Saturday, April 3, 2010

Plank to the Future

Here it is: The March Sanity 2010 movie, "Plank to the Future."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In which Devin plagiarizes himself for purposes of complaining about the Christmastime Music

I responded tonight to something a friend wrote on Facebook, and it ended up taking way more effort and time than I originally intended. So I figured I might as well just copy and paste it and get a blog post out of it.

It was a response to my friend Whitney's complaint about Christmas music. From what I could tell, the song "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music" had been lumped in with some Christmas music and she was wondering when that song had been classified as Christmas music. She also asserted that she hated Christmas music.

This was my response:

According to U.S. Code title 109, chapter 31, sub-chapter 45:

"(d) Any song making mention, in any language, of Christmas, Jesus, deer (rein or otherwise), gifts, cheer, joy, Santa Claus, elves (including but not limited to those indigenous to the North Pole), the North Pole, sleighs, Hanukkah, kings in groupings of three (3), one (1) or more children playing any percussion instrument(s), stockings or other non-exterior footwear, grinches, scrooges, candles, turkey, cranberries, sparkling cheeks or eyes, magic, the giving or receiving of hearts, or snow in any of its forms shall be classified as Christmas music."

So, as you can see right there in section d, the "My Favorite Things " line, "snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes," clearly fits one of the criteria set forth by law.

The law goes on to state:

"(e) Every public building, including (but not limited to) stores, churches, schools, cemeteries, underground mines, dance halls, casinos and shall be required to play Christmas Music twenty-four (24) hours daily, including non-business hours and during power-outages from 12 a.m. the day immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday until 11:59 p.m. Dec. 25. Any radio station advertising itself as playing "soft rock," "easy listening," "the best hits of the '60s, '70s and '80s" or "all the hits you love," shall be bound by the same requirement.

(f)Any citizen not listening to Paul McCartney's 'Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime' a minimum of two (2) time each week shall be sentenced to a minimum of three (3) straight days listening to Wham's 'Last Christmas.'"

I don't like it either, but until we can get enough of our people into Congress to change it, things look grim.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Have you ever noticed how, when two guys on motorcycles pass each other on the road, they almost always seem to exchange this two-fingered wave? When I first noticed it I assumed they knew each other, but soon I started seeing it so often I realized there was no way all these guys could know each other. I was surprised and jealous.

There's so much in life to keep people apart. Strangers passing might have more in common than a married couple or lifelong friends, but they'll probably never even say hello because of some unspoken human crankiness that says strangers don't say hello. But these motorcycle guys (and women, presumably) have gotten past that. They've got some kind of instant bond, formed out of nothing more than the fact that both rode vehicles with two wheels instead of four.

Well that's kind of what I feel when I walk past another guy with a beard. There exists (at least in my own mind) a kinship between myself and every other guy who is capable of growing hair on his face and does so.

Except guys with goatees.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In which Devin rambles about kids these days and searches in vain for his dentures all across the internet

My brain is not wired for the way the world has become. I think that, at the age of 27, I can relate more to my parents' generation than my own. Consider the following:

• The success of Twitter baffles me.
• I feel I could benefit from having fewer friends on Facebook.
• I have more interest in scripted comedy or drama than "reality" TV.
• I didn't know who Lady Gaga was until about two weeks ago, and now that I do, I feel I've died a little.

Everything is linked, and the effect is that everything is completely disjointed. A quick glance online to check for rain tomorrow becomes a half-hour junket through videos and sexy photos and ads promising to enlarge some body parts and shrink others. I go to a news site to check the latest on the Balloon Boy fuss and I'm confronted by bright red links, mid-text, telling me to click to "check out the top 10 literary hoaxes!" or to "read about America's favorite types of balloons!" I start to follow the thread of reader responses to a news article, and after the fifth declaration that "your a idiot" I shudder and twitch.

When I finally pull myself away I feel mentally worn, unable to focus. And often I still don't know whether it'll rain tomorrow, or I've forgotten. All the connections have disconnected something in my brain.

Some people thrive on it. But I find myself wondering why someone wants his phone to tell him every time he gets an e-mail alerting him that a guy he kind of knew in high school commented on a photo of him on Facebook. I find myself closing my eyes during movie previews because they won't show the same image for more than a quarter of a second, and it's making me dizzy and cranky.

It's not that I hate or fear technology or the internet. I recognize that a world of value and utility exists among the dross. However, I worry that humanity's collective attention span has been shortened. I worry that my own attention span is suffering. A constant onslaught of novelty starts to feel like it's just an onslaught, and I worry that I'm spending my mental energy on drivel, leaving me unable to take in the wealth of genuine beauty and art and wonder that exists in the real world I live in.

So what's to be done? A complete withdrawal from the digital world? A return to the woods and commitment to write only in cuneiform on dried animal skins? Sounds fun, but I think the best solutions to this modern problem for me are old-fashioned ones: moderation and discretion.

I need to ask myself: Do I really need to watch the video of the sneaky cat again? Do I really need to take that quiz to find out which Ninja Turtle I am? Is this a better use of my time than going and playing outside in hopes of staving off a mental breakdown and adult-onset ADHD?

Sometimes the answer will be yes (equal parts Raphael and Donatello). Usually the answer will be no.

(I recognize of course that the rant against The-Way-Things-Have-Become became a cliché about the time Martin Luther finished hammering on the church door. You could Google "I hate Twitter" and I'm sure you'd get thousands of results. Self-important young would-be revolutionaries and am-being whiners have long written their screeds against whatever prevailing cultural trend or threat to their way of thought has threatened at the moment. I join their ranks, accepting with frustration that there is nothing new under the sun. And yes, I recognize the irony in saying all this internet-critical rambling on a blog.)

Monday, June 8, 2009

I recently saw this cake at a grocery store bakery:

That's right. It's a cake.

I thought it would probably be a little creepy to have a woman's legs (and everything else from the waist down) sticking into the middle of your birthday cake.

But then I thought maybe they don't use a full doll, so there are no legs sticking into the cake at all. And that brought to mind the following question: Which is worse, to have a tiny woman sticking her legs (and other waist-downeries) into your cake or to have a bisected tiny half-woman hanging out on top of your cake?

It's a question each must answer alone.

And while you're at it, consider this: Is there a way to put birthday candles on this cake without it seeming occult?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vocabulary lesson

Here are some important words to know:

state-riotism: stetɪtriəˈtɪzəm

: Devotion to and vigorous support for one's state.
In silence those questioning his state-riotism, the governor of South Dakota drove to the border and mooned the other Dakota.

pastriotism: pestɪtriəˈtɪzəm

Devotion to and vigorous support for one's tarts, cupcakes, pies, cream puffs and eclairs.
As the heart attack brought his 370-pound frame to ground cushioned only by the fallen doughnuts, he took consolation knowing none could question his pastriotism.

lampoon: lamˈpoōn

: A sharp metal rod with a barbed end used in the hunting of young sheep.
In about three minutes' time, Queequeg's lampoon was flung; the stricken beast darted blinding spray in our faces, and then running away with us like light, steered straight for the heart of the herd.

The act of spearing young sheep with such a weapon.
Hey Mabel, bring the mint jelly; we's going to lampoon us a big one!

Please use each word in a sentence and turn it in to me by Thursday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Get equipped with Paint Spreader!

I've taken up water coloring.

All my previous experience with water coloring had come from those little plastic trays you use in second grade with eight ovals of paint. The previous 24 kids who used them had blended all the colors together, so that rather than a tray with red, yellow, blue, green, purple, orange, black and white, you had eight little ovals of gray-black, in which could be seen a faint and sad memory of the color they once displayed. It was like looking at a hardened criminal and trying to picture the adorable little baby he once was.

I always put way too much water into each of the little ovals, so that when I first touched brush to page, the gray-black (that was usually supposed to be either green grass or blue sky) was so diluted that you could barely see it. To deal with this problem, I did what any logical 7-year-old would do: I dipped the brush back into the oval for more of the liquid gray-black to smear on and make it darker. Of course, this did little to darken the paint, but it did get the page really wet, until it was soaked through and started to buckle and curl.

By the time the project finished, the page was badly contorted in several directions and covered with a few different shades of nasty. Trying to find any recognizable picture within the mess was like looking for images in clouds. Or mud.

So, a few months ago I got this incredible strong desire to create something with my hands. I really, really needed to try some kind of art. Too long had passed without me making crude markings on a page that were supposed to represent something else. I have never been particularly gifted with visual art, so the urge surprised me. It felt like the time I walked into the grocery store produce aisle several months after first moving out to go to college (where I subsisting almost entirely on 99-cent frozen pizzas) and was suddenly blindsided by an urgent, aching need for those vegetables.

So I bought the paints (which came in little tubes, rather than little tray-ovals) for $10 and got to work trying to figure out how to make them go.

So far, nearly everything I've painted has been Nintendo-related. In fact, it's all been related to the game Megaman 2.

Here are a few:

And here they are posing with some friends.

The part that makes me laugh at myself the most is the crappy way I painted their names and tried to make it look cool, but instead it's tilted and the letter sizes are all screwy. All-in-all, though, I'm pleased with how it turned out.

My unfinished opus is the final scene from the game, after you beat it and there's this very moving scene (yeah, I'm moved by an 8-bit Nintendo game, you want to fight about it?) in which Megaman is walking through blackness, while to his right a village is shown as it changes through the seasons. As it arrives at a lush springtime, Megaman is gone, and his helmet sits discarded on a hillside.

Don't deny it, you're fighting back the tears.

I believe that if Picasso, Rembrandt and Michelangelo hadn't been dead by the time the game was invented, they would have chosen the same subject.