A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cheap Eats - Dr. J's

Go Triad -- When you think of hospitals or the military, one of the last things you'll think about is good food. But at Dr. J's House of Soul Food, which is called by the nickname owner John Johnson picked up while serving as an Army medic, that's the only thing you'll be getting. Full column

Chitlins are the cooked intestines of a pig. They are the organ that a pig digests its food with. It is not food itself.

I won't embellish the details or tell the long story of me trying chitlins. All you need to know: Chitlins taste a little like chicken, and a little like pig shit.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Failure to Communicate: Make your choice: Be gay or be a bigot

The Carolinian -- Two things surprised me about this year's Superbowl. One, that anyone actually thought the Bears were going to win I think is beyond belief. Two, the commercials were absolutely horrible this year. Most companies didn't even put in the effort to make a new commercial for the Superbowl, and of those that did few were anything resembling creative or funny. Perhaps that was a smart move on their part.

One company that did make a new commercial met with almost immediate protest. Snickers launched an ad showing two mechanics leaning over a car engine. One pulls out a Snickers bar and begins eating it. The other, overcome by the Snickers's deliciousness, begins eating the other end of the bar until the pair's lips accidentally meet in the middle, a la Lady and the Tramp. The two guys recoil, then one shouts for them to "Do something manly!" at which point they each grab a handful of their own chest hair and rip it out. It's somewhere around here that I burst out laughing, whether from their exaggerated reaction or the fact that they thought tearing out a clump of chest hair was manly I don't know.

But you won't see this commercial on TV. Snickers pulled the commercial after a few gay rights groups - like the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation - condemned it, saying that it made humor out of homophobia. It's sad, really.

The commercial isn't getting a laugh from homophobic jokes. If anything it's making fun of the guys reacting in that way, since the exaggerated reaction is the punch line, but it's not homophobia in any accurate sense of the word. Homophobia refers to fear of or discrimination against homosexuals. There are no homosexuals in the commercial; there are two heterosexual males. And two straight guys kissing is just... gross. Stick with me on this.

It's okay to make a joke out of two straight guys being repulsed by kissing each other, because straight guys aren't supposed to kiss. A straight guy, and I think I can speak for the group on this one, would generally be disgusted by the thought of kissing another guy. I'm not weirded out by gay guys kissing; I've been on campus here for more than 10 minutes so I've seen it happen a few times. It's fine for gay guys to do it. That's their thing. Most of us aren't afraid that we're secretly gay either. We just don't want to smooch on dudes, that's all. It's not our thing, hence us being heterosexual. Full column here

I had to cut it because of length, but I wanted to mention the absolutely ridiculous recent incident with a showing of The Vagina Monologues in Florida.

BBC -- Stage play The Vagina Monologues has been renamed at a theatre in Florida after a complaint about the title.

It will be known as The Hoohaa Monologues - a child slang word for the female organ - after a woman in Atlantic Beach complained.

Bryce Pfanenstiel from The Atlantic Theatre told local TV station Channel 4 the woman said she was "offended" when her niece asked her what a vagina was.

The TV network claim the play's director is not happy about the change.

Just two days later the play's organizers got the name changed back, but how pathetic is it that "vagina" is now offensive? It's the medical term for the female bodypart. It's not like the girl was even asking about the birds and the bees; it's a fairly important piece of her anatomy that she will have to become aware of sooner or later. The story doesn't say how old the girl was, but I'd argue that old enough to read is old enough to label your own body parts.

Only infants or infantile adults need to hear baby talk.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- A former college newspaper editor who wrote an article describing rape as a "magical experience" apologized to a large crowd of students and faculty at Central Connecticut State University.

John Petroski's Feb. 7 article in The Recorder was headlined, "Rape Only Hurts If You Fight It." It argued that rape has been a positive force in western civilization and benefits "ugly women."

The 23-year-old sophomore history major was removed as the newspaper's opinion editor over the weekend amid protests by campus groups. Critics also demanded the resignation of editor Mark Rowan and the paper's faculty advisers.

Wow. I'm certainly not the ballsiest person to ever grace the pages of The Carolinian, though what I say is occasionally enough to get a concerned call from my family or comments from classmates, and I'm a big proponent of the George Carlin school of anything can be funny (including rape: "Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.") so long as you approach it correctly, but even I say they crossed the line on that one.

The closest I've ever come to joking about rape was a Faux News about a year ago, and even that didn't make fun of rape victims. It made fun of the South Dakota conservatives who said a rape victim couldn't get an abortion. Still, some people didn't think it was funny. Unfortunately for them a lot of others did.

I don't see the faculty advisor going down for it, depending on how closely he or she actually worked with the paper. If The Carolinian did something similar to that I can't see Holian going down for it. But how does the head editor defend keeping his job? How are they even considering keeping the writer on staff? That's a sad display of no accoutability.

Either you believe in and back up the things you print or you don't. There is no middle ground. If you're not willing to go to the mattresses defending what you printed then the ink should have never met the paper.

TIME: Another Unabomber in the Making?

Time.com -- He calls himself the Bishop, an unthreatening sounding name if there ever was one, but law enforcement and private security officials fear he may be another unabomber in the making. In late January, the mysterious figure sent a letter bomb to two Midwestern financial services companies. The message inside both packages, which were discovered by mail clerks, read "Bang! You're dead". The boxes arrived at American Century Investments in Kansas City and Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell and Co., a Chicago financial services company. Both had all the makings of a pipe bomb, a PVC pipe filled with buckshot and smokeless powder, plus protruding wires. But the sender had not included a power source, which indicated to investigators that The Bishop, meant to terrify, not kill — at least not yet.

Why the media isn't all over this like they were Anna Nicole Smith I don't know. Maybe we're less about terror and more about blonde white women as a culture right now. It's probably for the best; psychos always love attention. It'll flare up once he kills someone though.

The scariest part about this isn't that he's sending bombs without a coherent grasp on basic grammar or spelling - though that could be him putting on a show. The scariest part is the last graph:

"Looking back to the Unabomber case, Theodore Kaczynski began sending IEDs in 1978," Burton said. "Despite the large quantity of physical evidence, it was not forensics that led to his 1996 arrest, but rather a tip from his brother." In the meantime, Kaczynski had killed three and injured 23 with his devices

You can make a bomb out of almost anything. You can mail a bomb to anyone and get away with it. It's so easy it's scary. Spend a week making a computer virus and set a country's economy back a few million. One person can shut down almost any website, anytime, from anywhere with a DNS attack. There's a guy in Arizona that'll sell you plans, anonymously, for a .50 caliber sniper rifle that no one will ever be able to trace back to you.

Technology has made us a herd of sheep terrified by lone wolves.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Cheap Eats - Mountain Fried Chicken

For a place I was told has the best fried chicken in Winston-Salem, Mountain Fried Chicken sure didn't seem that busy.

When I arrived about dinnertime, the place was practically empty. Not just in the number of customers, which doubled when I walked in alone, but some essential restaurant equipment seemed to be missing. Chairs, for example, were scarce. Tables that could seat four had only one chair.

This chicken is supposed to be second to none, but the feel of this place had me thinking the table with five-gallon jugs of condiments was overly optimistic, as if they're just hoping for that busload of customers to pull in. That or a victorious football team looking to douse its coach with mustard.

Full column here

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Everyone loves quotes

Here are a few choice bits of wisdom from Elbert Hubbard, famed American writer and extremely quotable fellow, starting with the best advice I've ever gotten: "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

"Folks who never do any more than they are paid for, never get paid more than they do."

"How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?"

"Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street."

"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."

"The greatest word in the English language is 'Sufficiency.'"

"Life without absorbing occupation is hell--joy consists in forgetting life."

"Our admiration is so given to dead martyrs that we have little time for living heroes."

"If you suffer, thank God! - it is a sure sign that you are alive."

"Never get married in college; it's hard to get a start if a prospective employer finds you've already made one mistake."

"Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal."

"The supernatural is the natural not yet understood."

"The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."

"Victory; a matter of staying power."

"We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them."

"We work to become, not to acquire."

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."

Knowledge is Power #2

In rural North Carolina it's not at all uncommon to see people burning piles fallen leaves during fall. There's no other way to get rid of them out in the county. But I didn't know that inhaling the smoke from burning poison ivy will cause a reaction in your lung similar to the one that happens on your skin. It's supposed to hurt. Rake carefully.

Pick your salad ingredients carefully as well, because eating poison ivy can kill you. That bit of info should be at least somewhat startling since urushiol, the irritating chemical in poison ivy, is found in mangos. It's in a much smaller amount, sure, but some people get a poison ivy-esque reaction from just handling the skin or sap. The fruit is safe to eat, though. So they say.

By the way:
This is a picture of poison ivy.

This is a picture of jewelweed, which can be used to prevent or treat poison ivy. Note the obvious difference. It's basically safer to just rub them both on you.

Knowledge is Power #1

"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell

I'm going to start posting random and most likely useless facts as I come across them. Partially because they're interesting, partially because it gives me an excuse to screw around on the Internet, and partially because reinforcing facts immediately - like writing something about them - helps you remember them. Slowly revealing a list of things I didn't know will also give you a pretty good estimate of how dumb I really am.

"One time" - Refers to the cops. It's said by the first person to spot a police car or cop on foot, and means that the speaker has had the first look so no one else should look. People doing double-takes or multiple members of a group eyeing a police officer can grab a cop's attention.

I first heard this in the movie Menace II Society in a scene where it was pretty obvious the guy was using it to refer to the cop car speeding directly at him. Never again did I hear this phrase until about five minutes ago when I heard The Game use it on his newest album. I understood it meant cops, I just had no idea why. Now you know too.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

You learn something everyday

Telma Hopkins (seen upper right of the picture above), who played Aunt Rachel on the show "Family Matters," prefaced her acting career with one in music. She's the woman on the Shaft theme song who says "Shut your mouth!"

Supplemental fact: Steve Urkel, the show's most popular character, was originally only supposed to appear once. Overwhelmingly positive audience response kept the dork on-screen.

And now you know.

Ledeing the way

I've been struggling with ledes lately - the first sentence in a story, and the most important one. It's the only sentence that matters if the reader is only casually looking at your article. (It's spelled that way to avoid confusion with "leading," which is the space between lines of text, and something to do with an old type of printing press made from lead.) Today I looked to a few Associated Press stories for inspiration. I've learned you're going to want something that will grab the reader's attention:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with explosives hidden beneath cooking oil, canned food and bags of flour obliterated a Baghdad food market on Saturday, killing at least 121 people in one of the most fearsome attacks in the capital since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

This suicide bombing is the worst thing to hit Baghdad since....America! With news you're also going to want it to set the article's tone as unbiased and fair-handed:

WASHINGTON - The House passed a $463.5 billion spending bill Wednesday that covers about one-sixth of the federal budget as Democrats cleared away the financial mess they inherited from Republicans.

Good, but a little dry. Something like "Dragging themselves out from under the rotting elephant carcass still stinking up America's capitol, the Democrats took a break from hugging baby kittens to win an all-too-rare victory for working people, the downtrodden, and orphans today." Sometimes you're lucky enough for the story to write itself:

JAKARTA, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Indonesia will drop hundreds of concrete balls into a mud volcano in a bid to brake the flow of hot liquid that has displaced more than 10,000 people and inundated entire villages in Java, an official said on Friday.

Seriously? They're trying to plug up the volcano with rock? Were they not present for the initial eruption? Because that's like treating a bullet wound by reloading the gun. I've got to read this. Just like the latest from Hollywood Boulevard:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- A man dressed as Chewbacca was arrested after police said the street performer head-butted a tour guide operator in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Really, any news story that opens with "A man dressed as _______ was arrested" or "head-butted a _______ in Hollywood" is pretty much gold. The surprising thing to me about this story is the tour guide approached a visibly angry six-foot-four man who pays his bills by dressing up as Chewbacca and didn't think he was going to get his ass kicked. Lesson number one: Let the Wookie win.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Isn't this a commuter school anyway?

Ice storm threatens Southeast; flights canceled

• Temperature dropping in Atlanta area; rain on radar
• Rain, sleet, freezing rain expected across Southeast
• Delta canceling about 200 flights to avoid passenger delays
• Airline is calling passengers to rebook flights

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A winter storm aimed its chilly sights at north Georgia, poised to deliver an icy sheen Thursday to areas north of Atlanta as cold air from the west collided with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

By 9 p.m., temperatures across the metro Atlanta area had dropped below freezing and were still falling. Light rain -- most of it not reaching the ground -- was observed on radar moving eastward into far western Georgia.

As of 5 a.m., the following North Carolina counties are under a severe weather warning, advisory, or watch: Alamance, Alleghany, Ashe, Carroll, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Grayson, Guilford, Henry, Iredell, Montgomery, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yadkin.

The following county school systems are closed: Alexander (2 hr. delay), Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Henry, Patrick, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes (2 hr. delay), Winston-Salem/Forsyth, and Yadkin (2 hr. delay). 140 closings total, according to WXII-12, and that number is growing every few minutes.

One would say this reaction is hilarious, considering that the weather advisory (at least for Guilford) is saying there will be around an inch of ice and three-eighths of an inch of snow, and not a flake has yet touched the ground. The Yanks are laughing at us Southerners right now. Ahhhh! An entire inch of snow! How am I going to find my car??

But that's not the point. I have a Biology exam in six hours and I don't want to go. Come on now Chancellor Sullivan, be a pal. Make my snow day.

5:23 AM - Orange, Franklin, Chatham, Vance, Johnston, Harnett, Wake, and Granville county schools are cancelled. Durham Public schools are out too.

5:42 AM - At least 11 community colleges, including GTCC, are out. 170+ schools so far.

6:08 AM - WXII-12 SAYS UNCG IS CLOSED! What?? That never happens. And who made the smart play by staying up late checking the closing times when he should have been resting for his exam? This guy, that's who. Now I'm going to bed.