Humor

Darmok

PhoneMonkeyPNGThe last thing I want to do is belittle someone for not speaking English well. I don’t speak it well, and my roots go back to the American Revolution, or so I just learned. But there are times in this job that make one feel under appreciated. All our orders go through as text. This is precisely so restaurant staff, who may or may not speak English, can at least see what they need to make. Occasionally, however, there are issues, and a we will need to speak with someone. We have people on staff who can speak Spanish, and I can get by with minimal broken Mandarin, but that leaves a lot of languages out, and so we have conversations like the following.

“A customer from last night ordered the seafood udon, and asked for no calamari.”

“Yes. No calamari. We no calamari. Japanese restaurant. Seafood only, no only vegetable combination.”

“This udon was served with only calamari.”

“No. No calamari. Restaurant only seafood combination. Calamari tomorrow. Tonight, calamari. No send order today.”

“I’m sorry. I meant they received their dish incorrectly.”

“Oh!”

“Ok, so the customer ordered the seafood udon.”

“Ok.”

“And they asked for no calamari–“

“Yes. No. Calamari Japanese restaurant. Today. Tomorrow. Send calamari, no vegetable combination. Seafood combination calamari.”

[fast forward 10 minutes]

“Do you understand?”

“Calamari. No calamari. Yesterday.”

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

So, when you ask your customer service rep to help you with something you haven’t tried doing already, this is likely the kind of interaction they’re having while you drum your fingers on the table and think of how the Better Business Bureau should hear of this terrible customer service.

Advertisements

Long Hot Sausage (Bow Chicka Wow Wow)

I was able to get most of the eighteen inches in me, but it was a tight fit.

I had to clean the creamy sauce off my face.

The length wasn’t the problem; it was the girth.

It took forever to come, but it was totally worth it.

Size isn’t everything, but it sure draws a crowd.

We double teamed this joint.

This was some hot, salty meat.

photo

Photo credit: Overexposed.
I had my mouth full.

This is the “Farmer’s Bratwurst” at Brussels Beer Bar in Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.

(And probably the dumbest post I’ve ever made.)

Scissor Kick My Rubber Suit, Baby. It Don’t Hurt.

Call it cheese. Call it shlock. Call it bad, and call me a hipster for loving the hell out of it. Actually, don’t do that. There isn’t an ounce of irony to my abiding adoration of old kung-fu, monster, and kung-fu monster movies. You might ask why this is, and you’d be right to do so. Watching these movies is a window into one of the most abundantly creative times in cinematic history, and you don’t need to look all that closely to see what some of the movies we consider to be classics have borrowed, stolen, repurposed, and improved upon.

But let’s start at the beginning. Gojira (1954) likely started the man-in-the-rubber-suit phenomenon, and how! The technology for fusing man and rubber monster was so primitive that the guy inside the suit occasionally passed out from heat exhaustion.

Whatcha got behind your back there, buddy?

Over the course of the Godzilla movies, the rubber suit became more wearable, but looked more and more human as it went on. This allowed for some awesome knock-down-drag-out fights, as in The Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). As soon as we needed to have Godzilla express consternation, amusement, and other emotions relevant to beating ass, technology improved. This made Godzilla’s purpose less the divine punishment for man’s hubris to something more akin to the guy you tag in when the saucer men from Planet X try to steal your women folk. Laudable, but not quite the same message–unless you’re from Planet X. Eventually, when technology allowed it, we kicked out the guy in the suit and replaced him with a computer-generated version of the beasts we wanted destroying our cities. The change allowed us to bring back a more lizard-like form, and allowed for greater destruction, but at the same time, the message of these films became more self-centered. While modern monster movies focus on survival and the triumph of the human spirit, Gojira asked if either of those two things are worth having. Maybe we’ll get it right again some day, but don’t hold your breath.

At the same time guys in rubber suits were clumsily duking it out, Hong Kong was producing some of the best martial arts movies ever made. Bruce Lee dazzled us with his lightning speed and “waaahhhh!”s and “wooooo!”s. But we also had guys like Sonny Chiba putting his fists in people’s faces as a less sympathetic, Yojimbo-type character. This was also the era of the style battles. Tiger! Mantis! Iron Monkey! Will anything defeat the Wu-Tang style? I hear it’s not to be trifled with. These movies are also on YouTube. Check out Deadly Mantis (1978) if you like watching guys learn the art of ass kicking from insects.

Generally, this genre evolved in two directions. Taking the fantasy path, one branch of kung-fu films bought up all the wires and harnesses available and allowed its characters to fly across rooftops and balance on the ends of swords. Notable examples are Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (2010). From this category, following from movies like Dance of Death (1976), directors like Quentin Tarantino found an excellent villain in the aged mentor.

The other branch steeped itself in realism, focusing less on the importance of style and more on the end result. In that category, we ended up with Drunken Master (1978) and Ong Bak (2003). In spirit, we also ended up with The Raid: Redemption (2011), which you can see almost scene for scene in Dredd (2012).

Speaking of superheroes, a day came in 1975 when someone asked, “Hey, couldn’t we mix kung-fu with rubber monsters and insanely overpowered superheroes to make a pastiche of ’70s Hong Kong for the benefit of future generations?”

And they totally did.

Infra-Man was awesome not only because it blended all of these things into a great big cheese puff of a movie, but because it is essentially the model for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Except that it’s only one dude. And he can shoot lasers from his nipples eyes.

All of this, together with Voltron, we now have the family tree that produced Pacific Rim (2013). As a movie, it accomplished exactly what it set out to, and if we want to argue about its nonsensicalness (why build giant robots to punch things?), we only need refer back to it’s lineage to see that its gaping plot holes are the product of generations of Bene Gesserit breeding.

Cheat Day 2: I Need This, OK?

The last few days have been a little rough. I’m not sleeping well, and haven’t been able to sleep in but once since I’ve moved to Malaysia. That, combined with blog fatigue, holiday stress, and a visit from my good friend depression, means that my creativity and my ability to give deep thought to anything other than self-pitying bullshit are both running on fumes. I am writing this new intro, though, so technically I’m getting something done.

Rather than inflict un-fun upon you today, I’ve decided to revisit a post I made for my old blog, which died because I neglected to feed it (and because I forgot the password). Those who know me may remember it–others may have stumbled upon it. I have done my best to replicate it as exactly as I could, based on the files I dug up on my computer. I did make a few changes here and there, but mostly cosmetic.

Great Codpieces in History, Vol. I

There are great and numerous drunken arguments that attempt to determine the greatest codpiece in the history of humanity. I’m just going to cut to the chase here and posit that there is no single greatest codpiece, and that there may never be one so gloriously over the top that it would outshine them all—literally, perhaps. But this does not make all codpieces equal. The best way to prove these codpiece-related ideas may not be a best-of list, but simply a chronological list of notable codpieces throughout history. Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Hot Nuts in Warm Places: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (1759-1766)

It is not my business to dip my pen in this controversy—much undoubtedly may be wrote on both sides of the question—all that concerns me as an historian, is to represent the matter of fact, and render it credible to the reader, that the hiatus in Phutatorius’s breeches was sufficiently wide to receive the chesnut;—and that the chesnut, somehow or other, did fall perpendicularly, and piping hot into it, without Phutatorius’s perceiving it, or any one else at that time.

The genial warmth which the chesnut imparted, was not undelectable for the first twenty or five-and-twenty seconds—and did no more than gently solicit Phutatorius’s attention towards the part:—But the heat gradually increasing, and in a few seconds more getting beyond the point of all sober pleasure, and then advancing with all speed into the regions of pain, the soul of Phutatorius, together with all his ideas, his thoughts, his attention, his imagination, judgment, resolution, deliberation, ratiocination, memory, fancy, with ten battalions of animal spirits, all tumultuously crowded down, through different defiles and circuits, to the place of danger, leaving all his upper regions, as you may imagine, as empty as my purse.

With the best intelligence which all these messengers could bring him back, Phutatorius was not able to dive into the secret of what was going forwards below, nor could he make any kind of conjecture, what the devil was the matter with it: However, as he knew not what the true cause might turn out, he deemed it most prudent in the situation he was in at present, to bear it, if possible, like a Stoick; which, with the help of some wry faces and compursions of the mouth, he had certainly accomplished, had his imagination continued neuter;—but the sallies of the imagination are ungovernable in things of this kind—a thought instantly darted into his mind, that tho’ the anguish had the sensation of glowing heat—it might, notwithstanding that, be a bite as well as a burn; and if so, that possibly a Newt or an Asker, or some such detested reptile, had crept up, and was fastening his teeth—the horrid idea of which, with a fresh glow of pain arising that instant from the chesnut, seized Phutatorius with a sudden panick, and in the first terrifying disorder of the passion, it threw him, as it has done the best generals upon earth, quite off his guard:—the effect of which was this, that he leapt incontinently up, uttering as he rose that interjection of surprise so much descanted upon, with the aposiopestic break after it, marked thus, Z…ds—which, though not strictly canonical, was still as little as any man could have said upon the occasion;—and which, by-the-bye, whether canonical or not, Phutatorius could no more help than he could the cause of it.

Though this has taken up some time in the narrative, it took up little more time in the transaction, than just to allow time for Phutatorius to draw forth the chesnut, and throw it down with violence upon the floor—and for Yorick to rise from his chair, and pick the chesnut up. (2: LXII)

If this was too lengthy or flowery for your sensibilities, our narrator, Mr. Shandy, describes the reactions of a man who is unfortunate enough to have a hot chestnut roll off the table and into his loose codpiece. It is a classic 18th-century slapstick scene, and must be appreciated as such.

2. Do You Bite Your Codpiece at Me, Sir? Romeo and Juliet, dir. Franco Zeffirelli (1968)

black-and-white-romeo-and-juliet-1968-7058682-906-648

I’m sure that there were codpieces aplenty in Shakespeare’s time, but the grapefruit-sized lumps in the trousers of the male actors helped this production take the Oscar for Best Costume Design at the 1969 Academy Awards. Perhaps The King’s Speech could have taken the costume design category this year if only Colin Firth had had the courage to make the cock-pocket sacrifice.

3. Malcolm McDowell’s DeLarge: A Clockwork Orange, dir. Stanley Kubrick (1971)

screen-shot-2011-03-14-at-2-45-55-pm1

Again, let’s not dwell on the source material when we have wonderful little images like the one above. Perhaps the more frightening thing about this particular codpiece is the very real possibility that we might just see what’s under it, and that it could be the last thing we ever see.

4. Sean Connery’s Floating Head: Zardoz, dir. John Boorman (1974)

zardoz1

Say what you will about the movie, but don’t say it here. This is not a film review. After the obvious, there’s really not much to say about this fine piece of pelvic craftsmanship. It speaks for itself, and is one of the prime examples of a codpiece thought by some to be the greatest in all of cinematic history. We shall see.

5. Humungus’s Humungous: The Road Warrior, dir. George Miller (1981)

btsroadwarriorbig1

Who gives a hot fuck about Mel Gibson prancing around in the desert, when you’ve got a badass like Lord Humungus? Yes, the studded leather pouch makes him a bonafide aristocrat. It’s right here in the rules. Look it up.

6. Sting’s Meat Shield: Dune, dir. David Lynch (1984)

brianherbert11

This here is another hotly contested Most Glorious Codpiece Ever nominee. Not only is it a character in itself, but it is one of the best parts of this movie, second only to Sting, who chews up every molecule of scenery around him except for this bulletproof cock blocker.

It is said that David Lynch has disowned this movie, but certainly not because of this. Certainly not!

7. The Silver Lining: Labyrinth, dir. Jim Henson (1986)

codpiece2

This one is subtle, for a while, until you see it, and then you see nothing else. Allow me to demonstrate.

codpiece2a

Now look back at the first picture. Notice anything different? If you look closely at the credits to this movie, you’ll see that David Bowie’s giant codpiece has its own billing. The ‘80s were a very progressive time in the film industry.

8. Cameo’s Cameo: “Word Up” (1986)


The Year of Our Lord 1986 yielded a bumper crop of fantastical codpieces, the wearing of which seemed to be spearheaded by musicians. Cameo’s “Word Up” music video is nutty enough on its own, but this red latex monstrosity makes it one of those videos you show to teenagers when explaining what the ‘80s were like. Want a closer look?

not pictured: years of therapy

not pictured: years of therapy

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

9. Comics Get Cocky: Doom Patrol #70 (1993)

doom70

Before you ask, yes, that’s a laser cannon strapped to his crotch. Apparently it doubled as the kind of power tool a Cosmopolitan sex advice columnist would come up with. And, yes again, his name was Codpiece. Comic books in the early ‘90s went completely off the rails. I don’t know if it was the heroin, grunge rock, or just post-Cold War ennui, but the lives and costumes of superheroes and supervillains got really weird. Thank goodness we’re past all that now.

10. Stallone’s Detective Shield: Judge Dredd, dir. Danny Cannon (1995)

4457-judge_dredd

Again with the crazy comic book stuff gone horribly wrong. At least this time it was its transition to film that caused the real weirdness. How hard must it have been for Stallone to growl, “I am the law!” with that bulletproof cup strapped to his junk.

Oh well. At least it’s not particularly memorable.

11. Sex Machine: From Dusk Till Dawn, dir. Robert Rodriguez (1996)

savini7

Subtle.

I’m not sure what it was about the ‘90s and dick guns, but they certainly were big back then. Perhaps without the Internet being as big as it is now, memes didn’t burn themselves out so quickly. Still, this one, like a very few lolcat macros, stands out in the sea of cock rockets because of its inventiveness and practicality.

There are many, many more codpieces out there, some fantastical, some dignified, and some just plain obscene. Perhaps, one day, we will catalog them all, stand back and gaze upon our collection, and finally find the best one of them all. Until then, however, the search continues. Onwards and upwards, lads.

Making the Perfect Grilled Cheese

The trick to making the perfect grilled cheese is simple: γνῶθι σεαυτόν. The Oracle in The Matrix had a sign above her door with (confusingly) the Latin translation: temet nosce. Know thyself. In its original context, the aphorism did not ask one to look inward and ask the question, “Who am I?” It wasn’t a question, after all. Instead, it implored the reader to find his or her own path–to know the destination before taking the journey. Applying this principle to grilled cheese is easy and can save you a lot of aggravation down the road. And one of the beautiful things about grilled cheeses is that, like pizza, there are many, many combinations from which to choose.

First off, you need to pick the right bread. Some people like a lot of bread, and may go with a focaccia or ciabatta, but some people may not like bread very much at all, and for that, there is a beautiful solution: quesadillas! And for the gluten-allergic or simply picky, there are myriad options out there. They may be harder to find, but they’re out there.

Next, you have to figure out how you want the bread to cook, and this can be a bit more tricky. Some people like their grilled cheeses cooked so that they’re very firm and crunchy. For this, the trick is dehydrating the bread by making sure the pan is dry. The bread may not brown evenly, but you’ll know it’s ready to turn over when you stick the spatula under it and hear a rasping sound like sandpaper. Some people like crispiness, but not the gum-cutting hardness of the previous method. For this, butter the bread. The more butter, the longer you have to cook it before browning and crispiness, but the tastier it will be. Some people, though even like a little bit of sogginess, which you obtain by frying the sandwich in oil or rendered fat.

Next, and perhaps most important, is the cheese. Typically, you’re going to find that most grilled cheeses made for mass consumption will be made with either American or cheddar, and sometimes jack cheese. Privately, though, people make grilled cheeses with just about any kind of cheese. Most people will use only one kind of cheese per sandwich, but some may put two, three, or even four–sometimes even five!–cheeses in one sandwich. The danger in mixing is that all cheeses might not get enough representation. It requires a thoughtful approach to sandwich building, but it can and has been done.

But wait! There’s more! You can even throw in little extras. For example, grilled cheese and ham is one of the most popular variants out there. But you can get as creative as you want. Bacon, tomato, avocado, onions, spinach, pesto, truffles (if you’re feeling decadent)–all of these and more are good. In fact, there aren’t, with probably a few obvious exceptions, any objectively bad extra ingredients. It’s a matter of taste.

Now that you’ve cooked your sandwich, enjoy it. It’s a simple food with endless potential.

Creating your grilled cheese was easy, but sharing it can be hard. Pretty much everyone loves grilled cheese, but it’s hard to find someone who will like it the way you make it. Most people can come to a compromise. “You can put avocado in it, but just cook it a little crispier, OK?” I think we’ve all heard that one at one point. But sometimes you just can’t find any middle ground. Pork products can really make a grilled cheese interesting, but some people can’t or won’t eat pork.

The option, then is to make two different sandwiches, which is fine–totally doable–and it won’t necessarily ruin the meal. It raises an important issue, though: the notion that you aren’t really sharing the same meal, and that you have to keep your pork to yourself. On one hand, great, more pork for me. On the other, not being able to share something you like is kind of a bummer. This goes for any aspect of the grilled cheese, and even how often you want one, so it’s important to choose carefully the people you eat with.

So, know yourself. Know your grilled cheese. Cook on!

Rage Against the Machines

The crisp salmon-colored 10RM note slid into the parking garage’s autopay machine with a mechanical whir, which turned sour, like a cat’s distressed cry, as it spat the note back at me. In went the note again, and back out it popped. I flipped the note over and tried again. Same thing. I reversed it. Same again. I grumbled and fumbled for a different note, but before I could get one ready, my girlfriend was already feeding the machine, and it was gobbling them up gladly. I felt my eye twitch. Maybe, though, a 10 was too big a denomination, and her feeding it 1RM notes was the key. When the machine spat my ones back at me, I threw my hands up and cursed the malevolent robot. When the parking fee was paid, the machine offered us our card, and I snatched it away.

Next in line, our friend retrieved a rumpled 10 from his pocket, and placed it in the machine’s maw. “Aw, fuck you!” I groused loudly as in one fluid motion, the machine made a meal of his bill and produced his updated parking card. To an outside observer, it may have appeared that I was making an enemy of a friend through strong language and dismissive body language. But this is wrong.

I have a long history of conflict with technology. About a year ago, I was taunted by an order-taking machine at Boloco. I just wanted a burrito, and as I navigated through the slick touchscreen environment, the machine kept asking me if I wanted all sorts of extras, and just kept piling on the requests. The answer was no. I just wanted a burrito. But the torrent of questions was clearly there to teach the machine about me. It was there to learn.

On one hand, smart machines would be a great thing. I’d probably fight with them less if they knew what I wanted to do. But what happens when they get too smart? I imagine the same machine, after a year’s worth of orders, might get a bit judgmental. “Extra cheese?” Yes. “Are you sure?” Yes. “Really, do you think you really need extra cheese? I mean look at you.” Seriously, what kind of monster would give italics to an intelligent machine?

It’s not as if I beef with technology all the time, though. I write this blog on a machine, and I hardly ever yell at it. I drive a car, and it’s pretty much safe from misdirected anger. I need these things, or at least I think I do. I need them, and when they break down or go insane, it’s maddening. Perhaps it’s that a repeated automated response feels like insanity or taunting, neither of which is easy to respond to when your adversary has no face.

Machines and I have a complicated relationship. I don’t like to fight with machines, but it just happens. Scanning a can of beans at a self-checkout station can quickly escalate into a colorful floorshow. It’s not that I think calling a robot names will hurt its feelings–I’m not some kind of dumb ape–but it’s generally considered gentlemanly to let loose an insult before entering into violence. It’s the glove slap to the cold, unfeeling face of technology.

Pistols at dawn, you metal bastards!

Your Requests: Blogged, Part II

Here we go again. Thus begins Part II of the all-request blog. Let’s jump right in.

“Catholicism”

Catholic: adj. Broad, liberal, general. Of universal scope, comprehensive, pertaining to all mankind.

There are potentially many criticisms one could level at any institution that purports to speak universally about an endlessly diverse planet of people. One might call it prideful. Still, there are some pretty good things happening with the church recently, primarily this new pope. It’s been a troubled time for the band, and they couldn’t have picked a better frontman. So far, he has let his deeds speak for him, and it seems like people across the board are pretty impressed. One might call it catholic approval. Still, it makes one wonder what might be going on while everyone is paying attention to Francis.

“Crunches”

Crunches are some of the most satisfying sounds. Nothing quite compares to the sound of leaves crunching underfoot in the fall. Of course, they don’t really crunch underfoot here because everything is wet all the time in the fall. Snow crunching is also one of those magical sounds. It’s something that can soothe a seriously bruised soul. The crunching of bacon is another mood pleaser, as is the satisfying crunch of a lobster or crab shell. And just from a schadenfreude point of view, almost every crunch in the movie Jackass can turn that frown upside down. Seriously, that’s a way funnier movie than people give it credit for.

 “Thermodynamics”

Ok, so I borrowed this one from a recent Cracked article (which is actually pretty good, by the way), and as the article says, this song doesn’t have so much to do with thermodynamics as it does nucleosynthesis. What it shows is that I don’t really know much about thermodynamics other than its basic laws, and that when something appears to be hot, I may or may not proclaim, “Science!” It actually makes me a little sad, because, like the pizza math from yesterday, I used to know a lot about this kind of thing, but at some point couldn’t wrap my brain around it anymore, and eventually gave up my studies in science and engineering to make no money writing. It seemed like a fair deal at the time.

“Klondike bars”

I like Klondike Bars. It’s hard to go wrong with ice cream and chocolate. A few years ago, though, they had a series of commercials that would play on Pandora. You might remember the “5 Seconds to Glory” campaign, but if you don’t, here’s a link. I get the point of the ad, but what in the unholy hell were they thinking? Hey guys, if you can listen to the woman you chose to spend the rest of your life with for five seconds without tearing your ears from your head, you can have this treat. You just have to wait five whole seconds before stuffing your fat face! Are you up to the challenge? Funny, I didn’t see the reverse version. Hey ladies, if you can put up with your husband’s drunken groping for five seconds before he passes out, you can have some ice cream while you email the divorce papers to your attorney! Somehow, I don’t think this was the entry people were expecting from this topic.

“The G spot”

The G Spot is essentially a super low-tech funhouse. Perspective and balance are manipulated in such a way that balls can appear to roll uphill and liquids can stop midstream and change directions. Some people really like it, but others dismiss it as hokum and optical illusion. If it is some weird Jedi mind trick, though, it’s a really, really good one. Somehow, time seems distorted, too, but this is just your head messing with you because of your surroundings. One thing to note for visitors is that if you don’t know where you’re going, it can be kind of hard to find. On your first visit, it’s best to have someone to guide you. It is located in Santa Cruz, California. Oh, wait. I’m talking about the Mystery Spot. Oh well. I guess the same thing applies to both. Google Maps will get you to the Mystery Spot, though.

“Crushing it”

Lastly, I’d like to say that I did a pretty darn good job of covering all these requests in 100 words or more. Sometimes, the result wasn’t what I was expecting, but it proved an interesting challenge. What for example, would I say if someone asked me in the middle of a conversation, apropos of nothing, what I thought of pig anus? Now you know. And so do I. The deadline and word restriction was very much like a word association game. You may not have been witness to the most well-formed or best thought-out answers, but what you got was kind of a window into the soul–more so, perhaps, than in my other more introspective posts. Did you see where I struggled for words, had too many words but wanted to keep it short, put up a shield, or simply dodged the issue?

“Assholes standing in line at a pizza place testing your status”

BONUS ROUND!

A special thanks goes out to those who sent me suggestions. It was fun. Let’s do it again sometime.

Pling! Pling! Pling!