The Most Amazing Tan I've Ever Seen

On the first day of school my sophomore year, my Spanish teacher asked one of my peers whether he had spent much time at the beach during the summer.

"Yeah, I surfed most days," the student said.
"I knew it! I could tell!" the Spanish teacher celebrated. "You have the most amazing tan I've ever seen."

While his skin was remarkably tan, there was one problem… dark brown was his natural skin color. Year-round, even. An awkward silence fell over the room because most of us students knew that she got lucky with her beach guess and the tan was not temporary, but correcting her might make the kid feel even more uncomfortable.

When you're in a school district that's 95% white, mistakes like this do happen. I remember in elementary school, I had friends that were very plainly not Caucasian, but it never occurred to me that some of them were anything but white. With only a juvenile understanding of race, I figured people who acted like me and that I liked must be "white." Sure, they had really dark skin, but deep down, they must actually be white. In a way, I thought I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, which is all sorts of horrible, but the kind of notions a kid has to navigate through in a world of white privilege surrounded by limited diversity.

Occasionally, I think back to the incident and wonder at what point she realized his "tan" wasn't going away. Did it take a week, two weeks, maybe a month for humiliation to set in? Did it surprise her to discover that the kid who acted just like the others in an otherwise all-white class wasn't white after all?

If it makes anyone feel better, the Spanish teacher was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. But she was also a nice woman, so don't revel in it! Subconsciously whitewashing the people around her makes her ignorant, but taking pleasure in her getting cancer makes you an asshole… and that's probably worse.


Pullups Pillow

So there's a senior citizen passed out in my hallway using a bag of Huggies Pullups as a pillow. PARTY AT MY PLACE!

It's a long story, but for reasons I still don't understand, my roommate allowed his friend, his friend's wife, their 2 and 3-year old kids, and his father-in-law (see "grandpa" above) to have a vacation at our house for four days. So far they've gone to Disneyland and the beach… yet mysteriously, not a motel.

Simultaneously, my roommate has also invited people to crash here for Fuck Yeah Fest (a music festival in LA this weekend), which means there are drunk concert-goers also taking up space on the couches. I guess when there's not enough places for people to sleep, Grandpa winds up on the floor?

How does this situation even work? It arguably doesn't. We have the late 20s/early 30s degenerates boozing until 3am, and then just three hours later, the kids are awake, screaming and stomping around like children their age do. Plus, there's just one bathroom for all of us.

It's like Full House, but with fewer heartwarming moments.


Who Wants to Know?

When I karaoke (which is rare these days), I usually only choose songs I'm familiar with and know I won't embarrass myself on. But tonight, I saw RAY, JIMMY - ARE YOU JIMMY RAY? in the book and I got super excited and chose it on an impulse.

I pride myself on my 90s nostalgia, but "Are You Jimmy Ray?" is definitely one I've forgotten over the years. I don't know how I let it happen because it is so perfectly campy. Granted, I had trouble singing the song because I didn't remember the cadence other than the chorus, but it was worth it to have it reintroduced to my life.

My favorite lyric is "I've gotta let it out, something in my genes [pun alert!], ya come and take a walk with me if you're feeling dane-ja-rus", but obviously the backup vocalists trying to guess his name over and over is the bread and butter… surely, it's hard to miss the irony that people can't remember the name of this would-be one-hit-wonder.

Who wants to know, indeed! Well, actually, I want to know, as I'm kind of newly obsessed. Who IS Jimmy Ray, this gangly man with an oversized belt buckle I see in the video? According to Wikipedia, "The video juxtaposed Ray's rockabilly image with a trailer park setting as stereotypical "rap video" women in sports jerseys and football shorts danced provocatively behind him." That might be poorer writing than the song itself!

At 3am, I thought it would be a good idea to find Jimmy Ray on Twitter because he seems like someone who would be neglected enough to respond back to some cheeky comment I make, but alas, I could not find him. Rest assured, however, that I will be asking all strangers I encounter whether or not they are Jimmy Ray until I finally locate the man.


Stop and Smell the Flowers

I see an acquaintance of mine bending over in front of a giant flower pot twenty feet away from me, so I wave.
Her: I'm so embarrassed, I was hoping nobody would see me.
Me: Don't worry.
Her: I've been kind of sick lately with a cold...
Me: So your nose is clogged up?
Her: I guess?
Me: Well I thought it was cute.
Her: You thought it was cute? That I hawked a loogey?
Me: Uh, no, I thought you stopped to smell the flowers.
Her: Nope, I was spitting.
Me: Well, I can still pretend it was cute.

It's a wonder we haven't made the full jump to friends.



For over twenty years, I've sang the name "Arrrrrrrr-chimedes" to myself without really remembering why. I knew I must have picked it up somewhere, so I finally did some internet searching and rediscovered this gem.

Man, I forgot I even used to watch Square One. I'm tempted to say that I used to love "educational" tv, but that's not really accurate. I used to love tv period, and with only 4 or 5 channels to choose from in my formative years, PBS had to be your jam if you didn't want to have to… go play outside. ::shudders::

Though the chorus is catchy, I don't know about the quality of the song. They try to cram in so many facts about the mathematician without even staying on the beat. Honestly, I find it hard to follow as an adult, so I don't know what educational facts I took from it as kid, but I can be pretty confident that that mask used to scare me… mainly because that mask still scares me.

Other people commenting on this video say they've been humming the song for decades and are finally seeing it again for the first time. For once, I actually feel a kinship with YouTube commenters. Usually I'm not racist enough to hang, but these are just fellow former nerdy kids without cable who planned their play schedule around Mathnet.


Say Cheese

My sister posted this photo on Facebook and then texted me angrily a few hours later when I hadn't "liked" it. Will blogging it suffice, Alison?


10 Morbidly Funny Last Words from Executed Texans

A couple of months ago I wrote an article 10 Heartbreaking Last Words from Executed Texans. In order to compile the list, I read all of the final words from the 500 death row inmates, which ended up being an even more emotional experience than I anticipated.

In addition to reading words that shook me to the core, I also found a handful that were fairly funny. Not LOL hilarious, mind you, as these people were all seconds from death, but morbidly funny. If you can stomach dark comedy, here are 10 of my favorites:

10. "If there's anything I have left to say, it would be that I wish I had a Shakespearean vocabulary, but since I was raised in TDC [Texas Department of Corrections], I missed out." - Raymond Kinnamon

9. "I've been hanging around this popsicle stand way too long. Before I leave, I want to tell you all. When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I'm dead." - Douglas Roberts 

8. "I said I was going to tell a joke… Death has set me free! That's the biggest joke… And the other joke is 'I am not Patrick Bryan Knight and y'all can stop this execution now.'" - Patrick Knight

7. "Um, I don't know what to say. I don't know. [pauses] I didn't know anybody was there. Howdy!" - James Clark

6. "I gotta go, road dog. I love you, Gabby. [Remaining portion of statement omitted due to profanity.]" - Cameron Willingham

5. "You all brought me here to be executed, not to make a speech." - Charlie Livingston

4. "They are fixing to pump my veins with a lethal drug the American Veterinary Association won't even allow to be used on dogs… I am worse off than a dog." - Reginald Blanton

3. "The reason it took them so long is because they couldn't find a vein. You know how I hate needles… Tell the guys on Death Row that I'm not wearing a diaper." - Charles Nealy

2. "The last meal was really good. That is about it." - James Collier

1. "If I am paying my debt to society, I am due a rebate and a refund." - Billy Hughes Jr.

Okay, maybe these are still heartbreaking, too...


Two Movies, One Spoiler

A mostly silent and brooding Ryan Gosling is a transient who wears a flashy jacket and earns a living as a stunt rider. Unfortunately, he also uses his fast driving skills to commit crimes and evade police pursuit. It's not all bad, though, because he commits these crimes to provide for/protect the woman he loves and her son - even though the woman has a significant other. On top of that, Gosling's propensity to violently beat people gets him in even more trouble and he learns that turn about is fair play when he himself is attacked and winds up lying lifelessly on the concrete.

Drive or The Place Beyond the Pines?

Both. The answer is both. At least Drive has the decency to end the movie with Gosling's death, The Place Beyond the Pines is like "Do you have another two hours, by any chance? We'd like to bore you with Bradley Cooper now."

I'm just saying - it's a good thing the man is pretty or he'd be getting a lot more shit for playing the same role twice.


Call Me Asshat

I remember using the term "asshat" a bit back in 2001-2003, but the word had a short shelf life. In most cases, "douche" seems sufficient.

It reentered my life, however, when my former dodgeball team (the "patriotic" one) decided to rep even harder for our country by getting from a Top Gun Call Sign Generator. My teammates got cool nicknames: Catbird, Tank, Bruiser, Jams, Boomer, etc. Then I typed in my name:

Asshat. Bleeping Asshat! What kind of Top Gun name is Asshat?

Of course, my teammates thought this was hilarious, and chanted "Asshat! Asshat!" at the beginning of our game that night. As luck would have it, I had one of my best nights of dodgeball ever that. I was throwing, dodging, and especially catching far better than I normally play and even won us the game a couple of times. That gave people plenty of opportunity to cheer my new nickname As a teammate pointed out, if I had just an average night, the name probably would have been soon forgotten, but since everyone got so much practice cheering "Asshat!" that it was bound to stick.

And stick it has. Over a year later, people still call me that. It's gotten to the point where I don't actually cringe each time it's uttered, I actually find it mildly affectionate.

Yes, I am Asshat. Actually, that's Lieutenant Asshat to you!


Math Problems

To this day, I still feel guilty about some drama I caused in the 3rd grade.

3rd grade was the first year we switched teachers for math. Even at 8 or 9, you have a sense of which kids are "smarter" than the others, and it was hard to ignore the fact that I was in a class with most of them. Then when I realized we learning times tables well before any of the other classes, I thought, hmmm, this surely isn't as "random" as they want us to believe.

I figured if there was a high math class, then surely there was a low math class as well. I estimated the intelligence of the kids in the other three classes and ranked them accordingly. I was pretty sure my homeroom teacher had the dumb math class, not only since there were a couple obvious idiots in attendance, but because she would have me grade her students' math homework when I finished other assignments early.

Formulating these opinions about how less intelligent other people were made me a conceited shit, for sure. What made me a real troublemaking shit, however, was not keeping these thoughts to myself. I wanted to share our brilliance with the other people in our class, so I told them that we were in the smart math group. Then, to make some other people feel better, I matter-of-factly pointed out that they were in the 2nd highest math group. Still other kids got hurt by that, and I'd say "At least you're not in the low math group!" My class rankings became common gossip and soon everyone knew where they "stood." As you can imagine, the kids in the lowest class were teased a lot and I'm sure they lost confidence in their subtraction skills.

It got so bad that the teachers had to sit us down to talk about math class rankings. As they explained, the classes were all equal to each other and there was no low class. Apparently, those rankings that I concocted based on stereotyping weren't accurate after all. I was mortified that I was wrong and made people feel dumb (which I probably should have seen coming since I literally labeled them dumb) and didn't think it could get any worse…

Except that it did get worse when the teachers acknowledged that though there was no dumb class, there was a higher math class… and it was my class. As boastful as I was about it a week prior, let me assure you, my guilty conscience could not handle getting to be one of the "smart" ones after stirring up all this shit. I didn't feel like I deserved it.

I never got in trouble for this since the rumor was never traced back to me, but I can assure you that the math deities did get their revenge on me by high school when I couldn't figure out Calculus for the life of me and had to handwrite a plea on my final to "Please give me a C- or I won't be able to go to college." That was definitely a really proud moment for this self-proclaimed math wiz.


Shark Week

"If sharks get a week, white people should, too!" 
- some dumb guy somewhere, I imagine


Ted Steps Up

Yay, Ted! That's the spirit! Although to be fair, he's already been a pivotal figure for this blog since its inception.

Whether he's breaking calculators, getting cut off by an Olive Garden manager, playing AIDS charades, being registered on the internet as a child molester or just coming across as onelearning about nefarious composers, paying me a backhanded compliment, picking out cool dive bars, hiding my underwear, getting stalked by an old manrunning around in a cardboard box, or commemorating Emma James, it's all been worth Babbling about.

Anyway, I'd like to officially thank Ted for all of his contributions thus far and hope that he lives up to his promise to be even worse. If Ted can do it, what's everyone else's excuse?


My 8th Blogiversary

It all started on August 1, 2005. Who'dda thunk this blog would still be standing 8 years later? Someone really ought to have told me by now that blogs are supposed to be things that people update for a few months before getting bored and forgetting about them. For some reason, I keep babbling on, however. That's not to say I haven't thought of shutting this place down. But then I remember that I've already disgraced myself plenty, so there's no point in trying to save face now.

As tradition dictates, here is a countdown of some of the more memorable posts of the past year:

15. The time I invented a fake Spanish penpal/girlfriend
14. The time I tried to watch an old musical and was appalled
13. The time I exposed Santa Claus as a fraudulent fuck
12. The time the hunted was hunted… and I hunted them both
11. The time I procured art that Ashton Kutcher had commissioned of himself
10. The time I was really grateful I'm not black
  9. The time I celebrated my 30th birthday with R. Kelly
  8. The time I published a love poem to my sister
  7. The time local police warned us to stay "safe"
  6. The time I met a one-armed mime
  5. The time I spoiled all of the Oscar Best Picture nominees
  4. The time a homeless man peed inside my car 
  3. The time I said all the wrong things when my friend told me she was pregnant
  2. The time I became obsessed with javelin impalements and skull-crushing shot puts.
  1. The time we accidentally threw an offensive party when the Pope died

Maybe I can make it to 10 years? We'll see. For that to work out, I'll probably need some new/crazier friends. As the archives demonstrate, in earlier years, I used to get into a lot more antics, which provided me with ample material of my stupidity. Now that we're all old and shit, there's a lot less buffoonery. It makes for a more sensible life, but a less entertaining blog, certainly.

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