My wife has been invited to tea with a bunch of her friends tomorrow. I understand that this event involves drinking tea, eating snacks, and wearing big hats. If you leave out the tea, it sounds a lot like the rodeo to me.

Anyway, my wife has been planning to bake cookies for the tea party, but life interfered today and gobbled up all her potential cookie-baking time. Being a nice husband with some time on his hands and an interest in having sex again at some point, I undertook the baking of her chosen cookies.

My wife wanted Basil-Lime Shortbread Cookies, which are the girliest of all cookies in existence. Just reading the recipe made me want to put mousse in my hair. To defend my masculinity, I cranked up Netflix in the kitchen and blared an action-heavy TV series while I grated lime zest and whipped stuff until it was light and fluffy.

It must have worked. Three dozen ultra-feminine cookies are cooling on wire racks in my kitchen, and I can still tell the difference between a Remington 870 shotgun and a Winchester M97 shotgun.

Some cookies are made with love. These cookies are made with explosions, fire fights, car chases, torture, and bioterrorism.

I dodged a bullet on this one.
I dodged a bullet on this one.


A few weeks ago my wife informed me that a new word has been added to our language, the same language spoken by Winston Churchill and Walter Cronkite. Our society has created the verb “netflix.” One may be said to netflix when one chooses a television program on Netflix and watches it one episode after another without pause.

For example, last night my wife and I netflixed the program 4400. It was enthralling. Seriously, we didn’t want to go to bed.

However, a few days earlier we found ourselves engaging in a related behavior for which no word exists, as far as I know. We decided to find something on Netflix to watch, and then we spent the next hour scanning through the available titles and talking smack about most of them. We never did watch a program. It was like being the two geezers in the balcony on the Muppet Show.

Is there a verb for this behavior? I can’t find one. I thought we might call it “net-trashing,” as in, “We net-trashed a lot of romantic comedies and monster movies last night.” That doesn’t seem quite right though.

Any suggestions?

"Net-napping?" "Net-snoozing?" "Net-coma?"
“Net-napping?” “Net-snoozing?” “Net-coma?”


Alaskan Cruise, Day 6 – Wilderness Exploration

Today we went on a “breathtaking tour in which renowned naturalists, magnificent wildlife and an exploration of six ecosystems – ocean, estuary, river, lake, muskeg and rainforest – await in this town aptly nicknamed the ‘Valley of the Eagles.’”

That’s how the brochure described it. It could also be called “Four hours on a bus hanging out with Stacie and Terra.”

The brochure was accurate in every respect. Two young women who know more about wildlife than everyone in my hometown put together took us to all six of those ecosystems and showed us animals. Yet the tour wasn’t how I’d imagined it would be. I had imagined we’d be pushing through the brush like mountain men, spying on bears down by the stream as they knocked back a few jumping salmon. I don’t care that watching wild bears eat is about the stupidest thing you can do. It’s what I expected.

Stacie and Terra gave us something infinitely cooler than my expectation, which would have ended with my entrails flying around like streamers on New Year’s Eve. They showed us a few birds as we drove past, and they told us about the dozens of God’s creatures that God decided not to let us see today. They also spent a lot of time telling us about life as an Alaskan tour guide, living in a tent and recycling everything but toilet paper.

The whole experience was like a laid-back party after a day at the renaissance fair, but without the drum jam.

Terra also took advantage of the beautiful, warm weather by leading us on a short walk through a muskeg, which is another name for a bog. She didn’t explain why they don’t just call it a bog and stop screwing with us stupid people. She then led us on a short walk through the temperate Alaskan rainforest, which looked a lot like the muskeg to me, except that the ground didn’t try to suck off our feet.

Here’s the muskeg/rainforest:

This is a temperate rainforest. It's seems to be a bog as well, since we got back on the bus with two fewer kids than when we got off.
This is a temperate rainforest. It’s seems to be a bog as well, since we got back on the bus with two fewer kids than when we got off.

Stacie and Terra delivered even more than the brochure promised by visiting two additional ecosystems:

First, we visited the “side garden ecosystem” of a nice lady who let us watch wildlife through telescopes beside her house as long as we didn’t disturb her goats. That was fantastic because bald eagles were nesting across the river. With the naked eye, their heads looked like tiny white blobs. Through the telescope, their heads looked like slightly bigger white blobs.

I swear this could have been a burrito wrapper stuck in the tree and I'd have never known the difference.
I swear this could have been a burrito wrapper stuck in the tree and I’d have never known the difference.

The day’s final ecosystem was “Haines City Park.” The community of Haines is the town nicknamed “the Valley of the Eagles.” In the park we ate grilled chicken Cesar wraps, Sun Chips, and oatmeal cookies. The brochure had been entirely mute on the subject of cookies, so we had Stacie and Terra to thank for this flourish.

Eating cookies with our new friends Iman, Isam, and the children they have remaining after the muskeg.
Eating cookies with our new friends Iman, Isam, and the children they have remaining after the muskeg.

If you’re ever in the Valley of the Eagles, I recommend that you visit Stacie and Terra. In fact, I advise it with immense gravity. Their tour fulfills the only criteria that matter when seeking a successful and enjoyable life experience.

You don’t die, and you get a cookie.

It’s not really that I don’t love you. I have reasons for ignoring you and this blog over the past couple of weeks. They are bad reasons, but then people often have bad reasons for not doing things. Bad reasons for not exercising, bad reasons for not saving money, bad reasons for not walking away from the computer before posting that rabid Facebook flame. I’m claiming solidarity with the world’s self-deluded procrastinators.

In the interest of whining about how busy and hard my life is, I’ll point out that I have a job—for now—and a family life that require me to devote blocks of time if I want to continue having jobs and a family. For example, I’ve been helping my father refinance his house. I love the optimism inherent in securing a loan that won’t be paid off until you’re 105 years old, but it does require time to arrange. Also, I’m happy to spend bonding time with my wife by sitting on the couch watching hour-long crime-solving comedies that always seem to show graphic autopsies and melting flesh just when I’m eating my dinner.

However, I’ve spent time on a few other things in recent weeks, and I can use them as whimpering excuses for my absence from this blog space. Let’s look at my creative endeavors.

For the past few weeks I’ve been in rehearsals for an eight-week show that opens this weekend. I love performing, but it eats time the way my cats eat yogurt, which is to say, voraciously. This is an ideal commitment for me to cite as a bad excuse for ignoring my other commitments. People assume that actors are kind of artistic, irresponsible, flaky types anyway, so that works in my favor.

I also have the opportunity to pitch a book project to agents a month from now, so I’ve been editing and polishing the thing like it was a ’58 T-Bird. I’m obsessing over everything from typos to profound thematic problems, such as, “If the bad guy ambushes the hero and traps him in a church, why doesn’t the hero just slip out the back door and run away instead of standing there to get pummeled? Is he stupid?” I’ve been surprised at how many stupid things my characters do just because I want to get them into a certain situation.

I’ve been using a book called Nail Your Novel to guide me through editing. It’s been terribly helpful, but all this still takes time. In fact, I have a plan for writing so that it doesn’t suck away too much family time. I write as much as I want four weeknights each week, and the fifth weeknight is for my wife and me (and whatever melted-flesh TV programs we’re watching). I don’t write at all on the weekends. If I can average 1,500 words per night, in 14 weeks I have an 80,000 word first draft. I squeeze in other writing (like this blog) at other times, such as early morning or lunch.

It’s structured, and it works. It avoids those situations in which my wife doesn’t see me for three months because I’d rather write than do anything else, including eating, sleeping, and showering. It also serves as another bullshit excuse for not updating this blog in the past couple of weeks.

Yesterday afternoon I found myself off work early. That would have been an ideal time to blog, before evening when I would start editing my book. But instead of blogging with this free time, I chose to replace a florescent light fixture under our kitchen cabinet. A few weeks before, my wife had bought a new fixture to replace the current 40 year-old cracked and sagging fixture, and she laid it on the bench in the kitchen. She told me it was there, I said I’d put it up, and then she didn’t mention it for a week or so. At that point she said she should probably replace the fixture herself sometime. I might have mumbled that I’d get to it soon. Thereafter she ignored the fixture and didn’t mention the fact that it lay on our kitchen bench, and that I stacked stuff on and around it almost every day.

So, yesterday afternoon I resolved to replace the fixture, knowing that I could blog afterwards. I’ve done this sort of repair pretty often in my life, so the old fixture came down, and the new one pretty much flung itself up onto the underside of the cabinet. At that point I was reminded of a fundamental principle of home repair. When attaching something to the bottom of something else, you will have screws that point up.

My hands like to tell me to go to hell sometimes, for technical reasons beyond the scope of the current discussion. When I focus on doing something they will shake. When I really concentrate, they shake even more. When I get frustrated, that’s like permission for them to do The Harlem Shake (you young folks check the link). When I leaned over the counter, under the cabinet, backward and upside down to thread these screws, that’s when the fun began.

About an hour later I passed my wife, who was sitting in the den, and she asked what I’d been laughing about. I told her I’d just taken an hour to do something I used to be able to do in about 30 seconds, and she expressed her sympathy. I didn’t touch on the hour’s worth of events that took place before I laughed. Here’s an excerpt:

I try to thread a screw and drop it.

I try to thread it with the other hand and drop it.

I put it on the end of a screwdriver and drop it, where it falls behind the toaster.

I think bad words and consider smashing the olive oil bottle on the inconceivably hard tile floor.

I drop the screw five more times in a row.

I actually pick up the olive oil bottle but take a deep breath and put it back down.

I drop the screw four more times.

I start to ask my wife for help, but I think ‘What if I was here by myself?’

I drop the screw three more times, until it falls on the floor where it rolls under the refrigerator.

I walk around the kitchen a couple of times thinking that I could take the olive oil bottle out back and down the alley to smash it, where no one would ever need to know.

I move the refrigerator and get the screw.

I fold masking tape on my fingertip and stick the screw to it, then I try to thread it and drop it inside the toaster.

I shake the toaster upside down for the screw, and I clean toast crumbs off the counter, wondering why we haven’t died in a fire.

I drop the screw ten more times in a row.

I wring the dish cloth full of toast crumb really hard. I think some of the molecular bonds may have broken.

I drop the screw another ten times in a row.

[Imagine that this goes on for about another 45 minutes]

All the gods from every religion in history guide my hand, and I thread the screw.

I laugh because nothing is broken and everyone is still alive.

Now that I have, in the manner of a neurologically-challenged Prometheus, restored light to our kitchen, I’m pretty much out of bad reasons for not updating this blog. I can’t think of any good ones either, so here we are. All I need are a title and a photo before I post this. What photo should I use? The light fixture conquered and gloriously mounted on my cabinet? Or the cat eating yogurt?

Cats eating yogurt. It never really wa a contest, was it?
Cats eating yogurt. It never really was a contest, was it?


I’d like to make a few hundred Christmas cookies, but most of the people who might eat them are relocated, dead, or not speaking to me. Instead, yesterday I window shopped for cookie ingredients. Yes, it’s pathetic, but I could be strapping reindeer antlers onto my cats and sucking the rum out of fruitcakes. History shows that I’m not above such things.

I admit that in past years my desire to make cookies sometimes exceeded my will to make cookies. I devoted too much time to other holiday activities like writing Christmas cards and playing World of Warcraft. No choice remained other than slinking to Tom Thumb to score some pre-made cookie dough, as if the Pillsbury Doughboy were a street corner dealer of bootleg holiday cheer. Yesterday, out of nostalgia, I glanced at the cookie dough tubes as I sailed past towards the chocolate chips. I jerked my cart to a halt, and I said, out loud, in the middle of the aisle with toddlers around, “Holy sheep shit from hell.”

This is what I saw.

















Don’t eat the raw cookie dough. At least they said “please.” I’ve heard rumors that raw dough may not be good for you, but I figured that’s because it clogs your arteries and makes you die, which we all know is a small price for eating cookie dough. I didn’t realize that cookie dough’s perils warranted an actual warning label. Since childhood I’ve eaten a barrel of the stuff, and almost everybody I know has eaten it too. I’ve never heard of a person who, when provided access to raw dough, didn’t instantly stick some in his mouth.

I didn’t know what was going on, but I decided to go home and find out.

As a member of the ever-evolving species homo sapiens, I employed our latest strategy for responding to life-threatening situations. I went to Google. I “googled” the phrase “raw cookie dough kills you dead.” I got five brazillion hits. (That’s a real number—kind of. Look it up.) I only had time to read two brazillion of them. WebMD, the Centers for Disease Control, the New York Times, and many others agreed—raw cookie dough is horrible. Don’t eat it. While you’re at it, stay out of the cake, brownie, and biscuit mix too. If your mom offers it to you, spit it out.

Here’s the deal. Back in 2009 an e. coli outbreak made 77 people sick. Doctors looked into it and figured out that they all ate cookie dough that must have been contaminated somehow. They ruled out eggs (pasteurized). It couldn’t be the sugar, molasses, baking soda, or margarine (all treated for pathogens). If you’re about to suggest it was the chocolate, shut the hell up right now. It must have been the flour, which is horrible, nasty stuff never treated for deadly substances, even though humans have been eating it for thousands of years. The doctors didn’t uncover hard evidence. There was no smoking flour gun. But by process of elimination, flour must have been the deadly ingredient.

These doctors are called epidemiologists, and they study what makes bunches of people sick and/or die. They probably pegged it when they blamed the flour. I believe them.

With the smooth efficiency of a guided missile cruiser, our medical professionals, our government, and the news media terrified people across the nation by exposing the raw cookie dough threat. Bake the dough before you eat it, or you’re courting death. No exceptions. Well, the raw dough in ice cream is okay. It’s “likely” treated in a way that makes it safe. That’s what the doctor said. “Likely treated.” I’m sure they don’t want to make Ben and Jerry do away with a popular flavor.

I’m going to piss off every person reading this by saying, Let’s Do The Math. Hang in there with me.

How many people eat raw dough? About half of college students eat raw dough. Lots of them buy it just to eat—why cook it? That means about 11 million of them eat raw dough.

How many of them get sick from it? Well, the 2009 outbreak was 77 people, not too big, and that’s based on the whole population of the USA. Let’s be generous and say that lots more students get sick—maybe 1,000 per year. That makes their odds of getting sick about 1 in 11,000.

On the other hand, falling down also hurts a lot people.  Your chance of falling down and hurting yourself badly enough to go to the hospital is about 1 in 40 each year.

But let’s give these students a break—after all, they’re quicker on their feet that an old guy like me. Maybe their chance of getting hurt falling down is only 1 in 100.

That means that these students are about 100 times more likely to get hurt falling down than to get sick from eating raw dough.

So what I want to know is when I’ll see a big story on CNN about the dangers of standing upright, along with some stern warnings about dragging yourself along on your ass everywhere you go so you don’t fall down and die. If you happen to catch that news report, please tweet me.

I hear the objections. Walking around is necessary, while eating raw dough is optional. Well, if you’ve ever gone over to your girlfriend’s house and found your clothes and your laptop scattered across her front yard, you know that eating raw cookie dough is non-optional.

I won’t advocate that you eat raw dough. I can’t. If I do then some slope-browed yokel will eat four jumbo tubes of the stuff and sue me all the way to Armageddon. But I myself am a little tired of giving in to manufactured terror, and if eating sugary globs of dough counts as a blow against cowardice and stupidity, then I’m happy to strike that blow.

Besides, this sets my precedent for the day when doctors say orgasms are bad for you.

I’ve decided that pessimism has been given a bad name by Big Fucking Whiners. Now, I’m sure that pessimists like me indeed die younger than our optimist friends. We’re not as happy either, as I think objective evidence like frowning and the compulsion to create unnecessary spreadsheets demonstrates. But the joy of pessimism has been ruined by all those people who cry about every little thing like they were piglets with their foot caught in a fence.

The traditional pessimist/optimist analogy involves the half full glass. As you know, the optimist sees the glass half full, and the pessimist sees it half empty. Big Fucking Whiners jump up and down and moan on Facebook because there probably won’t be any enchanted fairy nectar in the glass. Then they want a hug and somebody to waste part of their precious life playing Farmville with them, just to keep them from whining any more. Yet they get lumped in with pessimists.

By the way, optimists have the same problem on the other end. Optimism has been almost ruined by an infestation of Human Cocker Spaniels. Going back to the glass analogy, Human Cocker Spaniels bounce around and send a barrage of tweets about how they’ll never be thirsty again and how the glass might hold magic water that would let them turn into a well-endowed vampire mermaid with wings. But that’s the optimists’ problem, so to hell with them.

I’d like to see Big Fucking Whiners split off from pessimists into their own category, much like the Emmy Awards have grouped reality shows into separate categories so they won’t pollute the other TV programs. I don’t mind being seen as cynical, doubtful, and suspicious, because that comes along with almost always being right—or at least more right than the optimists. I do mind being labeled as a self-centered, hectoring cry baby. That just sucks. Come on, who’s going to get laid more: cynical, suspicious Han Solo, or self-centered, whiny C3PO? If your answer is C3PO, this may not be the right blog for you.

In the end, I realize that only pessimists care about this distinction, and as a pessimist, I acknowledge that not even pessimists care enough to do a damn thing about it. Changing the way people think about this would take a lot of effort, and not that many people would buy into it anyway, and then they’d get distracted by a video of frolicking goats that’s not as cute as the video of frolicking giraffes, and heck, all that effort would be better spent on something like promoting home gardening anyway, right? So, to hell with it. I’ll eat another cookie and update my retirement planning spreadsheet.

Sometimes being a pessimist is so easy. No matter what the Big Fucking Whiners say.

Okay, this glass is half full. Half full of excruciating death as your face fries off like hash browns.

Photo by Nik Frey.


These are times of identity crisis for vampires. Human beings envision us in so many ways that on occasion we become confused. The “tortured undead creature” identity has gained popularity. Vampires have long been considered romantic, but this entity is deemed a safe boyfriend even for troubled young girls. He may even bring corsages, or appear embarrassed by flecks of blood on his collar from a recent victim.

The “appalling fiend” vampire remains a popular identity. Through him, humans fantasize about inflicting wicked but non-specific pain upon employers, rude tradesmen, and annoying relations. This identity provides men a visceral image of the Undead Lord, without forcing upon them any awareness of the geysers of blood or internal organs hurled about during the murder and devouring of human prey.

The traditional “vicious, throat-tearing monster” has fallen out of favor in this diluted, watercolor world of people who tremble lest they violate a rule. This creature is a being of gore and terror, and humans fear to embrace him as once they did. One cannot expect better of a culture in which meat arrives in tidy, prepared packets, so that people may pretend the animal was not ripped apart so that they could eat it.

I, Baron Yörg, heap contempt upon all these images. I do not embrace an identity, for I am a vampire drenched in tradition. I am a faith-shattering rapist of the human soul, and I visit annihilation upon any creature that dares not recognize my full horrific being. Put starkly, I am a vampire of the ancient mark. And I really love movies.

Today I shall review one of the most beloved films of the past 50 years—Star Wars. I refer to the initial film, which has subsequently been recast as “Episode Four: A New Hope.” The filmmakers of course did not explain the movie’s episode number when it was released. Had they done so, I suspect it would have been, “Episode 4: I Hope to Christ Someone Pays to See This Retread of Every Hero Story Told Throughout History So That I Don’t Lose My Ass.”

Allow me to begin with the central character, Darth Vader. Some might object that one of the punier, insipid characters serves as protagonist, but such assertions merit nothing but scorn. Vader appears first in the film. Vader propels the entire story—without him Luke and the rest might as well remain in the cantina drinking and vomiting for the balance of eternity. Vader is the only one who dresses with a solitary shred of dignity. Of course he is the central character.

Vader carries with him an admirable presence, and one may readily identify with his motivations and goals. I myself once obliterated five thousand uncooperative and malodorous peasants. I thus understand Vader’s annoyance with an entire populace of rebels flitting about in spacecraft like flies around a heap of excrement. And I almost smiled when Vader choked that surly insect of an officer, though I did experience disappointment when the man’s head failed to fly off and roll about on the conference table.

Yet Darth Vader somehow falls short of truly visceral menace of the type that promises imponderable obliteration to all his enemies. I am convinced that the problem is the Force. It has a flavorless and pathetic name. It puts one in mind of names such as Norm and Abner. To say that Vader uses the “Dark Side” fails to resolve this. “The Dark Side of the Force” sounds no more threatening than “The Dark Side of Abner.” And in fact Vader’s powers seem rather lacking. Yes, he can choke an obsequious and obviously impotent soldier, and he can sense the presence of a geriatric Jedi, but how would Vader fare when attacked by 500 rabid bats with a wolf dangling from his manhood?

I shall now proceed to the other characters. While in themselves they seem somewhat pedestrian, they do provide effective foils against which Darth Vader may strive. As a group they mesh well, in the manner of a band of tawdry street performers that I observed juggling and dropping their breeches for  bread crusts in Prague two centuries ago. Princess Leia exhibits the greatest spirit. I shall not deign to address her hair. That has heretofore been done by thousands, even by reviewers capable of no more than uttering obscenities and sucking breakfast from their teeth. Leia exhibits rudimentary leadership qualities, and she might have led her cohorts to accomplish greater things had she better material with which to work.

Han Solo drips with the sort of arrogance I have seen hundreds of times, the type that invariably thrusts its owner into an untimely, shallow grave, thence to be exhumed and devoured by the unclean beasts of the forest. The fact that Solo survives until the end of the film provided the greatest assault upon my suspension of disbelief, more so even than otherworldly life and interplanetary travel. Should I ever meet Mr. Ford, I fear I must slay him forthwith merely to preserve my sense of order in the universe.

I find Obi-Wan Kenobi to be a tiresome character. The mountains and deserts of our world writhe with such wise hermits migrating about seeking gullible farm boys. They cultivate mysterious ways of speaking, grow beards that would embarrass a diseased yak-merchant, and adopt unpronounceable names to seduce the unwary into expeditions from which they rarely return. As it is on Earth, so it apparently is on Tattooine. When Vader vanquished Obi-Wan on the Death Star I grinned, and my henchman Nodwick chortled until he blew popcorn out his nose.

The wookie, Chewbacca, inspired sincere enjoyment in me. I found his impassioned groaning rather compelling, and reminiscent of a team of oxen as they are beaten by a drunken gypsy late for the Feast of Wine and Cheap Trinkets. For thirty years I pondered the concept of replacing my wolves with such creatures, but I ultimately dismissed the notion. There is simply no good way to groom them.

From a sense of obligation to the concept of completeness, I feel compelled to mention the “droids.” I find them profoundly disgusting. Could I erase them from the memory of man, surely I should do so. Not a drop of blood between them. Appalling.

This leads us to Luke Skywalker, whom some fools claim to be the prime figure in this tale. Luke whines. Luke is short and dresses like a dead Frenchman in a gutter. Luke listens to voices in his head and kisses his sister in a more than familial manner. I need say nothing further about this repellant toad of a farm hand.

The Star Wars special effects seem primitive when ranked beside today’s films. Yet when Star Wars was released, audiences had never seen anything like it. When Obi-Wan entered the cantina, Nodwick thought he saw three of his cousins. The star destroyers appeared staggeringly huge. The light sabers looked unbearably foolish, but they were so entertaining that one did not care. The area under Luke’s speeder on Tattooine looked as if it had been rendered by the eraser on a herculean pencil, but I concede that is a quibble. On the balance, anyone unmoved the Star Wars effects in 1977 should have returned to watching Petticoat Junction reruns and eating Cream of Wheat.

One cannot discuss Star Wars without mentioning the climactic battle around the Death Star. I could not wish for a lovelier array of carnage. Rebel pilots are smashed and incinerated on all hands, first by the Death Star itself and then by the ugly little Imperial fighters. When Luke and his fellow malcontents descend into the trench they are quite properly obliterated one after another. I found myself nodding with satisfaction, especially when Vader arrives and prepares to hurl a bolt of laser fire directly into Luke’s brain.

As an aside, Princess Leia and her cronies at this juncture are observing a technical display that shows how soon their own destruction shall arrive. That display appears a bit primitive. In fact, I have seen more sophisticated piles of gravel. The filmmakers exerted themselves to make the Death Star appear 500 miles across. One would think they might have spared an hour to make this display look better than something Howdy Doody might wear on his wrist.

I make no objection to Obi-Wan speaking to Luke from beyond death. In my experience, this sort of thing happens upon occasion. When he tells Luke to trust his feelings and turn off his targeting computer I do not feel surprise. This is precisely the sort of advice we should expect from charlatan of Obi-Wan’s ilk. But when Luke follows this laughable advice and still annihilates the Death Star, against every shred of reason that the human mind can encompass—well, let us say that I left the theater downcast, and that Nodwick had a rather bad time of it for the next few days.

When all things are brought to conclusion, how shall I assess this film? Despite the merest of limitations, Darth Vader earned my admiration as the prime mover of this tale. I feel he is one of my few fellow purveyors of evil whom I might not destroy out of hand should our paths coincide. His foes, the Circus of Fumbling Dimwits, collectively provide him a counterpoint and demonstrate how Vader is powerful in all the ways that they are inept. I cannot love them for it, but I can despise them marginally less. But ultimately we must admit that any film in which millions of voices suddenly cry out in terror and are suddenly silenced, is a film to be savored. I therefore am gratified to render unto Star Wars four unholy violations of the sacred heart of man, out of five.

My friend Linnea wrote about the things she likes and doesn’t like on her blog, Bean on Parade. It made me realize that I have no idea what to say if someone asks me about what I like and don’t like. Since she’s sneaky and liable to ask me about this at the most embarrassing moment possible, I’m doing the like/don’t like thing here for prophylactic reasons.

Likes: Godzilla; sitting in appalling sloth with a cat on my belly; fresh spinach; anything to do with moose; dumb songs I make up; combing my wife’s hair; great dialogue; improvisational acting; Have Gun Will Travel; the smell of the air when it’s about to snow but isn’t snowing yet; ice cream sandwiches; writing when I don’t suck; spreadsheets; Netflix; old songs like Stardust and Funny Valentine; people who dance better than me (which is a lot of people); lithium; humorous books; money; apple pie; making people laugh; confidence; stories about baby ducks; teaching; cats + a laser pointer; that chick on the Progressive Insurance commercials; holding a grudge; pictures of my friends; computers; funny hats; my breathtaking collection of DVDs; Lonesome Dove; great stunts; Diet Coke; TV shows that are about the characters and not about where the green carpet fiber came from; Allison Janney; having an adequate number of litter boxes; t-shirts; insults; hot showers; vacations in Scotland; breaking dumb rules.

Dislikes: flights that depart at 6 a.m.; insurance premiums; cooked spinach; pictures of me; drawing a blank while onstage; singing songs that are too high for me; condiments; reality TV (except for that dancing one); Renaissance music; putting on a roof in the summer; Dr. Pepper; gnarled, fatty sausages; willful incompetence; tequila; broken bones; craft fairs; black olives on pizza; annoying people I can’t ignore; organized religion; food with tiny seeds that get caught in my teeth; airport security; crappy dialogue and predictable plots; firing people; shopping for gifts on a budget; Congress; neurological diseases; actors who think people give a shit about their political views; bacon; the idea that smart people are better than other people; the Conan O’Brien Show; when my knees sweat; hay fever; children that act like shrieking baboons; the deification of Michael Jackson after everybody hated him so much when they thought he was a child molester; pickles.

On the Fence: pork chops; iPhone; online chat for customer service; small dogs; vacations at the beach; high fiber cereal; comic books; green beans; magicians; Wii; my birthday; Pluto being downgraded to an asteroid; soup.

Thanks, Bean!

I’m watching an hour-long television program about chrome. The guide says that it will visit a factory in which chrome is added to a truck. It will also visit a parking lot in which chrome is scratched off a truck. I believe that all of the television has now been produced. They must have made every other program the human mind can grasp before they resorted to making this program, therefore the entire body of television work has now been completed. If anybody is looking for me, I’ll be in the study pretending to read Chaucer while I play Angry Birds.