I need a day off.

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Somebody order us a pizza.

Facebook.

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

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Amy Grant songs (and more bad news).

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

This has been a tough week for me. Another year has come and gone, and again, no one recognizes my genius: I didn’t win a MacArthur Fellowship (also called the “Genius Grant”). For those of you who don’t know, the MacArthur Fellowship is an annual award of $500,000 that a secret group of philanthropists gives out to people who are very talented and smart. It goes to various artists, scientists, engineers, and other “-ists” who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” It’s pretty good idea; rather than rewarding idiots by giving them television shows, reward the geniuses for being geniuses.

There is no application and the process is entirely anonymous and secretive. You just wake up one morning in September and there’s an envelope in your mailbox from the MacArthur Foundation with $500,000 in it. Wikipedia has a list of everyone who’s ever won, and I have never heard of most of these people. But in fairness, I don’t spend a lot of time with land & farm development specialists (Calvin King, 1990) or rare book preservationists (Teddy Belanger, 2005). But it looks like I’ll have to wait until next year. I can’t even finish the Sunday crossword without google, so I don’t know if I’m qualified.

Another thing that’s bringing me down is Nirvana: not the state of cosmic enlightenment, but the early 1990s grunge band. They are making me feel old.

Nirvana was one of the major bands from my youth, and this past weekend was the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind, which was an album that I literally listened to until the tape melted in my tape player. (Yes, kids, we used to listen to music on things called “tapes.” They were made out of cheap plastic and always came unspooled and occasionally your sister would tape over your copy of “Dookie” with Amy Grant songs). (That’s right, Rachel, I’m looking at you). But the fact that Nevermind came out twenty years ago made me realize that I am old. I mean, I’m not OLD, but I am older than I thought I was. And imagine how old I felt when I was reading an article about all this and I saw this picture of Frances Bean Cobain:

Little Frances Bean (the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love) grew up and looks alarmingly like her father. But’s 19 years old now, which means that I am a million years old. I wonder if she plays guitar.

If you’ve forgotten how awesome Nirvana was, remind yourself. (You thought it was going to be “Smells Like Teen Spirit” didn’t you? Silly you!) (Hey kids, did you see the coked-out lunatic dancing on stage? You used to be able to do that in the nineties.)

So I’m older than I thought and I didn’t get $500,000 for being a genius. The good news is that at least I can still sell my sperm.

Sperm banks across the United States have stopped accepting sperm donations from red-headed donors. Apparently women who want anonymous sperm from a refrigerator don’t want it. So the sperm banks are loaded with fridges full of ginger sperms that are not being put to any use. I’ve never been so glad to have rich, dark hair. I might go donate some sperm.

[Insert a joke of your choosing].

Facebook.

(Alternate title for this article: “You used to be able to do that in the nineties.”)

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

“Hey! Oreos!”

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

What’s the point of being the prime minister of Italy if you can’t stop every now and then to enjoy the fruits of your labor; to stop to smell the roses, as it were. Silvio Berlusconi, the current prime minister of Italy, has apparently spent a lot of time smelling the roses, and by “smelling the roses,” I mean, “having sex with prostitutes.” Viva Italia!

Silvio Berlusconi is currently on trial for corruption, blackmail, wire-tapping, bribery, prostitution, underage prostitution, and tax fraud. Oh, and he is the prime minister of Italy. Hopefully this is not an election year in Italy, because he may have done a little bit of damage to his public image. The best part the trial so far is a witness testimony who said that Berlusconi bragged to him: “Last night I had a queue [of prostitutes] outside the door of my bedroom. There were eleven, but I only did eight, because I could not do anymore.” Frankly, at 74 years old, I’m impressed that he managed to get through eight of them. But I think the point is that Silvio Berlusconi is a complete scumbag, and he’s probably going to be spending his retirement years in prison, which is well-deserved. There’s an old saying, “you lie in the bed you make,” and when the bed you make is full of underage prostitutes, you should probably go to jail.

If the bed you make is full of elves, you probably live in Iceland. A recent survey of Icelanders showed that people on that cold island nation believe in elves. A lot of people, in fact. Icelanders were asked what they thought of elves, and 37% of respondents said that it was “possible” that elves or fairies are out there. 17% responded that it was “likely” that they exist, and 8% said that they “definitely” exist. 19% responded that it was “unlikely” that else are unlikely, and only 13% said that it was impossible. I know that I’ve thrown a lot of numbers at you here, so I’ve whipped up a pie chart to show you exactly how many people in Iceland believe in elves:

That big green chunk, along with the purple slice, and the light blue section, are all people who think that the existence of elves is “possible” or better! Iceland! Who knew? Maybe there’s something going on up there that we don’t know about. Maybe the world’s strategic elf reserves are in Iceland, holding banquets in the woods and playing tricks on the simple townsfolk of villages like Fáskrúðsfjörður. (Real town in Iceland, I googled it). (@GunnarTheIcelandElf: “Those Fáskrúðsfjörðurians are in trouble! We’re going to spook their yaks and then ruin their cabbages! LOL! #mischief #hatersgonnahate”). (I assume that Icelanders raise yaks and grow cabbage).

One thing you won’t find a lot of in Iceland, but you will find in India, are frogs. In fact, in India, you will find twelve newly discovered, and three species that have been rediscovered after they were thought to be extinct. New frogs!

This happy little fellow is the Vub night frog (Nycyibatrachus vrijeuni), one of the twelve newly discovered species of Indian frogs. I have occasionally written about frogs before, and I’m glad to see that new frogs are being discovered. And we really shouldn’t be surprised that it took us this long to find the Vub night frog and his friends: they are night frogs. Have you ever tried to find a frog in the dark? It’s especially difficult to find a frog at night that you think is not there because it is extinct. That’s a “Where’s Waldo?” of epic biological proportions; finding a needle in a haystack. Well, more like finding an extinct frog in a haystack.

I can understand the difficulty in finding something at night which is small and possibly extinct. Finding something that is right out open, and has been for thousands of years, is a different story. I am referring to the recently discovery of geoglyphs (giant pictures in the ground that can only be seen from the air) in the Middle East.

Most people are aware of geoglyphs, usually from seeing a film strip about the Nazca lines which you probably saw in history class in about 7th grade. But for those who don’t know, Wikipedia will explain it. This case is similar to the one in Peru, except that the giant shapes (which appear to be wheels or perhaps primitive Oreos) stretch across the desert from Syria to Saudi Arabia. I don’t know how far it is from Syria to Saudi Arabia, but it sounds like a long way. So how have we not seen these before? Has no one ever flown a plane over the desert between Syria and Saudi Arabia and casually looked down? “[static] Umm…come in CP-341, this is RTH-1102…I’m at 34,000 feet here, just crossing over the desert in…Hey! Oreos! [static]”

Check out the Kids of the Recession Facebook page.

(Alternate title for this article: “Finding an extinct frog in a haystack.”

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

Jack Francis Fizbin.

September 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s a reason that the government won’t let you change your name until you’re 18. I was never especially fond of my name; in my adult life I’ve started going by my middle name. But if you’d have asked 14-year old me what I would change my name to, my name would be Jack Francis Fizbin. That’s why we make people wait until they are adults before they make a decision about changing their name. You’d think that I’m talking about basketball player Ron Artest, who has recently changed his name to Metta World Peace, but I’m not. I’m talking about Led Zeppelin II.

George Blackburn, a 64-year old man from Missouri, was at the county courthouse finalizing the paperwork for his third divorce. He decided, on a whim, to change his name, so he could get a “fresh start.” So he filled out the paperwork and changed his name to Led Zeppelin II. (@LedZeppelinII: “I got a WHOLE LOTTA LOVE for my new name! lol! #jimmypagerocks”). When asked about it, he answered with one of the best things I’ve ever heard a human being say: “I don’t want to appear to be some off-the-wall, drug-addict idiot, I just changed my name from the standpoint that I can be a better person than I used to be.” If I were going to change my name to a classic rock album, I think I’d go with “Electric Ladyland” which would be, let’s honest, awesome.

Someone who may want to consider changing their name is Ruth Angelica Gomez. She’s a 17-year old from Texas who pretended to have leukemia and scammed $17,000 worth of donations. Who the hell does that?

Gomez started a fake organization called “Achieve the Dream” and collected $17,000 in donations, which she pocketed. She told her friends and even her family that she had six months to live. This sounds like something out of an episode of “Arrested Development” (remember when Maeby pretended that she was “Shirley Funke” and had something called “BS”?). Police stepped in after Gomez raised suspicion by living nine months and not showing any signs or symptoms of leukemia, and after doing a little checking for hospital or medical records, discovered that she did not have any sort of life-threatening illness, except perhaps being-a-fucking-terrible-person-itis. Now she’s eighteen, and being tried as an adult in Texas courts for fraud, theft, and douchebaggery.

Seriously, though, how black is your soul if you pretend to have leukemia to scam people? Yuck.

That bums me out; let’s talk about dinosaurs. Everybody’s seen Jurassic Park, right? Where they find bugs stuck in amber and use the DNA to clone dinosaurs? Well, most of that premise is not scientifically possible, but the thing about bugs getting stuck in sap (which hardens over time into amber) is totally true. And scientists in my home province (Alberta, Canada) have found a dinosaur feather stuck in a piece of amber.

Feathers and dinosaurs be controversial recently, with all the news about the Archaeopteryx, and recent theories that dinosaurs didn’t go extinct, they just evolved into birds. This eighty million year old dinosaur feather really complicates things. Did the dinosaurs just turn into birds or did they get killed by a big thing falling on their heads (which is how we’re all going to die in a couple weeks, when the UARS drops out of the atmosphere)?

One common topic of debate among paleontologists is “what colour were dinosaurs?” (Chromatophores, the cells which determine colour, do not fossilize). Scientists were able to use imaging technology to tell use exactly what colour these feathers were. The answer, which we were all hoping would be bright blue or fluorescent pink, was disappointingly: “medium brown.”

So, dinosaur birds were brown. That’s a rather boring answer, but it’s an answer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I plan on drinking an entire bottle of Knob Creek bourbon and then watching the Kentucky Wildcats (hail alma mater!) play our hated rival Louisville Cardinals.

Free stuff for anyone who writes “Go Wildcats!” on the Kids of the Recession Facebook page.

And don’t forget to help me name my pepper plant.

(Alternate title for this article: “Dinosaurs birds were brown. Boring.”)

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

On the road again.

September 16, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’m on the road today, so we’ve only got time for a quickie. Four quick things:

(1) Go to the Kids of the Recession Facebook page and help me name my pepper plant. I was thinking “Jeff” but I think we can do better than that. Whoever comes up with the best name for my plant will win T. rex or cartoon, specially personalized for them, as well as internet fame and glory.

(2) Don’t worry, there will be a full Kids of the Recession post tomorrow; I hope you can be patient until then.

(3) Tomorrow is one of my favourite days of the year: Louisville vs. Kentucky.

(4) Here’s Katy Perry getting felt up by a chimpanzee:

Have a great Friday night, don’t drink and drive, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

Locking up the Amish.

September 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

So you may be asking yourself, “How does one survive getting shot in the skull with a spear gun?” For the answer, you’ll have to ask Sara, a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) who was recently shot in the skull with a spear gun. I’m not sure what language turtles speak, but I’d be curious to know the translation for “OHMYGOD!! SOMEBODY JUST SHOT ME IN THE HEAD WITH A SPEAR GUN!!” But the good news is that there’s good news: Sara is fine.

Sara was out turtling around in the Gulf of Mexico one afternoon when someone shot her in the head with a spear gun. I don’t want to sound too judgmental, but what kind of an asshole shoots an endangered sea turtle in the head with a spear gun? Either way, she floated ashore half dead on a Florida beach, and was taken to a local animal hospital where veterinarians successfully removed the spear, and rehabilitated her. Today she was at last released back into her natural habitat. With a helmet. I am just kidding about the helmet, unfortunately. Admit it, as soon as I said, with a helmet, you thought, “Oh my goodness, I want to see a turtle wearing a helmet.” But Sara is back in the wild, free of head wounds, and hopefully doing fine.

Scarlett Johannson doing less fine. Miss Johannson, who is is an actress, is well-known for being talented and good-looking (and was one of the voices in “The Spongebob Squarepants Movie“). She is one of several celebrities who have had their fancy cell phones “hacked,” meaning that techno-savvy perverts have secretly gained access to their personal files. And Miss Johannson’s personal files were somewhat more personal than some others.

Along with call logs and text message history, hackers gained access to voicemail and photos, and in Miss Johannson’s case, some of those photos are quite saucy. So the FBI is now involved, and they are trying to (a) find out who did the hacking, (b) stop them from publishing the racy photos. I feel badly for Scarlett, because nobody wants their private personal naughty pictures to end up on the internet. But if you’re famous, you gotta know: don’t take saucy photos of yourself! Didn’t Anthony Weiner and Brett Favre teach us anything? Don’t we hear about a new celebrity sex tape like every week and a half?

I guess that sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way, like some Amish fellows did recently, just a few miles down the road from me in Mayfield, Kentucky. They learned that when a police officer says, “You must have reflective triangles on your horse and buggy,” they mean it. And that’s why Graves County police are locking up the Amish: they’re just doing their job.

The eight Amish gentlemen in question were ticketed for not having an “orange reflective safety sticker” on their horse and buggies, and then passively refused to pay the fine. Officers from Graves County were obligated to bring them in and hold them until they paid, which means that these gentlemen (I will call them the “Mayfield Eight” because I think it sounds hilarious) are in jail. They didn’t pay the fine because they believe that it violates their religious principles. Next time I get a speeding ticket, I am going to dispute it based on my Opossumist religious beliefs. But these guys are seriously in a jail (jail officials have allowed them to wear dark-coloured jumpsuits instead of the usual orange ones) and they are standing up for something they believe in. I don’t know whether to applaud their courage or chuckle at their craziness. Maybe a little of both. The Mayfield Eight were sentenced to three days in jail, and will be released this weekend. Hopefully the horse and buggies that come to pick them up at the jail have an orange reflective safety sticker on them.

Nobody has yet come to pick up Willow, a six year calico cat who is currently living in a New York City humane society. That’s because Willow’s owners live in Colorado.

Willow disappeared from her home in Colorado five years ago, and her owners assumed (quite reasonably) that she had run off, and was probably in cat heaven. As it turns out, Willow was on a Lewis-and-Clark-ian voyage from Colorado to New York City (1600 miles!), where she was discovered on East 20th Street in Manhattan, more than five years since she was last seen. Willow was PIT tagged (a little chip in the skin) when she was a kitten, and that’s how NYC SPCA workers were able to locate her original whereabouts and her original owners. Plans are being made to return her to Colorado, but I think that Willow still thinks she has a shot of making it on Broadway. She’s been working at Katz’s Diner to make ends meet, but she’s recently gotten some call backs from a few acting things, and hopefully her career is really going to take off. (Get it? It’s a struggling-actor-in-NYC joke!). (@WillowNYC: “Anybody want to read my screenplay? #mybigbreak”).

If my cat, Handsome Frank, were to try to run away, he wouldn’t make it down the stairs (we live on the third floor). I’d find him lying there, grooming himself and waiting for me to bring him a bowl of food.

He’s not known to wander far from his food.

Do you want your own cartoon or T. rex? Just go on Facebook and tell me why I should send you one.

(Alternate title for this article: “I want to see a turtle in a helmet.”)

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.

A topic that is generally very boring.

September 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

If you were not aware, human life depends on bees. We eat farm animals, who eat plants, which are pollenated by: bees. No bees = no plants = no food = death. (Although before the death there are some interesting end-of-days cannibal scenarios that are quite entertaining to imagine). So it seems that bees are a natural resource worth taking care of. In that spirit, I agree with the government when they say, “Let’s put the Franklin’s bumblebee on the endangered species list.”

Franklin’s bumblebee (Bombus franklini) is a species of bee that is native to Oregon, and apparently they are getting quite rare. A special interest group in the Beaver State (really…Oregon is “The Beaver State”) (nerds) have begun a petition to save the Franklin’s bumblebee, and so far the government is in agreement. In an unusual instance of government bipartisanship, it turns out that Republicans and Democrats agree that we shouldn’t wipe out all life on earth as we know it. (@TheWhiteHouse: “I support not causing a #NightOfTheLivingDead style apocalypse. lulz! Don’t eat me, bro! #humansaredelicious”).

It’s been a while since we had a #humansaredelicious hash tag.

No word on the bee populations on HD-85512b.

One of the plants that bees pollinate is the cantaloupe, and for the love of God, if  you have the choice between eating your loved ones or eating a cantaloupe: eat your loved ones. Cantaloupes are like sweet orange hand grenades waiting to go off in your intestines. That’s because the most recent crop of cantaloupes may be tainted with listeria.

Most of the food sickness outbreaks we hear about (and for some reason I am inordinately interested in food sickness outbreaks) are salmonella (Salmonella enterica), which is bad for you, but certainly not as bad as, say, the black death. Mostly you get a fever and you get diarrhea, and it’s unpleasant. On the other hand, listeria (Listeria monocytogenes) is super bad for you. The mortality rate for salmonella is less than 1 in 100; listeria’s mortality rate is more like 1 in 4. So don’t eat those cantaloupes! They may be infected with listeria! Satisfy yourself with a less potentially fatal melon! I recommend the “toad skin melon.” Really. They’re great.

While you’re enjoying a nice slice of toad skin melon, let me tell you about ancient fish. This is a topic that is generally very boring, but in this specific case, it is also boring. Some guys in Canada found a very old head belonging to a previously unknown big dinosaur fish, and have named it Lacognathus embryi.

Boring, right? A big dinosaur fish. That’s what I thought, too, until I saw the hilarious “artist’s conception” of what a Lacognathus embryi might look like. Now I love the Lacognathus embryi. Look. You will love it as much as I do.

Who is the artist that drew this conception? Me? But like, the eighth grade version of me? I don’t think that this doodle will end up in the Smithsonian anytime soon. It looks like it was drawn on a cocktail napkin. By someone who had just drank the cocktail. And perhaps several more before that.

And since I’ve already talked about a food-borne illness and some animals, that only leaves me with one topic remaining: Katy Perry. You may remember that she got sick after a show in Louisville, but now she seems to be be doing fine. She’s set to be on the cover of the Australian version of Cosmopolitan.

I didn’t know they had separate versions of Cosmo for different countries. Perhaps the sex tips are slightly different? (Perhaps the Australian “dirty snowball” is different than ours). Or maybe there are more boomerang advertisements in the Australian version? Who knows? I know that when I pick up and thumb through an issue of Cosmo while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, the first thing I notice is the lack of boomerang advertisements.

Do you want a cartoon or T. rex? Just go on Facebook and tell me why I should send you one.

And happy 37th anniversary to my ma and pop.

(Alternate title for this article: “The eighth grade version of me.”)

Keep a good heart; the worst is yet to come.