Archive for March, 2012

Here’s the deal. When I was just a young, adorable tot, I would put on a cape and run around the house performing heroic deeds. I called myself Eric Lightning.

Not a bad name for a superhero. I give younger, smaller Makya a lot of credit. Rather than just pretending to be Spiderman or Batman, I created my own identity. Eric Lightning. And what the name “Eric” lacks in superheroness…is more than made up for when you add the “Lightning.”

I have but the vaguest recollection of my former alter ego. I don’t remember my specific super powers. I imagine I was faster than a speeding house cat, more powerful than a slightly younger child, and able to leap tall couch cushions in a single bound. I was a mild-mannered Kindergartner by day, but don’t let the Scooby Doo backpack and juice box fool you…all criminals know that before the storm, comes the Lightning.

Lightning over Pentagon City in Arlington, Vir...

It's a bird...It's a plane...

I’d like to think I had a secret lair. Maybe a mask that, while it only covered my forehead and eyes, rendered me completely unrecognizable to those closest to me. A utility belt complete with ultra-cool grappling hook gun that would allow me to casually ascend out of frame like it was no big deal. But the truth is my only assets were a cape and an overactive imagination.

But the beauty of it is that that was enough. I miss the years when make believe could get you through the day. Plus, it was good for you. Not only is it how children learn, some scientists theorize that this type of play can actually create synaptic connections in parts of the brain. Not too shabby for an old blanket with a yellow lightning bolt sewn on.  

So, in an effort to reintroduce a little playful magic back into my life, I did what any rational blogger would do and Googled, “Eric Lightning.” Imagine my minimal surprise when I found that Mr. Eric Lightning had a facebook account. While I considered friending my namesake, I thought better of it. There is, after all, a strong possibility that the Eric Lightning on facebook is an alternate version of myself. In another reality I may have never given up the name. I may have grown up to be a crime fighter rather than growing up to be some guy who writes ridiculous blog entries about how he might also exist in a parallel universe where he grew up to be a crime fighter.

But I still think we could all use a little more Eric Lightning in our lives. If make believe helps develop emotional, cognitive, and social skills in the brain of the child, why can’t it do the same for an adult? It’s time for a new and improved Eric Lightning. An Eric Lightning that can benefit my adulthood. A superhero who can erase a lifetime of debt with a KAPOW! A superhero who can improve a resume with a WHAM! A superhero who can fly through the air and karate kick ne’er-do-wells with a mighty KABLUEY! (I still want it to be fun).

Because the truth is, when I hear the name “Eric Lightning,” I feel just a little bit more powerful. A smile spreads across my face. And some small part of me clings to a faint memory of a little kid running around in circles in the front yard and imagining a world in which anything is possible.

I’m off to make my new cape.

The Pull of Pulp

Posted: March 27, 2012 in Food
Tags: , , , , , ,

Here’s the deal. I loves me some pulp.

Avoid the Noid

How could Flav resist?

In orange juice.

It’s not like I just wallow around in buckets of pulp. That would be crazy. Nobody bathes in bathtubs of pulp. And, of course, there aren’t any pictures of me online doing this…so don’t even bother to look.

Whether it’s Tropicana’s “Lots of Pulp,” Florida Natural’s “Most Pulp,” Minute Maid’s “High Pulp,” or Florida Natural’s “High Pulp,” I think we can all agree that juice manufacturers could put a little more effort into naming their products. But whatever you call them, I’m a high-lots of-most pulp kind of guy.

I like my juice like I like my monkeys…chunky.

Besides the fact that pulpy oj tastes better, most of an orange’s flavanoids are found in its pulp. And, while unwilling to do the necessary research due to the fact that reading about flavanoids is unreasonably boring, I can only assume that they’re a good thing and not the unnatural love child of Flava Flav and the Noid.

So, if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend the pulpiest of orange juices. But if you prefer your breakfast beverage pulp-free, I bear you no ill will. There’s plenty of room in this world for all types. And the last thing I want my new and improved, positive blog to do is create pulp friction.

Here’s the deal. My coconut mango scented candle smells freaking awesome.

Candles, of course, have been popular for a long time. According to Wikipedia, “the earliest known candles were made…during the Qin Dynasty.” Also according to Wikipedia, the Qin Dynasty is “the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC.” Wikipedia goes on to note that China is “the world’s most populous country, with a population of over 1.3 billion,” and that a dynasty is “an American prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12, 1981 to October 22, 1991.”

And, as best I can determine, Wikipedia is a website wherein one can enter into an “infinite definition loop.” Where one can look up “the history of candle making” at 10:24 pm and then look up at the clock five minutes later only to discover that it is ten minutes to midnight.  

My point is – my coconut mango scented candle smells freaking awesome.

I think the key is that the word coconut comes first. That is, that the aroma produced by burning said candle smells mostly of coconut and only slightly of mango. Were the reverse true, I’m quite certain this very post would never have been written.

Mango doesn’t smell that good.

1942 photograph of Carpenter at work on Dougla...

This is not what I look like.

I know what you’re thinking, “Makya, we had you pegged as a real manly man. Why do you own a coconut mango scented candle?” Come on, it’s 2012…do we really still think that buying scented candles and dressing up in silk lingerie and getting regular Pap smears are all unmanly activities? Hello? Evolve much?

Okay, fine, perhaps I’m not the ultimate symbol of macho. I’m not tough. I don’t like to get my hands dirty. And I’ve never punched anyone in my life. If a situation arose in which the likelihood of me either (a) having to punch someone or (b) getting punched arose, I would run to my nearest multiplex and take in a nice romantic comedy. (And I’d cry when they got together at the end. Alright? Are you happy now?)

Then again, I’m no metrosexual either. I don’t particularly like to shop. I’m never gotten a manicure. And I’m certainly not the sharpest dresser. But none of that really matters because my coconut mango scented candle smells freaking awesome.

It’s burning as I write these very words.

And, as even the least-educated among us know, the olfactory cortex is embedded within the brain’s limbic system and amygdala, where emotions are born and emotional memories stored. Thus, one’s sense of smell is inherently linked to one’s memories. No doubt we’ve all experienced a particularly specific aroma that immediately transported us to the past and evoked vibrant images. And thus it will be with me in the future. Every time I light this candle, I’ll be whisked back to the magical moment where I confessed to anyone with an internet connection the fact that I am an unmanly, weeping coward who schedules medical procedures only necessary for women. It may not be the ideal memory. But at least it will be accompanied by my coconut mango scented candle.

Which smells freaking awesome.

Here’s the deal. I’ve never been a home owner. Mostly because I’ve never been a money owner. And, try as I might, no one seems willing to trade their house for my lively jig. So, instead of purchasing a building to live in, I’ve worked out a slightly different arrangement. I pay people to let me stay in their building and then, after giving them thousands of dollars for these squatting rights, I move on with nothing to show for it.

Not too shabby, huh?

It’s called “renting.” And what it lacks in the pride and security of home ownership, it more than makes up for with the smaller living area and unique opportunity to share two washing machines with forty complete strangers.

But there is one other advantage to renting – the limitless potential of an empty apartment. I love looking at new apartments. Any time someone in my complex moves out, I’ll go check out the bare living space before new tenants move in. I’ll envision how my life might be different if I lived there. Where I’d put the book shelf. How I’d arrange the bedroom. Where my friends would sit when they came to visit. Yes, this time I’d have friends. This time I’d be popular. They’ll call me Mr. New Apartment – King of the Cool.

I imagine a whole new life for myself. Surely everything would change. A new apartment means a new future. And I play it all out in my head. (Spoiler alert: my new life is always better.)

The only thing cooler than exploring a new apartment would be exploring a new apartment in England (in Great Britain)(in the United Kingdom), because then I could call it a flat. The British have cooler names for everything. If I lived in a flat, I could take the lift up and run like crazy to the loo because I’d eaten too many chips. (Chips are French fries over there. Can you imagine?)

And then I’d go on holiday.

Awesome.

Then again, there’s a downside. Across the pond, if you’ve got “shag carpet” I think it means you have an unnatural relationship with your floor covering. And they also talk funny.

But that’s not the point. The point is, I love walking through clean, new apartments and envisioning my life there. I pretend as though I’d feng shui the heck out of the place. I act like I’d have cool art up on the walls. I imagine myself sitting in front of a roaring fire, sipping hot toddies, and listening to the Red Skelton Show on my old timey radio. (Okay, I’ve never done that last one. I don’t even know what a hot toddy is.)

So, should you find yourself in a rut or in need of inspiration, what do I recommend? EAT. (Empty Apartment Therapy). Just pretend like you’re in the market and go check out a few. Think of how your life might change with a fresh view, a different color scheme, a brand new layout. Then, afterwards, we’ll get together for fish and chips, hot toddies and, time permitting, a lively jig. King of the Cool indeed.

Here’s the deal. Two months ago I hit upon a unique strategy. I realized that if I wrote about common topics, new readers could never find me as my blog got lost in the hundreds of thousands of search results. However, if I wrote about curiously specific topics – my blog would stand alone. Thus, if you search for “Rebecca Black,” you’d have to scroll through hundreds of pages to find the blog entry where I wrote about her. But if you search for “Rebecca Turquoise,” I’m the very first result. The only thing that remains to be done is to somehow get people to search for Rebecca Turquoise.

In the comments section of that post, loyal reader and “u” missing “Josha” suggested that I do Makya McBee Vs. Baby Hippo Teeth, as there are zero articles on the internet about baby hippo teeth. I’d have a complete monopoly on the subject. The only problem was I had nary a negative word to utter about baby hippo teeth. But now that I am helming the new and improved Makya McBee Approves, it’s time to give these tiny choppers their due.

(By the way, it didn’t occur to me until just now that 100% of my posts in this new format are mouth-related. I can assure you that this is just a peculiar coincidence. I have no plans to only approve topics of a dental nature. That’s the tooth truth.)

So, how about those baby hippo teeth? They’re something else, huh?

To be honest, I don’t really know anything about baby hippo teeth. Mostly because, as noted above, there is nothing on the internet about baby hippo teeth. What is the zoological community hiding?

I’ll tell you what I do know. Hippos are one of only a few mammals that give birth underwater (others include manatees and some of my mom’s particularly hippieish friends). And those baby hippos come out remarkably cute, if apparently unconcerned with their weight issues. And cute baby hippos equals cute baby hippo teeth. So I’m on board.

And if you ever thought that baby hippo teeth weren’t pretty awesome, just check out this article about a 100 year old tortoise that adopted a baby hippo (the tortoise filed the adoption paperwork when it was a spry 82, but the bureaucracy on interspecies adoption is out of control). You think it’s easy for a century-old reptile to keep up with an energetic baby hippo? Well, it’s not. Do you have any idea how long it takes that tortoise to walk the hippo to day care every day? It’s no picnic, my friends. But that’s the dedication that baby hippo teeth (and the baby hippo that surrounds them) deserve.

And if, somehow, that isn’t enough to convince you that baby hippo teeth are the bomb, just consider this. Remember when your elementary school teacher told you that George Washington had wooden teeth? Not true. (It also wasn’t true when she told you that your parents must have forgotten to pack you a juice box…that’s right, kindly Mrs. Adler was stealing your apple juice.) Washington’s teeth were actually carved from hippo teeth. (And thank goodness they carved them down, if they’d given him full-size hippo teeth he would have looked ridiculous.) If they’re good enough for the father of our nation, who are you to scoff at them?

So before you plan your St. Patrick’s Day celebration with a movie marathon of Leprechaun, Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun: In the Hood, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood, and the soon to be released Star Trek 12: The Wrath of (Lepre)Khan, perhaps you should, instead, take a moment to reflect upon just how fantastic baby hippo teeth are. Granted, they have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day, but those Leprechaun movies are pretty awful.

Here’s the deal. When I was a young whippersnapper (now that I think back on it, my parents could have probably given me a safer toy than a whip…but I loved snappin’ that sucker) all toothbrushes looked the same. Long plastic handle with straight, white bristles at the end. When it came to making your oral care purchases, your choice of toothbrush was red or blue.

Not anymore.

English: Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush. T...

Those colors...those curves...

Now, your local drugstore offers an amazing, Willy Wonkaish array of toothbrushes. Dazzling colors. Implausible shapes. Flabbergasting concoctions from the minds of dental imaginarians.

It’s amazing how far we’ve come. Archaeological digs have found that ancient civilizations would clean their mouths with twigs and feathers. Then again, ancient civilizations did everything with twigs and feathers. Silly ancient civilizations.

Now, we have an infinite selection of futuristic plaque-removal devices. And I, for one, love shopping for a new toothbrush. They’re…just…so…beautiful.

And toothbrushes are no longer just for teeth. They’re now “gum massaging” and “tongue cleaning.” (I used to have to pay a professional masseuse to work out the knots in my gums, now my toothbrush does it for me.) They have “polishing cups,” “angled necks,” and “flexing heads.” They’re “deep penetrating” and “vibra-clean pulsating.” And some are “super advanced.” (My toothbrush is only two months old, but it’s brushing at a third-grade level.)

Cover art

Brush...Tooth, brush.

Toothbrushes now have “dual action brush heads.” They use “calcium carbonate micrawhitening technology.” And, yes, they’re even, “Xtreme.” I feel like James Bond when I shop for a toothbrush. I feel like Shaun White when I cruise down the dental aisle. When I’m looking for a new toothbrush, I feel like I can do anything.

They now have “tri-level, virgin nylon bristles.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds freaking awesome. Bristles are now “ultra fine,” “tapered,” or “color indicators” that change their hue over time to tell you when to purchase a new toothbrush. They now have “ergonomic handles,” “smart grips,” “control grips,” and “precision grips.” Remember when your toothbrush used to fall out of your hand ALL of the time? That, my friend, is a problem of the past. And even with the improved grips, some feature “soft thumb rests.” I don’t about you, but after a long, hard day of work, my thumbs are tired. Don’t our digits deserve some down time?

And the amazingness doesn’t stop there. Ever feel under-entertained while wiling away the minutes brushing your teeth? Perhaps I can interest you in the Justin Bieber singing toothbrush. That’s right. This marvel of modern engineering makes sweet, sweet music while you dislodge the day’s food remnants. We live in a wonderful age.

Okay, I may have drifted slightly into sarcasm there, but I honestly enjoy shopping for a new toothbrush. I really like it. I think it’s fun. Maybe it doesn’t make me the coolest guy in the world. But if loving the sleek look of a new toothbrush and comparing features with enthusiastic glee is wrong…lock me up and throw away the key. And why shouldn’t I love this ever-improving consumer experience? Every time I turn around, there are new bells and whistles on toothbrushes (coming soon, actual bells and whistles on your toothbrush, now that spells bathroom fun.) And, perhaps the best part of it all, even with the spectacular innovations that polish our choppers daily, you can still buy a new toothbrush for two or three bucks. Because we’re not all born with a silver spoon in our mouth, but we all end up with a toothbrush there.

Here’s the deal. The average life span of a drone ant is three weeks. A housefly will live for about a month. The Labord Chameleon walks the Earth for four to five months. And the average blog is lucky to survive that long. Studies show that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within one month of their first post. Well, I’m happy to say that we’ve beat the odds and today is Makya McBee Vs.’s first birthday.

English: Housefly

A common housefly...strangely, not in a house.

That’s right, one entire year of versusing the things that matter least. And I’m not surprised that many people don’t make it more than a few weeks. Do you think it’s easy to create quality content day after day? Or, say, the type of content that I produce? It’s hard too.

And I’ll be honest, I’ve been running out of steam lately. Take a look at my last few posts. Versus dinosaurs? Who am I kidding? I’ve got nothing against dinosaurs. And versus celebrities as reality TV judges? That’s ridiculous. I’ve dedicated the last twelve year of my life to trying to put myself into a position where celebrities might judge me. It’s my dream to be judged by the famous (or to be the one doing the judging). And versus sporks? Actually, that one is solid. I can’t stand those funky little freaks.

But I’m facing burnout. I started this blog with the noblest of intentions – to make myself famous. My very first post, I took on Patton Oswalt. At the time, he had 840,000 Google search results and I had 560. Now here we are, one year later, and typing “Makya McBee” into Google will now produce over 4,000 search results. The good news, I’ve increased my internet celebrity by nearly 800%. The bad news, at this rate, I’ll catch up with Patton in 43 years. (I’m not positive about the math there, but the point is I’m still way behind).

The tough truth is that the past year has not been successful for me in any way. Not a single one of my award-pending screenplays have sold, and I’ve had less copywriting work in the past nine months than I had in any given month in 2010. I’m close to broke and whatever I’ve been doing ain’t working.

It’s time for a change.

And blogs that rant against the inequities of the world are a dime a dozen. I’ve decided that if I want positive results, it may be time to start at home. That’s right. You guessed it. No more versus.

English: A critically endangered Brown Spider ...

Don't worry...your time will come...

It’s time to turn over a new leaf. For months now, I’ve been turning over the same old leaves to no avail. Every time I turn one over I merely find the other side of the leaf. Now, some have suggested that I abandon the leaf-turning strategy in general, but let’s not be hasty. After all, these are going to be new leaves. Who knows what I’ll find on the other side.

So, I’m going to slap a new title on this baby and start doing the exact opposite. Instead of posts about the things that bug me, it’s time for posts about the things I like in the world. Yep, no more Mr. Not Nice Guy. It’s time to embrace the notion of karma. Think good thoughts. Accentuate the positive. And, if I understand how karma works, I send positive vibes out into the world and, in return, I get everything I want and become famous.

So, I’ve got a three year plan. First year, write about what irks me. Check. Second year, write about the stuff I like. About to get started. And, third year, write about things I’m indifferent about. (Sample post – “Rice….meh”).

What will I do after the third year? By then, the monkeys will have likely taken over and each and every one of my blog entries will be dedicated to praising our ape overlords.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions. Luckily, it’s time for the Q and A portion of today’s landmark announcement.

Q and A

Q: Have you considered revisiting all of last year’s topics, only this time writing about why you like them?

Yin Yang Moon Sun - Illustration

Yin Yang Moon Sun - Illustration (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

A: Strange you should ask, I entertained that very notion. It would be kind of cool to show the yin and yang of everything. And, while the symmetry appeals to me, the work involved does not. Besides, what positive things could I possibly have to say about flip-flops and states with boring shapes?

Q: Will you still start each post with your trademark, “Here’s the deal”?

A: You better believe it baby, it’s a classic.

Q: What is the capital of Nebraska?

A: Lincoln.

Q: Are there any versus topics you weren’t able to get to?

A: Funny you should ask. I kept a notebook of ideas this past year and there were a handful of subjects that escaped my wrath –

  1. Garrison Keillor’s singing voice (I was going to call his an “almost singing voice”, but when I tried to find some samples, it just didn’t sound as mediocre as I’d recalled it).
  2. “Hello” (I was prepared to make the argument that if we’d kept Edison’s original telephone greeting, “Ahoy,” the world would be a better place. But that turned out to be a one-joke pony).
  3. The determination of Scientologists (I spoke to one scientologist at a booth back in 2002 and they’re still sending me pamphlets in the mail).
  4. Exclamation points (I may still have to deal with this issue at some point in the future – my least favorite punctuation mark).
  5. Cheezburger talk (You know, that site with the cats and the most ridiculous baby talk ever? I’m so annoyed by that site that I couldn’t dignify it with a post).
  6. Ridiculous mailboxes (I don’t even know what this means).
  7. Retelling puns (The main value of a pun lies in the speed with which the punster is able to create it…retelling a pun as a joke almost never works).
  8. Alarmists! (I pride myself on almost always ranting against the mundane, this one started to border on serious – not on my watch).
  9. “It’s not even funny” (I find this phrase annoying, especially as people use it to refer to things that were never intended to be funny. “I am in so much pain, it’s not even funny.” Of course it’s not funny – no one ever thought it was).
  10. Mathematical symbols (This one almost made it. My problem is how we teach kids to divide using that little symbol that looks like a square root…then, a few years later we change it to the division sign…then a few years later we change it again to fractions. Same thing with multiplication, which goes from an “x” to a dot to the two multiples merely being adjacent to each other. What is this, the evolution of math? Why do we bother to teach kids to write 5 x 6, when higher math will never use this symbol?)

Okay, I know that’s a lot to process. Change is never easy. Just remember, Mommy and Daddy still love you and it’s not your fault. Maybe this blog will look a tiny bit different the next time you see it, but blogs come in all shapes and sizes. And each one is special in its own way.

That’s not true.

There’s a reason 60-80% of them are abandoned within a month. They’re kind of crappy. But we here at Makya McBee Vs. (new title still undecided) are dedicated to limiting our crappiness. Whatever form our writing takes, we constantly strive to make it as least crappy as possible. And it’s in that spirit that we move forward with this change. Because being stuck in a rut can only promote crapitude. And I’ve had enough crap lately. It’s time to turn that crap upside-down.

See you on the other side…