Archive for December, 2011

Here’s the deal.  As one of America’s premier bloggers, I am responsible for both entertaining and educating literally dozens of internet users.  For instance, you may already know that there are many countries other than America (Peru, for one).  But did you know that the people who live in these other countries (Peruvians) sometimes behave in different ways than do Americans?  They may wear different types of clothes (Peru Shirts), they may speak different languages (Peruvanese), they might not even listen to Justin Bieber (I’m not sure why).  And who said learning isn’t fun?

Red Grape

Mmmmmm...foreign New Year's traditions.

But there are many other countries that aren’t Peru.  Such as…well, I don’t have the time or the resources to list them here….but they exist.  And many of these nations celebrate New Year’s Eve in ways we could never even imagine.  Just imagine, if you will, spending New Year’s in Barcelona…when the clock strikes midnight you’d be busy eating a dozen grapes!  Wacky?  Absolutely.  Delicious?  Si.  Si, indeed.  Now, take a quick boat drive over to Greece and join their tradition of baking a gold or silver coin into a loaf of bread.  (Now I understand the Grecian fiscal crisis – they’re putting all their dough in their dough).  Then, the person that gets the slice with the money wins good fortune and a trip to the dentist.  Bizarre?  Of course.  Culturally diverse?  You better believe it.  Lastly, let’s visit Greece’s next door neighbor – South America.  In this country, they celebrate the New Year by putting on new, brightly colored underwear just before midnight.  And no one knows why.

Not that we don’t have our own strange traditions.  Have you ever heard the later verses of Auld Lang Syne (literal translation, “Old Long Since,” – not that this clarifies anything).  Here’s the third verse –

“We twa hae run about the braes…and pu’d the gowans fine…but we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit…sin auld lange syne.”

What is that all about?  Like the mystery of brightly colored South American underwear, some questions have no answer.  Only on New Year’s (or during a Bob Dylan concert) will you hear so many people singing along and having no idea what they’re saying.

But I’m sure you can see what I’m getting at here…New Year’s resolutions are ridiculous.

English: Bust of Janus, Vatican Museum

Why the long faces, Janus?

In Ancient Roman times (i.e. pre-1920’s), their God, Janus, was placed at the head of the Roman calendar.  In addition to being the God of gates and doors (how did gates survive before they had a deity looking after them?), Janus had two faces.  And, when he wasn’t battling Batman, he represented the notion of looking both backwards and forwards as the New Year begins.  And, for just as long, people have used New Year’s as an opportunity to look back on the past year and make the necessary corrections for the upcoming one.

And thus it is that millions of people every year decide to lose weight, quit smoking, get organized, or in some way better their life.  They wake up early on January 1st full of hope and eager to enact change.  This tends to fade by the 4th or 5th.

In fact, a recent study indicates that only 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will be successful.  So about one in eight will follow through on their optimistic vows….and the rest will try again in 361 days. 

Come on.  Who are we fooling?  Enough with the resolution song and dance already.   Why do we keep doing this?  Would you continue to attend a college with a graduation rate of 12%?  Of course not.  You’d drop out.  (No wonder their graduation rate is so low).   

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I make everything better?  Well, I’m glad you asked, because I have a few ideas.  (1) If you’re really serious about your resolution, don’t make a New Year’s resolution, make a New Week’s resolution.  For example, on Monday, you resolve to get organized.  After four or five days, you start to lose enthusiasm.  But, here comes Monday again, and you resolve again to be more organized…you’ll hardly have time to make a mess.  (2)  Most people give up because they’re unhappy with their results.  So find ways to make your results more impressive.  If, for example, you are trying to lose weight, don’t measure your loss in pounds.  Try ounces.  After all, which sounds better – “I lost two pounds”…or…a “I lost 32 ounces!”  (3) If you want to avoid the whole issue, why not make a resolution this year not to make any New Year’s resolutions?  (Not recommended for scientists or mathematicians who are apt to get caught up in the logical impossibility of this option).  (4)  If, like me, you’ve got enough problems without adding a New Year’s resolution…and yet, the idea of a fresh start is still romantic…I offer this final solution.  Make a New Year’s resolution that you can’t fail at, but also don’t have to work at…because you don’t know what it is.

I, for example, am resolving to run about the braes.  I’m also resolving to pu’d the gowans fine.  Will I accomplish my goals?  I have no idea.  But you can’t fail when you don’t know what it is you’re trying to accomplish.  And someone’s got to pu’d those gowans.  Why not me?

Here’s the deal.  Yesterday was Christmas and I, like most of you, spent the day with loved ones, sipping hot cocoa, admiring the roaring fire, and creating lists of the scenes you’ll never see in scary films.  I know it’s something of a cliché, but we’re traditionalists and as soon as the gifts are unwrapped the heated debate over horror movies begins.

My young niece, between sips of eggnog, called out, “Uncle Makya, why not make this into one of your blog entries?”  I couldn’t help but chuckle at her ignorance.  “Silly niece,” I chastised, “This time of year, families are up to their eyeballs in lists of scenes you won’t see in horror films.  They don’t need another one.”

But, as I watched the tears well up in her eyes, I was reminded of the true meaning of Christmas…I’ve since forgotten it again, but it inspired me to ignore my instincts and give a young girl’s Christmas wish a chance to come true. 

Top Ten Scenes You’ll Never See In A Horror Movie

11.  Six teenagers go into the woods…six teenagers come out of the woods.

10.  The authorities realize that they’re dealing with a werewolf.  They then check their calendar to see how much time they have before the beast strikes again…oh, no hurry, they’ve got three and a half weeks to figure out who the werewolf is.

9.  Being chased by the killer, our hero jumps into a car and…it starts on the first try.

8.  Friend says, “Excuse me,” instead of reaching out and grabbing the frightened girl’s shoulder.

7.  The strangely stoic, pale, over-dressed young children who are singing in a creepy monotone are not at all evil.  They’re just strangely stoic, pale, over-dressed young children who enjoy singing in a creepy monotone in their free time.

6.  After finally defeating the crazed killer, our heroine walks away and we pan back slowly to the villain only to reveal that…yes, he is indeed quite dead.

5.  The teenagers stop by the dusty, decrepit gas station and ask the toothless, scraggy old man for directions…and he is more than happy to give them detailed instructions on how to find a local bed and breakfast where they enjoy a perfectly lovely weekend getaway.

4.  Having been terrorized by a madman, the teens finally locate a police officer…and he responds by listening carefully and believing absolutely everything they say.

3.  The killer realizes he has some serious Oedipal issues and seeks therapy.

2.  No need to repeatedly hit your flashlight, it’s fully functional.

1.  The teenager runs through the woods, trying to escape…the killer follows with a truly unhurried, plodding stride…the distance between the teenager and the killer increases.

Here’s the deal.  In the past, I’ve done a post on how to identify spam and on the absurdity of blog spam.  But spam is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving, and I have even more to say on the topic.

In the past month I have received spam with the following subject headings:

SENIOR CITIZENS FIND THAT NEW ULM, MINNESOTA, ...

Single and ready to party

Public Arrest Records Online

Save 80% off Viagra

Have bad credit!  No problem!

Drop the baby weight in time for summer

View photos of 50 plus singles near you at seniormeetpeople.com

New Penile Enlargement Patch

Okay, so I’m beginning to get a picture of what the spammers of the world think of me.  Apparently, I’ve been labeled a criminal with bad credit and erectile dysfunction, as well as an overweight senior citizen with an undersized sex organ.  And this is simply not true.  I’m only thirty seven.

And, in regards to this last subject heading, I also received some spam at my blog from a commenter called “best penis.”  (I had no idea there was an international ranking…I wonder what criteria are involved?  Does the contest involve a talent portion?)  “Best penis” was from penisadvantage.com – and, no, this is not a website that lists the advantages of having a penis (make more money…ability to urinate standing up).  When you go to penisadvantage.com, you will see the following words – “A genuine way to permanently enlarge your penis at home – using just your hands.”  Okay.  Ideally, I’d like to keep this a PG-13 site.  Let’s just say that I, along with the rest of the male population, have been implementing this strategy for years and it has yet to yield increased size…but we’re willing to keep on trying.

But back to my point.  Why is so much of the spam so insulting?  Are they trying to make us feel bad about ourselves? 

I’m not clicking on any of these.  I think they should try some compliments instead.  If they want me to open their spam they should try a subject heading like this – “We’ve heard that you’re attractive, with great credit, an impeccable record with the ladies and that you are in no need of penis enlargement…click here to find out more.”

There’s enough bad news in the world as it is, I don’t need random spam reminding me of my shortcomings.  If you’re going to guess wildly at what might ail me, why not put a positive spin on it?  “Overly Tall, Dark and Handsome Patch!”  “80% off Excessively Awesome Pills!”  “View Photos of Yourself…Looking Terrific!”   

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I put an end to the negative spam subject headings?  Well, I haven’t exactly figured out all of the details…but I’m working on a system whereby we could completely eradicate negative spam from home…using just our hands…

Here’s the deal.  For many years I supplemented my income by tutoring.  I’d typically work with 3rd through 6th graders and one of the most common questions I was asked was, “Why do I need to know this?”  I would tell the children that they need to know basic language arts and math skills just to function as an adult.  I would tell them that they might need to know Biology if they decided to be a doctor when they grew up.  They might need to know Computer Science if they grow up to design video games.  And they might need to know History if they grow up and find out that no one is willing to buy their hilarious screenplays and that they have to supplement their income by tutoring History.

But I don’t know why they would need to know how to climb up a rope.

There was a time when every school gymnasium in the country had a rope hanging from the ceiling…and many still do.  A long strand of twine leading to nowhere.  Traditionally the P.E. rope climb serves three educational purposes: (1) to promote anxiety and dread in the student as they anticipate their turn and watch the coach yelling at the other kids to scale the rope, (2) to humiliate and ostracize those children with below average upper arm strength and (3) to foster rope burns on the hands and inner thighs as these youngsters slide back to Earth after their ascension.

There may or may not have also been an athletic component to the activity.

Three-strand twisted natural fibre rope

Whatever the thought process, I’m sure there are less humiliating and ridiculous ways to work those muscles.  This must be the most useless thing we’re taught in school.  When are we ever going to need to climb a rope in life?  When, other than in a junior high gym, would we even have the opportunity to climb a rope in life?  And why did educators decide that our nation’s youth must have this virtually worthless skill set?

If P.E. class were any indication, kids would think that their parent’s commute to work involved tip-toeing across balance beams, climbing a rope up to their office, and leaping to avoid dodge balls as they run down the hall to get their morning coffee.  Granted, work might be a little more exciting if this were the case, but the health care coverage for rope burns would skyrocket.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I put an end to this sadistic practice?  For years I’ve been petitioning school districts to implement more practical physical education programs – activities that the kids will actually be able to use when they get older.  Stretching exercises for increased stamina at those long DMV lines, running after your toddler before they use that crayon to draw purple monkeys on the wall again, carrying four grocery bags in one hand and hopscotch (okay, hopscotch isn’t particularly useful…but gosh darned if it ain’t fun).  Yes, I’ve been trying to change the system, but nobody listens.  Frankly, I’m at the end of my rope.

Here’s the deal.  For those of you keeping count, it’s time for Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists – Volume 10.  Actually, I suppose that if you’re keeping count, you’d already know that this is Volume 10.  So, for those of you notkeeping count, it’s time for Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists – Volume 10.  Then again, if you’re not keeping count, you probably don’t care which volume this is.  I guess I should say, for no one in particular, it’s time for Makya McBee Vs. Other People’s Lists – Volume 10.  Well…that was a terrific waste of time.

Confederate reenactors fire their rifles durin...

100% authentic...except for the guy who took the picture...

But I’ll tell you what isn’t a terrific waste of time – creating and/or reading lists about Civil War reenactments.  According to a recent study by the Institute of Wildly Inaccurate Studies, 83.7% of Americans currently enjoy Civil War reenactments as a hobby and 39.1% list such reenactments as their primary source of income.  (I should really start getting my figures from a more reputable institute). 

Clearly, these historical recreations are all the buzz nowadays.  The Institute of Wildly Inaccurate Studies estimates that 62.9% of all Tweets are Civil War reenactment related…then again, this same institute recently found that their own studies have a margin of error of up to 104%.  Nevertheless, grab a friend, a hot cocoa and get ready to snuggle up and read a list you found on a blog…

Top Ten Signs This is Your First Civil War Reenactment

11. When it’s time for your death scene, despite the flurry of enemy gunfire, you yell, “Missed me!  Missed me!” and run off into the woods, giggling.

10. You show up dressed like Chewbacca.

9. As the participants divide themselves into the armies of the North and the South, you proudly declare, “I shall fight for the East.”

8. You’re dressed like actress Cybil Shepherd, having mistakenly thought you had signed up to take part in a Cybil War Reenactment.

7. Having forgotten to secure a Confederate flag, you arrive at the battlefield with your neighbor’s rainbow flag.

Topiary garden, Beckley Park manor, Oxfordshir...

Oh...the humanity...

6. After you’re killed you get back up and call out, “Zombie Civil War Reenactment!”

5. You show up with a Belgian 10.4 Garland revolver…which everyone knows wasn’t introduced until two years after the Civil War ended.

4. Half way through the battle of Chancellorsville you get hungry and order a pizza.

3. As soon as the reenactment begins you panic and surrender to a nearby shrub…effectively rewriting history and creating an alternate universe in which M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is actually frightening, topiaries are outlawed, and every president is named President Bush.

2. The main reason you’re participating is to find out who won.

1. You charge the battlefield screaming, “I can’t wait to blog about this!”

Here’s the deal.  I’m not particularly down with the celebration of random milestones.  Specifically, people love to celebrate the hundredth anything.  As discussed here, ten is a much-beloved and greatly overrated number.  And one hundred is ten tens…so you can just imagine.

These haphazard ceremonies just make me feel bad for the person celebrating their ninety-eighth birthday.  They make me bemoan the almostness of the ninety-ninth shopper.  And they make me wonder what’s so unspecial about the one hundred first anything.

But I just realized that I don’t have a whole lot of ranting left in me on this topic, so it’s time for an unprecedented…

Versus within a versus!

That’s right, for the first time in this blog’s nine month history, it’s a bonus versus!

English: Katy Perry at MTV Video Music Awards ...

Katy Perry winning (and wearing?) awards

Here’s the deal.  Katy Perry hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend.  I have nothing against this girl kisser, she seems lovely, but I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to be the musical guest…not the host.  In my opinion, comedians should host and musicians should sing.  But, to her credit, she did show that she’s much more than just a singer.

In a commercial spoof, she imitated Christina Aguilera with a quick song.  In another sketch, she impersonated the lead singer of Florence and the Machine by singing like the lead singer of Florence and the Machine.  In the opening monologue, she discussed her music videos and sang part of her song Teenage Dream.  In another sketch, she offered her take on Pippa Middleton and, although Pippa’s not known for singing, seized the opportunity to sing a song.  Oh, I almost forgot, she also played this obsessive Hello Kitty fan…and she sang a song about how much she loved Hello Kitty.  But she didn’t sing in every single sketch.  Katy Perry had the chance to show some range when she played Katy Perry on a talk show.  And she talked about what it’s like to be a singer.  And then there was the digital short.  It was pretty funny.  It featured Katy Perry.  Singing.

You get my point, eh?

If you only plan on having her sing throughout the show, why not make her the musical guest and get an actor in there to do the acting?  I mean, it’s not like the writers gave her anything to do.  Alec Baldwin had more one-liners in his one minute cameo than she did all night.   I’m just saying.

End of versus within a versus.

Come on, just because something has occurred one hundred times, is that any reason to expect the one hundredth occurrence to be somehow better than all those that came before it?  Why do we go to such extremes to celebrate centennials?  It puts strange, undue pressure on this number and presumes an inherently elevated quality that is rarely there.  Sure, the hundredth of anything is unique…but so is the forty-third.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I prove that one hundred is a random milestone and not particularly special?   Actually, I just did.  Because, you see…

This is my 100th blog post!  Hooray.  We made it, everybody.  This is the big one.  The one we’ve been waiting for. 

Sure, it was little random and disjointed.  It wasn’t especially amusing. Not particularly insightful.  But it had to be that way.  I could only prove that one hundred should not be more celebrated than any other number by intentionally making my hundredth post unexceptional. 

Of course, that doesn’t explain the previous ninety-nine.

Here’s the deal.  For some reason, many people choose to convey the idea that they could not care less about something, by saying, “I could care less.”  I assume that when these same people have suffered through a brain-numbing Pauly Shore marathon of Bio-Dome, Son in Law, and Jury Duty and can’t stand the thought of sitting through one more, say, “Anyone up for another Pauly Shore movie?”

Pauly Shore Live Stand up

Pauly Shore...after a Pauly Shore movie marathon

“I could care less,” has become such a universal phrase, that it has begun to sound like it means what people intend for it to mean (which is the opposite of its actual meaning).  Well, not the exact opposite.  I mean, what does, “I could care less,” actually mean?  It means that, to some degree I care…but it would be possible for me to care to a lesser degree.  It sounds as if the speaker is offering this as an alternative.  As if they’re saying, “If the amount that I am choosing to care is not working for you, I could lower that amount of care.”  I’m not entirely sure what situation would call for this strangely specific notion.

“Look, I’m doing my best.  It’s just that, knowing how much you care about my success, well, it puts a lot of extra pressure on me.”

“I could care….less.”

Of course, people don’t say it like this.  Rather, they utter these words with such disdain, that I think others just choose to ignore the fact that they aren’t really making any sense.

But the logical inconsistency of this phrase is only half of what bothers me.  Let’s set aside the fact that they’re not saying what they’re trying to say.  Imagine, instead, that they are saying (as some people actually do), “I couldn’t care less.”  Even this is untrue.

Whenever anyone says, “I could care less/I couldn’t care less,” what they actually mean is, “I care a great deal as evidenced by the fact that I am claiming not to care at all.”  If one couldn’t care less, there would be no reason to say so. 

The X Factor (Australia)

I'm rooting for Fox Mulder

Think about it.  Think of something about which you could actually not care less.  (And it should require some thought, because those things that easily come to mind are those things we care about).  I, for example, couldn’t care less about who wins The X Factor.  I am neither rooting for anyone, nor am I rooting against anyone.  I know that I couldn’t care less because I have never seen an episode of The X Factor.  I do not who is capable of winning.  It would be impossible for me to be less emotionally invested.  Of course, I don’t go around saying, “I couldn’t care less who wins The X Factor.”  Paradoxically, only someone who cares about the outcome would utter this phrase.

So all I’m asking of people is that they stop saying, “I could care less,” when in fact they mean, “I couldn’t care less,” and, in fact, don’t mean that either.

It’s that simple.

So, how am I going to do it?   How will I stop people from saying the opposite of what they mean despite the fact that they don’t even mean it?  It’s a tricky one.  Honestly, I could have fewer ideas…by which, of course, I mean that I couldn’t have fewer ideas…which also isn’t entirely true…because I do have a few ideas…but, by this time, the whole issue is so confusing that you could probably care less.