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26 June 2009 — Sushi Cam (4)

Here’s a fun video I discovered a couple of months ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t share it before. At a sushi bar in Japan, the dishes are served on a conveyer belt. Patrons take the food they want as it comes to them. Here, a young woman has placed her digital video camera on the conveyer to let it make its 7-1/2 minute trip through the restaurant. The result is strangely mesmerizing:

As I say, I watched this a few months ago, but dismissed it as a novelty. But I’ve thought about the video many times since. I love the way it captures so many small moments.

It’s enthralling.

Tags: Fun · YouTube  → 4 Comments

1 February 2009 — Saturday Morning (3)

On the way to book group last month, Kris and I stopped to pick up pastries at Marsee Bakery in Westmoreland. I found the following scene amusing:

Bakery Men

Five old men, all seated at the back of the store, each with a newspaper. (And you can see Kris reflected in the mirror…)

Tags: Daily Life · Fun · Portland  → 3 Comments

2 December 2008 — A Land Without Pleats or Cuffs (4)

Kris has been helping me pare my wardrobe from unwieldy to manageable. She’s not entirely pleased with some of the garments I’ve elected to keep, but she hasn’t been shy about voicing her opinion. Here’s an actual quote from a recent “discussion”:

What about these pants? These are heavily pleated. Why are we even keeping clothes that are ugly? They’re pleated and cuffed. They’re out of here!

I’m needling her, I know, but I really do appreciate the help. Though I once was keen to follow fashion, that is no longer the case. As most of my friends know, I dress for comfort and not for style. (Translation: sometimes I look like a slob.) Kris is helping me to find a happy middle ground — a middle ground without pleats or cuffs.

Tags: Daily Life · Friends and Family · Fun  → 4 Comments

1 November 2008 — I Lose: Beaten by The Boss (4)

I like Chicken Wings. I like Things That Are Hot. Doing a little addition, you might correctly conclude that I like Chicken Wings That Are Hot. Today, however, I discovered I don’t like all Chicken Wings That Are Hot.

For years, I’ve been proud of my ability to tolerate hot (spicy) foods. It’s not just that I’m Tough, but that others are Wimps. When I hear my friends complain about how spicy a certain salsa might be for example, I silently heap Scorn upon them. “Spicy? Hah!” I think. “I don’t detect even a bit of heat.” Yes, many of my friends are Wimps. They are not Tough like me. (Note: Jeremy is Tough. Jeff has some Toughness in him.)

So, it has become my habit to order my meals Hot (or Extra Hot, if the option is available) when I go to restaurants. My Thai curry? Hot! My Indian curry? Hot! Anything else that I could possibly get spicy? Hot! Please, very Hot!

Twice in the past, I’ve come close to defeat. Once while dining at the Bombay Cricket Club with Nick and Kris, I had a a dish that was really very Hot. But it was Tasty, and I was Tough. I emerged victorious. On another occasion, Andrew and I had Thai food at a little place north of Lloyd Center. My Mussman curry was almost too Hot. Almost. My gut burned inside for days, but I won. I won.

Today I went thrift-shopping with Kris and Tiffany. We started at the big Goodwill on 99E, just north of Powell. I picked up three books:

  • Watership Down, to loan to Rhonda and Mike
  • How Green Was My Valley, for book group
  • The Modern Library edition of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, which I’d never heard of before today

While the Gates women shopped, I sat on a couch and read about Bunnies. I was there a long time.

Interlude: I sat in a fuzzy easy chair in the Goodwill furniture department. Across from me was a set of almost Nice, almost Antique furniture: an ornate chair with a wooden frame (for lack of a better word), a matching settee, and a coffee table. The set was unusual in that the sittable items were labeled with signs that read: DO NOT SIT. Perhaps as a result of this (or perhaps because the items were almost Antique), nearly every adult (except the Gates women) and many children stopped to look at the price. It was an interesting social Experiment. My hypothesis was that if one were to remove the signs, nobody would have paid attention to the Ugly things, but because they were labeled DO NOT SIT, everyone stopped to look at the price. Or maybe everyone else just has Bad Taste.

“Would you like to go to lunch?” Kris asked as we paid for our purchases. She spent $41. Tiffany spent $41. I spent $6.

“Yes,” I said. I was hungry.

“Let’s go to Sully’s,” she said.

“No,” I said. “I’ll pay for lunch, but I’m picking.”

“Where are we going?” Kris said, but I did not answer. I was Mysterious.

“Where are we going to lunch?” asked Tiffany.

“I don’t know,” Kris said. “J.D. is being Mysterious.” And then she said, out of some Wifely Instinct, “I’ll bet we’re going to Fire on the Mountain.”

Ah, indeed we were. A restaurant devoted to Chicken Wings — could anything be more Lovely? Tiffany ordered Wings. I ordered Wings. Kris ordered Fish and Chips. For her sauce, Tiffany chose Sweet BBQ. For half of my Wings, I chose a delicious Lemon Pepper sauce. But for the other half, I chose El Jefe, a “Crazy Hot” sauce. I wasn’t worried. I sampled the latter before I ordered. I could handle it.


From the first bite, I knew that El Jefe was going to kick my Ass. My lips were on fire. The inside of my mouth burned like a Televangelist in the Afterlife. My eyes began to water. I gasped for air. Tiffany laughed.

“Do you want some ranch dressing?” she asked.

“No,” I gasped.

“He hates ranch dressing,” Kris said.

“I know,” said Tiffany, “but he looks like he’s going to cry.”

I felt like I was going to cry.

I ate one Crazy Hot Wing. I ate two. I ate three. On the fourth, I cut corners. I avoided much of the skin. My heart wasn’t in it. I picked up a fifth — and then I put it down.

“I lose,” I said. “El Jefe wins.”

It was a sad moment for me. All my life, I have been the victor. I have been Tough. I have not been a Wimp. But today? Today El Jefe kicked my Ass.

p.s. I paid for lunch. It cost $35. So, my total for the day was also $41.

Tags: Food & Drink · Fun · Personal History · Portland  → 4 Comments

3 September 2008 — My Wife Is Sometimes Wrong (3)

Toto vomited on the bed again today. She does this all the time.

It’s not so bad if we discover the hairball midday, but it’s kind of a pain if we don’t notice it until we’re ready for bed. This time was sort of in between. Kris happened to wander into the bedroom just after dinner, and from her loud cursing, I could tell what had happened.

Sometimes Toto manages to get the outermost layer of bedclothes, which is fine. But often — like tonight — she pukes all over the fitted sheet.

“Can you help me take the covers off?” Kris hollered down to me. I was writing at the kitchen table.

“In a few minutes,” I called back. “I’m in the middle of something.” I had spent all day trying to craft a rare personal-finance article about credit cards. I couldn’t find the right tone. I was frustrated.

I continued to write while Kris watched the Republican National Convention. Half an hour later, she came downstairs.

“Do you need help with the bed?” I asked.

“It’s too late,” she muttered. “I’ve already done it.” Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was carrying something in her arms. Oops.

Later, when it was time for bed, I went to the laundry room to fetch the sheet. It was dark, but I didn’t bother to turn on the light. The sheet was easy to spot amidst the socks and t-shirts. I also found a pillowcase. “Toto must have vomited on that, too,” I thought.

“Just one sheet and one pillowcase?” I asked Kris just to be certain.

“Yes,” she said. I went upstairs to make the bed.

When I got there, however, I noticed that both of my pillowcases were missing. (I sleep with two pillows, and have done so for most of my life: one for my head and one for my side.) I sighed and walked back to the laundry room to fetch the other one. I couldn’t complain, of course. If I’d helped Kris in the first place, I would have known how many pillowcases were in the dryer.

We made the bed. Kris fed the cats their bedtime treats. (Each cat gets three “greenies”, a sort of organic treat they love. Then they’re kicked out of the bedroom. Except on Cat Night. Cat Night occurs once or twice a week, and is a cause for much feline celebration. On that night, they’re allowed to sleep in the bedroom. Of course, during the summer it’s rare that all four cats are even ever in the house at the same time, even over night. Tonight, for example, Simon is outside and refuses to come when called.)

The bed made and the cats indulged, I went to my office to write.

“Aren’t you coming to bed?” Kris asked.

“I’m not done with tomorrow’s post,” I said. And I’m not. I can’t find the right tone, and I’m not sure if I should list specific credit cards. Hell — I’m not even sure I should cover credit cards at all. I’ve given them a wide berth so far.

“Oh,” Kris said sadly. Then she said, “Where’s my pillowcase?”

“What?” I asked.

“Where’s my pillowcase?” she said.

I got up from my desk and walked to the bedroom to gave her my best look of incredulity. Then I said, “When I asked you if there was just one sheet and one pillowcase, you told me yes.”

“I know,” she said.

“But then I came up here and I put that one pillowcase on my pillow, and I realized that you were wrong. My other pillow needed a pillowcase, too. So I walked back downstairs to fetch it.”

Kris realized what I was getting at. She started to laugh. I continued my lament: “And now you tell me there were actually three pillowcases in the laundry?” I let out a long, dramatic sigh and trudged downstairs.

“See how it is to live with you?” Kris called behind me as she continued to laugh. I confess that I laughed a little, too. Our roles in this sort of situation are usually reversed.

Now if only Kris could see how it is to live with her.

Disclaimer: I love my wife, and would not share these stories if I didn’t think they were fun.

Tags: Cats · Daily Life · Friends and Family · Fun · Funny  → 3 Comments

8 February 2008 — Pocket Pairs (2)

This one’s for all my poker-playing friends:

Poker’s a game I love to hate. It’s not just about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play them. I don’t do such a good job at playing them.

Tags: Fun · YouTube  → 2 Comments

As a reward to myself for paying off all my debt, I recently signed up for XM Satellite Radio. It’s awesome. I love the ability to listen to loads of music that matches my mood exactly.

My top channel is XM 44 — also known as “Fred” — which plays “alternative” music from 1978-1988. We didn’t call this alternative music back then. I don’t know what we called it. Some of it — Duran Duran and their New Wave kin — found wide airplay on the radio, but most of it — The Cure, New Order, early U2 — did not. The station is awesome.

I also like channel 84 — XM Chill — which plays chill-out music. (Chill-out music is basically mellow, light jazz (not “smooth” jazz) and electronic music.) The third station that sees heavy rotation is channel 4 — the 1940s station.

I still love early American popular music. Though my plans for a site devoted to the subject are on permanent vacation, I listen to recorded music from the 1890s to the 1940s all the time. XM Channel 4 plays mostly stuff from the 1940s, but sometimes squeezes in tunes from the 1930s or even the 1920s. It’s great.

Anyhow, the whole reason I’m telling you this is that they just played a 1949 song called “Happy New Year” by Spike Jones and His City Slickers. I’d never heard it before. According to some quick Googling, this was the B-side to the immensely popular “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”. The internet — this amazing series of tubes — actually yielded a version of the record being played on a 1956 Philco:

This song is hilarious. Enjoy!

Tags: Fun · Music · YouTube  → 1 Comment

21 December 2007 — Just a Joke (6)

Wow. I never thought the dead baby jokes would hit such a sore spot. I grew up listening to these, and so I just assumed everyone else had too. And like anything a person grows up with, I’m inured to the literal meaning of the stories and have learned to take them for what they are meant to represent. I apologize for those who found them distasteful.

By way of compensation, I’ve dug up some other jokes — some (mostly) non-offensive jokes — from a past entry.

Person 1: Knock knock.
Person 2: Who’s there?
Person 1: Control freak.
Person 1: Now you say “control freak who?”

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One turns to the other and says “Does this taste funny to you?”

A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The bus driver says: “That’s the ugliest baby that I’ve ever seen.” The woman goes to the rear of the bus and sits down, fuming. She says to a man next to her: “That driver just insulted me!” The man says: “You go right up there and tell him off — go ahead, I’ll hold your monkey for you.”

Why do ducks have flat feet?
To put out burning camp fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet?
To put out burning ducks.

Two atoms are leaving a bar when one realizes that he left his electrons back in the bar. His friend asks, “Are you sure?” “Yes,” he replies. “I’m positive!”

Q: Someone that knows three languages is trilingual. Someone that knows two languages is bilingual. So what do you call someone that only knows one language?
A: An American.

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says: “Calm down, I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.” There is a silence, then a gunshot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says: “OK, now what?”

Little Red riding Hood is walking through the forest on the way to see her grandmother. She sees the wolf crouching down beside the track. “What big eyes you have!” she says. “Get lost,” says the wolf, “I’m taking a crap.”

How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

And, finally, here’s one that Dana told to foldedspace readers way back when:

A mathematician, a biologist and a physicist are sitting in a street cafe watching people going in and coming out of the house on the other side of the street. First they see two people enter the house. Time passes. After a while they notice three people leave. “Well, look at that,” said the biologist. “They must have reproduced!” “No,” said the physicist, “the initial measurement wasn’t accurate.” “Well, I’ll tell you one thing,” said the mathematician. “If one more person enters, it’ll be empty!”

Funny stuff!

Tags: Fun  → 6 Comments

20 December 2007 — Dead Baby Jokes (30)

On a whim, we met Celeste & Nicki and Rhonda & Mike for dinner at Gino’s last night. It was a damn fine meal with damn fine friends. Gino’s can be hit-or-miss, and last night was definitely “hit”. The food was hot, the portions were enormous, and the conversation was hilarious.

The highlight of the evening wasn’t actually the clams, as one might expect, but a brief departure into Dead Baby Jokes. Kris loves Dead Baby Jokes, and I can’t say I disagree. She told our two favorite, and they had me gasping for air.

Q: What’s the difference between a truckload of bowling balls and a truckload of dead babies?
A: You can’t unload the bowling balls with a pitchfork.

Q: What’s sadder than a dead baby nailed to a tree.
A: A dead baby nailed to a puppy.

That last joke brought the house down. Or at least our little corner of it. “It’s hilarious on so many levels,” Kris said on our drive home. Just thinking about it made me laugh again.

I’ve been trying to decide what makes Dead Baby Jokes so funny. I think it’s because they’re just so wrong on so many levels. They violate taboo. They shock. They provide unexpected juxtapositions.

The real problem with Dead Baby Jokes is that they’re difficult to craft. There are thousands of these on the internet, and maybe one-percent of them are funny. Most are just dumb. Some go for intentional gross-out, which is not the same as humor. I can’t believe that of all the Dead Baby Jokes I’ve read, these are the only two that I really like, but it’s true.

The best way to generate new Dead Baby Jokes? Set the dingoes loose!

Bonus joke:

Q: What do vegetarian dingoes eat?
A: Cabbage patch kids.

Yeah, I know — it’s more of a groaner than a laugher, but still…

Tags: Fun · Kids · Odds and Ends  → 30 Comments

3 December 2007 — The Hottest Party (1)

Over the past month, Kris has developed a new hobby: dancing. She sort of mocked my obsession with Dance Dance Revolution at first, but it didn’t take long for her to push me aside and take over as Queen of the Dance.

As with other things we enjoy, we’ve become evangelists for this game. This is strange, I know, since it’s been around for year. But it’s new to us, and new to most of our friends. Now when we have company over, they’re generally required to dance for their supper.

Here, for example, are Nikki and Celeste just learning to play:

Poor Nikki has the lousy pad in that video, and it slips and slides beneath her. (Since then we’ve added a carpet pad, which prevents potentially dangerous spills.) At the end of our last book group discussion, we dragged people to dance. A formal dinner party is no excuse — even then we put our guests to the test.

Pierre and Mike get their groove on (photo by Amy Jo)

Rhonda reports that she is now stuck on the same song I am. In “groove circuit” mode, you’re able to unlock new venues and songs. But the difficulty level makes a mind-boggling leap with the song “Super Samurai” (or whatever it’s called) comes along. Kris and I have been practicing other songs, working from Basic level to Difficult. Each song is rated by a number of “bombs”. “Super Samurai” has six bombs — we’re able to do songs with four bombs.

I guess we’ll just have to dance some more.

Tags: Friends and Family · Fun  → 1 Comment