Yesterday I drove to my dad’s house through the midday torrential sunshower. Just before I made the left onto his street, I saw the end of a rainbow straight ahead. Naturally, I had to drive through it.

This would be the second one I’d driven through. The first time was wild; I approached the rainbow nearly straight on—virtually in the plane of the rainbow. I hoped it would turn out to be either solid-but-transparent or magic, so that I could drive right up it. Alas, it was neither. I settled for watching the colors flood through the window and into the car, which was more than spectacular enough.

This time around, my approach was perpendicular to the plane of the rainbow. As fervently as I hoped that rainbows were solid the first time around, I now hoped that they weren’t because if they were, I was about to crash right into one. Thankfully, the rainbow turned out to be mere light rays, perfectly safe for passage.

As I drove through the end of the rainbow, something so bizarre happened that I ignored what sounded like a clunk and some coins spilling out of a bowl: the rainbow flipped horizontally.

I stopped in the middle of the street to make sure that I saw what I thought I saw, and that I hadn’t been confused by looking in the rearview mirror. But the rainbow really had flipped: it was as though God had picked up just one end of the rainbow and moved it, like a Slinky, to the other side of the street. Originally the rainbow started in the middle of the road and stretched over the northern side of the street. After I passed through it and looked back, the rainbow still started in the middle of the road and stretched over the southern side of the street. It was mind-blowing.

It didn’t last long, because the clouds shifted and blocked enough of the sunlight. I felt I was being toyed with.

One Response to “Rainbow.”

  1. Que si Says:
    September 25th, 2007 at 6:17 PMToday I drove through my first rainbow. To be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic. No pot o’ gold, no fancy light show, not even a lousy certificate of achievementthat that give out at T-ball games so “everyone is a winner”. I acomplish one of my life goals and al I get is the satisfaction of a job well done? Pah! If that’s all there is to goals, I’m setting lower standards. Next life goal: go to school tomorrow.

    Also, I tried to notice if my rainbow experience mirrored yours(pun intended)but all I acomplished was nearly hitting a mailbox that had jumped out in front of me.

Heed no advice.

Yesterday I watched The Godfather for the first time in… oh, at least a few days. My favorite scene is when Michael makes his bones by killing Sollozzo and Captain McCluskey in the restaurant.

There are so many elements in the scene that make it great: the red-checkered tablecloths that remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. The lack of subtitles as Michael and Sollozzo speak Italian. Michael searching for the gun that he hopes had been planted as planned. The intensifying screech of the approaching train. The blood mist.

But what makes that scene my favoritest? Think back to a little bit earlier in the movie, when Clemenza prepares Michael for his mission. Clemenza gives him a few very specific instructions:

1. After finding the gun, come out blasting.
2. Two shots in the head apiece.
3. Don’t look anyone in the eye.
4. Let the gun slip out of your hand so everyone thinks you still have it.

So what does Mike do?

1. After leaving the restroom, he waits nearly a minute before opening fire.
2. He shoots Sollozzo only once (but in fairness to Mike, it was an obvious kill).
3. After killing them, he stares at the bodies for a few seconds, and then stares right at the witnesses for a few seconds.
4. On his way out the door, he tosses the gun and keeps his hand in the air.

In short, aside from killing the cop and the mobster, Mike does nothing Clemenza told him to do. Keep in mind that this is all on top of the fact that it was Michael himself who first proposed killing Sollozzo and NYPD Captain McCluskey—even though killing policemen was considered off-limits by the underworld, according to the consigliere.

That incongruity has always amused me, especially since things turn out relatively well for Mike. He ends up wiping out his enemies and becoming lord of a billion-dollar criminal empire. In fact, aside from the murder of his oldest brother, the murder of his first wife, the murder of his second-oldest brother, his second wife’s “miscarriage,” his divorce, his estrangement from his son, and the murder of his daughter, he faces no karmic punishment whatsoever for breaking the unwritten rules and ignoring Clemenza’s instructions.

Michael’s brother Fredo was played by an actor named John Cazale. Every movie he appeared in was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. And it wasn’t because he was just in one movie; he was in five before he died in the late seventies (Godfather I and IIThe ConversationThe Deer HunterDog Day Afternoon), and appeared in a flashback in Godfather III. That’s gotta be some sort of record.

5 Responses to “Heed no advice.”

  1. Andrew Jackson Says:
    September 10th, 2007 at 1:10 AM: Jumping out of character for a moment…

    For my Writing for Mass Communication class (a rigorous AP style course), we were assigned to write about our favorite movie, and we were given 50 minutes to write and proofread. Every grammatical mistake = 5 points off, spelling mistake = 10 points off, factual error = 20 points off. And that’s all after the content grade.

    I wrote about how I fell asleep during the mattresses sequence the first time I watched The Godfather, and when I woke up, Mike was in Sicily, and I hated the movie for a while until I watched it again and fell in love with it (run-on sentence = -5). I got a high content grade but I made a few comma errors and ended up with a B-.

    What I’m saying is this: my content grade would’ve sucked if it weren’t for your instruction all those years (3?) ago. Though it would’ve helped if you grilled me on commas. So thanks for nothing.

  2. VDV Says:
    September 10th, 2007 at 5:03 PM: No problem.
  3. As Im A Bassi Says:
    September 16th, 2007 at 8:12 PM: On a completely unrelated note, I just noticed that the title of this blog post “Heed No Advice” would actually make a great title for a Bond movie. Perhaps, with Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame, singing the title song.
  4. VDV Says:
    September 16th, 2007 at 8:20 PM: Bassi–

    That is the second finest compliment I have ever received.

  5. As Im A Bassi Says:
    September 17th, 2007 at 6:30 AM: Which, ultimately, begs the question…

Here is wisdom.

A buddy of mine is a minister of sorts, and recently had occasion to share this bit of advice with his charges (reprinted with his permission):

Here’s what I said…as best I remember it…

“We teach you to be good. We want you to be good. God wants you to be good. I try to be good.
But if you find yourself in a situation where you think you can’t be good, don’t be bad AND stupid.
You can’t afford to be bad and stupid at the same time.
Nobody can. It will ruin you.”

I like it, though it seems to lend itself to cynicism. Or is that why I like it?

Nice of Clemson to let the Seminoles back in the game, wasn’t it? Clemson 24, Free Shoes University 18. That’s three years in a row and four of the last five.

2 Responses to “Here is wisdom.”

  1. Que si Says:
    September 4th, 2007 at 6:32 PM: Why won’t you love me?
  2. VDV Says:
    September 5th, 2007 at 9:02 PM: Well, for starters– and someone really should’ve filled you in on this before– you’re a boy.

До свидания.

Last night’s nightmare:

I am sitting with a friend. Someone nearby has a dog who just broke its leg. Someone has called Doggie 911, and a veterinary ambulance is on its way. We wait for it.

My friend suddenly turns very pale and stares silently into space. She slowly falls backwards, but I catch her. She looks like she’s in shock. Her body is tense, but light as a feather, and I gently guide her to the ground. Her pupils are dilated and still. She isn’t breathing.

I call for help. The dog-owner reminds me that the doggie ambulance is on the way, and that it’ll do just fine—after all, he says, she just fainted. I yell at the dog-owner to call the real 911 before I kill him.

I hope to resuscitate her, but when I put my hand behind her neck I can tell that it is broken. I don’t know whether her neck somehow broke while she was sitting, or if I inadvertently broke it when I caught her. Did it sever the spinal cord? How high up?

I’m almost afraid to try mouth-to-mouth. I don’t want to jostle her head, and I’m afraid that the chest compressions will damage her spinal cord even further. But the fact is that she’s going to suffocate unless I start CPR.

She has a sad look on her face, like she’s about to cry. I wait a few seconds for tears, or a whimper, but there’s nothing. I listen for breath, even though I already know she isn’t breathing. I check her pulse—there is none. I do the breaths, I do the compressions for what seems like forever. She’s perfectly still throughout.

The doggie ambulance arrives. Its arrival just makes me angry. It is utterly useless. The vets simply stand behind me and watch. I scream at them to call the real 911 and make sure that real paramedics are on the way. I go back to the breaths and compressions.

Eventually, the tension leaves her body. Her eyes still stare straight ahead, but they are void of life. She never even trembled. She simply ended.

There’s nothing left to be done. The ambulance still hasn’t arrived. I sit and look at her and she is as prim and proper as a porcelain doll.

Dream house.

At lunch one day last week, the topic of renting and buying real estate came up: location, square footage, cost, et cetera. I took the occasion to consider what I’d put into my dream house were money no object, and am taking the opportunity to publish a few quick thoughts (should anyone ever want to surprise me with a mansion for my birthday):

First, it would have a 50-ton industrial air conditioner with its own 24-hour maintenance and engineering staff.

Second, it would have tankless water heating (and full-time support staff) and a team of snipers to take out anyone insolent enough to correct me when I mistakenly and redundantly refer to the “hot water heater.”

Third, each bathroom would have a fan so powerful that there wouldn’t even be a hint of steam outside the shower—and even inside the shower, the steam would be gone just as soon as the last drop of water hit the gold-plated floor. If it were that powerful, I might have to have wall dispensers for the soap and shampoo, because bottles might get sucked up into the fan. Towels might get ruined, too, so in lieu of towels I’d install a massive air-dryer, just as powerful as the fan. Again, a team of maintenance workers and engineers would keep the whole shebang running at optimum efficiency.

So those are the big three criteria for my ideal home. I like brick, too.

One Response to “Dream house.”

  1. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
    August 22nd, 2007 at 5:34 PMSo, how much are you paying your staff engineer? And where do I send an application?

I’m feeling ornery.

think I saw an astonishingly stupid sign at a nearby “Sropical Rmoothie Bafé” (I don’t want to be sued). I say “I think” because I hope, for the sake of maintaining confidence in our nation’s future, that I misread the sign or that I missed a very subtle attempt at humor.

The sign asked, “Do you speak Tropical?” I do not, as there is no language called “Tropical,” and it offends me to believe that if I can speak one of the dozens of intricate tongues of indigenous tropical peoples, then I can speak them all. It’s like asking if I can speak Mountainous or Alluvial Plain.

Assuming I read it correctly, the featured word in the “tropical” vocabulary was “deluscious”—a marginally clever combination of the adjectives “delicious” and “luscious.” Nothing too bad about that.

The first problem occurred with the part of speech. Again, assuming I read the sign correctly, this combination of two adjectives was identified as a verb. As in “I deluscious,” “we deluscious,” or “go deluscious yourself.” This may have been an example of Calvinesque “verbing”–denoting actions by using non-verbs as verbs. So, “to deluscious” might mean “to make a food or beverage both delicious aaand luscious.”

Unfortunately, a second problem negated the possibility of a thoughtful verbing: the definition. This combination of two adjectives, which is apparently a verb, has the following definition:

An intoxicating blend of fresh premium ingredients.

The operative word in that definition is “blend,” a noun. That’s right, we have a combination of two adjectives which is defined as a noun and meant to be used as a verb. As defined and identified, the word is utterly useless.

Calvin, when verbing words, was intelligent enough to define his verbed words as actual verbs, and use those words in meaningful contexts. The advertising folks at Sropical Rmoothie, in their pitiful attempt at verbing, or adjectivizing, or God-knows-what-they-had-in-mind-ing, have demonstrated an ignorance of grammar that would embarrass the average fourth-grader.

Either that, or I’ve just plain lost touch with modern American English.

A modest proposal:

A long time ago, An-Acquaintance-Who-Shall-Remain-Unnamed suggested that grocery stores should have cash-only lanes because handling checks and food stamps take so long. Great idea, though nowadays plastic goes even faster than cash, so perhaps a plastic-only lane would be in order. He also suggested a men-only lane.

My proposal deals with the scumbags who take 13 items into the 10-items-or-less express checkout lanes. Apparently we can’t execute them without a trial, which would be time-consuming. So we need to create an incentive for them not to get in my way in the first place.

Suppose the express lane has a ten item limit. If you scan any more than ten items, the computer will start doubling the price of your most expensive item. So if you purchase 13 items, you’ll have doubled that price three times—you pay eight times as much for your most expensive item.

If you try weaseling out of it—“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll just set those extra three things aside”—the bag boys will follow you back to your car and accidentally ram it repeatedly with shopping carts.

8 Responses to “I’m feeling ornery.”

  1. aabrock Says:
    August 13th, 2007 at 8:24 AMSo would 8 lemons, 6 bananas and 3 bottles of OJ (all of which I will be delusciousing) equal 3 items or 17? I say 3. And since there is no UPC code on most fruit, they even have to go through the tedious weighing process, looking up product numbers, etc.

    So I can see why you want to speed things up a bit in the express line.

  2. VDV Says:
    August 13th, 2007 at 3:57 PMIf the lemons are in a bag, they would usually count as one weighed item. If the bananas are still in a bunch, they count as one weighed item (#4011 on the UPC if I remember correctly). If the bottles of OJ are packaged together, they count as one item.

    If you split up the bananas and OJ, but not the lemons, you’re still OK because you would have 10 items. If you split up the lemmons, but not the bananas or OJ, you have 10 items. If you… screw it. I’m going to vandalize your car anyways, just to be safe. That’ll learn ya.

  3. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
    August 14th, 2007 at 5:58 AMI think aabrock has the right idea. It wasn’t just a Calvinesque “verbing” – it was a Calvinesque “gerunding.” This must be some new breakthrough in the evolution of the English language. Or I’ve been in academia too long.
  4. VDV Says:
    August 14th, 2007 at 3:19 PMIt’s been a while since I done took me an English course, but I don’t think aabrock’s use of “delusciousing” constitutes “gerunding” because of the “will be.” I think it’s the “future progressive” tense verb (an action he be in the process of taking).

    Where’s the person who challenged me to a grammar war? Maybe he can chime in.

  5. Que si Says:
    August 18th, 2007 at 10:30 PMWow, as soon as I stop following your blog I’m needed. I’m not really sure what the debate is; you can’t make nouns verbs. I’m not sure what more I can add to the topic.
  6. aabrock Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:06 AM“you can’t make nouns verbs”
    I thought that was verbification (i.e. to verbify)?

    Anyway, since this is the grammar thread…

    I was watching a bit of the High School Scrabble Championships on ESPN “The Ocho” last night. Now the game of Scrabble is a nice concept and when played properly can be lots of fun. Also, I am a somewhat educated man. I knew maybe 20% of the words on a 75% completed board. Words such as “cor”, “za”, “ag” are not words at all, and real words like “exequy” should not be thrown around lightly. Scrabble should be about making words that you know and can reasonably use in a sentence, not just trying to squeeze as many 2 and 3 letter “words” that you memorized out of a list like this one:http://phrontistery.info/scrabble3.html

    I would think that the game of Scrabble would want to maintain the correlation between “strings of letters” and “meaning”. Teaching kids 6000 three letter words but having them unable to use ANY of them in real life seems rather wasteful.

    Although I will give a shoutout to the “Official Scrabble Wordlist” for accepting the word “zombify”.

  7. VDV Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:15 PMVerbifying is a perfectly cromulent practice.
  8. Que si Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:31 PMI guess verbification is inevitable. The english language is a living thing. It is constantly changing. I admit that even I use the “verb” “to google” sometimes. I mean, Shakespeare alone added hundreds of words to the english language. It pains me, but verbification may be anew evolution of our language.


Tonight I got back from my final trip of the summer, to Virginia (to see friends), Maryland (to see more friends) and Pennsylvania (to see family).

The main event was a pig roast, held last night at the Mole’s secret mountain hideaway. The pig was excellent and Mole’s girlfriend made the best pasta salad I’ve ever had. Hopefully, both kept well in the cooler on the way home. Question: if a dog eats the eyeball of a roasted pig, does it absorb the pig’s soul? Is it doomed to possession by the pig?

Anyhow, the night before the pig roast, I visited my brother and his girlfriend up in a quaint little town called Wernersville, Pennsylvania. It’s near Reading, of “Monopoly” railroad fame. The typical thirty-minute discussion about where to eat dinner was averted when the girlfriend suggested a local teppan-yaki called The Panda House. It was an odd name for the place, considering that pandas are usually associated with China, not Japan. Turns out the place was “pan-Asian.”

The dinner was good. The ovens were ridiculously hot—that sounds obvious, but normally I don’t break a sweat simply from sitting near the stove, even at full blaze. The chefs weren’t very good at the tricks: our chef tried throwing pieces of chopped vegetables into our mouths, but only connected once out of maybe twenty attempts. The next chef over tried the spinning-egg-on-spatula trick, but dropped five in a row before giving up. The last one bounced off the table near a toddler in a booster seat, barely missing getting egg white and yolk on her, but splashing a man at the next table over.

Aside from the poorly executed tricks and the loud, wasted couple at the opposite end of the table (he looked like a boy-band wannabe and earned the nickname “K-Fed”; she belonged in an eating disorder PSA), dinner was uneventful. My filet mignon and scallops were cooked just right, and we were served noodles in addition to the fried rice. There was a teensy bit too much sauce on the meats, but it didn’t really detract from the meal.

After dinner, a waiter gave each of us two orange slices and two fortune cookies. Comparing fortunes has always been one of the most entertaining portions of the Chinese dining experience, so it stands to reason that it would be just as enjoyable after eating Japanese teppan-yaki.

My favorite fortune of all time was bestowed upon my alien-energy-form-posing-as-human friend Robert: “It is better to be the hammer than the anvil.” Add the words “in bed” to the end (any clue which comedian came up with that idea?) and it belongs in the Hall of Great Fortunes. I hope to one day crack open a cookie and find a fortune even half that good.

Alas, this was not that day. I opened the first cookie and was greatly disturbed by what I read:

“Moo Shu Cereal” for breakfast with duck sauce.

I thought there was a mistake. Surely, this could not be what the Fates had in store for me; it had to have been a misprint. This was not useful, or optimistic, or forboding, or anything—there wasn’t even a verb. What did it mean?

I moved on to the next cookie, hoping that the first one was a mistake. I cracked the second cookie:

Did you remember to order your take out also?

My God–I didn’t. In fact, there was no food left on my plate for a to-go box. What evil doth this omen portend?

If I am indeed doomed, know that I truly did tolerate most of you. I hereby leave the remnants of roast pig and pasta salad to my family’s dogs.

One Response to “Misfortune.”

  1. twink Says:
    August 7th, 2007 at 8:03 PMI call the pasta.

On The Simpsons Movie.

SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know oh come on. The show’s been on forever, which means that you’ve essentially already seen this movie.

Once upon a time, there was a very funny TV show called The Simpsons. It was well-written, clever yet unpretentious, and was always good for at least one bout of hysterical, side-splitting laughter per episode.

A show by the same name is still on the air, but for the last several years, it hasn’t been funny. They started making episodes that I could smirk at, or maybe chuckle at if I stretched it, but none that would elicit a good belly laugh. There were rarely any jokes worth remembering, much less telling anyone about at work the next day. There were so many guest stars occupying so much screentime that the show came to resemble Scooby Doo—which was never known for its wit. I could go on and on about how badly The Simpsons has sucked during this millennium, but I’d like to address the movie.

The movie was good; far better than the show’s been in years. It had a few touching moments. There were several moments that made me laugh out loud. There were hardly any guest stars, and they were almost negligible. It was absolutely worth seeing in the theater; in fact, some of the gags are funniest seen in a theater.

That said, there were a few moments that, to me, would seem more at home in a South Park show or movie rather than a Simpsons production (specifically: Bart’s privates, Homer’s fingers, Otto’s drug use, Marge’s “G-d damn”). Why? The Simpsons (at least, back when I watched regularly) was rarely, if ever, vulgar or harsh–rather, it was suggestive and sly. Perfect example from an old episode: Homer is suddenly infuriated and asks the kids to step outside. They scurry away in fear. Homer takes a deep breath, brings his lower lip back to his top teeth, begins to say, “Fffff–” and is cut off by the blast of the church’s organ pipes as birds fly away from the house. The town comes to a halt. It was hilarious.

On the other hand, South Park is deliberately harsh and vulgar in its satire–in fact, vulgarity is often a major plot point (see the movie or the “Words of Curse” episode). When they want to get something past the TV censors, they’ll merely use black bars, blurring, and bleeps. The creators of South Park simply would’ve had Homer say the “F-Word” and bleeped it out. No organ pipes. No birds. No shocked onlookers. No cleverly placed fig leafs, so to speak.

But I nitpick. The Simpsons Movie was fun. It was good to once again watch these characters in action and actually laugh, rather than pray for the show’s swift and merciful cancellation.

My God, the Celtics might actually be good again before I die. Please let this trade go through.

2 Responses to “On The Simpsons Movie.”

  1. Andrew Jackson Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 9:23 AMAye, indeed.

    I must proclaime, however, that the funniest gag was the “Titanic”-inspired sinking of the Green Day concert barge.

  2. VDV Says:
    August 9th, 2007 at 3:49 PMThat was amusing.

    I noticed that in one scene where the townsfolk were looking up at something, one of the mayor’s girlfriends/secretaries/whatevers was dressed and posed as Raquel Welch from One Million Years B.C., a.k.a. the chick from Andy’s last poster in The Shawshank Redemption.


Part of the marketing campaign for the Simpsons movie is a website called SimpsonizeMe.com. You go there, upload a photo of yourself, press a button here, turn a dial there, and after a minute or two, you’ve got a yellow, four-fingered, bug-eyed picture of yourself. Then, if you think the computer didn’t quite capture your essence, you can tinker with the image.

Here’s me:

I couldn’t find a scowl among the smiles, so there you go. Also, the pocket’s on the wrong side and the face is symmetrical.