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22 posts from October 2006

Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

This is what I would have been if I hadn't been part of the Jeopardy costume:


If you're looking for something with more of a celebrity twist, go for this next one:


Or, for anyone who has ever wondered what it's like to be the second-choice orphan that a celebrity almost picked, you can dress up as him/her in sympathy:


Finally, if you're going to one of those parties where all the girls will be dressed as whore-y versions of policemen, nurses, bunnies, etc. etc., you can one up them all by dressing as . . . a normal person wearing the T-shirt illustrated below:


That's all we have time for.  Go get cracking on that costume!

Two Sets of Halloween Photos--And It's Not Even Halloween Yet

Now, if I ever go on Jeopardy, my Official Lame Anecdote Discussion with Alex Trebek can go like this:

Alex: Next we have Lauren from Maryland.  Lauren, I understand that one Halloween you went dressed as something that may be of particular interest to our audience?

Lauren: That's right Alex, I went as a Jeopardy contestant.

[Audience laughs politely.]

Alex: Interesting.  And what did that costume entail?

Lauren: Well, two of my friends and I made podiums out of posterboard and carried fake buzzers.  It was fun.

Alex: Sounds like it.  Moving on, we also have Brad from Pennsylvania here tonight.  Brad, I understand you have an interesting story about butternut squash . . .

Anyway, here is said costume:


There are two sets of Halloween pictures--one from Friday night at Caitlin and Phylan's, and one from Saturday night in D.C.

This Week in Internet

First, the quotes of the week:

"And Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed." (New York Times article about skanky Halloween costumes)

"I'm dying to see some creative misuse of free tacos." (Kottke)

"If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris' tears, it's Jesus' blood." (Chuck Norris, via Matt Jerome )

"One of the things I've used on the Google is to pull up maps."  (President George "n00b" Bush)

Here other some other good things to read, even though they don't lend as well to the 'crazy out-of-context quote' form of presentation:



  • Nerds will like this graphic representation of the digits of pi.
  • Have you heard of face blindness?  I thought this article was very interesting.
  • From Radar, this article comparing handbags to horror villains is hilarious.
  • Six-word science fiction stories.
  • And the new record for highest Scrabble score is . . .
  • Check out Neighboroo for a cool look at the demographics in your area.

OK kids, that's it for now.  I'll be back tomorrow or Monday to show you my Halloween costume.

Too Lazy to Take the Stairs, But Strangely Not Too Lazy to Write Extensively About Not Taking the Stairs

In college you learn quickly that taking the elevator to the second floor is for inconsiderate d-bags and losers (and the occasional injured person).  I'm wondering, however, how strictly that rule applies to the office, because the stairs are really out of the way and inconvenient for me and I'm wondering if I can be pardoned for taking the elevator instead.  Here's the situation: on the first floor of my work building, the elevators are 20-30 ft. from the door--a straight shot.  The stairs, however, are around the corner and another 35-ish ft. down the hall. The (crude, hastily-made, way-off-scale) diagram below illustrates this setup, with the path to the elevators in orange and the path to the stairs in blue.


Already, it's evident that the stairs are a bit out of the way.  However, when you get to the second floor, it gets worse.  As you can see from the diagram below, in order to get to my office (marked with purple star) from the stairs, it is necessary for me to loop back in the opposite direction again, whereas the path from elevator to office is much more efficient.


On the times that I have taken the elevator to my floor, I have rationalized this by telling myself that I am justified and in fact correct in taking the most direct route to my office--it's efficient, and the elevators in my building are fast and plentiful. Nevertheless, I can't deny that when someone else hops into the elevator behind me and hits the "5" button, I am unable to make eye contact with that person for fear he or she will give me a dirty look.

People, I need your help: should I feel guilty about using the elevator?  Should I banish myself to the stairs?  Or should I hold my head high and take that elevator after all, because this is America and the Constitution don't say nothin' about second-floor people being second-class citizens who are relegated to the stupid stairwell?  I need you to decide this one for me.

A Conversation With My Spam Folder


Yeah, but not with anyone who still says "keen."


Keen again?  What is with you people?


No, but I am forwarding this m essage to my friends Jeanetta and Elvira P. as I believe they are looking for new mealtime companions.


I'm definitely taking stock tips from this guy--that name just screams 'credible.'


Gloria--momentous message: you must to conjugate your verbs, dumbass.


Oh my God!  And to think I had almost given up on my pipe dream of finding a pill that would spontaneously make me the father of 28 five-year olds. 


The secret would have to be that I went to Vegas at all.

Four Ways to Postpone the Start of Your Work Week

1. Go here and find out how many people in the U.S. have your name.  (Actually, the thing uses old data and the results can be called, at best, an 'estimate,' but I am always willing to overlook the questionable nature of something if it provides me with a few seconds of fun.)  Apparently I am one of 25 Lauren McMahons.  I already knew about a few of them from Googling myself; one of my goals in life is actually to overtake the two Lauren McMahons who are more popular than I am and claim the #1 spot on the Google results.  I used to be #4, but apparently I have overtaken Lauren McMahon the competitive bowler.
Anyway, post how unique you are in the comments section.  Maybe I will give a prize to my most non-special friend.

2. Watch this video of Tyra Banks and get a better understanding of why I am so, so afraid of that woman.

3. Look at the pictures of the Renaissance Festival/Jonah's birthday that I finally uploaded, including this one of Ashley throwing an axe:


4. Stop by The Blue Pages, read Matt's incredibly comprehensive one-year anniversary post, and wish his blog a happy birthday.

Million-Dollar Awkward

I found what I think qualifies as the most awkward moment in the history of time.

You can read the background info in this article or this one, but here is the gist of what happened to casino magnate and millionaire Steve Wynn and the Picasso painting he had just agreed to sell:

Wynn had just finalized a $139 million sale to another collector of his painting, called "Le Reve" (The Dream), when he poked a finger-sized hole in the artwork while showing it to friends at his Las Vegas office a couple of weeks ago. (MSNBC)

Can I just say that $139 million is about the amount I would pay (if I had it) to ensure that I would never, ever, ever, for the rest of my life have to be in a situation as awkward as how it must have been for the friends Wynn was showing the picture too when that happened?  Nora Ephron was there and blogged her account of the moment for good old Huffpo, and it was excruciating just to read it.  A selection:

The Ganz collection went up for auction in 1997, Wynn was saying -- he was standing in front of the painting at this point, facing us. He raised his hand to show us something about the painting -- and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas.

There was a terrible noise.

Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter's plump and allegedly-erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar - or, to be more exactly, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn's elbow -- with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction. Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

"Oh shit," he said.  "Look what I've done."

The rest of us were speechless . . . I felt that I was in a room where something very private had happened that I had no right to be at. I felt absolutely terrible.

Good lord.  Anyway, by all accounts the situation appears to have been resolved about as nicely as could have been hoped, but if I had been there when it happened I never would have lived to find that out.  I would have died of sheer awkwardness.  Multi-million dollar awkwardness.

As a mental exercise, I've been trying to decide what I would have said/done had I really been there.  Obviously, the best plan would have been to stay quiet and wait for the moment to pass, but if there is one thing I know about myself it is that I cannot handle long silences. Any time my brain senses a conversational lull of more than three seconds, it reflexively spits something out without my conscious consent.  I think this is because somewhere in my mental chain of command, the "JUST SAY SOMETHING, ANYTHING" synapse is fatally and erroneously wired to fire seconds before the "MAYBE TRY BEING APPROPRIATE JUST THIS ONCE" synapse.  It is the perfect formula for creating stiflingly awkward moments, like this recent exchange:

Perfectly friendly and nice person sitting across from me at a happy hour: So, how come you've never been to one of our happy hours before?

Me: Because I don't really like meeting new people.

Nice, huh?  Way to keep up the conversational vibe.  I felt so bad for the poor soul who had tried to strike up a conversation with me and was now doomed to try and spend the rest of the happy hour looking in every other direction than at the psycho girl directly across from him, the one who apparently goes to happy hours in the hopes of not meeting any new friends.

Anyway, back to the $139 million painting.  I tried to recreate the scene in my head as if I were there, and I decided that what would have probably happened is that I would have nervously started to make a joke, realized how innappropriate I was being, and stopped dead in the middle of my sentence to make the situation even more awkward then ever.  Like, "[Nervous laugh] Well hey, I'm sure it's nothing a little Scotch tape won't . . . [Clears throat.  Looks down] I'm so sorry."

I can't even tell you how uncomfortable I am to even imagine that.

To See What Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandchildren Will Look Like, Tune In to MTV on Mondays at 10

Awkward2 Via Kottke comes this report on a theory suggesting humans will evolve into two sub-species ("a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass") in 100,000 years' time.  Additionally, according to evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry, humans will reach a "peak" in the year 3000, after which they will become too dependent on technology and be sent into decline.  They will be taller and more attractive than we are today; however--

Social skills, such as communicating and interacting with others, could be lost, along with emotions such as love, sympathy, trust and respect. People would become less able to care for others, or perform in teams.

So basically, in the next millenium the entire world will function like one big Real World-Road Rules Challenge: a bunch of objectively attractive people who are incapable of rational social behavior and also completely unable to work together.

ThefutureTrue, this is a scary thought, but come on--we have been aware for years that our descendants are screwed. We know we're basically dumping them in a runaway train to Freakshow Disasterville and then jumping off the back while there's still time to enjoy things like emotions, teamwork, and turning the Amazon into timber. 

Anyway, I'm lending my support to Oliver Curry and his theory.  Two sub-species of humans?  Real-World-Road Rules gone mad?  It doesn't take a lot of effort to sell me on that.  But in case my more discriminating readers (Adam) are holding out for even more evidence, here are three theories and one fact I have come up with.

1. The Theory That Everything BBC Says Is Right. I went to journalism school and learned from journalism professors, so I know this.  BBC would not have gotten on this story if it wasn't accurate.

2. The TI-83 Theory of Evolution. This is a theory I made up a while ago to explain why I feel like kids of the future are going to be extremely socially deficient.  Basically, the use of MySpace and other social networking sites will render them incapable of actually making friends in person (most people born after 1988-1990ish already show signs of this affliction).  Those of us born before then learned how to make friends manually, and though we may now use Facebook and MySpace to maintain friends or even make new ones, we are still relatively well-grounded in the basic principles of human friend-making.  It's like how in Math in school we always had to learn how to do things the long way before the teacher showed us how to do it on the TI-83 in 10 seconds so that we knew how things worked conceptually.  Kids today don't get the conceptual knowledge when it comes to making friends, though, because each one has a MySpace page to do the legwork for him.

Wellresearched 3. The Theory That Gattaca Was a Credible Pieces of Scientific Discourse. I base this theory on the fact that when I first rented this movie in 1998 I was obsessed with it. By that time I had completed high school biology, so although I cannot recall the exact specifics of how the movie convinced me that the development of a genetic caste system was indeed plausible, I know that whatever logic was used must have been airtight. 

4. The Fact That You Can't Prove Me Wrong Anyway. That's the best part, really.  I can believe whatever the hell I want about the future and get away with it because you have no way of showing me otherwise.  Sure, you can disagree with me, but you can never actually prove that I am wrong (unless you invent time travel). So why not just agree?  It will make the world a better place.

Agree or disagree, one lesson we can all take away from the BBC article is that "evolutionary theorist" is a pretty sweet gig.  You enjoy all the perks of being a scientist (getting quoted by BBC, telling people at your high school reunion that you were quoted in the BBC, free pens) with no actual chance of being proven wrong in your own lifetime.  By the time 3000 rolls around, the worst thing that can happen to Oliver Curry is that some future human comes across his theory, laughs at how dumb and wrong it is, and posts it on his website or something.  Big deal, future guy.  Oliver Curry made his money already and he's been dead for nine centuries now, so he could care less what you think of him; you, on the other hand, are very much alive and should probably start worrying more about the fact that Earth is due for another asteroid sometime soon.

For more on the future: Read this post from Matt Price's guest blogging stint
For even more on the future: Wait until it happens?

Things I Thought While Looking at People Today

1. In order to be truly accurate, this picture showing how Nicole Richie co-opted Mary Kate Olsen's look should also have a smaller oval inset inside M-K's picture showing the homeless person she stole it from first.


2. David Hasselhoff's exposed neck and chest skin in this picture reminds me of the FedEx logo and how it has that secret subliminal arrow.  You see it, right?  It's pointing down.


3. Judging from Lindsay's dress and Rumor's jacket, gluing macaroni onto something and spray painting it gold is not just for homemade Christmas ornaments anymore.


4. I recall this being the exact posture we were supposed to adapt at Catholic middle school dances.  Way to leave room for the Holy Spirit, ladies!


5. With all that seems to be going on behind her involving her children, husband, and a couple of farm animals, I can't imagine what is going on in the other direction that Heidi Klum felt compelled to photograph.


6. Well, Madonna, if you're trying to convince us that you want to really get involved and save the children of Malawi, you have certainly chosen the perfect outfit to do it in.  Nothing says, "I'm going to do whatever it takes to help this developing country" like a spotless white pantsuit.