Saturday, September 20, 2008

Web Forums

Another in a line of posts with really boring titles. At least it has a picture.

How familiar are you with Internet discussion forums, time-wasters? All you have to do is have an interest or hobby or opinion, and I can guarantee there will be a forum dedicated to People Just Like You.

Are you a hot-air balloonist who likes Apple's OSX and thinks abortion should be mandatory? There's a forum for YOU! Are you a renaissance fair enthusiast who likes hiding in bushes and eating Pop Tarts, but only when it's partly cloudy? Or someone who would like to explain the comparative merits of orthodynamic headphone drivers and loves Little Caesars pizza?

Guess what? There's a forum for you somewhere.

But what if you're some dork with a computer problem you'd like to solve? Say you'd rather not wait days for tech support to tell you to reboot. You'd also rather not bother with some unhelpful acquaintance who emails you a list of suggestions eerily similar to the list of things you told them you've already tried.

Or, in the case of car problems, you're suspicious of the dealership's claim that they have to go in through the exhaust system if you want them to replace that parking brake cable properly.

"And we gotta replace the crankshaft, too. Them things wither right up as soon as you take 'em out and expose 'em to the air," the dealership says, making a grab for your wallet.

So it's off to Google you go, and in a split second, you've got thousands of hits. Lots of these lead to forums, where your same problem is being discussed by other dorks. You rejoice! You're bound to find someone who got the help they asked for!

Not so fast.

It's more likely they never really got a satisfactory answer because of rampant illiteracy. There are lots of answers that almost make sense, but fall short in important areas like...applicability.

u shood boot int2 safe mode and uninstlall the video card drivr and reinstaaal with a cd you that came with ur card or bettr yet downloda one from a this sit e--

At this point, you stop reading, because the poster's original problem (and your own) had nothing to do with video cards. It can't. The issue under discussion is a car problem
. But every post after that one will be about video cards, though, because nobody bothers to do any more reading than they have to. Time to try another forum.

Ooh, this one looks promising. The thread starter has exactly the problem you're having, and with the same hardware too! Excellent. Let's just scroll down here, and...

Damn! This is one of those forums full of obnoxious jerks who get all angry and sweaty when someone seeks a solution to a problem they don't believe exists. Example:

Help Seeker: I'd like to charge my PlayStation 3 controller with something other than the PS3 console. It seems ridiculous to charge a battery the size of a Tootsie Roll with a device that draws 200 watts and is capable of heating an igloo.

Jerk: Why don't you just use the console? That's what the USB ports on it are for.

Seeker: Uh, for the reasons I just stated?

Jerk: Yeah, but nobody would want to do that.

Seeker: I do.

Jerk: You're weird and stupid. Note my clever tactic of being obstinate and condescending to cover the fact that I have absolutely nothing helpful to contribute. I'm a twat.

If only they were that honest!

Eventually you find a forum where the person with the problem finally figures it out by themselves and posts the result. This is the cue for the illiterates to jump in and take credit and the jerks to jump in and point out that there must never have been a problem in the first place.

Maybe you would be better off riding your bike and using a typewriter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bachelor(ette) Parties

Ralph O'Falldownnegan reclined in an easy chair with his computer in his lap. Displaying a website and generating up to 600 BTUs of heat, his beat-up old ThinkPad laptop was simultaneously entertaining and sterilizing him.

He chuckled to himself. He was reading a Blog. Good blogs made Ralph feel like there was a fun sort of doughnut party in his head, and by all accounts this was a pretty good one. Even if it was updated in bursts many weeks apart.

"Hey!" he said to nobody in particular. "This humorous account triggers feelings of solidarity in my head cavity! If I ever met the writer of this post, I could throw my arm around him and say 'I know what that's like, bud!'"

He waved a twig of string cheese at his couch in a genial manner. "Bachelorette party, it was, over at the old Whorewater Ranch. If I recall correctly, that place mixed a dang fine lumpy postman."

"Are you reminiscing to the sofa again, dear?"

His wife poked her head out of the kitchen doorway, a concerned look on her handsome face.

"And what if I was?" Ralph threw his cheese remnants at her.

"It just concerns me, is all," she said. "You should be doing it with a human being. Call Dean up and see if he wants to come over. Then you two can reminisce and swear and hoot. I know how you two like to do that."

"Dean Craivin? Hey, yeah! I haven't talked to that bastard for weeks. You don't mind if he stays for dinner do you?"

"He called yesterday, and I invited him already."

Ralph allowed some bemusement to smoosh his face all up. "Then why'd you tell me to call him, you crazy woman?"

"To give you the impression that you still have some control over your schedule. We're having lasagna, by the way, and the sixteenth of next month, we're going over to Katie's place to help her and Charlie beat Gears of War."

"I'm not going to remember that."

"I know."

"I'll forget it on purpose, you know."

"I do. Get the door for your friend."

Ralph set his ThinkPad on the coffee table with potholders underneath to protect the wood, and, giggling, pranced to the door. Bloody knob wouldn't turn...just kept slipping...then he took off the oven mitt and tried again.

"Ralph, you festering wad of pit gum!" Dean said jovially, kicking his shoes down the basement stairs. "How are ya, buddy?"

"Well if it ain't Dean Craivin, Vice Chairman of the Butt Corporation! Come on in! Melody's making lasagna. I helped a little, too."

"Then it'll probably taste like duck feet."

"Nuh uh. You know how most lasagna uses mozzarella cheese on top? Well, I put string cheese on there instead."

* * *

"This stuff's great, baby," Ralph said through a mouthful of stringy lasagna. He put on a pair of intelligent-looking reading glasses and threw a roll at Dean.

"Dean? What are your thoughts on the institution of bachelorhood? In particular, the licentious celebration of its coming to a close?"

"If marriage is such a drag that you have to squeeze in one more night of drunken groping before your cell door slams shut, then maybe you should wait a little longer. At least that's how I see it."

"It doesn't have to be like that, you know," Melody said. "You and Ralph just went bowling."

"With hookers!" Ralph tried his best to look sneaky while getting pelted with rolls.

"Why do you ask? You're not going to do what the morons do and get 're-married,' just so you can have another party, are you? Because if you are, I don't think you get to have another bachelor party. I'm no expert, but I don't think that's part of the deal."

"I could look it up," Raph said, indicating the ThinkPad by tossing a roll at it. "But no. It's nothing like that. I just read this blog post about a guy who went to a bar that had a bachelorette party going on in it. It was pretty funny."

"Bachelorette parties are just as stupid as bachelor parties," said Dean, stockpiling a roll in his breast pocket.

"What? You don't like drunk women?" Melody asked, plucking a loop of the ThinkPad's power cord from Ralph's wine glass.

"We're not talking about your friends here, darling. Ow! That one had a peanut in it!"

"She's a good aim with those rolls. I'd say you got a winner on your hands, Ralph old sock."

"Are we done now? Can I tell you about this Blog post I found?"

"If you pay me."

"Have a bankroll, sucker!"

"Hey! No fair using the peanut one!" Dean tossed the offending baked good to the cats.

"It's called 'The Blog of Stupid,' and these three morons just sort of...write stuff. It's like they'll get sick if they don't poke a hole in their consciousnesses and let some of the nonsense out now and then. Some of it is pretty funny."

"And one of them attended a bachelorette party?"

"Sort of. He and some friends went to a bar called Mojo's that was supposed to be famous for its dueling pianos."

Melody detached a cat from the peanut roll and tossed it into the kitchen sink. "Some people like to bet on piano fights."

"Ooh. Good one, darling wife of mine. But quit throwing the cats in the sink. We've talked about that."

"Tee hee!"

"But they really didn't get a chance to hear the pianos, because there were all these sozzled hussies screaming up the joint."

"'Sozzled hussies,' eh? That's pretty colorful for you. You been reading, like, books, or something? You know the Devil talks to you through books, in his own secret language called knowledge?"

"I, uh, lemme see here..." Ralph pecked away at the ThinkPad for a few seconds. "I cordially solicit your express participation in sucking it."

"You're the only one I know who can use an Internet thesaurus fast enough to make your insults classy. That's why Melody married you, isn't it?"

"Yes, Dean. It was his...talented hands."

"Oh, golly!" Ralph pretended to blush a deep crimson and hastily ate a whole bunch of stuff.

"So what happened next in this post of yours?"

"Lemme read some of it." Ralph cleared his throat and waved some smoke away so he could see the ThinkPad's screen.

* * *

It's not like it wasn't a nice bar. I'm sure as far as bars go, it was top-notch. But, since my experience with bars mostly involves memories of seeing them on TV in dramas and sitcoms, I was surprised at how loud it was. I poked my girlfriend and yelled into her ear. "Is it always this crowded?"

"What do you want chowder for?"


"Oh! Well, there's, like, three bachelorette parties going on in here!"

"Holy shit!"

I had assumed that the squealing mass of women waving shot glasses around were all part of the same party. Wow. Three separate people had the same idea for the same evening. Mojo's was probably raking it in by the bagful.

* * *

"Yeah. If you want to make money, you sell alcohol. It's not like it's hard to make. You just take a bottle of starchy or sugary liquid, leave it in a hot Dumpster for a week, and bingo! Booze!"

"Not much of a drinker, eh Dean?"

"No. And neither are you, remember?"

"Yeah. Most of the stuff that people tell you tastes good is stuff that does its best to cover the taste of alcohol. And it's eight bucks a glass."

* * *

Unfortunately, good financial times for the local speakeasy didn't make me feel any less agoraphobic. As far as social interaction goes, I tend to follow the example of the great and noble garden mole. I don't like to come out of my hidey hole unless it's actively flooding.

"But hey, there's pills for that, right baby?" my girlfriend pointed out before we left.

Thank God for my mole pills.

Have any of you seen the cartoon "King of the Hill"? Yes? Okay, remember the character "Boomhauer"? One of the piano duelists sounded just like him. The girls would be screaming and milling and catching diseases, and Boomhauer would whip them into ever greater frenzy by saying things that must only sound like words to drunk people.

Bachelorettes: Squeeeeeee!

Boomhauer: In other garmble, it's like umpchumpery downstairs in the boomdang! Lawdy, would you lookit them roller coasters! Girl, it's past doodads you had mumblesauce in a shotglass!

Bachelorettes: SQUEEEEEE!

Boomhauer (bashing a C-major with his face): Gibb it up for milky slap ann'er packa howlin' stumpjumpers!

Bachelorettes: SQUEEEEEE!

I had initially pictured a place with, like, a chandelier and a pair of giant, glossy Steinways played by what appeared to be crazy, bearded hobos in dinner jackets. I would have happily purchased as many horrible mixed drinks as it took to get me in to see that. I was, however, surprised that there was no drink minimum. Aside from a three dollar cover fee, getting into Mojo's was free. I expected to have to repulse mixwenches who would ask me every five minutes if I'd like a rum and coke, or a dirty girlscout or a flatulent nun or perhaps an iced fuzzy peter.

I think it's fitting that they allow drunks to be the ones who name drinks.

But the waitstaff at Mojo's was very low-key. I found this out only after I discovered that the guests were not.

* * *

"Is fuzzy peter even a real drink? Put that in Google and smoke it, Captain Thesaurus."

"Oh, lord."

"Well, is it?"

"You don't want to know what that search turned up."

"I think he does," said Melody, insinuating things on the sly for levity's sake. She giggled like a comedic ninja.

"Why don't you stealth yourself into the kitchen and bring some cake back with you?"

"Dean speaks good ideas, babe. You got a cake stashed away in there, don't you?"

"Yeah. Keep reading. I'll be back in a sec."

* * *

I had no sooner squeezed my way through the crowd like a marble through a length of rubber tube and into a low-pressure area where I could un-scrunch my shoulders, when our little group was accosted by two of the bachelorettes.

"Hi! We (incoherent) buy (incoherent girl's name) a shot!"

"No," said my buddy with a finality that suggested that this girl was probably after some illegal drugs. I was intrigued. I wanted to know what part of my appearance advertised pockets full of cocaine, so I leaned in and asked her to please repeat herself.

"We're having a bachelorette party!"

"I'm following you so far!" I said, happy to be keeping up.

"It's (incoherent girl's name again) party, and we're asking guys to buy her shots, and you're the cutest one here, so--"

"Well, would you listen to that!" I said, turning to my girlfriend. "I'm being manipulated!"

"You don't mind if he buys (incoherent girl's name...possibly Bianca?) a shot, do you?" the bachelorette asked her.

"Nope. You may work your ego-massaging marketing voodoo on him all you want."

Actually, she just smiled and said that she didn't mind. But I knew what she was thinking.

"Oh, you're the coolest girlfriend in the world!" the booze nymph said, hugging her. She then requested that we all three of us group-hug right now. We obliged, and I was led off by the hand to meet Bianca.

"You just come over and say hi. Thank you so much for this! You're so cool! And the waves of pure masculine energy coming off you is making it hard for me to keep my balance!"

She didn't actually say this last part. My ego, now the size of a soccer ball, spliced it in. I could almost hear my girlfriend rolling her eyes.

* * *

"We girls sure know how to get guys to do what we want, huh? It's almost embarrassingly easy sometimes. Embarrassing for the girl, I mean. The guys don't mind at all."

"You do. Just wave some cake at Ralph there, and he'll buy you any car you want, the poor moron."

Ralph pulled his face out of the cake long enough to shoot a frosted glare at Dean before submerging again.

"Did you have to work any kind of female voodoo on Ralph to get him to notice you, Melody?"

"Nah. He told me he liked me because I could actually carry on an adult conversation without having to quote "Family Guy" to fill the gaping silences."

"And you believed that? Ow! Geez! That's really a big peanut in there!"

* * *

Naturally, I had to be walked through the whole thing.

Damn. I actually said this. You want to know how un-cool I am? Just how utterly lost I am when it comes to the ins and outs of partying? I leaned my big stupid face down so my captor could hear me over the music and squealing and said, like some kind of big stupid moron:

"I've never done anything like this before! What am I supposed to do?"

The music thundered on.

I stood there grinning like a retard with a lollipop.

God. It wasn't like this was surgery I was attempting for the first time. But then again, you really can't teach this kind of thing. And to be honest, if someone had sat me down and said, "now, if you're ever at Mojo's, and a little blonde woman comes up and starts tweeting something about buying her bachelorette friend a shot, you're supposed to go 'hell yeah, I will! What'll the foxy fucker have?' Then you laugh raucously and put your arm around her waist and lead her to the bar like you know what you're doing," I probably would have just wandered off.

It actually wasn't that bad at all. It only occurred to me later on what a doofus I was. I told the story to my father, and he, laughing, said something like, "Ahh! So you were expected to be cool, huh? Capital!"

It probably helped that the little blonde woman couldn't hear me, but she seemed to take my confusion in stride and yanked me into the crowd on her own volition. I followed behind, flapping from her hand like a length of befuddled ribbon.

"Hi, Bianca! My name is Paul, and I'm here to buy you a shot! Congratulations!"

Bianca smiled. "Hi!"

Then one of her handlers plucked a sticker off a sash of waxed paper she was wearing and handed it to me. It was round and red, about the size of a quarter, and had the words "Purple Hooter" written on it.

"What the hell--?" I muttered before the blonde steered me back into the crowd toward the bar.

I presented the barmaid with my sticker. I held it out, stuck to the tip of one finger and said, ringingly and confidently, "Gimme one of them! A purple hooker!"

The blonde stepped in and said "We'd like a dirty girlscout, please!"

"Okay! Yeah! Woo!"

The barmaid spun, did some tricks with a few bottles, and I traded her $4.50 for a shotglass full of what looked like green toothpaste spittings. I smelled it. It even smelled like toothpaste.

* * *

"It was probably the Creme de Menthe he was smelling," Melody said.

"Isn't that the main ingredient in cough drops?"

"Booze cough drops! For the scratchy-throated wino inside all of you!"

"You two are such dopes."

* * *

So I presented the glass of goo to Bianca, who accepted it with a smile amongst the frenzied squealing of her handlers, and slammed it down.

"Woo!" I said, because that's what TV told me you were supposed to say when someone slams down a glass of something flammable and minty.

"Thank you so much, both of you!" said the little blonde woman, taking the Purple Hooter sticker from me and, very carefully and deliberately, sticking it to my girlfriend's right breast.


"You are both awesome!"

"Congratulations, again, Bianca! I'm going to vacate the area before you all start hemorrhaging! Have fun!"

The harrowing ordeal over, my girlfriend and I rejoined our friends and we basically sat or stood around until we got bored waiting for one of the bachelorettes to fall down, and went home.

What else could we do? Boomhauer had a huge queue of songs to mumble, and it didn't look like he was ever going to get to the Goo Goo Dolls song my girlfriend had requested he play for me.

Which probably would have been pretty cool; listening to Boomhauer sing a Goo Goo Dolls song.

* * *

"Heh. That poor guy! I wonder how much of that is true."

"Quite a bit, I suspect. A lot of his other posts are about agoraphobia or feeling stupid or other things that make people kind of laugh, and then go 'awww...'"

"You'll have to read some more of them some other time, buddy," said Dean, standing. "I have to get back home. Becky's working the bum hours again, and she'll be getting home in a few minutes herself."

"The poor thing. Do you want some lasagna to bring her? She'll probably be hungry."

"Thanks, Melody," Dean said, hugging her. "I'll tell her you said hi."

Melody handed him a plastic container with a generous slab of lasagna in it. "Did you want to take her some cake too?"

"No, he very damn well does not!" Ralph said, barricading the confection with his very self.

"If you let him take the rest of that one home to Becky, I'll make you a whole new one later."

"Whatever you say, my queen," Ralph said, deflating.

Dean turned from the door. "Since you put it that way, yes, I believe I will take some. I wouldn't want to throw a wrench into your womanly cake voodoo." He accepted another plastic container.

Ralph locked Dean into a bear hug. "Now get the hell out of my house, you musty gorilla," he said, booting him out onto the porch.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Woot, woot and stuff

There's absolutely no excuse. None.

However, I've learned (in my absence) that it doesn't require a license to drive a sandwich.

So, anyway, how's it going my fellow time-wasters?

I don't have anything stupid enough to actually comprise an entire post right now, but I'll go ahead and show off a picture that proves I've been eating NO pickles and only weasels this summer.

Here goes. pretty much went in where it wanted to go.
So anyway, you can see that my insane life has pretty much left me witless and without anything valuable to add. I must, therefore, fall back solely on vanity. A cold comfort, if you ask me. Which you didn't
OH, did you have a chance to go look at my newish blog the Jackalope Club?