January 30, 2004

The Official State Blog of Georgia

With the state of Georgia all over the news today for its proposed banning of the word "evolution" from the statewide science curriculum, this seems like an opportune time to share a bit of background on the Peach State for those who haven't had a chance to visit it for themselves. For what it's worth, all of the following information was gleaned from an "official Georgia state symbols" poster that hangs in our graduate lounge at school.

For all you amateur ornithologists out there, the official State Bird of Georgia is the brown thrasher. Meanwhile, if horticulture is more your bag, the official State Flower is the Cherokee rose. The official State Crop, not surprisingly, is the peanut. Seems straightforward enough, no? Well, if the peanut is your official State Crop, you obviously need an official State Peanut Statue, right? Well, it just so happens that you can find just such a statue in lovely Ashburn, Georgia.

From there, the official state symbols take a decided turn for the bizarre. For instance, the official State Marine Mammal of Georgia is the majestic right whale, and the official State Reptile is the noble gopher tortoise. The official State Seashell? Why, it's the knobbed whelk. Curiously enough, Georgia also boasts an official State Possum -- the adorable (and presumably non-rabid) Pogo.

Moving on from the life sciences to earth science, the official State Mineral of Georgia is staurolite, a metamorphic mineral which I'm told is rather useful to geologists in determining the degree of metamorphism (whatever that means). Can't find your way to Atlanta? The official State Atlas of Georgia is, surprisingly enough, The Atlas of Georgia.

Perhaps you're a man or woman of the arts and would like to attend the offiical State Folklife Play, Swamp Gravy. Sounds appetizing, eh? Speaking of which, perhaps you're in the mood for some good barbeque. If so, you might want to check out the official State Beef Cook Off, Shoot the Bull. If that doesn't suit your tastes, perhaps the Slosheye Trail Big Pig Jig -- the official State Pork Cook Off -- would be more to your liking.

Finally, it's worth noting that while there's no official State Food of Georgia (assuming the poster I referenced is comprehensive), there is an official State Processed Food. Yep, you guessed it: grits.

In conclusion, I hope that this brief introduction to Georgia's official state symbols will bring everyone up to speed on the rich and varied traditions of the state. If nothing else, perhaps we can all hope that the Georgia state legislature will be too busy voting on new state symbols to get around to banning the teaching of evolution should such a bill eventually come before the General Assembly. After all, how could you explain the anthropomorphic marsupial that serves as the official State Possum without evolution?

Posted by Jess at 02:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2004

I guess it's still better than "Everybody Loves Raymond" (barely)

Is a reality television series about Amish teenagers living it up in the big city not exploitative enough for you? How about a show called The Littlest Groom in which "in which a four-foot-five single guy named Glen will attempt to find reality show love by dating a dozen different little women." The twist? At a certain point in the series, Glen will have to decide between dating women his own size or women of average height instead.

I wonder if this sort of thing was popping up at the local coliseums right before the Roman Empire collapsed.

Posted by Jess at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Truth, Justice, and You've Just Totally Been Punk'd!

Extremely sketchy rumor has it that Warner Bros. is considering casting Beyonce Knowles as Lois Lane and Johnny Depp as Lex Luthor in its upcoming Superman movie. Why do I suddenly get this odd vibe that they're going to cast Ashton Kutcher as the Man of Steel -- trucker-cap-wearing Clark Kent and all?

Posted by Jess at 10:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 28, 2004

Tales from the Classroom X: Snow Day

As a result of Monday's unexpected ice storm, university officials ended up canceling classes for the day. Unfortunately, they waited until 8:30AM to make the decision -- after eight o'clock classes were well underway and several more students and university employees (myself included) were already traversing the icy roads to campus. That being said, the following letter to the editor showed up in the campus newspaper today:

While many students grumbled about the late cancellation of classes on Monday, my bitching continued to the following day. How can the school send students home Monday but not on Tuesday? For the second morning in a row I nearly injured myself attempting to navigate my way down my still dangerously icy front steps. Upon arriving at my 9:30 class my hands were so cold I had difficulty writing for the first moments of lecture. After being constantly pelted by slush dripping from the melting trees how could I concentrate on classes?

All of these instances would be acceptable if it were not for the fact that I received very little sleep the night before due to my belief that school would be canceled.

It is time that the University realizes it must honor the precedents which it sets. Students should not, and hopefully will not, accept further discrepancies in school policy.

The consensus among my friends in the department is that the letter must be a joke -- due in large part to the laughable complaint about hands so cold that the student couldn't take notes (it was just barely below freezing) and the indignant admission that the student stayed up too late the night before under the assumption that class would be canceled. Whether intentional or not, though, it's still unquestionably chuckle-worthy.

Meanwhile, I can't help but recall a controversial school cancellation from my own time as an undergraduate.

I attended a small college as an undergraduate where well over 75 percent of the student body lived on campus. It was during my junior year, right around this time of year, that a huge snowstorm hit and dumped roughly three feet of snow on the area, knocking out electricity for the entire campus for a couple of days in the process. Needless to say, the school canceled classes as a result. After all, how could you hold classes when there's no electrical power on campus?

Well, it turns out that all it takes is a little determination and an up-to-date student directory.

I was taking a microeconomics course at the time, and we had a midterm exam scheduled for the morning after the big snow and resulting power outage hit. Naturally, when school officials canceled classes, the general assumption among my classmates and me was that the midterm would be postponed, as well. Not so.

I woke up around seven o'clock the following morning to the ringing of my phone. Picking it up, I was surprised to hear the voice of my microeconomics professor on the line. He said that he just wanted to call and remind me about our midterm at eight.

"Oh, Dr. So-and-So, you must not have heard. Classes are canceled. We don't have power on campus."

"I've heard. We're still having the exam. Everyone can walk to class; the snow's not that deep."

"Um...well, they announced that classes were canceled yesterday afternoon. If we even wanted to study after six o'clock in the evening, it would had to have been by candlelight. Plus, without power, there's the whole alarm clock issue --"

"We're having the midterm," he interrupted. "You've know about it for the past two weeks. Not having power last night is no excuse for not being prepared."

"But...um, classes are canceled, Dr. So-and-So. They announced it yesterday."

"I'll see you at eight."


Being the dedicated student that I was/am, I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and trudged through the snow to class (uphill, both ways). About half the class actually made it and, while we weren't particularly happy about it, we took the midterm. Meanwhile, the professor assigned zeros to the students who didn't show up. Naturally, when the school reopened a day or two later, the dean informed him that failing half the class wasn't going to fly and that he would need to offer a make-up exam to anyone who wanted it. The professor continued to resist the order until the dean made it clear that it wasn't exactly a matter open to debate, at which point the professor finally relented -- after explaining to the class that the dean had forced his hand and that he wasn't particularly happy about it. As a postscript, from what I understand, the professor's contract wasn't renewed the following year. I never found out if his infamous snow-day exam had anything to do with it, but sadly enough, it probably wasn't even in his top five or six offenses since he came to the school. Yeah, he was one of those professors.

Anyway, that's the story I told my students this morning when a few of them complained that they nearly broke their necks on the way to class on Monday morning before they found out that the university was closed. I think it made them feel a little better.

Posted by Jess at 04:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

This just in: Wesley Clark listens to Journey

Well, if America based its electoral system on candidates' musical tastes instead of popular consent, I guess John Kerry would have still emerged as the Democratic front-runner. Nevertheless, Lieberman deserves "big ups" -- and quite possibly "mad props" -- for choosing Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review as his favorite concert.

Posted by Jess at 07:53 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2004

Breakin' 2: Papal Boogaloo

Winning this week's award for the real photo most likely to be mistaken for a Photoshopped fake is this image:


Thanks to Gothamist for the larger image. For what it's worth, the breakdancers received a papal blessing for their efforts, so they must have gotten biz-zay -- consistently and thoroughly.

Posted by Jess at 09:50 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 26, 2004

Another case of BlogMadness

First-round voting is underway in the BlogMadness 2003 tournament, and my Masked Fisherman entry is in the running. If you feel so inclined, you can go directly to the appropriate polling page and cast your vote. Thanks for your support!

Posted by Jess at 11:30 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sliding through a winter wonderland

I've been known to complain on occasion about the lack of genuine wintertime weather here in Georgia, but it turns out that we had a fairly severe ice storm last night. Unfortunately, I found out about it the hard way -- by completely wiping out down the stairs on our porch this morning while taking out the dogs. One moment, I was standing on our welcome mat; the next, I was flat on my back in the iced-over driveway. One of my sandals flew about ten feet through the air before landing in the yard. The other is yet to be found.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, both our cars were frozen shut, too.

Fortunately, I am strong like bull and only suffered minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, and a nasty blood blister on my left hand. I suppose a wise man would learn a lesson here about being careful what he wished for, but I choose to blame my enemies instead.

Posted by Jess at 07:39 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 25, 2004


Did you know that over 80 percent of women wear the wrong bra size? I didn't either until I heard a Wal-Mart employee with a thick Southern accent announce that bit of trivia over the store PA earlier this afternoon. She went on to proclaim that a "fit specialist" would be available later in the day to offer "free bra consultations" in the lingerie department.

Free bra consultations at Wal-Mart? Fit specialist? Honestly, it sounded like a scam perpetrated by some guy desperate for a few cheap thrills to me. That was until I saw the van.

As I left the store, I was surprised to see a large van covered in images of lingerie models and touting itself as part of the Playtex Fit Patrol sitting outside in the fire lane. Words really can't do it justice; you'd just have to see it to believe it. Since they have such a cool customized van, I can only assume that the Fit Patrol is basically the Fab Five of women's support undergarments. Would the models pictured on the van be the ones offering the consultations, or would there be a licensed "bra-ologist" on-hand? Exactly what does a "bra consultation" entail? Who would submit themselves to such a consultation in public--especially in the middle of Wal-Mart of all places? Does the Fit Patrol fight crime when they're not busy helping women discover their proper bra sizes?

Who knew that a trip to pick up some groceries at Wal-Mart could raise so many burning questions?

Posted by Jess at 03:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 23, 2004

My (toilet) brush with greatness

A couple of years back, I was invited to speak at a policy forum hosted by a prominent former U.S. Senator who, for reasons that will become apparent in a few moments, shall remain nameless. After the senator delivered his opening remarks, there was a short break in the proceedings before the next speaker took the stage. Taking advantage of the recess, I excused myself to the lobby for a quick trip to the restroom.

So, there I was, standing at the urinal, when who else but the senator himself sidled up to the urinal right beside me -- already a serious breach in male restroom protocol considering other urinals were available, mind you. That was only the beginning of my discomfort, however. As we both stood there relieving ourselves, the senator did the unthinkable; he decided to strike up a urinal conversation with me.

Now, my wife assures me that women speak to one another in the restroom all the time and in fact are known to carry on full-fledged conversations in the lavatory, but that's not the case with guys. We just don't do it. Ever. You go in, do your business, and get out. Apparently, nobody told my new-found friend the senator that.

"So, are you here for the policy forum?" he asked cheerfully.

"Uh, yeah," I replied, staring straight ahead at the wall and avoiding eye contact at all costs.

"Excellent! It's splendid to see young people like yourself actively engaging important issues like these. Are you a graduate student by chance?"

"Um, yep," I responded. By this point, my body had completely given up on the prospect of completing the task for which I had come to the restroom in the first place. Instead, it had shifted into full-on fight-or-flight mode and was focused solely on extracting itself from the situation in the least awkward way possible. Game over, man. I'd just have to wait a day or two until I was comfortable going to the bathroom again.

So, I zipped up and prepared to leave the restroom. Unfortunately, I timed my departure poorly, and the senator finished at the same time -- and was clearly intent on continuing our conversation. First, however, he had to introduce himself.

"My name is Senator So-and-So. Where do you go to school, son?" he asked, extending his hand to me.

That's right -- he wanted to shake hands with me. Right after he finished going to the bathroom. Without a trip to the restroom sink in between.

What was I supposed to do? Leave the man hanging? That hardly seemed patriotic. Should I have said something like, "Nice to meet you, Senator. Let's just get washed up and we can continue this conversation in the lobby." That didn't seem quite right either. Honestly, there was only one thing that I could do.

I shook the man's hand.

You'd think that a politician who had spent his entire career shaking hands with people would have known better than to commit such a social and hygienic faux pas. Thankfully, the honorarium I earned for my participation in the forum almost made up for any psychological and/or urological trauma I suffered at the unwashed hands of the senator. Almost.

Posted by Jess at 05:58 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 22, 2004

Hooting and hollering

I'm so glad that Al Sharpton is still in the race for the Democratic nomination--if for no other reason than to provide us with classic quips like the one he delivered during tonight's debate to console Howard Dean over his much-ballyhooed post-Iowa caucus outburst. "If I spent the kind of money you did and only got 18 percent, I'd still be in Iowa hooting and hollering." Zing!

Posted by Jess at 10:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Around the house

Just a few random photos from around the house...


You know you're a dork when you're a 26-year-old who listens to Prairie Home Companion, but you're taking it to a whole 'nuther level when you actually own PHC merchandise like the Guy Noir bobblehead pictured above.

Meanwhile, my wife and I continued our ongoing home improvement efforts over the weekend by transforming our kitchen into the bluest room ever.


Speaking of home improvement and decorating, we've also started printing and framing some of our better digital photos in recent weeks.


Finally, here's a black-and-white shot of me -- looking somewhat maniacal -- and my favorite little boy, Dexter (a.k.a. Dexy, a.k.a. D-Bear, a.k.a. D-Bot, a.k.a. Dumptruck, a.k.a. Lowercase D).


We received some really bad news from the vet about Dexter yesterday, but this picture suggests that his cuddling and posing abilities clearly aren't impaired in any way.

Posted by Jess at 09:11 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 21, 2004

Observations on the State of the Union

Just a few things that occurred to me while watching last night's State of the Union address:

  1. President Bush has improved quite a bit as a public speaker over the course of the past few years. On the other hand, he really could have used a haircut before his speech last night.

  2. Didn't it seem odd that President Bush's comment praising community colleges received one of the longest and loudest ovations of the evening? I mean, I'm all for community colleges and everything, but that seems like an odd issue for the crowd to get riled up about.

  3. I couldn't help but chuckle when the Democrats interrupted President Bush to cheer as he noted that certain provisions of the Patriot Act would be expiring in the upcoming months.

  4. Ted Kennedy looked like he was either suffering from indigestion or really needed to go to the bathroom whenever the camera cut to him. Of course, partying too hard before the big speech will do that to you.

  5. Who's idea was it to talk about steroid abuse in professional sports during the State of the Union address? I can just imagine the speech-writing meeting now: "Let's see -- we have time to talk about six issues. How about foreign affairs, homeland security, healthcare, the sanctity of marriage, education, and...steroid abuse!" Then again, Bush has spent more of his career running a baseball franchise than he has running a country, so maybe it's understandable. Still, I just couldn't help but feel like he was going to segue into talking about his Super Bowl picks at any moment.
Meanwhile, since I'm already blogging about politics, there's been a folder full of Dennis Kucinich campaign materials -- bumper stickers and so forth --sitting around our graduate lounge at school for the past few weeks with a note above them proclaiming him "the next President of the United States." Today, I noticed that someone had marked out the "President of the United States" part and replaced it with "audio/visual club." Heh.

Posted by Jess at 02:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 20, 2004

Mix Master Mike, what you got to say?

In search of a fun new web diversion? Look no further than the Website Mixmaster (link via Wizbang). Just enter the appropriate URLs, and the Mixmaster will take the layout of one site and merge it with the content of another to produce a wacky composite site. For instance, here's my blog's content smooshed together with CNN's site design. There are a few bugs here and there, but the Mixmaster is still good for a laugh.

Posted by Jess at 09:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 19, 2004

At least they won't have to worry about their parents watching

Just when you thought reality television couldn't get any classier...

New series to follow 'Amish in the City'
January 19, 2003

The UPN television network is preparing a reality series that follows Amish teenagers having their first experiences with modern conveniences and outside society, part of a religious rite of passage that tests their faith... (more at CNN.com)

Meanwhile, I just keep having flashbacks to an international relations seminar I took a couple of years back in which we watched Witness starring Harrison Ford and discussed its relevance to world politics. <shudder>

Posted by Jess at 05:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In other news, Zombie Nixon to endorse Bush

According to CNN.com, George McGovern (winner of the great states of Massachusetts and, uh, District of Columbia in the 1972 presidential election) has decided to endorse General Wesley Clark's campaign. So, is that the official campaign kiss of death, or do we have to wait until after the New Hampshire primary to finalize things?

Posted by Jess at 09:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2004

Snark, brought to you by the letter "W"

Electric Venom is hosting its weekly Hunting of the Snark, and the most recent salvo in this site's ongoing assault on fast-food chain Hardee's is included. Check out the rest of the Hunt for some of the week's snarkiest posts from around the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, EV also served up its Letter of the Day yesterday, and said letter was "W" (no, not that W). While I'm a day late, I thought I'd play along anyway...

W is for working out with Captain Jack Sparrow.

W is for Weirdsmobile, home to such fine blogs as Magic Short Bus and Canciones de Amor y Tristeza with Seņor Don Gato.

W is for why--as in why this guy hates personal weblogs. Please note that this article includes some rough language and isn't intended for the faint of heart.

W is for wow--this Letter of the Day stuff is harder than it looks.

Posted by Jess at 04:15 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 16, 2004

Dining in the Classic City

While out at lunch today, one of my friends bit into his fillet of fish only to discover a long, black hair in his sandwich. When our server returned to the table a few minutes later, my friend pointed out the hair to her. She studied it for a few seconds before announcing that it looked like one of her own. Then, she just walked away.

No apology. No offer of a free meal. She didn't even ask if he'd like another sandwich.

That's one way to ruin a decent dining experience.

Posted by Jess at 04:42 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 15, 2004

The Surreal Life

Which of the following is more surreal?

1. Showing Monty Python and the Holy Grail to a room full of upperclassmen and then conducting a "serious" discussion of the film's political implications while filling in for a professor earlier this week.


2. Finding out from a friend at school that his father is a relatively well-known former professional wrestler.

Posted by Jess at 07:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 14, 2004

Fatal Ice

When I walked into the graduate lounge today, I noticed that someone had written a note on the chalkboard selling textbooks from some public policy course or another. While that's a fairly standard practice in our department, what really caught my eye was the email address written below the note: fatalice1@somewhere.com (well, not somewhere.com, but you get the idea).

How awesome of a username is Fatal Ice? When I saw it, images of a shadowy hacker hanging out with people using nicks like Zero Cool or AcidBurn and looking for "backdoors" into "mainframes" immediately sprang to mind. How could I have spent nearly three years in a department alongside someone with a 'Net handle like Fatal Ice and never actually gotten to know him or her?

It was at this point that one of my friends walked into the lounge. Naturally, I pointed out the email address on the board and asked him if it wasn't the coolest Internet nick he'd ever seen in his life.

"I guess so," he replied. "But who's Fat Alice?"

Posted by Jess at 06:15 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

This is the true story?

MTV's reality-television pioneer The Real World has never shied away from manufactured drama, but I think the new San Diego season hit an all-time high (low?) with last night's episode. As has been the norm for the past eight or nine seasons, the seven strangers are required to work together at a pre-arranged job in order to remain in the house. This time around, they're crewing a couple of charter sailboats in the San Diego Bay, which admittedly seems to have more in common with actual, you know, work than the other jobs they've held in recent years. Still, it just doesn't get much better than this revelation from last night's episode:

It turns out that one of the members of the San Diego cast is afraid of boats.

That's right--Frankie, the alterna-rock chick who managed to drink herself into unconsciousness in the premiere episode, is deathly afraid of boats. She's boataphobic. Now, this isn't just a fear of being on boats; it's a fear of being in the general vicinity of boats--so much so that she hides her head and cowers whenever she hears one toot its horn while passing in the distance. Just imagine what happens when she comes face-to-face with the things. To make the situation even more implausible, she's only afraid of seeing/hearing/talking about large boats like cruise liners. Absolutely petrified. And their job, as noted above, is crewing a boat that shares a dock (and a bay) with dozens of terrifyingly large boats. What are the odds?

Yet, my ongoing 13-year addiction to The Real World continues.

Posted by Jess at 07:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 12, 2004

Tales from the Classroom IX: Going Blank

Typically, I lecture to my classes without the aid of prepared notes. Well, that's not entirely true. I usually take in a half-page outline so I'll be sure to hit certain key points, but otherwise, I find that I'm far more spontaneous--and in turn less boring--when I lecture extemporaneously. Of course, this without-a-net approach to teaching is not without its risks. For instance, while lecturing on the philosophical roots of American democracy this morning, the unthinkable happened.

I went blank.

We were discussing Thomas Hobbes' writings on human nature, and I decided to share with the class his famous description of life in the state of nature as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." While I began the quote properly with the "solitary" and "poor" parts and knew it ended with "short," I completely blanked on the stuff in the middle. Now, that's not such a big deal in and of itself, but what was odd was the adjective that a little voice in the back of my head kept insisting I was leaving out: lemon-scented.

Yep, for some inexplicable reason, it was all I could do to keep from blurting out that Hobbes described the state of nature as "solitary, poor, lemon-scented, and short." So, while my students sat there, pens at the ready, I was having a Jan Brady-esque internal dialogue with myself that went something like this:

"Say lemon-scented! It's lemon-scented!"
"I'm pretty sure it's not lemon-scented."
"Yes, it is! It's always been lemon-scented! Say it! SAY IT!"

Eventually, I managed to right myself and get back on course by prompting the students to finish the quote along with me (heh heh). When it was all said and done, I'm relatively certain that they were none the wiser to my brief memory lapse. Nevertheless, I can't help but think how much more pleasant Hobbes' state of nature would have been with a bit of lemony freshness to get rid of the musty odors that accompany a good old-fashioned "warre of all against all."

Posted by Jess at 03:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 10, 2004

Atkins is dead; long live Atkins!

I've written about the perplexing, self-loathing advertising campaign launched by fast-food chain Hardee's to promote their new line of Thickburgers in the distant past, but I noticed something while driving by one of their locations recently that merits a bit more attention.

It turns out that Hardee's has done it again and introduced an exciting new menu item--the low-carb Thickburger. I'll let the fine folks at Hardee's describe their latest culinary sensation: "The Low Carb Thickburger is made from a charbroiled 1/3-pound seasoned, Angus beef patty, which means it tastes great even without the bun. So, no other quick-service burger chain can offer such a delicious low-carb burger option."

Now, just in case the passage above doesn't make it crystal clear, the new low-carb Thickburger is a hamburger without a bun. More specifically, it's a hamburger patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and a couple of pickles wrapped in a napkin. Don't believe me? Here's a photo of the new "sandwich" from the Hardee's website:


What kind of world do we live in where removing the bun from the hamburger equation and retaining the beef patty is supposed to make it healthier? Perhaps more importantly, is a hamburger, by definition, even a hamburger anymore without the bun?

Personally, I'm holding out for Hardee's to introduce a low-carb, low-cal Thickburger with just some lettuce and tomato wrapped up in yesterday's newspaper. To paraphrase the chain's current slogan, maybe that's how the last place I'd go for a burger could become the first.

Posted by Jess at 02:09 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 09, 2004

Welcome to Athens, Georgia: It's the Athens of Georgia!

From the university newspaper:

Students kill raccoon, could face charges
A University fraternity member tasted a piece of cooked--and possibly rabid--raccoon meat after the animal was killed and skinned by two of his fraternity brothers shortly before winter break. (more...)

Posted by Jess at 04:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 08, 2004

Working the barbershop circuit

My hair grows fast. Freakishly fast. We're talking I-need-a-haircut-every-two-weeks fast here. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to wait closer to four or five weeks between haircuts. Without fail, this leads to the following conversation every time I go to the barber shop:

Me: Give me a number-one clipper guard on the sides and back, faded up to the top. Thin it out a bit on top and leave it just long enough not to stick up.
Barber: Are you sure? That's pretty short, you know. How long has it been since your last haircut?
Me: About a month.
Barber: Wow! Your hair grows fast!

Now, in the immortal words of Bill Cosby, I told you that so I could tell you this.

Each time I have that conversation with my barber, I make the exact same joke in response. When she comments on how quickly my hair grows, I reply, "Well, I guess it's better the alternative!" We both politely chuckle, and she begins cutting my hair.

I realize that the joke is lame. I also realize that my current barber has heard me share my little bon mot a dozen times already, which makes it even lamer. Each time that I go to the barbershop, I tell myself that I'm not going to make the same joke, but it's like a knee-jerk reaction at this point. She says "grows fast," and I say "better than the alternative." Try as I might, I can't resist. In fact, I did it again just last week.

I'm starting to feel like a Dangerfield-esque one-trick pony in the barber chair. I can just imagine my barber looking at the appointment book on the day that I'm going in and telling her co-workers, "Oh, look--I'm cutting the 'better than the alternative' guy's hair today. Joy." Clearly, I need to work up some new material before my next haircut.

Posted by Jess at 09:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 06, 2004

The check's in the mail

Our new checks arrived in the mail today.


Now, every time I pay a bill, I can smile at the irony of using checks emblazoned with images of money bags and robber barons throwing around cash to draw from a bank account with little or no actual money in it.

Posted by Jess at 08:42 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

January 05, 2004

The new Google bombing?

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it odd that the song "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by the Proclaimers is currently number ten on the iTunes Top Ten Songs alongside more obvious songs like OutKast's "Hey Ya!" and "Stacy's Mom" by Fountains of Wayne? Is there a big Benny and Joon revival underway that nobody told me about?

Posted by Jess at 02:10 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Oh, deer!

Not everyone can welcome a possum into his or her life, but I had an up-close-and-personal wildlife encounter of my own over the holidays. While visiting my parents in Southwest Virginia, we took a day trip to Breaks Interstate Park, the "Grand Canyon of the South" (really--it says so on their website). While we were checking out the view from a scenic overlook, we heard something rustling in the brush a little ways up the trail. We went to investigate and found two young deer foraging for food. By the point, we were within ten feet of the animals and, while one seemed a bit wary of us and kept its distance, the other actually began to approach my family. Here's a photo of the friendlier deer (click the thumbnail for a larger view):


After making sure that we weren't going to make any sudden moves, the deer walked right up to us. We cautiously petted her, and she seemed to enjoy it. Then, she began nosing around to see if we might have any food with us. All we had was a starlight mint or two, but Kourtney assured us that they were perfectly safe for deer consumption (apparently, they go over that kind of thing in vet school). So, we unwrapped a mint or two and offered them to our woodland friend, who gladly gobbled them up and continued to let us pet her.

It was then, however, that the deer attacked.


Well, she didn't so much attack as walk right up and lick the lens of our digital camera as we were trying to take a picture of her. After we finally got all the smudges off the lens (the instruction manual was surprisingly vague in terms of offering tips on how to deal with deer saliva), we got this final shot of our friend sticking her tongue out at us before she returned to the woods.


What did I learn from this experience? First, deer--even in the wild--have much softer fur than you might imagine. Second, they seem to really enjoy starlight mints. And, finally, they aren't particularly ashamed to mug for the camera if the opportunity presents itself.

Posted by Jess at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 04, 2004

Whatever happened to her and Madonna?

Sigh...why couldn't Britney Spears have married the real Jason Alexander from Seinfeld instead of just some childhood friend who happens to share his name? That would have been so much cooler.

Posted by Jess at 08:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Hunting the Great White Snark

The Snark Hunt is back at Electric Venom, and this post in which I describe one of my blogging pet peeves made the cut. Be sure to check out the rest of the list for more snarky fun.

Also, I wanted to let everyone know about BlogMadness 2003, described by its hosts as "a contest where bloggers enter their best or favorite entries of 2003, and those entries are tossed into a tournament bracket (a la 'March Madness') and everyone votes on the matches until a winning entry is crowned." Just for kicks, I've entered my Masked Fisherman entry into the running. We'll see how well it fares against the competition when voting starts later in the month. I believe the deadline is January 21 if you want to add your own entry into the fray.

Posted by Jess at 07:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 03, 2004


I first read about the recent unpleasantness involving Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin, his one-month-old son, and a crocodile over at Wizbang, but it seems to be popping up everywhere now. On the one hand, the whole incident almost makes sense. After all, if I remember my Crocodile Hunter Lore(TM) correctly, Steve's father was also a croc wrangler and Steve probably grew up around crocodiles from the time he was an infant. In his mind, having his child around a crocodile is probably far safer than having him riding around in a car seat in the back of the Crocmobile (he does have a Crocmobile, right?) and potentially running off the road and crashing (they do have roads in Australia, right?). Throughout his own little Take Your Son to Work Day, I'm sure that Steve felt that he was in complete control of the situation at all times and that the chances of anything going wrong were slim to none.

On the other hand, how stupid can one man be? While many pundits (ha!) have drawn comparisons between the Crocodile Hunter and Michael Jackson on the baby-dangling front, I think true point of similarity is in their more general shared disconnect with reality. Just like Michael Jackson's belief--and I really think he believes it--that people will eventually understand why he shares his bed with children if he just explains it enough times, Steve Irwin obviously had a little trouble processing why, if the crocodile stunt was perfectly safe in his professionally-trained mind, the public would find fault in his actions. It's been awhile since Psychology 101, but I believe this isn't too far removed from what the experts call cognitive dissonance.

Of course, I seem to recall catching an episode of The Crocodile Hunter a few years back where Steve's visibly pregnant wife, Terri, was right alongside Steve in the outback, poking at venomous snakes with sticks. Given that context, I can't say that this most recent bit of news, disturbing as it may be, is a complete shock.

Posted by Jess at 09:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 02, 2004

Tell 'em, Steve-Dave!

As I mentioned a few entries ago, my trip to New Jersey included a brief stop in Red Bank to visit Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, the comic book shop owned by writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl).


I swore off visiting comic shops years ago, but the Secret Stash is the home to several one-of-a-kind props, costumes, and other memorabilia from Kevin's films, and I'm a sucker for memorabilia (just point me toward a Hard Rock Cafe, and I'm there). For instance, here's a shot of the original Bluntmobile--complete with Bluntman and Chronic mannequins--from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.


That's not the important part of the trip, though. While I was at the Secret Stash, I met one of the "stars" from Kevin's films.

No, no--it wasn't Ben Affleck (sigh). It was Walter Flanagan, part time actor and Kevin's longtime friend. You might remember him as the Egg Man or one of the offended customers ("Cute cat. What's his name?") in Clerks, or from his slightly more prominent recurring role as Walt the Fanboy in Mallrats, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob. When he's not busy doing bit parts in Kevin's films, Walter works behind the counter at the Secret Stash, slinging comics, posters, and t-shirts.

Seeing him there working in the store, however, raised a rather perplexing question: what is the proper reaction to meeting a D-list celebrity?

I've often seen teenage girls on TRL squealing when meeting someone like Justin Timberlake or grown men and women inexplicably crying like babies when coming face to face with Michael Jackson (of course, that could be chalked up to fear), but what do you do when you encounter a quasi-celebrity like Walter Flanagan? Tell him how much you enjoy his work? His entire filmography amounts to about three minutes of screentime. Take a picture? Over 99 percent of the population isn't going to recognize him. Ask for an autograph? "Hi, Walt! Since you're marginally more famous than I am, would you mind signing this?" Eventually, I settled for just saying "pardon me" and moving out of the way when I was standing in front of some merchandise that he needed to bring up to the counter. Somehow, that seemed like enough.

Besides, he wasn't the only celebrity there. The infamous Buddy Christ statue was in the house, too (dig that groovy lens flare).


On an unrelated note, the Secret Stash also sells action figures of Walter's fanboy character. How weird would it be to sell someone an action figure of yourself, knowing that they're going to take it home to (best case scenario) display it or (worst case scenario) play with it? Creepy.

Posted by Jess at 04:03 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Yeah, yeah, my heart's in a whirl

Apart from starring a group of middle-aged women instead of men, remind me again of how the film Calendar Girls isn't exactly like The Full Monty. Oh, wait--it is.

Posted by Jess at 08:43 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 01, 2004

Domestic violence warning

My wife and I are painting together for the first time today, transforming our bland, white hallway into a vibrant "Ripple Green." If I don't post anything over the next two or three days, it's probably because my wife beat me to death with a paint can after she didn't like the way I used the roller. Please call the police should this come to pass and make certain that she faces the swift hand of justice.

Posted by Jess at 09:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hey! Mr. Tambourine...Man! Playyoursong...FOR ME!

What better way to start off 2004? William Shatner is set to release a new album (link via kottke).

Posted by Jess at 09:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack