Archive for September, 2011

Here’s the deal.  The other day my friend and I (his name is Ian but he wants to remain anonymous, so I’ll just call him Fred) were conversing on the telephone when the subject of author attractiveness came up.  I posited that one need not be attractive to be a writer (citing myself as an example) and we started to do some research to determine whether or not this was true.  Which then became an exercise in comparing relative attractiveness of authors.  Fred asked me who I thought was more attractive, Dave Eggers or Some Other Guy Whose Name I Already Forgot.

(Side note:  As best we can determine, both Fred and I are heterosexual men – this does not mean we are incapable of assessing the attractiveness of a man.  I’ve never quite understood the level of homophobia that makes so many guys balk at the very notion of trying to determine whether or not a man is good looking.  I could hardly be less interested in red carpet fashion, but show me two dresses and I could tell you which one I thought looked better.  I don’t see any particular connection between what one fancies and one’s ability to assess aesthetic value.  But maybe that’s just me).

Now, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Author attractiveness.  So, then, in an effort to prove my original theory, I typed “unattractive author” in the Google Image search box.  This is when I learned that Google Image search is very accurate when you provide it with a specific noun…and very inaccurate when you provide it with a generic noun and adjective.  Here are a few of the actual top images that came up for “unattractive author.”

     

    

None of these, to the best of my knowledge, are authors.  And none of these, with the possible exception of all of these, are unattractive.  I don’t understand why the great and powerful Google can’t provide any images of unattractive authors.  (And, no, Dave Eggers wouldn’t count – that guy’s a total hottie).

So, in the interest of science, I said goodbye to Fred and tried an independent search to verify my results.  I tried another random noun and adjective, this time I typed in “unreasonable librarian” (which is completely unrelated to my mother who, by all accounts, is a very reasonable librarian).  And here’s a sampling of what Google gave me:

     

   

Look, just because an armored horse would have trouble calculating late fines doesn’t make it an unreasonable librarian.  And, sure, the toddler probably doesn’t know the Dewey Decimal System and couldn’t help you find the newest Dave Eggers book (wow, is that guy good looking), but these simply aren’t unreasonable librarians.  And Mary Poppins is certainly not unreasonable.  She’s delightful.  And practically perfect in every way.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I help Google improve their image results?  How will I teach this monster search engine to distinguish between a librarian and, say, a pile of yarn.  I’ll be honest with you, this is a tough one.  I don’t know if I can do it alone.  This time, I need someone to help me.  Someone smart.  Strong.  With chiseled, welcoming arms…I wonder what Dave Eggers is up to?

Here’s the deal.  I love lists.  I have an entire book shelf dedicated to books of lists.  They bring order to a chaotic world.  They allow us to pretend like we can organize the randomness that surrounds us.  And they let us rank things.  As my parents taught me growing up…there’s only one way to determine how good something is – by comparing it to other things.  That’s why my mom and dad would post a new “Best Offspring” list daily, ranking the children in the house.  My siblings and I would run downstairs each morning with uncontainable excitement.  Like medical students in an 80’s movie rushing to see the newly posted grades, we’d jockey for position, pointing and gasping…and one of us would walk away happy. 

Of course, none of that is true.   Except for the part about me loving lists.

The Hudsucker Proxy

You probably haven't seen this, maybe you should.

And blogs all over this internet are just covered in lists.  Top ten this.  My favorite that.  The best thingamajig.  The Coolest doodads.  The Greatest whatchamacallits.  It’s a great way to foster conversation and debate amongst the blog readers.  And, while I enjoy reading them myself, I have one central problem – I rarely fully agree.  Where are bloggers getting their information when they form these lists?  They’re so often mistaken.  Surely, something must be done.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I fix all of the incorrect lists on the internet?  There’s really only one way.  I’ll have to post some of my own lists.  And for those of you who are thinking, “Hey, isn’t this just a way to step back from the whole point of this site and instead post lists of your favorite things?  It sounds to us like you’re just fabricating an excuse to do something different.  Isn’t this supposed to be a blog about things that bother you, not things that you like?”  To those people I say, firstly – why are you so confrontational?  And, secondly, why are you so remarkably accurate?  Look, it’s just a blog.  If, from time to time, I want to post a list, is it really hurting anybody?  (Of course not, unless that list is, say, the top ten ways to hurt somebody).  Perhaps it’s merely semantics, but by framing this as Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists, I’ve found a loophole to my own premise and I can hardly be blamed for that (although, technically, I both created the original premise and then found the technicality in that very same premise…so I can’t imagine who else would be blamed…but as I’m also the one assessing the blame, I’m certainly not going to hold myself responsible…so, are we clear?)

So, when the mood strikes me, I’ll be posting lists in an effort to rectify the erroneous rankings currently scattered about the web.  I’ll start with my list of the top ten movies with titles featuring character names from the movie (and while I’m supposed to be correcting other people’s lists, I’ve never actually seen anyone make this list…that’s how proactive I am).  So, anyway, here it is.  (By the way, my top ten lists are automatically better…because they go to eleven).

The Top Ten Movies with Character Names in The Title

11. The Hudsucker Proxy

10. Borat

9. Cool Hand Luke

8. Good Will Hunting

7. About Schmidt

6. The Truman Show

5. Mr. Holland’s Opus

4. Annie Hall

3. Rocky

2. When Harry Met Sally

1. Jerry Maguire

Vs. Short Blog Posts

Posted: September 24, 2011 in Internet
Tags: , , ,

Here’s the deal.  I see some blogs and the entries are only a few sentences long.  What’s the point of that?  If you’re going to take the time to post, you might as well say something.

So, how am I going to do it?  How will I battle short blog posts?  I’ll just make all of my posts long.

Justin Long at CMJ Festival 2007

Relatively obscure actor pun.

Here’s the deal.  Most of my best friends are movie characters.  My only enemies are cinematic villains.  And some of my best memories are times when I’ve confused reality for a scene in one of my favorite films.  Therefore it should come as no surprise that I also anticipate the future that movies have predicted for us…and it’s going to be a tough seven or eight years.

The Postman takes place in the year 2013.  It’s a post-apocalyptic world in which war lords rule over a desolate landscape, humanity struggles to maintain some shred of hope for their future, and Kevin Costner has been forced to take a job delivering mail.  So I suggest that if you have any really important packages, you get those sent in the next fourteen months – Kevin can only handle so many parcels.

If we survive that world, two years later we’ll have to deal with crime-ridden cities the only way we know how…with a half man, half machine police force.  That’s right, 2015 brings us Robocop.  I know, cyborg law enforcement sounds ideal.  But believe me, it’s anything but.  Have we not learned anything from the 4,869 versions of Frankenstein that have been written and filmed over the years?  Has it turned out well even once?  Do we ever, in these movies, hear the protagonist reflect, “Hey, look, I played God and created life…and it’s turned out to be a really positive experience.”

Barb Wire (film)

No Laws.  No Limits.  No Plot.

At the same time, according to the cinema, we’ll be facing even more trouble.  2015 is also the year in which Back to the Future II is set.  And, with the exception of those cool hoverboards, this is not a pleasant reality.  Biff Tannen has all the power.  Yes, that Biff Tannen (boy, if you don’t watch many movies, this whole post is not going to make a lot of sense).

Things will get even more dire in 2017.  Criminals will be forced to fight for their life in an ultra-violent game show.  If you thought Richard Dawson was creepy making out with all of the women on Family Feud, wait until you see him making out with convicted felons in The Running Man.  Yes, people, we’re only a few short years away from a future where electricity-blasting, bounty hunters stalk the criminal and innocent alike for the entertainment of the masses, and, strangely enough, they’ll simultaneously be singing opera.

Two years later (for some unknown reason, even numbered years are relatively safe), Los Angeles will be torn from the continental U.S. and turned into a penal colony.  In the year 2019, LA will be a dangerous place ruled by the world’s most deadly criminals, and only a one-eyed Kurt Russell will be able to save us (What is Escape From LA, Alex).

And, should we be fortunate enough to survive the war lords, the late mail, the robotic police, Biff Tannen’s greed, Richard Dawson’s ire and being exiled to a land of degenerates…we’ll be faced with the most frightening future of all.  In 2022, Soylent Greenwill be available at your local grocer.  And if you don’t know what it’s made out of…you need to join Netflix.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I survive the next decade of cinematic apocalyptic doom?  Luckily, I’ve seen all of these movies, so I know precisely what is required to stay alive.  There is only one upcoming futuristic movie I haven’t seen, and it is perhaps the most frightening of all.  It is the one that fills my heart with dread.  It presents a future that I simply don’t know how to deal with.  In a few short years, we’ll be in 2017, where the movie Barb Wire takes place.  The most terrifying vision…the one sure sign of the apocalypse…the one future we may not be able to survive…a world where Pamela Anderson is a movie star…

Vs. Okra

Posted: September 18, 2011 in Food
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Here’s the deal.  I recognize the fact that if one of your worst childhood memories is being forced to eat okra that you’ve had a pretty fortunate life.  That being said, it must have been fairly traumatic because the experience still haunts my dreams.  I was probably seven or eight years old.  Living in Dallas.  What my family lacked in material wealth we more than made up for with love.  At least, that’s what I thought until the night my parents force fed me this nasty little vegetable.  It was green.  It was fried.  It was breaded.  It was one of the most unpleasant things I ever had the misfortune of introducing to my young taste buds.

Look, I could have called this blog Makya McBee Vs. The Foods He Doesn’t Like and have come up with just as many topics.  I’m the pickiest eater I know.  I don’t like anything spicy.  I don’t like anything sour.  I pretty much try to avoid flavor.  There are four to five things I enjoy eating – the rest is all very difficult for me to stomach.  I’m pretty sure I have hypersensitive taste buds.  (I remember, for example, a purportedly bland chili that my dad told me was not at all spicy that felt, to me, like swallowing fire).  But few things compare to that dreaded okra.

Bucket of raw Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) pods

 

Abelmoschus Esculentus (yeah, doesn’t sound as tasty when you use the Latin) is a fuzzy, green, ribbed pod.  Oh, unappetizing in so many ways.  Okra is ribbed for nobody’s pleasure.  Okra feels like a hairy spider’s leg.  Okra is mucilaginous.  Yep, nothing says delicious like mucilaginous.  And it’s just what it sounds like – this is what’s responsible for the slimy quality of okra.  And hairy, slimy, green vegetable + seven year old Makya = gag reflex. 

My parents didn’t believe me when I told them I couldn’t swallow the okra.  I was gagging on this foul flavor and they weren’t buying it.  Well, it’s thirty years later and I’m sticking with my story.  Do you believe me now?  I couldn’t swallow that disturbing “food.”  And I still can’t.      

I have to be honest, every time I go home, I secretly fear that my mom or dad will make me eat okra again.  How old do you have to be before your parents can’t tell you what to eat anymore?  I’m pretty sure they’re not allowed to dictate my diet…but I’m not willing to take that chance.  I mean, if I didn’t eat my vegetables as a child, they would often save them for me and make me eat them for breakfast the following day.  It’s not a bad strategy.  It wasn’t really a battle, if I didn’t want to eat something, that was fine…it’s just that I wouldn’t eat anything else until I ate that thing…and I don’t know what I’d do if they tried to pull this one on me again with a pile of foul okra. 

“Are you going to eat that okra?”

“No, thanks.”

“You have to eat your vegetables, son.”

“Um, I’m 37 years old.”

“I know how old you are…you gonna eat those?”

“Okra is like eating a gooey spider and the very thought of it makes me wretch.”

“Oh…well, I’ll save it for you and you just let me know when you are hungry…it probably won’t be quite as good cold…for breakfast…but it’s your choice.”

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I keep this green abomination from “stalking” me?  I suppose it shouldn’t be that difficult.  It’s just a vegetable.  Clearly, I have issues to deal with.  Maybe I need professional help.  Something to stop the nightmares.  Help curing my phobia.  Perhaps hypnosis.  It certainly sounds relaxing…soothing…I can see it now…close your eyes…relax…deep breaths…you’re getting sleepy…very sleepy…and when you wake up…you’ll have to eat your okra!  NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Here’s the deal.  Fruit of the Loom has one of the oldest (created in 1893) and most recognizable logos in the world.  And, in the past decade, they’ve brought this logo to life with a quartet of actors dressed in oversized fruit costumes.  I have a very specific issue here – not with the logo itself, but with just one fourth of this fruity bunch.

My problem is with the guy on the far right.  My first, and most obvious problem, what the hell is he?  He looks like wilted lettuce.  But that’s not a fruit.  He could be parsley.  Again, more of a garnish than a fruit.  Spinach?  Kale?  Arugula?  What is this stuff?

I did a little research and Fruit of the Loom refers to this stuff simply as “leaves.”  This does not make me happy.  This company had a world of brightly colored, unusually shaped fruits to choose from and these are the four they chose?  It’s pretty pathetic.  I wonder what that meeting was like?

“Okay, boys, fruit logo – what have you got?”

“Apple.”

“Apple.  Good.  That’s definitely a fruit.  Everyone recognizes apples.   Nicely done, Johnson.”

“How about grapes?”

“Grapes.  That’ll work.  I like that.  Now we’re rolling. Anybody else?”

“Hmmm, how about grapes?”

“I think someone already said that…let me just check my list…apple…grapes…yep, we have grapes already.  But I like the way you’re thinking.”

“Wait, what about different colored grapes?”

“Interesting.  Do grapes come in different colors?  We’ll have to do some research.  But I like that.  So now we’ve got apple, grapes and grapes.  Let’s see if we can get one more fruit.”

“I’ve got it – leaves.”

“Leaves?  Nice.  Wait, are leaves a fruit?  I don’t think leaves are fruit.”

“It’s almost five o’clock.”

“Really?  Okay, fine – we’ll put in leaves.  Great job, everybody.”

Actually, the Fruit of the Loom people list the five components of their logo as: apple, purple grapes, green grapes, currants and leaves.  The currants, however, are not featured in the commercials.  Maybe because nobody says currant anymore.  Paradoxically, currants aren’t current enough.

Regardless, I think they’re wasting valuable underwear real estate and commercial air time with those damn leaves.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I get rid of the foliage and refocus Fruit of the Loom on the fruit of the loom?  I think I need an ally.  A celebrity to adopt my cause.  And only one man can help me – Wayne Wilderson.

When I see Wayne, I think of his multi-episode arcs on Seinfeld and The Office…but you probably know him as the purple grapes.  Yes, he appears to be the only actor with a non-fruit career working on these spots.  He’s the pro.  He’s the guy we need on our side.  Working from the inside, he can help the leaves leave.  I’ve got a lot on my plate already without adding fruit.  I think I’m going to pass this one off to Wayne.  Yes, we have a legitimate complaint.  But nobody is going to listen to us moan about it.  Besides, who better than the grapes to make a fine whine?

Here’s the deal.  You know those lines painted on the pavement in the parking lot?  Those are there for a reason.  They mark the boundaries of an individual parking space.  Your goal, as a driver bringing your car to a rest, is to guide your vehicle into that spot, so that your car is betweenthose two lines.  If your car is overlapping one of those lines, you are officially taking up two parking spaces, throwing the whole system off, and destroying society.

Cover of

Clap if you believe in parking correctly

Sure, maybe your kindergarten teacher, in an attempt to make an excuse for your below average dexterity foster your creativity, told you it’s okay to color outside the lines.  That was all well and good for coloring in Tinkerbell’s wand in your Peter Pan coloring book, but we’re not in Never Never Land anymore.  This is the real world.  You’re an adult.  Keep your car between the lines.

I understand that this may not be a big issue for everyone.  My parents and siblings live in the wilderness like the Swiss Family Robinson (and, yes, some of them do live in trees with a complicated series of pulleys and levers…I applaud their ingenuity but the internet service is sketchy at best) – when they park their cars the nearest adjacent car is typically six to seven miles away.  But I live in Los Angeles, where there are nearly ten million people and just under eight thousand parking spots. 

Parking is serious business here.  Typical street parking signs read like a novella with restrictions based on time of day, day of the week, side of the street and phase of the moon.  And (this is not an exaggeration) it is not uncommon to pay upwards of six dollars per fifteen minutes of parking at downtown garages.  You often need a calendar and a calculator (and a second income) just to figure out where you can park in this city. So, clearly, following the rules of parking is important here.  And when I see a vehicle sloppily spread out over two parking spaces, I want to take a chainsaw and sever off the part of the car that is overlapping and pile that scrap metal into the one parking space…but I rarely do this.  Usually I just grimace. 

I have no idea what makes a person think they are special enough to take up two spaces.  I don’t know if it’s a vision problem or just a complete indifference to where other people put their cars…either way, I don’t want to have anything to do with these people (I would, however, welcome them as competitors in a Tetris tournament).

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I teach these people how to park?  I have an idea for a new type of parking lot with what I call hot spots.  If a car’s tires are parked on the line, this will trigger a hidden, underground heating coil so that, when the guilty party returns to their vehicle, they’ll find that the tires that overlapped into the adjacent spot have been melted off of their car.  I’m guessing this will only have to happen to a person once – they’ll probably be a little more careful next time they park.  It might sound drastic, but I can’t take any more of these ridiculously common and utterly thoughtless parking practices…if this plan doesn’t work, I might just have to move in to my sister’s tree house.