Category Archives: off kilter


redandjonny: Jonny and the swamp, originally uploaded by RedandJonny.

This is a picture of a man wearing a suit with a stormtrooper helmet, standing in a swamp. I love flickr.

Will the Barback Be a Diplomatic Envoy?

The crackdown on public smoking isn’t just an American phenomenon. Here in California, nobody is allowed to light up in bars and restaurants, or anywhere near buildings or food. I am a nonsmoker, so it doesn’t have a huge impact on me outside of better smelling hair after a night at the bar. Yet, I can’t help but feel sorry for the nicotine consumers out there. I think this is one of those cases where the market should sort things out. Open two bars, side by side. One will allow smoking and one will not. Whichever one thrives is the one the people prefer.

The idea of banning smoking in pubs seems ridiculous to me, especially in Britain, but it is happening none the less. One pub is fighting back by transforming itself into the official embassy for the island of Redonda, which lies 35 miles south west of Antigua in the Caribbean. As an embassy they will technically be foreign soil and beyond the smoking laws. I’m not sure if it’ll work, but I applaud their efforts.

link (via Hit & Run)

A Corollary to the King of Queens Effect

While Hollywood keeps trying to convince us that we live in some kind of Kevin James-ian Wonderland where Maxim models routinely go out with chubby schlubs and unkempt losers score with improbably hot young women on a regular basis, we know that life in the real world is remarkably different. The cold hard truth is that in the wild the really attractive women tend to seek out the biggest tools in the room and squander their affections on the heavily-gelled assholes who deserve a punch in the face more than the affections of buxom women. Don’t believe me? Then follow the link to see a collection of

Hot Chicks with Douchebags


Nobody Frightens Children Quite Like the Russians. Except Maybe the Germans.

Over at the mental_floss blog they’ve posted some scans from a Russian book of bedtime stories for ill-behaved children with accompanying translation. It’s creepy as hell. For example:

russian spider tale

“If you play during your meal each time, then you should know that spider will come.”

See more here.

It reminded me of something else I came across recently. I was reading Reasons to Be Cheerful the latest Hellblazer graphic novel (which was pretty good, except it ended mid-stream) when I came across the character of Struwwelpeter, a crazy looking German kid with wild hair and impossibly long fingernails. In the story, a girl was being terrorized by demonic nightmares from her youth and she called on “Shockhead Peter” to defend her because he was the worst one and scarier than any of her other nightmares.


I consulted my resident expert in all things Germanic/Swiss and found out that the character was used as a morality tale to scare kids into proper grooming habits by showing them that they would be mercilessly mocked if they didn’t. Wikipedia reveals that the German children’s book had many other ghoulish life lessons to traumatize teach children, including:

“Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb), where a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

struwwelpeter thumbsucker

Which sounds pretty bad until you compare it with:

Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug (The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches), in which a girl plays with matches and burns to death.

Some have even more tragic endings:

In Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich (The Story of Cruel
Frederick), a violent boy terrorizes animals and people. Eventually he
is bitten by a dog, who goes on to eat the boy’s sausages while he is bedridden.

struwwelpeter dog eating

I would hate to have a dog eat my sausages while I am stuck in bed. Oh, the indignity! I hope the boy learned his lesson.

Don’t Scurry, Mouse. You’ll Just Die Tired.

I have always backed the notion of having animals do our fighting for us. Not only are they bred to endure the harsh necessities of constant struggle for survival but they are inherently awesome. Can you imagine pitting a unit of heavily-armed marmosets against a rag-tag bunch of armored gibbons?

<groan-inducing pun> That’s what I’d call Gorilla warfare! </groan inducing pun>

The Danger Room has linked to a rundown of the history of the animal kingdom in human warfare. I mention it mostly because I think the image of a cat behind the scope of a sniper rifle is probably too awesome for words.


Link (via Danger Room)

Oh, that’s why he’s hot.

If you’re like me, you like to construct elaborate models and similes to explain things that you really shouldn’t waste your time thinking about. Sites like indexed do this sort of thing all the time, and I can never get enough of it. I find this sort of thinking to be a useful hermeneutic tool for understanding the complex wordplay of Mims, and the syllogistic reasoning of explanations for his own hotness. The Village Voice does it for me.

“The most amazing line in “This Is Why I’m Hot”—and, even at
this early a juncture, quite possibly the most amazing line of any song
to see release in 2007—is “I’m hot ’cause I’m fly/You ain’t
’cause you not.” Brutal and unassailable in its simplicity. Consider
the reasoning, first, of just “I’m hot ’cause I’m fly”:

Mims is hot because he’s fly. But it raises the question: Does
being hot guarantee one’s being fly? “You ain’t ’cause you not” would seem to clear that up:

It would appear that fly and hot are interchangable. If you are one, you are both; if you aren’t at least one, you are neither.”

If I can go through life without getting stabbed, I win.

In Croatia they do not fuck around. Sometimes when a woman gets pissed at her father, she stabs him. With a knife. In the head. But they’re made of hardy stock there on the Adriatic and the skull-shivving didn’t seem to phase him.

“The blade penetrated 8cms into his skull but he was conscious on
admission to hospital, he remembered the event, and had not fainted
during or after the assault.”

Damn. Remind me never to rumble with a Croatian.
link (via Mind Hacks)

A Suitcase of Mystery

A woman in Lisbon bought a mysterious suitcase at an auction in 1968. It was full of religious texts from all over the world, and one strange book in an indecipherable language. It’s a black book with “an imprint of a flowering rose pierced by an arrow’s shaft. The
back cover, bound to the front with three black laces, is also black,
but devoid of markings.” It seems that scholars have been unable to translate or even place the tome, and it may well be a cipher.

I think that is insanely cool, and I would love to leave something like that behind for the unsuspecting. A legacy of mystery and adventure is a way better than old papers and my favorite comic books. I also like how random it was for this woman to buy the suitcase at an auction completely unaware of what it would mean for her. I always look for things like that: the secret history, the artifacts that people can’t explain.

link (via Religion News)

CalvinBall 2007

Clive Thompson has an article up over at Wired about a new game called Whiffle Hurling, created by an “aesthletics” expert. That sounds incredibly made-up but still kind of cool. The article goes on to talk about the dearth of new (actual physical, running around- not video) games. Most grown-ups don’t play sports and when they do it is sure to be one of “the pantheon of major team-sports” or a minor variation thereof (like H-O-R-S-E). Nobody in their twenties runs around making games up as they go along.

The irony, of course, is that Russotti is merely doing what children already innately do. Children in playgrounds invent their own physical games every day. It’s a completely natural human activity, but it’s drummed out of us once we go to school and are told that the small group of advertising-supported team sports are the only “serious” ones. For the rest of your adult life, you never deviate.

It makes me think of Calvin and Hobbes, which is one of my all time favorite comics. Calvin and his pet tiger Hobbes were the world’s only players of CalvinBall, a “nomic (self-modifying) game” with an esoteric and ever-changing body of regulations that usually required more parsing of the rules than actual playing of the game. But for Calvin (and many kids) that is a huge part of the fun.

When I was a schoolboy, we had a game called “Mission Impossible” that revolved around opposing teams trying to gain possession of the high ground atop a large flat slide. It was like King of the Hill, but the strategies and variations and exceptions to the rules made every game unique. It was also shockingly violent, and we routinely did things that would permanently damage an older, less resilient body. Arguing over whether or not it was permitted to crawl on your knees over the prone form of a teammate (you weren’t allowed to use your hands) and how long was half the fun. There was no rulebook, but somehow we all knew the rules (or at least how to make them up, and make them sound authoritative).

I think what the creator of Whiffle Hurling is trying to do is get back to that sense of play. I don’t blame him.

Can’t we let the man rest in peace?

The Steve Rogers I knew and mourned would never, ever try to grope a woman with his burrito. But that is exactly what happened near my home town this past weekend. If there is one thing Brevard County has never been short of, it would be crazy drunken assholes, though they are usually not dressed quite so colorfully.


This particular case revolved around a drunken doctor who had to ruin an office costume party by stuffing his pants with a burrito and trying to force women to touch it. It’s a pretty sordid affair.

“Everything was fine until, witnesses said, Captain America started
getting too forward with a burrito he kept tucked inside his blue
tights, a burrito that ultimately landed him in jail.”

Let that be lesson to all would be underwear perverts with Mexican food harassment fetishes.