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Young Chuck Norris Facts

Many moons ago, my wife and I found ourselves at a Black Angus restaurant.

I’d like to welcome back those of you who just picked yourselves up off the floor. I don’t know what we were thinking, either. See, my best friend works at The Arroyo Chophouse in Pasadena, whch is the best steak house in the entire city, possibly in the universe.

But it was a youthful indescretion, sort of like that one that that happened with that intern that one time in the elevator. Whatever, man. Like you wouldn’t have. Quit judging me!

Ahem. Anyway, the waitress came over to our table after our food had been delivered, and asked, "Is everything excellent?" She said it just like that. I mean, I could hear the italics and everything.

I know that this poor girl was just doing her job, just as she’d been when she tried to upsell us on "a half-carafe or perhaps a full carafe of Fetzer merlot" ("Thanks, we’ll just have iced tea," we politely responded) but something inside me snapped. Before I could stop myself, I heard the following come out of my mouth: "Excellent? Excellent? No," I said, "It’s fine, and in fact I’ll even tell you that it’s nice, but excellent? If I said yes, I’d really be devaluing the whole word — and concept — of ‘excellent.’"

Anne gasped. The muzak was interrupted by the scratching of a needle across vinyl.

Remember in Cable Guy, when they’re at Medieval Times, and Janeane Garafolo looks at Matthew Broderick and just says, "Dude?" and we all know that he’s the asshole?  It was like that. BUT! Before you freak out at me, I apologized for my little outburst, and over-tipped the girl for her suffering (I think it was in the 50% range.) But I did not — and I will not — waiver on whether the excellence, or lack therof.

On the way home, Anne turned to me out of nowhere and said, "Excellent? We’re at Black Angus. Let’s try for adequate and go from there."

"Well thanks for speaking up for me when we were in there," I said. "It was excellent that you had my back."

She punched me in the arm, which I whined about for the next several days.

I relate this story now, because I’ve been thinking about the word — and concept of — awesome, and how it applies to my life. Awesome is even more important than excellent, and I’ve discovered that I’ve probably devalued awesome a little bit in the last year or so.

Most of the time, I don’t feel particularly awesome, though I harbor secret dreams of one day achieving a state of hawesome, which I seriously doubt will ever come. But today, I got my very first Well Placed Anonymous Source e-mail, and I have to admit, I feel kind of awesome.

So.

In response to my post about Young Chuck Norris, Deep Throat writes:

Hey Wil,

I have some facts I can share about Young Chuck Norris that may help to clear the air.

It was written October (by Andrew Steele), but it didn’t get a green light until Lazy Sunday’s success opened the doors for shorts like these. The Lonely Island guys weren’t aware of the Chuck Norris Facts meme until after the short aired and everyone started emailing it to them.

It is a parody of 80′s hair rock videos. They liked the American We Stand As One video and thought it would be a cool homage to dress the guy like him. Also it was a convenient way to describe the look to the costume department. The total shooting budget was zero dollars. All of the non-SNL people in the video were just random people from the park (including the kids).

Other than the wardrobe, any similarities are coincidental. They are all just cliches one finds in 80′s rock videos.

Your Well Placed Anonymous Source

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Well Placed Anonymous Source, (mine! if you want one, get your own, goddammit!) and again invite everyone who freaked out at me about my post to run as fast as they can into that brick wall over there. Trust me, it’s the first step toward picking up a sense of humor.

If any other anonymous sources would like to communicate with me, put a red flower pot on your balcony, or a green "X" made from hand-colored duct tape in the right corner of your car’s rear window. I’ll be in touch.

greetings from atlantis

Our flight to Miami was about as pleasant as a red eye can be, with the notable exception of Baron von Kicksalot, who sat behind me, and guaranteed that I didn’t sleep for more than thirty minutes at a time. I have this foggy memory of spinning around and snarling at him somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico, after which the kicking stopped, but I could have dreamed the whole thing, so don’t hold me to it.

We had a brief moment of panic during our approach, when the pilot aborted just before touch down, and raced into the sky to circle the field. While everyone on the plane wondered if we were all doomed, he told us that the runway had become obscured by fog, there was nothing to worry about, and we’d just need to make a different approach to a safer runway. As we circled Miami, I kept telling Anne, "This looks just like Vice City!" That extra time, added to the 70 minute delay we had before we left LAX, made us miss our connection to Nassau. After another, less brief moment of panic, Anne and I made it onto the very next flight as standbys (and thank gods we did, because if we’d missed it, we’d have been stranded in Miami until at least that evening, and possibly until the following morning.)

The flight to the Bahamas was amazing and nearly-perfect: the skies were clear, the water was sparkling and various shades of blue and green, and I kept feeling like I was watching a giant game of Pirates, but I spared Anne any of the talk like a pirate day lingo I’m so fond of, in favor of whistling the song from Pirates of the Caribbean. Anne is fast earning the title, "dear and patient wife."

We landed, picked up our bags, and had one of the most terrifying taxi rides, ever. We drove through downtown Nassau, which is right near the port, and was swarming with tourists from four different cruise ships. There was terrible traffic, and I learned that taxi drivers here like to do this style of driving called "speed up until your passengers are certain they are going to die in a horrible crash, then slam on the breaks inches before you hit the car in front of you." There is another style of driving they have here called, "change lanes without signaling or looking and honk the horn, man!" Our driver was a master of both.

We arrived at the hotel thirty or so harrowing minutes later, and checked into our room, which was a few stories above and open stage, where a band played covers of songs like "Ladies Night," and "Electric Slide," and the ever-popular "It’s Raining Men." I quickly asked for and received a room change to a quieter side of the hotel.

After a quick nap, Anne and I set out to explore Atlantis. WOW. Everywhere you go here, there are aquariums, filled with the most amazing marine life you’ll ever see: countless sting rays and reef sharks, huge groupers, manta rays with fifteen-foot wing spans, and schools of tuna and barracuda. This place is huge, too. It takes twenty minutes just to walk from one side to the next, and that’s without stopping to stare open-mouthed at one of the aquariums, or to just look around and marvel at how lucky we are to be in such a beautiful place.

We ate dinner in this place called "The Cafe," which is in a huge atrium, with one wall formed by one of the largest aquariums in the resort. I nearly choked on my dinner more than once when a giant shark or manta ray glided through the water just past us.

Though there was much more to see and do after dinner, we made our way back to our room, collapsed into bed around ten, and slept with the windows open for fourteen hours.

More later . . .

another movie you should probably see

Primer
Donnie Darko
was one of those movies I’d heard about from people
I respect, but never got around to actually watching until about five
weeks ago.

About fifteen years ago, I watched a special about MST3K, which included an interview with Joel Hodgson. Joel said, "When we write our jokes, we don’t ask ourselves, ‘will anyone get this?’ we say to ourselves, ‘the right people will get this.’" That stuck with me, because I interpreted Joel’s words as advice to go for the smart humor, or the obscure-but-rewarding-reference, rather than dumbing everything down so nobody feels left out.

So what does that have to do with Donnie Darko? I felt like the filmmakers didn’t worry about making a blockbuster that would please everyone in the audience, and instead gave us a challenging, complex, dark and unique film, just like Joel and his gang weren’t afraid to give us comedy that we didn’t always get, but rewarded our intelligence when we did.

A couple of nights ago, I watched a movie which was recommended to me because I liked Donnie Darko so much, and I think a lot of WWdN readers would also like it. The film is called Primer.

It’s the story of two friends who successfully build a time machine, what they do with it, and how they deal with the consequences. It was made for $7000, and won the Grad Jury and Alfred P. Sloan prizes at Sundance last year.

If you’ve seen Primer, please don’t discuss specifics in comments (you know what I mean) because it could really trash the movie for everyone else.

vote for cthulhu

Cthulhudynamite
I am very fortunate to call John Kovalic my friend. He is an incredibly kind, supportive, and talented guy. He did the illustrations for Just A Geek, just because I asked him to, and the goddamn publisher didn’t even give him (or Neil Gaiman who wrote the foreword) credit on the cover (I guess they needed every inch they could get for the Star Trek stuff. Awesome.)

John has brought so much supermegacool stuff into the world, and has contributed sto so many things that I love, it’s hard to single out one thing that’s best: Apples to Apples? Dork Tower? The illustrations for various incarnations of Munchkin and Chez [Geek|Grunt|Greek|Goth]?

How about his hilarious-because-it’s-true take on Disney’s fetid "breath of fresh air?"

All are legitimate candidates, but today I am voting for the shirt you see pictured on the left, which finally combines Napoleon Dynamite and Cthulhu, a pairing that was long over due.

Bravo, John. Put me down for a men’s medium.

WWdN poker tourneys this week

After taking last week off for holiday awesomeness with my family, the WWdN poker tournaments at PokerStars are back in action.

Today, we have the West Coast Warmup number three:

What: WWdN: West Coast Warmup #3
Where: PokerStars.
When: Thursday, December 1. 7:30 PST
Password: monkey
Tournament number: 15885231
Buy-in: $10+1

Tomorrow, we have the WWdN: ZowieZ Invitational

What: WWdN: ZowieZ Invitational
Where: PokerStars.
When: Friday, December 2. 7:00 EST
Password: monkey
Tournament number: 15886396
Buy-in: $10+1

I was doing really well in the HeyKidsItsBG Invitational, right up until I got sort of unlucky trying to bust a short stack. After a limp and a raise, I was getting 6-1 on my money with pocket fives, so I re-raised all-in to isolate the short-stack. I was in the lead, but just barely, against hands like KQ and AQ . . . until the KQ flopped two pair. Ouch. Two people went broke on that hand, and two others were crippled. Nice hand, well-played. A few hands later, I found AKo, and lost a race to a pair of eights. Here’s what I blogged at CardSquad:

He raised it 4x the BB, so I came over the top for 3x his raise, which
pretty much committed me. When he went all-in, I knew I was behind, but
getting 3-1 on my money, I thought it was a good call, since I was at
worst 50-50 unless he had an ace. Oh, there’s an 8 on the flop. D’oh!

I finished fourteenth, which was pretty awful, considering my chip position right before the debacle with presto (that’s pocket fives, for you non-BARGErs.) It illustrates the reality of a no-limit tournament: you can go from first place to the parking lot in just a few hands if you get stupid, unlucky, or both. Of course, you can also go from last to first just as easily. "That’s no limit, baby!"

Hope to see lots of players tonight and tomorrow!

The Bet, day two

Annie (who is not my wife and partner-in-crime Anne, but is my friend and ACME dance partner Annie) has updated her blog, Jesus’ Favorite.

annie writes:

"hey wil old buddy funny guy,

do i get a day off from the blog cuz of the holiday? i asked duke nickerson and he said no.  but I thought i’d try you cuz you’re way cooler and stuff.

xo,
jesus’ favorite "

ELBOW AND SEND
WAIT FOR RESPONSE

Nothing.

STILL WAITING…

He’s probably making pie and blogging about it.

Wil:  “Blog blog I love pie blog blog I went to the store blog blog I’m hot."

LEAVE COMPUTER
GO DO NON-NERD THING

Time passes…

GO BACK TO COMPUTER
CHECK EMAIL
PUT ON SHEILD TO AVOID NERD TRACTOR BEAM

Well, look at that Jesus!  King Wheat-Thin responds:

wil wrote:

    "Let me stop petting my Ewok and adjust my cape. Just  a moment.

    *ding ding boop bleep dingiddy whoop whoop DING!*

    Okay, the HAL9000 mark IV dual hyperthreaded comptromotron says no, you have to     update it every day for a week…"

Argh!  Double nerd negated.  And by big words no less.   Does that shit get you laid?

Anyway, FIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNE.  I’ll fucking post on a holiday.

This is the best bet I’ve ever won in my life. I may be the King, and Shane may be the Duke, but Annie is clearly teh funnay.

Another round goes to Sertich. Shane, we’re getting our asses kicked . . . by a girl.

. . . just like me.

Ryan and Nolan played basketball in the driveway. I had my PowerBook on the breakfast table, and I caught bits of their conversation through the open window as I worked.

". . . a freshman?" Ryan said.

"Yeah," Nolan said.

"What’s her –" A car drove up the street, and drowned Ryan out.

Her? My parental spideysense switched on, but I tried to stay focused on my work.

"That’s cool." I thought. "I shouldn’t be listening to their conversation, anyway."

For the next several minutes, I couldn’t hear anything but the bounce of the ball, and then "Brick!" from Nolan as the ball bounced off the backboard, and landed beneath the kitchen window. Ryan walked over to pick it up.

" . . . is so freakin’ hot," Nolan said.

"Yeah," Ryan said as he picked up the ball, "but she’s not your type. She’s a geek, just like me."

I looked out the window. Did he see me? No. He tossed the ball back to Nolan.

"Your ball," he said.

I closed my Powerbook and watched them play in the fading afternoon sunlight. I saw that Ryan was wearing a Mozilla T-shirt.

. . . just like me.

open the box

Pandora.com is an  incredible site that helps you discover new music. You tell it
the title of a song or name of an artist, and it will create a station
for you, starting from that selection. Pandora then plays a song from a similar artist that it thinks you’ll like, as it builds a custom net.radio station for you. The Long Tail Blog says,

"[T]hey
determine similarity not by what other people listen to but what their
small army of musicologists identify as related traits in the music
itself. You’ll get delightful stuff you never would have thought of."

I started with Soul coughing, discovered a band called
Gerling, heard an old TMBG song I’d somehow managed to never hear
over the years, and eventually heard a new band called The One AM Radio (which I LOVE, and never would have found on my own, which is the whole point of Pandora.) If you really like a band, there are links to Amazon or iTunes so you can buy the album, or explore more of their stuff on your own.

Pandora
gives you ten hours of free listening to try it out, and offers a year of service for thirty-six bucks. If pandora can stay honest, and keep
the music industry’s pay-for-play agenda out of the way, it could be an
amazing service.

(Thanks, Carsten!)

3.2 and a question

I’m giving my brain a much-needed break from the manuscript to tinker with WWdN a little bit, starting with an upgrade to MoveableType 3.2.
Man, this reminds me of the early days, back when I was working on Dancing Barefoot. It’s so fun to see this stuff come together, and it’s great to get back into a little bit of website smashing.
And that’s the question . . . I think most people read my blog via RSS in one way or another, so I don’t think it’s much of a practical issue, but I was thinking that, until I can get the real site redesign finished and live, I may temporarily use a simple, default MT template for the blog. That way the categories will work, the built-in searching will come back, if you sign in for TypeKey, it should keep you signed in, you should be able to preview comments more seamlessly, and things should just be fitter, happier, more productive.
To get all that, though, the look-n-feel we’re all used to (which will be dramatically changing soon, anyway) will have to go away. I think it’s a fair trade of form-for-function, but I’m interested in what readers think.
Thoughts?
Update: If you can read this, it means that I successfully upgraded to MT 3.2, and convereted the database. This wouldn’t have been possible without help from Jay Allen from Six Apart, and Loren Cox from Logjamming. Thanks, guys!