Clothes make the man

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Thrift stores are one of those impulsive places to visit; at least for me. It takes a certain frame of mind for “Let’s rummage through other people’s used stuff!” to come up on the list of activities that would seem fun, and the fact that I manage to attain that state of mind as often as I do without the assistance of alcohol or drugs kind of worries me.

Not that I’m saying thrift stores have nothing to offer. On the contrary, for one seeking the right items, they can be an excellent way to save money or locate rarer items. I’m never actually looking for anything in particular, though. My approach is more that of a museum patron, looking at relics of yesteryear and even seeking the bizarre and grotesque (a compulsion I share with others).

Today I browsed through the books, meditated on how VHS tapes are now yet another part of my childhood sinking beneath the surface of obsolescence and, in a departure, took a good, long look at the racks of T-shirts.

Thrift store T-shirts are a paradox of fashion, having this attractive, one-of-a-kind quality about them yet still seen as repulsive enough through their stereotype that many people would rather go to Old Navy or American Eagle to plunk down 10 times the price for a mass produced, pre-faded facsimile —some of which eventually end up on the thrift store racks, anyway, posing next to their real-life originators.

What makes such shirts so fascinating is that they’re not just shirts, but identities; personas others once adopted and have grown tired with, discarding them and all they entail to whomever wants to pony up $1.99. Want people to think you ran a 5k in support of cancer research? $1.99. That you worked crew for the 2002 production of Into the Woods at Random High School? $1.99. That you attended a concert of No-named Indie Band? $2.99 — I guess because they signed it.

I slid shirt after shirt along the racks, briefly envisioning myself as the individual it implied. I work for this company. I attended this college. I support keeping pregnant women from drinking.

But the game stopped at a purple shirt: “Pine Valley Cadet Band.”

I really did attend Pine Valley. I really was in the Cadet Band. I wore the exact same style shirt when I made a lot of real memories. Was someone else just going to pick this shirt up off the rack and laugh at all the ironic assumptions people could make if he or she wore it?

I looked back down at the rack I just took a joyride through and put the band shirt back, trying to conceal it within a patch of purple cloth. Low blow, thrift shop; low blow.

Simple Saturday: Standin’


One of the official places I want to visit before I die is Winslow, Arizona.

Apart from being one of the places in Arizona that you can be at and not die in a desert, I’m fascinated by its inclusion in the Eagles song “Take It Easy”:

Well, I’m a standing on a corner
In Winslow, Arizona
And such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my lord,
In a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me

Now, when you’re a small town and a popular group includes you in a song, you jump on it and milk that sucker for all it’s worth. I’m glad to know Winslow did, creating Standin’ on the Corner Park. The park–which really is just a corner–has a statue of a man… standing on a corner in front of a mural of a building front that has the reflection of a girl in, presumably, a Ford, looking at him.

I have also read that women do, in fact, travel about Winslow in pickup trucks and will stop to talk with people standing on corners. Whether this has always been a foundation of Winslow or the Chamber of Commerce pays them to do such is unknown.

Internet health care bill passes

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In a monumental victory for President Barack Obama, House Democrats Sunday passed the Senate bill mandating health care for weary travelers of the great digital tubes.

The passage of the bill ends more than a year of hard-pressed debate and rallies on the Democrats’ part, the latter of which had become well-known for the horror stories told of uninsured online victims.

“Poor Agatha Jones, an 79-year-old grandmother of seven from Billings, Montana, logged on to the Internet seeking images of LOLcats,” Obama recently told a town hall meeting in Dayton, Ohio. “She unwittingly stumbled upon Something Awful, where she innocently submitted a post asking for said cats and immediately suffered third-degree flame burns over 80 percent of her body. Ceiling Cat watched, but it is up to us to act.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi considered the passage of the bill a historic event for the Internet, even though the Wikipedia article at the time said the bill had been passed by “the exploding population of African elephants.”

“Last year, 3,400 Americans permanently blinded themselves in back-alley eye-bleaching operations,” Pelosi said. “Now we can ensure everyone can afford to unsee anything they have witnessed on the Internet.”

Republicans fought the bill to the end, and in fact tried to Digg it down.

“The Internet should be open and unfettered to every American! Except for sites that require pay or contain embarrassing and/or incriminating photos of our personal actions,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said.

Rep. Ackbar, R-Fla, was asked whether he believed this bill was some sort of trick or deception.

“I know what you’re trying to do,” he said. “I’m not going to say it.”

Simple Saturday: The pods, they are a’castin

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Spring: Where a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love–and pulls a sharp u-ie once it realizes he maintains a snowball’s chance in Fallujah of actually obtaining it.

Birds & Bees: 1, Young Man’s Fancy: 0

So as the temperatures rise and the snow makes a hopefully long-lasting disappearance, my fancy has turned toward some spring cleaning in my Zune and mp3 collection. Podcasts have become my love on car rides to and from work and they sometimes tend to build up.

What podcasts do I listen to? Glad I made you ask!

Decoder Ring Theatre is a Toronto-based audio drama troop whose series hearken back to the radio adventures of yesteryear. I originally showed up for the masked-hero escapades of “The Red Panda Adventures” but have stayed for the hard-boiled “Black Jack Justice” as well. Stories run a mixture of silly and serious with some excellent dialog.

NPR’s “Car Talk” and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…” are my two favorite shows from that source, and since I don’t get a station that comes through very clearly here, I download each show in podcast form. Both produced by Doug Berman, they turn what could be very boring topics into friendly and hilarious banter.

Podcacher is my weekly update on the world of geocaching, the perfect hobby for getting out of one’s home and exploring the world. Hosted by “Sonny and Sandy in sunny San Diego” (seriously).

PodQuiz is a weekly 20-question quiz with four rounds in a variety of topics. The first-round music questions are often a hoot, asking you to identify horrifying MIDI versions of songs or to figure out the underlying connection between four pieces of music. Quick and fun, not to mention it helps me win free wings on local trivia nights.

The Useless Information Podcast does not update often, but provide some fresh and fascinating material every time it does. Hosted by Steve Silverman, each episode focuses on an oft-untold story he has dug up from the annals of history. Superb stuff that is told well, and also includes old radio ads and “news from the weird past.”

I also listen to several video game podcasts, but that can wait for another time. You should end your cabin fever and get outside if you can!

Blurting News 2

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SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — reports Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year.

From now on, Surprise, Ariz. should be the place from which all sadly unsurprising news should originate; at least until we can build a city called Sorta Ironic.

Holy Mattress-mony


I give it six months until he goes Tiger Woods on her with a living room set.

If Mesopotamia is considered the Cradle of Civilization, South Korea should be the Parents’ Basement of Nerdery.

I apologize to Korean speed skaters; you’ve obviously tried your best to buck the trends. Unfortunately, the country is filling with people whose idea of “going out” is rushing to the bathroom for necessary functions between 12-hour sessions of leveling up your dark druid.

It would seem difficult for romance to bloom in a land where basic human contact is treated just a notch above contact with raw sewage, but Koreans are coming to a revelation that is fanning those flickering flames of passion: Why love an actual basic human?

Enter 28-year-old Lee Jin Gyu, a young newlywed with only high aspirations for the rest of his life, and Mrs. Fate Testarossa Jin Gyu, his wide-eyed bride with a fresh linen scent.

She’s a pillow, folks. More specifically, she’s a dakimakura, a body pillow often adorned with the image of an anime girl. Yes, it has its own name, coming from the Japanese “daki,” meaning “pillow,” and “makura,” meaning “you will never, ever want to touch.” This one just happens to have on it an anime girl whose name sounds like a 70s station wagon.

Before we go so quickly and instinctively into how ridiculous it is for a man to marry his favorite linens, let us consider whether Mr. Jin Gyu might actually be on to something. Yes, he has married an inanimate object, but by definition that means it will not run away, a characteristic many men find admirable in women with the possible exception of Jason Voorhees. She also eats very little (although he does buy food for her), is always ready to get close and qualifies as carry-on luggage.

And the truth is, every morning he’s going to wake up, no matter what may be going on in the world — for richer or poorer; in dry clean only or tumble dry — it will always be to that same smile on her face. Or maybe that sad, slightly angsty downcast look, as those are the only two expressions anime girls have. But the point is it will always be there. Maybe covered in his drool but it will be there!

So go on; be disgusted. Cry out how if we allow this, what’s to prevent the degeneration of humanity into marrying their teddy bears. But if this man, who by now probably doesn’t have a chance at a real human girl anyway, is happy, then let them him and his fluffykins be. I hope they grow old and lumpy together.

Simple Saturday: How Easy it Is


I spent Thursday night at a sports bar with two co-workers and a related spouse, eating chicken wings and answering trivia questions.

It was one of the best times I’ve had in weeks, and I’m hoping my schedule will allow me to continue doing it. It reminds me how rewarding it can be just to have people around you in a non-stressful atmosphere and how difficult that continues to be.

I need to fight more for my time–find other things like this outside my job that can occupy my time and reserve them; not let work or other things steal it away with my instinctive “yes” response to every request of me. I think I can do that.

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