January 2007


4 Legs > 2?

Those “My Child Is Student of the Month” bumper stickers have, as you no doubt noticed, spawned a whole mini-industry of stickers dissing those students and their parents, but I have never seen one more withering than what I spotted on a horse trailer on the road today:

My horse is smarter than your honor student

Oh snap and clippety-clop!

Of course, I have my own idea for the Ultimate Dis: “Yo Mama never got a ‘my kid’s an honor student’ bumper sticker, but if she did she could wear it on her butt with enough room left for a Dominos Delivery sign.”


Where Are Your Happy Trees Now?

I made a mildly shocking discovery while looking up images for PhotoSlop (and please visit the new site often and tell your webfriends; I’m putting in way too much work on these crappy pictures)…

Apparently the original model for the Creepy Burger King Mascot is…


Bob Ross?!?!?

Extensive Googling shows that the only other attempt to bring this to public attention was at YoureTheManNowDog.com (warning: LOUD music), where their web-based artistry makes my PhotoSlopping look like Decoded DaVinci by comaprisoncomparison.

Spread the word. This information must not be suppressed!


Somewhere Over Downtown Santa Maria

Things were getting me down. My get and and go was long gone. And the fact that I was in the only part of California where it was raining this weekend didn’t help. So, when the skies partially cleared, I took myself out for a drive. And after having acquired some Comfort Food from the In & Out Burger in Santa Maria, I turned around to go back. It was a little more than an hour before sundown, and this appeared in the Eastern sky:
That’s right. A big honkin’ rainbow. I haven’t seen many rainbows in my life and this was the single biggest I’ve ever seen.
After stopping to take a couple pictures, I turned and saw… the other end of the rainbow!
And yep, that’s a double. A full arc (although faded away in the middle; that’s why I didn’t notice the other end right away) with a double at the north end. Cool.
Because of my lack of experience, rainbow-wise, I’m not used to thinking of them as positive omens. But that required very little interpretation to be a good sign.



Did I just break WordPress or did it break me? Answers tomorrow, same bat-time, same bat-shit insane blog…
UPDATE: Yeah, I think I need one of these. Most of the remaining problems are invisible to you, but navigation links to older posts are MIA and the new system for keeping track of uploaded graphics like the one above seems to have forgotten the couple hundred that I uploaded before (although they all still appear on the blog where I put them. Must rest. It’s raining, my neighborhood had a 4-hour power blackout earlier this evening, and my leg hurts. And this is exactly the kind of blogging I never intended to do here. Yuck.


Blog Tag: I’m It

“Once you have been tagged, you have to write a blog with 5 facts about yourself. Then choose 5 people you want to tag and list their names. Then leave a comment on their blog letting them know they?ve been tagged.”

Since I have grown weary of some of my ‘personal anecdotes’ (born the day James Dean died, wrote about the Sex Life of Schopenhauer, how I became ‘Wendell’, tightrope walking on the 10PM news, my experience with ‘a higher socioeconomic level of bullies’*), I’m going to try for something fresh…

(1) My disabled-but-not-incapacitated state has gotten me into the habit of walking with a cane; most often it is not for support (supporting my entire weight is probably more than most canes can handle), but to keep me walking at a regular pace, and I also carry it as a potential defensive weapon. I don’t know if I could ever knock the gun out of a mugger’s hand with my cane, but I might be just crazy enough to try.

(2) I am allergic to peanuts, but not nearly as severely as some of the stories you hear about these days. So you can’t assassinate me by blowing peanut dust in my face. While a child, I also developed an irrational fear of mushrooms that I have never overcome. So I have never learned the true joy of eating Shiitake and probably never will. And my taste buds are painfully sensitive to high Scoville Units (capsacin-type hotness), and many attempts to train them have been only moderately successful (in the last 10 years, I’ve developed a tolerance for Medium salsa).

(3) I have several areas in my personal tastes that may be embarrassing to the average internet audience. I like pineapple on pizza, the McRib, the Chrysler PT Cruiser, fishing hats (hooks not included), “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (both BBC and ABC versions), “Sliders”, the music of Abba, Harry Chapin and Yes, the movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and OxiClean, among other silly things.

(4) I currently possess almost a dozen books I haven’t read and have promised myself not to buy any more until I read these.

(5) I have a deviated ceptum that flip-flops so that sometimes all my breathing passes through my right nostril, sometimes my left. But most often my nose is congested enough to make me (GASP) a mouth-breather.

I also have a couple of college-era anecdotes I haven’t made web-public yet, but they both lead into specific topics I’ll bring up later.

Now I get to pass this albatross on to five other bloggers. But who? It seems that everybody I am a ‘blog neighbor’ with has gotten this before me. So, I have decided to go the totally link-whorish route and tag Scott Adams, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Ken Jennings and Wil Wheaton. Yeah, let’s see how that works out.

*I’m going to link to where I’ve previously told these stories later… maybe. Check back here over the weekend.


Jeopardising Myself

There are very few people I would willingly use Microsoft Internet Explorer for, and Alex Trebek is one of them. Yes, it’s time for the almost-annual Jeopardy! online contestant test, you’re not supposed to use Firefox to take it, and I’m going to take it in less than an hour (If you’re a Quiz Kid in the Eastern or Central timezones, you’ve had your chance… now it’s time for us Pacific Pacifists to get pre-quizzed). Now, I really have no intention to trek to Sony Studios and attempt to follow in the footsteps of Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, but I just have to know something. You see, when I developed a case of Clinical Depression years ago, my memory and concentration took a beating. And the medication that helps me get out of bed every day hasn’t made me feel any smarter. And just over 20 years ago, I tried out for the Big J. At that time, it was all held in the studio where they did the show. First, the 100 people who had gotten the Golden Tickets after writing in to apply were seated in the Official Jeopardy! Studio Audience and given a sit-down test of 50 tough multiple-choice questions (none of that ‘answer in the form of a question’ gimmick, just a straight test). Then we all sat around almost talking to each other until the results came in and 9 of the 100 were ‘called on down’ for the next step in the audition. And yes, I was part of that Top 9 Percent… The 91st Percentile and I was totally thrilled. I was put into the second of three groups of three to do ‘the mock game’. Even though it was on the floor of the actual show’s set, we did not stand at the contestants’ podium and see the clues on the bank of TV screens. But we were given buzzers that worked just like on the show, and that was where I blew it… big time. Incredibly, after years and years of watching the show, I had never realized how the ‘lock-out’ buzzers worked. The contestant wranglers ‘reminded’ us that if any of us buzzed in before the end of the reading of the question, we’d be ‘locked out’. The look of a deer in the headlights washed over my face, because as a participating viewer, I was always so proud of my ability to shout the correct answer at the screen before Alex read the whole question, and now, that skill was going to work against me? Yeah, it did. I came in an unofficial third among the three players in that round of the mock game (they didn’t keep score, but I knew I’d gotten the least correct answers) and if they were screening for personality, that ‘deer in the headlights’ look worked against me too. We were told that some of us would be called back in a couple weeks, and some may be called back later in the season, but I knew they’d never call. I’d had enough disastrous first dates where the lady says “I’ll call you” to know… they never called. And I never tried again.

Now, after two decades, I face a new Jeopardy! Contestant Test in a whole different arena – Cyberspace, and all I want to know is if I possess anywhere near the same smarts as back then, or is that chronic case of the ‘duhhhs’ that made my job performance nosedive five years ago (I had singlehandedly created most of my department’s systems – and I forgot how some of them work!) still keeping me out of that 91st Percentile.

Well, this is a good sign. I haven’t forgotten my on-line appointment or taken an ill-timed nap and slept through it (things I’ve done more than once recently). And writing this blog entry has kept me busy right up to 15 minutes before Log-In Time. Now, a little bathroom break to avoid any ‘accidents’ during the quiz, a refill of high-octane caffeine juice to keep me from getting sleepy and I’ll be ready for you Trebek. And unlike the in-person audition where we got to see but not touch the set, I expect a real Jeopardy! experience. And I won’t get my buzzer locked out. No way.

UPDATE: It took 12-and-a-half minutes (15 seconds for each of 50 questions) for me to prove conclusively that I have become an idiot. No need to get an official score from Jeopardy! central… I went totally blank, not a clue, on 5 of the first 10 questions, at least 20 of the total 50… (I actually lost count) And a half-dozen times in the 50 questions I went “I know that one, it’s… it’s… it’s…” (I forgot Chesapeake Bay, George Lopez and Robert The Only Freaking Scottish Poet Anybody Ever Asks About Burns! Nothing like a nice intellectual ego-smackdown to help clear the mind. And my mind is clear. As in empty.


Webbed Feet 2.0

Yes, I know I had addressed and thoroughly ridiculed Web 2.0 design before. But as I have gotten deeper into this graphic thing through PhotoSlop (which is where most of my creative efforts and sense of humor has been directed lately), I discovered that my favorite image-creating software (which is NOT Photoshop… or even the GIMP… I’ll give it a proper endorsement after I try the next upgrade) is pretty good at easily creating those totally clichéd effects. But as I was playing with it further, I came up with what I consider a couple of comedic inspirations.

First, the mutant offspring of the smiley face and the starburst/badge design seen all over Web 2.0 sites. I’ve been looking for a ‘mascot’ for my internet mini-empire, and I think he is it.

Second, after playing around with funky variations on the 2.0 buzzword ‘beta’, I stumbled on “beta than eva” (a pun based on ‘better than ever’ in case you didn’t notice). I liked it so much, I have even registered betathaneva.com to add to my collection of cool but unused domain names.

But before I leave the subject at hand, I’d like to say a few words about my old logo. That typeface, Bookman Bold Italic with Swash, has served me since long before the Web even existed. When I was in the radio biz, I had few opportunities to be the “funny disc jockey” I believed I could be (and the opportunities that I had didn’t support my claim very well). But I did get the opportunities to write jokes for other DJs. My first (and most famous) client was Mr. Beautiful Downtown Burbank himself, Gary Owens, and I was deeply honored to hear his great voice using my now-obsolete “smudged carbon copy weather” variations. Ya had ta be there. For a while I published a weekly ‘joke letter’, which wasn’t always weekly, where I first discovered my psychological problem with repetitive deadlines. Appropriately, my mini-publication had the self-effacing title “Wendell’s Weakly”. In the technology of the time (1979-1981), I typed my material on letterhead/masthead sheets and had them instant-printed (it was the era of prehistoric Kinko’s) for distribution to my never more than 88 subscribers. But designing those sheets and the “Wendell’s Weakly” logo introduced me to those cool rub-off letters and the Bookman typeface variations. And let’s face it, I fell totally in love with the W…
That logo just screams “COMEDY”, doesn’t it?

My first blog, in 1999, was OneSwellFoop.com (a domain lost during an extended period offline in ’01, although I did later get the .net), and I used Bookman with all the “swashes” and didn’t care if it made me look gay.
And it was harder to find all the “swashes” in computer fonts than in rub-on lettering.

I have played around with other typefaces for the logo
Yes, that’s Cooper…

And other stuff…

I even tried parodies of other logos once (were any of my current 17 readers with me then?)

Even some logo designs that would’ve forced a change in the whole site design (this one more inspired by than stolen from the logo for Comic-Con)

But I kept coming back to Bookman. Maybe I’ll do that again someday. Or maybe I’ll find an alternative to the Web 2.0 generic Arial Rounded I’m using now. As I’ve said before, stay tuned.


A Picture Is As Many Bytes As A Thousand Words

Sorry I haven’t been on the ol’ blog the last few days. I’ve been concerning myself with things purely (and impurely) visual… keeping the PhotoSlop updated on a daily basis; trying to self-teach myself the GIMP graphics program (with not a lot of success) and participating in the infamous Fark Photoshop Contests


And, a thingy on BoingBoing about ‘Magritte mashups’ inspired me to do one myself. I’m surprised I haven’t seen this idea somewhere else:


Of course, that whole ‘tubes’ meme is getting old fast (and I am doing nothing that might slow the aging process), but I think the next popular silly-and-or-dumb way to refer to the Net-and-or-Web comes to us via “My Name Is Earl” (where most everything the regular characters do is silly-and-or-dumb): “The Wide Wide World of Web” (WWWoW) That was part of an episode where Earl and Company discover the WWWoW via a recently died acquaintance’s computer with a direct reference to Television Without Pity, where he’d participated in the discussion boards with the nickname “whojackie”… but wait, TWOP had a user called “whojackie”, and, sure enough, that user had posted comments over the last several weeks that referred to this episode of “Earl” that had not yet aired. And he had an email address, that many TWOPers wrote to, and depending on how their inquiries were addressed, they all got responses from either “MNIE” creator Greg Garcia or “Joy”, the character in the show who ended up with whojackie’s computer. Talk about life imitating art.

Speaking of the Weird Wide World of Web, I have recently been ‘tagged’ by an internet version of a chain letter at my vox.com address. All I have to do is tell 5 hopefully-interesting facts about myself and pass the challenge on to 5 other unwitting bloggers. The problem is, I know this has been spreading for a while, and I’m like one of the last 5 people at vox.com to get it, and I’m really not sure if I want to release this human-based virus into the Wild Wide World of Web… I will definitely be doing the 5 facts thing… as soon as I can find 3 more facts.


2.0.7th Heaven

Okay, drop everything again. Another security upgrade for WordPress. Apparently version 2.0.7 will prevent evildoers from smuggling gels and liquids onto my blogs. Or something. Fortunately, it only involves replacing a few files, which I can do without the help of DreamHost Goodies Install and only a small likelihood of accidentally crashing the entire Internet. (Hey, it’s possible. Not saying I’ve actually done it… more than once or twice…) The bad news is that it takes time away from all the cool new things I want to do with this site. The good news is that all the cool new things I want to do have a much higher likelihood of accidentally crashing the entire Internet. So, once again, if you can read this blog, then you’re not reading this message. But if this blog looks like h-e-double-hockey-sticks for a while, blame 2.0.7, not me.


Game Over

With the obvious disclaimer that my writings have occasionally been weblished at MSNBC.com, and I do consider NewsCorp, parent company of Fox Everything, to be the single most evil media megacorporation currently in existance.

What’s wrong with this picture? (An unaltered – except for size reduction to fit here – screenshot of the MSNBC.com front page today, January 16, 2007)


Yep, it’s the ad. First, I am pleasantly shocked that Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes would allow anything with the FOX name to advertise there, but the real issue is that it’s for the Fox Sports College Bowl Pick-Em Contest. Uh, didn’t the College bowl games finish a couple weeks ago? Or could this be for next football season? I had to know, so I clicked the ad:

Game Info
· FOX College Bowl Pick’em has ended. Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s game.

All things considered, that’s a relief.