internet. that's how we know it's true. “According to an authority at the University of California, the continental drift is such that Los Angeles is moving north toward San Francisco at about the rate your fingernails grow.” now that is compelling, i tell you
me: "an authority"? dina, nexus style wouldn't permit that. that's shitweasel talk
Dina: but look at all this skin i have
me: dina, i have seen a good deal of your skin
Dina: indeed. lets not speak of it. instead - why don't we test out this? “You can check the fit of new pants without trying them on. With the top of the pants closed and the button snapped, the waistband should just wrap around your neck.” i'm going to strangle myself with my own pants in the name of science
me: but what if the pants are spandex?
Dina: aha! that one's true. just tried it. i'm going to be the coolest shopper ever. “give me those pants, shop-girl. i must try them around my neck.”
me: you will look like a lunatic, like somebody that doesn't understand pants
Dina: or FOREIGN, which is almost as good
me: clerks will say "ma'am, that's not a shirt"
Dina: and then i'll tell them how much skin they have. “and when ants travel in a straight line, expect rain. When they scatter, expect fair weather.”
me: sweet. screw i'll go look at ants. i hope we have sugar in the house. what if you stand on the anthill and they swarm. what then, dina?
Dina: hang on, let me find an appropriate rule of thumb for the situation. ok, so lets pretend that instead of ants.
me: i like pretending!
Dina: we were talking about polar bears. “If a polar bear charges you, dodge to the right. Eskimos say most polar bears are left-pawed.”
Dina: this will come in handy if ever we visit the san francisco zoo
me: and we should totally trust them
me: but what kind of weather does that indicate? is blood-spattering a weather?
Dina: yes. everyone knows that. you're so stupid, drew
me: i know, i know. dumb ol' dunderhead. dumb though i am, i do know that if your hand is longer than your face, you'll get cancer and die. you should try it
Dina: sweet
me: though this joke doesn't work so well long distance
Dina: no cancer face here. and no smacking my cancer face either
me: cancer-free face, dina. wear it proudly

Monday, January 14, 2008

Might Take a Hurricane

Last Wednesday night, I made good on a nearly year-old promise to myself: to attend trivia night at Old Kings Road. I brought along two copy editors — I have a theory that newspaper copy editors make for the best trivia depositories by virtue of their having carefully edited and fact-checked such a variety of articles — and the editors themselves brought a husband and two friends, respectively. Not wanting to affiliate ourselves with the Independent, for failure would sully the paper's name and make anyone present think that morons work there, I dubbed the six of us "Team Happy to Be Here." In the end, we were happy to have been there. We tied for first place, in spite of the notable handicaps of not having played before and not initially understanding the rules.

I would give you a blow-by-blow of what happened, but in the drunken glee of winning, I stuffed into my pocket the cocktail napkins that we were scratching our guesses onto. I think they offer a fairly accurate re-creation of the evening.

I will note, however, that my ability name the street the Brady Bunch lived on (Clinton Avenue), the black-haired Powerpuff Girl (Buttercup), and the the spaceship on Futurama (Planet Express Ship) finally came in handy. I have yet to see any mention of Team Happy to Be Here's success on the SB Trivia blog, but I feel like if we win next week, they'd have to mention us. Right?

More at Bananas Shaughnessy, Less at Bunny Flingus

Normally, I don't spend too much time with Gawker, but one of its posts sat at the top of my Google Reader stack today and was clearly deserving of my attention. It basically consisted of the following photo of Amy Winehouse, doing what would appear to be her impression of a crazed fruit bat.

click for the larger version. really, you must.

The original headline — "Amy Winehouse Tapes First, Last and Most Horrifying Episode of Her I Love Lucy Remake" — I think worked better than the one on the article now — "Rosie The Riveter Distributes Natural Prophylactics to the Troops" — but even the current one has its charms.

More notable fun with headlines:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Neon Cactus in the Night

Just like how I give updates for Santa Barbara expats about happenings here, Sanam gives me updates as to what our mutual friends are doing now. Things like who sucks, who sucks even more now than they did in college, and who used to be cool but now sucks. Also things like the fact that our friend Holly is now a newscaster in her hometown of Sutter Creek. She even has newscaster clothes!

With any luck, it'll be Holly's face up in that line-up of anchors.

For the interested, check out the full clip of Holly's rundown of the Sutter Creek City Council meeting.

Drew Meets the Death Star

Much in the same way that the waitress who deems a certain plate as being hot often only encourages the diner to test the item's temperature themselves, I defied all my political leanings on Saturday and trotted out to Stearns Wharf to see the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, just to see how my definition of big contrasts with the definitions of everyone else who's seen it. Everyone was right, it turns out. Also, I can now say that I've seen something that is powered by two nuclear reactors. I thought that the crowd of people amassed at the end of the pier was strange, until I realized that they had only walked out there in order to get as close to the ship as they could. Which is exactly what I did. I took a few pictures, none of which look especially great. I'm most pleased with the last, which depicts the Santa Barbara train depot at sunset.

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The Lunch Hour Pops

I like tea, though never more so than in the last six weeks, in which I’ve forsaken coffee. On the whole, tea gives me enough-but-not-too-much caffeine, tastes pleasant enough that I need to add neither sugar nor dairy products, and doesn’t leave my breath smelling offensive. So when I was at a relative’s house over the Christmas break and saw her using an instrument that purportedly brews the world’s best cup of tea, I decided I had to get one myself. (Check out if you’re interested in the product itself. It is, in fact, both the cheapest and best device I’ve found for brewing with loose leaf tea.) But this post will not simply plug the wares of Teavana, wonderful though they may be. No, it will also focus a strip of packaging that came wrapped around my product, a scan of which appears below.

I’m not sure what intern was learning Photoshop the day this project was due, but it kind of blows, both esthetically and as visual account of what came to somebody’s head when brainstorming about the word “tea.” Let’s move left to right: We have an Asian lady, in what would appear to be geisha make-up and beneath an parasol; next we have jolly, leaping African tribesman; then we have a different kind of Asian lady, doing a dance or something; and last we have… rugby players. Or, more specifically, a rugby player and then another rugby player’s bottom. Superficially, I could assume that the good graphic designers as Teavana want me to know that the four kinds of people who drink tea are Asian ladies, African tribesman who leap, other Asian ladies, and men playing rugby, but I feel that’s not true. Upon considering the matter for a moment, I’d imagine instead that whoever got saddled the assignment of designing this piece of product packaging simply turned to their officemate and asked, “Hey, what are, like, four countries that drink tea?” Naturally, the officemate would have responded with China — which, of course, resulted in the fucking geisha — and then Africa — rooibos, after all — then that other kind of Asia that’s closer to India, and then England, because they, like, invented it or something. Ten minutes on a stock photography website putting in those geographical keywords ended up with this: representations of the current world of tea drinkers that are about as accurate as a cowboy, Indian, Eskimo, and a girl in a hula skirt being offered as representatives of the United States. What would have been only slightly worse and would have looked only slightly crappier: (left to right) General Mao, Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandi, and Queen Elizabeth — possibly each with a steaming mug crudely Photoshopped into their hand, possibly each with the same mug. Then, to top off a project that was doomed from the get-go, Mr. or Mrs. Photoshop Pilot then decided to evoke tea by recasting the color of all four images into a greenish brown, only to make the entire multicultural panorama look as if it were being depicted on a Game Boy, in classic creamed spinach color.

In short, product itself: thumbs up. Packaging accompanying product: thumbs down for design, but some recovery points for amusement factor.


The first thought in my head this morning, for whatever reason, was how I feel annoyed when a person reads a URL to me and includes the "double-u, double-u, double-u." If somebody does that, I assume they lack the small bit of technical proficiency needed to realize that you don't need to say "double-u, double-u, double-u." (In fact, most websites don't need it. This blog's URL never did, although you can technically include it if you want to.) Also, that phrase takes longer to say than it should, so anyone speaking it is also wasting a valuable two seconds of my life. On that note, I wondered if speaking the phrase could be contracted. I remember when my grandpa used to spell words out loud, he'd always note when letters were doubled. (For example, "Mississippi" would be em, aye, double-ess, aye, double-ess, aye, double-pee, aye.) I've always considered this as an old person's way of spelling out loud as a result, but I feel like it has a certain charm. (I suppose spelling "vacuum" out loud could be problematic, however.) Anyway, I tried to see if noting the "double-u, double-u, double-u" could work more fluidly in the grandpa style. I pronounced it in my head. It sounded wrong. Only when I actually spoke it out loud did I realize why: "triple-double-u," which would technically mean six instances of the letter "u." Which wouldn't get you anywhere.

Could we just call it "three-dub" and be done with it?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Angled Angel

A little late on this one, but I figured I should post it, if only as a service to the former Santa Barbara residents for whom my blog is the only source of news from this area. (Hi there, friends living in hipper, bigger, and presumably colder places!) Gemina the Giraffe — better known as the giraffe with a crooked neck — died on Thursday at 21 years old. Unlike other instances in which Death has come for local 21-year-olds, alcohol was not involved.

Let's look upon her ungainly form once more, and remember that sometimes God can only fix His mistakes by killing them.

Now she's in heaven, making little angel children ask "What's wrong with it? Is it hurt?"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Juno's Subtle Racist Slip-Up

This post concerns a slip in the film Juno that arguably implies a small bit of racism on someone's part. I'm not sure whose. But it will take a bit to get there. Just so you know.

To set this up, I need to briefly map the route of a particular train of thought: While discussing bad movies over dinner, Aly mentioned Spanglish, which I've never seen and which I only recall as starring Paz Vega, an actress who I like to describe as the woman who stole Penelope Cruz's DNA. (Seriously, the two look similar enough that, had they been competing species and not sexy, Spanish-speaking actresses, one would have gone extinct by now. And I think that one would be Paz Vega.) Anyway, Spanglish brought me to that movie Along Came a Spider, which stars Morgan Freeman and a blonde actress who has Julia Roberts' face. (Possibly for reals; Roberts may have shed her God-given face sometime in the late 90s.) Only, at the time, I recall neither the title of the movie nor pseudo-Julia Roberts's name. (The latter is Monica Potter, the internet tells me, and I now recall that I've written about both her and Paz Vega before, on this very blog and in the very same post.) But about Along Came a Spider: I could only recall that it was a prequel to another movie whose name I couldn't recall. This second, temporarily nameless film starred Freeman and Ashley Judd and had the pair solving murders and so forth. (Another recalled tidbit: Mena Suvari and the younger sister from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air were also in it.) Both Aly and Spencer informed me that the film I was thinking of was The Bone Collector. I, however, wasn't sure this was right, because I actually saw The Bone Collector in the theater and I could have sworn I remember Angelina Jolie being in it. Thus, a computer made its way to the dinner table and — with the help of IMDb, that ender of so many "Who was in that one movie?" arguements — we discovered that not only was Angelina Jolie the female lead in The Bone Collector but that Morgan Freeman wasn't in the film at all. It was Denzel Washington. We had conflated The Bone Collector and Kiss the Girls.

So what, then, put the idea in all of our heads that Morgan Freeman played the hero in The Bone Collector?

Well, in the past few weeks, all three of us saw Juno at least once. (Aly and I actually saw it twice.) And in the movie, the title character delivers this one line during a telephone conversation with Leah, the best friend character. Leah questions whether she's speaking with Juno and Juno joke-answer's "No, it's Morgan Freeman. Do you have any bones that need collecting?" (Part of the line is even in the film's trailer, I'm pretty sure. Leah's response, "Only the one in my pants," isn't.) So I guess Aly, Spencer and I can all weasel out of owning up to the mistake ourselves by claiming that Juno put the idea in our heads that Morgan Freeman, not Denzel Washington, starred in The Bone Collector. Theoretically, we could also say that Diablo Cody, the film's writer, is at fault for confusing one accomplished African-American actor with another, though she could have possibly written the scene knowing who actually starred in what with the intention of making Juno at fault. (I couldn't imagine why one would deliberately give a character that specific flaw though, especially since Juno seems otherwise preternaturally pop culture-savvy.) At the same time, however, we can't really blame anyone here. Whether Cody or Juno biffed this one, none of us questioned it until confronted with the irrefutable proof that is IMDb.

I have to admit that whether the mistake implies racism is totally arguable. One could view the Morgan Freeman-Denzel Washington confusion as a totally innocent case of mistaken identity. Sometimes you confuse one person with another, after all, and both men acting in fairly similar roles: crime-crusading mystery solvers paired with Caucasian women who eventually save the day. However, whenever a member of Race A mistakes two people of Race B, it opens the gate for that old complaint of "Oh, I guess we all look alike to you." Hackneyed, yes, but totally present nonetheless. Bob J. Whitey can confuse Judi Dench and Maggie Smith all day, but the minute he mistakes Cicely Tyson for CCH Pounder, the specter of racism arises, warranted or not. (An appendix to this rule: Refer to Ruby Dee as Sandra Dee and people just think you're an idiot.)

Let's say for a minute that the Juno line does, in fact, imply a small bit of racism. The complaint, I guess, is a tiny one in the scope of the movie itself, especially because if one wanted to accuse Juno of being racist, one's best bet would be picking on the scene in which the title character meets her Asian-American pro-lifer classmate Su-Chin outside the abortion clinic. For whatever reason, Su-Chin can't seem to grasp the concept of irregular verbs and, thus, chants the phrase "All babies want to get borned!" Pretty lame, really, in light of the fact that the advanced placement-seeming Juno and Su-Chin are in the same class. They even discuss having to write a paper, which I'd bet would be especially problematic for someone who speaks English as badly as Su-Chin does. One could counter even this, however, with the idea that Cody dumbed down the lone pro-lifer in a film about teen pregnancy in order to avoid being categorized as an anti-abortion writer.

If that's not clear enough, dear readers, I'll summarize my answer to your question: In short, I'd have to say "lobster."

Bee I Me

Of course, on a good day, the realization that the clothes I chose made me look vaguely like a bee would have occurred before I left the house.


Photo taken 7:15 p..m., post-day of people making bee remarks and asking if the look was intentional.

Plumbers in Space

For your pleasure or possible immediate dismissal: A small bit of name- and Mario-related trivia that I figured warranted a mention, seeing as how this blog seems to exist right at the nexus of “video game dork” and “word nerd.” Only my last ounce of strength has prevents this blog from transforming into a form for fanboy foaming on about Super Smash Bros. Brawl, an upcoming Wii title that I explain to the uninitiated by likening it to Battle of the Network Stars with Nintendo characters and with the nostalgia factor ratcheted up to a power of at least four. Anyway, last night, the game’s development blog revealed that the central character from the Pikmin series will be included in the melee madness. (Not to be confused with that cash cow Pokémon, which Nintendo also owns, the description-defying and underappreciated Pikmin has a pint-sized astronaut leading around small, root vegetable-like creatures called Pikmin. They do his bidding. They die for him. Eventually, they help him repair his spaceship to the point at which he leaves, leaving the Pikmin without anyone to guide them around the various carnivores that also populate this terrible, terrible planet.) The below illustration should help.

What should be interesting to the video game-playing etymology nerds to whom this blog caters, however, is the astronaut character’s name: Captain Olimar. Just as Olimar’s design is based on Mario’s — short, portly, stick-outy ears and with a big round nose — so is Olimar’s name. In Japanese, Mario’s name can be spelled in three characters: mah-ri-oh. Read in reversed order, those characters make oh-ri-mah, which gave the guy his name in Japanese, “Orima,” which was then translated into English letters as “Olimar.”

Small things like this I find interesting.

Two other times I was doubly geeky:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Twelve Months to Midnight

You got me, stupid Drudge Retort. Headlines like this do, in fact, trick me into clicking.

Of course, the above headline ultimately took me to this article, at which point I promptly closed the window. Still, the fact that I momentarily thought the linked-to article could have been the real deal proves something.

Drudge Retort, how did you get in my Gmail news feed, anyway?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What the Doctor Ordured

A new word for your new(ish) year.
ordured (or-DURED) — adjective: covered, spattered or filled with dung.

[Source: Depraved and Insulting English, courtesy of Hannah]
The internet doesn't seem to vouch for its existence, especially, but I'm rooting for it. Spread it around! The word, I mean.]

Mickey Mouse Meets Aeon Flux

The two clips of the elusive Walt Disney-Salvador Dali team-up, Destino.

Like the Cremaster Cycle and Drawing Restraint 9, I'm perhaps most fascinated by this because I've never seen it.

"I Just About Lost My Mind"

Why is there a hole in this man's boardshorts?

I normally wouldn't subject my readers to unnecessary gore, but if said chunks o' human accompany a decent story, even the bloodiest scenes are fair game. Friend, Nate relation, music video star and occasional Back of the Cereal Box commenter Tharpe-Tharpe hit some rough water during a recent vacation in Maui when her boyfriend was bitten by a shark. The incident made headlines in Maui papers. And it made for one hell of a blog entry on Tharpe-Tharpe's MySpace blog. Go look, if you're made of strong stuff, as the Tharpinator doesn't shy away from showing you people meat hanging out of its usual skin casing.

I'm morbidly fascinated.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Me Llamo Taylor Anthony

I’ve been asked to review One Missed Call for Aly’s section this week. The only thing preventing me from actually writing the requested 250 words is the fact that movie was so god awful that it defies words — and not necessarily bad in the fun-to-rip-apart sense, but bad in the boring sense, which is an especially heinous foul for a horror film. But I’ll save that for the review itself.

For this post, I’m just going to note the strangeness in the film’s casting of Mexican actress Ana Claudia Talancón in the role of the main girl’s friend. I have no specific gripe with Talancón herself. She has a delightful accent and though she’s just breaking into English-language films — Love in the Time of Cholera and Fast Food Nation among her credits so far — I’d be happy to see her in future works. However, her presence in One Missed Call created problems for me because her character’s name is Taylor Anthony. That’s a whitey-white whitegirl name if I’ve ever heard one, second only perhaps to Blanche Madison von Crackerhouse. Honestly, there’s no reason why somebody with a Mexican accent couldn’t be named Taylor Anthony, but I can’t help why the movie’s creators couldn’t have simply renamed her Taylor Acosta or even Taylor Acosta-Anthony, especially if the actress who plays the part does so without even trying to speak like a natural-born American. I’m actually quite happy that the film chose to cast a racially diverse group of actresses as the group of people being tormented by the demonic cell phones — Meagan Good (Brick) and Margaret Cho (gay-pandering stand-up) are among the potential corpses — but I feel like the movie should have at least acknowledged that the girl who looks and speaks like she might be Mexican actually is. After all, what would be so wrong with “Taylor Antonio”?

Because I’m Made Out of Glue

Three thoughts upon seeing Juno for the second time:
  • I’m amused by the reason that Paulie Bleeker gives for not wanting to date Katrina de Voort: that not only does she smell like soup but that her entire house smells like soup. It reminded me of a middle school fixation-turned-current day guilty pleasure, So I Married an Axe Murderer, in which Mike Myers’s character explains that he dumped a girl because she reeked of soup. “Soup whiff,” I believe the description was.
  • I can’t help but wonder if Juno’s father’s protestations that he’s “too old to be a Pop Pop” is a references to Arrested Development, given that show’s constant callbacks to jokes and the presence of both Jason Bateman and Michael Cera in the film. On Arrested, the grandkids’ nickname for George Sr. was “Pop Pop,” although the term was frequently mistaken as a euphemism for sex. Of course, for all I know, “Pop Pop” could be a pretty standard name for Grandpa.
  • The role of the girl who works the front desk at Women Now is played by Emily Perkins, who is most familiar to me as being one of the two central sisters in the werewolf-themed Ginger Snaps movies. (She doesn’t play Ginger, but her sister Brigitte.) Anyway, her past role is notable in the context of Juno because both star Ellen Page and co-star Olivia Thirlby are set to appear in an upcoming film titled Jack and Diane, in which the two will play friends who share a single night of passion before one — Diane, played by Page — turns into a werewolf. Strange, that.

On Trumpet Solos and Greek Mythology

Anyone who has stopped at my office has likely met the woman who controls the reception area. She also directs quite a bit of business beyond that entrance, but her status as a guardian is key, both to this post and to my work life in general. Simply put: that reception area might as well be a drawbridge, because if you are deemed unfit for entry, the office is basically impregnable and you will soon be dogpaddling around the sharp rocks in the moat. This I like.

What’s interests me most about The Guardian — as I’ll refer to her in this post, for the purposes of not dragging her into the whirlpool of misspelled words and aborted ideas that is my blog — is that she has two distinct personalities. If the one that sends unpleasant, unreasonable people packing is Cerberus — and, yes, I realize that I just blew the whole two personalities motif by comparing her to a three-headed character — then the other is Hestia, the manifestation of all things comforting, warm and familiar. (And yes, I realize I just skipped from a medieval-themed metaphor with the moat-and-drawbridge comparison to a Greek mythology-themed one, but I don’t care. God, you’re picky today.) She’s the one who can exorcise bad feelings about work and co-workers better than most. She’s the one who brought me a plug-in space heater from her home just because I had casually mentioned that my un-heatered house was painfully cold last winter. And she’s the one who happily casts off unwanted visitors when she knows the day’s workload means that I probably don’t have time to chat. (A note: Don’t feel weird about me crediting The Guardian with having dual or possibly even dueling personalities. A Gemini, her birthday being just a few days apart from mine, she totally cops to it and, I’d imagine, would be cool with be noting it myself.)

At times, however, The Guardian blends the two personas to further some goal, and when it happens I can’t help but to watch in astonishment as she makes magic happen with interpersonal skills that I could only hope to one day have. I remembered the best example of this office mediation prestidigitation this past Friday afternoon. Some time back, The Guardian sent out an email to the entire office with what amounted to a request to make both of her jobs easier: retaining her authority in front of visitors while keeping her sanctum holy. For you see, The Guardian’s desk sits about ten feet from a room I identify on tours as “the pretty bathroom.” (It’s seriously the best-looking room in the entire office. Purple walls, lightbulbs lining the mirror, and generally a better smell than other rooms have, even though it’s a bathroom. When I’m showing interns around, I always try to end the tour there.) People like to use the pretty bathroom, but therein lies the problem. The Guardian’s email basically pleaded with those who might do so to acknowledge that its walls were no thicker than those in the rest of the acoustically vibrant office and that no magic spell made the actions performed in that room somehow inaudible to those who sit nearby. She asked not to be put in the position of having to fabricate reasons to the strangers waiting in the reception area for why those rude noises were manifesting, giving the equivalent of a Bronx cheer in their faces, then vanishing before they could be properly reprimanded. (“No! You don’t do that! Bad!”) If I recall that now-deleted email correctly, The Guardian offered an excuse along the lines of there being bad pipes in the bathroom, which, given the circumstances, wasn’t exactly a lie.

As I mentioned before, the reason this six-month-old story is rolling around in my head today stems from the fact that late on Friday afternoon — before Palmer gave me a ride home, saving me from wading through the swiftly-running creeks that were the streets of Santa Barbara — I was walking through the nearly empty office, looking for my coffee cup. (An everyday ritual: placing it down then instantly suffering a type of brain damage that sends me on a Legend of Zelda-style quest to find it half an hour later.) I stood in earshot of a bathroom — not the pretty one, but one of the tenement-style ones in back — and distinctly heard a sour note sound out from behind the closed door. I froze, partially out of the mental energy it took to assure myself that no, that wasn’t me, frenzied in my coffee mug search to the point where my body went on autopilot. When my brain had cleared me of any wrongdoing, I then heard more: a dozen or so staccato blasts, then the noise of a toilet paper dispenser spinning, then finally a rollicking, Dizzy Gillespie-style finish. Given its position at the end of this musical sequence, I’m inclined to think it took the trumpeter by surprise.

I’m not one to judge others for the fact that they are human and, thus, must perform the biological tasks that allow them to remain alive. The occasional sonic output while using the facilities is normal, permissible, even expected. But when someone composes freeform jazz, they’re overstepping a line, likely as a result of a frijoles-inclusive dish from Los Arroyos or a legume-heavy to-go salad from Savoy. It’s one thing to engage in this kind of activity in an empty building or even in a public restroom, where anonymity can lessen the amount of shame incurred. However, when the office is near-empty but totally-not-empty, this kind of performance creates the most problems in that I knew how many people would be using the men’s room and who, given their desk’s proximity to the bathroom, would be the one most likely to use it. Of course, as my coffee cup search continued, I had a hallway bump-into with the trumpeter himself. Picture it: me, trying to hide any expression which might read as “I know what you did” and him, sheepishly waving “hey” as he passed by, knowing full well that he had announced his troubles to anyone not listening to an iPod with the volume turned up. (This group constitutes a good chunk of the people I work with, and the trumpeter is all the better for it.)

Not only did the incident take me back to The Guardian’s email cautioning against this type of activity, but it also made me realize that had I her tact, I would have picked out words that would have simultaneously vanquished the shame but reminded him that other people have ears and would rather not know him on such an intimate level. I lack this skill, even in the context of essays like this, in which I can take however much time I need to scroll through my mental word bank and remove the “shame on you” words. At least I made it through this chunk of text without resorting to using the phrase “taking a dump.”

Oh, damn.

Three other articles about my office smelling bad or workplace bathroom habits: