Tag Archives: a-z

Alcalde and Zorro say El Finito: The A-Z Blogging Challenge

Stick a fork in me because I am done!

Done with the A-Z Blogging Challenge, that is. 🙂

When people see me a-comin’ they must quake in their boots, because the “challenges” are issued fast and furious.

Apparently there is one thing we bloggers love greatly and that is issuing a good challenge.

Overall, I found this challenge to be, well, challenging. There were times it felt restrictive, but there were also a couple of posts I really enjoyed that wouldn’t have existed if not for the challenge. The conditions of the challenge forced me to go places I probably wouldn’t have gone. So I’m glad about that.

By participating in the A-Z Challenge, I also picked up some traffic and new friends I wouldn’t have otherwise. I love making new friends and checking out their blogs.

Challenge accepted! Challenge conquered. Overall I’m fairly happy with how I did. I only really cheated one time. Come on! What does Donald Trump have to do with the letter “K,” eh???

My next challenge will be to avoid any and all challenges, at least until June 1, 2011, when the BlogShorts June 2011 Challenge starts! Aeeeiiiieeee!

It’s 30 stories with 30 words in 30 days. I challenge you participate! 🙂

Here’s a list of my post titles from the challenge. I’m not going to link them all. If you want to explore my challenge posts, please use this link.

A – An Alphabetic Assassination Attempt
B – Blue Bayou Bobble Bubbles
C – The Curious Case of Computers and a Curse
D – The Most Holy Depressional
E – Energetic energy extrapolations
F – Fantastical, farcical fables of fetal fatality freedoms
G – Goodness gracious, great galls of gyre!
H – Happiness Hypochondria
I – Intellectual intercourse interruption
J – Job-related Jeopardy jollies
K – Killjoy the kill shot (self-inflicted)
L – The 7 Loathe Languages for Lost Lovers
M – Mitt the Mormon
N – The Neon Ninja of Naked Negativity Nirvana
O – Overvalued: Oh oligarchy, oh obligations!
P – The pursuit of a position in the profession of plane procedures
Q – Quest for the quirky queen of Quackery
R – Hyppo and Critter: You say you want a Revolution
S – Sophie Scholl
T – Theoretical thoughts of theological tsunami truths
U – U is for Undertow
V – V is for Vexting
W – W is for Wall
X – Case studies from the X-Files
Y – Yesterdays and Yesteryears
Z – Zoology 101

Zoology 101

In your cage at the human zoo,
They all stop to look at you.
–Styx, circa 1977

Someone mentioned Styx the other day. I apologize but I can’t stop the references now.

This post is brought to you by the letter “Z,” the omega of the alphabet experience. Just like the human race, all good things must come to an end, so must the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

My idea for this post was “zoo.” I didn’t even bother going to the Google to find some obscure reference that might make me look smarter than that. Not this time.

But I wanted my own special spin on it. Fortunately someone mentioned Styx lately and, well, it just came together. Humans in a cage at the zoo; a human zoo. Now that’s an idea I can work with!

As the author of Society of Assholes I have done some limited research in this area. Before we begin, there is one important distinction to be made. I now excerpt from the book:

You might correctly be asking by now, “What the fuck? What about murderers, rapists, child molesters and such? Why don’t you call them assholes, too?” That’s a good point. However, for the purposes of this book, such extreme (and obvious) examples are beyond the pale. Those people are indeed true “assholes” and destined for a special level of Hell (I wish), but the purpose of this book is a bit more subtle. It seeks to explore the asshole within each and every one of us. The asshole that expresses itself from the typical and average individual within the larger context of every day society. That is the asshole we will be seeking.

With that in mind, it’s time to begin our tour of the zoo. We’re all too fat and out of shape to walk these hills under our own steam, so climb aboard this tram and we’ll be on our way. Please remain seated at all times, keep your head, arms and legs within the tram, and no flash flash photography.

Genus – Addictus Parentus

In our first exhibit we see a typical modern family. A husband, a wife, and two children, a boy and a girl. As you can see, the parents are smoking away furiously on their cigarettes. This is an important mechanism for passing destructive behavior from one generation to the next. This parental genome lacks the ability to evaluate long-term risk and there is a very high probability the addiction will be picked up by the children, who typically ape what they know and see.

I actually had the good fortune to spot addictus parentus in their natural habit just the other day. We were at a restaurant enjoying some dinner. At a table nearby was a family of four. They fit the profile but I had not yet made the species identification. If you are patient, though, field research can often be rewarding. The adults, both at the same time, got up and left the restaurant.

This was a curious development and it got my attention. Leaving the children alone in a restaurant is somewhat rare these days. I crept up to the front window, making use of plastic plants for cover, and observed my quarry. Of course! They were outside smoking.

Luckily I was carrying my logbook and successfully documented the sighting.

The Masculinity Experience

Welcome to our newest exhibit, sponsored by Ford Trucks that are built Ram tough and solid as a rock from heartland America. (Free truck nuts with every purchase.) Yes, it’s The Masculinity Experience featuring our prize specimen, Mike Rowe.

You all know Rowe from shows like Dirty Jobs and Ford commercials. That’s why we have these little infopoints mounted on each exhibit. For example, did you know Rowe started as an opera singer and was known for his arias? And that he then moved on to being an on-air host for the shopping channel QVC?

Arias and shopping!!!

Even in light of those facts, amazing the masculinity of this specimen is above reproach. Testing has confirmed that his testosterone is taking steroids.

I had more planned for the tour but we’re out of time. Maybe we’ll continue the tour later. That’s all, folks!

This is my “Z” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

Yesterdays and Yesteryears

Upon reading this post, you might be moved to ask, “Oh God, yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?”

Yes, this is the “Y” post. That means plenty of things like Yeats and YouTube. The latter which, of course, is responsible for one of man’s greatest achievements: The ability to combine sound and video slightly off-track from one another.

Being slightly off-track is a hobby of mine, too. I enjoy taking beautiful things and juxtaposing them jarringly with crudity. It’s what I do.

Why can’t the past just die?
–Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera

All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks at though they’re here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.
–The Beatles

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
–William Butler Yeats

I was a young boy that had big plans.
Now I’m just another shitty old man.
I don’t have fun and I hate everything.
The world owes me, so fuck you.

Glory days don’t mean shit to me.
I drank a six pack of apathy.
Life’s a bitch and so am I.
The world owes me, so fuck you.

Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals.
I had a young and optimistic point of view.
Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals.
I had a young and optimistic point of view.

I’ve decomposed, yet my gut’s getting fat.
Oh my god I’m turning out like my dad.
I’m always rude I’ve got a bad attitude.
The world owes me, so fuck you.

The wife’s a nag and the kid’s fucking up.
I don’t have sex `cause i can’t get it up.
I’m just a grouch sitting on the couch.
The world owes me, so fuck you.

Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals.
I had a young and optimistic point of view.
Wasted youth and a fistful of ideals.
I had a young and optimistic point of view.

I was a young boy that had big plans.
Now I’m just another shitty old man.
I don’t have fun and I hate everything.
The world owes me, so fuck you.

Glory days don’t mean shit to me.
I drank a six pack of apathy.
Life’s a bitch and so am I.
The world owes me, so fuck you.
The world owes me, so fuck you.
The world owes me, so fuck you.
–Green Day, The Grouch

In closing I present the only known song by Styx to start with the letter “Y.” This is classic Styx circa 1973.

This is my “Y” post in the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

Case studies from the X-Files

Google and Bing agree. X is for Xbox. Boring! YouTube came up with xjawz.

Relying on the auto-complete features in these search engines, I then tried “X” followed by all of the vowels.

From Bing.com:

xem phim tren mang
xo so
xuong phim.com

From Google.com:


From YouTube.com:

xe do
xuan mai

From these results I deduce that Bing is more international than Google and Google is more commercial than Bing. And YouTube is just weird. 🙂

An alien on planet Earth. It's ET! (The Extra Trumpestrial.) Credit: Gage Skidmore

The X-Files: The Strange Case of the Trumpers

Na-Nu Na-Nu!

Proving the old adage that “it takes one to know one,” Robin Williams had Donald Trump pegged long before the rest of us:

He wants to see Obama’s birth certificate? I want to see his hairline. I mean, my theory is the hair is actually The Donald. That it’s like some alien creature that landed years ago.
–Robin Williams

Interesting. Is it the hair itself which is the alien, and Trump merely some sort of host? Or is the relationship more symbiotic than that?

I have no doubt that Mulder and Scully will get to the bottom of this.

There are several critical components to wonky beliefs like conspiracy theories: an overactive imagination, an element of doubt, and a steadfast stubbornness and determination to dismiss facts that contradict the belief. In my opinion, ignoring facts that don’t fit is the key ingredient. And I’ve seen this sort of thing time and time again in my travels.

Of course, in Trump’s situation, it’s hard to know if he seriously believed the sewage that came out of his mouth or if it was all just opportunistic entrepreneurship. “Hey, look,” he probably said. “Polls show increasing numbers – mostly Republicans – who doubt if Obama was born in America. I can use that. Yes, I shall cash in on that.”

Now that Obama has produced his birth certificate, something he decidedly didn’t have to do, one thing is now certain: We can expect the focus of the birthers to shift. They will change the conversation. They’ve already proven they are unwilling to accept facts that challenge their beliefs. I highly doubt the document distributed by Obama will change that much.

Of course Trump, the classy guy that he is, had something extremely pithy to say about it during a press conference he called to discuss his reaction:

I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue.
–Donald Trump and/or his alien hair (it’s unknown which was speaking)

Speaking of “natural born” qualifications to be president, I would very much like to see Trump’s birth certificate from Planet X.

I just scared the living Trump out of you!

And now, only because I personally thought it was funny, is my tweet from Wednesday morning regarding the Birther issue and Obama producing his birth certificate:

Tom B. Taker

Birthers: Please report to the nearest empty field to wait for relocation by spaceship. Don’t forget your Nike footwear.

April 27, 2011 via web

And, just in case the reference to Nike footwear is too obtuse, check out the Wikipedia page on Heaven’s Gate. One thing about us humans seems certain: We’ll never have a shortage of Trumpers.

This is my “X” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

W is for Wall

You who are rich and whose troubles are few
May come around to see my point of view
What price the Crown of a King on his throne
When you’re chained in the dark all alone

All in all it was all just bricks in the wall

Robert Frost said famously, “Good fences make good neighbors.” If that’s true, then good walls must make them the best of friends. Heh.

“Howdy, neighbor. What’s that you’re building there?”

“A wall.”

“Wow. You must really like me. Hang on and I’ll give you a hand.”

For me, the bigger the wall, the better. And it should have guard stations at every corner. And machine guns. I want to be the best friend of all – and to as many people as possible.

Bloody hell. Just yesterday I was referencing The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs and today I’m wheeling out a little The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe himself. I’m so literate and well-read. Don’t be fooled – it’s an act.

There was a fair about of debate in the Taker household before this post. What would be done with “W” in the A-Z Blogger Challenge? I was leaning strongly in favor of writing about one of my perennial favorites, namely “work.” In my blog’s tag cloud it is the #2 tag of all-time, preceded only by “poop” and followed closely by “job.” That can’t be a coincidence. It’s almost as if there is an intelligence at work here.

My wife (hey – another “W” word) was not enthralled with the idea of yet another post about work. I think she may have mentioned a horse beaten to death and something about a whiny bitch. After some lobbying on my part, she eventually signed off on “wall.”

Other subjects considered and discarded for this post included Dubya (too gouache and passe) and Winnie the Poop (which I thought was hilarious but the wife not so much).

Unless you live under a brick, you’ve no doubt heard of The Wall, an album and movie by Pink Floyd. In my opinion, The Wall is one of the best albums of all time. I adore it. And, on my behalf, so does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). I’ve given those greedy bastards my money many times over to own the same music again and again.

The Wall was released back in 1979. I originally owned it as a double album LP. You played it on a thing known as a “turntable” with a needle that vibrated in little grooves on the surface of the record. It was all quite analog and primitive. I wore that sucker out and bought it again. That’s paying twice for the same music.

Then I owned it on cassette tape. And that got eaten by the player. So I bought it again. Then compact discs came out and, since then, I’ve purchased it at least three separate times on CD.

By my calculations, that’s at least seven times I’ve paid for the same music. Funny, but I don’t recall the RIAA ever getting angry about that. Not once have they ever threatened to sue me to give me a refund for overpaying them. That’s quite odd, isn’t it?

So one of the greatest albums of all time when on to become one of the greatest movies of all time. The Wall easily makes my personal top 10 movie list and also happens to be the best drinking movie – ever. When you are feeling grim, foul and down in the depths of your own depravity, nothing beats grabbing a bottle of gin and plumbing the depths with The Wall. It’s great fun.

The Wall tells the story of a rock star who builds a wall in self-defense. The wall is meant to protect but ends up destroying him. The rock star is fucked up. His dad dies in a war and his mother is overprotective. He’s influenced by sadistic teachers.

Each of these traumas become metaphoric “bricks in the wall.” The protagonist eventually becomes a rock star, his relationships marred by infidelity, drug use, and outbursts of violence. As his marriage crumbles, he finishes building his wall, completing his isolation from human contact. (Source: Wikipedia.)

It’s a feel good story that you’ll love over and over again.

You know, there’s another story that prominently features a wall that I’d also like to share with you. It’s The Cask of Amontillido by Edgar Allen Poe. The plot here is fairly basic. Our hero has suffered a “thousand injuries” at the hands of Fortuno and vows revenge. He knows that Fortuno fancies himself a wine connoisseur and invites him to sample some Amontillido. Of course, it’s stored down below and way in the back of a damp wine cellar in the catacombs below our hero’s palazzo.

Lured all the way in, and already drunk, Fortunato is chained and locked in a niche, as described by Poe in this key moment:

“He is an ignoramus,” interrupted my friend, as he stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet horizontally. From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped back from the recess.

After that, our hero begins to build a wall while Fortunato is helpless and still very much alive. Ah, the wonders of the English language never cease to amaze me. There’s actually a word for this! 🙂

Immurement – a form of execution where a person is walled up within a building and left to die from starvation or dehydration. This is distinct from being buried alive, in which the victim typically dies of asphyxiation.

Oh, Edgar. You’re still teaching, even after all these years.

The Alan Parsons Project marvelously brought this story to life in a song:

And, in closing, you can’t explore a “W” post without an appearance by Willie West of Wonderful WINO radio. Enjoy.

This is my “W” post for the A-Z Blogger Challenge.

V is for Vexting

InternetThere I was, laying in bed this morning, and minding my own business. Suddenly a shot rang out.

Oh, wait. No, scratch that. Sorry, I got a little too carried away there for a moment.

I was laying in bed and thinking ahead to this very post. What was I going to do with the letter “V” in the A-Z Blogger Challenge? In my mind I arranged different vowels after “V” and let different V-words come to mind. Eventually I settled on the word “vex.” Yes, I thought, mostly to myself. I can probably do something with “vex.” And then: discovery! I invented the word “vexting.”

Or so I thought.

Curse you, internets!

I fired up Google and punched it in. And there it was, on the Urban Dictionary, circa Dec. 16, 2009. Holy shit.

Why can’t any of my inventions ever be original? We’ve all got our special gifts, talents, and God-given abilities, right? Mine seems to be inventing things that already exist. A talent like that is a curiosity, a mere trifle. It doesn’t seem to do much when it comes to lavishing power and riches on yours truly.

By now, though, that’s something I’ve mostly accepted and adjusted to.

Vexting was gonna be another word in my so-called “demotivational dictionary.” It was gonna be something.

vexting – the act of making others angry while texting

Ex: “Did you see that son of a bitch? He was vexting all over the sidewalk – while pushing a baby in a stroller! That makes me sick!”

Well, you heard it here second, folks, and from a classic all-American duplicate. [dialing] “Hello, Universe? Yes, this is the little speck of an Earthling known as Tom. I’ll take another participant ribbon, please. Thanks.” [click]

I apologize. My treatment of the letter “V” in this challenge has been deplorable. I will therefore have to provide a bonus entry to try to salvage the situation.

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?

Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day
Vera! Vera!
What has become of you
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do?

Says Wikipedia:

Dame Vera Lynn, DBE (born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917)  is an English singer and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. During the war she toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops. She was called “The Forces’ Sweetheart”; the songs most associated with her are “We’ll Meet Again” and “The White Cliffs of Dover”. She remained popular after the war, appearing on radio and television in the UK and the United States and recording such hits as “Auf Wiederseh’n Sweetheart” and “My Son, My Son”. In 2009 she became the oldest living artist to make it to No. 1 on the British album chart, at the age of 92. She has devoted much time and energy to charity work connected with ex-servicemen, disabled children and breast cancer. She is still held in great affection by veterans of the Second World War and in 2000 was named the Briton who best exemplified the spirit of the twentieth century.

She’s still alive, too. 94 years old and still going. Wow.

This is my “V” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”

U is for Undertow

At least at the beach you knew where the undertow might be lurking. It was generally isolated to that narrow strip of the sea where waves expended themselves on the sand. If you didn’t go in the water the undertow couldn’t get you.

My undertow was more ingrained than that. It wasn’t limited to any geographical location. No, the undertow I dreaded was the one inside my head. I could feel it flirting on the frayed outer edges of my consciousness. It was there, an omnipresent black cloud, probing for ways to get inside and drag me under.

The waves and the primal roar of the ocean gave me no solace, so I stumbled back to the parking lot and drove away. The cloud temporarily pulled back. Continue reading →