Year In Review: Top Ten Events Of 2017


10. 14 May. That incredibly good shower right after you got up that didn’t start as anything special but somehow felt like washing way adulthood and the only thing that has to be done was to see how long you could hold a pencil upright in your belly button.

9. 22 June. CRUISE SHIPS.

8. 8 April. Every wedding reception turns out to be at hotels that also have a furry convention booked that weekend. So now there’s tens of thousands of families that have video of Great-Aunt Carol, confused but game, dancing to “Sweet Caroline” with a cat Ghostbuster. Also mom will not let dad wear that pig snout he bought EXCEPT ON HALLOWEEN.

7. 2 November. The tension of the first known alien visit to Earth dissipates when it turns out they just wanted to check out the flea market on Route 35. And then it turned out they were just snagging a bunch of reprint Harvey Comics books. And they lost every chance of claiming superiority when they put scotch tape over the staples on the cover and in the center to somehow make the books “last longer”. So any time you feel bad that, like, they’ve got faster-than-light travel remember that we at least know how to keep a Richie Rich comic book in good condition.

6. Mid-June to Early August. That weird call-and-response song that we never got an agreed-upon name for? That was fantastic, with those lines that had easy-to-learn rules about how to change the verse for the next song around. That was a lot of fun and we’d probably be doing it yet if someone hadn’t discovered the verse-changing rules turned out to be Turing-complete and some cretin set up a scheme so the song turned into bitcoin-mining. So yeah, now if anyone starts singing it we have to slug them and that’s a bummer, but try to remember the time it was just good.

5. 3 October. The phone and the new camera both take the same size mini-USB cable to plug in even though they are two distinct and different things.

4. 16 February. Sure, we all remember this as the day everybody put their right feet on their left legs and vice-versa. But photos of the day show that in fact fewer than one person in five participated in this weird and spontaneous event. Doesn’t matter. Those who joined in made the day an event of pleasant, slight awkwardness and a chance to see the world in a different light. Yes, it inspired over twenty thinkpieces about the arbitrariness of left and right but don’t worry. The people who wrote that were, in their way, participating in the fun too.

3. 22 September. All three contestants spin a dollar in the Showcase Showdown that episode of The Price Is Right, and then two of them spin a dollar in the tiebreaker round. And that after all six contestants won their pricing games. We don’t remember if someone went on to win both showcases but we’re going to remember it that way because it was already just that great.

2. 28 June. This was that day your phone kept making all those strange little noises that didn’t match anything you had on it. It seemed like the phone might be calving off a new app, inspiring thoughts about how maybe your phone would be the birthplace of a something that disrupts a something or other and then investors would flock to you and give you billions of dollars for a widget to make, who knows, something a bit more snoop-y than something previously was. The thoughts are still fun to savor, even since the phone stopped making that noise about 8:30 pm and hasn’t made it since.

1. 6 January. It was supposed to be an ordinary little patch that should have left squirrels immune to clothing. But some errant use of a : instead of a ; deep in the code left everybody’s clothing warping around things, jumping to weird places, growing or shrinking uncontrollably, merging and separating in amoebic blobs with other pieces of clothes, and so on. People were furious for the first hour or so but after that we settled in to embrace the absurdity. And now we’re coming up to what is, somehow, only the first anniversary of “facepants” becoming such a beloved meme. Can 2018 do anything to top that?

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A Thought That’s Suddenly Haunting Me As The Christmas Channels Come On And Twin Peaks Ends Its Season


Someone out there is trying to commit an act of filking. They just know “You’re a weird one, David Lynch” is a killer line and they just have to fit the rest of a song around it. I don’t know which friend it is. But I know there’s one. It’s most likely the same one who Christmas around 2002 was trying very hard to fill in the lines before and after “In the meadow we can build a newsman / And pretend that he is Aaron Brown”, without ultimate success.

Also I’m like 40 percent sure I know which friend would tell me those are both awesome ideas now that someone’s had them, and if I don’t go writing the filk around them he will. (He won’t.) (Neither will I.)

It’s just one of those things we have to risk around the holidays like this.

In Which I Am Not Caught Up With My Tires And Stuff


Yeah so the attempt to get new tires went awry because of reasons that are threatening to also turn “buy new tires” into a fiasco. Waiting on results of that. So I don’t have the energy to put out my review of the November readership statistics or anything. Maybe soon. Meanwhile, I’ve come to consider that there was someone or some several ones who first sang the song that never ends and just goes on and on, my friends. The thing is if they said “some people started singing it” then they were being modest or maybe just disingenuous because they knew exactly which people were doing the singing. But fine, all right, maybe they were modest. But they have to have known what the song was. They were right there writing the song. At a minimum they have to have suspected strongly enough that anyone would find them culpable. Please see my enclosed description of the precise theory of the song’s creation timeline, omitted for clarity. Thank you.

Statistics Saturday: Birdhouse In Your Soul In Alphabetical Order


A a a a a
A a a a a a
A a a a a a a a
A a a

A actually actually after always am
Am ancestry and and
And and angels Argonauts at at
At be beaches bee bee bee bee bee
Bee bells birdhouse birdhouse birdhouse birdhouse
Birdhouse birdhouse birdhouse birdhouse bird-

House birdhouse birdhouse birdhouse
Birdhouse birdhouse blue blue blue
Blue blue blue bluebird bonnet
Bonnet bonnet bonnet bonnet bon-
Net but but but but but but by
By by by by canary
Canary canary canar-
Y canary canary countless doesn’t elect-
Trical filibuster
Fine fine fine fine

Fine fine fired friend friend friend friend friend friend friend friend friend-
Liness from glowing glow-
Ing guardian have I I I I
I’d I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m
I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m I’m if in in
In in in in in in in in in

In in in in in
In in in in in in
In in in infinite inside
Inside in-

Side is it it it it it it
It it it it it’s it’s Jason
Job kept killing L-I-
T-E leave leave leave leaving light
Light light light light like like lis-
Ten little little little little
Little little little lit-
Tle little little little lit-
Tle little longines lot
Make make make make make make
Make make make

Make make me me message must my my my my my
Name near nightlight nightlight
Nightlight not not not not not not not
Not not not note of of off on on
On on on on on on on on one on-
Ly only only only only

Only only
Only only on-
Ly opposite out outlet out-
Let outlet outlet outlet over
Over over over over picture
Point point point point point point primitive

(Put put put put put put really really respect) Rest rocky room
(Say say say say say say) Screaming secret ship-
(Wreck-free shores simple so soul soul soul) Soul soul soul soul soul soul soul soul
Soul soul soul spelled stood story’s switch switch
Switch switch switch Symphonette tell that that the
The the the the the the the the the

(The the the the the the the the the the the the) The the the the
(There’s though to to to to) To to to to too
(Too too too too too vigilantly watch)Es watches watches watches watch-
Es well were which while while while whistles
Who who who who who you you you you you
You’re you’re you’re your your your your your your

[ Editor’s Note: I had some words left over. There shouldn’t have been any, but I wanted to make the syllables come out right and I tried over and over until I got dizzy, and I can’t work out where they should go and I’m sorry. Maybe you can fade out repeating the ‘Make a little birdhouse in your soul’ melody or something. ]

Your your your your your your your your your
Your your your your your your your your your
Your your

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index didn’t change at all today, which everyone agreed would have made Lisa’s crack about a watched index never rising more timely and appropriate so at least that’s got many of the hurt feelings a little less hurt. Or hurt in different ways, which is the best we have anymore.

94

In Which I Apologize To The Michigan DMV


I went to the local Department of Motor Vehicles branch to renew my licence plate tags. Only they don’t call them that in Michigan. They’re called Secretary of State offices, for reasons that Michiganians explain to me by pointing in the opposite direction and running. I don’t mind. I like a little quirkiness in my state bureaucracy. Back in New Jersey the Department of Motor Vehicles went through a phase back in the 90s, like most of us. But its 90s phase was one of renaming themselves every couple years. I know they went through being the Motor Vehicle Services for a while, and the Motor Vehicle Commission. I liked the latter, because it sounded like you had hired them to compose a song about your 1982 Mercury Grand Marquis. “It’s built like a tank // The window nearly cranks // All the way up! // Ooh-ah-ooh! // Bad alternator! // Ooh-ah-ooh! // Needs replacement! // Ooh-ah-ooh // Yes, again!”

Anyway, the Secretary of State has an office in the annex of a local strip mall. Also we have a strip mall with an annex because, I don’t know, I guess 1982 was a happening year. The office had this system where you enter your phone number, they give you an estimated wait time, and text you when you’re done waiting. I even had my phone with me. So I got in the queue. Then I noticed they had an automated booth where you could renew license plate tags without having to wait or even talk to anyone. I did that instead. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just I feel like I’m bothering them when I do talk to them, and why should I bother the people whose jobs are about handling my minor legal obligations?

But after that I didn’t see any way to take my number out of the queue. At least no way without talking to someone, for which I’d have to be in the queue. Also I’d have to talk to someone. Again, I don’t dislike people. It’s just I know my conversations can’t live up to the ideal of human interactions, which is Mister Rogers chatting with the people in the restaurant who’re making his cheese-and-lettuce sandwich. (Look it up!) So I left, feeling a little dirty.

Today I looked at my phone and realized I had a bunch of texts. I get maybe one text a month on average, which is fine, since I remember to look at them about every two months. There was one welcoming me to the queue system and thanking me because the without people in it the queue system would just be a performance-art piece on the absurdity of modern life. Also there were messages telling me I was in the queue, and that I was still in the queue in case I worried about that. Also that I was five minutes from being up. And then some messages that I was up. And texts that they were still waiting for me. And texts that they were going to have to stop waiting for me if I didn’t get there soon. And then a text that they had to go on to the next person and they’re sorry to have missed me, but the art critics thought our project charming. They liked its Jacques-Tati-esque setup of a system so automated and convenient that the only role actual humans can have is to slow things up.

I don’t know when I last felt so guilty about ghosting a minor civic responsibility. This is a lie. I last felt so guilty about ghosting a minor civic responsibility earlier this month when I kind of forgot to check in for jury duty. But that was an innocent accident. I moved the slip of paper with the phone number I was supposed to call the night before and forgot it existed. The license plate thing was a choice. I chose to do my business in the most time-efficient way possible and then leave. Anyway, I’m very very sorry, Michigan Secretary of State, and maybe I’ll just renew online next year. Also, uh, sorry, Ingham County Court System.

I haven’t yet actually put the new license plate tag on. So I don’t know if this will need the help of the auto care place down the street again. More on this as it comes to pass.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose sharply today after analysts looked carefully at my Twitter feed and determined I’m not one of those people who somehow tweets like eighty times an hour every hour of the day, and instead just posts a reasonable couple times a day except when I’m delightedly watching some awful movie and I have to share how this awful movie is awful.

112

CW Music


Almost none of you have heard me sing, and that’s a good thing. While I’m tolerably able to follow along most of the generally accepted words of a song if they’re written out for me ahead of time and can begin and end such words at approximately the right times, I have pretty much the same control over my pitch that a coal-fired locomotive engine has over its position. My voice will pick a note that’s the designated note for the song, even if it doesn’t appear anywhere in the actual song or possibly in all of recorded Western Civilization-informed music including those horrible atonal experiments made by pressing Moog synthesizers under piles of stones until they confessed to witchcraft. It might vary a little around that note as the song moves through its normal melody, but it won’t get more than maybe two-thirds of the way to the flat version of whatever note I started from.

So what I do instead is to hum along to a song, which besides meaning I don’t have to actually get the words right, means I don’t have to go to the trouble of opening my mouth any. But I have the same thing where I have one designated note for each song, and stick to that. What comes out is a tolerably timed “Hmm HMMM hm HMM Hmmm, Hmm HMMM hm HMMMMM, Hmmm Hm-mmm-MMM-MMMMM hmm HMMMMM-hmm-HMMMMmmmMMMM” [*]. It’s quite the monotone spectacle.

Anyway, all this is a way of saying I was stunned to get a special musical achievement award from the American Radio Relay League, the people who bring you ham radio, for my work in translating music into Morse Code. I’m flattered and I’d like to thank everyone who had a part in letting me achieve this, as soon as I think who that could really be.

[*] Original lyrics by Sparks, 1975.