No Pressure Over Cappuccino

I have some important things to accomplish before I'm recycled away from this life. Whether or not I get to all of these activities, well, that is not for me to know. Ever after, I am no prognosticator. Those who rush never fully arrive.

With that in mind, here's what's been on this mind of mine in no particular priority order:

1. Witness a beaucoup of nannies being blown down the lane in a blast of wind.

2. Fall down an open manhole while strolling along the sidewalk.

3. Defend against a robot invasion.

4. Embrace my stalkers.

5. Help the children...oh lordy, gots to help the children.

6. Reticulate splines.

7. Actually sell my garage at my next Garage Sale.

8. Run for my life.

9. Catch someone in a lie and observe if their pants actually are on fire.


11. End lists in atypical fashion.

Have Cam - Will Travel

There are certain precepts in life that I have internalized. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. A rolling stone gathers no moss (but leaves a trail of busted stuff). If you gotta go, go with a smile. Don't eat yellow snow. If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. And possibly the most crucial -- when on the road, have a fully-charged camera at your side.

In my assorted travels, I have compiled my own hilarious oeuvre (had to use this word, I just had to) of signs. And like Letterman or Conan or the rest of the late-night losers who aren't nearly as funny (um, Carson Daly and the dude from Drew Carey...I mean, come on)...did I have another point here? Oh yeah, so like those guys...jeez, can we get a woman in the mix? Why is it all these looser men? What is it, bitches in the morning for the housewives and dipshits at night for the insomniacs? So did I really have a point here...

Oh right, so like those guys, I like to laugh at funny signs. Gee, all that build up for that stupid reveal. Even I feel let down, and it's me over here. Anyway, I love these pictures because they make me LOL, LMAO, ROTF, BOOL, and MWUHAHA when I see them. I hope you enjoy and feel free to perform any of the preceding acronyms during your viewing pleasure:

Good friends can meet here! Oh, and girls, too.

Lord, what fool let this man drive!?

Well, shit, how muh 'sposed to have fun now?

Eh, what's the rush? I bet this is a unionized work crew...I'm just saying...

It's subtle.

No, this isn't fake. Mmm-hmm, it's actually a gas station chain.
Yes, I have the humor of a 12 year old boy - tee-hee! : )

Mythology of Life: Haunts of Man

As I've discussed previously, nature manifests itself into raw and powerful forces that we have no choice but to respect. I mentioned the tornado before as one of my lifelong foes. Sometimes, what is more eerie and surreal to me are the willful creations of people.

I can name any number of unthinkable structures that mystify and confound us in current society. We forget that technology is not always a barrier to human creativity when you understand the principles of physics and have a workforce to overcome seemingly impossible feats. I offer Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids as historic examples, all alien theories aside. But even current architecture seems to defy my belief in what is possible with modern engineering at our disposal -- I offer the Millau Viaduct and Hong Kong's International Airport as examples. There are loads more.

However, beyond the feat of plausible construction lies two greater mysteries to me - the motive and the meme. What causes a company or a person or a country to build what they do? How do aspects of culture manifest themselves in what what we build? There are two particular structures that have fascinated me since I learned of them for these stated reasons.

Ryugyong Hotel

I first heard of this North Korean hotel on the blog Shape of Days. There is something very haunting about this monolithic structure. See for yourself:

It is rumored to have been built to rival its counterpart in South Korea and is believed to have taken nearly 2% of NK's GDP at the cost of a starving populace. You can read more about the details
here. It has never been occupied. It was placed on maps before construction began and removed from the maps shortly after construction was halted. It has no windows. It's foundation is sagging due to inferior concrete. As you can see, it stands out in the country like an eyesore (the figurative elephant in the room). Yet it is ignored. It is rumored cab drivers won't acknowledge it exists. Maybe some of this is lore and some, fact. Beyond its wicked, atypical design, I find the story of this hotel haunting. This should have been the wicked building in Ghostbusters that summoned Zuel to our earthly plain for its dark invasion.

Crystal Beach Cyclone

In the 1920's, considered a Golden Age in many ways, came the new North American lifestyle of prosperity, consumerism, and innovation. It is believed in that era that some 1500 roller coasters stood. That's quite a number when you consider there are a little over 1800 in existence now. But the legend of them all that was lost through time is the Crystal Beach Cyclone. This was a truly twisted and maniacal creation. Thinking of riding through these elements gives me the creeps:

A nurse was on station to treat passengers who sustained injuries or simply passed out. Though it drew big crowds, many spectators were too afraid to ride it. High maintenance costs forced it to eventually close down. It was dismantled and reconstructed as the Crystal Beach Comet and later sold and moved from Canada to New York where it exists today. Though fragments of Cyclone still exist, its true and original form can only be preserved in photo and in the minds of those few living who experienced the coaster firsthand. Despite being constructed for ultimate thrills and enjoyment, I cannot help but be frightened by this ghost.

The Mythology

If a meme is a unit of cultural transmission, then these structures are ones that embody the zeitgeist of their respective cultures. The Ryugyong Hotel is a symbol of North Korean juche (or pride) and the Cyclone is a symbol of the thrill-seeking "Roaring Twenties." Both structures still exist in hollow forms of themselves, serving as reminders of what humans can create when driven to purpose. Maybe it is their ephemeral nature that disturbs me. Or perhaps it is the disparity between the intent of their construction and their timely and separate demises.

Whatever the reasons, I will continue to regard these structures as bizarre expressions of their creators and as dark reflections of human motivation.

Mythology of Life: Night Motoring Through Cities

Note: Motoring certainly does not equal driving. For an explanation, visit this previous post.

"I can't think of anything more beautiful than the moments of life where all we can do is catch our breath."

I get that tingling sensation whenever I motor through cities at night. You can know a place very well by day yet somehow feel transported to an otherworldly city when you experience it by night. There is a different pace and quality. The lights. The patches of people out on the town. The mystery of a dark alley. It's more forgiving to travel the wrong way on a one-way street. The night is when a city can truly reveal itself from the imposing cover of day.

The constellation of lights. The hues of yellow reflected in the streets. When it rains, everything casts a reflective image. 24/7 shines flourescently. The stars are upstaged.

Vices thrive. Insomnia takes grip on the afflicted. We get a second wind. The energy and the danger comingle. You may get the urge to lock your doors. In a heliolithic society, the night owls have chance to fly. Daysleepers are roused.

Choice of music is critical. It the soundtrack to the nightlife. The mood must be set. Here are a few of my quintessential selections:

- "Knives Out" by Radiohead
- "Revenge of the Number" by Portishead
- "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" by The Postal Service
- "Question" by Tricky ft. Alanis Morissette
- "One More Murder" by Better Than Ezra
- "Don't Panic" by Coldplay
- "Love of My Life" by Santana ft. Dave Matthews
- "Disappointed" by Ivy
- "Jet Lag" by Joss Stone
- "Ray of Light" by Madonna
- "Southside" by Moby ft. Gwen Stefani

Added on 6/10/07
- "On Top" by The Killers
- "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton" by Beck
- "Monday Morning 5:19" by Rialto
- "Come Lay Down" by Howie Day
- "Without You I'm Nothing" by Placebo
- "Harrowdown Hill" by Thom Yorke
- "Goodnight Moon" by Shivaree

Selection that makes me shiver: "Halloween" segue --> "The Stone" --> "Crush" by Dave Matthews Band on the epic Before These Crowded Streets album

Create your own soundtrack to enhance the experience.It may push blood through your veins. It may grip your heart. It may be something you own... or something borrowed, something blue. Or upbeat.

This is part of the mythology of our lives. When you experience it next, catch your breath, look up up up at the buildings through the sun roof (if you're lucky to have one), and live the moment. I hope it gives you the chills.

Deadly Animals Stirred Up By A Storm

Little bit of this and that to keep you pseudo-interested in my goings-ons:

So I met a woodchuck on Friday and it tasted great...

Friday night was St. Patty's day. Yeah, I don't know what this holiday truly represents, and honestly, I don't even want to look it up. It's the mystery of life that sustains our internal drive. Well as many of you know, I have recently cultivated a blossoming alcohol career in what can be called a rather "dry" life up to this point. Friday was a case in point...I met a woodchuck.

I was in a meadow and came across a downed tree with a woodchuck at its base, whistling through his two front teeth. I asked why he gnawed through the beautiful tall tree and knocked it over. The woodchuck glanced to the tree, then to me, and said, "What the fuck's business of yours is it anyway, betch?"
Why, you little bucktoothed varmit!

Okay, that part wasn't so much real. But what was real is that I did get an introduction to Woodchuck Cider. And actually, it was three of them. They tasted smooth with Jupiter's thin crust margherita pizza! I went out with Jim and Amanda (brother and sister-in-law), Matt and Anne, and Val. We had a great time, and I was loose by drink three. It was my first encounter with this "beer" and it was odd that I actually wanted a fourth because I'm not a big alcohol fan. But once I find my libation of choice, giddy up! I was divulging all kinds of funny personal anecdotes I don't normally share because I think they will bore other people. I think I found my comedic timing. It was a riot of an evening.

The Meteorologist that Cried "Snowstorm!"

Meteorologists have something in common with fishermen...they tell tall tales. And before anyone (named Ben) defends our friends at NOAA, let me just say, I get it. They can only go by past models to predict future weather in an ever-dynamic multi-faceted world. They go through all this schooling and god-awful math and physics and atmospheric sciences just so they can make an "educated" guess.

But how do you account for a prediction of 5-7 inches of "heavy snow" turning into the barely an inch outside my window right now? C'mon, folks! Do you need a degree to do this shit? JUST MAKE IT UP! We won't know the difference. Okay, I confess I'm just using these folks as a punching bag for my frustrations. The central core of my problem is...

Mother Nature is a Bitch!

Look what you've done, woman!? That is snow on the ground during MY spring break week! That's right, the kids get off for spring break, so I get the time off, too. I know, so sad for me, right? Hey, I work at a university, you're just jealous, and before you say you're crying on the inside, know that days off for us is basically a way of saying don't expect any money for what you do. That's right, I wouldn't know what a bonus or a cost of living increase was if it looked itself up on right now. But hey, I'm all about karma and being recognized for my contributions in the fullness of time, so I'm at peace with that.

What I'm not at peace with is Mutha-fuckin-Natuh! Monday was the first day of SPRING! This shit doesn't belong on the ground in the spring, lady! So collect your things and send us a breath of fresh air in the form of green leaves, blossoming flowers, and T-shirt weather! Actually, make that shirtless college guys owe me, my dear.

I killed a bug last night and got a peaceful night of sleep...

WeatherBug is nothing more than an attention whore that probably downloaded untold volumes of spyware, malware, adware, and even silverware onto my computer during our brief affair! In a Wizard of Oz panic, I downloaded this software when tornadoes threatened my childhood fears. And if any storms barged into the area, WeatherBug would chirp three times and let me know in advance. Right? Wrong.

WeatherBug goes off for no good-goddamned reason whatsoever! WeatherBug nags the dead back to life! WeatherBug is more of a whiny bitch than the stupid Tamagotchi I had in high school! Yeah, I had one in high school, what of it? I was the best caretaker that ever took care! Clearly, this software is a fair-weather friend because it won't shut the fook up when there's even an un-noteworthy weather advisory. It's like...there are sprinkles in the area, WAH WAH WAH (cue the Star Trek klaxons)!

So last night, after it warned my for the tenth time of the impending blizzardry of one inch snow accumulation, I stormed into the computer room and put my foot down on WeatherBug. As it twitched in its last minutes of uninstallation, I smiled down over it, victorious. Like a spider in a Kleenex, I had sealed its fate. But I felt like a darker me, spawned by the upset of dangerous weather. Perhaps it was my "Doppler"-ganger...

Book Smarts

I was wandering around Pages for All Ages today, which is a locally-owned "book mall" not unlike B&N or Borders. I haven't been "between the sheets" for a while and wanted to know what looked like a good read but I know I'd never read because I don't make the time for it because Netflix is controlling my brain and creating pressure to watch watch watch every day and then there's this thing called internet and ooh, I have to work tomorrow...

So yeah, as I passed through the gentle fiction and new releases and what-not, I had several musings come to mind:

1. Cliff writes an awful lot of notes.

2. Once Sue Grafton finishes her alphabet series with "Z" is for Zzzzzz, will she:
a) start with "AA" is for Aardvark?
b) just quite writing?
c) start with the Chinese alphabet?

d) make up her own letters ("squoovle" is for Marklar)

3. After a novel shows up on "Lost" it floods the bookstore shelves. Just after the second episode of Season 2, I look at Pages for "The Third Policeman" by Flann O'Brien and they have no copies. Tonight, a stack of fresh copies is prominently displayed. And by the way, the rumor that if you look at the first word on pages 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42 you will find a meaningful message is bullshit! It came out to be "to I a in for me" or some shit like that. Punks.

4. Macaulay Culkin wrote a book. No, that's all. I'm just saying...he wrote a book.

5. Who reads all this shit?

Reflecting on a Storm

Last night we had some nasty thunderstorms pass through the area and several tornadoes touched down. Our capitol city of Springfield suffered widespread damage with fortunately few fatalities. I was up most of the night because I wanted to keep an eye out for a nasty line of storms making their way to Champaign-Urbana around 4:00 a.m. Truth be told, it wasn't my interest that kept me up...not as much as my long-lived fear of tornadoes. As a kid, I was extremely afraid of Mother Nature's twisted creation. I was never in a tornado, nor do I know anyone who survived one. Nevertheless, growing up in the Midwest must have had an effect on me. The terror seeped into my unconscious, no doubt because of all the nature shows, tornado drills, and siren tests the first Tuesday of each month.

I was socialized to fear the tornado.
So much so, that tornadoes are the most frequently recurring theme in my dreams. I can recall many vivid dreams of being in a house when a tornado is coming. Usually it involves me running to a basement and hiding. Oddly, the house never seems to get hit, I am never injured or killed, and rarely do I actually see the tornado. What can it all mean? Cue the Freudian psychologists! I already know what it means to me: it's the fear of the unknown. Fear of being at the mercy of an uncontrollable force.

That intense fear has subsided over the years, but I still cringe a bit whenever hazardous weather travels my way. Despite that, I think it would be cool to chase a tornado with an experienced meterology crew. Bad movie references aside, there is something raw and beautiful about the tornado. I just don't want it chewing on my house! And therein, lies the other fear. The fear of losing my possessions. Damn you, materialistic society!

When I was young, having been fed all the dark imagery, I decided to make my own tornado kit. Now, an adult would fill said kit with rations, a flashlight, battery powered radio, and first aid supplies. As a nine-year-old, I stocked mine with a car, LEGO man on a motorcycle, a stuffed Garfield, and a few other misc toys. By god, I wouldn't leave behind all my friends! I secured them all in an old camera case and had them stationed by my bed...awaiting the howl of the sirens.

In retrospect, how cute and funny of me. No, seriously, I was cute and funny once. Anywho, this got me thinking about one of those dilemmas we ask ourselves for interest and self-exploration. If I could only take one thing with me to my tornado shelter, what would it be? After a brief thought, I knew I had to take my writing journals. It would suck to lose the files on my computer and pictures in my photo albums. And I could buy back all the other "stuff" I own. But my writings cannot be recreated. They are a part of me catalogued through time -- a mental archive, if you will.

Wondering if this post has a point? Well, it doesn't. Though I will toss in a treat if you've suffered this long. About two years ago, I faced-off with a massive swirling vortex of potential chaos, oh, say, within a mile of my apartment at the time. And like any idiot, I ran to get my camera and snap a picture of it. And oddly, I wasn't all that afraid. And thankfully, it didn't land on me...or anywhere for that matter.

Check it out:

As for the moral of this story, I think our minds take hold of the images that resonant with us and use them to illustrate what we fear. It's like the unconscious and conscious having a dialogue in slightly different languages. And we are left in between, the sole interpreter, trying to make sense of it all and understand ourselves a little better.

Skateboard Pizza Delivery and the Red Light Infinity

When we were young, all disputes related to quantity or degree were resolved with one word. Infinity. Member?

"You are a stupid head!"
"Nuh-uh, you are stupider!"
"You are fifty gajillion times more stupid!"
"I infinity your infinity!!"
"You can't do that, nuh-uh!"

Ah, good ol days. Fast forward to this evening in my life. Getting to the coffee house to do some work and unwind proved an exercise in patience. As I motored from my home, I realized that the fates were testing me. Testing my faith. They changed every single traffic light in my path to red. If there is anything I detest in this town, it's the asshats on the road and the worst-timed lights this side of everything. I mean, seriously. Every light red? It felt like infinity. An infinity of infinities. And this is our first rainfall since autumn, so everyone resets their idiometers to jackass. It's water mixed with road oil, people! Just gun it and hope for the best! So after the herky-jerky drive of nausea, I think I'm scott free. One block from Aroma Cafe! I dash around the corner and then... who darts out in front of Tyler but a guy wearing a camouflage hoody on a skateboard holding a pizza box...SURIOUSLY. No fooling. What the fook? LOL

So I reward my boiling blood and crankiness with...a frescante filled with two shots of espresso. Wise, Chris, so wise. But in all honesty, I'm basking in the old-timey live music going on behind me and the sugar+whipped cream+espresso drink. And of course, by typing this post, I'm effectively avoiding my work. And I say I come here to avoid distractions...sadly, it works for the most part. Ah, going out in public to leave my distractions behind. Ain't this a crazy world we're making?

Other Straight Men I Love (But Not in THAT Way)

So I tried putting a funny spin on my recent "love-sick boy" routine and think of some other straight men I simply love for who they are. I have compiled a little list here...not sure how long it will be because I haven't planned out who all I want to mention. Here goes:

1. Bill Maher. He's witty, sensible, a smart ass, and makes me bust out laughing. He's totally a social liberal, but isn't afraid to tell Democrats they suck as bad as the Republicans do. He has strong opinions and isn't afraid to voice them...even to the point of getting fired from ABC's Politically Incorrect. Eh, they're loss. Cable TV is his true venue because he and his guests can be blunt and cuss like they mean it! I listen to his podcasts of Real Time with Bill Maher and relish in his ability to tell stuff like it is.

Favorite recent quote from Real Time: "We all have a big laugh about how Muslims are rioting over a cartoon, but then I read that the top climatologist at NASA was shut up by the White House from talking about global warming. And we have a big laugh about how medieval the Muslims are, but what can be more medieval than silencing a scientist? So I guess my question is, are we any better?"

2. Dave Matthews. So much to say about Dave. He's a musical talent like no other, and when he puts his mind to it, writes awesome lyrics. He croons, he scats, and he screams his head off. The band's live shows are spellbounding. And when you hear Dave talk, you realize what a funny, off-centered guy he is.

Sweet lyrics: "I was just wondering if you'd come along. Hold up my head when my head won't hold on. I'll do the same if the same's what you want. And if not, I'll go."

3. Ricky Gervais. This dude is a NUT! I first discovered his comedic genius on the BBC show The Office where he plays an idiot boss with uncomfortable humor. After watching the DVD extras, I realized Ricky didn't really have to act all that much -- because he's so much like the character David Brent! And now I listen to his podcast like a coke fiend because he's so so damned hilarious! He is completely insane. His humor is quick, bizarre, and spot on. I've taken to impersonating him so much that my coworkers hate me. God bless you, Ricky.

Great quote from his character David Brent: "I am an entertainer; a motivator of people. It's like bloody Dead Poet's Society out there sometimes. You know, at the end where they all stand up on the desks and...well, not literally, we wouldn't want them standing on the's against health and safety, for one thing..."

4. Jerry Seinfeld. A poignant comedian. His jokes are not snide or at the expense of others. He doesn't swear. He just makes random observations by looking at the world in his own way. He co-created one of my very favorite sitcoms -- I own the entire series of Seinfeld and watch it religiously. What else can I say...he's just too damned funny for his own good!

Excellent quote: "What's with the Ottoman Empire? Is this a whole society based on putting your feet up?"

Well, it's late, I'm tired, and I can't go on. But I must make some honorable mentions for the other straight men I love:

Larry David - co-creator of Seinfeld and creator of Curb Your Enthusiasm
J. Michael Straczynski - creator of Babylon 5
Jon Stewart - host of The Daily Show
Robert Jordan - author of Wheel of Time series
J.J. Abrams - creator of Alias, co-creator of Lost
Bill Murray - Groundhog Day, What About Bob, and Ghostbusters...just to name a few!

Definitely Snakes on a Plane!!

Well, there was much blaspheme out there about the validity of the upcoming movie masterfully entitled "Snakes on a Plane." In fact, I overjoyously wrote about it a while back. The shock to most people, besides the sweet title, is that Samuel L. Jackson plays the lead role. Why would he do such a thing? Surely it's an internet hoax? I was starting to fall victim to the deadly poison of lies, but I found the magical serum today. The elixir of proof!

Check out Snakes on a Blog for the full scoop! If you scroll about halfway down, you'll see a post called Snakes on Ellen -- it's the PROOF you naysayers need to say nay no more! Ellen talks with Samuel about this movie, and he's just cracking up about it. He took the role without reading the script because he thought the name is so great! I LOVE THIS GUY!

This movie will be horrible. But I'm going to see it on opening night and I'll be wearing this shirt! That shit's gonna be off the chain! It'll be snakes on a plane, beyotch!

Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Champagne

Hello, kiddies! After a life like mine, a boy needs a drink. That's right, a whole damned bottle of champagne! And el vino did flow whilst I partooken in a PBJ sammich. It's high-brow meets low-brow in my tummy. Point being, I got giddy.

And if you know me, you're probably thinking, "Who the F is this dude and where's my Chris?" That's right, I can easily count on one hand the number of days I came home and said that tonight is the night I bathe my brain with alcohol. In fact, when I want a drink I ususally want one froo-froo drink and I'm done. But tonight was not that night.

Let's recap. I've gotten tired of the shiat in my life. For part of it, read the previous post. I'm too lazy and loopy to make a hyperlink, so piss off. It's all the uptightness, listening to students' trivial bloo-blah, my ridiculous school-boy nature (again, see previous post), and all the reticence, over-analyzation, metathinking, and such-n-such. Today was the capstone on a chunk of my life best left behind. Hello, catharsis, let's purge.

So I lit every candle in my house, blasted my iPod through the tuner, sang and danced, and drank a bottle of champagne. Then Adva came over and got to bear witness to the hilarity that is me under the influence. If you think I'm funny in a cranky kind of way, you should see me like this. I manage to combine cranky and silly into one. Mix with some dancing and Dave Matthews, serve slightly drunk. And the night culminated with a trip to Taco Bell for some delicious take-out. I made Adva laugh so hard at the drive-thru, she could barely speak to the woman at the window. It was classic. I needed this. Tonight was a fantabulous escape from my reality.