Statistics Saturday: Ten Most Popular Men’s T-Shirt Sizes


  1. M
  2. 3XL
  3. (T-shirt bought in a tragic incident where it was the last full day of the only honest-to-goodness vacation they’re getting all year and the bar had a kind of funny-ish name and it seemed like it made sense to get something as some kind of souvenir and they only had the one shirt left and who even knows what size it is because now, with perceptions un-tainted by the desperate need to have a year’s worth of fun in under 144 hours, they could never, ever wear it, and feel too embarrassed to throw it out or to donate to some needy person, who would also refuse to wear it, so there it sits, taking up the only space in the drawer next to the three pieces of good underwear.)
  4. L

Reference: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, Barbara W Tuchman.

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Not To Gloat About What A Skillful Adult I Am


But in the past week I have bought four, that’s right, four new shirts that are all nice and clean and have distinct colors and only the number of holes appropriate to fit over my current number of arms (two), heads (one), and waists (one). I am not entering an opinion into how many holes that is in the shirt because I’ve seen people burned on the whole “how many holes does a straw have” question and I don’t want that kind of trouble for myself. And yes, technically, they are all from the same store from which I also get peanut butter and wet-wipes for cleaning the car’s dashboard. It doesn’t matter. These are still legitimate and correctly formed shirts. And I can retire some of the shirts that have weird things like pairs of puncture holes along the neckline, as if the shirt had been attacked by vampire cargo pants. Also yes, I am looking for some newer, less-worn-out cargo pants. I have a great number of goods that need transport to and from remote climes and I don’t know a better place to put my camera when I’m on a roller coaster than in a cargo pant side pocket.

In Which I Am Concerned About My Shirt


It reached the temperature of Like Thirty Degrees Too Warm For Late March today and I put on one of my short-sleeved yellow shirts. It’s a kind I like: it has a pocket in case I need a pen in my shirt pocket. And it’s yellow, so that I show up in photographs. (I have this condition where I can’t be noticed in photographs unless I bug out my eyes and turn my head slightly to the side so I look like I’m doing a bad job pretending to be surprised by my birthday party. It’s inherited; my grandmother had the same problem. We carry on, proudly.)

Anyway, the shirt turns out to be incredibly faded. It’s still yellow-ish, but it’s gotten very near white since I last wore it and I can’t think why. Fading from the sun? Maybe, but who lets my clothes out in the sun? Fading from bleach? No, we put bleach to other purposes around the house. I have to conclude it’s fallen prey to a shirt vampire draining its essential dye and while it’s got a few more rounds left to it, it’ll soon join the legion of undead clothing. Which is a shame, but it is part of the cycle of clothing life.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index fell seven points today on allegations that having the number be a round figure like ‘130’ caused it to look made-up, and ‘125’ wasn’t really any better, is it? Maybe we need to start measuring in eighths of a point or something so it looks the more credible. What do you, the viewer at home, think?

118

The Boot: And How I Got It


I need to preface this by explaining I’m a big fan of clothes. I think they’re one of the top ideas humanity has come up with. I’m not sure which is exactly on top. Clothes, the equality of people before the law, any scene where Homer Simpson gives a false name, and the curried tofu the farmer’s market on the west side of town has are in the top ten. I’m happy to wear most any kind of clothing. If I run across one while at home I’ll just toss it on, which works out better in winter.

There is one point at which this clothes-appreciation stops. That point is my feet. Not socks. I retain a love of socks even though I am still afraid to read about their history. They belong to the class of clothes that feel wonderful to put on, to have on, and to take off, along with bathing suits and long underwear. They don’t feel so good when they’re wet or have pebbles in them, but that is the fault of the water or pebbles and not inherent to the socks themselves. Also not so good if they have holes, but that’s again not the fault of the socks. Ask a pair of socks to vote on whether they should have holes or not and they would flop over, helpless in their inanimate sock natures. But I expect they’d want to have only the one authorized hole for slipping the entire foot in. I almost wrote “whole” foot there, but I didn’t want to distract people by thinking of foot-holes. That’s unsettling, which socks are not.

No, my problem is with shoes. I say it’s the fault of shoes. I’ve owned literally more than a dozen shoes and they’ve all been made of pain. Some just a little bit of pain. Others, especially boots, are vast, highly organized networks of intensely concentrated pain. Shoe-makers insist the problem is that since I am tall, I have feet that are large, toe-to-heel, and also rather more curved than the average. So either my big toe or my … part of the foot on the other side of the big toe … falls outside the normal bounds of a shoe. I say the shoe-makers are at fault, for installing in every pair of shoes ever made small, pneumatically fired mallets battering every part of my foot every moment that I wear them. So I’m always finding excuses to take my shoes off. “Why, wouldn’t it be impolite to wear my shoes in your house?” “We’re going to be on this plane nearly two hours, why not slip my feet out?” “Oh, I’m at the hipster barcade so much it’s almost like home, I can leave my shoes behind.”

Yes, in time, I get used to the pains of any particular pair of shoes and they get familiar enough to be sort of pleasant-ish. And that lasts for minutes, because that’s when the soles start to collapse and I end up walking on the pile of jagged spikes ordinarily hidden in them. Then I go on for another couple months hoping something will turn up. Meanwhile the shoes grow holes large enough to let my toes through and if you think I’m exaggerating this I will include a picture of my recently-retired boots unless it turns out I’m lazy.

My several-years-old pair of boots, which have cracks along their toes and which have almost come loose from the heels, which are shredded things anyway.
What it takes to get me to stop wearing a pair of boots: find a pair of boots not just with lots of holes in them but also that don’t even point in the same direction.

So I went shopping for new shoes which I figured wouldn’t be better but would at least be different. This is not a metaphor. There was this promising rubber pair that went up nearly to my knees and had no laces. But it was too tight and as I tried taking it off I realized a cartoon might happen. Society escaped without a pair of size-12 knee-high rubber missiles firing from the shoe store towards the half-price calendars kiosk. At another store, another day, I tried one and found … something … wonderful.

They didn’t hurt! My feet went in and no particular part of my body was in agony. They just felt warm and as waterproof as you can tell from inside a Payless Shoe Store in the wing of the mall I never go to because there’s no bookstores there. It’s a wonder. I bought the shoes as fast as I could and I’ve just been delighted ever since. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

My several-days-old pair of boots, or at least several-days-in-my-ownership boots, which are still even shiny and only have a little dirt on them because it was so much fun stepping in a puddle and not getting cold and wet from that.
I’m sorry to spend so much time talking about boots but you have to understand these ones don’t hurt me endlessly when I have them on and that’s an exciting development. I mean, I even got to step in a puddle of slushy water and my feet didn’t come out cold and wet and more miserable and when does that even happen? Never, I tell you, never! PS: See how not-lazy I am?

The shoes are a size 14. That’s bigger than I’ve ever worn before. It’s a size more generally associated with kangaroos who play basketball. It’s large enough if I ever took my boots off inside, say, a Best Buy I’d be able to sneak a Smart TV or a sales associate or maybe the water fountain out in them. I’ve never seen size 14s in a normal shoe store before and I may never see them again. I don’t care. I have shoes that work as shoes. I may never take them off again, except that it feels so good to take them off.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Although the Another Blog, Meanwhile index rose seven points over the trading day there’s little reason to think it’s because anyone was doing anything not connected to the panini-press debate. So few people were paying attention to what the index was doing that it might well have risen seven points entirely on a stiff breeze. Someone broke the George Foreman grill.

97

What Socks Needed


I was going about my business minding it as best as I’m able and then Salon dropped this headline on me:

Researchers fashion self-healing clothing — out of squid teeth

Here I had been almost ready finally go to learning about the history of socks and now they’re giving me some self-healing squid-toothed socks? Thank you, no, I have a list of garments I will allow to be squid-toothed and they are all squid mouth costumes. I’m assuming here squids have mouths. If they don’t, and they have teeth anyway, I do not want to know about it and I will refuse to hear if you carry on anyway.

The subheadline warns self-healing squid-tooth clothing “can be produced on easily and on the cheap, but don’t expect to see them on shelves any time soon”. I agree. We will be seeing them in nightmares to come for years now, that’s something, but not shelves. They’ll be sneaking up on us in the bathtub if I know anything about squid. I don’t know anything about squid, except that I stopped eating calamari a long while ago because no matter how good someone promised it was going to be, it tasted and felt like that. And there’s no point my putting the octopus or squid to that kind of hassle for an experience I’m not going to enjoy either. But I have enjoyed the experience of wearing clothes on many occasions, in fact every occasion including during showers. I don’t want that messed with.

In Which I Annotate My T-Shirt


There’s this amusement park in Clementon, New Jersey, called Clementon Park. Any questions so far? It’s a fine little place that survived a financial crisis that should’ve wiped it out and I’m glad it’s on the upswing. Quite good wooden roller coaster too.

I have a T-shirt from it. It’s the classiest amusement park T-shirt I own. It’s dark blue and has this nice diamond pattern down one side and it has a faux-heraldic shield with the park’s name and some of its rides and the letters N J on diagonal squares of the shield. If you didn’t know better you’d think it was for someplace where you couldn’t plausibly expect to buy a batter-dipped plastic fork.

A friend pointed out to me that the shirt was backwards, and I didn’t get it, but finally realized he meant instead of having it monogrammed J N. Well, I usually go by JFN when I need to go in initials. The F stands for what you would assume it does, assuming you assume it stands for my middle name. I smiled that this was a cute coincidence that hadn’t occurred to me and that was it until ten hours later when I thought of the response. “Oh yes,” I should have said, “I put my shirt on inside-out”, which doesn’t make sense but sounds enough like it should to qualify as a joke.

So now all I have to do is wait for some time when I’m wearing this particular T-shirt again, and someone happens to make a joke about the N J on the t-shirt matching two-thirds of my own initials in the wrong order, and then I’m set to sound all spontaneous! So I hope you’ll forgive me writing this here so I don’t forget it. I can’t sound effortless without this kind of work.

Picturing Me Some More


OK, so, Pinball Selfie Leagues. That’s what I meant to describe some. It’s a new thing in the world of Competitive Pinball Which Is So There. This is a new kind of tournament where your seeding is based on games you play on your own. And we know there’s no cheating because SNAKE! Totally a snake right over there! Look at that! But really, who’d do anything underhanded in the search for glory in competitive pinball rankings? And here I pause to consider the number of rules that the United States Lighthouse Society’s Passport Program has in place regarding how to count visited lighthouses. I do not know how many there are, other than there’s at least one. But why would we expect cheating in competitive pinball leagues from a species that has people who would try to gain renown for a fraudulently great ability to see lighthouses?

I’m still not sure what I think of Selfie Leagues, other than that they aren’t leagues. Also the first one I participated in wasn’t all that Selfie-bound. After some consideration the organizer ruled we didn’t need to actually take selfies. We could just photograph the score instead. Sometimes that’s the only way. There’s older games where they only show the score a split second. We’d be fumbling for weeks trying to catch that moment if we weren’t looking directly into the camera viewfinder. “Has that got my score?” players would ask. “No, you just took a picture of the hipster bar’s fan-made poster of Rocksteady and Be-Bop confessing they secretly love turtles.” “How many points is that worth?” The answer is 4.5, but only in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan rankings.

My love and I decided to respect the concept of the selfie. We’d put a hand or thumb or something into the pictures too, although we always used one of our own. But in the main I tried to respect the integrity of something called a Selfie League and take actual selfies with my pinball scores. After all, there’s good reason to have yourself in the picture with your score. It lets the league organizer know if you’re a playing vampire, and so wouldn’t be able to make it to playoffs before dusk. I’m assuming vampires don’t show up in photographs. It seems like something that would fit with the not-appearing-in-mirrors business. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they just made that up for the movies anyway. I guess vampires would have to just coordinate these things with their league president.

As said I’ve never been much for taking pictures with me, or any identifiable human being, in them. I’ve photographed statues of people like Benjamin Franklin, such as Alexander Hamilton, that didn’t even have the statue in them. And the history of photographs of me hasn’t been promising. Every picture of me used to look like a dough-filled guy who dressed himself just ripped out of bed and posed in front of something. Unless I was trying to not look asleep, in which case I look like a dough-filled guy who dressed himself just ripped out of bed and with my toes set on fire.

But since those days I’ve lost a lot of weight. And I’ve internalized my love’s advice on how to dress so I look less bad. (I have to not pick out the clothes that I would pick out to wear. Yes, there’s a logical paradox here. Isn’t that a merry bit of fun? To resolve it I have to start picking my clothes out early. Usually as early as 8:30 pm two nights prior. And I still come out with “maybe the green shirt that hasn’t got any holes visible from under my not-really-a-hoodie thing?”) And it’s produced dramatic improvements in how I get photographed. I mean improvements for me.

Because I’m pretty sure the ideal for this would be a picture of me standing beside a good game score and smiling. At least grinning. Not what I do manage, which is to be just far enough off-center that I appear to be creeping up on what’s otherwise a fair enough score on Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. Or hanging around acting suspicious around a respectable score on Game Of Thrones: Not Subtitled The Pinball Adventure. Or, worse, looking on in despair at a score of Lord of the Rings: Not Every Pinball Machine Is Actually A Licensed Tie-In To Something Although It Does Seem Like It Anymore. “Oh, don’t cry,” I can imagine other people in the Selfie League saying. “64 million isn’t so abominable a score, given that you probably had somewhere else to be. You are going to go back and try again, right?”

I don’t know. I do like the pinball side of this but having a whole bunch of pictures of me hanging around is suspicious. There might be something better to try.

Statistics Saturday: Getting To Philosophy From Pettipants Via Wikipedia


It is alleged that if one follows the first link in a Wikipedia article, and the first link in that next article, and so on, one eventually gets to Philosophy. Here it is attempted from the starting point of “pettipants”, which Wikipedia claims is a thing that really exists. They surely wouldn’t be fibbing about a thing like that, would they? On the other hand they also claim Helena is the capital of Montana, when in fact Montana has no capital. So who knows?

  1. Pettipants
  2. Lingerie
  3. Undergarment
  4. Clothing
  5. Human (as “Human Beings”)
  6. Homo Sapiens
  7. Latin
  8. Classical language (which explains “a classical language is a language with a literature that is classical”, so I’m glad we have that sorted out)
  9. Literature
  10. Literariness (skipping ‘cultura’ as that’s just a link within the same page)
  11. Language
  12. Communication
  13. Intention (as Purposeful)
  14. Mind (as Mental)
  15. Consciousness
  16. Quality (Philosophy)
  17. Philosophy

I have not the slightest idea how I got to Pettipants in the first place, even if they were anything that ever existed, which they don’t.

September’s Scraps


People liked my compilation of things I didn’t use in August articles. I’d like to offer some more but I had fewer humor blog scraps in September. So let me throw in some scraps from other writing projects. Good luck doing what you will with them.

  • I do have shirts in solid colors that are going to seem sad in as many as two years, when we know better about fashion. But they don’t seem regrettable in the ways everything I wore in the 1980s did. I’d like to blame it on whatever problem we were having with color from 1975 through about 1988, but no, I’m just bad at picking out stuff. Also at the 80s Dance Night I wasn’t wearing anything with unauthorized holes. I reached the point in life where I stopped wearing clothes that had appreciable and major holes in non-clothing-appropriate places three years ago. Except for just wearing stuff inside the house or if I’m not figuring to meet anybody.
    — cut as unneeded from the 80s Dance Night essay
  • you unspeakable arrogant monster of vanity and entitled narcissism
    — cut perhaps wisely from a letter to an estranged friend I’m trying to make up with
  • I was going to be embarrassed that I bought Johnny Mnemonic from the video store but I paid cash so they couldn’t know who I was
    — cut because I actually paid by credit card, and to a cashier who recognized me because she and her friend who was just hanging out there helping out, apparently, both know and sometimes work with my love
  • that can often be good
    — cut from a little conversation when I remembered that it really can only be good about one time in five, which just isn’t often enough
  • the powerful message communicated by having a lumpy potato dog inhale a distraught cat through his nose
    — cut from a discussion of Saturday’s Luann comic strip
  • and after the fracas the mop was left abandoned in the street. sometime over the night, a car ran over the mop.
    — cut because it was too sad that someone lost their mop over the incident, really

Dressing the Party


There’s an 80s Night at our local hipster bar. It’s tonight, Sunday night. The bar had been closed Sunday nights since about March, and, this is true, finally got ‘CLOSED SUNDAYS’ painted onto the back door underneath its hours. So you see why this is the sort of place where I fit in.

The trouble is the dressing-up portion. After decades I finally learned about dressing myself. So I don’t try picking anything that I think looks good. A solid color for a shirt, and a different solid color for pants, plus socks. It’s a fashion I like to call “minor character in a lazily designed comic strip”.

What happens if I pick clothes for myself? Well, take any picture from any group of the 1970s or 1980s. You see the person dressed most regrettably? I used to have that outfit. I still would if it hadn’t worn it until it had multiple significant holes. So all that is to say that once again, I can’t pick out clothes to look like I belong.

Safety Pants


I bought a new pair of pants because … well, I’m not sure that actually needs justification. It seems like the fact of the purchase explains the reasoning behind it perfectly well: “I needed some new pants because somehow I don’t have quite enough to go a whole week without laundering them, even though I haven’t thrown any out or given any away and they’re all in good working order so I don’t know.”

Anyway, I bought a pair of the kinds of pants which are right for me, which is to say, cargo pants which come folded with such severely sharp creases they emphasize how much I dress like a Lego character. And I noticed one of the nearly four labels I had to remove (which isn’t an unreasonable number of labels, considering) before successfully wearing it in a non-test circumstance was a tag mentioning “Meets CPSC Safety Requirements”.

Of course like you I’m amused by the thought that someone checked that this pants design had proper safety railings and no unnecessarily exposed spinning metal blades, but what got me is this: somewhere out there is a person whose job is “overseeing cargo-pants safety guidelines”. And that person either grew up wanting to be a cargo-pants safety guideline overseer, or is someone whose career led there. Either way is a staggering thought.

While I Was Watching Some History Channel-Type Show


I’m not sure what the program was. It was just on. They were talking about string. They asserted it was one of the keystones of human evolution, one of the things that sets humans apart from the animals, besides our ability — almost never seen in the animal kingdom — to lose our keys by leaving them in the microwave oven. They found a professor to say that the development of string was one of the things which enabled humans to dominate the world. And the thing is, they made a fair case for the proposition, because with string-based technologies such as clothes people could develop Abercrombie and Fitch stores.

And then, somehow, they came to this sentence — which I repeat as precisely as I’m able to, without exaggeration or distortion: “There is evidence of cheese from four thousand years ago.” I do not know why this sentence makes me smile, but the thought not just that there was evidence of cheese four thousand years ago, but that someone wrote and someone recorded the sentence, “There is evidence of cheese from four thousand years ago”, bids fair to make me happy for a long time to come. Probably not four thousand years.

I know what you’re thinking, but no, they said nothing about when they have evidence of string cheese.

What I Notice In Every Old Picture Of Me


I’ve got a bit of a hyperbole problem, so I need to point out beforehand that I’m not exaggerating.

I was looking at an old photograph showing me and one of my grandfathers (I know which one but you probably don’t much care). It can be hard figuring out who everyone quite is in old photographs, because many of my old photographs come from the 1970s and you know what we all looked like back then. But you can pick me out of any photograph by looking for the person who obviously doesn’t realize that the things he puts on are going to be the things other people see him wearing.

In this photograph, I’m wearing the kind of shirt I was fond of until about grad school, when I finally learned that I always look horrible in them. The shirt has a white base, and blue sleeves, and horizontal stripes of different colors across the body. I do not blame 1979; as noted, I always picked this sort of shirt until I realized I have to just wear a shirt of some solid color, and preferably, one of about three colors.

I must have picked this shirt out myself, because my parents have always been loving and supportive of me, even that time I picked out a Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-shirt to wear even though (a) we lived in New Jersey and (b) it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (c) from the 70s, when the Buccaneers, then with two wins and 850 losses each season, had the official colors of Traffic Cone Orange and Sadness. And yet this, non-Buccaneers, shirt contains no less than four distinct browns. Also I remember it being one of my favorite shirts, even more than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers shirt.

There is no defense; I just hope you will all be merciful and consider that I have to remember myself wearing this thing.