Why Do Creationists Hate Monkeys? Part III

The possibility of foundling baskets on their doorsteps.

Da-da!  Da-da!

Note pinned to blanket: “Dear John, I did so enjoy our time together in Borneo when you were on your mission trip. Please take good care of little Benji here. Doesn’t he have your eyes and happy expression? Don’t try to contact me, it would never work out–I’m headed for the tree canopy for good. Love always, Bongo.”

Now that Geezer Butler Really IS a Geezer

Put your lighters in the air, dudes and dudettes: The inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced yesterday. Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie and Miles Davis (?) will soon be enshrined in that stately assemblage. Wouldn’t it be a treat if all of their plaques were lined up next to each other, so the punks and the metal heads and the Skynyrd fans could mix it up every day?

I’ve been to that museum twice, but still have a hard time swallowing the whole concept. Comprehensive historical expositions on the psychedelic era just seem like such make-work efforts, like pursuing a degree in American studies.

Maybe the problem is the glass pyramid on the Cleveland lakefront, designed by bigtime muckymuck I.M. Pei. What the hell does a glass pyramid have to do with rocknroll, except for Todd Rundgren and maybe Madonna’s boobs (weren’t they a geometric shape at one point?) ? Too egg-headed. A much more apt setting would be a barge floating next to the back end of a gigantic pink 56 Chevy, stuck nose down in the mud of Lake Erie with flames coming out of the wreckage. This would announce to the world both, “Live fast, die young” and “Yeah, our river caught fire once—wanna make something of it?”

So shout “FREEEE BIRRRRRRD!” at everyone you meet this week. Or just randomly, as you’re standing in the street.

A Big Whiff

Mmmmm, just like Grandma's factory...Just west of downtown Chicago is the Blommer Chocolate Company, maker of specialty chocolate and cocoa to other manufacturers and snack bakers. When the wind is blowing right, downtown and River North used to be permeated with a calming, enjoyable, not-too-sweet smell of chocolate being rendered from cacao beans.

Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh chocolate cooking? Apparently some doofus in a converted loft nearby doesn’t, because that doofus has successfully sicced the EPA on the factory. He wasn’t complaining about the smell (probably because that was a known condition when the doofus bought his little exposed brick party pad, and therefore not actionable). His complaint to the EPA was the particulate the factory put into the air. Maybe the cocoa was dusting all the Crate & Barrel furniture this doofus had filled his place with, or clogging up the DVD player in his rad home theater system.

Well, whatever the reason, the EPA has cited the Blommer company and forced it to clean up. Now the factory will install extra filters that will eliminate both the particulate and the smell. Now, the doofus can quit worrying about getting cocoa lung, and start worrying about how he’ll have no friends when word gets out that he was the Slugworth who brought to an end that nice occasional aroma that was such a pleasant surprise.

These kinds of stories grow like weeds around Chicago’s industrial neighborhoods. Factories and plants—you know, places that actually employ people and pay taxes—are trying to stay in the city, and Joe and Stacee Timeshare move in down the block in a renovated loft space and start harassing the factory because it actually emits a smell or a noise or has trucks driving up to it at odd hours. Well, sorry, Joe and Stacee, they were there first, so shut the F up. There are few enough places in the city where people without a college education can earn a decent wage, and they don’t need you whiners making their lives difficult. Go find another place to live, or move back to Kenosha. Chicago’s already lost most of its candy-making capacity—how many of you knew it was once the candy manufacturing champ in America? So who knows how long Blommer will stick around if they have to put up with these squealing infants?

I Beg Your Pardon

Chokin' the turkey til it pukes.Today, George W. Bush pardoned twoThanksgiving turkeys named Marshmallow and Yam in front of a horde of reporters. By the end of his term, barring any change of heart, or maybe DNA evidence, he will have pardoned 16 turkeys.

And you figure, he’ll probably pardon at least half a dozen people in connection with TraitorGate when his term in office winds down.

Does anyone know how many people on Death Row he pardoned while he was governor of Texas? I’m serious, does anybody have that number?

Too bad those inmates weren’t cute and cuddly and associated with some holiday.

The Real Sound of Silence

The song remains the sameWhen I was a teenager, I loved nothing better than putting on my headphones and listening to “Exile on Main Street” at a body-shaking volume (it being usually late at night when I got the chance). Later on in a misspent youth, quite below the legal drinking age, I made it in to a lot of the first punk bars in Detroit. Clubs like Bookie’s and the New Miami, for those who want to get nostalgic. And when tours were announced for bands other than Journey and Kansas and the Babys and whatever other kind of bastardized rock you can name, I snapped up tickets to those, too, and did everything I could to let the music pound through my body as if I were a jellyfish. After a triumvirate of the Ramones in November 1978, the Police two months later, and the Jam two months after that, I remember feeling like someone had rammed a spike down my ear canals, giving me unsettling pain to go along with the expected ringing in my ears.

The pain eventually stopped, but the ringing never has, and has actually gotten worse over the years.

We could never figure out why I got it quicker and more severely than any of my friends, some of whom were musicians (shouldn’t being in Big Black have had some kind of corrosive effect?). But such is life. Since losing my hearing was the worst thing that ever happened to me (how’d you like to be a writer and not be able to overhear conversations in public?) , I’ve badgered all my nieces and nephews to wear ear protection at concerts. Being smarter than me, they have actually followed my advice. And for anyone reading now, considered yourself badgered. Earplugs have never been easier to find at the store.

If you want to know what it feels like to have constant ringing in your head, check out this story on NPR about composer Brent Michael Davids. A sufferer of tinnitus (the medical name for the high-pitched ringing), Davids wrote “Tinnitus Quartet” to give audiences an idea of what it’s like to have this condition. Listen to that high A in the short snippet in the newsstory, and then imagine having that in your head day and night, every day of your life.

Ironically, even though The Jam was the band that broke my ear’s camel’s back, I didn’t even like them all that much. About three years later, they were one of my favorite bands

Christmas, A Time for Friends, Family and Blunt Eye Trauma

Maybe this will teach kids not to smoke in bedSo Christmas is coming barreling down the road, a full 18-wheeler of fun and frolic and rich food that’s only sort of tasty. Before you put on your hockey pads and go out to the mall, you should check the list of this year’s most dangerous toys. You can find this list, published every year by the group Parents Who’ve Already Turned Their Kids Into Whiny, Fearful Pansies and Now Have the Time to Do It to Yours, and pictures of the toys at CNN. This grouping is a staple of the news at this time of year, along with announcements of January plant closings and designated driver reminders.

First off, anyone who has to point out that the “Lord of the Rings – Return of the King Uruk-Hai Crossbow” set might cause eye injuries should get a job on the local weekend TV newscasts. It’s the only place I can think of where such “No, duh” thinking can be turned into a paying job. If a kid takes an Uruk-Hai as his role model, good luck getting him or her to put on eye protection.

Secondly, if everyone is so worried about youngsters choking on small parts of all these toys, my best suggestion is to cover the toys in Tabasco sauce or Chinese mustard. If we teach the little bips to quit putting things in their mouths, maybe they’ll spread fewer cold germs.

Another solution to the small, swallowable parts problem is to only give kids very large, heavy presents, like 6X6 posts or sandbags. This would have the double benefit of strengthening their upper bodies.

Lastly, I really can’t find fault with the makers of the 38″ Air Kicks Kickaroos Anti-Gravity Boots, even apart from the cool name. The boots are sort of spring-like things that kids slip over their boots. The Toy Nazis are whining that the box only warns children to “always remain in control of your motions”. I think that’s just good advice for everybody, not just kids.

Come back, Irwin Mainway! Make playtime fun again!

Once You Can Fake Sincerity….

Pathetic?  Yes, but not in the way you think.You’ve got it made. Or so says the old joke about acting. But now it appears to apply to marketing as well.

The folks at Urban Outfitters—the same people who last year brought you the feel-good board game for all ages, Ghettopoly—are lending their unique tinsel touch to Christmas decorations. Now, for a mere $24, you can own a replica of that eloquent statement against the commercialization of Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

No word on what they would charge for replicas of Zuzu’s petals, but it’s only a matter of time with these kinds of places, who cater to people with disposable income but no style, imagination or (apparently) sense of irony.

Reminds one of those gargantuan Christmas pageants that some megachurches put on, complete with choir, orchestra, and camel riders, that intend to hammer home Christ’s humble beginnings in the most outlandish manner possible. “Christ may have preached a gospel of humility, but really, this is the kind of birthday celebration he’d really like.”

Nothing sells like humility, baby. Milk it, milk it!

Kansas, Land of Scientific Opportunity

Gold?  Hell, I'm working on a new artificial sweetener.Why is everyone getting so upset with the Kansas Board of Education for rewriting the definition of science? Can’t they see what a victory for democracy this is? Now it doesn’t matter what facts or evidence may indicate—if you get enough enlightened people to vote for your position, it becomes the standard of truth. I tell you, the sky’s the limit with this kind of attitude.

With this kind of ScienceDemocracy ™ , all our problems will be over. Just think of it:

The “Law” of Gravity—Picture a cute little American baby. Confident, curious, strong and true. This baby is intrigued by the open window in his 13th floor apartment. When no one is looking, the baby crawls up to the windowsill, totters for a moment, then falls out into open space.
A tragedy? Hardly, now that we can rewrite our definition of science to include divine intervention. Think of the millions of lives saved when our deliberative bodies invalidate this oppressive bit of demagoguery. Skydivers with faulty parachutes, airplane passengers on doomed flights, dizzy stiltwalkers, even potential suicides standing on building ledges—all saved through the power of democracy.
As an extra bonus, many overweight people would feel the pounds melt away overnight, as their mass is negated and they feel light and airy as a feather.

The “Laws” of Thermodynamics—Energy can be neither created nor destroyed? Balderdash! That just goes against the American can-do spirit!
As soon as we redefine science to include wishful thinking, we’ll never have to worry about energy again. The hell with Iraq—bring the soldiers home now, and let them loot the Bureau of Antiquities on the way out! Ditto for Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela. For every tank of gas we burn, we can create two, three, ten—as many as we believe we can create!
Don’t worry, little caribou. We won’t come drilling up there in Alaska—we don’t need to, and it’s too damn cold besides!

Coulomb’s “Law” – “Force between any two charges is equal to the absolute value of the multiple of the charges divided by 4 pi times the vacuum permittivity times the distance squared between the two charges”? AS IF! In your face, Coulomb!!!

Time Travel—There are those who argue time travel is impossible because it violates the “laws” of thermodynamics, by creating energy in a place where there was none before. But right-thinking democracy is stronger than anything that tries to stand against it. Here we have an obvious case in point: with one vote last night, the state of Kansas whisked its students back a good 75 years. What’s to stop them from sending their kids back 200 years, or 500? Think of what we could learn about the Dark Ages by actually living it ourselves!

Science Democracy!
The Future of America!!

Hotter Than Georgia Asphalt

Here’s the latest in genre fiction that aspiring hacks might want to sharpen their hacksickels for: NASCAR romance fiction.

I know many of you are slapping your foreheads, and some of you are doing it because you’re thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes the most obvious ideas are staring us right in the face, with a slack jaw, a bad haircut, and a number 8 hat on their greasy heads. Nothing says romance like the smell of burning rubber and oil, jumpsuits covered in ad patches, and the shivery frisson of possible fatalities on the track. If you and your missus ever spent your honeymoon in the snake pit at Indy, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

I had a whole list of strained metaphors and double entendres to pepper this post with, but I bet any of you could come up with something at least as good as,

“Shellee breathlessly announced to her pit crew that she was in major need of some lubricating.”

“Lula May wasn’t going to settle for Mr. Goodwrench when she knew, somewhere in the South Carolina night, Mr. Greatwrench was waiting for her.”

“Doris felt her passion circling her in great waves, round and round in deafening roars, until it was way past time to wave the yellow flag of caution.”

(Thanks to Neddie Jingo)

Frankie Say, “How’s Your Bird?”

The other day, President Bush outlined his plan for fighting the avian flu, or bird flu (not to be confused with the Evian flu, which is commonly known as bottled water flu, or the Elian flu, known as the underage Cuban political pawn flu, or the EvaGabor flu, known as the “Olivah, your hotscakes are retty” flu).

With all modesty, I must confess I have a better plan:

First, isolate the chicken farms of China and southeast Asia and treat every bird there with a strong strain of the Ebola virus. Then, among the birds still standing, expose them to SARS and feed them a steady diet of aspartame. For any infected waterfowl that migrate to North America, determine the most effective way to spread the flesh-eating bacteria identified in Toronto some years back and apply that. At the same time, set up feeding stations for the ducks and geese in the countryside to keep them away from cities and suburbs. These feeding centers would be stocked with grain laced with alar, anthrax, Legionnaire’s disease, the swine flu virus, and the human papilloma virus, just to be safe.

And any birds that emerge alive after all of that, we bow down and worship with tribute and sacrifice as if they were King Kong.

Now, my brother heard that Bush’s avian bird flu plan in large part relies on lifting restrictions for developing wetlands that harbor these “duck-billed pterrorists”, especially those areas that may contain oil. “Less birds, less flu,” the thinking goes. This can’t be true, can it?

Run for your lives!!!!!!!!!!