Something To Sneeze At

Everybody's doing it, but nobody's talking about it: Sneezing.

I sneeze frequently because I'm allergic to the sun. No, really, I suffer (with emphasis on suffer, of course) from a legitimate condition called photic sneeze reflex. Basically, when I transition from a dark environment to a bright environment (most often occurring when I step out of a building or car into the bright sun), I am prone to sneeze.

No matter the cause, I almost always sneeze in pairs. Anytime I sneeze, I stop what I'm doing and wait for the second eruption to occur, because I know 90% of the time it's bound to follow, even if on a fifteen second delay. This situation makes the whole "God bless you" social grace awkward, because sometimes people seem like I'm inconveniencing them by provoking them to say it again so soon, as if I live for being acknowledged for a bodily function.

I don't even like "God bless you," anyway. It's a theistic statement that's been mainstreamed. Even the abbreviated "Bless you" carries the same implication. It's not socially acceptable to respond to someone else's cough, fart, or hiccup, so why is it even necessary to do that for sneezes?

In college, my friend Colin came up with a solution to the "Bless you" dilemma. His alternative response, "Happy Sneeze" was a way of acknowledging someone sneezing without pushing a religious message. For a while, my friend circle adopted this cheerful saying into our collective lexicon.

Soon, however, I found myself saying "Happy Sneeze" far too frequently. People sneeze a lot, as it turns out, and by giving such a kind response each time, I feared I was only positively reinforcing the action. Therefore, I switched the saying to the tried and true, "Shut up!"

That's right, anytime someone would sneeze, I'd yell, "Shut up!" Sure, it comes across harshly to people who expect to hear encouraging words, but it does no good to coddle the sick. How are people going to learn to stop sneezing when people are so sweet to them? This circumstance is a case where it's cruel to be kind.

If you were to happen upon our dorm that year, you'd probably think we hated each other due to the amount of "Shut up!"s we bandied about. When someone three doors down would sneeze, there'd be at least a couple people retorting loudly with, "Shut up!" It was even better when we'd react to people who weren't in on the joke. The sneezer wouldn't know how respond, giving a confused look indicating, "Well, sorrrrrrry for sneezing."

To this day, I still take the "Shut up" approach, knowing the importance of putting sneezers, myself included, in their place. It's a campaign that's going global, too. Check out this team in Thailand on this past week's episode of The Amazing Race. One sibling sneezes in a peculiar fashion (I love sneezes that barely sound like sneezes) and the other sibling eventually gives the only appropriate response.

Remember, spread "Shut up!" not germs. With your support, we will find a cure for photic sneeze reflex one day.


I Love Scraping

Before Christmas a couple of years ago, my sibling, Alison, called to ask if I'd go in on a gift with her for our mother. I had already purchased a present, but I was willing to hear her out. Evidently, Alison wanted to buy a bag of M&Ms. In most cases, splitting the cost of M&Ms would be the cheapest gift ever, but Alison had her eye on customized M&Ms. Rather than simply reading "M," the candy would say something about my mom's favorite hobby, scrapbooking. I asked how a word like "scrapbooking" could even fit on such a tiny piece of candy, and Alison admitted that the number of letters was a concern, so she settled for saying, "I love scrapping."

Knowing my sibling, I decided to check her spelling. She read aloud the message letter by letter, concluding with "S-C-R-A-P-I-N-G." With just one "P," the word she spelled is technically scrape-ing, not scrap-ing. I pointed this error out to her and she laughed from embarrassment, proceeding to fix it on the form.

Alison followed through with the corrected gift without my financial contribution and my mom appreciated it. Darn my helpful nature: if I could do it again, I'd keep my editing to myself. The only thing funnier than buying the world's most expensive bag of inexpensive candy would be if that candy came complete with a spelling error. Besides, you know how my mom just loves to scrape. Why, she scrapes things every day, I reckon.


A Heart Transplant

One Tree Hill is my favorite television show that I don't watch. When I lived with Amber, she watched it, so I would catch random pieces that would never fail to make me laugh. One Tree Hill is not only poorly written, but poorly executed, making it an enjoyable viewing experience. Once Amber filled me in on some of the ludicrous plot lines, I was upset that this program had been on for five seasons before I caught on to its aw(ful)someness. On one episode I watched, a girl was attacked in her house while readying herself for prom. She is injured, but manages to kill her assailant. No worries, however, as she still pulls it together to go to prom later! From what I can tell, there have been five significant car crashes, including a couple off of the local bridge plunging vehicles into the water below. Now that's a drinking game waiting to happen!

Entranced by the absurdity of it all, I vowed to go back and Netflix the entire show from the beginning. Alas, I didn't even get through the first disc of the first season before I realized I wasn't actually in for that type of commitment, as hilarious as I'm sure it would have proven to be. I have no idea what's been occurring on the show as of late, but I caught a clip via The Soup that begs to be shared as an example of amazingly cheesy television.

For some context, the guy in the hospital gown is the father of the two protagonists, half brothers who are on-again-off-again nemeses. The father is an evil man who disowns his own kids and kills his brother, thus I'm sure his need for a heart transplant is an obvious symbol of how he doesn't have a heart. Let's watch the moments leading up to his surgery:

Bravo! What's even better is that this show is designed for teenage girls, so if message board posts are any proof, they wouldn't know how to laugh at this kind of melodrama if it tickled them. Meanwhile, this clip has made me this close to actually tuning into my favorite show.


Forty Forte

Michael Michael and I have a tried and true history of laughing at funny words and breaking apart the English language, so it only makes sense that within hours of being reunited, our conversation goes down the path. Michael Michael poses a question to me: "What would you call it if thirty-nine plus one was your strong point?"

I have to think about it for a few seconds, but I do arrive at the intended response: "Forty forte."

We say it a few times like a tongue-twister, and then I have my own epiphany: Forty Forte sounds like the name of Flavor Flav's cousin.

Go ahead, scream it in a ridiculous voice: "Forty FOR-TE!"

I'll try to describe how I envision him, but you've probably already pictured him accurately. Forty Forte is a diminutive man with some outrageous fashion accessories and a vocabulary that demonstrates a superb understanding of slang but not a lick of grammar. His lack of hygiene and charm make no difference to the promiscuous women who fawn over him because he's related to somebody famous. Forty Forte's name is derived from his affinity for forties, and to his credit, he is quite adept at drinking them. What spinach is to Popeye, malt liquor is to Forty Forte, except that instead of making him stronger, the booze mainly makes him more incomprehensible, reprehensible, and perverted.

If that sounds like some sort of racist caricature that embodies the worst stereotypes, I swear it's only an attempt to capitalize on Flav's similar success.

VH1, if you'd like to option my Forte of Love show, give me a call.

Oh, and be sure to check out our Flavor Flav photoshoot from a few years ago and discover why "I thought I was being a viking, I did not realize that I was being a Flavor Flavor" is one of the funniest quotes ever.



What's Your Sign?

I don't really believe in astrology (with perhaps one exception), and I find conversations on the topic pretty ridiculous. As I see it, anytime someone brings up "your sign," it's nothing more than a way to hit on you. Once someone knows your sign, ey can claim to know something about you, even though ey have no freaking clue, and move the conversation forward. It's bogus.

Angel validates my astrology theory by sharing a story about someone who hit on him.

Angel: Some guy asked me my sign, and I told him Pisces. He's like, "Ooooh, water sign." Then he whispered into my ear, "I'm a Leo, I could eat you alive."
Assorted Friends: (half-laughing/half-gagging)
Jacob: That line could only work for a Leo, you couldn't say that with another sign.
Angel: Right. Well, except maybe, "I'm a Cancer..."

(Posting a cancer joke just a day after paying tribute to a cervical cancer victim? Clearly I don't know the definition of "too soon.")


Jade Goody (1981-2009)

Jade Goody died today and the world watched it happen. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on evolution of celebrity in the age of reality television. Had I written it just a few years later, it would be entirely different, and probably just be one big case study on Jade.

This week, my friend Greg made reference to how surreal it is to live in a time where while experiencing something, we think about what we will post about it later on the internet/Facebook. We self-mediate ourselves to a ridiculous extent, as if things didn't happen unless they are published in a public forum. At this point, self-mediation is no longer necessarily about attention-seeking, but, because of its prevalence, an act of conformity. Everyone's doing it, you wouldn't want to be the friend who is forgotten for lack of reporting on your own actions and whereabouts. As a habitual blogger, I regularly reflect on why I mediate myself to this extent. I do it to entertain, archive, write, and maintain a voice and some sanity in a world I still frankly do not understand.

For all of my public over-sharing, I am not an internet superstar. I'd love to parlay my writing into a career, but not necessarily fame, as fame cannot entirely be controlled. Jade Goody learned this quickly when she appeared on Big Brother in the UK in 2002. Jade became popular for being unpopular, a lower-class idiot who was unashamed to publicly flaunt the same qualities we attempt to hide from others. While most reality television personalities rapidly fade into obscurity, Jade managed to maintain the limelight in a way her cohorts could only dream of. She regularly appeared in magazines and television shows for doing nothing in particular and looking trashy in the process. People knew Jade in exchange for Jade knowing nothing of dignity.

I've discussed Jade on this blog ago two years ago when she appeared on Britain's Celebrity Big Brother. The other contestants were initially famous for things other than reality television, but Jade seemed to warrant her spot for becoming a full-fledged celebrity in her own right, in spite of her origins. On this series, Jade stirred up an international incident for bullying and making racist comments directed toward Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Not only was Jade again shown to be trashy and vulgar, but at the time, Jade was legitimately the most reviled person in the UK.

Evidently, there was a limit to what the public would tolerate. Jade had crossed the line and lost most of her sponsorships and contracts, though not her notoriety. A year later, in an attempt to right some of her wrongs, Jade appeared on the Indian incarnation of Big Brother. After two days on the show, Jade was informed she had cervical cancer and left the program immediately.

Many, myself included, believed this announcement to be some sort of publicity stunt. Certainly, it was part of Jade's unending plight for publicity, but it also turned out to be legitimate. With this news, Jade went from public enemy #1 to a courageous hero battling cancer, which just goes to show there's no public blunder that a little terminal illness can't fix.

Having spent the last seven years under the media's watchful eye, Jade made no attempt to shy away, even knowing that she soon would die. She lived her life in front of the cameras and she resolved to end her life in similar fashion. She engaged in a media blitz wherein she filmed interviews, hospital visits, and dying wishes. She also sold the rights to her "fairytale wedding" with her on-again-off-again beau, Jack, a couple of months ago. The same press that loved to cover their incessant spats and infidelity now gladly participated in portraying the nuptials as some sort of match made in heaven, if not knocking on heaven's gates. The only reason this marriage did not end in divorce is because time expired for Jade too quickly.

Right up to the end, just days before her death, Jade allowed cameras to film the baptism of her bedridden self and her two children. It's bizarre and fascinating simultaneously. Her funeral will be televised live as a testament to her life -- her mediated life.

Say what you will about Jade, but she is a pioneer. She lived -- and died -- for our attention, taking self-exposure to unprecedented lengths. And as tacky, tasteless, and unfamiliar as it all might sound, I think we're all headed there.


Grocery Store Suicide

Though I don't remember receiving a specific lecture on the subject, I must have been informed of the dangers of putting a plastic bag over one's head as a child. I know this because while playing He-Man with my friend Devin (how cute, our names rhyme), Devin put a plastic bag over his face as if it were a helmet. I screamed at Devin to take it off, but he didn't listen, so I started sobbing, believing he would surely die, and ran to tell his mother.

Devin is still alive (I think), but the event was traumatizing nonetheless. Now, however, because of my former dramatic overreaction, I find bags over heads to be kind of funny. Not as funny as birds with six pack rings around their necks, but, you know, worth a chuckle.

I was in the produce section of the grocery store this past week when I spotted a young, antsy girl. She kept dancing around and screaming "Mom! Dad!" but neither one would pay her any attention, her dad absorbed in quality testing the vegetables and her mom wrapped up in text messaging. Annoyed, the girl grabbed a produce bag and pretended to suffocate herself, though neither of her parents gave a hoot. She ran around screaming their names and flailing dramatically, but still they ignored her entirely. Realizing her performance was getting her nowhere, she adopted a calmer disposition, but never took the bag off her head, proceeding to wander around the produce section with a bag covering her face.

At this point, I took out my phone and took some pictures. (Forgive the quality, I'm pretty sure my phone was handcrafted a century ago by Alexander Graham Bell himself.)

Whether that was really a cry for attention or for help, I adore this little girl, even if her parents couldn't carrot less.


The Rooster in the Tree

Overhearing a part of a conversation occurring at Margarita Monday about a time when someone saw a rooster in a tree in Florida a couple of months ago, Lisa misunderstands and asks if there is really a rooster in the tree a few feet away. Never missing an opportunity to play a joke and test one's gullibility, Michael Michael lies by responding affirmatively.

"There is not! Where is it?" Lisa asks.
"Right there," Michael says, pointing toward nothing in the tree.
"I don't see it!" Lisa says, frustrated, continuing to look in vain for a rooster in the tree.

Michael keeps point as other people start to laugh, so I can tell Lisa is about to give up and recognize the joke. Having a pretty honest reputation and not wanting to see the fun end, I jump in.

"It's right there, Lisa," I say with a gesture.
"Where, though?!"
Knowing this might be the best possible time to get revenge for the time Lisa sassed me for not being able to locate something, I threw her own infamous retort back at her: "Right there o'clock!"

Again, sensing that Lisa was about to give up, I decide to up the ante by standing immediately behind her and positioning her head to view a specific point. Naturally, she still can't see it, but I am being so adamant about it at this point, I restore her belief.

Realizing I have reeled her back in, I opt to escalate the prank a little bit further.

"Maybe we just need to make it move and then you'll see it," I say. "Here, grab some chips and throw them up there."

I lead by example, tossing a few chips up into the tree. Amazingly, Lisa follows suit, grabbing a handful of tortilla chips and hurling them upwards. By the time I go back to the table to grab a few pieces of silverware to encourage her to throw at the tree as well, the jig is up. So many of our friends are cracking up that Lisa realizes how ridiculous she looks and that the rooster is nothing more than an increasingly elaborate practical joke.

As Lisa attempts to justify why throwing tortilla chips at a tree seemed like a plausible action, Lindsay comes to her defense: "Don't you remember the old wives' tale? When you throw a chip at a tree, a rooster appears."

I must have missed that one, but that is so real.


How to Compliment a Pregnant Person

Michael Michael and I find one of the manager's at Margarita Mondays strikingly attractive, in spite of my short-lived feud and subsequently amusing make-up with her. She doesn't often work the Monday shift anymore, so last month I was pleasantly surprised to see her back again -- with child. At the sight of her pregnant belly, I immediately texted Michael to inquire whether he was responsible for this turn of events, which, come to think of it, he never denied.

My initial excitement to see her turned to concern quickly. Apparently, someone had spilled a little something on the floor, so the pregnant manager nearly slipped, which caused me to flinch; I don't want her to fall, particularly in that condition. Another time, a college girl getting wasted at an adjacent table suddenly got up from her chair without looking and full on elbowed the unnoticed manager in the stomach. It was an accident, but it was awful. I leaned over to Laura and said in a singsong voice, "Miscarriage!"

I've decided Margarita Monday is not a safe environment for a pregnant person. Also not safe? Miscarriage jokes. Laura immediately smacked me when I made my joke (which was really only a half joke, because that accidental contact was for real) and acted appalled. So what, we can't joke about miscarriages anymore? What's next, HIV?

Several weeks later, Michael Michael has returned to California and was able to witness the manager at Margarita Mondays in the flesh -- the rotund baby-bumped flesh, even. He greeted her kindly and made an inquiry.

Michael: "How far along are you?"
Manager: "Five months."
Kevin: (interrupting and acting appalled) "What? You look great, thin as ever. I didn't even notice. How could you say that to her?"
Manager: (confused) "Oh... thank you, that's... nice of you to say"

Really, I was just trying to impulsively outplay Michael in our pretend bids for the manager's affection, but I think I accidentally stumbled upon my new favorite approach toward pregnant people: no matter how obvious it is, act as if I didn't realize they are pregnant. Since people are so opposed to being called fat, I'm going to deny noticing anything besides a trim, healthy figure. Sure, they'll think I'm crazy, but I won't be as crazy as when they reflexively accept this absurd line as a compliment.



A conversation that occurred near Pitzer College, an institution that the Princeton Review annually recognizes in its "Reefer Madness" category:

Person #1: We should make pot brownies.
Person #2: Yah!  Let's make pot brownies!
Person #3: But where will we get the brownie mix?

You know you're living in a surreal environment when it's easier to obtain illegal drugs than groceries.


Carol the Toothless, Crazy Dyke

So there's this crazy dyke that's showing up to the lesbian karaoke bar, perhaps even crazier than the ranting bigoted man we encountered there. I'm pretty sure her name is Cheryl, but someone else heard "Carol," so I'd rather go with that. Sing it with me: "Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name -- but calls you by a different name anyway." We also have reason to believe that Carol is mainly heterosexual, but we still call her a crazy dyke anyway, because, as far as we're concerned, we're all dykes at that bar.

We first met Carol about a month ago. She stood out immediately because she's missing several teeth and acted familiar with us even though we had never seen her before; trust me, we'd remember that toothless face. We sat in our back corner and avoided contact with Carol until she came back to try to buy cigarettes from the machine, but couldn't figure it out. Seeing her struggle, I went up and just pushed the button and amazingly it worked. Carol was so full of gratitude that she gave me an uncomfortably long hug and introduced herself (as Cheryl, but whatever). When I told her my name was Kevin, she was excited because her ex-boyfriend had the same name and promised not to forget it while bumping her hips suggestively against mine. Though she eventually wandered away from our group, Carol returned throughout the night to hug, dance with, and pet (no really, she likes stroking hair) us, ultimately promising to see us again soon.

After a few week absence, Carol was back this past week. She warmly yet aggressively greeted us, then gave us an awkward serenading while singing the most awful rendition of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" you've ever heard. As she talked to us more, it became increasingly obvious that Carol wasn't just drunk crazy or fun crazy, but full-fledged insane crazy. She rambled about anything and failed to pick up on any social cues. My eyes were sore because I was rolling them too much. At one point, she pretended to talk on her "invisible phone," and took the whole thing quite seriously.

Carol was especially proud of her Jack Daniels hat that her friend gave her. She doesn't even drink Jack Daniels, she explained, but the hat is terrific, a questionable assertion, but one we agreed with anyway. All Carol needed was acknowledgment. She's the neediest person I've ever met. She needs people to pay attention to her at every second. If no one's looking, she'll call your name out to make sure you're seeing her do a dance move or make a shot at pool. We'd appease Carol, and tell her "good job," as if she were a puppy.

The dog comparisons don't end there: Carol was also barking up the wrong tree. She made some comment about being on the prowl for men. Carol, honey, a lesbian bar is not the place to accomplish that. I think it's safe to say that Carol was oblivious to the situation, however, and just seemed to take out her sexual aggression on Greg and me. When Greg stood up for a song, Carol snuck up behind him and spanked his butt. Immediately, she came to me and asked me to stand up so she could do the same to me "to be fair." I tried to find a polite way to decline, but she kept insisting. I'm not proud to say that I just gave in, stood up, and let her slap my butt, because that seemed like the only quick solution. She then sandwiched herself between Greg and I, alternated between kissing our cheeks and referred to us as her boyfriends. Seeing hilarity in action, Lindsay grabbed her camera:

Photographs proved to be just the attention Carol craved, and she didn't want the picture-taking to end. She offered to model for Lindsay, which Lindsay was happy to go along with, naturally. Carol's poses are her own, and oh so creative:

After the first photo, Carol asked to see the picture than snatched the camera out of Lindsay's hands and ran away with it. I thought this would result in a funny story about how Lindsay's camera was stolen by a crazy dyke, but instead, Carol ran around with the camera to show her modeling off to every patron in the bar, most of whom humored her. She came back and offered to pose for more, again showing them off to people she believed to be her friends.

Oh well, at least Carol believes she's "gorgeous." She asked if I thought she really looked forty-six. Not liking to lie, I thought in my head that she could have been in her fifties, before saying, "No." She hugged and thanked me, reasserting how good she looked for her age. Then she repeatedly told us how nice we were, which Lindsay pointed out was probably our problem. We were too nice and indulged her, so now she wouldn't leave us alone. Carol offered to give me her phone number, and I decided to whip out my own "invisible phone" to take down her number. This angered Carol because she wanted to use real phones in this case, but I insisted my invisible phone was good enough. According to Carol, you can't hear invisible phones ring, so she offered her home phone number instead. Though I'm not surprised she doesn't own a cellphone, I am surprised she has a home, truthfully.

After several more invasions on our personal space, we left the bar, but not before the KJ said she was going to smack Carol for being so annoying, and Bev, a truly kooky dyke in her own right, described Carol as "certifiable." Yeah, I'd agree, Carol's definitely nuts, but she sure photographs well:


The LA Urban Iditarod: Team Noah's Ark

This past weekend, a bunch of friends and I participated in the LA Urban Iditarod. Modeled loosely on the famous Alaskan sled dog race, the Urban Iditarod challenges teams to dress up thematically while pushing a shopping cart around Los Angeles. It also has elements of a pub crawl so you could stop to, uh, hydrate at various points along the way, though I think most of us were pretty sufficiently “hydrated” before the race began.

We prepped the first night by loading up on carbs (beer has carbs, right?) and getting crafty. I’m pleased to say I have such crafty friends. We used a cardboard box to turn our shopping cart, an abandoned Kmart cart that Allison located on the street, into a boat to correspond with our theme, Noah’s Ark.

Unicorn Jessica (who we decided must not have survived the great flood), Noah Eric, Elephant Allison, Zebra Matt, Flamingo Katy, and I donned our costumes, headed to Venice, and joined other thematic teams like Jamaican Bobsledders, Mario Kart characters, Octuplet Mom and kids, crayons, and Where’s Waldo in a non-competitive race for intoxicated glory. More than anything, it’s about causing a ruckus.

Someone would yell “MUSH” and promptly hundreds of costumed people ran down the streets with their carts, befuddling and amusing the pedestrians, and generally angering the motorists who found themselves trapped or delayed. Since no one really wins this Iditarod, I didn’t think it would actually be too grueling, but we were full on running at points, which was fun, don’t get me wrong, I just wish I had worn shorts and filled my water bottle with actual water rather than clear rum.

You can see the Noah’s Ark crew run by about 20 seconds into this video:

(Nice form, Matt.)

Our team was quite popular, because we had a well-executed theme, so plenty of people took our picture. As Noah, Eric was a phenomenal leader, leading us in apropos chants like “Any two will do!” and “Forty Days and Forty Nights!” He even got into a full speed oceanic battle with the cart decorated like a pirate ship, knocking it off course. It doesn’t hurt to have God on your side.
The whole race itself took half the time it was scheduled to, thanks primarily to the police. Each time we’d sto at one of our “hydration stations” they’d follow and monitor us before insisting that we move along. I had intended to purchase a drink from each bar we stopped at for completion’s sake, but we never stayed at a spot long enough to make that happen. I’m not sure I agree with the police’s rationale that a traveling pack of hooligans is less threatening than a stationary pack of hooligans, but that seemed to be their approach, and so we continued mushing down the Venice streets and boardwalk.

To the police’s credit, the officers were reasonably cool about the chaos we created. As I understand it, last year the Santa Monica police arrested people and actually went as far as impounding people’s carts, which I’m sure no one went back to claim. This year they just tried to intimidate us a bit without actually taking anyone on; I imagine if they had tried to enforce anything, it would have produced more problems than we were already creating. That said, I thought the police helicopter that followed us overhead throughout was excessive and hysterical.

Perhaps in homage to sled dogs, everyone finished the race at the local dog park, where we took over and quite conspicuously gorged ourselves on alcohol. It was like being at a giant frat party with Jager, bags of wine, and keg stands.

The police surrounded and monitored us, but let us congregate and drink in the dog park for nearly an hour before finally shutting us down, which someone taped:

Just as it was ending, I went to greet my friends from high school, Bill and Briel, who caught up with us after the race. After giving them both hugs, I was about to assure them that I wasn’t that drunk (which I sincerely believed) because it was understandably weird for sober people to meet up with a few hundred severely intoxicated people when I walked backwards into a cement block on the ground and fell over flat on my back. Whoops.

I fell two more times that day, once on the beach, and the other time while I was quickly pushing Allison, seated in the cart, down the boardwalk for some post-race shenanigans when I lost control of the cart and accidentally tipped it over, dumping out all of its contents, including Allison, which caused quite a scene for passersby. That one really hurt later, too.

Overall it was the perfect afternoon of frivolous diversion.

EXTRA: I found Steven Larson's blog, which features this crazy picture on his site (I posed for that, I guess?):
As well as one of Jessica grabbing Allison's butt, haha...
He has an extended gallery if you'd like to see a ton of photos from the festivities.


The World's Best Excuse

As a former teacher, I've heard so many funny excuses that I didn't think someone could give an excuse that could phase me anymore. I was wrong.

Erica had to back out of plans this past weekend because... drumroll please... she had to teach CPR to the blind.

Immediately, I laughed. It's simultaneously unbelievable yet credible. It's such a bizarre task that it can't be phony. Her job gives her a bunch of random assignments, most of which do not cater to blind people. Once previously, however, Erica gave a lecture to the blind on disaster preparedness and stressed the importance of having extra batteries on hand for their flashlights before realizing that "it's always dark for them."

In spite of its challenges, it is an exciting job nonetheless. In fact, I would put it at the top of my resume. I suggested that Erica teach the class naked, and no one would be the wiser. Plus, she could probably pet the guide dogs while no one was looking. (Hehehe. Are blind jokes tacky or just short-sighted?)

Though the job was legitimate for Erica, considering the task is noble, challenging, and amusing, I am now adopting it as my go-to excuse.
Late to meet a friend? "Sorry, I was teaching the blind CPR."
Invited to an event you'd rather not attend? "As much as I'd love to, I'll be teaching CPR to the blind that night."
Owe someone money? "I'll get that to you right after I teach CPR to the blind."

But what do you do if you have car trouble and are late to work? "I was teaching the blind CRP" would work great, except in the case of Erica, who discovered a flat tire in the morning that caused her to be late to work. "I had a flat tire" doesn't sound nearly as exciting as the best excuse ever, but I'm not sure how credible it would sound to say, "Sorry I'm late to this blind CPR class, because I was teaching other blind people CPR."

I realize that this post isn't my best, but I'm rushing through it, because I'm about to teach CPR to the blind.


The Most Popular Dyke at School

Lindsay has a common lament: "I'll never be the most popular girl at school." When we go to the lesbian karaoke bar, she amends it to, "I'll never be the most popular dyke at school." It's meant to be funny, but it's also true. As much as we go to the bar, we're not in the thick of the social scene. Mainly, we sing our songs and people watch. Admittedly, we ostracize ourselves further by always sitting in the back corner of the bar because that's where the empty seats are.

We're not popular, but that's not to say that we don't have some fans, Lindsay in particular. Lindsay is cute, young, and talented, so the bar's older lesbian clientele is largely smitten. One of Lindsay's admirers is Bev, a white-haired lady with a lot of character who actually hit on Lindsay since the very first time she came to the bar.

Bev is not Bev's real name. It's Beth, but every time the karaoke jockey says it, it sounds like she's saying Bev, so we always assumed that that was her real name until one week on her birthday when we noticed that the cards were addressed to "Beth." By this point, we were so used to calling her Bev, we decided not to correct ourselves, continuing to refer to her as Bev, even occasionally to her face. Once, Bev dedicated a song to Lindsay, but called her "Leslie," which might be the funniest thing ever. We're still not sure whether Bev caught on to us calling her by the wrong name and played the joke right back on us, or if she had it wrong entirely, thus justifying our own actions. Either way: Bev + Leslie = Love 4eva

This past week, after Lindsay and I sang a duet, "A Whole New World," Bev approached us and told us that she almost cried during our song. Wha...? It's Aladdin, it's meant to be cheesy, not a tearjerker. We sit back down in our corner for a couple of minutes before Bev returns with some woman who's femme-y yet covered with tattoos and sounds like Debbie Harry when she sings. They asked us to come sit with them.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is, in fact, huge. Imagine that you are the nerdy kid who sits alone in the school cafeteria and one day a couple of the most popular kids ask you to join them. That's what it felt like, and we didn't want to blow the opportunity. We followed them to what can best be described as the bar's "cool" table. We were introduced to and hobnobbed with the fellow lesbian elite. It was surreal.

Immediately, Bev bought us drinks. Let's be honest: I was just kind of there, they all wanted Lindsay's attention. But if I get treated to drinks, too, I'm completely content. At one point, Bev grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me out to the back parking lot for a surprise. I honestly had no idea what to expect. It turned out she wanted to offer me illegal drugs. Oh, crazy Bev.

I went inside, sang a song, and then was approached by a man who wanted me to participate in a different kind of illegal activity... he wanted me to buy some bootlegged DVDs. I felt bad for the guy because none of the bar's other patrons were considering his offer, even though he ran a fairly good hustle. I told him not to feel bad because the ladies here don't pay much attention to the men for anything and agreed to look at his selection out at his car. Kindly, Greg, who had joined us by this point, watched from the doorway to make sure I was okay. He just wanted to make sure that I actually knew what I was doing and making good decisions by following a strange (emphasis on strange, no less) man to his car, which I appreciate. Primarily out of sympathy, I agreed to buy a DVD, but then he said that he had forgotten the DVDs at home, at which point I found the whole "transaction" a bit dubious and ran inside to avoid him.

Greg had his own fans, however. After he serenaded the crowd with some Bob Marley, he gained a couple of admirers who told Lindsay that they'd buy us all shots if he'd sing some George Michael. He soon did an awesome rendition of "Careless Whisper," followed by a round of shots.

As the night came to a close, we bid farewell to our new lesbian friends. Someone asked for my phone number, and when I hesitated, they asked whether having Lindsay's phone number was as good as contacting me. I assured them that it was, mainly to avoid calls from people I hardly knew or, you know, purposely refer to by the wrong name. Mainly I was surprised to find that they had already obtained Lindsay's number. I give it another couple weeks, Lindsay, and you will be the most popular dyke at school.


A Family Portrait

"Quick, let's take a family photo.  Everyone on the couch.  Well, everyone except you, grandma.  You are old and feeble and make us feel sad.  We want a presentable representation of our family.  You know, you could go back to the kitchen and cook for us instead, that would be nice.  Okay, everyone smile.  Go ahead and spread your legs, Susie.  It's not ladylike, but you might as well get away with it while you can.  Plus, it might distract from my haircut."  

(Photo found at a BART station in San Francisco.)


The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks

My social life isn't all it used to be, so I'm considering joining my local Elks club. Ahem, I mean the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks.

If I can prove I am a god-fearing US citizen (take that, you silly fence hoppers) and am willing to undergo an "indoctrination program" along with my spouse, I just might be approved to participate in their secret activities, which, according to their events calendar, seems to consist mainly of eating, bingo, and karaoke.

As if that were not enough, I'd also get to hobnob with these esteemed elks:

(In order: Leading Knight, Inner Guard, Lecturing Knight, Secretary, Tiler, Treasurer, Esquire, Chaplain)

I'm not sure how long it takes to get a title, but I plan to dream big and go for for EXALTED RULER:

Look at that bling!  Who's with me?



Try as I might, I'm not as funny as Zach Galifianakis. Here's three quotes from his stand-up act that cause me to quiver with laughter.

"At what age do you tell a highway it was adopted? I think around seven because they start thinking, 'I don't look like the Kiwanis club.'"

"I hate to be gross, but the only time it's good to yell out 'I have diarrhea' is when you're playing Scrabble -- because it's worth a shit load of points."

"My grandma treats me like a rock star. I guess that's why she lets me sign her tits. It takes forever... because I use a pencil."


The Defective Doll That Actually Ate Meggie's Hair

In 1996, Mattel introduced the Cabbage Patch Kids’ Snacktime Kid, a doll whose gimmick was its motorized mouth, which allowed it to “eat.” In some ways, you have to give Mattel credit: the Snacktime Kid countered the typical unrealistic body images that other dolls portrayed by being a chubby baby that showed kids it was fun to eat. On the other hand, you can’t give it too much credit because it turned out that the doll was dangerous and ate kids’ hair. This story was all over the media at the time, and after the indiscriminately masticating infants injured a handful of children, Mattel had no choice but to remove them from the shelves and offer refunds to everyone who had already purchased them.

By chance in 2003, I found a Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kid at a thrift store. For just a couple of dollars, I knew I needed to purchase it. Firstly, it might be quite valuable – since the doll was recalled, it had to at least be a rare collector’s item. Secondly, I always figured that the media reports on the doll were exaggerated to make an amusing story or win lawsuits, and this would give me the opportunity to see if the doll really did have the taste for human flesh. Content to be a new father, I named the doll “Baby Gray Davis,” its namesake the (then recently) similarly recalled Governor of California, which led to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s takeover via special election.

Immediately, I wanted to test out the doll’s risk factor, but my hair wasn’t long enough and none of my friends were dumb enough to volunteer. Instead, we fed Baby Gray Davis crumpled up pieces of paper, which the doll would chew, then “poop” out into a backpack that was attached. Once that got boring, we let it nibble on our fingers, which unfortunately didn’t hurt much. Still not satisfied, we stripped it naked (let’s just say that its representation of the digestive system is not the only part that’s not anatomically correct) and watched it gag as we fed Baby Gray Davis its own underwear. Interestingly, inside the underwear we actually found a plastic pretzel, a piece of “food” that had come with the doll in its original packaging. The previous owner must have thought it’d be funny to stuff the doll’s crotch with a pretzel rod… and they were right.

Baby Gray Davis merrily munched on the pretzel, but it was no fun watching it eat something it was designed to devour, so the next day, I decided to execute a real hair-eating experiment. I chose my friend Meggie as the test subject because she had beautiful, long, thick hair. The only problem was that she didn’t see it coming – literally. As she walked down the hall, I crept up behind an unsuspecting Meggie, grabbed a few strands of her hair, and placed them into the doll’s mouth. The doll start chewing on Meggie’s locks before she could even react.

“What are you doing?” Meggie yelled, so I jumped back, letting go of the doll. Alas, the doll had already successfully chomped down on Meggie’s hair, so the ten-pound baby dangled from her head. All the while, Baby Gray Davis kept on chewing more and more hair while Meggie struggled to remove it from the baby’s mouth without ripping it out of her scalp. Meanwhile, even as Meggie cried for help, I was laughing so hard that I had to hold on to the wall to regain my composure. Yeah, I’m an asshole.

Both the chewing and the weight of the baby hanging from her hair were so painful that Meggie had to lay down on the ground right where she was in an effort to make it stop. By this point, the screaming and laughter had attracted the crowd, so several people came to aid with the situation. Still, Baby Gray Davis had resolve and refused to let go of Meggie’s hair. Each time someone tried to yank the hair out, it seemed to only enable the doll to get a better grip on the strands and chew them down further, the hair entangled in the motor.

That is when we realized that the doll’s fatal flaw was that you couldn’t make it stop. The Snacktime Kid didn’t come with an off switch; as long as something was in its mouth, the motor kept on whirring, trying to eat whatever was in its path. Altogether, I think it took more than ten minutes after Meggie hit the ground for us to carefully extricate her hair from the doll’s mouth without ripping too much of it off.

The experiment was a success, if you’d like to call it that. Those dolls really are evil, and I am too, I guess. I swear that I did it in the name of science… or maybe just mischief. Meggie ultimately proved to be a good sport about the whole incident, though I can’t say I blame her for finding it more traumatizing and less hilarious than I did.

I never pulled that stunt again, though I did have another friend who (willingly) agreed to try breastfeeding the doll. She found the experience “pleasurable.” Click here to see the photo – WARNING - kind of NSFW.

Here’s a dramatic video that shows another Snacktime Kid in action:

Oh, and in an ideal world in which dolls don’t turn evil and eat children, this commercial for the Snacktime Kid shows how the product was designed to be used: