Archive for April, 2011

Here’s the deal.  I can’t stand that Cobra Kai dojo. 

Danel LaRusso was a sweet kid just trying to find his way in a new school.  And you…you jerks…were so mean to him.

Cobra Kai

Image by Heather F via Flickr

 That’s not what karate is about, you know.  You guys at Cobra Kai are doing it all wrong.  It’s a beautiful, ancient tradition and you are all just a bunch of thugs.  And what’s with your teacher?  What a meanie.  I can’t wait for the All Valley Karate Tournament – then we’ll show you what’s what.

And, P.S., if you think a smart girl like Ali Mills will fall for your tough guy bull…well, think again, amigo.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I defeat Johnny and his gang?

Two words – crane technique.

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Here’s the deal.  If you’ve never had a toilet overflow on you, consider yourself one of the fortunate few.  I don’t know why, but there is nothing more terrifying than those few seconds as the water slowly rises towards the rim of the bowl. 

And you can’t stop it.  No amount of pleading and gentle coaxing will do the trick.  Your cries will fall on deaf, porcelain ears.  Your wild gestures and frantic hopping about will be ignored.  Like Luke Skywalker hanging in the Wampa’s cave, you’ll try to will it…but the force is not strong with this one, your energy is wasted.  For the water…will rise.

And it is truly frightening.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve seen – there is no more intimidating sight.  Firemen balk at the very idea.  Lumberjacks quake if you even mention it.  Navy Seals run in fear.   

You know what Chuck Norris does when his toilet overflows?  He freaks out.

Because we’re not frontier folk anymore.  We don’t chop down trees and build our own houses.  We don’t plow the fields to grow our own food.  And the majority of us don’t even know how most of the stuff we own works.

We take it for granted that the fridge will keep our groceries cool, that our heaters will keep our feet warm, and that our toilets will smoothly transport away our unmentionables.

And when any part of that system breaks down, we realize how vulnerable we are.  Most of us are just one virus away from a computer meltdown, one bad sparkplug away from sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck, and one overflow away from the type of mess that one can’t mention in mixed company.

My friend recently had a pipe burst in his house, flooding his garage.  And a few weeks later, discovered he had termites.  You’d hope that maybe the flood would have drowned the insects, but no such luck.  The termites were laughing and water sliding towards their next meal.  For them, a broken pipe in the floorboards just meant dinner and a drink.

It’s at times like these that we realize how crazy modern life is.  We have water running through our floors, electricity flows through the walls, machines whir and click about us, cooking our food, storing our data, protecting us.  Imagine trying to describe all of this to our Neanderthal ancestors – they’d be terrified, and yet we just expect it all to work out.  And when that toilet does overflow, we know that what little control we thought we had was (forgive the pun) a pipe dream.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I quell the rushing waters?  I don’t know.  I don’t know how a freaking toilet works.  What do I look like…a guy who knows how a toilet works?  What would that guy even look like?  What the heck are you talking about?

Sorry, this whole topic makes me uneasy.

I suppose I could try to live like my family.  My immediate kin folk are nomads that roam the woods of Central Virginia, foraging for food, bathing in babbling brooks and sleeping in crudely-fashioned huts.  (Maybe this is an exaggeration, but they do tend to live on dirt roads, they can often be found hiking and my dad does bear a suspicious, striking resemblance to Grizzly Adams).  And, while I admire their ability to live off the land, I like knowing that if I want a Pop-Tart at three in the morning, I can go buy one, put it in my toaster, and consume it.  I like television.  Carpet.  Indoor plumbing.  And we’re back to the problem.

Who am I kidding?  I’m not equipped to deal with this.  I’m adding a plumber to my speed dial.  I need someone who’s number one when it comes to number two.  If this ever happens again, I’m bringing in a professional.  And he better hurry.  Because Chuck Norris and I are freaking out.

Here’s the deal.  Today is the first in my 176 week series, Makya McBee vs. Reader’s Suggestions.  In addition to my own pet peeves, I will now, once a week, feature one of your issues.  Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments section at any time.  Today’s was the first grievance I received – recommended by Jennifer.

So, what’s more annoying than when you’re watching a TV show with someone and they change the channel during a commercial break and, when they flip back to the show you were watching before, you find that you’ve missed four minutes of important dialogue?

The only thing worse than that is when you’re watching a TV show with someone and they change the channel during a commercial break and, when they flip back to the show you were watching before, you find that you’ve missed five minutes of important dialogue.

Look, not everyone has gold-lined swimming pools, super-human jet-fueled robot servants or a TiVo.  Yes, the numbers are on the rise, but still less than half of all American households have a DVR.  That means most of us are watching TV the old-fashioned way – with commercials.

 

I don’t have a DVR.  And my many attempts to build myself a robot servant out of an old toaster, half a ten speed bike and some spare computer parts invariably end in a lawsuit.  Is it really my fault that my cyborg butler managed to rewire its own control board, become self-aware and declare itself supreme overlord of the local Radio Shack?  

According to the “judge” – yes.

So I’m stuck with 120 hours of community service.  And I didn’t even get my toaster back.

(P.S. Above picture courtesy of Daniel Kaplan Artwork)

Anyway, I think you can see my point…it’s really annoying when you’re watching a TV show with someone and they change the channel during a commercial break and, when they flip back to the show you were watching before, you find that you’ve missed four minutes of important dialogue.

When it comes to the remote control, those with the remote have the control.  There’s no getting around it.  And the only thing worse than a chronic surfer is the lingering commercial avoider. 

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I get over the fact that it’s really annoying when you’re watching a TV show with someone and they change the channel during a commercial break and, when they flip back to the show you were watching before, you find that you’ve missed four minutes of important dialogue?

Well, luckily for me, I don’t have this problem.  I watch TV alone…in the dark…curled up in the fetal position on the couch, nursing a two liter Dr. Pepper and wondering where it all went wrong as I numb the pain with another Saved By The Bell marathon.

But this isn’t about me.   This is about Jennifer.  May I suggest a simple battery removal?  Once you’ve located your favorite show, secretly remove the batteries from the remote.  If your TV watching partner is like most Americans, they’ll be too lazy to get up and manually change the channel.  Problem solved.  Bonus – you get to watch the commercials.  They’re useful because they recommend potential products that are available for you to purchase!

If this doesn’t work, I have some spare dialogue lying about from my many unsold screenplays.  If you miss something, try inserting: “Jonathan, I’ve told you a hundred times, the lawnmower is not a toy,” “If you’re a plumber, why are you wearing a tuxedo?” or “It’s only another forty-five minutes to Tallahassee, knit faster!”  If you need others, let me know, but these will probably fill in the gaps in most situations.

And, worst case scenario, you can always watch TV alone.  Of course, you’re never truly alone when you’re with Mark Paul Gosselaar…

Here’s the deal.  Mountain Dew is out of control.  For the longest time, I understood what I was getting into when I purchased one of these sodas.  I could accurately predict the color.  I would not be surprised by the taste.  But those days are over.

In 2001, they introduced Mountain Dew Code Red…I let this one slide.  One green.  One red.  I could handle that.

In the last decade however, Mountain Dew is acting like a Gremlin caught in a sprinkler  – sprouting out copies of itself at an unprecedented rate.  In the past ten years, they’ve introduced: Live Wire, Pitch Black, Baja Blast, Supernova, Game Fuel, Pitch Black II, Revolution, Voltage, Ultra Violet, Throwback, Cherry Fusion, White Out, Typhoon, Distortion, Flare, Crave, X-treme, and others.

For over fifty years, there was one Mountain Dew, now there seem to be over fifty per year.  What’s up with that, Dew?

I don’t have time to taste your infinite variations.  I don’t have the patience to figure out which is which.  I don’t have the energy to sort through all these colas.

But, surprisingly, that’s not the real reason I’m calling out the Dew.  In their new commercial, they are once again letting soda fans everywhere decide what their newest permanent flavor will be.  Either Diet Mountain Dew Voltage (raspberry citrus) or Diet Mountain Dew Supernova (strawberry melon).  And in both their commercial and their website they feature the graphic, “Voltage vs. Supernova.”

Listen up, PepsiCo., I own the phrase “_______ vs. _______”

No one shall be versusing anything without my permission (I’m talking to you too, O’neal…don’t even think about filming a third season of Shaq Vs.)

And who are you kidding anyway, Mountain Dew?  Everyone knows you’ll make them both permanent flavors regardless.  You’re addicted to creating new extreme-sounding flavors.  I’m sure you’re currently developing Mountain Dew Terminal Velocity, Mountain Dew Maximum Security, and Mountain Dew Patrick Swayze Kicking Butt in Roadhouse Alert Level Orange Code Purple.   

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop this auto-cloning soda and retain the rights to all things versus?  For one, I won’t be voting for either Voltage or Supernova…my only vote is for the original, highly-carbonated, neon-green soda we all grew up with…because no matter the funky, new color or the intimidating, extreme name, Mountain Dew was meant to be a solo act – we don’t need all these Dewettes.

Vs. Spam

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Internet
Tags: , , ,

Here’s the deal.  Various studies conclude that 70-90% of all emails are spam.  180 to 200 billion spam messages are sent every single day.  93 billion of them are sent to me.

That last part was a little hyperbole, but the rest is disturbingly true. 

So I’ve been keeping track for a few weeks now.  Jotting down various subject headings of my spam before I delete to my heart’s content.  And, given the incredible speed of technological advancement, it’s amazing the spammers can’t come up with a single convincing line.  Not one subject heading that has come close to tricking me into opening their email.

Now, for your convenience, I’ve categorized the ways in which you can identify an email as spam.  (Everything in quotes below is an actual spam subject heading I received in the past month).

(1) Incorrect Gender Targeted – “Sexy and Supportive Bras,” or “Breaking news for Stay home Mother.” – Ahhh, they know me so well.

(2) Excessive Random Punctuation – “We-have_added new jackpotsa-get_to-them first-town warning” – This-sounds_nothing like-a_real-email^you’re*not$fooling/{(>anyone.

(3) Winning Anything – “Congratulations.  You have been selected.” – You haven’t been selected, you haven’t won the lottery, there is no jackpot, this is not how the world works.

(4) False Sense of Urgency – “This is interesting!” or “I think you might like this!” – I know they sound intriguing, but don’t be fooled…it won’t be interesting and you won’t like it! 

(5) Too Many Capital Letters – “I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO REACH YOU” – this feels more urgent than the exclamation point, I’d better delete this AT ONCE.

(6) Poor Spacing – “youshould collectnow embassy” – youshould createaspamming programthat knows howto spacecorrectly.

(7) Poor Grammar – “Rolex.com For You Discount” – delete bin for you email go

(8) Poor Spelling – “Today Olny” – olny? Realyl? 

(9) The Fake Re: – “Re: Fund Investment Proposal” – yeah…I don’t have any investment proposals brewing, I’m more in the business of investing in my rent and groceries.

(10) Nonsense – “asfdas” – Asfdas me?  No, asfdas you!

(11) Ridiculous Claims – “Change your life in 60 seconds” or “Meet me tonight?” – Never, in the history of the universe has a random woman sent a random man an email asking him to meet her tonight.  And the only way I could change my life in 60 seconds is if I open this spam and it’s a virus.

(12) Ridiculous Names – “Mr. Dustan Zulu” – believe me, if I’d ever met someone named Dustan Zulu, I wouldn’t have forgotten about it.

(13) Ridiculous Return Addresses – “xujwj@qacvtlpa4.transsingex.com” – oh, my old friend xujwj, wonder what he/she/it has been up to since college.

(14) Suspicious Return Addresses – “knperson63@yahoo.com” – oh, it’s a “person” sending me a message.  I like messages from “people.”

(15) Too Generic – “A friend has sent you a MESSAGE” – guess what, when friends send me a message, they don’t say, “a friend has sent you a message,” they just tell me what the message is.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I outwit these clever hackers?  Please.  I’m surprised spamming works at all.  Who opens these messages?  How do they make money off this?  There’s nothing to defeat here.  These sad little attempts to scam or advertise are so blatantly obvious, just creating this post means my job is already done.  Now, I have to go.  My friend Xujwj is meeting me tonight and we’re going to purchase a Rolex and some supportive, sexy bras.  THIS IS INTERESTING!

Here’s the deal.  It was 39 days ago that I put up my first post and this blog was born.  So I figured it’s about time for a casual stroll over Remembrance Street, past Recall Cul de Sac and down Memory Lane.  It’s time to see what we’ve accomplished.  Where we stand.

I did some research on all of the topics I’ve covered so far, and you’ll be glad to know that we’re changing the world here.

Firstly, I found a discussion on ESPN last week about giving 110 percent.  Athletes offered their definitions of this mathematically illogical cliché…

“Giving 110% is finding the energy you don’t even have to finish the game strong.”  I love this quote.  It’s supposed to be inspirational, but it’s just doubly silly instead.  Finding the energy you don’t even have?  That is, I suppose, the exact type of energy you’ll need to give 110 percent.  I want you guys to go out there and give more than you can with that which you don’t have. 

“It means you are willing to go the extra mile.”  I never understood the point of this one either.  And he’s set a new world record in the Boston Marathon…and, would you look at that, he just keeps on running…that’s really going the extra mile.  Aren’t there enough “miles” in life already?  Do we really need to add more?

Boston Marathon Finish Line.1910. Author: Unknown.

Image via Wikipedia

 “When you give 110% you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for your teammates and your fans. The first 100% is for you, but the extra 10% is for others.”  This sounds good when you word it that way.  But what if you left out the part that’s for yourself.  I love the fans.  And tonight I’m going to give them ten percent.  That’s low even by my standards.

But this blog is a powerful thing.  We must be careful.  Some of the topics I challenge here are clearly looking for revenge.

For example, this news article from last Friday discusses a shutdown of part of Santa Monica Beach because a grenade simulator was found in the sand.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I spend an entire blog demonstrating why sand should be avoided, and a few days later, the sand closest to where I live is arming itself! 

But we also have success stories.  Makya McBee Vs. warned against Orange County based reality programming and…Bravo cancels The Real Housewives of DC.  That’s right people, we’re making a real difference.  One down, six to go.

And who can forget my diatribe against turtlenecks?  Well, shortly after that blog ran there was a bank robbery in Virginia Beach.  Here is the police description of the culprit, “The man is described as a white male in his mid-30’s, about 6 feet tall with a medium build. He had brown gelled hair and he was wearing a dark colored turtleneck sweatshirt, blue jeans and brown shoes.” 

I don’t blame the man.  I blame the turtleneck.  You think that turtlenecks everywhere don’t know that I grew up in Virginia?  That I attended the College of William and Mary, only miles from Virginia Beach?  They’re sending me a message.  And they’re getting me at both coasts, people.  The turtlenecks on the west are robbing banks to fund weapons purchasing for the sand where I live.  Is anyone truly safe?

As for my exposé on Google autocomplete, I’m not the only one who has it out for this service.  Just this past week, a court in Italy ruled against this internet convenience.  An Italian man entered his name into Google, and it was autocompleted with the phrases, “con man,” and “fraud.”  His libel suit was successful and Google will have to eliminate negative autocompletes in Italy.  Frankly, I’m getting a little nervous.  If Google, enraged by my writing, joins forces with the beaches and the turtlenecks…it would be like Sandman from Spiderman 3…wearing a turtleneck…heavily armed…and with the ability to search the internet.

A highly-intelligent, militarized, fashionable, beach-friendly Thomas Haden Church killing machine! 

Amputee boxer Baxter Humby, as Spider-Man, thr...

Image via Wikipedia

But the news is not all dire.  I have another success story to share.  Remember my troubles with bananas ripening too quickly?  Believe it or not, the world is listening, and this problem has been solved.  A company in Holland has designed a new system for storing and ripening bananas using ultra low oxygen to keep the fruit from ripening too quickly.  And none of this would have been possible without us.

Lastly, there’s the blog entry that started this all – the Patton Oswalt Google-off.  I’m happy to report that I’m making my move.  Less than six weeks ago I had only 560 Google results.  Now, I have over 3,000.  As promised, I’ve been following my opponent around the internet, leaving a trail of Google hits for myself as I go.  I’ve joined Twitter just to follow Oswalt.  I even wrote to Jimmy Fallon’s show to ask if they’d have me on since they had Oswalt on.  It only seems fair.  They never got back to me.

So, that’s the update.  I want to thank everyone who has been reading and sharing this blog – now that you can see that we’re making a difference, I’m sure you’ll realize that, now more than ever, it is important that you tell everyone you know about this blog and link it round the world.  We have only begun to transform society, our voices must be heard. 

And speaking of our voice, I wanted to also take this opportunity to see if there were any suggestions for future topics.  Please use the comment section to tell me what you think I should take on next.  What irks you?  What needs to be said?  I’ll do my best to get to them all.

And stay alert people.  We’re in this together now.  So keep one eye on Google, one eye on the sand, and one eye on the turtlenecks.  That’s too many eyes, isn’t it?  (When it comes to optics, I give 150 percent).  We might have to use the buddy system.  Okay, everyone find a partner…good, now divide up the eyes as outlined above (the fourth eye can be used for daily activities, as needed). 

Look, no one ever said that changing the world would be easy, but we’re doing it folks.  Spread the word.  And I’ll get back to doing what I do best…as soon as I figure out what that is.

Vs. Slinky

Posted: April 15, 2011 in Games and Toys
Tags: , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  I hate to write this.  I didn’t want to do it.  My whole life I’ve wanted to love Slinkies.  Remember the jingle…

What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound? – – – A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing! – – – Everyone knows it’s Slinky – – – It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky.  For fun it’s a wonderful toy – – – It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky.  It’s fun for a girl and a boy – – –  It’s fun for a girl or a boy!

I remember Christmas morning as a child, the family huddled about the tree with anticipation.  Piles of gifts with limitless potential…infinite possibilities as to what might lie beneath that snowman wrapping paper.  Then tearing into that small, perfect cube of a present – and there she was, my very own Slinky.

Metal slinky.

Image via Wikipedia

I’d seen the commercials.  I knew the physics-defying feats this metallic wonder was capable of.  So I’d rush to the top stair and gently push her over…and my Slinky would magically slink its way down to the next stair…and stop right there.

It’s as if my Slinky were saying to me, “Look, kid, I’ve had a long day…enough with the stairs, already.”

I always managed to get the only lazy Slinky.  The Slinky that couldn’t be bothered with, let’s be honest, the only trick a Slinky can do.  They’re designed to go downstairs – what the heck was wrong with mine?  It just sat there…like the cold coil of metal it was.

That is, of course, if my Slinky ever made it to the stairs.  A slinky in the box is a marvelous thing – perfectly coiled, aching to spring into action.  And then I’d take it out of the box.  And, on average, it was eighteen seconds until my Slinky had a bend in it.  I don’t know how, but it was nearly instantaneous every time.

From that point on, no matter what I did, my Slinky would have that annoying gap in its coil, like Michael Strahan grinning at me.  And the second your Slinky has even the tiniest twist of bend – it’s done for.  You might as well send it to that Slinky farm upstate, because its slinking days are over.

In my childhood, the difference between December 25th and December 26th was the difference between a marvel of modern toy engineering and a tangled mess of sad metal.

I had multiple Slinkies over the years.  And every single time my Slinky would quickly lose the spring in its step.  For me, no toy has ever held so much promise and consistently failed to deliver.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I deal with my traumatic, childhood Slinky issues?  Well, I’ve been in specialized Slinky-recovery therapy for eighteen months and it’s going well. 

It’s a twelve step program. 

Just start at the top step and make your way down.

Shouldn’t be too hard to complete.

Unless you’re a Slinky.