September 2006


Commemorating Another Year Survived

sheriffjohnrovick.jpgI’ve already expressed my love of “Weird Al’s” polka medleys, but there is one other polka I dearly adore, and that is the one that this guy performed daily on his Los Angeles TV show for 18 years (starting 3 years before I was born and 9 years before my parents brought me out to L.A.). It was right after he’d done the ritual reading of the names of kids in the audience celebrating a birthday (a common feature on kid-oriented shows at the time, and one that was not totally boring only one time each year), and, to avoid paying royalites for that other Happy Birthday song, Sheriff John Rovick would lip-sync to his own recording of “The Birthday Cake Polka” [1.9MB mp3 file, download and enjoy with ice cream]. It’s also a great song to sing to yourself, because I’m celebrating the day intentionally alone.

But if you absolutely must indulge in the stereotypical “Happy Birthday” song (preferably in stereo), there is no better way than with Victor Borge playing it on the piano in the style of various classical composers [Real Audio file: 16 minutes, plenty of time for the cake to cool].
Next week, a new era in WendellBlogging begins, and I’m not going to be doing it alone. That’s what you call a teaser.


Blogging With My Hands

Nope. Don’t feel like blogging again today, so here’s a quick lesson in sign language.


Okay, now a quiz. Can you tell what this person is trying to say?

Oh dear.


Border-line Insanity

Having previously alienated the giant headed CEO of Jack in the Box, I have gone on to write a piece for that may get me banned from several other major fast food chains. Which will not necessarily be a bad thing for my ongoing battle against burger binges and their resultant burger bulges. It will not be available to entertain you and incur the wrath of the Creepy Burger King for at least another week (even web writing sometimes has pre-publication delays), but I just wanted to mention it to explain something I did recently. I went to Taco Bell.

Yes, I went through the drive-thru of one of fast-food-dom’s least respected practitioners, ordering, receiving and actually consuming some of their bizarro-world version of Mexican Food, in the name of research. (Here in California, as well as the rest of the U.S. West of Texas – and for some strange reason, St. Louis – we have the alternative of Del Taco, much better tasting, without the weird pseudo-Spanish product names and with french fries and Cherry Coke. I shouldn’t be eating their stuff either, but at least they have a reasonable pleasure-to-guilt ratio. But I digress.) In the process of receiving my Taco Bell order, I was issued the usual mass quantities of hot sauce packets. At times I suspect that they think their customers must bathe in the stuff; at more paranoid times, I think they want their customers to bathe in the stuff. Fortunately, for the last few years, the best thing about TB has been the little messages on their sauce packets.
(In fact, I’d say that probably 10% of all cars older than two years on the road today have Taco Bell sauce packets in their glove compartments that are at least one year old. I have nothing to back this statistic up, but doesn’t it sound cool?)
Other original “sauce wisdom” quotes:

The Official Sauce of Taco Bell
The Road to Mediocrity is littered with Empty Ketchup packets
So many Chalupas So Little Time
Save a Bun Eat a Taco
Live Life One Sauce Packet at a time
Warning You?re about to Make a Taco Very Happy
Be Gentle
My Other Taco is a Chalupa
Find Inner Peace in Every Piece of Our Marinated Chicken
Why Order a Taco when you can Ask Politely
Does a Grilled Stuft Burrito qualify you for the car pool lane?
If you throw this, would it be a flying saucer?
Open quickly? I?m burning up in here.
Nice palm. I read a great deal of pleasure in your future.
Do you add sauce left to right or right to left?
Willing to relocate.
Of all those sauce packets why me, why now?
Careful I don?t do well under pressure
Mi salsa es tu salsa.
[flavor] Sauce Seeking Friendship Maybe More
[flavor] Sauce the New Ketchup

In 2004, they held a competition for people to write captions for their sauce packets. Among the winners:
Okay, two out of three’s not bad. The other winners were:

Bike tires scare me
I’m in good hands now
My sause is an honor student at Taco State
Where are you taking me?
It’s okay, you can say it. I love you too

Pick me! Pick me!
Mmmm… sauce

(and I am not making this up) Hello.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did make several entries to the contest, none of which are among the winners (If I’d only known, I would’ve just submitted ‘Hello’), but which did include such classic lines as “I’m the clapper in the Taco Bell”, “For a change, open me from the bottom”, and the anti-littering message “Good on a taco, not on a sidewalk”.

They did it again in ’05 (I didn’t bother to enter) and the winners included several that appeared on the packets I received at my recent visit (yes, I only use “Mild” sauce; I am a gringo weenie, I know):
Other 2005 winners:

Ahhh? we meet again.
I?m taking the day off. See next packet.
Ketchup? Puh-leese.
Not it!
Ooh! Ooh! I call glove compartment.
Thanks for rescuing me,
[other flavor] was getting on my nerves.
Will you marry me?
This space for rent. Inquire within.
Will you scratch my back?

Not nearly as good a batch as the previous year. And a lot heavier on the random non-sequitorial stuff. I was quite perplexed looking at “I collect straws”, and “Make a wish” seemed to be just asking to be treated like a wishbone, which of course, would spill sauce everywhere and nobody would endup lucky.
Oddly, there were two more messages I got among my umpteen sauce packets that were not part of any published list:
I don’t know if these rate a “WTF?” but at least a “WTH?” What ‘feeling is mutual’? Does the sauce consider me something minimally adequate to cover up the taste of the finely ground meat from unknown meat-bearing animals in the tacos? And I am sorry, but “Scratch & Sniff” jokes went out in the previous millennium.

I guess I have lost my last reason to ever go near a Taco Bell. Besides, have you seen what the sauce packets and sporks do after closing time? [cute embedded video]

Okay, I’ll admit there was one lame thing about Del Taco: they used to label their less-spicy sauce packets as “Mild Hot Sauce”.
Thanks to this guy (a contest winner) for the full sauce message rundown. Sauce packets on black backgrounds are via The Condiment Packet Museum.


Toot Toot Tootsie

Warning: the following blog post contains severe topic drift and excessive amounts of Internet clichés. New readers are advised to proceed with caution, and those with a low tolerance for Wendell’s many quirks may be advised to go here.

Why is it I can’t watch the Homestar Runner Deck Bit [flash video, but if it’s HR it always is] without thinking of the Blue Collar Comedy Deck Bit [youtube, future dead link] ?

And it was inevitable that Mr. T would get a ‘celebreality’ show [more imbedded video; what’s this internet coming to?]. Yeah, this Mr. T:
NOT this one:

Yep, Mr. T and Tina, starring Pat Morita and some gal. Because sometimes you need to be reminded that there was life before the ’80s and guys who called themselves Mr. T before Mr. T. Still, the recent Sheldon comics with the T-guy as a ‘guest star’* was a good reminder of the Power of Positive Weirdness.

But it was one T-centric strip that really caught my eye, when the former bouncer/boxer/wrestler/semi-actor applied his rock solid beliefs to an old question:

Ah, the classic Tootsie Pop question, raised by the classic Tootsie Pop commercial [YouTube again], which I suspect nobody really thought about before the commercial appeared. And which probably did more damage to the image of the “wise old owl” than anything until…
But meanwhile, the question remains:
Many have tried, some put their results up on the Web (some with rather poor CSS). The Official Tootsie Site reported that engineers from two different universities (Purdue and Michigan) constructed ‘licking machines’ to get a definitive answer, but their results varied by enough that the Tootsie Site could continue to gloat “the world may never know”

But people are still asking, and thanks to web-based resources like Answerbag, Faqfarm, Google Answers or Yahoo Answers (where it has been asked 382 times), we have learned that the answer is somewhere around 300 or 450 or 250 or 3. Surprisingly, Cecil Adams’ Straight Dope has not yet addressed the question.
Well, now you can learn for yourself as you can now purchase (from the appropriate, your own Tootsie Pop Lick-O-Meter (why let Purdue and Yahoo have all the fun?)

Meanwhile, another one of my childhood memories has been turned upside down. According to the Evil-In-A-Good-Way Lore Sjöberg, we may have all been misunderstanding that classic Charlie Brown Halloween quote:

“I got a rock”???i_got_a_rock.jpg or igottarock.gif

* Normally I save the comics for my Comics Blog, Clowns Around, but I’m working on a major piece for there on the many ‘guest stars’ that have been featured on Sheldon, and it’s gonna be awesome.


What’s Your Seal

Once again the siren call of a graphic thingy generator has lured me into its clutches. This time, the simply eloquent Official Seal Generator, which makes easy work of that text-around-in-a-circle that I can’t seem to make look good myself. In this case, I really had very little that I wanted to make ‘official’…
…so I just looked for inspiration in the collection of symbols you could choose from for the center of the seal.

Remember the TV talk show that had asterisks all over the set?

And when I saw a flying squirrel among the animal silhouettes, I had to…
Is that an old-fashioned telephone dial?

And, of course, the ubiquitous ribbon… in your choice of color:


FTSL: Fell Down Stairs Laughing

Credit celeblogger and celebrinerd Dave Barry for this incredible discovery.

hr_safety_083106sized.jpgThe office where the HR department gives candy bars to people who use the handrail while using the stairs.

This is not Comedy Gold. This is Comedy Platinum.

First, the mandatory check… yep, it’s a Government Office… in fact, it’s the Los Alamos National Laboratory. If anybody’s got the money lying around to have two people standing around the stairwells handing out candy bars, it’s Los Alamos.

On the other hand, isn’t Los Alamos supposed to be a place where really really really smart people are supposed to work? And what does it say if you have to remind really really really smart people how to walk up stairs?

I’m not even going to get into the fact that they’re handing out candy bars with peanuts, which for me as a peanut-allergic is more dangerous than falling down stairs. And what do they do if you throw the candy bar wrapper down the stairwell? Or eat the candy bar while using the stairs? Are these circumstances that will result in revocation of your candy bar rights?

And, as the picture shows, the candy-bar-handrail-reward-personnel are standing at the top of the stairs. Now, I have always thought that the danger of falling and the need for handrail usage is much greater if you’re going downstairs. So shouldn’t they be at the bottom?

I wonder what they’re giving to people who use the elevator.

I wonder if there are forms of handrail use that do not qualify for candy bars, or is the HR department required to give it to you even if you walked up the stairs while licking the handrail?

I wonder how many of the really really really smart people at Los Alamos thought of all this before I did.

unitedway2007_sm.jpg And, on an only-slightly-related note, what the snork is this image on the same web page as the handrail story? I know that HR departments, especially HR departments at government offices have an unnatural attraction to the United Way. Doesn’t that picture just confirm the image that most non-HR people have of the United Way? Or maybe the graphic is supposed to represent the United Way’s leadership in anti-pirate activity? Was this left over from Talk Like a Pirate Day? Or a Johnny Depp Movie cross-promotion? Or is the United Way now affiliated with the Swedish Pirate Party? And why is this graphic attached to a dead link?

Do the HR people on Pirate ships go around asking for donations to the United Way? And are they made to walk the plank for that?

So many questions. So few answers.
message.gif Yeah, I wonder about that too.


None Dare Call It Whatever

Those mental_flossers at mental_floss have hijacked my train of thought again with a blog post about euphemisms, which I pointed out as ironic since I was already using them as a euphemism.

So let me point out some original euphemisms I’ve come up with (that like all my other contributions to the language, will forever be used by nobody but me):

Bodily Functions

A “symphony” is an attack of diarrhea, since both involve several movements. “I can’t go out; I’m conducting a symphony in the bathroom.

And vomiting? Since it mixes non-digested food with digestive fluids, I like to call it “acid recycling”.

This one’s kind of a reverse-euphemism, but when I was in the hospital, the catheter they put in to measure my urinary output I called my “penile extension”.

Sexual Stuff

The two most common preparations for sex are undressing and “re-dressing”, ifyouknowwhatimean… (“Yes, honey, I’ll help you take that off if you’ll help me put this on…”)

And of course, there are three standards for the duration of a sexual encounter, the “Looney Tune” (7 minutes or less), the “Sitcom” (a half-hour) and the “Lord of the Rings Trilogy” (8 hours, you braggart). Which does open you up to other TV/movie based euphemisms like “very special episode”, “after-school special”, “Police Academy 37”, “the best stuff was in the trailer” and the dreaded “season-ending cliffhanger”… and woe be to you if you finish in a “Bullwinkle” (half the time of a Looney Tune).

Going out in the water to wash off after having sex on the beach is “skinny double dipping”. (What? You’ve never done it? Hey, it’s the best way to get sand out of sensitive places!)


I do refer to Lent as the “Vatican Top 40 Countdown”, but not in front of my Catholic friends. On the other hand, the long, boring football pre-game shows on Sundays are “Agnostic Mass”.

Getting married in a church, in the eyes of both The State and The Lord? That’s “getting double-locked”.

Other Cultural Stuff

Since “Lost”, I don’t call the numerous actors on complicated dramas an ‘ensemble cast’ anymore. I call them a “passenger list”.

Any dull ‘boilerplate’ ‘fillin-in-the-blanks’ official statement I call “Sane Libs” (after “Mad Libs”).

Since “The Colbert Report” (with its silent t’s) has become the standard for this satirical sub-form, I’d refer to any deadpan exaggeration of opinions you don’t believe in as “doing a silent T”, or maybe “silenty”.

A ‘nipple slip’ on live TV? That’s an “FCC fundraiser”.

Finally (for now), a political reverse-euphemism: you could call ‘waterboarding’ the “Cheney’s Water Torture”.

Coming soon, I have some words about my least favorite common euphemisms, which I was going to include here, but I’ve been trying to break up my blogging into less-than-3000-word-pieces


One Hot Piece of Tail

firefox-logo-64x64.pngIn the proud tradition of so many Things Japanese that are simultaneously cute and creepy, the Japan branch of the Mozilla Cheerleaders Society (and let’s face it, Japan is the place that gave Mozilla its -zilla) has come up with its own “official mascot” for the Firefox brand web browser. foxfire1.pngNot satisfied with the fiery foxlike thingy seemingly consuming the Earth as we know it (Hey! Let’s blame HIM for Global Warming!), those wily Japanese have given us “Foxkeh”, a cute little orange fox with a bright flame for a tail. Or is that just a bright flame coming out of his little ass?

The “Spread Firefox Japan” site (sounds like a bunch of pyromaniacs to me) have a variety of pictures of little Foxkeh (no, I don’t know how that should be pronounced and I have not yet found an English-language site that does), some cuter than others and some creepier, but probably the worst is this image identified as “Sorry”.


I believe I have the English translation of that word balloon:


One additional concern is: what if the fire goes out? Will “Foxkeh” end up looking like “Fox-se” with a rather prominant hole where the flame was? And how would you go about re-lighting it? Would the little fox have to eat a lot of beans first? Once again, too many questions, too few answers, and I can’t find Dr. Assman anywhere.

Discovered via Team Vox.


Bite My Shiny Metal Blog

I don’t feel like blogging anything brilliant today, so here is a slide show of every sub-title used on Futurama, harvested by those cool cats at You’re The Man Now Dog. It’ll probably take a while to load (I’m not hotlinking ytmnd, I assure you, I stole the whole 2.5MB gif outright and am hosting it here), so here are also some dancing Zoidbergs…



And just for good measure, a hypnotoad…



Let’s (Blog) Roll

After long periods of hesitation, procrastination, constipation and suspended animation, I am finally populating the ‘blogroll’ at the bottom of the right sidebar with my favorite bloggers and other webbish stuff. Webcomics will all be listed at, and links to local California and/or Central California resources will be at my still-under-construction local blog, but all of my other favorite people stuck in the internet tubes will be listed there. If you don’t recognize all the names, it’s because all the individual bloggers are listed by their names, not their blogs’ names (It’s John Scalzi, not Whatever, and Spike Priggen, not Bedazzled). This may be a controversial move, but I feel like doing something controversial right now, but don’t want Fatherland Security agents knocking down my door, so what better than to mildly invade somebody else’s privacy. Interestingly, all the bloggers for whom I do not have an at-least-partially allegedly real name (Dabitch, JozJozJoz, madamjujujive, Mere Bystander and Miss Cellania) are female, which just shows how much women trust the Web – or me personally. Now, please don’t anybody ask me what celebrity bloggers like Dave Barry, Wil Wheaton or Rogers Cadenhead are really like, because I really haven’t met most of them in cyber-less space, and if I keep getting attacks of the lungrot right before scheduled social gatherings, maybe I never will. Be aware that this list will only get longer as time goes on, meaning now I have to find some filler for the LEFT sidebar now. Anyway, if you feel you are unfairly being left off my blogroll, feel free to complain in the comments below unless you’re Cameron Barrett who kicked me off your blogroll in 2000 for which I will never forgive you.