Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Science of the Common Man

The Common Man

                The world is an unfair place. People get sick and die without any help from medical research. Every day we see grants get delivered to scientists for things like how cold sheep get when they’re sheered or the influence of horse socks on the effectiveness of horse shoes. The common man like you, me, and Clint Howard wonder why these projects are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars every day while worthwhile things go unstudied. Sure, we all hear about things like curing cancer, solving baldness, and saving the great white whale, but there are plenty of things those eggheads could research for us. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of these unfavorable situations in the common man’s day to day life.

How sweatshirt danglies get uneven
                One item of every common person’s wardrobe is the sweatshirt. Whether it be zippered, fleece, or pull-over, everyone knows the world’s most comfortable clothing item. But with great comfortableness comes slight irritants, as Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben was fond of saying. Before he died horribly and needlessly due to the indirect actions of his nephew, of course. The only con of sweatshirts comes as dangling, pullable, hood-closers. Often times, these strings of fabric are uneven, and one has to fight the design of the sweatshirts themselves in order to even out the strings. Having completed their task, the wearer of the sweatshirt sits back, and relishes in the evenness of their accessories. However, the next time that person looks down, the strings are back to being uneven.
                Scientists, leave your mice, caffeinated cheese, and hair-creating bacteria behind, and pick up this problem. How can a string be so hard to move by my effort, but later, defy at least 2 ½ of Newton’s laws of physics? “Durrr I’m just going to start moving without any force acting upon me.” Stupid strings. Ruining my favorite garment.

How knots are formed naturally
                Christmas lights. What did you just picture in your mind? Maybe a joyous morning filled with family, reverence, and general happiness. Wrong. If you’re like me, or Clint Howard, you think an hour spent untangling those brightly colored lights that no one will notice. When scientists decide they’d rather spend time researching if people have ESP by testing them with pornographic images instead of researching how these tangles happen, Clint Howard gets just a little bit uglier.


                Whether it be Christmas lights, iPod headphones, or extension cords, no matter how tightly and carefully you wrap a long, linear object, it will only come out tangled and knotted. The box you store these things in will sit in the garage, totally still for ten months at a time, but yet, inside, strange physics are taking place. Cords are wrapping around themselves, doing knots only a Boy Scout with no life would know how to handle. (Read: all Boy Scouts)

Why women keep marrying Larry King
                I mean, honestly. Suspenders on the Crypt Keeper.

"Baby, the man looks like a frog!" - Scrubs

                Jetpacks as a concept have been around longer than actual space travel. Why can we say “Oh, let’s put seven people on that big ol’ rock up in the sky, along with a car and some golf clubs. Just to see what’s up there. My money’s on rocks, but Johnson says BIG rocks,” but we can’t figure out how to get that common man over there a backpack that makes him fly with rockets. Flying with rockets is only second in coolness and awesome-osity to flying without rockets… or wings.
                Instead of focusing our transportation research on the next coal burning scooter, let’s get America’s top scientists on this. President Obama called this age “our generation's Sputnik moment”. Let’s pretend that those damn rooskies have already invented a jetpack made out of empty vodka bottles and are currently testing it on chimps. That’ll make sure we get NASA off their butts studying why the Horsehead nebula doesn’t simply eat the Hay Bale asteroid belt, and into the real world designing backpacks to revolutionize travel, and make it easier for white men to dunk.

Why cats are such jerkbags
                When buying a pet, you’re probably like me. You think “Let’s get an animal that can climb on any surface in the house, doesn’t respect or listen to us, and just displays general contempt on all human actions happening around it. Also, it pukes up its own body hair.” Just kidding. I’m not that dumb, unlike cat owners. It never fails to astound me how people have the option of buying the most loyal, useful, even the most adorable animal that can be domesticated, and instead by a cat.

"I despise you. Now feed me."

                But enough about those people who buy cats, why do cats act the way they do? It doesn’t make evolutionary sense. According to domesticated house cats, the best way to get humanity to feed and shelter you is to treat them like they’re beneath you. And believe me, I can tell you from dating experience, that is not the best strategy to earn your way into another person’s home. Maybe in ancient Egypt, all of that “cats are God” business went to their head, and modern cats won’t let that idea escape.  Perhaps now that Egypt has fallen on such hard times, people will finally abandon the idea of cats as deities. Uh oh- they could go the opposite “we had it better when we were worshipping cats” route, and return to their feline blasphemy ways, which means cats will never act like the mortal jerks they are. Speaking of cats…

How best to domesticate new animals
                Since the start of civilization, we’ve had basically two choices on animals pets- jerkbag cats, or awesome, cool-as-sunglasses dogs. Why are we satisfied with this limited choice? Is it because dogs are so awesome? Probably. But I submit to scientists, with their studies of the effect of marijuana on work ethics, instead research how we can get new pets in our homes. Wouldn’t the population of gorillas skyrocket if they could be safely kept in American suburban homes? But for my money, I’d either domesticate a grizzly bear, or, if I was in the mood for something huggable, a raccoon. Those little guys are so adorable I can’t stand it. They have hands for goodness sake. I could teach my raccoon to give a firm enough handshake to get a job. You look like a robber, and you’ve stolen my heart, raccoons. 

Guuuuhhhhhh... This amount of cuteness makes up for Clint Howard.

He doesn't go here, but he just has a lot of feelings,

Mick Dickinson

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Crushes, pt. 3, 4, and 5

I was originally planning on this story taking up five entries, but that was before I got really bored in class and finished it sooner than I expected. So I'm posting it all here, most of it below a page break. I'll get back to being funny(-ish) next post. Promise. 

Illustration by B. Thornburg

                “What the hell was that?!” Ashley yelled at his approaching twin. Sarah simply shrugged then continued on his way towards the windows. Ashley turned to follow alongside him. “I know you’re new here but that’s just not how things work.”
                Sarah turned calmly to his twin. “Why not?” he asked in a flat voice. He waited a moment, then sensing Ashley would continue to be speechless, turned once again, finishing his walk to the railing.
                Ashley remained where he was, fuming into space. He balled his fists, walked to the card table, and sat heavily.
                “Screw you, that’s why,” he said angrily into the table.
                For the rest of the day Sarah stood in the front of Mick’s mind. He watched as the two giants ate together, and occasionally spoke aloud to influence their conversation. Even after the two went their separate ways, Sarah stayed near the front of Mick’s mind, back leaning against the railing. Watching the card game continue as it had for countless rounds before, he finally spoke up.
                “Allison,” Sarah yelled, not moving. “What was it like when you got here?”
                “Well,” Allison said tiredly, “I would say lonely but I didn’t know there could be others. I mostly liked the attention I got as the only one here.”
                “How long were you here?” Sarah asked, not moving.
                “Uh, in Mick’s years? Going on five,” Allison answered. The others gazed reverently at their oldest resident. They had all heard it before, of course, but they didn’t tire of listening. Even the eternal game had quit.
                “So all of you have been here ever since?” Sarah asked the rest of his twins.
                “Well yes, we have, but there have been others that came and went,” Christine spoke up. “They just get too tired and walk back there,” he said gesturing to the back wall, shrouded in darkness.
                “Look, Sarah,” Allison said, getting up, “I know this must be confusing for you…”
                “I can’t imagine what it was like to be first,” Sarah interrupted. Allison smiled, walking to sit next to his newest twin.
                “Yes, yes. New feelings for Mick and all that,” Allison said, sitting down with a sigh. “But you have to understand that no one has ever done what you did today.”
                Around the twins, whispers kicked up. Allison some said. Sarah said others. Sarah looked around, puzzled and a little put off. Out the windows it had gotten dark, and Mick was lying in bed. The whispers continued, and Allison smiled, bemused at Sarah’s reaction.
                “They do that whenever we gather up here. Especially when he’s in a quiet place.”
                “What’s happening?” Sarah asked, still off ease. The whispers were still arguing, and their intensity was picking up.
                “He’s comparing us. It’s nothing to be afraid of,” Allison remained where he was, and the rest of the twins turned to Sarah.
                “Come on back, “Ashley said. “Allison gets to stay up there whenever Mick compares two of us.”
                “Why?” Sarah asked, not moving either, but glancing back and forth between the table and Allison.
                “Because that’s the way it’s always been,” Allison said calmly, as if explaining a concept to a child for the first time. “I always get to stay up here. Then eventually I’ll get bored of being at the front of his mind, and leave to go back to playing cards.”
                “Well you can go play cards now, because I’m not moving,” Sarah said defiantly. The table broke out into conversations. Allison was surprised, although he did not look angry.
                “Look dude,” Emily yelled. “As the last before you, I know where you’re coming from but get back here. It’s just how things go.”
                “No, wait,” Allison said. He put a hand up to the table’s protest, but his eyes never left Sarah’s. “Maybe it is time I sit this one out. I’m just wearin’ down, guys.” Allison got up, and made his way back to the table.
                “Sarah,” a whisper echoed louder than before and it was done. All light was cut out of the room as Mick closed his eyes and went to sleep.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Crushes, pt. 2

                Sarah walked out of the darkness towards the table. He looked down at all the players. “You already have six. I’d hate to mess the rotation up,” he said. Then realizing the whole situation didn’t make much sense, Sarah continued, “What’s going on?”
                The card players all looked at each other, eyebrows raised. It had been some time since there had been a new appearance, and nobody knew exactly how to begin. Finally, the boy with Stephanie on his purple shirt calmly put his cards down and stood up. Keeping both hands on the table, he began to talk.
                “I don’t really know how to tell you this, but we’re inside of a giant person. Judging from our best guesses, this giant’s name is Mick and he looks just like all of us. We watch through his eyes,” Stephanie gestured to the windows, “as he goes about his business. We’re here because Mick meets girls and develops an attraction to them. Then we are created, and live out our existences watching and hoping to glimpse our counterpart.”
                “I’m afraid this is a lot to handle,” Sarah said, disturbed.
                “You’re telling us! Just think how it felt for poor Allison over there. He was here before anyone else,” Stephanie swung his hand in the general direction of a tired looking twin in a white shirt, who lazily waved his hand at Sarah.
                Suddenly, the window swung away from the chalk board it had been facing to the blonde haired girl that had been there before. Sarah watched this happen, visibly stunned.
                “Who is that? She’s beautiful,” he said in wonderment.              
                Stephanie reached out and grabbed Sarah’s shirt, pulling it away from his body, and showed him the writing on the garment. “That’s Sarah, your counterpart.”
                “I don’t think she’s that great,” Ashley said, crossing his arms. Several others agreed, but Sarah paid no attention. He walked slowly to the window, as Emily had done before him.
                “She’s beautiful,” Sarah said again, but to his surprise, his words echoed in a loud whisper that reverberated around the room. Sarah looked around himself, shocked.
                “That always happens with new crushes,” Stephanie called from the card table. “You’ve got more control over Mick’s thoughts than we do, or you will, down the line.”
                Just then, the outside Sarah turned to see Mick still looking at her. Inside Sarah leaned even further over the railing, enamored.
                “Careful, new guy. Mind the gap,” Ashley said, arms still folded.  Sarah looked down and saw how far out he had been leaning over a seemingly bottomless pit. Outside Sarah smiled, and blushed. Both giants turned back to the blackboard. The man with Sarah on his shirt backed away from the railing.
                “There you go, bud. Just come on back. It’ll do you no good to stay up there. Believe me,” Allison said from his chair at the card table. Sarah’s eyes did not leave the windows as he backed up. The newest twin suddenly stopped short, then began to run at the railing. “Kid! No!” Allison yelled.
                “What’s he doing?” Emily asked, panicked. No one answered, instead watching Sarah plant his foot on the top rail, catapulting himself past it. He flew for a short time before falling tragically short of the window. The other crushes lost sight of him as he fell past the ground level. They ran up to the rail and looked down the gap.
                Outside the window once again swiveled to Sarah’s face and the voice boomed from everywhere. “Hey, after class you want to go to the union, maybe get something to eat?”
                Outside, Sarah turned, happily surprised, and replied “Yeah, I do.” The crushes walked back to the card table, and sat down, stunned.
                “That was the quickest anyone’s gone from meeting to jumping,” Allison said, knowledgably.
                Once again, Sarah walked from the darkness.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Crushes, pt. 1

                Just to avoid confusion, I'm telling you all right now that I just tried picking generic girl's names and most don't have any actual meaning on my life. Except the ones that do. Now it's a mystery!

                They did not know where they came from, or how long they had been there. Each one identical to the rest but all wearing different t-shirts, discernable by color and the large name imprinted across the chest. None of them had, or perhaps could just not remember, their own names, and instead had to refer to each other by the name on the shirt. Each one was an average looking teenage male with the same short blond hair and dark blue eyes. Other than the shirts which never came off, they were clad in identical jeans and gray sneakers. Mostly, to pass the time, they played cards. Bets were never made, as they had no concept of money.
                “Ashley!” one of them yelled across the card table. The blond haired man looked up, startled. The first one, whose shirt read Christine continued, calmer this time. “It’s your turn. Spades were laid.”
                The man with the lime green shirt that read Ashley in white block letters played his card, and returned to staring out the only window in the room. The window extended from dark pink carpet to jet black ceiling and was the only light source in the entire room. Luckily, outside there was snow, and it reflected brightly into the room, which seemed limitless as the back wall remained shrouded in darkness. Back outside the window, jets of fog shot out from below. Ashley wondered just how cold it was outside. He unfortunately took the trick.
                Suddenly, the man whose chest displayed Emily stood up. He remained at the table, gazing out the window. The rest of the table, which totaled six people, turned to follow his gaze.
                “Oh no,” Stephanie said. “Incoming.” The rest of the table made a sympathetic noise as Emily walked slowly, as if hypnotized, towards the window. Outside, an impossibly large face loomed in front of the window. It was a beautiful girl with brown hair poking out from underneath her stocking cap. Her green eyes seemed to stare straight into the windows.
                “Hey Mick,” the giant said in a pleasant voice, “How are you?”
                Emily had reached the window but was stopped short of touching it by a small, discrete handrail. On the other side of the handrail was a large drop whose bottom could not be seen due to the low light. Emily poked his torso out over the railing as far as it could safely go. He stared out the window back into the giant’s green eyes.
                “Emily!” a loud voice boomed, seeming to generate from the room around them. Quieter whispers flew around them in the dark room.
                “Jokingly mean.”
                “Funny. Funny. Funny. This whisper grew louder as it was repeated. Again the large voice boomed.
                “Hiiiii! It’s so friggin cold out I swear I’m going to punch winter straight in the face.” Outside, the giant woman smiled then began to walk away again.
                “Well it was nice to see you. I’ve got to go to class. Bye!” The giant walked past, and the windows turned to watch her pass.
                “Bye! Hopefully see you later,” the loud voice boomed louder than before, trying to reach the departing woman. Suddenly, the windows turned to face forward again, but this time looking downward. Ground an incredible distance down clipped by at a fast pace.
                The man with the Emily shirt stepped away from the window and began walking, visibly dejected, back towards his five twins, who exchanged glances awkwardly. All knew they should say something, but none of the twins knew what words to use.
                Emily sat with a large thump back at the table and slowly picked up his cards. He played his hand. Although the pain and sadness lessened every time he slowly walked back to the table, it still hurt.
                The game continued as it always did. When Ashley next looked out the window, it displayed dozens of giants, all surrounding Ashley’s home. The windows turned to display a new blond giant. She looked through the window again and extended her hand.
                “I’m Sarah,” she said. “I saw you in here last semester and you looked like you knew what you were doing.”
                A hand extended from below the windows to grasp Sarah’s and shook it.
                “I’m Mick,” the voice boomed. Once again, whispers flew before settling on “phony confidence” almost as soon as they started. “And I try my best, you know, do what I can,” finished the voice that emanated from everywhere.
                The giant smiled again.  “Well maybe you can be my tutor.”
                Suddenly, the men playing cards heard footsteps. They all turned in unison to see a new twin walking out of the blackness in the back of the room. On his black shirt read “Sarah” in the same white block letters.
                “Do you know how to play hearts?” Ashley asked.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


              What’s the one piece of advice that you get over and over again as a freshman? “Wrap it up.” Oh, I’m sorry, I meant high school freshman. The sentence that’s spoken at orientation at least 12 times- “Get involved.” These seniors leading you around your home for the next four years tell of a rich, cultured mini-civilization inside your high school’s walls. They promise a wealth of friends and experience that you will take and carry with you for the rest of your life. “High school is tough,” they say, “but with friends it’ll be the best time of your life.” I decided to take their advice and join SODA (Students Okay without Drugs or Alcohol). Surprisingly, I probably found more potential alcohol hookups than a functioning support system. Disillusioned (and lazy), I joined no groups for the next three years. And just like those seniors prophesied, high school sucked. Sports afforded me my only organized activities, and many a cold night was spent driving to and from basketball games alone.
                But senior year, I saw the light. Clubs would be terribly awesome and provide for some social activates. I joined SODA. Subsequently dropped out of because I didn’t need to buy that much weed. I joined FBLA but decided a drunken state conference was not worth $15. Finally, I set my sights on Model U.N.
"Do you want to be like the real U.N. or do you want to squabble
 and waste time?" - Principle Skinner
                Now, I had gathered all my info about Model U.N. from the Lord of the Flies Simpson episode (Goooooo grapefruit!) which also includes the B-plot that bequeathed this blog with its name. I prepared myself for a heap of meetings in school detailing exports and national dances, but was pleasantly surprised to learn most meetings were simply updates on the state conference and organizing the semi-bi-annual U.N. Blood Drive and Cookie Giveaway.

                This fundraiser was among one of the most successful on campus for two reason- high school students will go through even having their blood drained out of their body to get out of class and two, our aggressive sign up techniques. The club set up a table at the busiest intersection in the school before class started. Pat, a fellow club member, and I signed up for the second day of sign up. Out of probably 150 blanks, we received a sheet with 10 or so names. Pat and I returned that sucker FULL. Our masterful technique? Yelling.  Shouting at people we knew (and some we didn’t) got many more responses than we had planned. If anyone expressed reluctance, we told them they weren’t heroes.
                But enough about the journey, this post is about the destination. At 9:00 am on a Thursday morning in spring, the Bosnian and Portuguese delegation departed for the state U.N. conference in Cedar Falls. I’m sorry to say I was a part of the Bosnian group despite my fervent Serbian loyalties.
                When we arrived in Cedar Falls my worst fears were realized- we sat in a large hall, arranged by country, and pretended to be discussing and resolving issues. I tried to participate in the activity at first, and my boy United Kingdom showed me the ropes. But my interest dropped as time went on. Lucky for me, the sheets for submitting resolutions were nearby, and I took it upon myself to stick it to the man by introducing the silliest resolutions possible. Just a small sampling;

-          Send U.N. weapon inspectors to Taco John’s to determine just how much Mexican was going on.

-          Outlaw grenade launchers, claymores, and heart sensors from being used in war due to being “totally gay.”

What a n00b.

-          Declare pregnancy and kids as sexually transmitted diseases.

-          Remove sanctions on countries due to genocide if they can prove that they are “super duper sorry.”

"Man, just.. My bad, is really all I can say."- Pol Pot

-          Declare the country of Kazakhstan to be “very nice.”

Delegate from Kazakhstan, please be seated!

                All of these resolutions were signed by multiple other countries (I usually just looked for the boredest kids around), but my dreams were shot down by the totalitarian student coordinator. Also, to amuse myself in dark times, I began writing haikus and limericks, which you can find at the end of this post. After the first day of conferences, we got to the reason we were there: the dance.
                I don’t know what stereotypes you’ve come up with concerning what kind of kids would willfully volunteer to sit in delegations for twelve total hours, but you’re probably right. In addition to the kids who found parliamentary procedures interesting and pretend law making engaging, there were the students that figured anything was better than school. You could stand at the front of the room and separate these two groups. If their head was not on the table, they probably were there for serious reasons. Occasionally, you’d get me, sitting up straight, trying my best to either undermine the system or get a cute girl’s number.
                But as night fell, the roles flipped. The UNI union was transformed into a dance floor and a turntable was set up. Those who had ruled the delegations with an iron fist were now back under foot of those who had come to dance and hopefully get pretend-foreign nooky. But this dance would be different. Not enough of the members were drunk for any grinding to begin so those of us who were just plain hyper (namely, the Bosnian, Portuguese, and Djibouti delegations) had to stick to raving. For the first half hour, it was mostly these countries (all from Cedar Rapids schools, curiously) acting like small children that have been given too much sugar. Then, slowly but surely, others started to join in as the temperature in the room sky rocketed. With the help of Djibouti, we got at least half of the dancers doing the pump up circle from the Almighty Headbutters pregame (think a precursor to the UNI Interlude). 

                Suddenly, Sandstorm came on, and all bets were off. The dance floor became what the U.N. was meant to be - people from different backgrounds and hometowns working to make the world a better place. The union became a bright light in a world marred by delegate arguments, fake declarations of war, and me getting rejected by Saudi Arabia for her number. For the two hours of the dance, we had become separate from high school norms and clich├ęs; jock was dancing with nerd, and ugly guy impressed hot girl with his ability to do the hammertime dance. We had become above labels (other than our country names, which replaced actual names in conversation), and instead creating a world (no matter how small) of dancing, sweat, yelling, and overpriced soft drinks.
                The next day, conversation between strangers became common, numbers were given out easier, and resolutions grew humorous. Although my resolutions were still not accepted, I was given the chance to give what ended up being the closing speech, getting applause afterwards:

If we pass this resolution, Italy the worst decision ever this conference has made. There is Norway it should pass. If you vote for this, all these compromises will Serbia right. What chu China do, wreck this world? This is Syria's business. Oman. Iran from this resolution as soon as it was announced. I know this guy named Chad, but that's not related. If you vote for this, Algeria in the ribs, and I Haiti to do that. Ukraine try to change my mind all you want, but you Congo soak your head. I'm Ghana keep opposing this resolution. I Japan Djibouti if you oppose me. Oh Yemen! Belize it. Quit being such India-tes. I'll Peru-se my surrounding delegates for support. 

                Then, after awards, we parted ways, each person returning to their hometown and high school, all sharing the well kept secret of the bright, sweaty night in the union. 

Needs to stop writing blog posts during Personal Wellness,

Mick (Bosnia) Dickinson

Shout out to Turkey and South Africa up in here. 
Bonus content- haikus and limericks I wrote during delegations after the page break!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Life's Little Lucky Luxuries

               My last blog post featured me ending it by sharing one of my little known treasures- overly dissecting movies. This creates an entirely new atmosphere whenever the movie is viewed from them on. But this is a relatively new passion of mine, and it is only out-weirded by my half-complete chess set I've been making over the past four months. The ending to that post gave me an interesting idea. Many people always talk about taking the time to stop and smell the roses, but roses don’t smell that good and often they hide bees, ready for some slowpoke to stick his nose in their beeswax business.  So instead I subscribe to the much more succinct “Enjoy the little things.” Not only is this friendly to time, noses, and porch side gardens, but it also makes a worth-while pick up line for men lacking in the genitalia department (or so I've read, I wouldn’t know anything about that). So in my expert opinion, I decided that I’d go over my favorite “little things” in life that you all should stop to smell too. Wait. I’m mixing up my metaphors. Screw it, let’s just move on.

1.       The pee shivers
For any female readers out there, you might as well skip this section. But in case you want to learn just what I’m talking about, the pee shivers are an intense physical reaction to emptying your bladder.  Although there is a fancy science name for it (Post-micturition convulsion syndrome) there is no explanation as to why it happens. All I know is that it happens most often when you’ve had to pee for quite some time, and that I enjoy it so much that I will hold off peeing for as much as half an hour under the pretext of being busy so that I’m more likely to experience it. The whole event is made even better if one makes a sound during the shiver, most of which are unspellable, but I’d approximate it to be “hurbabdurp” said very quickly. Also, in unrelated news “unspellable” is ironically not a word, according to Microsoft Word.

2.       Looking things up on Wikipedia to sound smart
Exhibit A- Post-micturition convulsion syndrome. Case closed.

Xzibit B.

3.       Throwing your underwear to your hands with your toes
                After a long, tiring day, there’s nothing better than getting ready for a shower. But in a dorm room, you can’t leave your used underwear lying all over the floor, and instead much bunch it up in a single corner somewhere. How will you get it there? Why, by grabbing them off the floor with your toes, tossing them up in the air, and catching them with a free hand. Bonus points for taking your undershirt off at the same time as the same arm swings down to grab the boxers.
4.       Being tired at night
                Speaking of a long and tiring day, what is better than being so tired that your bed feels like the most comfortable thing in the whole world? Whether it is from a workout, a hard day at your job, or the fact that your wife had daughters (something I’m not going to allow to happen), collapsing into your own mattress before sleeping is bound to elicit at least an “mmmmmmm” noise from me.
                4.a   Bed farts
                Bed farts are the ultimate way to say “Screw you world, with all your social stigma and problems! I’m in my own personal, comfortable world and I’ll do as I damn well please before I go off to dreamland.” Bed farts are the middle finger to caring what others think, and the thumbs up to being as relaxed as possible.

5.       Really good high fives
                I don’t do a lot of things well, but when I do, I like to celebrate with a high five. I’m like that most interesting man in the world, but with high fives instead of Dos Equis. And lucky half court shots instead of interesting adventures. But a high five goes so much farther than a fist bump does. A fist bump is designed to be a calm, cool, and collected celebration, used to suggest that this sort of thing happens all the time. High fives are the physical equivalent of an angrily written letter. Gratifying and best enjoyed when it can be seen by all. The best high five to do is the over-under. To complete the over-under, you slap hands with a friend and continue the motion and meet, slapping hands at the bottom of your shoulder’s radius of motion. This high five is so amazing to pull off successfully that doing so deserves its own high five.

"Artist's" rendition.

6.       Randomly selecting the exact number of things you need
                When I do laundry, I need quarters. I dig my hand into my little fish oil plastic bottle and pull out a handful. When I get down there, I use every single one and I do not need nor want any more. This experience deserves a clenched fist raised in victory. It can be applied to passing out the exact number of papers needed in a classroom, or perhaps packing so that you’re wearing your last shirt on the way home. It says “World, I know how you work, and darn it, I’m going to beat you at your own game. The game of numbers of things.”

7.       Waking up early and realizing you can sleep in that day
                Although the rest of this list was not ordered in any specific hierarchy, I honestly believe there is no greater small pleasure than forgetting to turn off your alarm. Getting to wake up to turn off your alarm only to fall gracefully back asleep is like Monday’s fantasy has become Saturday’s reality. Bonus points when the alarm is unneeded due to a snow day. Unfortunately, I’m at college, and UNI doesn’t have such trivialities.

                So there you have it. Seven things that you can turn to and count on to shove a little joy right into your life’s miserable little face. Don’t worry, eventually I’ll bring you all back down with a “7 Little Things I Can’t Stand” post, but for now, just turn off that alarm, fart, and go back to sleep.

The man who can smell the roses without stopping,

Mick Dickinson

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Childhood Reimagined

                In the two month history of this blog, I think I’ve set myself apart with a few traditions- slow declines in readership, writing in such a way that I think of better ways to say simple sentences only after I post the finished product, and terrific movie ideas. So let me weave you a… weaving… of terrific plot lines. And awful metaphors.

                A male character, John, has it all. He’s got respect from his numerous friends as the head of their local government. Suddenly, a mysterious stranger shows up. This stranger, Steve, challenges everything John worked so hard to achieve. Using his modern techniques and impressive technical knowledge, Steve begins stealing friends and respect from John. John is enraged, not to mention highly jealous. So John hitches a plan. He stages a fake crisis in order to take Steve out of the way of his regaining the respect of others. How does John plan to get rid of Steve? MURDER. By pushing Steve off of a cliff, he hopes to return back to the way things were. However, one of John’s former friends witnesses the attempted murder and attempt to detain John. John escapes thanks to a lucky intervention by a higher governmental official.

                Some time later, John reunites with the very not-dead Steve. They fight for a short time before being detained in an old pickup truck, and transported to a restaurant, where they are traded off to a serial killer and are then detained at his house. The killer decides to wait until it is sunny (as is his MO) to torture and eventually kill them. During this time, Steve slips into a clinical depression and loses all hope for remaining alive, even becoming unsure if he wants to live or not. Steve goes as far as to almost jump to his death, but he survives the fall. John decides that in order to escape, he has to work together with his former enemy. Luckily, using the disfigured remains of his previous victims, Steve and John manage to drive the killer insane and escape.

                Sound like a good movie, if a little David Fincher-y? Well guess what- THAT’S TOY STORY. Replace “John” with “Woody” and “Steve” with “Buzz” and you’ve got yourselves a classic Disney animated classic. How messed up is that? A children’s movie filled with attempted murder and serial torturing.

I'll make them all pay.
               That's something that really gets overlooked in the viewing of this film. WOODY TRIED TO KILL BUZZ. We're supposed to believe that after Buzz smashes Woody's face into a gas station parking lot, all is forgiven? And what happens to Sid (the evil kid)? For the rest of his life, he is going to believe toys are alive and always judging him. Silently judging him. He'll tell everyone he knows, and he'll be telling the truth, but who will believe him?

                Okay, since those ideas are already taken, how about this drama- a boy, David, is confronted with a broken home. His father and mother are getting divorced, despite the fact that David’s mother had very recently given birth to a baby girl, say within one year. In order to deal with all of the stress including moving away from his emotionally (and physically) absent father, he starts to dabble in escapism. It begins honestly enough, playing with some birthday presents he received in his last party in his father’s home. But soon enough, it takes a dark turn as he begins having black outs, hiding his toys and losing track of them. While preparing for the move, he deals with his psychosis and also the influence of his disturbed neighbor. This neighbor has all the tell tale signs of growing into a troubled adult, with possible murder charges in his future. The movie details David’s troubled growth into a teenager.

                Oh wait. TOY STORY AGAIN.  “But Mick!” you ask “How do you know Andy’s parents are getting divorced?” Well nosy reader who can’t just take my word for it (Also known as "Matt". Screw off, Matt), because of the semi. When Woody and Buzz finally make it to the moving truck, there are about a dozen boxes and no furniture. This means that Andy’s father is keeping all the major items, and the rest of the family is stuck moving into a new house with only their clothes and piggy banks.

The contents of the moving truck- toys, boxes, and a dresser.

                But assuming the family is getting divorced, this raises further problems in Andy’s life. The dad is not present at Andy’s birthday party. As in the very last time his son will ever celebrate a birthday in his house the dad is nowhere to be seen. Also, as the movie closes, Andy is celebrating Christmas. Once again, no father for Andy. No wonder the only solace Andy can find is in father figures like Woody and Buzz.

               One often overlooked line in the film is when Woody is convincing the toy "zombies" to work with them to allow the main characters to escape. He says "Now, we're going to have to break a few rules, but it'll be worth it." DOES THIS CREEP NO ONE ELSE OUT?! These toys are not only alive and feel pain, but they have a set of rules that span all brands and kinds of toys. That suggests a much higher level of coordination between play-things than was previously alluded to. Whether it be instincts or something that the toy company teaches their products before shipping them off into the world, every toy knows the "rules"- don't let humans know you're really alive inside. Always hold a smile and let your children do anything they want while playing with you.

             Another depressing aspect- those "zombies" in Sid's yard- what happens to them? They don't escape with Woody and Buzz. They stay in their yard, only receiving a quick "Thanks for your help we gotta go" from  Woody on his way back to Andy's van. What is Sid going to do once he uncurls from the fetal position? If he has anything like a rational human brain after Woody destroyed his mind, he will undoubtedly destroy every toy in his local living space. Now instead of scraping out an existence as freaks, these tortured souls will be thrown into a fire or chopped up with an ax in Sid's attempt to get their silent, judging, unmoving eyes off of him. Also, did anyone else notice they never talked? That's how emotionally and mentally scarred these toys were, even before their owner knew that they could attack him while he slept.

"Hey, uh, no biggie or anything but could you maybe help US escape our sadistic owner?
I mean if it isn't too much trouble for you beautiful toys. No, no, you go have fun
with your loving and caring 'Andy'."

                Disney movies are all sorts of messed up. A teenage girl gives up her voice in order to be with a cute boy. Absolutely no emotional connection was made before she decided she didn’t want to talk anymore. If you ask me, I’d say that’s the perfect woman. A red-head with a clamshell bikini that doesn't talk?! Jackpot. HOOOOO Mick you so crazy!

We'd have to work around the whole "fish tail" aspect but I could manage.

                I can’t be the only one who finds these sorts of things hilariously amusing to discuss. Did the writers of Toy Story set out to create a story rich with attempted murder, depression, and assumed dismemberment? No, of course not. But can I misconstrue everything good about my childhood and change it into a depressing, animated Sev7n? Check and mate, son.

You've got a friend in him,

Mick Dickinson

Morgan Morgan Morgan.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stats Class Helps Us All

Interior- A modernly designed business conference room.  A large oak table is surrounded by business chairs, each filled by a smartly dressed employee. One man, the Boss, sits at the head of the table, looking down at Johnson, who is giving a presentation.

Johnson- (As if finishing a long report)… And that’s why I believe, sir, that this product is not ready to release to market. The reports we got from our marketing sector show that profits would be outweighed by the costs of production and distribution.

Boss- Thank you, Johnson.

Johnson- Yes sir. Marketing sent over some transcripts from the focus groups we conducted concerning our proposed ad campaigns.

Boss- Yes? What did these focus groups recommend?

Johnson- More rape.

Boss- (Incredulous) Excuse me? Did you just say-

Johnson- Yes sir. More rape. The focus groups believe our ad campaigns did not contain enough rape subtext.

Boss- I’m afraid I don’t understand.

Johnson- Here, let me read you a recommendation- (reading) “In your commercial for decorative china, I believe more product would be moved if the television watcher were present with a clear message- buy the china or get raped.”

Boss- Uh…

Johnson- Oh no, it continues. (reading) “Frankly I found myself uninterested and was thinking of something else other than the commercial even before it was over. To keep my attention, I think a reasonable technique would be to include some rape.”

Boss- Is that all?

Johnson- (Looks at sheet) Yes sir, it seems to be.

Boss- Frankly-

Johnson- I know sir but he includes a disclaimer. (Reading from bottom of page) “The rape doesn’t have to be overt, and can instead be implied.” (Squinting as if reading very fine print) “Also, everyone should be in wheelchairs.”

Boss- (Turning to Blocker, an employee to his left) Blocker. Does this seem to be the consensus in our focus groups?

Blocker- Yes sir. It was unanimous.

Boss- Unanimous? That’s extremely hard to believe. Where did we collect these participants?

Blocker- (Checking documents) The 7th street bus terminal, sir.

Boss- We got all these people from the bus terminal?

Johnson- Actually sir, we picked up only one man from the bus stop, as he was the only one who was willing to participate.

Boss- I see. Well Johnson, you’re fired.

Johnson- Sir?

Boss- It's time I taught you a lesson about sample sizes. Get your things and get out. Now. (Johnson picks up papers and briefcase, straightens tie, and leaves room.) (Boss turns to Blocker, who looks afraid.) Blocker, you’re in charge of this project now.

Blocker- (Blocker visibly relaxes, no longer afraid of being fired) Yes sir, thank you sir. Where should we go from here?

Boss- Well call Creative and get them working on this (air quotes) “rape” angle.