October 30, 2009

My aim is true

(Headline inspired by lyrics from this classic song by my close, personal friend, Elvis Costello*.)

Quick post to kick off your weekend: It seems that the fine men and women of our armed forces are, once and for all, trying to put an end to those hi-larious Polish jokes.

Because if you're from a country that is "accidentally" firing a "machine gun" (OK, so the quotes around machine gun weren't really necessary) into a port city of a country that's not at war with you, you might be from one of the stupider countries on the planet.

What was this guy doing, Windexing his M240 while casually waving it around the Lido Deck?

I'm no munitions expert** but wouldn't you think the Navy has safeguards that would prevent a weapon from being discharged in the general direction of a foreign country while that weapon is being cleaned? Like, I don't, know... taking out the bullets first?

Actually, this incident reminds me of one other outstanding tune.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

* Elvis might characterize our relationship somewhat differently.
** Despite persistent rumors to the contrary.

October 28, 2009

Looking the gift card in the mouth

It's more than two weeks until my birthday* and I've already gotten two cumpleanos cards.

One arrived yesterday, and it was from my local Hallmark Gold Crown store. Happily for me, it included a coupon for $5 off a $20 purchase at their shop, which is awesome because one thing I want to do for my birthday is buy approximately eight birthday cards for other people.

Following a tradition that continues to impress me and yet makes me feel like they could do better, the other card came from Southwest Airlines. The card now arrives so early every year that I'm beginning to wonder whether they even know when my actual birthday is anymore, or they just know that it's some time after National Deviled Eggs Day. Seriously, they must have dropped this one in the mailbox a full month ahead of time. If I lived in a remote mountain village in Nepal (is there any other kind?), it would have still arrived well in advance of my birthday.

Maybe they're sending it that far in advance because they think I'm getting so old that the chances I'll actually live long enough to see my next birthday keep shrinking, and therefore they'd better get those sincere laser-printed greetings to me as early as possible.

But if that's the case, what a waste of postage, because if I had only two weeks to live, let's be honest, I'd probably book some first class seats on Qatar Airways, take advantage of the on-board Jacuzzi (because what could be more hygienic than a hot tub on an airplane?) and the feather duvet, and fly wherever the hell it is that Qatar Airways flies.***

I realize I might sound somewhat ungrateful, but I really am happy that corporate America loves me so much.

* If this seems like a subtle hint, it's not.**
** Not subtle, I mean.
*** I'm guessing Qatar is one possibility.

October 22, 2009

I'm a winner

And now, I would just like to brag that I won a shirt.

By "won," I mean that I responded to an email offer by sending my name, mailing address and shirt size to register for a promotion in which the company was going to send shirts to most people who submitted a valid name, mailing address and shirt size.

But, still. I'll take it.

There's a strong chance that the shirt, conveniently pictured below, is probably a little too fashion-forward for me. I'm not exactly sure where I'd go where black epaulets on a short-sleeve button-down would be situation-appropriate. (Maybe a screening of This is It?)

As worn by a model. A model standing in front of hay. (And, yes, the right breast pocket flap does fold down, in case you're worried.)

Still, I have to say it's a pretty nice garment. And, actually, it probably would meet the dress code for just about anywhere in L.A. It fits great, it feels well constructed and it's made of stretchy fabric, which for some reason I always think is a nice selling point in a shirt.

Thank-yous to the generous and trendy fellas at Cash Crop Clothing for bestowing the freebie, and to Thrillist for holding the contest. Which I won.

October 13, 2009

The Squid and the Pirate

Several months ago, I boldly proclaimed that we were clearly in the midst of the Decade of the Pirate, what with all of the stories about buccaneers taking over cargo ships on the high seas. Not to mention the Johnny Depp movies. And Alan Tudyk's character in Dodgeball.

A few weeks later, I proclaimed - no less boldly - that I had proclaimed too soon because it then appeared that this actually was shaping up to be the Decade of the Octopus. (Virtually irrefutable proof here and here.)

And then ... silence.

Pirates and octopi seemingly had fallen off of the radar. Fewer pirate sightings was, I'm sure, good news for those who were responsible for traveling the highly prized Somali Coast route. But the sudden lack of information about eight-armed sea creatures was a troubling development for SFTC because, back in May, I promised you that this blog would be "The source you can rely on for the latest in octopus news."

Thankfully - for me, if not for sailors - pirates are back in the headlines. Unfortunately - for the pirates, at least - the latest attack went a little awry. Instead of storming a cargo ship, as they had planned, they (oopsie!) mistakenly attacked a French military vessel. Now, I don't know much about pirating, but I'm guessing one of the first rules is not to attack a boat on which everyone is armed and has military training.

Even if they are French.

And although I haven't read too much about octopi lately, squid news is close enough, right? OK, good. Because Yahoo News recently ran this piece about scientists accidentally discovering a 105-pound giant squid. (By the way, for a 105 pound mass of future sushi, isn't the word "giant" redundant?)

I especially liked that the writer points out that the discovery reminds us "how little is known about life in the deep waters of the Gulf." Perhaps that's because researchers don't really want to mess with the huge freakin' killer squid living down there.

October 12, 2009


Monday is usually the pits, but I'm doing great so far today.

Mostly that's because I just remembered that CNN.com is still around, still bringing news-starved readers the kinds of important, hard-hitting stories that - let's just be honest - carry with them nothing less than the potential to change people's lives.

Like, for example, this one.

Seriously. Thank goodness the reporter was able to explain the incredible mystery of golf balls at the bottom of Loch Ness -"it is thought locals and visitors have been using the loch to practice their driving skills for quite some time" - because I had presupposed that Nessie had been stockpiling the small white orbs for her planned attack against Scotland.

Extra points to the online editor for categorizing this article in the "World Sport" section (see label at top of page). I guess they haven't come up with a tag for "Completely useless crap that doesn't fit anywhere else."

October 7, 2009

Reduce, reuse and, uh, print more stuff

My employer is saying all of the right things about sustainability, reducing our collective carbon footprint, and blah blah blah blah blah. And, despite the indifference all of those blahs might connote, I strongly support those goals.

One recent step toward a greener workplace was the installation of low-flow urinals. I won't get too graphic here, but these babies use only a few cups of water per flush, instead of the 800 gallons per flush* that the old ones used. (It's actually sort of horrifying to think about how much water we've collectively wasted since the urinal was patented back in 1866.) (You're welcome.)

So it's great that we're conserving so much water. But here's what I don't get: On the wall above each shiny new urinal - and there are hundreds, maybe thousands, where I work - there is now a color-printed 3 inch-by-3 inch sticker extolling the contraption's water-saving greatness.

Do you think those stickers were really necessary? I mean, it's not like some dude is going to step up to do his business, see the blank, sticker-less wall and think, "I can't do this - it might not be a water-saving urinal."

Which means we used an awful lot of paper for no other purpose than to tell pee-ers how earth-friendly we are.

* Just an estimate.

October 6, 2009

Lettuce reconsider

The lettuce in the Trader Joe's Asian chicken salad that I brought for lunch today was 24 or 36 hours past its expiration date. Which was a bummer.

But I can say with absolute certainty that I'd rather eat expired lettuce than read any more stories about Tyler Perry or Mackenzie Phillips being abused as children. (No links to their stories because, well, it's enough already.)

I'm sorry they suffered (although I feel like Perry is sort of getting his revenge with all of the Madea movies), but I don't get why celebrities think that a perk of being famous is the opportunity to spout off about crap that happened to them three decades ago. Maybe they're just doing it because they know I'll blog about it. Clever bastards.

- - -

In news that is - I'm fairly certain - completely unrelated, my incredibly gorgeous wife and I ordered a pizza from Domino's last night. And it was totally worth it. Not so much for the pizza, which was, frankly, a Domino's pizza, but because of Domino's online order tracker.

Have you seen this thing? We haven't ordered from Domino's in about two years, so I may be way behind the curve here. But it's so much fun, we're seriously considering* ordering another one tonight.

Once you place your order online - who talks on the phone anymore? - you're directed to a new screen with a gizmo that looks like this:

At each stage of the pizza-production-and-delivery-process, the appropriate section of the bar flashes red until it's complete, whereupon** that segment turns solid red. We watched in awe as Fabiola (that's what Pizza Tracker said her name was) marshaled our dinner order from prep to oven to quality testing.

I was somewhat concerned that "quality testing" our pizza meant someone was going to smush their hand in the middle of the pie and grab a handful of the tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni that was rightfully ours, but after a few bites of dinner, I got over it.

* Just kidding, Bugs.
** I'll have to double check, but this is probably the first use of "whereupon" on SFTC.