Friday, February 29, 2008

Pirates, zombies and Al Bundy.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday, Frederic!

.. and, in a shameless plug to the "Alpha Lackey glory days", it was four years ago that a "Continuing Adventures of Alpha Lackey" article used this legendary "Leap Year plot twist" in an article on the "letter of the law", or what gamers call "beardy rules". I'm quite proud of it, of course, but that's because I'm a helpless narcissist.

At any rate...

last night, I was watching the special features of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and it was discovered that one of the recurring jokes that they cut involved one of the characters (the black guy that winds up being bitten by a zombie) being a women's shoe salesman.

Now, if you watched any TV in the 80s, you know There Can Be Only One hapless woman's shoe salesman, and that is Al Bundy.

As a result, hearing the reference to a hapless women's shoe salesman in a zombie movie immediately popped the following in my head:

"Well Peg, a fat zombie walked into the shoe store today. She said 'blrgg rrggr arrgrgrgragh', and I said, 'Well, much like an elevator, they have a two ton weight limit."

Poor Al...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

NHL Trade Deadline haikus.

Even though it's only 4am-ish or thereabouts, the competition for "funniest thing I'll read today" is already a mortal lock for this entry, the 2008 NHL trade deadline deals in haiku form.

My personal favorite:


The Florida Panthers acquired right winger/defenseman Wade Belak from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a fifth-round draft pick in 2008.

A fifth-round pick is
Better than a bag of pucks.
You go, Trader Cliff!


How on earth do you top this? The first round of the playoffs in "Burma Shave" prose?

Now, for the benefit of my younger readers, "Burma Shave" was a product that was notorious for advertizing over several billboards, each featuring one line of a four-line poem, followed by "Burma Shave" on the last billboard. For example, Roy Silvernail's entry from The Richard Nixon Memorial Burma Shave Showdown:

"I am not
a crook," said he,
following with
"Pardon me!"
Burma Shave.

There, you guys get two of my favorite links in one post!

And yes, I think I'll go that way. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Apparently I'm a senior citizen.

Spent some time at the insurance adjustor's office today. What I thought was an open-and-shut claim when a car crossed lanes to smack square into me was, apparently, being disputed. I'll spare you the gory details but suffice it to say his version of the story is so far removed from reality that any detail which actually was accurate was strictly by accident. It literally does appear like his strategy was to lie about every conceivable detail in the hopes that the resulting confusion would result in a matter/anti-matter kind of explosion.

He even went as far as to describe me as a "senior citizen". I kid you not.

Now this dude is in his fifties, yet because I have a few gray hairs, I'm a senior?

I'm amazed that he actually told his adjustor that I was driving a motor car (or as us seniors call them, 'horseless carriages'), truth be told. Apparently he forgot to mention that I was, in fact, piloting my hovercraft dangerously close to the surface of Sargent Ave. Perhaps a military-grade weather balloon?

So, despite the fact that I have given a very, very comprehensive statement, and he can't even get my general age demographic correct, there's a very real chance that this will be a 50-50 fault and I'll be out several hundred dollars.

I did try and take a camera picture with my cell phone, however, with the weather being nearly 40 degrees below, the lens fogged immediately on my taking the phone out of the car. I got some big speech about how "I didn't need to take a picture", etc. Frankly, the only reason I reneged is because we were done all the work and I didn't know how long I had the right to retain him afterwards. And besides, he seemed congenial enough, like one would expect from a senior citizen. An actual one, mind you.

Bottom line is - if ever I am in this situation first, the camera comes out first, plain and simple. And it stays out until the incident is documented to my satisfaction.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I need a wild, crazy getaway.. to Kennewick, WA!

It's time for another Official WA State Gambling Bender.

The most recent one was late last year, so it's about right on schedule, which is about 3-4 times per year. I took but a few photos of my most recent one, the next one will have quite a few more.

For those unfamiliar with the routine, you take a quick WestJet flight to Vancouver, rent a car, and head down the road until you get to the border crossing. Before you know it, you're across the border and within 45 minutes of the first mandatory bender stop, the Club and Steakhouse in Everett, WA.

The following other stops are also mandatory:

Crazy Moose Casino in Mountlake Terrace, WA,
Coyote Bob's Roadhouse Casino in Kennewick, WA, and
Crazy Moose Casino in Pasco, WA;

the rest kind of gets made up as it goes along.

You might wonder why a degenerate gambler like myself wouldn't make the 'obvious' choice and simply go to Las Vegas. It's actually a reasonable question, until you consider the following:

#1> I like playing table games, not slot machines.

You know, if you tried to get people to sit in front of a machine, hit a button endlessly, pick up the odd nugget and listen to middle C dinging all day, you'd have to pay them. Tell them they have a one in a zillion chance of winning a car, and they'll pay you!

In Washington, non-tribal casinos can only have card games. Which naturally means that they will have to cater to that niche of gambler.

#2> I'm not nearly as big a fan of all the ridiculous Vegas casino gimmicks as much as I like the theme of Washington casinos, which are best described as "card rooms". The Crazy Moose Casinos are, for lack of a better term, like a lodge. Big screen TVs with non-stop sports, good food, pool tables, and a poker game in the back. Coyote Bob's is more like a sports bar, and is smaller and more intimate, complete with all the typical "bar trappings" along the wall. The Club is more spacious and has one of the nicest steakhouses I've ever been to in all my life.

But - oh horror! - none of them have circuses in the middle of them, miniature castles built over them, or a scale model of New York on top of them! There's no pirate battles - you may find scruffy guys with eyepatches, but pirates they most certainly are not - and if you want to see 'gay Paris', you need to ask around discreetly where she's hanging out these days.

#3> I play for stakes that are moderate by Vegas standards, but everywhere I've been in WA I've been treated very well in all but a couple specific cases. The customer service is far better all over Washington. The dealers are friendlier, classier, and on average more competent than most places I've been to in Vegas. And the cabbies in Tri-Cities don't try to long haul you at every step.

#4> The pace is much, much more relaxed. I actually enjoy the solitude of a car and the open road. Drive until you find a rest spot, pop up the laptop and do some work, write a few things, and kick back and think. It mixes in nice with the visceral thrill of half a day of non-stop gambling.

#5> The scenery is far, far better. Cruise around Tri-Cities, with the Columbia river running square through it. Or the wooded highways north of Seattle. Or the Cascades. Compare that to the wasteland that compromises most of Nevada, and even Las Vegas, with porn peddlers positioned in stations along every quarter of a city block.

Nevada does have a few advantages, however:

#1>You can't get comped for liquor in Washington. You also can't get 24 hour liquor in Washington. Both of which you can deal with when there's more to do than stagger around one small area in a hazy stupor.

#2> Vegas still does tend to be knee-deep in drunk, lascivious women. Although, the folks I've met in Washington have tended to be more interesting to talk to, which is at least some compensation. ;)

#3> Poker. The only real specific reason I'd pick Vegas over WA State. The games in Washington are incredibly small stakes by comparison. Although I think, for now, I'd rather pass on all the sharks trying to feast on each other in Vegas and head back to Calgary for some of that fast and loose oil money :)

So, it seems the target is four weeks from now, the last week of March. We'll see how things pan out.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The saddest picture in recorded history.

Don't be fooled by the hyperbole of this post's title. It does not rhetorically suggest something that is in fact pleasant, by virtue of its over-the-top claim. Nor does it needlessly exaggerate some trivial annoyance, in a vain effort on my part to get you to watch a Rick Astley video. It is, to my estimation, really and truly the saddest picture in recorded history. If you're up for it, click on it, look at it, and then I'd like to tell you why I think the way I do.

First, the picture in question: A daguerreotype from 1853.

There's some details on the page that you'll notice. For instance, we know the mother's name (Harriet H. Parker), the child's name (Fanny Melissa Parker), and that she was but 5 years and 6 months old when she passed away. Apparently there was also a short poem published in the newspaper. I am searching for it and if I do find it, I will update with a new post. However, there is much, much more to consider.

Stop for a moment, if you will, and think about how amazing a technology the daguerreotype must have been to Harriet H. Parker.

According to Wikipedia, it was proclaimed a "Gift to the World" on August 19, 1839, meaning that this technology was only about fourteen years old when this was taken. Given how much slower time moved back then, that would probably only amount to an equivalent "technological age" nowdays of a few years at most.

It certainly would have been borderline miraculous, no?

And what did Harriet H. Parker ask of this miracle of engineering?

Not to bring back her deceased daughter Fanny - which clearly would have been impossible to ever hope for - but merely to immortalize her.

And so, in addition to the horrible grief she must have been feeling, she took it upon herself to spend minutes, if not hours, motionless while gently holding her deceased daughter. If I ever brag about how "having a poker face for a few seconds at a time" is something amazing, please remind me of the pressure Harriet Parker was under, knowing that the 'quality' of the immortalizing depending on her stoicism.

She did all that, and why?

To remember, and to share.

To immortalize, but without cursing. After all, millennia of literature up to and including modern movies like "Highlander" (and even video games like "Lost Odyssey") focus on how literal immortality would be a curse, yet our imperfect "human" path to immortality - by remembering people after they are gone - is the single greatest blessing that can be given.

And even though I believe the factors discussed here summarize the true "sadness" of this picture, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how moving it is to know that, by viewing this picture, I'm not just looking blankly at two people from a century and a half ago.

With her actions, Harriet asked people to "feel" for the loss of young Fanny. And when I "feel" that sadness, I know that I am, somehow, contributing to her wishes, in a collective subconsciousness that spans time and space effortlessly. I must be. What else could you call the impulse to feel for something or someone in such a way?

And hopefully if you've read this far, that means you have too. If so, thanks for helping me out.