Monday, December 07, 2009

The Post of Christmas Present

Here's this years MS Paint holiday card! I hope that anyone that I failed to send this to as an email (a few addresses were out of date and useless) will see it here and have their holidays fueled by festive tidings of a .jpg nature!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Post of Christmas Past

It now being December, I thought I'd take this opportunity to share with anyone reading a holiday tradition of mine. For the past several years, I have gotten into the habit of sending out an email with a homemade MS Paint Christmas card. For those of you unfamiliar with MS Paint, it is the Windows paint program, the one with the icon of a cup of pens or markers or something (in XP, anyway). I'm fairly handy with the program, and have created several other non-holiday pieces of bizarre art with it, but the holiday cards have a special place in my heart.

Below is an archive of every MS Paint Christmas card I've ever sent. Please enjoy these cards and know that this year's is in the planning stages.

This card was inspired by a previous work by my good friend Clive McEnroe (the one who shared the tales of Right Angles Pizza with us) entitled "Chris Rock: A Gentle Portrait." We were kind of hoping to spawn an entire art genre of photos of real people with cartoon eyes paired with an MS Paint drawing of the people but with actual photos of eyes added. In case anyone can't tell, this is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA, then D-PA).

I mean, who wouldn't want a walrus for a doctor? This guy looks legit. You'll note the code on the pill is XMAS1224, which perhaps is an insight into how for me, Christmas Eve is the real Christmas celebration, and 12/25 is more of an afterthought. I realize this is not the case for most people and Christmas is considered to be the 25th, not the 24th. Guess what, I may not be Catholic anymore, but I still know Jesus was actually born in the springtime and the celebration of Christmas in the winter was only to tie it to the pagan holiday Yuletide, so the actual date is arbitrary. XMAS1224 all the way, baby.


Congratulations, another clue to my true identity (Barry White). This may be my favorite one of all, featuring Bruce Lee as depicted on the cover of his classic film, "Enter the Dragon." Hopefully this was obvious. Getting whacked by candy cane nunchaku would be awful, since it would hurt AND be all sticky and gross.


This one is very culturally sensitive, obviously. I like the lecherous snowman and the gingerbread sumo the best. Oh, anime, I like you, but I also like to mock you.

I guess it's in the spirit of "The Nightmare Before Christmas", except more directly menacing. Death's body has an odd shape to it, I realize, looking at my work.

I find curmudgeonly characters very entertaining. I think my Larry David is the best of the three, House's eyes are a little off and he looks kinda like Gene Wilder and J. Jonah Jameson's head proportions are weird. Eh, what can ya do?

Stay tuned for 2009's dose of MS Paint artwork!

Monday, November 09, 2009

What's New? Also - Bacon

Just so you guys don't think I'm going into hibernation mode like I did for all of 2008 up in this blog, here is what's new with me:
  • I got a job. A real one. A real one I want to be at and care about. I start part time from home now-ish, and for real full-time in January. Cray. Z.
  • Group presentations have been going on in my classes. I presented on Female Serial Killers last week and will present on Sexual Identity Development Interventions for Adolescents tomorrow.
  • Re-watched Freaks and Geeks recently. That show was amazing. I think my favorite scene is Bill's solo grilled-cheese-and-TV routine because it is simultaneously lonely and heartbreaking and happy at the same time.
In other news, I am in an ethical bind, brought on by mice. My building has mice, and I want them to not be in my apartment. But I am against killing them. We are working on no-kill solutions. But this made me think about why I don't think it's OK to kill mice. I've decided that for me it is because they are intelligent little creatures. But this made me think of the fact that pigs are even more intelligent and filled with personality than mice. Because I like to remain ethically consistent, I have decided I need to give up pork products, which I thought would be easy, since I don't like ham or pork.

I forgot about salami and pepperoni (actually just a type of salami).

I forgot about sausage, specifically grilled kielbasa.

And, damn everything, there's bacon to consider. Bacon is the most delicious food on the planet. It is both a food and a condiment. Everything is better with bacon. I have one package of bacon in the freezer that I will use up, and after that, I will no longer buy pork bacon (turkey bacon is A-OK, because turkeys are dumb as hell).

Now, I am cheating a little. I will still eat bacon if it is bought by someone else and served to me. By that point, refusing it would do nothing to help a pig. But I will be weaning myself off of using my own money to pay for bacon. If I ask you to buy me bacon, refuse. Straight up refuse. Do not let me talk you into it. If you let me talk you into buying me bacon, you are helping nobody; not me, not yourself, and not a pig.

Goodbye bacon. I am going to miss you. You were the best. The very best. Remember that one time I invented the breakfast taco by folding you in a pancake? That was a good time, bacon. One time I chased a cat for you, bacon. Don't drag this out. Don't cheapen what we had. Goodbye, bacon. I hope someday a pig heroically commits suicide for a noble cause and I can eat you again in that bizarrely specific instance.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Right Angles Pizza, Part 2

Last time we learned the back story of Aristotle "Telly" Souvlaki (and by the by, only the last name is fake, his real name is indeed Aristotle), the proprietor of Right Angles Pizza in central Connecticut with his wife Georgia and their children. Today, I would like to share with you some of the finest and most bizarre anecdotes from my friend's sister's employment as a waitress in Right Angles Pizza between 2000 and 2006. My friend, Clive McEnroe, tells me that while Telly was periodically capable of working like a superhuman, accomplishing unbelievable amounts of work in shockingly short amounts of time, he more frequently liked to do little to nothing while his family and employees worked busily around him. To this end, he had a few special spots where he could relax to his fullest potential in the restaurant, often during business hours.

The first and most secluded of these spots was in the semi-finished attic space of the restaurant. Telly had some furniture up there, including a couch to which he would regularly retreat to take naps. He would also use this space to meet with some of his unusual and inexplicable contacts, such as a Russian chess player who would occasionally stop in to play a chess match or two with Telly, or a deep sea fisherman who sometimes would take Telly on his deep sea fishing expeditions. Sometimes he would even meet up with a few shady characters to play Baccarat, making him one of six people in the world that aren't in James Bond films that actually play Baccarat. He also had a number of questionable business contacts, that we'll discuss later.

His second relaxation spot was located in a back hallway of the restaurant, adjacent to the kitchen. This space was otherwise unusable, so Telly decided it would be a good place to put a chair. But it wouldn't do to have customers watch him just sitting in a chair in an empty hallway, so he built a wall of pizza boxes to provide some privacy. But sitting in a private pizza box room must get boring, so he invested in a television. Now, most people would probably put the TV on a stand of some sort. Telly decided he would instead suspend his TV from the ceiling. They sell mounts for this, but Telly decided to dangle his TV from a rope instead, and there it dangled for several years (it has since been replaced with a proper mount, but it is unknown if this was just the inexorable march of progress or due to some gravity-related tragedy).

His third and least impressive relaxation spot was to lie down on top of the chest freezer located in the restaurant's kitchen. From there it was a simple matter to keep an eye on things while resting or actually falling asleep. I wish this paragraph were longer.

Telly is a man with interesting political views. He has twice been vocal on a hot topic of these past few decades: gay rights. One time, I am told, he was sitting in his 2nd relaxation area, watching his dangle-TV when apparently some news story came on about gay rights or a gay pride parade or something similar. This, for some reason, infuriated Telly. He stormed out into the dining area where employees were serving and guests were dining to make a formal declaration to any and all listeners: "There are gay rights in California! There are gay rights in Washington D.C.! I will tell you where there are no gay rights! Right Angles Pizza!!" He then stormed back to his pizza box TV fort without another word. Now, this sounds kind of heinous, I know. But Telly is literally an old world kind of dude. And he also later contradicted this outburst.

One day a perfectly normal middle-aged lesbian couple came in to the restaurant for a meal. They sat and ordered just as anyone would do. This time, it was Georgia who got all old world over it. She beckoned her husband to her and stage whispered to him, "Telly! Do you know who these women are?" "No," he answered, "who are they?" "They are LESBIANS!" she hissed. Now, maybe Telly is not so intolerant as previously indicated. Or maybe he just misunderstood her to mean the women were from the island of Lesbos (old neighbors?). But this time, his response was decent and humane: "So what if they are lesbians? They are paying customers like any others. Leave them be, Georgia." So Telly's positions on social issues remain unconfirmed.

Something very important about Telly is the fact that he is what is colloquially referred to as "a sucker for a deal." This results in the Right Angles Pizza menu occasionally being changed or replaced by whatever bargain Telly has recently come across. This sometimes coincides with some of his unusual business contacts, mentioned earlier. For example, for some strange reason, Telly has made a connection with some sort of watermelon dealer, and twice a year he gets an obscene amount of watermelons at a fabulous price. When this happens, it is obvious to any who visit the restaurant, because guests are served watermelon slices with just about any damn thing they order. Particularly favored guests or employees are given entire watermelons to bring home. This actually sounds pretty awesome. He has a similar deal with an Icelandic cod dealer, and from time to time really pushes dishes featuring cod on the menu.

My favorite story about Telly's unusual bargain hunts, and my favorite story about Right Angles Pizza overall is this next one. As a pizza restaurant, something vital to Right Angles' daily operations is cheese. They simply need cheese to make the lion's share of their menu items. One day, the kitchen was running low on an important cheese; perhaps it was mozzarella, perhaps ricotta. The actual cheese has been lost to the annals of history. What is known is what happened next. Telly went out to buy more cheese. Now, it is important to note that another of his curious traits was a tendency to disappear for inexplicable lengths of time, regardless of how needed he was wherever he was supposed to be. This trip would turn out similarly. What should've been a 10-15 minute trip to a nearby store turned into 30 minutes. It turned into 60 minutes. It turned into a full 90 minutes, with the restaurant growing ever nearer to a cheese-less kitchen with each dish prepared.

Finally he returned, arms full. Had he procured the needed cheese? Well... sort of. Telly had somehow come across yet another deal he could not pass up while out. Instead of cheese, he was carrying a stack of four full-sheet sized cheesecakes. Where did he get them? Why did he get them? Mysteries abounded. But someone was displeased with this shocking turn of events. Georgia, in front of customers and staff, literally shrieked at her husband. "Telly, you STUPID MAN!!! We need cheese to feed the customers! What in the hell can we do with all of your cheesecake!?"

"Tonight," declared Aristotle "Telly" Souvlaki proudly to his restaurant, "EVERYONE will eat cheesecake!"

And so they did. Cheesecake was served with absolutely everything. Unordered cheesecake slices were brought to guests, free of charge. As usual, all was well, and all was bizarre in the world of Right Angles Pizza.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Right Angles Pizza, Part 1

Readers of this blog should know by now that I like unusual or funny stories. I like hearing them, and I like telling them. Many of my favorite stories come from my family, and these have been chronicled in the Tales From The Lebowskis series of entries that have taken up most of this blog for the past few months. However, not all of the stories that I love have come from my family, and so today I'll begin bringing you tales from other sources as well. Now, this is not the end of Tales From The Lebowskis by any means. But I think it's time to break from those classic stories for a little while and bring you a few other amazing tales.

Today I'd like to begin relating to you the story of a very special pizza restaurant in central Connecticut. This story is not my story, my connection to this restaurant is tangential at best. A good friend of mine who will go by the pseudonym Clive McEnroe told me all about this restaurant and the man behind it. His sister, Ashley McEnroe, was employed as a waitress there from about 2000-2006. Clive has graciously given me permission to print his stories here, and we have gone over the details together to ensure that you, the reader, get a finished product that is both amusing and accurate.

The story of Right Angles Pizza (not the real name of the restaurant, of course, but appropriately close and a reflection of a detail to be revealed later) is really the story of a man. A Greek man. A shockingly Greek man. This man is Aristotle "Telly" Souvlaki. His appearance, manner, and mode of speaking are all strikingly stereotypical of a 1st-generation immigrant to the US from Greece of his age. But Telly meets not only the modern Greek stereotypes, he even meets some of the ancient ones. Notably, he is a man who loves recreational geometry. He would periodically interrupt his employees while they were in the middle of helping customers to pose them little geometry quizzes such as "how can I tell the height of this room without getting up from my chair?" and then proceed to explain basic to mid-level trigonometric and applied geomtric formulae while his customers sat hungry. Hence the pseudonym "Right Angles Pizza."

But Telly's story begins in the nation of Greece, where he was born, raised, and educated up until he was about 16 years of age, in the early 1950's. Something happened then that would set his life on a course less travelled than most. One day he was outside his school on a recess when a younger student began to annoy him by throwing pebbles at him. Irritated, young Telly demanded the boy cease. He did not. Telly warned him that, "if you do not stop, I will slap you!" He didn't stop. Telly stood up, walked over to the boy and delivered a mighty slap across his face, as promised. Unfortunately for Telly, his hand-face thunderclap was witnessed by a teacher, who told Telly that he would contact his father and let him know about his son's misdeed.

Now, most people would've just gone home and faced the music, or maybe tried to avoid their father for the night. Telly decided more drastic measures were needed to avoid the shame of facing his irate father. He left the school and immediately went to the docks and got hired onto a cargo ship bound for South Africa. He spent the next decade in South Africa working, making interesting and sometimes shady contacts, and developing a lifelong love of South African wine. He did not contact his family at all during this time, nor did he contact Georgia, his teenage sweetheart whom he had promised to marry and take away to America. But he did not forget.

10 years after his sudden departure, Telly returned to his native land unannounced. He strode up to the door of the girl he had left behind 10 years prior and announced to her "Georgia! It is me, back! We can now be married and go to America!" She was neither joyous nor angry, merely confused. "Telly?... Where have you been?" But in the end, love won out and married they were and off to America they went. Their next few decades are unknown to me, and when our story continues next time, we will pick up the dawning years of the 21st century at the family owned-and-operated business Telly, Georgia, and their 3 children would run: Right Angles Pizza.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Catch Me!

As those readers who have met my family may know, the Lebowski genes carry with them a certain body type. This body type could be described as "stocky" or "full-figured." While the Jerboa family genes carried by my grandmother, Mary or "Nonnie" trend slimmer, Lebowski genes seem to be dominant in most of the offpsring of the Lebowski-Jerboa union. As readers may know, this is certainly the case with Stephen "Hulka" Lebowski, but he is not alone in this. I too am a heavy-set man. And until recently, my aunt Patty "Pappy" Lebowski was a big lady too. I would like to note here that she has recently trimmed down quite a bit and is looking and feeling great!

One thing Pappy has always had is a lot of spirit. She is the first to sign up to plan a party, host a party, set up a party, attend a party, or help clean up from a party. She is a party-oriented individual. She has a playful and exuberant spirit that was not at all done justice by her role in the first Tale From the Lebowskis. At parties she has always been willing to get up and sing karaoke, lead the movement to the dance floor, or even give a decorative deer's head's antlers a new hat made of a brassiere. There is one party game of Pappy's that will forever live in infamy however.

It was New Year's Eve in the mid-1980's. Several of the young adult Lebowski's had gone to a local establishment we'll call "Billy J's" to ring in the new year. Among those in attendance were Pappy and her darling baby brother, Steve "Hulka" Lebowski. Pappy was dressed to the nines for the occasion, wearing a slick new dress. A few drinks in, Pappy decided to let her spirit run wild and decided to play her favorite party game with a man who could handle it, her enormous brother.

She started running towards Hulka, who was standing near the doors to the club's kitchen. Hulka, enjoying some hors d'oeuvres, was at first, unaware of his sister's charge. To alert him, Pappy shouted two words that would be immortalized by the events to follow:


Hulka turned and saw his sister in a full run coming towards him. He had only seconds to act. He rapidly oriented himself, eyes wide, and prepared to catch his sister, who by this point had left the ground, flinging herself towards her target. Her aim was good. His stance was good. His arms closed around her.

This would be the end, except for the fact that Pappy's new dress was not just slick-looking, it was literally slick. At least, this is what Hulka insists. He maintains to this day that Pappy was debuting Teflon's new line of evening wear that New Year's Eve, and the results should be, by this point, predictable.

As Hulka closed his arms around her, Pappy's airborne acceleration failed to stop. It, at best, slowed. She slid through his grip and continued her forward momentum into the swinging kitchen doors. In they swung, and in she fell. As they swung back out and crashes were heard within, out flew a pair of shoes (it is unknown if her shoes were also from DuPont's latest line). One hit the floor and tumbled harmlessly to a stop. The other, as if guided from above, landed on a waiter's tray of empty and half-finished drinks, overturning some glasses, but stopping cleanly on the tray.

So goes the legend of Pappy, "Catch Me," and the Teflon Dress. If only Monica Lewinsky had owned one.



Too soon?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Jaja Card 2: Jaja Carder and Jaja Card with a Vengeance

Last time, I showed you the greatest card I've ever received, a birthday card from Dave "Jaja" Lebowski, Sr. While cleaning, I have come across two more classic Jaja cards that I would like to share with you. Neither is quite as good as the first, greatest card (pretty much by definition), but they are both good. Rather than the "click-the-front-to-see-the-inside" gimmick, this time I'll just post up scans of the images for your enjoyment.

For the first of these two cards, I happened to have the envelope still around, which features strikingly artistic labelling. Note the double outline letters. Groovy.

Next we have the front of the card itself. It's a bit... floral... for Jaja's tastes, so I think he was clearing out a back stock of old cards that Nonnie left behind when she passed.

Now for the interior. In all sincerity, without any hint of sarcasm, this card was actually really touching to me in the simplicity of its message. Thanks, Jaja. Love you too.

Now onto the next card. Here we have a standard-issue holiday season billfold card. The kind that basically guarantees there's some currency within (Jaja's usual Christmas gift).

What's written inside? Along with a stock "Let It Snow!" message, we have a custom holiday greeting from Jaja. Not "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." Oh no, not any sort of well-wish at all. It's a statement of fact. In the third person. With the verb conjugation seemingly decided after the fact. As if to answer the age old question, "Who loves ya, baby?"

Jaja does. Jaja loves you, baby.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - The Greatest Card I Have Ever Received

While doing some recent closet cleaning, Meredith came across a box of my things that I had forgotten about. Inside this box, amongst other things, was the greatest card I've ever received from anyone, for any reason. This card was a birthday card, given to me on my 23rd birthday. It was from my beloved grandfather, Dave "Jaja" Lebowski, Sr., a man who felt he had a lot to express with this birthday card. In his gentle and poetic script, he covered who I am to him, his thoughts on the amount of time I'd been on the Earth at that point, and his larger reflection on the whole affair. Visible below is the outside of the card. Please click on this image to be taken to a view of the interior.

I realize that for anyone reading this blog who doesn't already know who I am (nobody), this card does provide a clue to my true identity. Luckily, googling "Matt Thirty" only brings up some Malaysian guy's MySpace profile, some Bible passages, and a few other odds and ends. As you can see.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Vinnie Jerboa, The Lyin' King

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may recall an entry I did entitled "Tales From The Lebowskis - Hulka, Prince of Lies." Today I'd like to tell you about the man who ensures that Hulka will never rise from the rank of Prince to take a place as a reigning monarch. I've met only one other man from whose mouth pours falsehoods so freely and so truly believed by their source as the man I'd like to tell you about today. The Lyin' King in question is my first cousin, twice removed (that is to say my grandmother Mary "Nonnie" Lebowski nee Jerboa's cousin) Vincent "Vinnie" Jerboa (the man who could match him lie for lie was a Spanish and Italian teacher from Venezuela who taught at my high school for two years, Bellido Alejandro Golbez).

Uncle Vinnie, as he tends to be known these days, is a liar so adept that he doesn't even realize when he is lying. I am convinced he could pass a polygraph test for any of the bullshit he spews. This is what sets Vinnie into a lying league of his own. Hulka and Jaja can both spin great lies, but they know they're lying. Vinnie's lies, to him, are true. Here below are just a few of Uncle Vinnie's most classic lies, the ones that will be remembered always for their sheer audacity, obvious falseness, and his insistence on their veracity.

  • Vinnie served in the US Navy as a younger man, and was in fact active in the service during World War II. The fact that he was in the Navy during this time is probably the only true thing he says about his service. He once reminisced about his days afloat with my grandfather, Dave "Jaja" Lebowski, Sr., recalling bemusedly how his shipmates nicknamed him "Ski," and confessing he had no idea where this nickname came from. Jaja loudly informed him that he was a damn fool, and that Ski was not Vinnie's military nickname, but John "Great Jaja" Lebowski's, Ski being short for Lebowski. Vinnie somehow did not believe his cousin-in-law on this one, and maintains that he, not Great Jaja, was called Ski, in spite of the fact that this makes absolutely no sense.
  • The more memorable of Vinnie's lies about his time in the Navy took place in New York Harbor. Vinnie says that at some point during World War II, he was on a naval ship that was in said harbor area. This is the only part of this claim that is likely true. Vinnie insists that one night, he was completely alone on deck, when he witnessed a German U-boat surface from the still waters of the harbor. It remained for a moment, then resubmerged. He then claims he ran and found his superior officer and informed him of what he had seen. To this, his commanding officer reportedly answered, "Keep it to yourself, we don't want any trouble with the Germans." During World War II. In US coastal waters. Next to a major US city.
  • The most whimsical of Vinnie's lies also took place on a boat (perhaps water vessels increase his lying ability...). Long after his Navy days, Vinnie was enjoying a day out on a boat on the Connecticut River with his cousin-in-law, Dave "Jaja" Lebowski, Sr. and his cousin-in-law's son, Steve "Hulka" Lebowski. Vinnie was gazing at the riverbank when he suddenly announced to his companions, "There they go." "There who goes?" asked Hulka. "The penguins," answered Vinnie. "Penguins?" asked a befuddled Hulka. "Yeah, penguins. They were on the rocks and they just dived under. You just missed them," said Vinnie, as if it should be completely obvious. "Vinnie," started Hulka, "penguins don't live around here. They're indigenous to Antarctica." "and Connecticut!" addended Vinnie. Since the climates are so similar.
In the Lebowski family, the latter two lies have been merged in our collective consciousness into one charming delusion. If you ever meet a Lebowski clan member or friend of the family and hear him or her mention Nazi penguins, you now know why. And knowing, they say, is half the battle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Odds and Ends

So, for anyone wondering why there was no post last week, I was in Sao Paulo, Brazil visiting my parents for a little over a week. I did have access to a computer with internet, but I was on vacation and decided to extend that vacation to blogging as well (read: L-A-Z-Y). I wasn't really sure what to post today, as I have a few ideas in my head but nothing really compelling. Sorry there won't be a Tales From The Lebowskis entry this week, but next week there should be a new one up. So today's post will just be a few unrelated thoughts and commentaries without any sort of connecting thread. Without further ado...

  • Brazil (or at least Sao Paulo) is a cool place to visit, but I don't think I'd do well living there. For one thing, driving is insanity down there. 4-way intersections don't really NEED stops signs, right Sao Paulo? Why would you want to warn anyone that the left two lanes are about to completely diverge from the road they're on? Why shouldn't streets be named after the ENTIRETY of a person's name, including title (Rua Professor Rolando Angelo Tenuto? Rua Doutor Gentil Liente Martins?)? I mean, you can just pick a random word from the string of names and throw that on the sign, can't you? Good food down there, though.
  • Inglourious Basterds is awesome. It makes you expect, want, or dread things happening, then doubt they would really go that way, then gives you exactly what you initially expected/wanted/dreaded but you're suprised anyway. And does it very skillfully and with great style and panache. And the currents of dark humor that run through the veins of this revenge flick bubble to the surface at perfect moments to break tension and make you laugh in the middle of some very suspenseful events.
  • Ted Kennedy died. That is very sad. Regardless of your opinion of his politics, he was an influential man who worked hard in the Senate to pursue goals he believed were right for the country. I would like to relate an anecdote about Ted Kennedy from my days in college: Teddy came to my college one day when the Prime Minister of Ireland was also visiting and speaking. An acquaintence of mine, who we'll call Ryan Soda was in attendance at this event, as he was a prominent College Democrat. Ryan Soda was a big man. A very big man. Hulka-sized, although maybe not as tall. After the Prime Minister was done speaking, Ryan boldly approached Senator Kennedy and asked him if he would care to retire to somewhere nearby and enjoy some alcoholic libations. "That's the best idea I've heaahd all day!" replied the Senator. And so off they went to the hotel on campus, which featured a hotel bar. And Ryan Soda proceeded to go drink-for-drink with Teddy Kennedy, a man famous for being not only the "Lion of the Senate", but a lion of alcohol consumption as well. I hope wherever Ryan Soda is today, he is raising a glass (or a dozen glasses or so) to his old drinking buddy, Edward Kennedy, Jr.
  • While on vacation, I had a chance to read another Kurt Vonnegut novel, Breakfast of Champions. It was very good. With each passing work I read by Vonnegut, the more I wish he was still alive so I could meet him some day. His writing style seems so simple, straightforward, and honest. It is deceptively skillful to be able to write so well and seem so direct and be so damn funny. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., to you I raise a glass (or a dozen glasses or so).
  • It was recently confirmed that I can now list all 195 nations currently recognized by the United Nations without the aid of a map or checklist. Thanks, Sporcle!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Do Your Damn Homework!

There's a lot of contentious issues being tossed around in the world of US politics right now (as always). The biggest one at the moment is health care, and that's certainly what's been getting the most press recently. I have been watching, reading, and listening about the health care debate, and I am getting pretty annoyed and angry. This has nothing to do with my views on the actual issue (I am in favor of a more socialized version of health care, but am undecided as to whether a program styled after the Canadian single-payer system, the British NHS, or, as I learned about earlier today, the Dutch government-mandated bare minimum coverage from private insurers would be best for us to adopt) and everything to do with the nature of the debate taking place.

I think it's great when people get angry and impassioned about politics. This is our country and our lives, we should be impassioned about it. And regardless of your political views, there's been plenty in the past decade or so to be angry about. So if you feel compelled to speak with passion about one of the issues on the table, such as health care, great! However (here comes the title of this post), do your damn homework first. I am sick and tired of hearing people full of passion but lacking any sort of knowledge on the topic. Death panels? The NHS would've killed Stephen Hawking? Are you people shitting me? There's two possible explanations for the ridiculous, juvenile, and counter-productive level of debate going on about health care recently that I can think of.

First, it is possible that a large number of American citizens are idiots, or crazy, or crazy idiots. Certainly there's a lot of cynics or comics playing the cynic out there who have claimed this one for years (probably as long as there's been American citizens, and before that about citizens of any and all nations, states, nation-states, tribes, clans, etc.). So this theory would roughly go that stupid ideas and claims are being spontaneously generated in the vacuum-like minds of stupid people. It's tempting to think this way because it removes all blame from the process. "Oh, people will be people, stupidity is part of the deal, let's accept it." I call bullshit on this explanation.

The second, more probable option, is that a relative few intelligent, powerful, and prickish folks feel that they are entitled to lie, mislead, and misdirect normal people to support ends that are inimical to the average person, but beneficial to the select few. Yes, I'm pointing the finger at some politicians here. And yes, I'm pointing at some heads of industry. But I'm pointing the biggest finger (the middle finger, baby) at the media. The journalists. The so-called "4th branch of government" who needs to learn to do THEIR damn homework, grow a backbone, and start placing a little more emphasis on journalistic integrity.

The most egregious offender that I've seen is Fox News, although they're not the only ones culpable. The people who stand to make money off of Fox News know that sensationalism, anger, and fear mean big money. So they play into the feelings of paranoid alienation that plague angry white men and pander to their need to blame shitty education or job prospects on some shadowy (read: black) other because hey, it puts money in the bank. And we all get taken for a ride. Do you think the pundits who rule the Fox kingdom can truly be as odious as they seem? I doubt it. They just know where their next paycheck is coming from. That kind of cynical "vitriol for cash" mentality keeps journalism at its basest, lowest form.

And they're not alone, they're just the most obvious offender. All of the media has been fanning the flames of this absurd "birther" movement. It's crazy, and all the coverage of it detracts from actual political reporting. We have actual issues to deal with, like the economy, like getting a better health care system, like the fact that we still have our armed forces to look after. We need journalism that reports hard truths, well-researched facts, and does so in a way that is unbiased and not sensationalized. We need information to come not from the source with the best marketing or the most cash, but from the source with the most untainted, empirical approach possible (true impartiality is impossible, but we could still make great strides in this direction).

When journalism does its job for once, and gives people facts instead of puffed up talking heads to listen to, then maybe, just maybe, the public will be able to do their damn homework and participate in civic debates that are productive and that serve the best interests of the citizenry instead of serving the unfounded fears of a hostile, vocal minority that have been whipped into a frenzy by greedy, irresponsible leadership.

(No links this time, but google the Stephen Hawking thing, it's unreal.)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - The Rise and Fall of Huckleberry

A little over five years ago or so, Hulka decided what his home needed was a brand new barn, big enough to house his antique tractors and various other hardware and vehicles. The Lebowskis and their friends are a bit like the Amish: raising a barn is a community affair. So through the entire process of clearing the land, digging the foundation, and actually building the barn, Hulka was aided by his family and friends. Almost everybody got involved on some level, from the oldest family members (Dave "Jaja" Lebowski, Sr. and his brother Uncle Jim) to the youngest (my cousins Chris and Kyle Rudedawg). My father helped, I helped, first, second, and third cousins helped. However, two individuals in particular are important to this story.

At this time, my uncle Dave Lebowski, Jr. (also known as "Uncle Daven" and "Blaze") was recently divorced and spending a lot more time visiting his family even though his residence was in another state, and we were very glad to have him around more. Uncle Daven's interests include music (he's a pretty awesome guitarist) and computers. Construction and similar activities have never really been his forte. But he wanted to spend time with his family, and his family was building a barn, so he was up to give it a try.

Also on the crew, actually a crucial member of the crew, was longtime family friend Jerry Lamaze. Jerry is a man who couldn't be more acquainted with working with his hands. He has worked construction all his life, and is, for his size, immensely strong. This is a man who used to have a party trick where he would grip a metal support column in my grandparents' basement with both hands then hold himself completely perpendicular using the mighty strength of his arms. Jerry, basically, is a tough guy. A man's man.

Over the course of this construction project, David had a few things to learn about building a barn, and Jerry decided to take this man he's known since he (David) was born under his wing and show him the ropes. David got the hang of it fairly quickly, and Jerry was delighted with him. Jerry would offer to buy him celebratory beers, include him in his little pranks, and even gave David a new nickname. David was now Jerry's "Huckleberry."

All was well with Jerry and Huckleberry. This construction project had made them the best of buddies. Such good friends, in fact, that Jerry had a special job for Huckleberry one day. You see, the crew realized that to work on the roof, it was a little bit easier to put a reliable, skilled person in the bucket of the payloader (yes, Jaja owns a payloader. Doesn't everyone's grandfather?) and raise them up. Usually this job would go to somebody like my father, or Jerry himself. But on this day, this special day, Jerry had reserved this special honor for David, his Huckleberry.

David climbed into the bucket, tools in hand. This was a big chance to gain esteem in the eyes of the great and powerful Jerry Lamaze. David stood at the ready in the payloader bucket and prepared himself for the ascent to the roof. But fortune frowned upon him and a single hammer slipped from his grasp. He watched it fall, hit the payloader bucket, bounce, and fall out to the ground. Jerry's face showed the slightest hint of displeasure. David could still recover though, he just had to make the right quip for the situation, which he came up with after a brief pause.


Jerry's face lost any and all joy or compassion. "What did you say?" he asked, as though David had informed him of the death of a child. "... Whoopsie-doodle?" David repeated, almost a whisper. There was another brief pause. "Get out of the bucket," instructed Jerry with absolute gravity, "Steven, get in." And just like that, Huckleberry had fallen from grace, much like Jerry would weeks later fall from that same roof (he survived).

However, the legend of Huckleberry and whoopsie-doodle did not die. Months later, around Christmas time, some of us were sitting around Hulka and Holly's kitchen table, enjoying some holiday cheer. A knock came at the door. In bursts Jerry to debut his new holiday hit song, relatively to the tune of "A Holly Jolly Christmas."

Have a Huckleberry Christmas
And in case you didn't know
Say "whoopsie-doodle" and you'll get a lot of snow!
(repeat until bored)

And all was right with the world.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Can't Say That Anymore

Around 1999-2000, my immediate family was in the process of moving from our old house to our new house. Because the old house was sold about a year before the new house was finally done being built, we had to make certain arrangements to have living space in the meanwhile. Luckily, my maternal grandparents, David (aka Jaja) and Mary (aka Nonnie) Lebowski kindly and generously let us share their house until ours was finished. I got to live in my uncle's old room in the basement (David "Blaze" Lebowski, Jr., not Stephen "Hulka" Lebowski), which was pretty sweet, while my parents and my sister, Meghan, occupied spare bedrooms on the main floor. There were aspects that took getting used to, and it was probably easier on me than others since Nonnie treated me like gold and I was in the basement, removed from most of the drama anyway, but all in all, it worked out really well.

One evening, all six of us were seated around the kitchen table eating dinner. I forget what we were talking about specifically, but I guess it came out that my father, Steven Thirty, had done something helpful or kind. Nonnie, wishing to show her appreciation for my father's good deed, told him:

"Well, that was awfully white of you, Steven."

Normally Meghan and I were pretty good about not actually laughing out loud and embarassing our elders for a remark like that. But this time the defenses were down, and we both nearly choked laughing at Nonnie's politically incorrect remark. My mother just looked embarassed. Jaja kept eating, absolutely unfazed. Nonnie, meanwhile, looked confused and a little hurt, and couldn't understand what was so funny. My father, with trademark patience, explained to her the racial connotations of her statement.

Nonnie was shocked. Surely we understood she meant white as in pure, like snow. His soul was glowing white, and this had nothing to do at all with skin color. My father continued explaining that today, a comment like that would be taken as having a racist meaning, even if she didn't mean it that way. Perturbed, but determined to salvage the conversation, Nonnie switched topics and started telling us about her latest night shift at the local convalescent home she worked at part time. It was pretty standard for the most part. But then, she started telling us about an orderly who she spotted catching a nap in a side room. This orderly was a big black man. She told how how:

"I walked right over to that big jungle bunny and told him 'quick, wake up before the supervisor sees you!'"

Again, Meghan and I couldn't hold back our laughter. My mother was laughing too this time. Jaja, still, continued eating without missing a beat. Again, Nonnie looked confused and hurt. While my father explained that "jungle bunny" was considered a racist term now, she explained how she was trying to help him out by waking him up before the supervisor could catch him. Surely we didn't think she was racist or disliked this man because he was black. My father (who, by the way, Nonnie adored. If she thought me golden, he was platinum) told her that he knew she was just trying to help, and that it was only the choice of words that was an issue. He told her he was sure the orderly appreciated her helping him not get caught. Finally Jaja spoke.

"He probably thought it was awfully white of you."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Hulka, Prince of Lies

A lot of the Lebowski family tales are brief moments, that don't really translate well to a single, dramatic narrative. This is because these stories are real life events, and real life doesn't always follow the traditional "rising action-climax-falling action" pattern of stories. For this entry in the Tales From The Lebowskis feature, I'm going to share with you a number of brief, unrelated episodes on a common theme. Stephen "Hulka" Lebowski is my uncle and is quite a character, as you may recall. He is also an accomplished artist of the English language, and can use his linguistic prowess for both truth and lies.

Over the course of my life, I have borne witness to many of Hulka's finest lies, so I would like to relate a few of my favorite untruths from Uncle Hulka. Before I do, let me say that Hulka's lies to me were often spun with the intention of entertaining me, filling my head with images of a fantastical world where anything is possible. It made my childhood that much more fun, and I wouldn't trade those wonderful lies for anything. Here now are a few chosen lies that I've enjoyed from Hulka over the years.

  • Hulka supposedly had two alternate dog-like personalities that would come out from time to time complete with gruff voices. They were Lockjaw (the nice dog person) and Dogjaw (the mean one). When I was being a little shit, Hulka would warn me that Dogjaw was taking over, usually scaring me into behaving and pleading with Dogjaw to let Lockjaw take over instead.
  • Dogjaw was not enough of a deterrent for bad behavior I guess, because Hulka also warned me of The No-Fun House. The No-Fun House was the worst place in the world. Anything bad I could think of to ask if it was there, Hulka told me was there. Any redeeming qualities I could think of to ask if they belonged to the No-Fun House, Hulka denied. I was terrified of being sent to the No-Fun House. The No-Fun House was located in Moosup, CT, where they have nothing but wheat. When I was told this, I cried. Once I was being particularly spazzy in the car and Hulka pulled his car up in front of an abandoned house and told me this was the fabled No-Fun House, and to get out. I was scared shitless and immediately behaved like a model child, at least until we were far enough away.
  • Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy apparently used to live in the house next door to the one Hulka lived in at the time (his parents, Mary "Nonnie" Lebowski and David "Jaja" Lebowski's house). They were not the best neighbors for Hulka because they used to wake him up very early by coming over and jumping on his bed, instructing him to Mousercise with them. They had moved away to Florida before I was born, because their new home, Walt Disney World, had been completed.
  • Hulka, while driving one day, spotted a car being driven by a cat, with another cat riding in the back. The car pulled up next to him at a red light and he recognized the cats as my cats, Jammers (driving) and Jiggs (passenger). The car was my mother's brand new Subaru station wagon. Jammers tried to convince Hulka to drag race against her by revving the engine, but Hulka did not. Jammers peeled out when the light changed and zoomed away, as Jiggs waved out the rear windshield. I was dubious of this, but Hulka convinced me by correctly identifying the make, model, and color of my mother's car.
  • Hulka was part of a conspiracy of adults who successfully had me believe that our elderly family friend, Katherine Kookaburra was trapped in a number of dryers in a variety of family members' homes. Katherine had a distinct and easily imitable voice. Did you know that if somebody stands at the dryer vent outside a house and speaks into it, it sounds like the voice is coming from inside the dryer? Hulka, his siblings, and at least a few of their spouses knew this. Obviously upon opening the dryer, I could see she was not inside, but I believed she had somehow gotten herself trapped behind the tumbler (so many times! Katherine, stay away from dryers for Christ's sake!) and if the adults would just cooperate with me, we could get the tumbler out and save her. But no, not only did they let me futilely try to figure out how to get behind the tumbler, they also would inform me, after a minute or two had passed, that we couldn't wait any longer to run the dryer. "But there's no clothes to dry! Katherine's in there!" "I know, but it's time to run the dryer now. Let's hope Katherine can handle it."
  • Hulka and his sister Patty "Pappy" Rudedawg nee Lebowski (the one who accompanied Great Jaja on his trip to the Springfield Bus Station) collaborated on the wonderful idea that the live lobster they were going to cook for their father as a Father's Day feast was in fact the new pet lobster, Leo (named after Leo Bootywitz? Maybe.) Leo enjoyed crawling around, and even visited me while I was in the pool, although he wouldn't actually get in. He had rubber bands on his claws so he wouldn't hurt his new family. They did not think this lie through, because eventually they had to murder Leo and let my grandfather feast on the corpse of our new pet. When I tearfully pleaded for him to stop, that Leo was a pet, I was told by my loving grandfather, Jaja, "Oh, horseshit! *crunch*"
  • Hulka's lies were not always to me. On one memorable occasion, he lied for my benefit. Hulka and my father, Steve Thirty, had just taken me to Wal-Mart so I could buy the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (packaged with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past!) that I had saved up a $2 per week allowance for for over a year. We got back to Hulka's to drop him off before going home. While at Hulka's, Hulka wanted to loan me a few more SNES games for my new system. My father did not want to wait, and told me to go get in the car. Hulka, from the bedroom where he kept his old SNES games, told me to come and take them from him. I was trapped between contradicting orders from two adults I loved and respected. "Remus, come here!" "Remus, go to the car." "Remus, come here!" "No, you go to the car." Then the stalemate was broken by Hulka: "Remus! I'm on fire!" Now, I didn't believe him. Nor did my father. But I looked up at my father, shrugged, and ran to get my games. Upon returning to the living room, I said to my father, "I'm probably in trouble, huh?" "Yeah." But Hulka came to my defense! "No, Steve," he said, "Remus saved my life. A comet crashed into me and set me on fire. It flew all the way from Uranus! It hit me in My-anus!" A good laugh was had by all, and I did not get in trouble.
From MyAnus to Urs, take care, all!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bruno: Close, But No (Phallic) Cigar

I have been a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen and his zany personae since about 2001. A friend of mine found a few clips of Ali G from his run on the BBC our freshman year at college shared on the network. How he found them I'm not exactly sure, this was back when there was no search engine or file sharing hub for the network so you had to search shared hard drives individually. Anyway, somehow he stumbled across these video clips that had us in stitches, quoting Ali to each other for months and years to come. Since then, I was delighted when those of us in the States were treated to HBO's Da Ali G Show, I was mildly entertained by Ali G's big screen endeavor, Ali G Indahouse, and I was overwhelmingly thrilled with 2006's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Rarely if ever have I laughed as hard in a movie theater as I did at Borat. The whole theater was full of raucous laughter, in fact, on the opening night show I attended as part of a Borat release party I hosted with my roommate at the time. Subsequent viewings helped me find less obvious jokes in Borat, and also helped me really think about which gags were funny because they were shocking and which gags were well-done comedy (many were both). I've had a long time to reflect on Borat, and my admiration for it as a groundbreaking comedy film has not waned.

Of course, I was very excited to see Bruno, Sacha Baron Cohen's latest film endeavor. While I've always considered Bruno to be the bronze medal of Cohen's characters, I still had high hopes for the film, seeing as Cohen's 3rd movie attempt would likely benefit from his increased experience in making a feature-length movie. I saw Bruno about six days ago, and have had time to process it now. On the whole, I really enjoyed it. But I must say, I think Borat still trumps it in my opinion. Having taken some time to explore why that is, I will try to explain my contrasts and comparisons here.

There are probably going to be spoilers for one or both films, read at your own risk.

First of all, I think one of the main differences in the films is the likability of the protagonists. Borat, while misogynistic and anti-semitic, was portrayed as a naive innocent whose faulty world views were a direct result of his fictionalized homeland's policies and culture. We, the audience, are sympathetic to Borat because he is trying his best to get by with no knowledge of American social graces or customs. Much of the laughter in Borat comes from his "honest" misconceptions, such as believing human feces should be bagged and discarded, believing pubic hair is a viable resource for bartering, or believing, like a child who has read a scary fairy tale, that Jews are shapeshifting monsters who will kill him if they can. Bruno, in contrast, should know better. Neither being gay nor being Austrian should impart the same level of social ineptitude that Borat's fictionalized homeland of Kazakhstan believably does. Bruno comes across as shallow and somewhat vapid instead of just naive. The character is still quite funny, don't get me wrong, he's just not as easy to root for.

Secondly, while there is some real daring, gut-busting humor in Bruno, a little too much comes from laughing at the fact that, "hey, he's gay! That's so weird and raunchy!" For example, faked up photos of Bruno holding his adopted son in a hot tub while other gay friends engage in sex acts seems to erroneously conflate being gay with lacking sexual boundaries. It could easily be said that the character of Bruno is simply both gay and wild sexually, but this is not the layered image that will likely stay with viewers. GLAAD seems to agree. Let me say though, again, a lot of the movie was hilarious. Even some moments that didn't sit quite right with me still had me laughing. The problem is, the movie simultaneously lampoons homophobia and homosexuality, leading to a mixed, although still largely positive response from me.

Third, some of the jokes don't work quite as well as some of the jokes in Borat. Bruno certainly has it's share of stunningly funny moments (the "special guest" who screams Bruno's name at the end of his TV pilot episode is notably hysterical), but walks across the finish line in a few gags. Let's compare two similar gags from Borat and Bruno: the recurring chicken gag from Borat and the recurring dildo-bike gag from Bruno. The jokes are similar, with both featuring an outlandish accessory appearing unexpectedly in shots throughout the films. However, in my opinion, the chicken gag is much funnier. Here's why: it makes less sense. Hear me out on this.

While the dildo-bike's mere existence is much more ridiculous than the chicken's, once we establish that the chicken and dildo-bike do exist and do belong to their respective film protagonists, the chicken becomes funnier. Once we establish Bruno owns a dildo-bike, we assume he makes use of it. It is not a one-time use item. It makes some level of sense for him to drag it around with him, if he truly enjoys it so much, even though it is ungainly and awkward. The chicken makes no sense. Why is it in a suitcase? Is it food? If it's food, why hasn't he eaten it yet? If it's a pet, why is it lugged around like an item? What has the chicken been doing while it was off-screen? Has it been fed? There are so many unanswered questions about the chicken, while the dildo-bike leaves very few questions beyond, "did he remember to wash that thing before dragging it onto the street?" Both gags are funny, the chicken is better comedy.

Both films are brilliant in some aspects. Sacha Baron Cohen is totally willing to put himself in literal physical danger for comedy, and it shows in both films. There's a real genius to the way he conducts his interviews and leads his marks into the punchlines he's concocted. He becomes his characters totally, not even breaking scene while drunk or being whipped by a belt. All of this holds true in Bruno, so don't let my critiques turn you away from this daring and very funny film. But don't expect to walk away as satisfied as you did from Borat, if you liked Borat. Let's call it an admirable silver medal, which, hey, is a step up from the bronze Bruno held on the TV show.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Great Jaja Adventures, Vol. 4

Towards the end of his life, John "Great Jaja" Lebowski was a man who enjoyed routine. "Enjoyed" actually may not be the right word. It wasn't so much that he enjoyed the routine, it's more that he became agitated when things deviated from his routine at all. The older he got (and he lived into his mid-90's), the more crotchety and obstinate he became. The thing is, he was already crotchety and obstinate as a younger man. So yeah, he liked things a certain way. This story, "The Best Damn Soup" tells of a time when Great Jaja learned to change his ways ever so slightly.

Great Jaja lived on his own up until almost the very end. He was constantly attended by his daughter, Pat Lebowski and his daughter-in-law Mary Lebowski nee Jerboa (my grandmother Nonnie) as well as other relatives and descendants, but he did live in his own house and prepare many of his own meals. He tended towards the same fare, over and over. He was particularly fond of Port wine, Chicken in a Biskit crackers, eggs, and oatmeal (these items were not usually eaten in combination). Something he had enjoyed at various points throughout his life was raw littleneck clams. I'm not a seafood fan in general, so maybe sucking raw clam out of the shell doesn't seem as gross to others as it does to me, but it seemed pretty gross to me. The smell in particular I always found borderline nauseating.

For a period of time in his later years, Great Jaja rediscovered littleneck clams and took to eating them a lot. A lot a lot. Like 2 dozen a day a lot. He would have my grandmother drive him down to Super Stop & Shop located 3 small towns away from his home every day to get another 2 dozen clams. He usually couldn't wait for her to finish her other errands and would begin eating them in the car. I know, because I was frequently along for these trips during the summer, because my sister Meghan and I would spend the days at Nonnie and Jaja's house when school was out. On one notable trip, Great Jaja decided he had to pee while Meghan and I were waiting with him in the car while Nonnie bought his clams. He opened the car door, I assumed it was to get out of the car and walk into the supermarket and find a bathroom. I was wrong. He sort of leaned towards the open door and peed onto the parking lot. My sister and I remained silent and thankful that the front row of seats shielded his escapade from our view.

Anyway, Great Jaja's diet became more and more clam-based. My grandmother, mother, and aunts being nurses, they were concerned that 2 dozen clams a day, supplemented by wine, crackers, eggs, and oatmeal was not really a nutritionally balanced diet. So they decided to add some nutrients by buying Ensure drinks for Great Jaja. Lest the images in that link confuse an upcoming detail, at that time, Ensure came in cans, not little plastic bottles. Anyway, they bought him a pack of Ensure and left it in his fridge for him to discover. When they returned a few days later and checked the fridge, the cans were gone. It was a success! He had expanded his diet to include the nutritious shakes!

So my aunt, Patty "Pappy" Lebowski (the one who was in the Springfield Bus Terminal with Great Jaja) asked him about it. "Jaj," she asked, "you liked those Ensure shakes we bought you?" This confused Great Jaja. "Shakes? What the hell you talkin' about goddammit?"

"Ensure shakes, the shakes we put in the fridge!"

"God damn it, I don't know what shakes, what god damn shakes?"

"Jaj, the cans in your fridge. They weren't there before Sunday, now they're gone, so I know you're drinking them!"

"Cans? The hell, you mean the soup?"

Yes, readers, soup. You see, somehow my great-grandfather had confused Ensure shakes, which come in flavors such as chocolate and strawberry and are stored in refrigerators to be consumed cold with cans of soup. You know, soup. The liquid meal served hot in flavors such as chicken noodle, tomato, or clam chowder. Not only had he made this error in perception, he went whole f-ing hog with it. He had been taking a can at a time, and putting it in a pot to boil. Although, perhaps that's not a specific enough description. You're probably picturing this old man pouring chocolate nutrition shake into a pot and cooking it. This is not accurate. He was placing the entire sealed can into the pot and adding water around the can, then boiling it. Somehow this never exploded in his face. I wished him no harm, but by the laws of physics you'd think it should have exploded.

Once the can had reached a sufficient temperature, he would open the can (how he did this without burning his hands off escapes me), pour it into a bowl, and bring it to his table. Once comfortably seated, he would then season his ice-cream flavored hot meal with salt and pepper. Then, he would eat it. And not just eat it. He LOVED it. I'm ready to gag picturing it, but he couldn't get enough. He demanded more be provided, and continued doing this until he had to spend his last few weeks in assisted living.

"Soup!?" Pappy replied, "Jaj, that's not soup!"

"The hell it's not! Best damn soup I ever tasted. Gonna put Campbell's right out of business!"

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Bad Influences

Up to this point, I've left myself out of the Lebowski stories that have appeared on this blog. Today, that changes. Today, I would like to share with you a story from my early childhood, a story that my father Steven Thirty wishes would just vanish from history. This story was actually kept from me until I was about 20 years old, despite the fact that I was a key player. I had no memory of it, because I was about 1 or 2 years old at the time. I had just entered that lovely phase of childhood during which a young child, his or her brain seeking to learn as much language as possible, will repeat anything you say to him or her. In this case, him. Duh.

Also, I should warn you that this Lebowski tale contains language that some may consider shocking or offensive. If you are easily offended, I recommend you read a different blog, or better yet, leave the internet and never come back, because the internet is not a safe place for the gentle-minded.

Stephen "Hulka" Lebowski has been a wonderful uncle since day one. He was always looking out for me, making sure I knew about cool things like his muscle cars or The Doors. Seriously, after the usual childhood basic words (mama, dada, kitty, doggie, etc.) Hulka made it a point to teach me that he drove a "Fouh-Fouh-Two!" and the lead singer of The Doors was "Jim Moh-son!" Mixed in with these important facts were also an astonishing number of harmless-ish, entertaining lies but those will be saved for another time. Because between the truths and the lies, there rests forbidden knowledge.

One day, Hulka, who at this point was still living with his parents, Mary and David Lebowski (Nonnie and Jaja), had a couple of friends over. Notable amongst these young men was John Tygers, one of Hulka's best friends. Eric Zealand may or may not have been present for this. Anyway, Hulka and his buddies were watching a movie together in Hulka's room. Not just any movie, an adult movie. The film was one of the movies from the adult film series The Devil in Miss Jones. I think it MAY have been the 4th installment, The Final Outrage, but I am not certain. I sadly have not seen these films, and so cannot tell you.

There was a line in this film that Hulka, John, and company found absolutely uproarious. At some point an African-American character with a gravelly voice describes to the titular Miss Jones, possibly whilst in Hell, that "... you got a jizz-a-mighty dick, HANGIN' out yo' butt!" What this line actually physically describes is difficult to determine. What makes a dick jizz-a-mighty? Why would it just be hanging out of Miss Jones' butt and not doing something? These are questions I do not know the answer to, and certainly did not know the answers to at age 1 or 2.

This did not stop Hulka and John from continuing my education though. Because when his beloved nephew wandered down the hall from the living room to see Uncle Hulka, Hulka and John saw opportunity. An opportunity to take what was already a hilarious porno line and make it even funnier. By getting the 2-year-old to repeat it. And so, Hulka and John Tygers started teaching me the line. "Remus, say: you got a jizz-a-mighty dick, HANGIN' out yo' butt!" And what else could I do? These was my beloved uncle and his good friend. They usually steered me right. And I had no clue what the words meant anyway.

"You ga jiiiiiiimadig, HAAAAAAAn oucha bud!"

The laughter was immense. This was comedic gold. "You ga jiiiiiiiiimadig, HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAn oucha bud!!" Even more laughter. This line was a keeper. I was going to use this all the time to make the grown-ups laugh. And use it I did. But nobody else got it. Nobody else even understood what I was saying. It was the idle talk of a toddler. And so parents, grandparents, strangers, all were treated to the best of The Devil in Miss Jones without knowing it. For several weeks. But then something happened.

My family was visiting at Nonnie and Jaja's, as was a frequent occurence. John Tygers was also there at the same time, visiting Hulka. And we were all in the living room. And upon seeing my uncle and John together, I did what I would naturally do: use their favorite line to get a reaction. "You ga jiiiiiiiiiiimadig, HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAn oucha bud!" And they laughed. And John repeated it back to me: "You got a jiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiizz-a-mighty dick, HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAngin' out yo' butt!" And it was grand fun. Except this time, my father was there.

His gaze turned to something between ice and stone. "What did you just say?"

"Uhhh, Steve, I uhh..."

"What did you just say, John?"

"Steve, it's just, it's just a line from a movie, it's not a big deal."

"You taught my son, my 2-year-old son, a line from a porno?"

Needless to say, I wasn't really allowed to hang out with Uncle Hulka and John alone much after that point, at least not until I was a little older.

Now, I would like to end with a request/challenge. As established earlier, I have never actually seen the film the line is from. I don't feel like watching a seven-film series just to find the line. If any of you readers can find me either a copy of the film (the correct film, not just any film in the series) or even better, the clip in question, I will come up with a good prize for you. This prize will include a special write-up on the blog, and probably something else good too (what it will be depends on who wins). So start searching, my beloved perverts! Find me this porn!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - The Revenge of the Ex

Prior to meeting my father, the various guys my mom, Diane Thirty nee Lebowski dated in her youth were not always the best and brightest mankind had to offer. I obviously do not know this from personal experience, as I did not exist prior to my mother meeting my father (unless I am able to experience time travel at some point, in which case my future self may exist at some point in the past prior to my mother meeting my father, but this is unlikely). For example, one skeleton from my mother's closet (not actually a skeleton as far as I know) was heard to suggest that the best solution to the escalating Three Mile Island problem would be to "just nuke it and get it over with." He was serious about this, not joking. There is a reason this man is my mom's ex instead of my father.

The ex-boyfriend in this story may be this very same guy, but then again, he could be another less-than-awesome person. Suffice it to say, the guy in this story is not somebody you'd call classy. Anyway, let's give this guy a name for the purposes of the story. I don't know his real name to modify into a fake name, so this name is completely arbitrary. How about.... hmm... Louie Assbutt. OK, so at the time of this story, my mother had just recently broken up with Louie Assbutt and he was less than pleased about this.

Now as it happens, Louie was at the local YMCA one evening and he ran into none other than his ex-girlfriend's youngest brother (about 15 or 16 at the time) Stephen "Hulka" Lebowski and his best friend, Eric Zealand. I'm not going to bother linking to the past Hulka stories on this blog right now because seriously, it's not that hard to scroll down (OK, I lied). Hulka and Eric had come to the YMCA to work on getting buff so they could score with lots of chicks, or at least this is how they imagined the process working out. Louie saw in Hulka an opportunity not for buffness and scoring with chicks, but for revenge.

Louie asked these lads several years his junior what their plans for the evening were, and offered to replace those plans with a trip to the bar if they were so inclined. Hulka was delighted at the chance to drink underage someplace he would not usually be able to do so. Eric was leery, being both more timid and with better judgment than Hulka. Something about this older man offering to take out two mid-teens with whom his only contact was via his recent ex-girlfriend struck Eric as suspicious. Also, he told his parents he would be at the Y and did not want to get in trouble. So Hulka and Eric parted ways here, thinking each other an idiot and a wuss, respectively.

Off went young Hulka with Louie Assbutt to a local dive bar, one where nobody would question the age of the kid sitting there drinking as long as he wasn't buying the drinks for himself. And Louie asked Hulka what he would like to drink on this fine evening. Hulka, for all of the beers he'd snuck up to this point in his life, realized he wasn't exactly sure what adults drank in bars, at least not cool adults. Wanting to look cool enough to be out at a cool bar with this cool guy, Hulka told him that he would have "whatever you're having, dude." And so Louie Assbutt's diabolical plan began to unfold.

Louie told Hulka he was drinking tequila shots and ordered round after round for the two of them. However, Louie wasn't exactly honest. While Hulka was downing tequila, Louie switched after the first shot and enjoyed the refreshing taste of Peachtree Schnapps for the rest of the night, which has about 50% the alcohol content of tequila. This fact, coupled with the gross differences in age and drinking experience meant that while Louie got mildly inebriated, Hulka got shitfaced. And so, his mission half complete, Louie Assbutt loaded Hulka, so drunk he couldn't even see straight, into his car.

Next would come phase 2 of the revenge: bring drunk Hulka back to his home. Because that'll teach the bitch to break up with him! Get her 15-year-old brother drunk and bring him home. As diabolical plans go, this one was no Death Star. Hell, it wasn't even a Death Pebble. Anyway, Louie and Hulka rode up to the Lebowski residence, which had at that time a gravel driveway. Louie put his car in park and asked Hulka if he was ok to walk himself in. Hulka replied something that sounded like, "eeah, am fan" which was probably intended to be along the lines of "yeah, I'm fine," muffled through inebriation and the fact that Hulka's face was planted snugly against the dashboard of the vehicle. With great effort, he managed to get himself out of the car and steady himself with one hand on the roof. Once again, Louie Assbutt asked Hulka if he was alright. Once again Hulka assured him he was completely fine. And then fell like a redwood facefirst into the gravel driveway.

Louie was not a totally heartless monster. He knew that this kid wasn't actually responsible for his oldest sister kicking him to the curb. He couldn't leave him face down in a gravel driveway. So he got out of his car and, with effort, hefted Hulka up onto his shoulder. Together they slogged forward towards the front door of the Lebowski household, where most of the residents were sound asleep. Upon reaching the door, Louie stood Hulka up straight. When that failed, he propped him up against the door much like how one might lean a sack of potatoes against a pantry wall. His young charge/revenge secured, Louie Assbutt quickly rang the doorbell, hopped back in his car, and vanished into the night.

Hulka, meanwhile, was not quite home yet. He face was pressed as close to home as one can really get, but he wasn't quite there. Luckily for him, it was only a matter of moments before the door he was leaning on opened and he tumbled forward into the loving, gentle arms of his father, Dave Lebowski Sr. Dave looked down into the face of his youngest son, reddened by alcohol with small flecks of blood and gravel peppering his face from his earlier fall. Hulka's eyes flickered, trying to open and see his mysterious benefactor, but ultimately failing. So Hulka, slurring his words, asked one favor of this unknown Samaritan:

"Don't wake my father. He's such an asshole."

Epilogue: Dave, being the kindly father that he was, dragged his son down the hall to his bedroom and heaved him onto his bed to let him sleep off the night of mild alcohol poisoning.

Epilogue 2: Dave, being the Lebowski that he was, woke his son up at 5:30 AM, forced him to eat bacon and eggs, and had him spend the next day doing an assload of chores.

Epilogue 3: My mother found a better guy named Steve Thirty, married him, and had an awesome son and an almost-as-awesome daughter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thinking With Portals

I have been playing a game for the past few days called Portal. This game is available for the 360 and for computers, and it is awesome. Basically it's a puzzle adventure game that runs on the Source game engine. Playing the game consists of creating and using portals from a portal gun to move yourself and other objects instantly between two flat surfaces. Only 2 portals can be open at a time, orange and blue, and they connect to each other. Opening a new portal of a color closes the previous portal of the same color. Momentum is preserved upon passing through a portal, allowing for some really neat movement tricks, such as falling from a high platform to build up speed, passing through a portal you've opened one end of on the floor and the other end on a high wall to launch across the room. Along the way you must contend with electrified water pits, robotic turret guns, weighted cubes, a weighted companion cube, bouncing energy balls, and a darkly hilarious AI named GLaDOS who guides you through the challenges.

As you play through the game, your thinking changes subtly. You see new possibilities where there weren't any before. You learn to think with portals. For example, in real life, if you wanted to get to one end of a long room from another, you'd walk the distance. Thinking with portals, though, you'd use your portal gun to open a portal at the near end of the room and another at the far end then use the portal, eliminating the need for a time-consuming walk. Of course, the brain likes to borrow successful strategies from one part of life (or fiction) and apply them to other parts, so I have been thinking with portals in real life (unable to do anything with these thoughts, of course).

Here are some of the thoughts I've had for how portals could be used in interesting, useful, or funny ways in real life:

  • The Portal Backpack: Attach arm straps to a flat board. Open one portal on the board. Open the other in a closet or similarly large storage space. Carry around access to a much larger storage area than ever possible before.
  • The Infinite Waterfall: Open one portal on the floor, another on the ceiling. Get a hose and start pouring water into the infinite loop you've opened. The water will fall forever!
  • The No-Need-For-Wireless: Open one portal near your modem, the other near your computer, anywhere you are. Run an ethernet cable through the portals. No need for unreliable wireless networks now.
  • The Stole-This-Idea-From-The-Simpsons: Open one portal in front of a toilet or urinal, the other in front of yourself. Stand and deliver.
  • The Home Away From Home: Get a truck or van with enough space on a surface to open a portal (the roof a normal car might work too) and open one. Open the other end in your home. Anywhere you drive, you're already home.
  • The Elaborate Coyote: Construct a box of sorts that is tall and wide but very narrow. On the inside of one of the large flat panels, paint a picture that looks like a hallway or open space. On the other inside flat panel, place open a portal. Close up the box. Open the other portal anywhere. Watch idiots try to walk through the portal and hit the painted wall. The portals ensure forced perspective of the painting.
  • The Sunny Basement: Open one portal on the ceiling of your basement or other windowless room. Open another portal outdoors under a sheet of clear plastic, glass, etc. to prevent rain or animals from passing through. Enjoy natural light in any room.
  • The Art Vandelay: Travel to another country. Open a portal in the business or residence of a trusted associate. Open another at home, upon returning stateside. You are now an importer/exporter. This one is not strictly legal.
  • The Fail Safe: Purchase a large safe and place a portal at the back, then cover it with a weak or removable false wall. Open the other portal someplace convenient and private for you. Re-sell the safe. Take, take, take. This one is even less legal.
  • The Moon Cartographer: Travel to the moon somehow. Open a portal. Return to Earth. Open another portal. Purchase cartography equipment. At your leisure, create a detailed map of the moon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - Brown Bagging It

As we learned last time, Steve "Hulka" Lebowski aka "Lebo" and his best friend Eric Zealand were drinking (or at least acquiring alcohol and failing to drink it) since their early teens. As they got a little older, this didn't change. This story comes chronologically later than the one that will come next, "The Revenge of the Ex", but it's briefer and the last entry was so long I thought I'd do a shorter entry this time. Anyway, at this point, Hulka and Eric were in their junior or senior year of high school, and all of the members of their class were going on a (junior or senior)-class ski trip. They loaded onto a bus and went to a ski resort town where they booked most of a motel for the students. Hulka, because of his size, was as usual asked to go to a package store and pass for older to obtain booze for his classmates. If he succeeded he would be the hero of his high school class. If he failed, there were several teachers on the trip as chaperones, and consequences could be dire.

So Hulka and Eric left the motel and walked into town, eyes and ears keen for any sign of authority figures. The trip was uneventful, and once there they set to work picking out various bottles of spirits to delight and inebriate their classmates. When all was said and done, Hulka had obtained two big brown paper shopping bags full of booze. And he was feeling a mite peckish at the time, so he also bought two bags of pork rinds, which would not only be a special treat for dear Hulka, but would also sit on top of the booze in the bags and block prying eyes from seeing the "true" contents of the paper vessels.

As they walked back towards the motel, Hulka and Eric glowed with pride. They had come through for their peers, and no doubt they would be rewarded. Their jubilation was cut short however, because they realized that the two men who were walking towards them on the sidewalk going the opposite way were in fact two of their teachers. It was too late to change course to avoid them. Doom was certain.

Eric was gripped by fear. "Lebo, what the hell are we gonna do? We're screwed! We're so screwed!" he hissed to his friend as the chaperones drew ever nearer. "I don't know Eric, just shut up, here they come," replied Hulka in a whisper.

"Gentlemen," greeted one of the teachers.

"Oh hey! Fancy meeting you here!" returned Hulka, hiding his panic perfectly.

"Indeed, Stephen. And how are you boys?"

"Great, great. This is a great town, isn't it?"

"It is. And are you enjoying the trip so far?"

"Oh yeah, definitely. We're having a blast, just heading back up to the rooms now."

"Good, good... say, boys... What's in the bags?"

Their hearts stopped. They were trapped. If they lied, the teachers could just look in the bags and catch them in the lie. But they couldn't just turn the alcohol over either, that wouldn't save them from the unholy hell they would catch for such an egregious infraction. Not just from the school, but from their parents as well! Eric silently made peace with his creator and prepared for the worst. Hulka decided he would try one last gambit. It was a long shot, but it was the only shot. He steeled his nerve, looked his teachers in the eyes, and in his best false bravado voice said the only thing he really could say:

"Plenty of alcohol!"

Time, like their hearts seconds earlier, stopped. For a half-second that lasted eons, the teachers' faces remained impassive, their voices silent. The only sound during this temporal stand-still was the pounding of Hulka and Eric's hearts in their chests.

The eternity/moment of silence was shattered when one of the chaperones burst out laughing, joined nearly immediately by the other. "Good one, Stephen!" joked the first one to laugh, not believing for a second that his student would be dumb enough to actually tell them he had two shopping bags full of alcohol on him, underage, on a dry ski trip. Hulka and Eric, realizing it worked, joined their teachers in laughing at the "joke."

"Alright you kids, we'll see you later. Take care!" and off they went, leaving Hulka and Eric alone with their two bags of booze. They had escaped. They would be heroes.

... and the truth will set you free.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tales From The Lebowskis - The Beer in the Barn

And so, at last, we move on from Great Jaja stories to tales of other Lebowskis. Now don't worry, we haven't seen the last of Great Jaja Adventures. Great Jaja will be back in all his plaid-pantsed glory at some point in the future. But today's story focuses on Great Jaja's grandson, introduced in the 2nd Great Jaja Adventure: Steve "Hulka" Lebowski. Hulka is a big guy. A really big guy. He always has been a big guy. So when Hulka was 13 or 14, he could pass for older. Old enough that lax liquor store owners (and in the 70's, they were pretty much all lax from what I understand) wouldn't particularly bother to check the age of their eager young patron.

One fine day, Hulka and his best friend and semi-willing partner-in-crime Eric Zealand decided they would undertake a dangerous mission: they were going to ride their bikes to the local package store, buy beer, and drink it. The plan was obviously flawless. So this stalwart pair of early teens set off, bravely cycling towards destiny. They arrived as planned, and Hulka ventured into the store to make the pick-up, leaving Eric who actually did look his age outside. Calling on his 13 or so years of experience, he selected a case of beer that looked good, and approached the register. To his delight, the cashier processed the transaction without any questions as to his age. He emerged from the store victorious, and joined an awestruck and grateful Eric. Not so awestruck and grateful that he was going to carry the case on his bike and risk getting caught, though.

They set off with their score, Eric filled with nervous anticipation, and Hulka huffing and cursing as he tried to balance a case of beer on the handlebars of his bicycle as they rode through their small town. They navigated the roads, avoiding areas of likely discovery, and finally mounted the steep damn hill that the Lebowskis lived on (no easy feat with a case of beer and a bicycle, or so I'm told). The two boys ducked into the barn located a little ways down the hill from Lebowski house with their prize and realized they had made a miscalculation. Eric was expected home for dinner shortly, and certainly couldn't show up drunk. The two friends decided to hide the beer somewhere in the barn temporarily, split up and go to their respective houses for dinner, then return later that night to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

They began looking for a good hiding spot all over the barn. One that would be invisible to the unknowing eye, but easy enough to find again for the rightful owners of the treasured beer. Hulka absently dug through a pile of hay and came across a metal tool chest. This thing was old and forgotten, it was covered in rust and clearly hadn't been used within the last decade or so. "Eric!" called Hulka, "Come here, look at this!" Eric brought the case over as Hulka, with effort, forced the box to open against the squealed complaints of the rusted hinges. There was nothing inside but cobwebs and dust, quickly cleared away. And the interior was just big enough to hold one case of beer. It was as though some divine force had provided Hulka and Eric with a blessing for their plans of (very) underage drinking.

They secured the beer within the chest and reburied it in the hay. They carefully marked the spot with some hay strands in a way that would appear random to anyone snooping, but that would be recognizable to Hulka and Eric when they returned later. Immensely pleased with themselves, Hulka and Eric parted ways and joined their respective families for dinner.

Later that evening, they met again in the barn as previously agreed. Now giddy with excitement, they approached the hay pile and began digging for their prize. They quickly found the metal chest that held their beer, and pausing just for a brief second to take in the enormity of their caper, they creaked open the box once more. The joy on their faces changed almost instantly to confusion and disbelief. The chest was completely empty. Not only was the beer gone, there was no sign it had ever been there in the first place. They looked at eachother in shock. Surely there must be some mistake. It had to be there. They forced the lid to creak shut again, and immediately forced it back open, looking again as though somehow they could've missed it the first time. Unsurprisingly, it was still gone.

"Lebo," started a heartbroken Eric, using another of Hulka's nicknames (actually, he didn't even have the nickname Hulka at the time), "I think someone stole our beer."

"No!" replied Hulka, steeling his resolve against crushing disappointment, "somebody just came and moved it, that's all!"

"Lebo, why would somebody move our beer? That doesn't make any sense."

"They moved it, Eric! They moved it and we have to find it. It's here somewhere, I know it!"

"Steve, I don't think someone would find our beer and just hide it somewhere else in the barn."

"Eric, god damn it, help me find this beer. It's here, it's here somewhere!"

And so they looked. They looked in the hay, they looked under benches and tables, they looked in cabinets, they looked in wheelbarrows, they looked everywhere. They checked, re-checked, and re-re-checked the hidden metal toolchest about a thousand times, each time opening and closing it more smoothly and with less creaking as they wore the rust off the hinges. They scoured the barn until darkness stopped their efforts.

"Steve, it's dark. The beer's gone, and I want to go home."

"Don't be a puss, we have to keep looking. I'll go get some flashlights."

"Steve, this is retarded. If anyone took it, they left with it and drank it."

"I'm going to get flashlights. Keep looking."

"...God damn it."

So Hulka trudged up to the house to obtain flashlights. He looked around but had trouble finding any, so he had to ask the man he most feared would discover his and Eric's exploits: his father. You may remember Dave Lebowski Sr. from his brief but important role in "Tree Hunting". Dave, or Jaja to me and his other grandchildren, is a lot like his father John/Great Jaja. Gruff, practical, and kind of an asshole sometimes. But he's a terrific guy besides all that. So of course he excused himself from his friend, Leo Bootywitz (also from "Tree Hunting") and helped his son find flashlights. But he wanted to know what they needed them for, so he gently asked.

"What the hell you need goddamn flashlights for?"

"Burglars, Dad. Eric and I think there's some burglars prowling around down near the barn."

"Oh, shit, well you better go catch them damn burglars then," instructed Dave while laughing.

So off went Hulka, back to the barn to rejoin Eric with flashlights. And they kept looking. And they looked some more. And they kept going back to the box, opening and checking again, as though it would magically reappear where they left it. And by now the box opened completely smoothly and with no hint of a creak sound at all. As Hulka tried to convince Eric to crawl further into a crawlspace up in the 2nd floor/rafters area of the barn, the flashlight batteries died. Eric, tired and filthy, pleaded with his friend to call it quits.

"Steve, please. We've checked everywhere. It's late and I'm tired and I want to go home."

"No, Eric," replied Hulka, fighting back tears of frustration and disappointment, "it has to be here somewhere. You can't quit on me now, we need to find it."

"Steve, the flashlights are dead, this is pointless."

"I'll get more batteries. I'll get more. Just don't give up on me, man."

And up he went back to the house. And he rummaged around and found some batteries while Dave Sr. looked on, amused.

"You catch them damn burglars yet?"

"It's not burglars, Dad. It's ghosts."

"Ghosts? Oh, well shit, you better get back down there. Catch them ghosts."

It didn't matter that his father obviously didn't believe his lies. What mattered was that he wasn't pushing the issue, so Hulka and Eric were free to continue the search. And continue they did, well on into the night. Finally, completely defeated and exhausted, spirits totally broken, Hulka and Eric gave up the search and went home to their respective beds to sleep an unsatisfied, tortured sleep.

The end.


No, not quite. Ten years later, Hulka and Eric were visiting at Nonnie (my grandmother, Mary Lebowski nee Jerboa) and Jaja's house and recounting the events of that evening, now old enough that any consequences were a thing of the past. Hearing the tale, Jaja finally related the truth of the matter to his son.

It seems that Hulka and Eric were spotting sneaking into the barn on their initial hiding trip by Dave Sr./Jaja and Leo. They couldn't see exactly what was going on, but they could tell there were suspicious dealings afoot. So some time after Hulka and Eric split up for dinner, Dave and Leo made an expedition to the barn to check the situation out. I should mention here that Leo is one lanky dude. His arms and legs would be proportionate on a giraffe. When they started looking around the barn for signs of Hulka's misdeeds, it wasn't long before Leo decided to check the haystack. In went his Dhalsim-like arm and immediately his hand felt something metal and cool. He quickly cleared the hay off and opened the fateful tool chest.

"Dave. There's beer in here! And it's cold!"

Dave came over to look, and sure enough, a case of beer was sitting there, staring them in the face.

"What do you want to do with it, Dave? Call Steve down here and show him what we found?"

The answer didn't even need consideration: "Hell no, we're going to drink it!"

And so, for the rest of the night, while Hulka and Eric tried harder to find their beer than they ever tried at anything else in their lives, Dave Sr. and Leo were sitting back, enjoying a case of free beer, and laughing their asses off at them.