Sunday, July 28, 2013

I should have known something was up.

The other day I was watching Game of Thrones and eating some burritos before derby practice, and all of a sudden Sana jumped up on the table in front of me and started being aggressively affectionate—licking my face, giving me headbutts, and purring like crazy. She did this for like half an hour, until I finally had to move so I could get ready for practice.

When I went to put on my ankle brace, I discovered that she had thrown up on it. Recently. And then came and licked my face.


P.S. I also put this on a shirt so you can warn people in advance:

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Minnesota.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Midwestern United States lies a largely unregarded purple state whose Scandinavian-descended life forms are so amazingly nice that they still think helping every potentially-axe-wielding stranger they encounter on the side of the road is a pretty neat idea.

One Thursday, a boy driving on his own in the dead of winter suddenly realized that something was going wrong with the very large—and very borrowed—vehicle he was driving. Sadly, before he could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and he was nearly lost for ever.

This is the story of that terrible, stupid catastrophe and some of its consequences.


It was a long time ago. Ancient history. It was so long ago that, when it happened, I didn't tweet about it or post anything on Facebook or tumblr because they didn't exist. Even if I had wanted to blog about it, I would have had to wait until I got home because that's where the Internet was. I didn't have a smartphone, because those hadn't been invented, either. Cell phones had been invented, but they were roughly the size and weight of a brick and got the same reception as one in any place with a population under a million people, which was very much where I was at the time. And, at any rate, I didn't have one of those, either.

What I did have was a gigantic SUV that I was borrowing from my girlfriend's stepfather. I had recently used this to travel the 400 miles between the town I grew up in, where I had just spent Christmas with my family, and the college I no longer attended in northeastern Iowa. I had done this for two reasons: first, because they returned from the holiday a few days earlier than the school to which I had transferred (largely because it was attended by the girl I was seeing at the time) did; and secondly, because although I had spent the majority of my two years at the former school waiting by the phone to talk to the girl I was seeing at the time, talking to the girl I was seeing at the time, and then feeling depressed when I had to get off the phone with the girl I was seeing at the time, I had still somehow managed to stumble into a few decent friendships, and I wanted to visit.

That piece went fine; there was no catastrophe there, except possibly the fact that the only beer anybody had was Miller Lite, and the resulting catch-22 of needing to be drunk already in order to be able to tolerate it enough to drink the amount necessary to get drunk in the first place. The actual catastrophe was waiting somewhere along the 350-mile stretch of road that lay between my former college and my current one. More specifically, it was waiting just outside of Austin, Minnesota, which is the birthplace of a large number of things, including my friend Jess, whom I like, and Spam, which I rather don't.

The gigantic vessel I was piloting, like most things from America, was powered by explosions and had a voracious appetite for fossil fuels, so it wasn't terribly long before I had to stop for gas. Because commerce is one of the most powerful driving forces of the Universe, this happened approximately three minutes before the impending catastrophe decided to stop impending and start doing Very Bad Things inside the most expensive part of the vehicle it could find. This happened to be the transmission, which I worked out rather quickly when I got back onto the Interstate, attempted to return to the proper speed, and discovered that it had suddenly decided that second gear was the only way to go, and would hear nothing of first, third, or fourth. Accordingly, the maximum speed available to me suddenly dropped to thirty miles an hour, which seemed to upset approximately everyone who came up behind me doing seventy-five, even through most of them were from Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, in case I hadn't got the first hint, it began to lurch about violently every few seconds.

In a brilliant synopsis of the overall situation, I shouted "Fuck!" a number of times before pulling over to the side of the road and activating my vehicle's short-range distress beacon (which, in that part of the country, is better known as "raising the hood"). The temperature outside was slightly above average for early January in Minnesota, hovering around six degrees Kelvin, so I stood next to the beacon to signal that I had not, in fact, been rescued yet. Meanwhile, in an apparent effort to keep warm, time compressed itself so that several weeks passed between each vehicle that went whooshing by, which, in most automotive dialects, translates to a hearty "fuck you," but in the Minnesotan dialect, is accompanied by a small one-finger wave from the steering wheel and translates more accurately as "I'd really like to stop and pick you up, but unfortunately I'm on my way to a lutefisk supper/potluck and my car is entirely full of my relatives and possibly also a hotdish, so I'm very sorry, but would you accept a rain check?"

Nothing happened for a long time. After that, nothing continued to happen, but more urgently, and at a lower temperature. Eventually, it got tired of hanging out on the side of the road and went off to happen somewhere else, which, in all likelihood, was somewhere in North Dakota. It was precisely at this moment that someone finally saw the distress beacon, wasn't transporting their entire family to any fish-gelatin-based church fundraisers, and stopped to help.

As my rescue vehicle slowed to a halt, a million warnings, news stories, and horror films about the dangers of hitchhiking flashed through my mind, were completely ignored, and fell right out of my head. Instead, my attention was focused on a different problem: I couldn't for the life of me figure out why, of all the vehicles in Minnesota—a number that, although perhaps insignificant next to the quantity in, say, New York or Los Angeles, was still, overall, a respectable total—this was the one that had chosen to stop. It was tall and yellow, with the name of a school district painted on its side, yet it was only about half as long as it seemed that it should have been. I was still puzzling over this when the doors opened, and then, just as the driver looked out at me and said "car trouble, eh?" my mind finally finished registering that I was really, truly, about to hitchhike...on the fucking short bus.

There are a number of events in life whose sole purpose in occurring seems to be part of some bizarre practical joke the Universe has decided to play on you, and this qualified in every possible way. I assume that the next thing that happened was that the driver offered to give me a ride to a mechanic's shop in the next town and then did so, but honestly, the details here go a bit fuzzy because I suddenly noticed that, not only was I hitchhiking on the short bus, but that I was not its only passenger. There was also a boy, roughly ten years old. In a wheelchair. Wearing a helmet. At that point, all the rational bits of my brain came to the realization that their services were no longer needed, and promptly passed out.

When they came around again, I was once again standing next to my disabled vehicle, but this time there was a tow truck parked immediately in front of it, and its driver was looking my engine over. He pulled out the dipstick and examined it, which led to the following conversation:

"Well, shit."
"What's wrong?"
"It's your transmission."
"Well, yes, I had guessed as much. What's wrong with it?"
"No, this"—he held up the dipstick and indicated the shards of metal clinging to it—"is your transmission."

When we arrived back at the mechanic's shop, I was more than a little surprised to find that the bus driver was there waiting for me. He offered me the use of his cell phone to call my girlfriend and ask her to pick me up in Worthington, which was about two hours of awkward silence in a car with a complete stranger and his teenage daughter on their way to her high school volleyball game farther down the road. I was something less than completely comfortable leaving a number of my possessions behind, given that they were guarded by nothing more than a few locked doors and the integrity of a group of strangers who made a living by dismantling automobiles, but by this point, I had resigned myself to the fact that whatever was going to happen had very little regard for my feelings on the matter, and that it was a waste of time and energy to put up any sort of a fight. When I returned to retrieve the rest of my things, I discovered that, in addition to the bit about picking up strangers while driving unconventional vehicles, "Minnesota Nice" also meant that no one in town even thought of breaking into the out-of-town vehicle sitting unguarded outside for a week. As for the borrowed colossus, it was towed back home and summarily sold for parts, which had apparently been the plan for it all along, until it had been offered to me.

The next time I went home, I bought my first cell phone. It cost twenty dollars and did nothing but send and receive calls and text messages, which everyone I knew was reluctant to use. I understand if this is the one bit of the story you simply cannot bring yourself to believe. I agree; it's completely ridiculous.

Friday, July 12, 2013

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

In case you missed it, a couple weeks ago, the Texas state legislature almost passed the Barefoot Pregnant Women Act, but the bill died as the special session expired at midnight after a heroic filibuster by Senator Wendy Davis. The very next day, one of the biggest pricks in the history of ever the governor called another special session and told them to pass the exact same bill, which made it out of committee pretty quickly after the chairman cut off testimony and refused to recognize anyone opposing the bill, because democracy.

When the Butthurt Session began last Monday, thousands of people stood outside to register opinions and wait to testify. Those in favor of the bill wore blue, while those opposed wore orange:

It's like "Where's Waldo," except in this case, Waldo is actually a raging misogynistic dinosaur.
But wait—that shape looks awfully familiar:

"It's just the rebels, sir. They're here."
"My god, man! Do they want tea?"
"No, I think they're after something more than that. I don't know what it is, but they've brought a flag."
It's not exactly a stretch, given that, although something like 80% of the people in Texas don't want this bill to pass, protesters have been called "terrorists" and "an unruly mob," and the Governor himself said that "the louder they scream, the more we know we are getting something done." Why not just come right out and call them "rebel scum?" It's no more than you'd expect from people that essentially derive their mandate from an organization that was led by this guy:

"Your feeble filibusters are no match for the power of the Dark Side."
Anyway, it already passed the House earlier this week, so this afternoon the Senate will begin discussing Death Star HB 2. Since nearly three weeks remain in the special session, a filibuster is all but impossible, so it's unfortunately very likely to pass.

"There will be no one to stop us this time."
I'd like to think that a group of representatives who refuse to actually represent the people who elected them will eventually be thrown out of office, but even if that's true, what good will it be to all the women whose health—or lives—will be put at risk by this ignorant, misogynist, cock-driven farce of a pretense of giving a shit about women? It seriously makes me ashamed to have a penis.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Today's news according to Good Morning America at our hotel breakfast:
  • David Hasselhoff is advertising some convenience store and singing about coffee.
  • Jay-Z and Beyonce's kid is some number of months old.
  • One Direction is on fire, apparently.
  • Some lady dry-rubbed a cock chicken yesterday and is putting it on the grill today to heat it up.
  • Egypt is still a country, I think? They breezed over that as fast as they could to get to the bullshit about famous people spawning last year.
Anyway, Happy Get Drunk and Blow Shit Up Day, Americans! May you have as many fingers tomorrow as you did this morning.

Just like your fireworks.