Thursday, December 29, 2005

Signing off

The Kev-man is out for 2005... May our efforts be prosperous, may our country be at peace, may our God's will be done, and may our liberals continue to be angry and irrelevant...

CHEERS and enjoy the bubbly!!!

See you in 2006!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Charitable?

So, I came upon a website dedicated to providing objective analysis of charities. Curious, I took a look at the groups that were involved in helping hurricane victims this year. Most of the 55 organizations highlighted received four star ratings, and were on the up and up. Samaritan's purse, for instance, devotes 90 cents on the dollar directly to the causes it supports (after administrative, fundraising and other fees). Nothing unexpected, until I looked at the bottom of the list, which features the NAACP.
This group devotes a mere 53 cents on the dollar to the efforts for which they receive donations. 1 percent of all donations go directly to CEO (and Senate candidate) Kwasi Mfume.

I guess the only colored people advanced by this organization are Mfume and his 17,000+ illegitimate kids.

Monday, December 26, 2005

New Year's Predictions

For all of those folks working through the holidays, howzabout a little peek into what next year has in store. A WHACKY peek that is...

My predictions...

1. Sugar prices will begin to rise as the effects of recent CAFTA legislation on government-imposed price controls turn out to be less dramatic than anticipated.

2. Will Smith will finally concede that it's really not turning out to be the "Willenium" he, and all of us, really, thought it would be. President Bush will be blamed.

3. The nation of Iran will loom as an ominous, yet enigmatic threat. The question of military action will come to the table sometime mid-summer.

4. Howard Dean will scare and confuse his audience at Harpwood elementary school when he announces that, in reality, he is a giant, blue uterus.

5. I will get married.

6. At the wedding ceremony, I will cause a scene...

7. No seriously, you people have no idea what I am capable of... It's gonna get weird.

8. Paris Hilton.

9. The much much-ballyhooed avain flu will arrive in the United States with a flourish, ending the lives of dozens of the elderly, and testing our nation's supply of Tamiflu.

10. Crap's gonna go down. Oh, yeah, it's all goin' down.

11. Not in Sweden, however, where nothing will go down at all... Or up, for that matter. Sweden's not going to make much of a dent in 2006, I'm afraid.

12. An earthquake will strike some poor nation. President Bush will be blamed.

13. Demagoguery.

14. The second wave of the "tech-boom" will continue, as industries hone their focus on strong business plans and synergistic marketing campaigns.

15. Small children will continue their love/hate relationship with electrical outlets.

16. Totally retro. Like, seriously, totally, retro man. That would be cool, if it meant to be retro, but 2006 will be retro unintentionally.

Enjoy your New Year folks! 2006 in the hizzle!

What? Yeah, Steve, I know the hizzle joke is old. It's just a cherry on top sort of thing. Oh, that's a nice tone, Steve, way to be encouraging. Are you going to usher in 2006 like you did 2005? Yeah, we're still cleaning up that stain. Oh, now you're quiet... Now you're quiet...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

College Football: Feel The Power!

Wednesday night is NBA night on ESPN. So, tonihgt I turn on my trusty television, tune in to ESPN, and find... The GMAC bowl, featuring Toledo Vs. The University of Texas El Paso. For non sports-fans, this is a bit like turning to ABC, expecting to see the latest episode of Lost, and getting 30 minutes of Donald Sutherland urinating on a wall.

Instead of a great NBA matchup, I get to watch the down-syndrome of sports, college football. Not only that, but the GMAC bowl features two teams who are 8-3. In other words, I am watching the 58th and 74th best teams in said sport square off in a battle over, well, nothing at all.

College football has no playoff. The championship is decided by a computer. Oh, sure, there's a "championship game:, the result of which the average person discovers about 3.5 years after it happens. The other games, and there are many, are essentially exhibition games, watched by grizzled old men who remember when real men didn't need helmets.

USC is a college football juggernaut. Did you know that? I didn't think so.

But hey, the University of Michigan, the team I would care about if they didn't lose their first game every season (see, if a college football team loses a game, it no longer has a chance to win the championship) get to play in the Mastercard bowl. They play against... Let me see... What the hell? Apparently my ultimate frisbee team is playing the Michigan Wolverines on Dec. 28th.

Crap, we'd better get ready...

The Problem With Irony




An officer at camp Fullajah sent a letter to a favorite magazine of mine; a portion of which read as follows:

Actually, there is much truth to the contention that the military draws from kids who don't benefit from the American system to nearly the degree of those kids who don't join up — and instead go to college on Daddy's dime to get drunk and laid. Nah, the military kids come from rural dots in the South, or from barrios in cities like Phoenix, L.A., and Chicago. They aren't full of irony and sarcasm, and don't cream their jeans in anticipation of the next Radiohead album — you get what I mean. They are proud to serve.

Ignorant assertions about the value of a college education aside, this brings up an interesting point. The educated young men of my generation (including, certainly, myself) are quickly becoming lost in a sea of irony. Thanks to the influence of marketing, which perpetually caters to men aged 18-34, our media is awash with entertainments that suit our needs.

So we see macabre shows like “The Family Guy”, which makes light of topics ranging from diarrhea and vomiting, to rape and pedophilia. We have commercials rife with pregnant pauses and non-sequitors. Savvy marketers have learned how to adopt our language of self-referential nihilism, while others try desperately, but fail (see McDonalds). Radiohead, our generation’s signature band, blends contemporary rock styling with a sequence of dissonant bleeps and bloops (other, more obscure bands, go even farther in this direction)

Ask your average 38 year old to endure a night of “adult swim”. Better yet, ask your girlfriend. We are a different breed, indeed. I think I’m treading over the obvious here, but it brings up two interesting ideas. The first is, where is God in all of this? Certainly, he is not devoid of a sense of humor or irony (think testicles), but can he live in a world of ironic detachment?

Detachment is nothing new. Throughout the last century, American men have used various accoutrements to detach themselves from painful realities. Some generations used hard work, others cold silence. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, the pursuit of sex allowed men to live another reality. In the 80’s and 90’s it was greed. God can live in none of those things, and neither can he live in ironic detachment.

And yet, this new attitude seems to have a deeper root cause. It is an almost ecclesiastical reaction to the failure of American civilization to make itself happy. We have learned the hard lessons of divorce from our parents, and cannot believe family as a prescription for happiness. We saw the rise and fall of the technology boom, assuaging us of the notion that we can rely upon wealth. We grew up in an era of unprecedented crime, and 9/11 shattered any notion that our nation is really “secure” in any meaningful way. We have seen it all, or we think we have, and it all ends badly. So why not make light of it.

Is rape funny? No, it is not, but it’s going to happen anyway, so we might as well laugh at the absurd cruelty of the act.

We cling to gallows humor because we see death all around us, and it’s a sort of coping mechanism. Which brings me back to God. God is all about life, about enduring faithfulness. There is nothing funny about Christ’s death and resurrection. It was a gesture of utter sincerity, a sacrifice without cynicism.

I thought about this on my way to work. The cold flurries finding their way to my windshield made me feel at peace. I was happy, even joyful.

For those who live in God, this is not the end. The world ends in failure, but he cannot fail. He looks upon the darkness in the world with incredible sadness, but works intently to cultivate the light within us. Somewhere, buried beneath my failures, my angry humor, and blasé cynicism, I believe that. Utterly and sincerely.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I Heart Minneapolis

For more on my home ownership/tree situation, click here.

So... On Thursday, I go to my tree hearing, to appeal the fact that the city removed my tree without permission and charged me for it. I get to the building, and ,walk into the inspectors office. I am directed to the basement, room B-14. Turns out, room B-14 is this creepy, unwindowed room underground. How apropos. Two folks had gotten there first, and therefore had their opportunity to explain themselves before I did. The first was a disabled woman. She was there to protest the fact that the city had removed all of the flowers on her property, and charged her for it. Apparently, there were weeds in one of her flower gardens, and there were weeds on the boulevard (meaning the area nearest the street). There were also flowers there, but she removed the weeds in her gardens, while failing to remove those in the boulevard. As a result this poor woman had all of her flowers removed, to the tune of $400. the adjudicator looked at her condescendingly, and told her she would receive her decision within 15 days. Nice. The next person was charged $150 for lawn mowing. He had received a notice for tall grass on his boulevard, which turned out to be a strip of grass behind his garage. He did the best he could to mow his grass, but didn't know that the city was talking about the strip of grass behind his garage. The adjudicator looked at him condescendingly, and told him he would receive his decision within 15 days. Nice.

So it came to me. I presented my evidence, the fax from the landscaper stating that my tree did not need to come down. The city presented it's own evidence. They sent warning letters. the supervising inspector made it seem as though they had warned me a thousand times, but they had only sent me two warnings, none of which coming after we submitted the fax. The adjudicator looked at me condescendingly, told me that I would receive my decision within 15 days. Nice.

So I call Jack Allison, the supervising inspector, to inquire regarding my appeals status. We get into a discussion regarding prior inspections. Seems my neighbor, an unemployed 300 lb. drunk who lives with his mother, has been calling the inspectors on an almost daily basis regarding every little thing he finds wrong with my house. Fascinating.

My discussions also reveal that the city has my house on record as having fire damage, and having been condemned and vacated in August. Funny, I went there today and not only was there no fire damage, but the house was decorated with Christmas lights. I knocked on the door, and my tenant answered. The house was in better shape than I left it. No fire damage, no condemnations, just a smiling, nervous tenant (who, to my embrassment, I have never met before).

Why do I mention all of this? Because I hate the city of Minneapolis. I hate it's bureaucratic, nanny-state BS. I hate the fact that the city re-elected a profoundly corrupt mayor simply because he paid lip service to the gay community. I hate the fact that my tax dollars (and yes, they are MY tax dollars, even though I happen to be a white male) fund the services of such incompetent teet-suckers as Jack Allison, and every other government-employed lowlife who can't find a job in the real world. I hate the fact that my poor tenant, a hispanic mother of four children, has to endure taunts and harassment from a 55-year-old, fat, waste of a human being, who continues to drink his life away. I hate the fact that I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps (and yes, I called them bootstraps) to be able to purchase a property, and now face persecution from a city run by trust-fund babies who are unaware of such things as "bootstraps" and succeed by being cronies (or Daytons, or Pillsburys). I hate the fact that the city I know and love is run by a small group of effete, latte-drinking elite morons who live in $300,000 condos, and consider themselves better and more knowledgable than everyone else.

Again, this is why I vote republican, people.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Always and forever

On Friday, December 16th, at 7:30 a.m., I strolled into my girlfriend's work. I blindfolded her, caught a ride to the airport, stuck earplugs in her ears, and flew her off to San Diego. We got to Sunset Cliffs, in Point Loma, a nice little spot over looking the ocean. I took the blindfold off, and she saw the ocean for the first time. Then, I took out a ring, and proposed. Then, I whisked her off to a tew bedroom suite in the heart of La Jolla, and we had a phenomenal weekend. And now I am engaged. I am excited for our life together, and thankful to God for providing me such a remarkable woman.

What? Oh... you want something weird... Um, throughout the weekend, I read her Chaucer at the top of my lungs while banging on a pinata full of razor blades. Then we talked about how much we both love Tony Gwynn.

Seriously, though, she said no...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Morning Conversation Between Roommates

Leroy: (Furiously brushing teeth)

Kevin: Dude, can I use the bathroom now?

Leroy: I'm brushing my teeth.

Kevin: I know, but you've been doing that for 30 minutes now.

Leroy: I want them to be sparkly clean.

Kevin: I'm certain that they are.

Leroy: Yahhh!!!! I am so misunderstood! (thrusts toothbrush into own eye socket)

Kevin: You've changed, man, you've changed...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My commute today

Took about 20 minutes. Yep, that's it. Over and done with. While all those vinyl-siding-obsessed Eaganites are still on the road, here I am, blogging and warm. While all the twits who live in Rogers and St. Michael are staring longingly at a strip mall in Maple Grove, I'll be eating lunch, typing up a press release, doing my job, warm and not driving. While the geniuses who moved to Hudson, WI to save on car insurance are sitting in gridlock, guzzling gas, here I am, again, not driving, feeling smug.


Thpppppppt....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You know what?

It's time I lived outside of the box. I'm tired of being the same old flavor of vanilla-kevman. You know what I'm gonna do?

No, Steve, not that. Frankly, it's sick that you brought that up, even as a joke...

I'm gonna start swallowing my toothpaste. I mean, why the hell not? The science of fluoride-digestion, and negative consequences therein, is tenuous at best. I feel wasteful just spitting a whole mouthful of tasty toothpaste into the sink.

Yep, just like "Wild at Heart", you can't stop my inner boy from running wild. He's gonna swallow toothpaste, and I will like it.

And you know what? I'm going to switch to aqua-fresh, the neopolitan of toothpastes. Yeah, that'll be me, stunning the world by swallowing fist fulls of swirling, marbled goodness.

Also, I'm going to build a birdhouse, contrary to the desires of "the man".

Monday, December 12, 2005

Interview With the Finnish Ambassador

Every now and then, my blog allows me to interview high profile people. This week, I am deeply honored to interview Jukka Valtasaari, the Finnish ambassador to the United State. Without any further adieu, let's get to the questions.

TPWK: Mr. Valtasaari, let me first say that it is my pleasure to meet your acquaintance.

Jukka: I am deeply honored. We in Finland are enamored of your blogging rhetoric.

TPWK: Thank you. Thank you. Now, I wanted to discuss your very important role as ambassador. Finland, of course, has maintained some of the oldest, most consistent ties with America. The war in Iraq, however, has created much animosity across Europe. How would you describe Finnish sentiment toward the war.

Jukka: When I was a boy, a little Jukka, I was possessed of a, how you say, amulet? It was beautiful, and attached to a gold chain. The amulet was of interest, maybe even love, to me as a young Jukka.

TPWK: Interesting, you owned an amulet.

Jukka: Then, as if were lost in breeze, it was gone.

TPWK: No more amulet.

Jukka: So it seemed. I was then, how you say, broken of heart? I spent my days looking, looking for the amulet. Looking, not finding.

TPWK: That is so sad... Now, I think my fans would kill me if I didn't ask this. Rumor has it that late night star Conan O'Brien has an enormous following in Finland, and I was

Jukka: Do you think he has amulet?

TPWK: Come again?

Jukka: This Conan fellow, do you think he is having my amulet?

TPWK: I'm sorry, you are speaking of the amulet you had lost as a child.

Jukka: I am missing it terribly.

TPWK: I'm sure Mr. O'Brien isn't involved, here.

Jukka: For days, I would look. No longer attending grammar school, walking, I was, little Jukka, walking through the snow. Head down. Eyes wandering throughout the snowy fields. Hoping amulet was lost on ground.

TPWK: You're really shook up over this.

Jukka: When I lost the amulet, I asked my father. I asked him, father where is my amulet? Is it lost in snow? He took drink of vodka, put gun in mouth, pulled trigger. Dead. Eyes unmoving. Like ghost.

TPWK: ...

TPWK: ...

TPWK: Willikers!

Jukka: ...

Jukka: But yes, the Conan O'Brien. Finland thinks he is the funny.

TPWK: Uh-huh.

Jukka: Mood is, how you say, ruined now, yes? I am doing that always, with respect to the amulet and my father.

TPWK: Well, that's all of our time for today. Ambassador Valtasaari, thank you very much for talking with us!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Today

I saw the President, live and in person.

He is exactly the same as he is on TV.

And he called the Prime Minister of Japan "a good fella'"

Also, there were sandwich fingers.

Reminder!

The party of the century is tomorrow night! By that I mean my birthday party.

I'm not kidding, it's going to be a rough century for parties, unfortunately, with the smoking ban and the war on terror.

Wooo...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Free Tookie!

I got my weekly Sojourners newsletter today. For those who don't know, Sojourner's is a far left political group for people who feel spiritual, and like reading about people who shame others for not acting on that spirituality. This week's feature article is entitled "Redemption on trial in California", by David Batstone. You see, there's this degenerate @#$% named Stan "Tookie" Williams. Decades ago, he murdered people with a shotgun for the hell of it. Oh, and he founded the Crips, which started a movement of gangs that killed have gone on to rape, kill and invent hip-hop.

I should pause here. There is some question, invented by his million-dollar lawyers, as to whether he committed the crimes. You see, among the dozen or so folks to whom he bragged about the murder, or put him at the scene of the crime, one (and only one) was an accomplice who was given clemency in exchange for his testimony. However, the prosecutors in the case have provided a damning 40 page document, which you can read here (though it's clear that Mr. Batstone has not).

I should also explain that my father is currently in prison, serving time for a crime he did not commit, and for which I was his alibi. But there are no celebrities campaigning on my father's behalf. No, they're all busy worrying about this depraved son-of-a-bitch. You see, my father can't get his day in an appeals court, because the courts are clogged by celebrity scum like Tookie, who has made dozens of appeals over the last quarter of a century. My father has written books. He also treated his family with love and respect, something this bastard could never dream of.

Batstone contends that Tookie deserves mercy for having written some children's books, which apparently worked to dissuade children from joining gangs. Wanna find one, and see for yourself? You can't. They only sold 1,000 copies combined. Perhaps that is because they primarily contained information on how to talk and walk like a gangsta'. Not exactly the sort of stuff you distribute in grade schools in Watts.

Oh, and he hasn't apologized for his crimes, saying that he thinks all white people should die. Oh, and he maintains his ties to the Crips gang. Oh, and he won't cooperate by briefing police as to what goes on in those gangs. He says this would cause a conflict of conscience. At this point, I'm about ready to fry him up and serve him with a side of waffles, aren't you? Huckleberry syrup anyone?

So, what does Batstone The Obtuse have to say about this? Here's a quote.

"One man, Stanley "Tookie" Williams, faces execution Tuesday, Dec. 13, at San Quentin State Prison in California. With him our belief in human redemption also sits on the gallows..."

Yes. You see, if you believe that Tookie deserves to die, then you don't believe in redemption. He wrote kids books, after all. Who cares if he shot a husband and wife in their abdomen, leaving the wife and mother to die a painful death over the course of several hours? Who cares if, after executing a shop worker, he made fun of the gurgling sounds the young father made as he died. Cause, see, he wrote kids books that nobody read, and Snoop Dogg has come to his defense.

Also, Batstone says this.

"Elsewhere in the world, four Christian Peacemaker Teams members are marked for execution by a radical terrorist group in Iraq. We are appalled by the blind ideology that drives the terrorists and leads them to cheapen the value of human life. In this ideology, the individual is a tool for political expediency. Don't we want to offer our citizens more in a democracy?"

You're right, David, we do owe our citizens more. It would be a shame to bury Tookie (and, I promise you this, if Arnold grants clemency to this bastard, I will endorse his next gubernatorial opponent, and donate $50 to his campaign.) So here's my proposal. Let's make Tookie jerky, and auction it on e-bay. we can make it in pepper-flavor, jalapeno, BBQ etc... The proceeds can go to all the victims of gang-related violence, those who owe their suffering to this maggot, this bacteria.
I'll buy some, if only so that Tookie, roasting in hell, can watch a loop video of the Kev-man, gnawing on some Teriyaki Tookie, over and over again. We can make a children's book, "Sava the Flava'", about what happens to gang members who like to kill people for sport. I'll write the copy.

To Tookie, may God have mercy on your soul, as I have none in my heart.

To David Batstone, this is beneath even you. You have sacrificed your integrity to support a fashionable cause. Shame on you.

JOKE DAY!

Q: What did one cancer patient say to the other cancer patient?

A: Can you...

Wait, what. You have cancer? Oh, I am so sorry dude. That was a total joke, I mean... Not that it's funny... I mean, I respect you. I have nothing but respect for you... You know? And what you're going through. I'm not... I'm not even going to finish the joke... I feel bad. No, I should feel bad... I know it's hard...

What? You were joking? Oh, don't do that to me! Oh, wow. That was awkward. Good one, though, good one. Could you imagine??? Here's me, dum-di-dum-di-dum, with my foot in my mouth, dum-di-dum-dum... Good one, though. Good one. I mean, if you had cancer, that'd be totally not funny... I was like, whoa...

Seriously, you don't have cancer, do you?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Christmas Story

One of my favorite films is a Christmas Story. For those who have been immune to Ted Turner’s one-man crusade to make a cottage industry of the film, it’s a story, set in the early 1940s (give or take) about a boy, Ralphie, who wants nothing more than a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas.

That’s it. No cute girl who arouses passions within Ralphie. No black child who befriends him, and teaches him that white people and black people really aren’t that different after all. Ralphie isn’t some boy who was born to dance, and endures the taunts at schools to pursue his dream. No, like most boys in that era, he just wants a BB gun. This is a movie about a real life and a real boy. It would never be made today.

Women tend not to like this movie, by my observation. At best, they find it cute or funny, but many actively dislike it., Ted Turner and his 24 hour marathons be damned. I think, oddly enough, that this is a man’s movie.

Take, for instance, the first scene in which the kids are walking to school. They’re talking about their fathers, and what they are buying them for Christmas. That is a theme throughout the film. Father’s take a sort of mythic role, just as they do with any boy. They are angry, fierce men who cuss, battle the furnace, work long hours, and provide for their families. They are emulated and worshipped. Hollywood prefers to deny that such men ever existed.

Contrast this with the portrayal of Ralphie’s mother (brilliantly played by Melinda Dillon). She bridges the emotional gap. She provides in her own way. Beyond simply cooking and serving (the movie notes that she never had a warm meal to herself), she relates to her children.

All of this comes together in the film’s finest passage, in which Ralphie confronts his bully oppressor, Scott Farkas. Throughout the film, we see little montages of the bully chasing the kids, beating them, making them feel weak and small. The power of the bully lies primarily in their refusal to adhere to any rules. They are either undeterred or unaffected by punishment, and so they do as they please. Law abiding citizens, like Ralphie, who are mindful of the discipline they have been taught, must simply acquiesce to their demands.

Ralphie will have none of it. Something within him explodes, and he beats Scott bloody. His mother is no dummy. She knows the bully had it coming, and knows her son is the better for having delivered the overdue justice. Her brilliance in diffusing the situation with the father is mothering at its finest.

Of course, the mother isn’t perfect. Her insistence that owning a BB gun will invariably result in eye displacement makes her a de facto antagonist in Ralphie’s overarching pursuit of his Red Rider. That is where the father comes in.

Throughout the film we see Ralphie’s father as formidable, but aloof. There is no, “kid, you’re gonna be okay” scene, cause this is a true story and such conversations only happen in terrible movies. Take the now-famous scene in which Ralphie’s father invites him to help change a tire. At first, it appears that he blows it, slowly mouthing “oh, fudge”, the queen-mother of all swear words. He is swiftly punished. There’s no “you’re a man now, and you’re going to get erections and like girls” conversation, but something changes nonetheless.

I would posit that this was the first time his father saw himself in his son. Where did he learn that word, after all? In the end, it is his father who grants him his prized possession. Notice the father delight as he shows him how to load the gun. That’s how it was for me, growing up. A father-son relationship built in a few fleeting moments. The father, seemingly a selfish bumbling fool, has been listening to his son’s protestations the whole time. And he’s decided that his son his man enough to have a BB gun.

I remember once, being picked on mercilessly in the 6th grade. At one point, I just had it. I wielded a textbook at the kid and kicked him. He went to the floor, crying like a girl.
My father had to came home from work, and we went for ice cream. I remember getting a pair of sneakers for basketball that my parent’s had said were too expensive, how I felt as though I could fly across the court.

For most boys, life is a series of seemingly inconsequential setbacks, and seemingly inconsequential redemptions. Watching the movie now, I am less amused than I am haunted and sad. I pine for a time when I could be wrapped up in the importance of a Christmas gift. When fathers were heroes, and bullies needed beating.

Those days are long gone, in life and in film.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Letters - Part 1

Shaking the letters. Alone.

The histrionic pop-crinkle of wooden cubes on plastic. And then, words. All alone.

He removed the opaque sheath from the formerly noisy word-related dice, and began analyzing. A prime board, A’s and E’s together, with the necessary R’s and N’s. The Boggle board is one of symbioses. Valuable letters necessitating certain, otherwise benign letters to form devastating combinations. A metaphor for life or cancer, he thought, on occasion.

It was late. The vibrant dancing of shaken letters occasionally cut through the crispy hiss of the fireplace. This was a lonely time for him, playing by himself. He was good, at the Boggle. Not world-class, study-the-damn dictionary good. Just good enough to guarantee he would play alone, primarily.

“Eat” “Ate” “Tea”. There was an ‘s’ involved, forming “Eats”, and “Teas”, of course. Also “Sat”, “Set”, “East”, and “Sea”. Also “Sate”, which his friends would reliably ignore, giving him a freebie. Tournament level play would yield “ETA” and “ETAS”, which, inexplicably, transcended rules regarding acronym forbiddenness, and would register as one-point scores on account of their importance to American Vernacular. Sort of a “Stare Decisis” for Boggle, he would point out, to the utter disinterest of his companions.

So he played alone. The over-and-over of wood against plastic. Searching for words amongst the sty of letters. Evaluating his performance, scoring against hypothetical opponents of varying ability. Coolly observing that he ought to have played this or that board differently. Mild obsession, for him, the Boggle.

Then, it happened. He was enjoying a individual, 58-cent-plus-tax sized bag of Combos. Pizza and pretzel together form the snack. Hence the name. Opened, largely uneaten, manifestly present next to his book of white notebook paper.

“Eater”, “Eaters” “Seater”, “Ears”…

“Eastern”…

Then he saw it. Scribbled on the notebook paper adjacent to aforementioned pretzel-related snack. “Se” “Es” “Rea” “Sea” “Te” “Tea” … He paused, confounded. Then, dismissing the concoction as a relic of some previously interrupted game, he continued.

“Heat”, “Heats”, “Heater”, “Heaters”, “Reheat”, “Reheats”. The “re” prefix usually resulted in some eye-rolling, this-is-the-last-round-then-I’m-going-home type looks from friends.

He glanced over at the notebook. “He”, “Hes”, “She”. New words. Clearly from someone who was observing the same letters. He grabbed his Combos snack treats, and forced on into his mouth, the powders and nuances of pretzel giving way do the dry-sour of paste that was moist and dry at the same time. He continued to play. The mysterious words ceased to appear. Returning the snack treats to the coffee table, he scored his results. 57 points, 94 minus the 37 accrued by his hypothetical, medium-difficulty opponent.

Estimated Time of Arrival, is what it stood for, ETA. He wondered allowed if ETAs therefore stood for Estimated Times of Arrival or Estimated time of Arrivals, or if it would, in fact, be correct to pluralize both, for agreement purposes.

He returned the opaque cover, and shook the Boggle yet again. A disturbing confluence of letters this time. The “Qu”, an “X” and no fewer than three congruous “C”s. Tournament players, well versed in absurd non-words such as “que” and “xis”, would take maximum advantage of these boards. For him, the knowledge of such words indicated an obsession with which he was not remotely comfortable.

He did appear in a documentary “The Letters”. He lost to eventual state-champion Drew Vigler, who, on camera, taunted “Your mama!” Upon winning his 6-round match. The scene made the trailer for the film, which, to the extent that anyone actually watched an intentionally ironic and sad documentary about Boggle, made him something of a celebrity. This, more than any other facet of his Boggle career, interested his friends greatly.

(To Be Continued)

Friday, December 02, 2005

An Interview with Adam Omelianchuk

Every now and then, my blog allows me the opportunity to interview influential folks from across the globe. Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to interview blogosphere luminary Adam Omelianchuk, author of the much vaunted ochuk blog site. The interview was fascinating to say the least. Here’s a transcript:

TPWK: Thank you, Mr. Omelianchuk for giving me the opportunity to interview you. In your bedroom, no less.

Ochuk: Do you like my posters?

TPWK: Well, you certainly seem to like cats.

Ochuk: I love them, but I’m allergic. These posters are love.

TPWK: They sure are. Now, you built your reputation for delving into the major theological discussions of our day. Of late, however, your blog has turned more introspective. Is this your effort to get closer to the heart of God?

Ochuk: Maybe. I’m also really getting into clip art these days. Tell me what you think of this.

TPWK: That’s a bear.

Ochuk: He’s eating honey.

TPWK: You’re quite the animal person. Are you going to put this into some sort of PowerPoint presentation?

Ochuk: He’s kind of stand-alone. He loves that honey so much. I can show you some more clip art, if you like.

TPWK: Is it all bears?

Ochuk: Pretty much.

TPWK: Let’s switch gears. Now, you are a self-described Calvinist. Forgive my ignorance on some of the finer points of the issue, but it is interesting to note that you, yourself, do not attend a Calvinist church. Why is that?

Ochuk: Friends. I have pictures of some of my friends. Want to see?

TPWK: You’re showing me a lot of things today... Hey, these pictures are all of the same girl.

Ochuk: She photographs well. I am very picky about whom I photograph. Do you think she would find it weird if I e-mailed her my pictures of her?

TPWK: How man are there?

Ochuk: 26,000, give or take.

TPWK: …

Ochuk: It would be weird… I know. I know that.

TPWK: Um… You seem to have a lot to say about the Emergent Church. Perhaps you would like to talk about your passion, or should I say “dispassion” about this hot topic.

Ochuk: Ah yes…. (Begins smoking a pipe)

TPWK: …..

TPWK: …..

TPWK: ….. So, you were saying?

Ochuk: That gives me an idea. What do you think of this?

TPWK: That’s just more bear clip art.

Ochuk: I wrote a poem. Here, read it.

TPWK:

Bears are fuzzy
Cuzzy wuzzy
Bears like honey
More than money
Bears like to smile
Once in a while
They maim and kill
All is darkness

This isn’t very good

Ochuk: I’ve been studying Lord Byron.

TPWK: It’s not rubbing off.

Ochuk: What do you think of this?

TPWK: It's clip art of two bears having sex. That is completely inappropriate.

Ochuk: The clip art masks the sadness inside.

TPWK: You seem to suffer from a smidge of myopia, re: bears and clipart.

Ochuk: What do you think of this?

TPWK: Okay, I’m leaving…

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sad News

I visited the CNN website to see this headline

"Black Woman may be appointed to the Senate."

After all these years, the white man is still telling the African race what to do. Tend the farm, sit in the back of the bus, serve in the United States Senate. When does it end?

I AM A 12th LEVEL BLOGGER

You did not account for this! Over the past several months I have accrued myriad experience points. And now, my blogging ability has reached the 12th level. Bow to me, for I am a 12th level blogger.

Oh sure, I began just like you. I did my little introduction blog, and tried to comment on current events, just like you. But I have grown, like a caterpillar morphing into a beautiful butterfly.

BUT I AM A DEADLY BUTTERFLY!

I will deliver my droll insights with utter disdain for your manhood! I will take you apart with ironic renderings of today’s events. You cannot match my 12th level brilliance. You are stupid, right in the face! And the face is the worst place to be stupid. But that is where you are stupid.

What did you blog about yesterday. Your feelings? A Bible verse that struck you? How you feel that you are in the middle of the road politically, and feel alienated by both political parties? FAH! Do not bore me with your trifles, nube!

It won’t be long until I have achieved perfection as a 14th level blogmaster. My name will be panthor, on account of my stealthy post and biting rhetorical wit. I will learn to breathe the proverbial fire of scathing commentary. I will slap you with my copper daggers of satire, and my poison cloud of poignancy.

Tell your grandmother not to bother learning to use the Internet. I will kill her with the demon’s breath of my wit. I AM LEVEL !@. I mean 12. Got carried away with my shift key of righteousness. I will shoot gargoyles of incendiary rhetoric from the nipples of my creative genius. I bet you don’t even know how to upload pictures.

Oh, you’re going to take a week off to vacation in Florida? What weakness! I cast thee from the blogosphere! I am erasing your link. I mean, I’m totally wasting on your link.

Idiot.

What’s this? A 15th level commenter? I have only read of such legends! I am wilting in your presence. You’re ability to succinctly and mercilessly rebut the central thesis. What are you writing? I must know.

“Dungeons and Dragons humor is passé, and borderline sad.”

Oh, but it is true, and I am slain! 15th level commenter has destroyed me. He has taken his +2 magic sword of dry humor and driven in through the heart of my magnificent blog.

Orp… Oggle… Blith…. Die….