Friday, November 30, 2007


Let's see. Hard work, loyalty and sacrifice hasn't gotten me that far.
But do something silly and irresponsible like gambling and I get two jackpots within 24 hours? I don't get it.

That royal flush was dealt to me!
If you're familiar with video poker you'll notice that the pay table makes 'em tight machines too.
I joked that I wouldn't be satisfied until I got the four deuce mini jackpot too.
Sure enough...

I don't think I'll become a professional gambler. I know the casino has an edge and these are just flukes. Still, stuff like this makes me wonder about the nature of the universe.
Here's what happened last year in Las Vegas:

Go figure.
I didn't even get my camera yanked for taking pictures in the casino.

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's Tough to Be a Fish

Seafood restaurants have a blunt honesty. Many are filled with fish photos: Fish getting hooked, fish flopping around on deck, fish strung up for photo ops, and loose piles of freshly deceased specimens. I've never been to a steak house or a BBQ joint that showed cows or pigs going through such indignities. Fish need to unionize for better representation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What is going on?

I applied to Blue Cross. They rejected me. "Preexisting Condition", they said. C'mon! I want to say, I'm almost forty! I'm entitled to a preexisting condition!* Cheapskates.
My alternative: a system where I can keep the insurance I had at work if I pay a snootload of money each month, but whoops, it seems I don't have a job at the moment and am not in the mood to throw money out the window. Not that I'm broke (I save up for dry spells), but it seems wasteful .
Being rejected by insurance bugs me more than when my cartoons are rejected (I dabbled with cartoons in college and a kid's book the early 90s.) Submitting cartoons is like buying a lottery ticket or entering a sweepstakes. Winning is the exception**, not the rule, so it's no big deal.
Insurance rejection is different. I'm being rejected. I'm surprised they didn't add a Post-it® note that said "Cram it, you defective piece of scrap!"
When I was younger I often skipped health insurance. Not now. Too many people my age (or younger) have been slapped with serious illnesses. A coworker died recently. Two of my friends have survived cancer (both at stage 3). I just got an email from Sandee (a long lost college pal, who, ironically, was mentioned in my last post) saying "My memory has been funny since my brain tumor..." Brain tumor!? What is going on? Is my generation in the shooting gallery of scary diseases? What the ..?
Better "waste" some money on insurance before some disease or accident wastes me.

*Which, I might add, is neither expensive, progressive nor likely to lead to other problems.
**I did get a cartoon published in Bird Talk Magazine. My college paper published most of the stuff I sent 'em too.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Mystery Tree

I first noticed it in December, 1981, right before my 13th birthday.
We lived in the hills. From my bedroom I could see much of north Orange and Los Angeles counties. I remember sipping General Foods Orange Cappuccino coffee as I sat on my dresser (the best viewpoint,) gazing out the window. A tiny orange cone stood on the horizon. Ah ha! I thought, a Christmas Tree!
Further studies with binoculars and my telescope confirmed it. Not an actual tree but a conical cluster of lights shaped like one. With the telescope you could see the star on top.
This beacon became a symbol: the holidays had come! Sure, neighbors put up lights and the stores played carols, but nothing delighted me more than spotting The Tree each year.
One thing drove me crazy- Where was it? Over the years I'd become as familiar with the view as the ancient astronomers had been with the sky. For example, I knew the red and blue specks of light to the north was a K-Mart sign some six miles to the North. The Tree was more elusive. Oddly, it was only visible from or near my home, being eclipsed by distant hills from other viewpoints. I tried aiming my telescope to it at night, leaving it on the tripod to check for details in the morning. But all I saw in the daylight was a horizon. Once I somehow talked my parents into driving to it. After about six or seven miles in the general direction, we caught a glimpse of it from another hilltop. Still tiny and on the horizon. "That thing could be 15 or 30 miles away," my Dad observed. "We can't go that far!" Operation Tree Search was a failure.
We moved a few years later, but I never forgot The Tree. When I was in college, my friend Sandee worked in a city just east of where I speculated the tree might be. Once, before picking her up from work, I patrolled the area, looking for my old friend. No tree. Either it was gone or I was looking in the wrong place. Another failed Operation Tree Search.
I never found out where it was. Using Google Earth, I've concluded it was near or in the San Gabriel Valley. If you're reading this, and you remember a big rooftop tree that went up each year in that neighborhood, please let me know ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where the Bugs Are

According a radio show I heard, bed bugs are making a comeback, often showing up in fancy hotels. There's even an online registry where people can report their bed buggy experiences, including hotel names and a map!
For then non-sqeemish, here's a short National Geographic video about the little suckers.

Just added- I found a site that puts your pics on magazine covers. ...

Create Fake Magazine Covers with your own picture at

Subscribe to Fortune Magazine at a 76% discount!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Angry German Kid: a Tribute

Above is my tribute to the Angry German Kid.
For the unfamiliar, it's a widely circulated video of a kid throwing a rabid tantrum at his computer. He screams, he curses, he smacks the keyboard, and screams some more. It's allegedly real, but I bet it's some ham putting on an act.
The original can be seen here. Don't watch it unless you have a high threshold for bad language and obnoxiousness.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Evil Bunny Rabbit Apple Pie Trees

When I was about three, McDonald's ran commercials featuring "McDonaldland", a tacky Oz-esque wonderland overflowing with burgers, fries, and mutants. I hated it. Ronald was creepy, Mayor McCheese was a burger headed freak with a quivering nose, and Cap'n Crook looked like the scary old neighbor who you weren't supposed to go near.
The "Apple Pie Trees" were the worst. They were supersized evil clowns. They'd lurch around and grin at the camera with a mouths big enough to bite my head off. They terrified me. Each time the commercials ran, I flipped.
My dad tried to calm me down. "Those trees are just costumes," he told me. "Actually there's bunny rabbits wearing the costumes."
This notion proved almost as disturbing as the Apple Pie Trees. Bunny rabbits grow that tall? my three-year-old brain wondered, And why do they dress up like trees? To scare people?
Who knew bunny rabbits could be so mean?

Click here to see a commercial with the Evil Trees.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who's Your Daemon?

The Golden Compass movie website lets you determine what kind of animal your Daemon is. In the movie, a Daemon is an exterior soul, shaped like the animal that most fits your personality. My Daemon is a snow leopard, it says.
Personally I think it's something more birdlike.
I thought his name, Philon, was cool until I realized it's "No life" when you say it backward. Ouch.

The Bouncy Board

When I was pre-school aged, my family would take us to a little airport called Meadowlark.
It was cool because it had a snack bar and a picnic area where you could watch the planes taxi and take off.
Also cool was what I dubbed the "Bouncy Board". It was a low wooden platform made of creaky old wood. Springy wood. My brother and I jumped on it like a trampoline. No trip to Meadowlark was complete without a jump on the Bouncy Board.
The fun ended the day an old timer pointed out that the platform covered an old swimming pool. My brother and I had been stomping on half rotten wood over a concrete hole!
Here's an aerial view of my old, ah, stomping grounds.

It's from this site. Bouncy Board details added by me.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Scary Tree

A comely tree on Sally Cruikshank's blog reminded me of something that happened when I was little.
I remember looking at a peeling eucalyptus tree from our back window. A scary face stared back! I knew it was only an illusion, but it was so sinister looking that I didn't want see it, ever again. I suggested we permanently draw the blinds. My parents didn't agree. I'd have to devise my own avoidance tactics. For days I avoided the window (a large one in the living room)- I wouldn't even face the same direction.
A week later I asked my dad to check on Scary Tree. Perhaps the bark that made his features had peeled off. My dad glanced out the window and gave the all clear. "Looks like a bunch of peeling bark now", he said. I looked out the window-
He was still there! Mean and angry looking as ever! Cold fear surged through me. How could Dad miss it? My preschool brain thought. Doesn't he see it?
I forget what became of Scary Tree (this was over 35 years ago). Either he peeled off or I got distracted and forgot about him. As an adult I find it amusing, but boy, did that thing scare me when I was a kid.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


There's a bizarre urban legend from Japan about a spirit known as Kuchisake-onna, (Slit-Mouth Woman). I find it goofy... ... yet unnerving. I'm very thankful I didn't hear this tale when I was a kid.
The Story:
In life she was beautiful, until her jealous husband slashed her mouth from ear to ear. Her ghost wears a surgical mask. On foggy nights she comes up to children and asks "Do you think I'm pretty?" When the kid says "Yes," the mask comes off, the victim screams, and the chase is on! She comes after kids with a scythe (or knife), either killing them or carving them up to look like her.
That's one hardcore legendary creature! She makes the Boogyman look like a leprechaun. I bet she'd put the chupacabra on a leash and take him for walks. If she met Bigfoot, she'd make a fur coat out of him. She'd turn the Loch Ness Monster into clam chowder, and spread nasty rumors about La Llorona.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Little Scorpy

I was fiddling with another Martian vs. the Scorpion cartoon. I couldn't shake how creepy the thing looked. Was it possible to make one cute, yet still recognizable as a scorpion? I wonder if I could pull the same stunt with a horseshoe crab?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Parking Ticket

Working long hours and weekends means:
1. It's tough to find a parking space when I get home.
2. I forget what day of the week it is.
This in turn got me a parking ticket. Supposedly it's for blocking the street sweeper, but the goons make several rounds it chugs in. Easy money.
Of course, it had been issued minutes before. I'd have missed it if I hadn't bothered to take out the trash before leaving.
On the way to work I saw a bunch of other cars who'd gotten the same surprise. Ticket frenzy.
Parking enforcement cars would play the them from Jaws and look like this:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Walrus and the Carp in Tar

"The tie mask gum,"the wall russet,

"Toot alcove man knee thinks

Of shoo- sand-gyps-ant- ceiling-whacks
Shove cab ages-ant kinks

Of white thus see yes boy lean ha-
Tan weather piks half winks"

No, I haven't lost my mind. It's a modegreen.
A mondegreen is misheard (or deliberatly scrambled) speech or lyrics.

The old song "Mairzy Doats" (Mares eat oats, get it??) is an example.
When read aloud, "the tie mask gum..." is phonetically similar to Lewis Carol's original:

"The time has come," the Walrus said,

"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."

Humpty Dumpty

Ever wonder what would have happened to Humpty Dumpty if he stayed off the wall?
Would he hatch? Would a chick spring from his head, the way Athena sprang from Zeus?