Friday, August 31, 2007

See? This is why the internet is important.

I know that you have your doubts about the Interwebotron.

"Is it really useful?" you ask. "Can't we really live without it?"

To which I answer: "Shut up, you hypothetically ignorant fool. How else would we know how to sing 'Hakuna Matata' in Hebrew if not for the Interwebotron?"

In the 13 years since The Lion King came out, I've wondered how to sing this song in Hebrew. And, thanks to YouTube user IsraelDisneyIL, now we know.

I bent my Wookiee.

This morning, whilst out for a casual paddle on the loch, conquering my fear of Lake Placid-caliber alligators*, something happened.

Something irreparable. Something tragic.

In the middle of the loch, I broke my paddle. It just snapped in half. Luckily, I am a skilled enough kayaker that I was able to make it to shore using half a paddle and vigorous hilarious spastic graceful oar-handling movements.

But, sadly, the oar is no more. It is an ex-oar. It was the plastic coupling that broke, so perhaps I will submit a warranty claim and get a new one. Or, I may just go to Dick's and see how much a real kayak oar costs and take it from there.



* Seriously. I had used logic to overcome my irrational fear of sharks in the loch. ("Come on," I told myself. "If there were sharks in the loch, there would be all manner of shark teeth littered about, and you'd see dorsal fins every now and then, and the geese wouldn't look quite so pompous. And also, it's fresh water.")

But last night, as I was paddling a little past near dark, I realized that while sharks would not be able to survive in the loch, alligators might. So now I'm freaked out about alligators. Especially during my clumsy loch-to-land transition when I'm done paddling.

RHB

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Awesome Niece Is Awesomer Than Your Allegedly Awesome Niece/Nephew

...for, you see, in addition to having mastered advanced calculus and quantum physics at the age of seven weeks, she is also an accomplished rock climber. Pictured below, Madelynn is conquering the dreaded Pink Binkie out at Yellowstone. Such finesse, such grace, such upper-body strength...


Oh, wait -- that's not right...that's actually a picture from her play date with Grandma and Grandpa Semester yesterday. The full array is below.

Don't you just want to pinch those adorable cheeks?

Madelynn mid-sneeze. Gezundheit!

The actual picture from which the above crop was taken...
getting ready for some snooze time.

Monday, August 27, 2007

It's one of those dancing churches, isn't it?

So, on the Broadway UMC homepage, Jim Fore maintains a bank of pictures that rotate through. There is a slideshow on top, and then a finite number of static pics rotate through underneath, giving you a new look to the homepage each time you refresh. It's a cool way to showcase the people of Broadway Parish and the cool things that happen here.

But when I logged on this morning, I came to the realization that we, perhaps, need more pictures in the database. This is what I saw:

Click to embiggen

Yes, friends, that's me caught TWICE at the church -- once in orange on Ken Medema Sunday and once in blue at Mike's going-away party -- getting my godly groove on.

While the merits of my dancing will be hotly debated for generations (me: pro; everyone else: con), I must tell you what an affirmation this was for me to see first thing on a Monday morning! I get to work at a place where we're encouraged to dance every now and then -- where smiling and laughing are all but written in the job description and where hugs and handshakes replace water-cooler gossip and office politics.

And that's pretty freakin' cool.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mario Lopez, Consummate Professional

Mario Lopez, host of the recently-broadcast Miss Teen USA, could have taken a decidedly different tack when Miss Teen South Carolina USA Lauren Caitlin Upton made a dang fool of herself on her judge's question about education in the US. But he's a pro.

When asked why she thought one out of five Americans could not find the USA on world map, South Carolina's answer ranged from "because some people in our nation don't have maps" to some weird offshoot about South Africa and the Iraq. Yes, the Iraq. Take a peek:



While I will grant you that I've struggled for ten minutes to come up with how I would have answered that question, I'm pretty sure my response would have made at least as much sense as South Carolina's, if not even a touch more.

But Mario Lopez didn't even blink. Ever the professional, Slater suppressed his laughter and somberly said, "Thank you very much, South Carolina."

Because he's a pro. Screech has a lot to learn from this guy.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Adieu, mon petit Bat Boy.

It's only appropriate that my 250th blog post would be about the Weekly World News, the grocery-store tabloid which, after 28 years of Bigfoot babies, alien teens, updates on Bat Boy's wonder years, columns by "Ed Anger" and more visits to Loch Ness than you can shake a sea monster at, is closing the doors on its print version.

Salon.com has a great feature about the tabloid phenomenon that is the WWN, written by one of the tabloid's "reporters." I must admit that seeing behind the curtain does not cheapen the experience for me at all. I remember embracing a WWN addiction in college -- I'd typically grab a copy before going on RA duty at the dorm, to help the hours pass.

And then, one day, I heard from my friend Jon, who was living out east at the time, that he was actually going to be IN the magazine. I think he (or a friend of his) worked down the hall from the WWN staff and they needed to take photos of actual people to go with the made-up stories. If I recall, Jon's pic was used as part of an advice column ("Dear Dottie," I thought, though it now seems to be called "Hi, Dolly"). Jon, who has a generically ethnic look to him, was cast as a Latino immigrant with some sort of problem that only the Weekly World News's resident advice maven could solve. Luckily, she saved the day, and it all worked out for Jon/Pedro/whatever they called him.

The beauty of the WWN is that it never took itself seriously, although as Stan Sinberg points out, there's no telling how many of its readers/subscribers did take it seriously. But for a tabloid like that to last 28 years, they had to be doing something right.

Bravo, Weekly World News, Bravo!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Imagine Rod Roddy saying it, and it's even better.

"A NEW CAR!"

That's what I got. It's a 2008 Nissan Versa, which I have yet to name, so if you have any ideas, let me know. The color is "Fresh Powder" on the outside and "Blond" on the inside. Here are some pics:

Top left: Dad and me. Bottom left: I'm bringing hatchback back.
Right: the car in action, and the tree is in the foreground; I'm not actually about to crash.


Sadly, Big Red has gone the way of so many 12-year-old cars before him. Leaky gaskets and strength of will can only get you so far in life, and so Big Red will soon be making it possible for the nice people at Goodwill to create jobs. Seriously -- do not tell Aunt Berta the Oldsmobile's dead.

But let me know if you'd like to go for a ride some time!

PS - Speaking of death and game shows, did you know there's a website you can use to find the graves of famous and non-famous people, including GPS coordinates of the gravesite? Por ejemplo, Rod Roddy's final-resting GPS coordinates are Latitude 32.76205, Longitude -97.368483. Is it weird that I've bookmarked that site?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Making the uncomfortable, comfortable.

...if by "comfortable," you mean "requiring immediate medical intervention."

"Don't ask how...just say POW!"
(I wish I was kidding with the quotation marks.)

Wait, what?

So this ex-con* is seriously a motivational speaker?





* It remains unclear to me whether he went to prison before or after the trust fall incident of 1994 presented above. ("She's fine, guys. She's fine. No -- she's fine.")

UPDATE: Oh. My. Gee. Dash. Dee. This is hilarious! Turns out Todd Conner is a motivational speaker parody, and his power tips (with advice such as "Be the weasel...POW!" or "Assume a different internal persona to achieve results. Today, I'm Tom Selleck -- who are you? POW!") are hilarious.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Care-eoke a success -- musically and financially and otherwise!

WE HAD A BLAST!

The evening started with comedy by Craig Tornquist, a graduate of Carmel High School and a friend of Ken Knowles. Craig entertained the crowd with observational humor and impressions (ALF, Snagglepuss, John Wayne, Pee Wee Herman, Carol Channing, Kermit the Frog, and many more), and his rap rendition of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" the way they did in his youth when he ran with a gang known as the HomeBoy Scouts, which I promise I did not make up (see picture, right).

Then we adjourned briefly for ice cream sundaes served by five of St. Luke's pastors. YUM!

After the ice cream break, the karaoke madness started in full effect. From yours truly's opening rendition of "Bandstand Boogie" to a guest appearance by Sharon and Ozzie Osbourne singing Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" to the clergy's good-try, A-for-effort version of "YMCA," the karaoke part of Care-eoke was a wonderful event.

There were 80 or so folks in attendance, and we encouraged them to vote for their favorite performer by placing dollars or pledges in that person's "ballot box". The act with the most dollars won a grand prize and we had three runners-up. The dollars went to support the St. Luke's Stephen Ministry Scholarship Fund and the St. Luke's Benevolence Fund.

Through the generosity of just eighty folks, we were able to raise $3,080 right there on the spot, and before the night was through, a donor pledged to match, dollar-for-dollar, all the money we raised! So we raised $6,160 for the Caring Ministries! WOOHOO!

More important than that, however, was the opportunity to see folks having a genuinely good time, enjoying each other's performances and enjoying the opportunity to chat and catch up with each other. It was more about fellowship than fundraising, and it was a success!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tonight's the Night

...it's gonna be all right...tonight at St. Luke's UMC in Indianapolis!

The fun starts at 6:30...don't miss it!

Who Wants To Be A Thousandaire?

It's official!

My Million-Dollar Raffle ticket won me a thousand dollars -- WOO HOO!

Not that such a document would ever be required, but here's a receipt proving my awesomeness:As you may know, it is a matter of my longstanding fiscal policy that:
  • 10% of winnings gained thusly must be tithed to church (despite the fact that, and I'm quoting here, "Gambling is a menace to society"), and
  • 10% must be blown irresponsibly. I will begin entertaining suggestions on how to facilitate such blowage ... NOW!

3:10 to Yuma

Two of my good friends live in Yuma, Arizona. (Official city motto: "Yuma-st be kidding me.")

Therefore, I will likely be seeing this movie to see what their lives are like. I'm absolutely certain their lives are just like Russell Crowe and Christian Bale* in the trailer:



I just hope Jon and Jenny don't see as much gunplay as Russell and Christian apparently did.


*Pobre, pobre Cristián Bale. ¿Has visto tú su entrevista con una periodista loca? Si no, clique aquí.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Don't tell the church

So, several weeks ago, on a lark, I bought a ticket for the Hoosier Lottery's Hoosier Million Dollar Raffle.

And promptly forgot about it.

Until I heard an announcement that they'd drawn the numbers (like, a week ago) and 777 Hoosiers were dancing a jig because they'd either won one of two $1,000,000 prizes, or one of five $100,000 prizes, or one of 770 $1,000 prizes.

Turns out I'm one in 770 -- $1,000 here I come, baby*!

I kind of expect the reaction will be a lot along the lines of one of my friends whom I've already told: "[BLEEP] you, you [BLEEP]ing [BLEEP]." But you know, maybe there are some people out there who will celebrate my post-taxes take of $600 or so.

But you can't tell anybody at the church...we'll just keep it between us, OK?



* subject to verification at the claims office as soon as they friggin' open tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.

All those people praying for rain...

...just got their wish. Big time.

In addition to last night's inch-diameter-hail-and-eerie-green-lightning storm, today the buckets of heaven finally turned over and unleashed torrential downpours unlike anything I've ever driven through like an idiot witnessed.

See this big, county-sized, red splotch to the east of Indy?


Yeah, that's what I just drove through on the way back from a lunch meeting, when the red splotch was directly ON TOP OF Indy.

For the first time in my life, I understand how people who are in their cars during a flash flood don't get out and wait it out on higher ground. I kept thinking "If I can only make it back to the office..." and I actually pulled a pretty stupid driving maneuver which would have ended poorly if there was even another half-inch of water in the little valley on Keystone just north of Fall Creek. Luckily, it all worked out, but all I'm saying is that it was close.

No kayaking tonight.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bound Together and Finely Woven with Love

Singer/Composer/All-Around Cool Guy Ken Medema came to Broadway today and led the late morning worship service and then performed a concert in the afternoon.

Friends, it was great! Here's but one snapshot of the kingdom party celebration we were rocking IN THE MIDDLE OF CHURCH:

That's me, Rachel, Jeffrey, Alice and Phil getting our respective, left-to-right, grooves on.

My mom and dad had seen Ken on the Crystal Cathedral, but they weren't able to make it to the 4:00 concert, so they came to worship in the morning. They really seemed to enjoy it a lot.

And how could they not enjoy it?

Ken's morning sermon was a compelling message of justice and mercy and hope and all the good things that we achieve in our brilliant moments and that we long for in darker times. And the afternoon concert gave us the opportunity to open Broadway's doors to a diverse audience of folks from all over town.

It was AWESOME!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alert the authorities

When my bluish, lifeless corpse floats ashore in the pond lake loch behind the new condo, know that this may be the culprit:



Yep, my very own kayak! YAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Here's an excerpt from my recent interview with Kayak Pro Magazine...

Kayak Pro Magazine: Scott -- why kayaking? Why now?

SSSemester: Seemed like a good idea at the time...there's a pond lake loch behind my new condo so I may as well do more than look at it, right?

KPM: Uh huh -- but, seriously, have you ever kayaked before?

SSS: Not until this morning before work.

KPM: So, what made you think this would be a good idea?

SSS: Oh, who can say, really?

KPM: You realize, of course, that kayaking is a potentially drowning-causing activity.

SSS: Why so negative, Nancy? Dig it -- I'm pretty bouyant to start with, I know how to swim, I'm pretty sure the pond lake loch doesn't get more than five feet deep at any point, AND I always wear a safety flotation device as required by law.

KPM: Uh huh. So, what's your advice for the young and hip kayak amateur?

SSS: Well, seeing as how I've kayaked a total of one time, I feel completely qualified to answer your question. First, stretch before going out on the water. Second, wear sunscreen. Third, no matter what, make sure no one sees when you totally freak out because you're stuck in the middle of the pond lake loch and your paddle/oar thingie is floating about five feet away from you and getting further with each passing minute. Not that that's happened to me.

KPM: Uh huh.



So, there you go! If you want to see something pretty funny, stop by Hidden Bay some time and watch me waddle, paddle, and fiddle-faddle my way through the Great Kayaking Adventure.

And if you see the above kayak just floating around on its own, call the Coast Guard, will ya?

Fresh out of the tub, my new niece just ordered a hit on you and then threw back a few beers with her girls


Counter-clockwise, from top left, the latest from Baby Central shows Madelynn...


* Alternate caption for top right: Establishing post-war order at the Potsdam Conference. Click here for a side-by-side Madelynn / Winston Churchill comparison. The resemblance, which I imagine she will some day grow out of, is uncanny.

A 20 percent chance that there is no spoon.

So, there's this guy -- a professor at Oxford University, no less -- whose gut tells him there is a 20% chance that our reality is, in fact, a computer simulation.

One chance in five that we are, in fact, in The Matrix.

While I've never been a big truster of British people's gut instincts, I will say that if this is the case, I want one of those cool trenchcoats, and I certainly wouldn't mind various other Matrix-only powers:
  • Bullet-dodging
  • Skyscraper-to-skyscraper jumping
  • Superfast kung fu kicking
  • Consequence-free, crazy driving skills
  • Ability to nonironically say "Whoa" in a Keanu Reeves voice
For some reason, I actually find this theory easier to accept than the concept of time travel, which, as you may know, I find maddening.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Going to Extremes: Inner Mongolia to Shelbyville, Indiana

I continue to dance the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to a Guinness World Records rhythm.

I've previously noted the genetic improbabilities of the residents of Inner Mongolia. (See also: here and here.) But Mother Nature is, in fact, getting her freak on in our own back yard. I give you two women -- one is the world's tallest and the other is the world's oldest. Can you guess which is which?

Seen here, apparently celebrating (with cake and beer, naturally) the death -- FINALLY! -- of Japan's Yone Minagawa, they both live in Shelbyville, Indiana.


I mean it: you tell me. What's up with these Guinness Clusters?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There's a bathroom on the right ... Ain't no weatherman but you

Friends, mine is a sad, lifelong story of misunderstood lyrics shamelessly sung at high volume. (I still remember singing the Pat Benatar song with my brother and cousin Karen, "We're running with our saddles on tonight!")

Anywho, waaaaay back in the 80s, misunderstood lyrics were a mark of shame and humiliation. Nowadays, you can like the life you're living, you can live the life you like, you can even marry Harry and mess around with Ike. And that's good, isn't it; grand, isn't it; great isn't it; swell isn't it? Fun, isn't it, that you can also make a PG-13 (language) YouTube video with the words to a Christina Aguilera song completely wrong and it will still make me bust out laughing repeatedly:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I Love You(Tube)

As pointed out in a previous post, I am living sans TV in my new place. Therefore, when not reading or exploring the new 'hood, I've been relying on the internet for a lot of my entertainment time.

I've discovered 30 Rock on NBC (the whole first season is available on NBC.com and I think Jack McBrayer as Kenneth, the NBC page, is hilarious and Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, GE's Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Programming, is awesome) and I've also been logging a lot of YouTube hours.

Tonight I've found some clips that I'm really just posting for myself so I don't have to search for them again on YouTube. They can live here, in my own little video clip archive. So, enjoy if you want...disregard if not.

And whether you're a Freudian or a Jungian or a Whateverian, I'd love to hear what you think my choices say about me. Or maybe I wouldn't...enabling comment moderation!

















Friday, August 10, 2007

The Secret: No one's heard of it, and it doesn't work.

If Buns and Chou Chou are mocking your idea, there's something wrong.

Of course this Rhonda woman must have made millions off The Secret, so who am I to question??

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yes, but how do you feel about TURTLES?

This is hilarious -- the little kid in zombie (*shudder*) face-painting, the way the reporter responds, nearly laughing...all of it.



But it gets better, as Bill O'Reilly weighs in:



And then it turns scary at the Overlook Hotel:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

FINALLY! A defense spending initiative I can get behind...

Six and a half years in, I just might be warming up to this President.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

For you see, I cannot fit all these fifties in my wallet...

...and my diamond shoes are too tight!

The NYT has a story today about millionaires who are actual millionaires who have a net worth of over a million dollars, but who feel that what they have is not enough. If they moved to Kansas City, they'd be set for life, but something keeps them in Silicon Valley.

This I do not understand.

If I had an amount of money in the bank that would allow me to move somewhere else and retire forever while maintaining my current lifestyle, I'd do it. In a heartbeat.

And yet, of the tens of thousands (!) of millionaires in Silicon Valley, quite a few still work 60+ hours a week and may not see retirement at the end of the tunnel, ever.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: People are weird.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The downfall, of course, to using a Mac...

...is that there is no Minesweeper installed on my office computer.

I shall therefore wait with overall tingliness for this movie, which I wish was real:

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's official! I'm smart!

So, a few weeks ago, without telling anyone, I decided to take the admissions test to join Mensa. I figured if I made the cut, I could talk about it here, and if not, I didn't need to tell anyone!

But they're going to let me in! Heh heh -- suckers.

They do the test every so often (let me know if you want the test dates for September, October, and November of this year), so in July, with a song in my heart, $40 in my wallet, and two number-2 pencils in my pocket protector, I headed to the Haughville Branch* of the Indianapolis Public Library to take the test.

I counted 11 people there, from around high-school-graduate age to a few folks my parents' age. A range of ethnicities and socioeconomic strata were represented. Everybody was pretty serious, as though we were vying for one Mensa spot, even though all 11 of us could, in theory at least, have qualified.

People are weird.

Anyway, turns out the Mensa admission test is actually the Mensa admission testS -- two of them -- and you have to qualify on just one of the two in order to make the cut.

The first test was a 12-minute short-answer problem-solving test, and I believe that's the one that I did well on. It was 50 questions and they said almost no one answers every question...I was about to write down the answer to Question 50 when they said time was up.

The second one was a full-on hour-long, multiple-choice exam with questions such as "What is the opposite of giraffe?" and "Where would you find a plumicorn?"** which I did not do well on. They also threw in a freaky-deaky comprehension-and-retention thing by playing a five-minute story before the big test, and then the last phase of the test was questions about the story. And it wasn't like "Jack sold his cow for some magic beans..." Rather, it was a long, convoluted story about this historic thing that some ancient people used to do and on and on and on, and I just gave up listening at the end, so I'm sure I tanked on that section.

So, anyway, things worked out -- I'm in! And while technically I'm a nerd without joining their club, once I send the membership dues, I'm officially a dork! A Mensa-level-smart dork!



* I know, right -- the Haughville Branch? That was kind of a surprise, but whatever.

** Not actual questions, because I would probably be hunted down and killed for revealing any actual test questions. But did you know a plumicorn is a tuft of lengthened feathers on the head of various owls? As for the opposite of giraffe, you tell me.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Freaky-Deaky Mask Illusion



I honestly have no idea who this British guy is, or under whose authority he built a rotating mechanism for his Charlie Chaplin mask, but our lives are better because of this video.

The relationship between sensory input and past knowledge is actually pretty cool. The human noggin is a fascinating thing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Best. HuffPo Headline. Ever.

By Best. Headline. Ever., I'm referring to the Kucinich/Rumsfeld exchange, not "Luna Lovegood's Chocolate Pudding Recipe," although that has a certain panache to it...

I mean, say what you will about Donald Rumsfeld's behavior and his leading us into the unjustest of wars, but this man is one of the few members of the Bush administration I would want on my side in a game of dodgeball. Him and homeland security adviser Fran Townsend.

Whatever that means.

All I'm saying is this: Secretary Rumsfeld may have been involved in some stuff I don't agree with, but he just seems like a guy I'd want to take to dinner, if only for the deadpan joke delivery.