Sunday, November 30, 2008

Top Five People Whose Real Names I Never Knew

5. Elmo

Elmo was a bartender at Vernon’s Bar and Grill, a place I used to hang out at many years ago. I never found out his real name, but learned everyone called him that because he was from a small town called Elmo, Texas.

4. Rebel

Rebel was a cocktail waitress at another Dallas bar where I used to hang out called the Wild Turkey. I can’t be sure Rebel was not her real name, but I’m giving her parents the benefit of the doubt.

3. Hookah Man

Let’s just say I only met him a couple times in college when we ran out of plastic sandwich bags. He always seem to have some on hand.

2. Hillbilly

I worked with Hillbilly one summer during college when I did roofing. The name fit and I never heard him called anything else.

1. Fatboy

Fatboy and I worked at that same roofing job with Hillbilly, and he drove the whole crew to the job site in him mom’s Dodge Aspen station wagon because he was the only one with a valid drivers license and not on probation.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Street Talk

“How ya’ doin’?”

It kind of caught us off-guard while we were locking the bikes to the parking meters in front of the Polish bakery. Maybe the Wolfman Jack tone of his voice added to the surprise. We looked up and saw an older black guy ambling along the sidewalk in a matching velour sweatsuit and carrying a shiny cane.

“Good, how’re you?" I replied.

“Looking good, looking good. Bottom line – you look good.”

We weren’t even wearing matching team jerseys. But we looked good. Bottom line.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Annual Leper Pop Thanksgiving Post

I'm thankful for conversations like these which have recently led to the following statements in the F'er household:

At no point is it ever good to put garlic in your vagina.

Sometimes I think about saving the world, but I’m just not sure it’s feasible.

I just don’t want to do it with a drunk lesbian.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Borderline

It was a dark and stormy night as the rented generic white Chevy, chosen for its inconspicuousness, rolled toward the Canadian border at midnight. I was the driver and I focused on my breathing, working to control any physiological signals that could prompt the border patrol to pull me aside for a more thorough inspection. My passport sat on the center console and I simultaneously grabbed it while powering down the window through which I would pass it to the agent manning this border oasis.

“What are you doing up here?”
“I’m here on business.”
“Where?”
“Seattle.” Crap. My first blunder.
“So what are you doing up here?”
“Just came out early to check out Vancouver for the weekend.”
He was buying it. “You have relatives or friends there?”
“No.”
“Where are you staying?”
“Holiday Inn, North Vancouver.”
“Awesome. You know I hear Shania has stayed there.”
“Oh, I know. Why do you think I booked it?”
“Party on, brother, and have a good time.”
He was ready to return my passport and then pulled it back.
“You don’t have any weapons, do you?”
“Not unless you count these fists.”
“Just make sure they’re only used in self-defense, Grasshopper.”
“Noted.”

My hands, indeed, remained relaxed throughout the weekend. The folks of both Vancouver and North Vancouver were very Canadian, yet receptive of their visiting neighbor from the south. After approximately 60 hours it was time to head back to take care of business, so I tossed my duffel bag in the trunk and my backpack on the passenger seat and made my way back to the nurturing bosom of my homeland.

I rolled up to the border and found it much more crowded at noon than at midnight, with the overhead signs indicating a 30-minute wait. While spending my last minutes idling in the great white north I noticed that about 90% of the cars in line displayed Canadian license plates. I sat smugly in my US licensed vehicle, US passport in hand, waiting for my turn to be waved into my homeland.

As I got closer I spotted a sign notifying us that all fruits, vegetables and meats must be declared. My heart started to race as I remembered the two apples and two bananas in the bag on the front seat. I considered quickly wolfing them down, but had nowhere to dispose of the core and peel evidence. The line moved forward and suddenly I was before two uniformed border agents.

“Where’s your car?”
What kind of stupid question is that, I thought. I’m friggin’ driving it, genius. Of course, my actual response was a dumbfounded, “What?” as I handed over my passport.

“Where’s your car,” he repeated, as if repeating it made it any less stupid. Then I realized he was trained to spot rental vehicles amidst a fleet of generic, supposedly inconspicuous Chevys. I suppose that’s because rental vehicles arouse suspicion, as I obviously would not use my own personal car to make a political statement by blowing it up at a US-Canadian border crossing.

“In Chicago.” Since he was so interested, I considered telling him that it was really my wife’s car, even though it’s in both our names, but I take the train or ride my bike to work every day and really don’t have a use for a car on a daily basis, but even if she didn’t need the car I still probably would have chosen to fly into Seattle and drive from there rather than make a half continental road trip out of it.

“So what were you doing in Canada?”
Jeez, none of your goddam business, dude, I just wanted to drink some cheap Molson and get a free prostate exam.

“I have a meeting in Seattle this week, so came out a few days early to check out Vancouver.”

“What did you think?”
I think it’s not worth the hassle of trying to get back into my own country, Chief. Now how about giving me back my passport so I can let you get back to checking out these shifty Canucks in line behind me.

“Pretty nice, got in some good hiking.”

“Take some good pictures?”
Are you fucking serious? Does my passport say Ansel Adams or are you trying to trick me into saying I was really up there getting some Canadian kiddie porn?

Yeppers.”

“What did I tell you about ‘yeppers’?”

“I don’t remember.”

“I told you not to say it. When are you going back?”
WTF, you going to arrange for a car to take me from my hotel to the airport? Or did you just want to try to get together for a beer?

“Wednesday.”

“Turn off the car for me and pop the trunk.” His partner went around back to look for dead hookers or back bacon. Or both. Your best Canadian hitmen know that back bacon is often used to cover up the odor of dead hookers.

“Give me the keys.”
Crap. That’s it, I’m going to end up in Guantanamo Bay in an orange jumpsuit and nothing but some prayer beads and a copy of the Qur’an for the rest of my life.

“Are you bringing back anything purchased during your visit?”

“I have a couple apples and bananas – hope that’s not a problem.” I was totally screwed. I prepared to be waterboarded.

The ruckus coming from the trunk area intensified. The back door opened and I was waiting for the drug sniffing dogs to discover the meth stash that porter working for Hertz stuck under the floor mat when his shift supervisor surprised him last week. Instead the agent had finished his examination of the trunk and was now searching under the back seat like a jealous girlfriend looking for a pair of unfamiliar panties. Then the passenger door opened and I told him, “Gas, grass, or ass, buddy, nobody rides for free.”

Well, I said it in my head. He didn’t look like the joking type and he pounded on the dashboard as if it were a soda machine that had just stolen his quarter. Fortunately, no hookahs fell out and he finally seemed satisfied with his vehicular molestation.

His buddy, still in possession of my keys and passport, seemed to run out of small talk and reluctantly turned them back over to me, obviously unaware of my unpaid parking ticket from back in 1990 and my activities during that night in Memphis in November of 1996. But I digress.

I finally got waved through and gave the Mrs. a call to relate my traumatic experience.

“You have a goatee, probably haven’t shaved all weekend, and I bet you’re wearing your bank robber hat and sunglasses, aren’t you?”

“….. yes.”

“Well, of course they inspected your car.”

Screw you guys, I’m going back to Canada where I’m welcome.

Here is what they did to my normally well-organized bag.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Grindcore

Because it was there.

I took advantage of a business meeting in Seattle by flying out the weekend before to head up Vancouver way and get down with some Canucks and freebase some back bacon. Unfortunately, my timing kind of sucked – it was too early to ski or snowboard and too rainy to hit the mountain bike trails. And although the US dollar is recovering a bit, those Canadian hookers are still on the high side.

Instead, I packed my hiking boots and decided to do some line dancing in Calgary. Or hiking in North Vancouver. Yeah, that sounds better.

I did some research and determined I should check out Lynn Canyon and Grouse Mountain. Lynn Canyon supposedly had a suspension bridge, a cool creek and some decent trails. Grouse Mountain had The Grind, slutty teenage girls and Romanian prostitutes. Oh, sorry, that’s myspace.

My plane touched down quite nicely late Friday night at 9 pm. I got my rental car and after putting on my tire chains I started north. I checked into my hotel a little after midnight and on the lobby wall was a picture of none other than my hero Shania Twain, celebrating her stay at that very hotel in 2003. I could barely sleep knowing that I could be sharing a bed with her. I was hoping they hadn’t changed the sheets in the last five years. Eventually I dozed off with images of her Any Man of Mine video dancing through my head.

I arose refreshed and downed my protein shake (not a euphemism) mixed with the new dark chocolate raspberry flavored frappacino. It was raining, but Shania had inspired me to conquer the Grouse Grind that day and not even a rabid Eskimo could stop me.

The Grind
is a trail that goes straight up the side of Grouse Mountain. It gains 2,800 feet over a short 1.8 miles. As a point of reference, the mighty Sears Tower is 1,450 feet tall. So it would be like putting a rickety wood ladder up against the Sears Tower and climbing to the top. Twice. In the rain. While juggling, doing a tap dance and singing the Catalina Magdalena Lupensteiner Wallabeiner song. But I digress.

There are numerous accounts of people having to be rescued each year while attempting the climb. Mostly overweight men in halter-tops and stripper shoes bringing along a 40 of Olde English Ale for hydration. Told you Canada is a weird place. I had planned ahead and was wearing my moisture-wicking halter-top base layer under my waterproof shell and ditched my stripper shoes for my hiking boots. I notified the local press that I would be attempting to break the trail record of 24 minutes and 22 seconds in case they wanted to cover it live or interview me at the top.

After what seemed like an hour of hiking, burning legs and a maxed out heart rate, I saw a sign indicating the ¼ point. I checked my watch and saw it had only been 20 minutes. I considered setting up a base camp and taking on the rest the following day, but my hotel room was already paid for and I forgot the bring the blueprints for a lean-to shelter so I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.

During this leg, I continued to get passed regularly by other hikers. Including a man carrying a baby on his back. I was moving as if I were carrying an imaginary refrigerator on my back. Not one of those mini dorm room fridges, but a nice stainless steel Viking side-by-side fridge with an ice dispenser and built-in plasma television. Eventually, I saw the ½ point marker. I found a log and had a seat before my heart, pounding as fast and loud as a bass drum at a Slayer concert, gave out in a wet, messy sort of explosion. As hikers continued to approach and pass me, I sucked in a deep breath and offered a pleasant “good morning” so as not to alarm them with my distress. After about 10 minutes, I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.

During this leg, my butt became number than a sub with a spanking fetish and my neck cramped from looking up to the trail ahead. Hikers continued to pass, including a couple women who looked like they stepped out of a Mop n’ Glo commercial and a man about the same age as John McCain. I tried not to become discouraged as I was positive I must have missed the ¾ point marker. Unfortunately, about 10 minutes later I came upon the said ¾ marker, and made another pit stop where dementia began setting in and I started to strip off my clothes and sing Celine Dion songs. This prompted an attack by a flock of nearby grouse (hence the name of the mountain), and I was sent scrambling for my clothes and abandoned my set list. I ventured upward. As promised, it got steeper.

Surprisingly, the last ¼ didn’t seem as long or painful. Same thing I used to hear from sex partners. Finally, I emerged from the trail and onto a paved driveway circling the lodge at the top of the mountain. I cried a bit. Because I accidentally shot myself in the eye with the pepper spray I was carrying to fend off bears. After it wore off, I spent a half hour wandering the trails and exhibits and enjoying the best view of Vancouver from anywhere on the North Shore.



Realizing that rolling down the mountain side is probably not the safest or most effective method to get back down, they sell one-way tickets back down on the tram for a mere $5 Canadian. I think that’s something like $1.23 US so I took them up on their offer and enjoyed the ride back to the parking lot below.

My time was 1 hour, 20 minutes. I only missed the record by 56 minutes. Fortunately, the press was busy covering a girl scout cookie sale that day and didn’t show up for my failed attempt. But I’ll get the record next time.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Un-Universal Healthcare

Saturday Morning, 8:14 a.m.

Sid: I think I need to go to the hospital.

Mrs: Why, what's wrong?

Sid: I'm exhausted.

Mrs: You don't need to go to the hospital.

Sid: But famous people check into the hospital for exhaustion.

Mrs: You're not famous. Get your ass out of bed.


Three years of medical school and she thinks she knows everything.

The Narwhal Exposed

If you have ever been swimming in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, and afterward you felt as if you had just visited a proctologist, chances are you had an encounter with a narwhal. The narwhal is a medium sized whale (for reference purposes, a blue whale would be a large sized whale, and Rush Limbaugh would be a small sized whale) usually found in Arctic regions of the oceans.

When you look at a narwhal, the first thing you'll notice is that it has no arms or legs. The next thing you'll figure out is that the narwhal is wet, as it lives in water. For those of you with keen senses of observation, you will be able to identify the narwhal's most distinguishing feature - its single tusk. The tusk is actually a tooth, one of only two teeth the narwhal sports (this characteristic leads some naturalists believe that the narwhal's origin is Arkansas).

For reasons not entirely understood, the left tooth of the male narwhal grows to colossal proportions; up to ten feet in some cases. That's a big tooth. Every now and then a female will don an elongated tooth, but it doesn't grow as large as the average male's tusk. These are probably the feminist narwhals, who have become increasingly predominant in the narwhalian government. Some experts believe the purpose of the gargantuan tooth is to break ice for breathing holes. But, they use their bulbous heads for that. Others believe that the tusk is used to fend off predators, but the tusk is too fragile and would break off in any kind of skirmish, leaving the narwhal not only prone to being eaten, but really embarrassed. The most popular theory is that male narwhals use the tusk as an aid to establish dominance in battles over females. It is a similar concept to the sword fighting that occurs in high school locker rooms between teenage boys. That is all bunk, of course, because it is obvious that the primary use of the narwhal tusk is billiards.

As with most animals that have hard things growing out of them, the narwhal is a favorite target of humans. Humans just can't get enough of ripping tusks off animals like narwhals and elephants to carve useless knickknacks out of them. Consequently, narwhal populations have dwindled, but not to the point of sanctioned endangerment (but give us time). It's not that I mind the merciless killing of helpless animals - it's all the damn knickknacks. They're everywhere. Knick knack paddy whack, give the dog a bone, this old narwhal needs dentures now (except that he's dead). People should buy stuff they can actually use. And if they absolutely need some bric-a-brac, they can carve them out of bones of dead relatives. It's a great way to promote family unity.

Narwhals weigh between one and two tons. Their diet consists of mostly squid, crabs, shrimp and fish. That does not say much for you fish eaters out there who think you are keeping the weight off by eating seafood. Better start eating some burgers before your left tooth starts growing. Narwhals measure about thirteen to sixteen feet long. Their appearance is similar to that of the Beluga whale (except for that crazy tooth), with whom they can be found swimming together. Neither of these traveling buddies have dorsal fins. That could explain why they choose to hang out with each other, since the other dorsal-finned whales tend to ridicule them. "Hey, Beluga, where's your dorsal fin? Doesn't your mommy let you where one? Are you not whale enough to grow one? Your back looks like that of a land dwelling mammal. You LANDLUBBER! You, too, Narwhal!"

The scientific name of the narwhal is Monodon monoceros, which means "one tooth, one horn". They should be called Monodon huge monodon, since, as we know, the horn is actually a tooth. This single horn-like appearance has sparked some people to refer to the narwhal as the "unicorn of the sea". I think it's safe to say that it is the "unicorn of the world' until somebody comes up with evidence that a horse-like unicorn ever existed. The narwhal gets little respect from most special interest groups. Once exception to that are the Inuit people of Canada and Greenland. They call the narwhal "Qilalugat tugaliit", which means "as far as whales go, you are our favorite." Although they seldom refer to the narwhal by its full name since nobody is exactly sure how to pronounce the "Q" sound without the corresponding "u". So, they use the affectionate nickname of "Boner".

Narwhals live approximately 50 years, barring "higher species" intervention. They follow the philosophy coined by The Who: "I hope I die before I get old." No worries about social security in the narwhal camp. For this reason, their economy has always been strong. Like other whales, they communicate with each other using pulses and clicks. There are about 25,000 to 45,000 narwhals out there, so it is unlikely that you'll meet one walking down the street. Even if you did, you probably wouldn't be able to understand what it was saying to you. But, if you do meet one, and he wants you to give him a ride in your convertible, don't put the top up. Sometimes they get a little "sword-happy" with those tusks, and you won't know that when he says, "Pulse, pulse, click, pulse, click, click" that he's actually saying, "Hey, look, I'm Zorro!". There goes your rag top.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

America's Hat

Canada is a weird place.

At least BC. At least that part between the US border and North Vancouver.

First, after bribing the border patrol with a sixer of Elsinore I started my drive to penetrate their proud land. I quickly encountered some flashing yellow lights on a sign about ½ a block before an intersection warning me to get ready to stop because the light was aboot to turn yellow. Serious? Isn’t that what a yellow light already is? That’s like ordering cheese on your grilled cheese sandwich.

Then, while still in my car, I next encountered a flashing green traffic signal. I could only assume it means to step on it, which makes sense since everyone seems to drive the speed limit or less and could probably use some encouragement to pick up the pace.

Speaking of speed limits, they’re posted in km/h. My car had those listed on the speedometer, but they were printed very tiny in a color called “nearly invisible especially at night”. So I used the rule of thumb to take the km/h and multiply by 6.2 (rounded down to 6). So if the posted speed limit was 50 km/h, then that would be 300 mph. Hmm. That seems high. So I just divided by pi (again rounded down to 3 to be safe). Yes, 100 mph. Unfortunately it was difficult to maintain that speed since most of the native drivers were barely going 30 mph.

To make matters worse, pedestrians seem to expect drivers to yield to them. I can tell you that several of them won’t be making that mistake again.

I had to refuel and gas was only $0.98. I was shocked to discover that my rental Cobalt had a 49 gallon tank. It barely looked 13 gallons.

Speaking of money, they have a bunch of coins instead of paper currency. So you go into a store, pick up a couple dollars worth of back bacon, hand over a $10 bill and get back a handful of coins. So now instead of just sticking a bunch of bills that weigh about the same as a piece of paper the size of a paper bill, you have to lug around a pocketful of coins. I wish I’d have known so I could have brought along my medieval coin bag.

Judging from the languages on the signs, Canada also appears to have a problem with illegal immigration. Except instead of accommodating Mexicans with Spanish signs like the US offers, Canada places French on their signs until they can build that wall along their border to keep the French from illegally entering. Although I heard from many Canadians who would prefer to look the other way since the French take low-paying skate sharpening jobs that might otherwise go unfilled or possibly increase the cost of those services.

Okay, there were a couple cool things. First of all is that every restaurant, bar, school, church, firehouse, doghouse, homeless shelter, barn, library, jail cell, strip club, bus stop, gym, and hiking trail has a high-def, big-screen television broadcasting a hockey game.

And finally, Red Bull gets it. In the US, they just talked us into mixing it with vodka so we could stay up all night to maximize our drinking. In Canada, they take it to the next level by suggesting that after some Red Bull and vodkas it’s a good idea to don some skates and participate in a little competition called Crashed Ice.



I only hope it makes it as part of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eating at the Honeyhole

Last month I found myself in Seattle on a Thursday night (not in an existential kind of way, just physically there hanging out) and had an evening to myself, during which I would need to find some suitable grub. Since I found myself on a flight back to Seattle last night, I figure I need to finally post my story from the last trip. I had already done the touristy crap on Tuesday, done the fancy business dinner crap on Wednesday, so decided I’d try to find something a little more off the beaten track. Someone had recommended the Capitol Hill area, so I hopped in my rented Pontiac SUV (I can’t remember the model, but it kind of sounded like an STD) with a map, an iPhone and the name of a place I had found on Yelp. I lucked out and found a parking spot right in the heart of the district and went to track down a joint named Quinn’s. They had a menu that featured stuff like bone marrow and wild boar, and hey, who doesn’t appreciate a heaping serving of bone marrow on a Thursday night.

But when I came upon the place it was all like new and shiny and shit and packed full of trendy folks. Even the bar area was full. So I kept walking. I found some hole-in-wall Asian joints, a couple Italian joints, some dive bars, sandwich shops and a pita place, but nothing reached out and grabbed me. As I approached what I perceived as the end of the district, I walked past a sex toy shop, a lingerie shop and a place called the Honeyhole. Given its locale I figured it must be a massage parlor or house of ill repute, possibly a strip club at best. Since I prefer to keep my name out of the police blotter and my nose out of strange cleavage I didn’t pay much attention to the storefront. I wandered back up the other side of the block and found some hole-in-wall Asian joints, a couple Italian joints, some dive bars, sandwich shops and a pita place, but nothing reached out and grabbed me. It seemed like a good area to do some drinkin’ but I had trouble picking out a place to stuff my face. I found an abandoned doorway and consulted the iPhone. And surprisingly one of the recommendations was the Honeyhole. Apparently it’s a bar with pretty decent sandwiches, so I made my way back to that end of the block.

I peeked in the window like a creepy homeless dude and saw some tables, mostly occupied, and a small bar with an open stool. I yelled “dibs” though the window, ran inside and claimed my piece of real estate belly side of the bar. The bartender somehow was able to be both attentive and disinterested at the same time. As opposed to the waitress who was just plain disinterested once her table of friends left.

I probably should have been a little more self-conscious since I think I was the only one there without a neck tattoo or with someone sporting a neck tattoo. Great place for people watching, which is probably just another way of saying I was the creepy old guy staring at everybody. Fortunately, I was able to divert my gaze to the d├ęcor quite often as it was quite eclectic. Picture it as if Pee-Wee Herman were raised by the Addams Family and got to decorate his own room using only items found at an Asian flea market on the Canadian border.

The pulled pork sandwich wasn’t bad, either, cooked up by an indie cutie who occasionally poked her bescarfed head out from behind the curtain separating the kitchen from the bar. Probably checking me out. You know, the creepy guy at the end of the bar.

As soon as I get my neck tattoo, I’m heading back.

Friday, November 14, 2008

None Shall Pass

And the oppression continues – all in the name of security. The terrorists, and all bad people in general, are winning. We, the humble, good-hearted, decent citizens of the world are shackled by restrictions set forth by the paranoid rule makers, who are not so much concerned with our security or well being, so they may affirm, as they are girding themselves from being stolen from or criticized or sued. From the shaming personal space probing interrogation at airports to the infuriating blow-torch-requiring cd and dvd unwrapping struggle, our lives have become a battered polished ball in a pinball game of fear and absurdity. Woe is the talisman of abstract paranoia amidst a retention pond of wrangling. Do not heed the presage of byzantine scallywags set forth for foraging - forsaken, forlorn and formidable. Let oysters reel in a gouge of contempt. The plain obscured. Among the flippers, bumpers, plungers and slingshots are the passwords required to access the ever growing colossus of essential on-line systems in our lives – email, consumer accounts, chat rooms, CIA backdoor entrances, sex offender registrations, job related systems, bank account access, personal web sites, proprietary plastic surgery landscaping options, address databases, private blogs, education sites, and the rest, here ON GILLIGAN’S ISLAAAAAAAAAAANNNNND. Apparently we each have a lot of information to protect from the groping eyes of others.

The Doctrine of Cool deems no use for passwords. If xe is cool, xe will not peep the skivvies of others unless said peeping be permitted by the skivvy bearer. Since the Doctrine of Cool has not yet manifested itself in concrete form, it has no bearing here. Why even bring it up? I’ll tell you why, because I’m slowly writing the Doctrine of Cool in snippets strewn about the Internet, which I eventually will compile and publish while lounging on my death bed.

I don’t know the vast history of passwords. I can only speak to my experience. Passwords began as simple words or phrases that were memorable to the user, like booger. Everything was wonderful – the users’ information was protected by booger. Eventually the assholic principle of entropy kicked in, (Inconvenience = Number of Assholes times Time divided by the Steady State of Wonderfulness, or I = NA*T/SSW) when assholes throughout the world had enough time to figure out people’s passwords. This drove paranoid rule makers to invent the mandatory periodic password change. The assholes caught up quickly so we had to create more intricate passwords, like booger1, and change them constantly like a newborn after eating a pureed burrito. This pattern spiraled out of control, degrading the meaningful password generation process to a banshee of incommode.

Recently, I was instructed by the words on my computer monitor to change the password I have for a system I pretend to work on at by job. Since this is the month of November, I changed my password from booger1008 to booger1108. In response to my attempt, the words on my monitor screamed, “I THINK NOT!” I was provided a list of password creating rules to which I must adhere, else not be able to fake work in a convincing manner. Below are the rules of my password bondage:


Your password must:

have at least 8 character(s)!

not be longer than 12 characters!

have upper and lower case characters!

have no more than 8 upper-case letter(s)!

have no more than 8 lower-case letter(s)!

have at least 2 letter(s)!

have a leading letter!

have at least 1 digit(s)!

not contain a dictionary word!

not contain an exact dictionary word match!

not be your username!

not be your username backwards!

not contain your username!

not contain your username backwards!

not be your username with the letters rearranged!

not be an old password!

have no more than 1 pair(s) of repeating characters!

not have 3 occurences of the same character!

not contain three or more consecutive characters from the login ID!

I fell asleep three times while reading the list. When I finally got through it, I tried using “Joshua” as my new password, hoping the security programmers were fans of War Games and let that one go, on a lark. Nope. They’re probably Short Circuit fans. Losers. In order to come up with a valid password, I had to take off my socks, haul out my abacus and dig up my alphabetic See ‘n Say. I still couldn’t come up with a valid password. They were kind enough to offer some suggestions, like k#D9i_p&. Ordinarily, I would have thought, there’s no way I’m going to remember that! Luckily, I was drunk last week and got k#D9i_p& tattooed on the ball of my foot. That’s fine for this month, but what about next month, when I’ll have to change the password again? I can’t keep getting drunk and getting tattooed. Or can I? Naaaah.

As convoluted as these password rules are, there are some interesting features. It’s basically a behavior study in people’s password choosing habits. Nobody likes coming up with new passwords, especially in this Nurse Ratched environment of security, so they’ll take as may shortcuts as possible – reusing words, respelling words, using the username, repeating the same letter (ffffffffffff), etc. I am proud of this outpouring of laziness. It’s good to know I am not the only one. Also, why is there an exclamation point after each rule? Are they yelling at me? Did somebody in the password rule meeting think, “We better put an exclamation point at the end of each one so they know we mean business!”? I guess the suggestion to place “It better fuckin’” in front of each rule (as in “It better fuckin’ not contain a dictionary word!”) didn’t make the cut. Speaking of the dictionary word rule, the words, “I”, “a”, “an”, “it”, “in”, “me” and others are all in the dictionary. Does that mean I can’t use those? I tested it and I can! E(at_Me!3 worked! So there, password Nazis! Do you know what else is in the dictionary? The word booger. They caught that one, however. Damn. Evidently, those exclamation points aren’t as stern as they appear. Or, maybe they intentionally mislead me with that rule so I wouldn’t try eating Saganaki until the flame was put out. It seems to work as well as the banana in Ernie’s ear keeping alligators away from Sesame Street. And I haven’t burned my face since they made the rule. I’ll let that one go.

Eventually we’ll be expected to use foreign languages in our passwords, and the assholes will catch up to that. Then we’ll be expected to invent our own languages for the passwords. The assholes will follow suit. We’ll create new fonts and characters. The assholes will figure them out. Do you see where this is going? Eventually we’ll get back around to being able to use booger, only using machine language, with sounds and smells thrown in. Then, and only then, will we be safe from the bad people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Morphine Drip, Please

I was at the hospital today for some appointments and the most painful part of my visit was having to watch both Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus on Good Morning America on every friggin' television in all three of my waiting rooms. There should be protection from such travesties under the Patient Bill of Rights.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama Rub Time Line

Most of you are aware that Barack Obama has been elected as the 44th president of the United States. What most of you don't know is that Barack and I have lived remarkably similar lives. We are about the same age. He is three years my senior, but I don't mind having given him a bit of a head start. It is hard to believe that our individual destinies have taken us to such disparate lots in life. Upon closer examination of our lives, one would think we would now be sharing the office of the presidency as the first ever Co-Presidents in American history. Somehow, it just did not work out that way.

To prove my point, without actually having one, I have composed a time line of our lives, using Barack's time line as determined by the Associated Press (11/8/08). I don't mind following his lead.

Read below to see which one of us screwed up and when.


Date

Barack Obama

Moist Rub

1961

Born on Aug. 4 in Honolulu.

Existed as protein molecules passed around a ranch in Wyoming to be eventually turned into sperm by father after eating a meatball sandwich in 1964. Subsequently fertilized mother’s ovum following a heated night of gin rummy (note: beat out that one sperm with the double flagellum).

1967

Moves to Indonesia with mother and stepfather.

Moves bowels in cloth diapers. Father forgets to change diapers for a few days while mother is away visiting relatives. Still has part of the rash to this day.

1971

Returns to Hawaii to live with maternal grandparents.

Discovers the wonderful world of game show television with programs like Password and The Newlywed Game, eventually leading to recurring infatuation with Brett Somers.

1979

Helps his high school basketball team win a state championship.

Experiences first of many knee injuries thus destroying potential hundred million dollar multi-sport athletic career.

1983

Graduates from Columbia University; works for a business research company.

Graduates from Amos Alonzo Stagg High School. Diploma withheld because Track and Field uniform was not turned in. Spends celebratory dinner at Mama Luigi’s sulking. Attends University of Illinois. Meets Sid F’er.

1985

Works as a community organizer in poor section of Chicago.

Drunk in college. Co-writes “Alan” and records it for posterity as guitarist for Leprosy (the world’s greatest band that was never meant to be).

1988

Enters Harvard Law School; graduates in 1991.

Is allowed to graduate from the University of Illinois. Currently encumbered from ever returning to school there because of some superficial arson charges.

1990

Becomes first black editor of prestigious Harvard Law Review.

Finally gets a “real job” for some soulless, profit gorging, conglomeration of quarterly fabrications.

1992

Runs Project Vote! which registers 150,000 new voters in Chicago; marries Michelle Robinson.

In a strategic move to secure a lifetime of free sex, marries Mrs. Rub.

1993

Joins law firm specializing in civil rights cases; becomes a lecturer at University of Chicago law school.

About a year after the birth of son, Rubson, determines that people should have to pass a test and become certified in order to become a parent, knowing full well he never would have passed.

1995

Publishes "Dreams from My Father," a well-reviewed memoir about growing up in America with an absent African father.

Spends most days waiting for friends to have kids, too. Sits at home while friends are out having fun.

1996

Elected an Illinois state senator.

Rubdaughter is born. Doesn’t realize it at the time, but it is the best thing that ever happened to him. Rubdaughter takes offense at being referred to as a “thing”.

1998

Daughter Malia is born.

After the first family dog, Emily, is killed in the infamous Mother’s Day Dog Killing Traffic Miscue, the family obtains Cammie, the second family dog, from a dog rescue in Bourbonnais, IL.

2000

Loses Democratic primary in Illinois' 1st Congressional District to incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush.

Celebrating the new millennium with a 7 year old and a 3 year old was not as much fun as Prince’s song promised. Nobody had a lion in a pocket.

2001

Daughter Sasha is born.

For some reason, the family needed another dog, so they went and got one while Moist lay in a hospital where medical personnel had to enter through an existing orifice to retrieve a kidney stone. Cailey, the dog, not the kidney stone, was welcomed to the family.

2002

Speaks out against invading Iraq.

Informed that services as a husband were no longer required. Released back into society as a gentleman bachelor.

2004

Delivers keynote address at Democratic convention; elected to U.S. Senate.

After being ridiculed for driving a 1989 Plymouth Reliant K car for two years, bought a 2002 Pontiac Aztek. This did not squelch the ridicule.

2006

Publishes "The Audacity of Hope," a book detailing his views on national affairs; his narration of "Dreams from My Father" wins a Grammy Award for best spoken album of 2005.

A year in to contributing to the award winning blog, Leper Pop, decides he has nothing better to do, so decides to continue wasting people’s time and clogging up the Internet.

2007

Launches presidential campaign; raises a record $100 million in campaign contributions.

Bored, takes up the hobby of letting his hair grow long.

Jan. 3, 2008

Wins Iowa Democratic caucuses; becomes the front-runner for the presidential nomination.

Still hung over from New Year’s Eve.

Feb. 10, 2008

"The Audacity of Hope" narration wins him a second Grammy.

Got drunk at Kowal’s Bar for friend’s birthday.

June 3, 2008

Locks up the Democratic presidential nomination.

Not much going on. Just a regular Tuesday. May have mowed the lawn.

Aug. 28, 2008

Accepts the presidential nomination at Democratic National Convention.

Irritated because Ugly Betty rerun pre-empted by some dumb political circus show. Curses the existence of George Will.

Nov. 4, 2008

Elected president.

Spent the evening watching election results. Didn’t see his name anywhere.



Eerie, isn't it?

Friday, November 07, 2008

London Bridge: An Interpretation

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

Take a key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up, my fair lady.

How will we build it up, build it up, build it up?
How will we build it up, my fair lady.

Build it up with silver and gold, silver and gold, silver and gold.
Build it up with silver and gold, my fair lady.

Gold and silver I have none, I have none, I have none.
Gold and silver I have none, my fair lady.

Build it up with needles and pins, needles and pins, needles and pins.
Build it up with needles and pins, my fair lady.

Pins and needles will bend and break, bend and break, bend and break.
Pins and needles will bend and break, my fair lady.

Build it up with wood and clay, wood and clay, wood and clay.
Build it up with wood and clay, my fair lady.

Wood and clay will wash away, wash away, wash away.
Wood and clay will wash away, my fair lady.

Build it up with stones so strong, stones so strong, stones so strong.
Build it up with stones so strong, my fair lady.

Stones so strong will last so long, last so long, last so long.
Stones so strong will last so long, my fair lady.

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.


The civic struggle portrayed in London Bridge is set in the Royal Victorian Court in the late nineteenth century. At the time, the London Bridge, some seventy years old, has begun to crumble, killing many horses and crushing numerous ornate hats. The latter sparked the ire of the Greater London Organization of Women (GLOW) (not to be confused with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). GLOW requested an audience with Queen Victoria and the residing Minister of Transport. London Bridge is a summarized transcript of that hearing.

The first order of business was to close down the bridge to ensure that further damage caused by the traffic of clopping hooves would not occur. This was the brainchild of the Minister of Transport (MOT) who suggested to "lock her up". Unknown to the queen and GLOW, this action was actually MOT's idea of a final solution to the problem. He thought that if they'd slap up a couple detour signs, after a few years, commuters would forget the bridge was ever there. His motive was to keep costs down, so that more of the Transport budget could be allocated to his private kipper fund. MOT's parsimony is evident throughout the verse.

GLOW's first suggestion is to repair the bridge using "silver and gold". The rationale here is that as long as the bridge needs fixing, they may as well make it look nice. It is not just any old bridge in town, it's THE London Bridge, gosh darn it! MOT claims that the Transport Department does not have "gold and silver" in its inventory of raw materials. What MOT does not mention is that he drives a Mercedes Bens carriage, and he owns a summer home in Martha's Vineyard.

Sensing MOT's frugality, GLOW sarcastically proposes that the bridge be reconstructed using "pins and needles". MOT, oblivious to the ridicule, promptly defeats the idea arguing that "Pins and needles will bend and break". Although it is not represented in the song, GLOW responds to MOT with a condescending "Do ya think so?"

Understanding that they will get nowhere unless they partially concede to MOT's thrift, GLOW suggests using the cheap materials of "wood and clay" which works well in the song since it rhymes so easily with MOT's retort "Wood and clay will wash away." True, wood and clay would wash away, but not if they used NAILS to hold the wood together and secure the clay. Since nails were not included in the proposal, MOT's position is vindicated.

Finally, GLOW reaches the obvious conclusion that as the bridge is constructed from stones, stones should be used in its renovation. Note GLOW's wisdom in this instance. They have the foresight to use the phrase "stones so strong" in the event that this method becomes ratified, it is in the public record that strong stones are demanded, knowing full well that MOT would attempt to apply feeble stones if given his druthers. MOT agrees to the stone approach, as he remembers that the forty thousand-acre farm he had recently purchased contains thousands of stones, and he would be able to sell them to the government for quite a profit.

So, the stone is passed. The queen is pleased and assigns a committee to research the best stones for the job. Bids are sent out to all the kingdom's contractors. But the bridge is never repaired as evidenced by the bearing presence of the last stanza.

After years and years of political positioning and filibustering, and after the death of millions of horses and the destruction of countless ornate hats, the issue resurfaces in Parliament in the late 1960's. The problem has grown more immediate with the advent of automated transportation. Restoration is no longer an option. The bridge has become an unwanted wart upon the face of London society. Parliament decrees to employ "garage sale" ideology - one man's garbage is another man's TV tray. The bridge is sold to an American who places it in the desert of Arizona. And that is where it remains.



***Note: some of you may remember this piece from a different web site I used to have. And you are probably wondering, "Why the hell did he re-post this crap?" And I tell you, Leper Pop is my personal living cyber memoir, and it makes me feel warm and squishy knowing my crap will live on the Internet long after I'm gone until Blogspot's servers are overwritten with Chinese propaganda in a few years. I'll be posting some of the other pieces from the prior web site in the near future. I apologize in advance.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Kick Babies, Too

I yelled at an old man today. And it was awesome.

Drivers sometimes forget that bikes are usually faster than cars in the city. Especially during rush hour. So it’s priceless to see the look on their face when you stick your head in their window to confront them about their assholery after they thought they left you in the gutter. Suddenly their anonymity is unexpectedly stripped and they’re sitting there like the clueless clod that just stole a foul ball from the grip of an 8 year-old kid at a ballgame. A captive audience until the light changes. I’m getting all warm and fuzzy again just thinking about it.

I only used one curse word and ended the convo with the classic, “Yeah, that’s what I thought,” instead of telling him where to stick his stank-ass cigar. Which is surprising restraint since that type of confrontation usually occurs under the influence of adrenaline and some hardcore hammering on the pedals to chase them down.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t one of those cute confused old men who like to drive through storefronts. It was one of them bastard old guys who think they can do whatever the hell they want because they have a Medicare card.

Well, they can’t. At least not in my bike lane.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Inferno

My polling place was Women's Workout World. When the polls opened we were led inside, and I finally got to see what was on the other side of that frosted glass that I ride past daily. It wasn't a bunch of supermodels in leotards and Princess Reeboks, occasionally stopping to french kiss after a good set on the Thighmaster as I imagined. It was just a bunch of normal looking women from the 'hood, dressed in sweatpants and t-shirts, knocking out some time on the cardio equipment at sunrise. Fair enough.

While waiting in line we were treated to the WWW early morning workout mix tape, consisting of disco hits such as Fly, Robin, Fly and Ring My Bell and Last Dance.

Later in the day I realized that perhaps I shouldn't vote before being fully awake - I'm pretty sure I wrote in Donna Summer for president.

Well, you can tell by the way I use my vote,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm,
I've been kicked around since I was born....

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's A Trick, Isn't It?

My trip to Canadia got canceled last minute. Which is good, because I'm not sure one should be flying on Halloween - how do you know that it's really a pilot flying the plane or just somebody dressed up as a pilot for Halloween? I wouldn't put it past those jokers on Southwest.