Friday, August 28, 2009

CI #16 -- Bad People

Flipping back and forth between Letterman and "Conan" (still not comfortable with calling it "The Tonight Show") last night, I realized that the most interesting part of the New Late Night Comedy Wars is not the comedy itself but rather the guest booking. In this category I think Letterman has clearly been winning very recently, but last night it was a dreadful tie.

There was Mike Tyson on Conan for this new documentary and Rachel Ray on Letterman for having had some sort of cyst removed. I have to admit I've always been amused by Mike Tyson. But he's best enjoyed when taken out of context and cut into a montage that is so absurd you kind of trick yourself into believing A) that did not just happen and B) he is not an actual human being, and therefore gets some kind of pass.

I'm not a huge fan of Rachel Ray these days either (her segment failed to change my mind), and so that led to the curious question "Who is the less bad person, Mike Tyson or Rachel Ray?"

I decided to tackle this with a classic con/con analysis. Here's the breakdown. (Click on the picture if it's hard to read.)

And after all this I'm still undecided, but I think we all learned a little something in the process

Thursday, August 27, 2009

CI #15 -- Grape Jelly

Plain old grape jelly. We pretty much take it for granted. Perhaps that's because it's most commonly found on sandwiches alongside peanut butter or on English muffins if you're fancy, or simply English.

But what happens when a mundane, everyday object like grape jelly appears in an unusual or interesting place? It gets elevated to a whole new level and suddenly becomes a lot more exciting. Like cheese, for instance. On a plate, it's cool but no big deal. On some dude's head, it means "I'm at this Packers game, and I came to party!"

A situation just like this recently presented itself to me when Katie and I were watching TV. She was eating a PB&J sandwich when, all of a sudden, a glob of jelly fell out of the sandwich and onto her chest. She was wearing a V-neck shirt, and it landed north of a "crevasse," if you know what I'm sayin' but was definitely bordering interesting territory. And Katie, always the courteous Earth-dweller, had decided to forgo a napkin. Needless to say, we had ourselves a quandary.

I silently began to think "Oh man. What should I do? Should I... Dare I lick it off? That's not usually my style, but then again..." And then I realized that the question "Should I lick grape jelly off my girlfriend's chest?" is really like asking oneself (cq) "Hey Greg, do you enjoy being alive? Or do you just want to go ahead and start the painful countdown to your ultimate demise?"

So I licked it off and we kept watching TV.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CI #14 -- No-nonsense Equestrianism

Let's say you like to ride horses. You've been an avid equestrian for quite a while, perhaps since you were a wee tot. It's stress relief for you. You'll trot around your prairie/dell/meadow, maybe check in on the fox hunt, but not necessarily participate. You don't see much need for showy galloping without proper cause (or proper attire), but you'll canter. Oh boy, will you canter. You most certainly will not, however, ride bareback or even think about shouting "Woo doggie, ride 'em cowboy!!!"

In colloquial terms, when you're in the saddle, you're all bidness. So, (cq) what kind of literature is available for you, the no-nonsense equestrian?

Who says print is dead?

Monday, August 24, 2009

CI #27 -- My Appointment With Death

I found this pamphlet on the windshield of a car down the street from me. Presumably, its goal was to get me to consider the end of my days, and I did. But what I didn't realize was how hilarious this pamphlet would be.

If you do indeed believe you have an appointment with death, is it possible to have a sense of humor about said appointment with death?" The answer is a resounding and apparent yes, at least with respect to the clever prose of Harold S. Martin. Consider the following:

- [Ed. note: Ever hear the one about] the man who said to his wife, 'Begorra, I wish I knew where I was going to die. If I knew that, I'd never go there."

Woody Allen, I know you're Jewish, but eat your heart out. On second thought, that's all the more reason to eat your heart out.

CI #12 -- Steel Balls

In case you've ever wondered (cq) "What do steel balls do?"

They lock it solid. ... Raise your hand if you got it right.

The picture is from the box of my bike lock, which incidentally is heavier than my bike. In all honesty, this is perhaps the least curious of the Curious Items because it's all laid out there for you, really.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

CI #11 -- True Blood (via "Mine," Season 1 Episode 3)

In discussions with friends yesterday, we decided that Pirate was the new Ninja; Viking was an interesting flash-in-the-pan; and Bacon, which has already become passe, is the new Pirate. And all of these things are bad for you, except perhaps certain ninjas, like American ones.

Notice anything missing? ... Yes, of course: Vampire, which is so hot right now in a different way. And that leads me to the first and only episode of True Blood I've seen.

I won't attempt to make any kind of evaluation of the series as a whole. One thing I know for sure though is that if I do watch another episode, this one will determine how I view it.

Consider the following exchange, taking place between the ultimate star-crossed lovers, Southern Belle "Sookie" (Anna Paquin), who can for some reason read people's minds, and Vampire "Bill" (Stephen Moyer), who has startled her by showing up all vampire-y and unexpected on her porch:

Sookie: Why can't I hear your thoughts? ... (long pause) Do you
have any thoughts?

Bill: Oh, I have thoughts. Many lifetimes of thoughts.

Now I admittedly know very little about vampires. I've never seen any version of "Dracula" all the way through, never read the novel, and never read or seen any of the "Twilight" series. I've never even had so much as a bowl of Count Chocula. Still, I find it hard to believe that the burning question on anyone's mind was ever (cq) "Do Vampires have thoughts?"

They have to, right? If they don't, they're reduced to shark-like robots. "Oh, look there's a juicy human I want it wait I can't I'm full oh look there's a juicy human oh wait that's the one I just decided I couldn't suck on, speaking of suck on, I'd sure like to suck on some human, oh wait, it's daytime I should wait until later, but while I wait, I'd love to enjoy some nice, fresh blood and oh, seriously? I've seen this episode of Family Guy like a million times..." and so on.

Okay, so those were still thoughts. But that's my point exactly. I'm not saying you're bad, True Blood, but you've made an irreversible first impression for the entire series.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

CI #10 -- Healthcare ClusterF#&!

Editor's note: The following opinions, views and statements expressed by Greg Volk do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views and statements expressed by Greg Volk. Oh, and also, I plan to "tackle" issues like this here very rarely.

One thing I think we all can agree on about the "Health Care Reform Debate" is that no one really knows what the hell is going on.

But here are some takes on what has become most expensive and most depressing Circus since Roy got mauled (and had to go the hospital! Full. Circle. People.)

- Medicare -- Isn't it already socialized medicine, except we've chosen to cover only the elderly? (Yes.) Extending those kind of benefits (whether a good idea or not -- arguable, of course.) to other citizens is, at the very least, a logical progression, right? (Yes.)

Do people who enjoy Medicare benefits already get to complain about "socialized medicine"? No, regardless of the number of guns they own, unless they acknowledge that what they're getting is already a version of socialized medicine or sign a contractual waiver saying they don't want it anymore.

-"Death Panels" -- Why would we want to let the government determine how we end our lives? Aren't health insurance companies, which fight tooth and nail to avoid coverage at all costs already doing this? (Yes.) Plus, as I "understand" it (and I use that word lightly), the goal of what has been misnamed a "death panel" is to streamline and improve care before it gets to the "vegetable" stage (sorry), and to promote living wills. It's hard to control your emotions enough to make a sensible decision about the end of your life when even controlling your tongue is difficult (I imagine).

- The Daunting Umbrella Of Socialized Medicine. ... (Shh... we already have it, even aside from Medicare.) And it's the worst system of any industrialized nation. How is this the case, you might ask? The outrageous premiums and co-pays maintained by the insured currently subsidize the "ER" -style care of the uninsured.

You are already paying for someone else's (albeit terrible) medical care -- through your rising premiums, through the rising premium your employer pays for you (making the company less likely to offer you a raise or cover you at all), and, of course, through plain old Tax Dollars that go to the existing government health plans.

Hospitals are businesses, and they probably should be. But just because someone showing up at the E.R. to be treated for a deep-fried turkey explosion doesn't have insurance doesn't mean the hospital can decide to pay less in rent. They've got to make it up somewhere.

- That snake-like thingy with wings that you keep seeing. What is that snake-like thingy I keep seeing? A caduceus.

It's a Greek snake-like thingy that's used to symbolize medical care.

- Politicians. Why aren't politicians on all sides -- hell, any side -- clearly expressing these points (assuming I've raised any valid ones)? Beats the pre-existing condition out of me.

If I've missed the mark on simply identifying any of this, please compose a heartfelt comment, then save it as a draft and keep it to yourself. (I kid.)

Second Editor's Note: If there were more straightforward opinions in this post or more references to Adlai Stevenson, I would have just "gone on a rant here." And I'd be sorry.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Curious Item #9 -- Apples

I was recently informed that I've been using apples wrong. (And yes, I do meaning "using.")

I've been eating an average of one a day for decades, and to hear this after all this time is unsettling. It's challenging my worldview, quite frankly.

Here's what happened:

I go to a produce stand to pick up four or five of my usual go-to fruits, red delicious. I select the best ones, put them in a bag and take them up to the counter.

I put them down on the counter. And the guy at the register looks down at the apples, then back up at me, and says "Uhh, what do you eat those or something?!"

"Umm, yeah." But more importantly, (cq) what do YOU do with apples?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Curious Item #8 -- Terrorists' Hatred of Americans

Terrorists hatred of Americans doesn't get nearly the play in news coverage that it used to. And like Ron Livingston says in Swingers, after a while you kind of miss that pain (or at least the things people would attribute to otherwise nondescript "terrorists").

Don't get me wrong. This is a good thing. I'm incredibly thankful our country has managed thus far to avoid another 9/11. And to you brave men, women and bomb-sniffing robots who've helped achieve this, I am forever indebted.

We also haven't seen much from Osama Bin Laden in a while (also a good thing), though another threatening audio tape from him did surface in June. Speaking of, yes, it is scary. But also, it raises the question, why is this guy still using tapes? (bonus CQ!) How threatening/powerful can he be if the basic, digital power of the PC eludes him and his support staff?

Yet, the fact remains (I'm sure) that he continues to represent a dangerous and hateful sect of people -- people who hate us for who we are, what we are and where we are. And some of that will never change.

So, (CQ) why do terrorists (or any foreign group of people really) continue to hate us? I believe it's because of this.

We, the richest and most powerful nation of the past two centuries, built a symbolic room in a symbolic residence and said "You know what? We don't need right angles." How's that for bull-headed Americanism.

We can't figure out how the pyramids were built, but who cares? We're awesome, and we're going to eschew millennia of conventional construction and design knowledge. Just throw it out the elliptical-shaped window.

No wonder people think we're assholes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Curious Item #6 -- Tupelo Honey

K* and I are both big fans of Van Morrison (if you don’t know who K* is, then I’m surprised you found this blog). We occasionally find ourselves involved in inane discussions of mundane things.

Frequently, it’s me just talking and K* indulging me, but there are some topics that get us both excited. And one of them is the meaning of Van Morrison’s song “Tupelo Honey.” Specifically, this passage:

You can take all the tea in China

Put it in a big brown bag for me

Sail it right around the seven oceans

Drop it smack dab in the middle of the deep blue sea

Because she's as sweet as tupelo honey

So, (CQ) what the hell is Van Morrison talking about?

K* inteprets it like this: The song’s character is a powerful man, a tea mogul perhaps (can you imagine how much all the tea in China would be worth?! Probably, like a lot.) And he’s saying, you know, I can have any worldly possession and do whatever I want, but none of that matters much because what I really want is you and your sweet, sweet love.

Now I interpret it like this: The song’s character has imagined a scenario wherein he’s turned all of the world’s oceans into one giant cup of tea. He did dump all the tea in China into the ocean, after all. And what he’s saying is that she’s so sweet, so incredibly saccharine, that she can still sufficiently sweeten this world-sized cup of tea (by jumping into it presumably). Now that, my friends, is sweet. (And, might I add, she has yet to be found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Powerful stuff.)

(Imagine all of the blue stuff as tea. Crazy, right?!)

What do you think? The more I think about it now, I think K* may just be indulging me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Curious Item #6 -- Natural Male Enhancement that actually works!!!

I was watching a commercial for a natural male enhancement product the other day. I think it was Maxoderm (does it matter)? There was a creepy short guy dancing in the background who had clearly gained so much confidence through the use of their product that he was determined to show her just how enhanced he was -- whether she liked it or not. For added effect, he was biting his lip while he grinded (ground?) on her.

After minutes of endless searching, my fingers working feverishly like a master artisan, I was forced to admit defeat to the Internet. I couldn't find that particular commercial. But I did learn that actor Ron Rogell has posted his starring role as an aspiring rapist on his Myspace page.

You don't really have to watch that. You've already seen it. But you do have to know this. (CQ) What are the odds that a guy from a Maxoderm commercial has Nickelback on his MySpace playlist? 100%.

P.S. Nothing will ever beat Steve Martin's product.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Curious Item #5 -- Yoga

I've never tried yoga, though I probably should. But (CQ) if yoga's such an intense, total body workout, then what do you do afterward? Stretch a little more mildly?

Also, how the F@^* do they do that?!

Curious Item #4 -- Citibank's New Business Model

I won't pretend to know what the hell happened with our economy last year (though I have, with the help of alcohol, pretended like I did before). But I do know that Citi was right up there with the worst of the banks, hedge funds and fantasy leagues who essentially made stupid bets and then made bad side bets on those bad bets. If you want to hear people who know what they're talking about explain it, check out the Giant Pool of Money episode of TAL.

So now that Citi has received billions dollars in federal money and somehow posted a 1st quarter profit, how have they changed their business? Curious Question: What is Citi's new business model?

Answer: Envelopes. Lots of them. All of which I've received in about the past 6 weeks.

No, I do not want another credit card. Nor do I want to use this helpful balance transfer check to take the vacation I deserve, renovate my kitchen, or buy a jet ski. Okay, I do actually. Jet skis are kickass. But that's so 2007.

Curious Item #3 -- The 'Donate your car' Billboard

Anyone who frequents the highways of the greater Tri-State area (or infrequents them, even) has probably seen this billboard. I first saw it from the window of a casino bus on the way to Atlantic City, probably somewhere around Elizabeth, NJ.

I find the billboard somewhat confusing, but there's one thing I'm sure about: This stereotypically cute little girl is exclaiming "Oh NO-ohhh!" (for proper reading, start on a root note of "Oh," go up a major 5th to "NO" and down a major 3rd to "ohhh.") She's expressing the kind of wonderment/slight dismay kids experience when a froggy (or perhaps a bunny) they wanted to touch hops away at the last second. But I don't think that's what's happening here.

Here's my Curious Question: What is she Oh NO-ohhh-ing about? So these "Outreach Center" people (which is probably the worst name for any organization ever. What are they outreaching to or for?) want you to donate your car. And they've wisely placed this ad on the highway, prompting people to consider having their broken-down car towed away as a donation instead of paying to fix it.

But is she Oh No-ohhh-ing about her own family's broken down car? ... "I know! Dad, instead of fixing the transmission, maybe we can donate our car to a family with a less-cute kid."

And what happens with the car, and how does it help kids? And is she a kid in need or just a cute image to draw you in to show you how, with a little help, cute children in need can become?

What I would hope is that these cars go to the children themselves. Seems only fair that kids in need of so many other things would get their own, personal free car (there IS justice in this world). What I would assume, however, is that the cars go to families in need (and therefore children in need).

Nope. In fact, turns out the cars are sold, and the proceeds go to help the children in some sort of undefined outreach-y way. I'm calling bobo on that. You, Outreach Center, will not be getting my non-existent car.

Curious Item #2 -- The Female Anatomy

I was walking down Bedford Avenue yesterday and stopped to check out some used books being sold on the street. After acting like I was considering buying some Nietzsche (or was it Kant?), another book caught my eye.

It prompted this Curious Question: How much do I NOT know about the female orgasm?

Answer: A lot. 503 pages of knowledge in fact.

Look at that friggin' tome! (I'm pretty sure that sentence has never been written before). You really went for it, didn't you, Seymour?!

To answer the questions you may be asking yourselves: No, I did not buy it, but I did peruse it. If the book's goal was to turn me off from learning about the female orgasm, it all but succeeded.