Thursday, May 22, 2008

Love lives gaudy jewelry

Wow. You know, the flame of my faith in humanity is a very fragile thing. When I hear Bush speak, I sort of cup my hands over it to keep it from blowing out in the torrential winds of his stupidity. When I see certain presidential candidates clinging to the election like some sort of...what's that type of organism that takes and takes and gives nothing back...oh right, a parasite! When I see something like that, I have to huddle around the flame, sing some of the songs I don't hate and talk hurriedly about art, literature and wikipedia.

But then there are times where something comes entirely out of left field and just blows the damn thing out.

This is one of those things:

It's not a diamond. It's grandma.

Have you ever asked yourself "Man, a picture just doesn't cut it, isn't there a way I could constantly be reminded of the death of my loved one?"

Well, wonder no more. The good folks at LifeGem have developed a method where they can extract carbon from a beloved pet or family member and turn it into a beautiful diamond that you can wear around your neck or finger forever and ever and ever.

I can see it now:
"Wow, that's a very nice necklace."
"Thanks, it's my grandma."
" mean it's your grandma's?"
"Ha ha ha. Nope."

The process, according to the LifeGem website is as follows: (By the way, I recommend watching the process video to get an example of how you can make a chemical process sound somehow meaningful and poetic. And by meaningful and poetic, I mean incomprehensible and trite.)

1. Carbon is collected from the cremated remains of a body (either human or animal). The process of cremation, of course, absolutely preserves the entirety of the body and not just the bones of the deceased. Of course, the folks at LifeGem respect that not everyone wants to be burned into ashes. A lock of hair from the loved one will do. And by lock of hair, according to the website, it means "a lock of hair equal to the amount typically collected during a typical men's haircut". So basically, give the deceased a haircut, get a big bag of dead people hair and they can make a diamond. Isn't technology grand?

2. The carbon is "purified". Which basically means it's made really hot.

3. The carbon is put under high-pressure which mimicks the pressure required to make a natural diamond.

4. The "diamond" is cut into something that is completely indisguishable from another synthetic diamond and slung around your neck or wrapped around your finger.

Of course, it's not like there's any way of telling if the carbon in the diamond is your loved one's carbon, and not just ordinary carbon. Because, as everyone knows, carbon is where one's love comes from, and not just 6 protons, 6 neutrons and 6 electrons. Since there is absolutely no way of telling what carbon is used, you could be buying a diamond made of regular, run-of-the-mill carbon for $2,500 to $14,000. Thank you Snopes. Your editorial spin makes a mockery of your attempt to be a factual site.

Diamonds not your style? Want to be even closer to your loved one? How about one of these:

A memorial tattoo

Now. I know what you're thinking: "Mr. Shaw, really, I am highly dubious of what justification you could offer for criticizing a simple tattoo that memorializes a loved one. I say, very uncouth, old chap".

I'll forgive the "uncouth" comment, you turd, but let me explain. That tattoo is not just ink. That's right. It's cremation ashes MIXED with tattoo ink. eHow makes good on its motto "How to Do Just About Everything" with this article on how to use ashes in a memorial tatoo. Apparently there are a number of health issues that can arise from injecting bone ash under your skin, what a shocker. The idea of a loved one's ashes causing a serious infection is somehow beyond hilarious to me.

Oh, and if you don't believe this ACTUALLY is done, check this out. Scroll down to "Beyond Skin Deep". Dog ashes. There you go.

So. What have we learned today?

People will do anything to cling to a memory instead of just coping with the loss?

People will spend ludicrous sums of money on the most bizarre, grotesque things?

That you need to make sure you keep an eye on your loved ones as you get older so that if they ever say something like "Gee, grandma/pa, you'd make a great synthetic diamond" you can break their nose and write them out of the will?
Check and check.

But most of all, I'm left with a sense that this is the start of a great idea. All they need to do is run this service, but instead of making the gems for the customers, they track down whoever signs up and take their money away.

Because people who will pay for a diamond made out of dog hair don't deserve money.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A new weapon in the War Against Whippersnappers


What a nice week.

Now back to the bi-weekly grind. By which, I mean, wasting time at work writing a blog. America is a beautiful country.

Speaking of America, what's something that has plagued this country since its birth? Incompetence and corruption amongst the government? Sure. Complete insensitivity to the desires of the disenfranchised? Of course. An abandonment of cost-effective, compassionate policy that eliminates a problem completely over time in favor of a method that immediately, violently represses symptoms so that they can sprout up in other ways? Well, we ARE Americans.

But the problem I'm talking is more serious than any of these. Something that old men on porches have been waving their canes about for centuries. That's right.


Luckily, in this modern world, there isn't a problem that can't be solved by an elaborate, expensive, technological doo-dad. I present to you, my invisible audience...

The Mosquito!

The Mosquito is a small device that emits a high-frequency sound (17.4 kHz at 85dB) that can only be heard clearly by younger people. This is because of a phenomenom known as Presbycusis, which basically refers to gradual hearing loss with age, especially with regard to higher frequencies.

Howard Stapleton, winner of the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize, is the genius behind this device. Did I say genius? I meant quack.

The Mosquito sounds something like this. If your young, this will probably be loud and obnoxious. If you're old, you'll probably revel in the bliss of clearing your office or home of children for a few minutes.

Now, while this device has been successful in achieving its purpose, it was banned in Newport, South Wales after three months of use. Additionally, the Children's Commissioner of England has organized the BUZZ OFF campaign, which is a hilarious play on the fact that the device is called the Mosquito

And who says English humor isn't funny?

And now, unsurprisingly, it is being sold in America. But, also unsurprisingly, it hasn't aroused near as much concern. According to CNN, in South Carolina and Maryland devices have been installed with no complaint by white people over 18 years old, you know, the only people that matter.

Santell, one of the marketers of the device, has claimed that its has recieved requests from government agencies wanting a louder version to "protect" government property.

Honestly, I find this all fantastic. By the time I'm older, we will have the technology to herd kids into pens and only let them out for scheduled knowledge and nutrition insertion. When they are plump enough, we will send them off to factories based on their ability, which will be gauged by future SAT scores (or, as I like to call them...fSATs) so that they can live a controlled, safe life producing until they die and are recycled as food for the new crop of youths.

The device costs $1,500 dollars. It's a good thing that kind of money could never fund a program to entertain kids so that loitering in parking lots just seems like a waste of time. Cause otherwise, the entire concept would be idiotic.

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P.S.: Howard Stapleton was once quoted as saying of the kids that had emptied from a parking lot, "Either someone has come along and wiped them off the face of the earth, or it's working". I'm glad this device was invented by an intelligent, considerate scientist and not a maniacal sociopath.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

S-S-Snakes on a P-P-Plane

Well, folks. I've done Peanut Butter and Jelly. I've done Rihanna (I wish). I've done Tornados. What other threats to international peace can I take on?

Oh yeah.

This guy.

I know what you might be saying. "Rick, how is Samuel L. Jackson, a man who wears a BERET, a threat to international peace". And I respond with:

Guy's got a FLAMETHROWER. Oh, sure, you may say, "that's not that intimidating, why not just let him be." Because, if you let Sam Jackson survive into the future, you get THIS:

That's right. The legendary pimp-saber. Sam Jackson's force is bright purple.

They say that you should know your enemy. Fine. Let's get to know Sam Jackson.

Born in 1948, Sam Jackson was the child Tennessee just couldn't handle. He took the English language by storm, developing a terrible stammer. This bothered Sammy J. immensely. According to this interview in the Independent, Mr. Jackson explained,

"'When I was a kid...I would talk and people would laugh, so I just stopped talking for a while.'"

This would haunt him until his speech therapist recommended he participate in public speaking classes to break him of the habit. It was said that the speeches he made would rattle the foundations of the buildings he spoke in and force all snakes within 5 miles to die, instantly.

Later in life, he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. But then he got into a little fight with the FBI and his mom got scared, said he's moving to be an actor in LA.

During this time, L. Jacks developed a cocaine addiction. This culminated in an overdose, which lead to him being put into a New York rehab center. He came barreling back in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever where he played a cocaine addict. Huh.

What really shot him into stardom were his roles in Pulp Fiction, Die Hard and the Star Wars series. Apparently, The legendary purple lightsaber was a suggestion by S.J. to George Lucas, claiming that it would "look cool". Later, in an MTV interview he boasted that he "got the only purple lightsaber in the universe and I hope I get to take it home with me after they kill me." The brilliant bastard.

The reason I really wanted to write this entry was because of a little-known movie called Snakes on a Plane

Sure, it was lame. The plot was contrived and the characters were flatter than my ex-wife ah ha ha ha. But, let's get some history here. Mr. Leroy Jackson agreed to work on this movie based soley on the fact that it was being directed by a director he liked from Hong Kong and the mudda-fuggin NAME. He didn't even read the script. Badasses don't read.

Not badass enough? How about the fact that he single-handedly made them keep the name Snakes on a Plane even though New Line attempted to make the name less of...I don't know...Noun on a completely unrelated noun.

Not enough? How about the fact that he made the studio RESHOOT parts of the movie, turning it from PG-13 to R SIMPLY BECAUSE he wanted to say the line "I've had enough of these mother*%*&ing snakes on this mother*$&#ing plane!"

That's right. Samuel L. Jackson happens to be the single most badass person in recorded history.


With the exception of George Washington. Man had balls.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I am a blogger, ogger, ogger, ug, ug, ug

Oh, R&B.

You never disappoint.

Mainly because I don't have high hopes for R&B. So it's hard to be disappointed. Maybe that's why I don't like so many things. Because so much is so gol-darned disappointing that being an optomist just seems inefficient.

Life lesson, kiddies. Aim low. That way, you'll never be disappointed.

Speaking of aiming low, today's post is all about a song that has been played so often it's almost crazy.

And by crazy, I mean the song by Gnarls Barkley. I heard that played so often I thought that certain radio stations had just changed their lineup to "All Crazy, all the time!"

It drove me...up the wall.

But there's another catchy song that is apparently the 6th most popular song in the last DECADE internationally. It was #1 on Entertainment weekly's best songs of 2007 and #3 on Rolling Stone's list of arbitrarity.

Needles to did pretty wella, wella, eh, eh, eh.

That's right. I'm dedicating this entry to a song I morally oppose:

Psst, Rihanna, you're doing it wrong!

What do we know about Umbrella? We know it's an enormously popular and viciously catchy tune. Most would be happy to leave it at that. But, not Inanity Inc.

Umbrella's lyrics and melody were written in 12 minutes by Terius "The Dream" Nash. It was originally written to be performed by Britney Spears. Her label told Terius to dream on. Get it? Didn't take me 12 minutes to think of that one, Terry.

So they moved on to Mary J. Bilge. While waiting for a reply from Bilge, Rihanna's label began calling the writers more than my ex-wife calls me for child support (ba-dum-pssh). But unlike my ex-wife, they actually got what they wanted. Rihanna would soon be asking America to stand under her Umbrella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh.

Christopher "Tricky" Stewart admitted to having doubts about Rihanna singing the song. But, according to Stewart,

"When she recorded the 'ellas,' you knew it was about to be the jump-off and your life was about to change if you had anything to do with that record."

Yes. You read that correctly, folks. "When she recorded the ellas". I know a stuttering refrain breaking down a commonplace word has changed my life. If it weren't for Rihanna's ability to sing jibberish, we would still be listening to remixes of Crazy.

Fine, fine, fine. So it got a lot more popular than this blog will ever be, and so on and so forth.

WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW is that Rihanna single-handedly caused a devastating flood across the UK that MURDERED innocent citizens. Well. Only two innocent citizens, but I bet they were REALLY innocent.

How did she do it? No one knows. What we DO know is that while her song was at the top of the charts, this disaster besieged the noble United Kingdom. And as soon as its reign of terror was ended by the stalwart crusader that is Timbaland, the weather improved.

Sure, it could have been coincidence. Or maybe it was God's way of proving Rihanna wrong. How about that, Rihanna? You talk big, but when it comes down to it, your umbrella can't even protect an ISLAND 1/5 the size of the US. Sounds like your umbrella ella ella is a bunch of crappa appa appa.

Also. The song ends with the words "come into me" repeated.


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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Grapples! They're worthlesstupid!

Friend + enemy = Frenemy - A friend who is also your enemy.

Narcissism + surfing = Narcissurfing - An activity in which you benefit yourself and only yourself

Bimbo + distraction = Britney Spears - An unremarkable human being who has more followers than JESUS

Grape + Apple = Grapple - A horrific chimera that is at once both a grape...AND AN APPLE.

It's fun making up words. The funny thing is, all of the above words describe real things.

That's right. Humanity has accomplished the impossible. When Johnny Appleseed was committing acts of bioterrorism, when Mendel watered his bean plants and dreamt of all the sex he was NOT having...none of them could have imagined that their advancements would lead mankind into a new world. A world where the impossible becomes possible. Where something as American as the pie based upon it (along with high fructose corn syrup, dextrose and enriched, bleached flour) and something as...I dunno...French as the wine distilled from its juice...where these two staples would be fused into something so much more...

The Grāpple®

The mad geniuses at C&O Nursery would like you believe that they're simple folk. Growing their apple trees, making good, wholesome apples, like the good lord intended.


Look at those comments! From someone who calls himself "greenerpastures". Most likely a member of the Green party. We all know what the Green Party's really after. Communism. Equal opportunity for all races and cultures. That's isn't right. That is NOT America.

So these commies, showing no respect for the creations of a loving God, decided to make a move. Using C&O Nursery as their headquarters, they launched an offensive on something that has DEFINED America. (even though the largest collection of apple cultivars happens to be here, in England)

The sweet, innocent apple. They have violated the sanctity of its supple red flesh with the bulbous, lusty pulp of the Concord grape.

Through use of elaborate genetic engineering techniques, the mad cyborg scientists of the C&O Gulag managed to give birth to the demon chimera that cannot exist in this reality. It is both apple and grape, while being definitively NEITHER! The epitome of man's hubris, the Fruit of Babel, if you will! It's horrible! It's a monster! It's...

Wait a minute.

They're not genetically engineered?

They just dunk apples in grape juice and charge some absurd price?

Brilliant. I can just imagine what went on inside the nursery:
Guy1: Hey. We're not selling enough apples locally. How can we charge full price for low-quality, already old apples?
Guy2: Um. Maybe we can dip 'em in something. Like caramel.
Guy1: Nah, then they'd be getting what they pay for. What about dipping them in juice?
Guy2: But that's stupid. No one will buy that.
Guy1: What if we say stuff like "we're fighting against child obesity".
Guy2: Brilliant. I'll go buy some juice.
Guy1: Make sure you water it down!

Honestly. This woman has it spot-on. She e-mails these people, asking for ingredients and they just respond by saying that there's no additional calories or sugar.

You know what that means? That means that THE GRAPE JUICE ADDS NOTHING. So basically, you are paying for an apple that smells like a grape. It's perfect for a person who hates the smell of apples, but just adores the taste. Those poor olfactory-challenged people. It's a good thing they're marketed to that small group and not featured on any national TV station....

Oh crap. Damn you Food Network.

Incidently, Food Network, G4 and grape juice have something in common.

G4 has boobs.

Food Network has Alton Brown.

Grape juice is a delicious drink.

They each have one, and ONLY one, worthwhile use.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Worship: Size DOES Matter

Man. I am mega-tired. I would mega-like to take a mega-nap and mega-reduce-my-metabolic-rate-and-secrete-additional-growth-hormone.

Wow. That is annoying. It's a good thing mega isn't used as a prefix seriously.

Oh wait:

Megachurch (The Crystal Cathedral)

That's right. Megachurch. I'd love to say "How very typically American, making something ludicrously oversized, because the bigger it is, the more powerful and thus the more meaningful." BUT. Apparently the biggest churches happen to be in Korea.

Yoido Full Gospel Church

How typically Korean.

The Megachurch
The trend that led to this kind of garbage is easy to explain, hard to show by example. The wikipedia entry describes the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, which attracted 5,000 to witness the powerful sermons of a man named Charles Haddon Spurgeon in the late 1800s. The church later burned down. Am I the only one that finds that kind of funny?

The Crystal Cathedral (pictured above) is a monstrosity placed in the white-and-asian haven, Garden Grove, California. Oddly enough, it's a very middle-class area just bursting with people with disposable income. I'm sure it's just a coincidence. The beast cost $17 million dollars and broadcasts its sermons worldwide on a TV show called Hour of Power

The mega-criticism...sorry...the major criticism of these kinds of churches is that they put value on entertainment, on flashiness, rather than on actual worship. It's hard to break out of this stigma, as once church service becomes such an enormous ordeal, it becomes a production. No more humble little preacher reading from a book while his congregation reads along (or falls asleep). Now the words to hymns are blared across seven-yard-long TV screens in flashing colors with a barrage of orchestral music blared over a system of PAs.

Yes. Slight difference, there.

Hillsong: Doing Chuch better than Wal-Mart

To explain just how strange the whole megachurch phenomenom is, it's best to have a really odd example.

Hillsong Church is a chain-church, if you can believe that, that first got real popularity when it put out a CD called Hillsong. It then promptly changed its name from Hill's Christian Center to Hillsong, based on that popularity. Which, I guess, is as good a reason as any.

Hillsong originated in Australia and now has centers in London, Moscow, Berlin and Paris. Basically, it went from a country that didn't matter into every country that does. With the exception of Russia.

Hillsong does everything. Music, TV, women's groups, kid's groups, education, social justice, you name anything high-profile and Hillsong is all over it like Jesus on a T-Shirt.

Unsurprisingly, Hillsong has come under some, just a little, criticism for teaching what is known as Prosperity Gospel. Basically, what it is is the entire content of The Secret. By being religious, you will gain material wealth. Whew. What a relief. And here I thought I was going to have to work hard.

Okay. I'll admit. There was an alterior motive to talking about megachurches. A certain man, let's call him Jeremiah W. No, no...let's go with J. Wright, has been on TV more than Flava Flav, and that's a travesty. Mr. Wright was at one point a preacher at the Trinity United Church of Christ.

Just to be clear, the TUCC is NOT Hillsong, OR Crystal Cathedral. I am in no way insinuating Mr. Wright is a prosperity gospel bullshit artist or a flashy little nothing. I happen to think a lot of what he says is pretty strong and well-reasoned.

HOWEVER. One thing people seem to be missing is the fact that Mr. Wright is taking this media attention, which is OBVIOUSLY hurting one of his former congregation members, and riding it like a wave of sensationalist journalism. Fact is, the guy was a successful preacher at a high-production church a good portion of his life. Of course he's going to jump at the chance to propound his views on TV. He wouldn't have been as successful as he was if he was the kind of person to pass up this opportunity!

With that in mind, I wouldn't blame a certain B. Obama if he decided to distance himself from the guy. He handled the last flare up so well, only to have Mr. Wright come barreling back into the spotlight. It's unfortunate, but the media is going to take Wright's comments and turn them against Obama, no matter WHAT he says. The fact is, Wright is seeking attention and hurting Obama in the process. One of them needs to cut the other out.


I'm allowed one political rant every so often.

We'll be back to Squirrel Fishing later this week.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

A bold new sport

So. How about those extended periods without a single post, eh?

Did you, my invisible audience, miss me? I'm sure you did.

Either way, back to business. And by business, I mean a supreme waste of time. Which isn't too far from what business actually is. Or, at least a business degree.

For years mankind has struggled to understand nature, to commune with nature. Henry David Thoreau removed himself from the crowded world for this precise communion. He claimed that "there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright"

The Romanticist William Blake claimed, "Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street." He then proceeded to curse the King of England and get in a fistfight with a soldier.

In the tradition of these great poets and thinkers, a number of young people have started a grand reopening of the dialouge between man and nature. They call it:

Squirrel Fishing

These pioneers, these (I am not ashamed to say it) heroes, have taken the brutal act of fishing and adapted it to become a serene commune with nature. I am proud to feature them here, in this blog, to my vast(ly) invisible audience.

How to
Squirrel fishing is so simple you might mistake it for a hilarious and silly game rather than an intimate meditation with Mother Nature.

1. Get a rod. Some say fishing rods, but a lot of times, it just looks like people use a big stick. In the pictures on this site, they don't even use the rod.

2. Get some string. It seems a lot of the critters like to bite through the string, so something slightly strong might be worth it.

3. Get a peanut. OR a slice of apple. Apparently both work pretty well in attracting your prey-I mean-furry friend. Also, according to wikipedia raw peanuts might be somewhat unhealthy for the squirrel, so it might be worth getting roasted ones. Or just go with the apple.

4. Get a key. You'll need this to weigh down the line. Tie it about three inches up from the end of the string.

5. Tie one end of the string to the rod and the other to the peanut (or through the apple slice)

6. Carefully approach the squirrel and attempt to gain its interest in the nut.

7. One the squirrel is hooked, it's time to commune. Relate to it. Be the squirrel. Try to lift it off the ground and dangle it around. Because that shit is funny.

The Heroes
UC Berkeley Squirrel fishers - Apparently one of the largest groups, boasting more than 80 members. Apparently also boasting an inter-club drama, where groups are divided and need unification. How, exactly, a group dedicated to lifting squirrels off the ground has anything to debate is beyond me. Link.

University of Oregon Squirrel Fishing Club - A group of about 30 members that is currently struggling with recreation to have squirrel fishing sanctioned as an official sport. Fight the good fight, lads. Link.

Harvard University Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences - Yes. That's right. Harvard. This is how people at Harvard apply sciences. Honestly, it's things like this that make me think that maybe Harvard isn't a bunch of puffed nonsense desperately trying to improve student satisfaction to distract them from the fortune and a half they're spending on tuition. Then again. I went to Rutgers. I have no room to talk. Link.

This is hilarious.

I'm gonna do it.

End soapbox.

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