Saturday, August 19, 2006

Risk Rules

1. Australia is the key to victory.
2. Madagascar is the Australia of Africa.
3. Japan is the Madagascar of Asia.
4. Quebec is the Japan of North America.
5. One soldier in Egypt is Duane "The Rock" Johnson as the Scorpion King.
6. Two or more soldiers in Egypt include Michael Clarke Duncan and the Gigolo.
7. One soldier in Alberta is Wolverine. Best at what he does when his back's against the wall.
8. Two or more soldiers in Alberta is Alpha Flight, there to support Wolvie.
9. Quebec houses the Prince of Canada, Wayne Gretzky.
10. However, he often has a body double stand in for him, and thus becomes the floating monarch, capable of popping up in any country.
11. When conquering Western United States, you are always doing it to go sleep with Catherine Zeta Jones.
12. Ukraine is weak.
13. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

(These rules brought to you by many games of Risk at NU, and offered up in honor of Brownsox, who is going to Madagascar apparently.)

Friday, August 18, 2006

What the....?

Ok, my new "Stupidest Thing I've Seen on a Car."

First, I didn't think there could be anything stupider than an SUV Limo.

Then, I thought that could only be beaten by that stupid car that looks like the front end of a car with a rectangle for a back. I forget the name, but it looks like a freakin cube attached to the back of the car, in perhaps the most un-aerodynamic and unstylish design ever.

Today, however, I saw something that beat them both: spinning hubcaps.

Why on God's green Earth did some moron feel the need to keep his (and I'm almost positive this is a guy's invention, cause women generally aren't that stupid about their cars [except as drivers]) hubcaps spinning, even when the car is at rest? I mean, that's the sort of extra drain I would want to be putting on my batteries, considering how expensive gas is these days and how cars are already causing energy problems in America. And furthermore, it's patently unsafe! One of the first things my sainted father (who learned to drive on the mean streets of the Chicago ghettos) taught me behind the wheel was that you can always tell when some moron is about to ignore your right of way or run a stop sign by checking to see if his hubcaps are turning, or starting to turn. They're infinitely easier to spy than the wheels themselves, much more distinctive due to the usual markings, logos, or spokes on them (which are easily distinguished at rest or in motion), and just one quick way to keep yourself from getting killed by all the moron drivers out there.

Well, now the morons have come up with a way to counter that. You go, morons.

I imagine that eventually this will help in some evolutionary, Darwinian "Survival of the Fittest" process involving drivers, and the truly savvy of us will have to adapt. Unless we're so distracted by the constantly spinning hubcaps that we're all hypnotized, and run off the road.

I swear, sometimes I just want to mount a bazooka on my hood.

(Nothing else new to report. Prelims on Monday, studying hard, no wacky adventures.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tales from the Archives: Glory Days

This past Sunday, to commemmorate the Lady in Black's departure from Madison, she, The Puncher, and myself went to White Castle and 7-11. From Madison, that's a two hour drive each way, but with satellite radio and a little ingenuity, it can be a grand trip. Sadly, my companions did not appreciate the glory of Whitey's in the way I do (I believe the word each used was "vile"), but a quick trip to the nearby 7-11 for slurpees helped rectify things. Technically we got lost, but we were always headed in the correct direction, and serendipitously found the 7-11 without incident. Just goes to show, never trust directions from

Anyway, in honor of that trip, I offer this far more amusing tale of an earlier White Castle run, in the glory days of my youth. (Not that this trip wasn't amusing, but it was a more "you had to be there" amusing.)

The time: December of 1998, a few days after Christmas.
The place: St. Louis, South Side.
Dubs, a young Northwestern freshman, back home for the holidays.
Kolya: Dubs' friend from high school, a fellow scholar of the Russian language and a thespian. See "zany" in the OED for further description.
Dr. H: Another friend from high school, a fellow thespian. Generally the straight man of the group, relatively speaking.
Nurseman: Ditto on the high school thing, cohort in many zany activities, including the yearly trips to Cuba (Missouri, not the island).
Preacher: Ditto, ditto. A rather religious fellow, despite the conflict of Catholic doctrine with his own alternative lifestyle choice. Generally abused (good-naturedly) by the above.
Some girl, a friend of Preacher, who I never saw again.

So it was about three days after Christmas, and it being St. Louis, there wasn't a lot to do. Our hero communicated with Kolya in an attempt to spark some post-holiday hijinks, and was told to meet at Kolya's house, where events were being set in motion. Sadly, this would not turn out to be the case, as this group couldn't come up with anything interesting to do, as there were no more good movies to see (this was the winter of Titanic). So Preacher offers up the option of going to a coffee shop down in the Loop (alternative side of town, a small district that tries to be the Madison of the city). And since we, at that moment, had no other ideas, we agreed. We split into the following cars: Kolya, myself, and Nurseman in the lead car, Preacher, Dr. H, and the random girl in the following. Keep this order in mind, lest nothing that follows seem strange or miraculous.

Now, as soon as we closed the door to our car, Nurseman rather vehemently states "I don't want to go to no f***ing coffee shop. I want to go someplace fun!" I naturally concurred, as I don't drink coffee and, at the time, didn't habitually frequent coffee shops at all, looking upon them as bourgeoise wannabe hippie (I believe the technical term is BoBo, or Bohemian Bourgeoise), so I offered up the workingman's alternative of White Castle. (Please understand that we are all upper middle class white men, all college students, who went together to an elite college prep high school, so there really was no actual class struggle being enacted here.) Well, since this was before the age of cell phones, we couldn't communicate our desire to our chums, so we decided to lead them to Whitey's eventually. Our "eventually," of course, began with a circuitous route through Forest Park, the uber-large park smack in the middle of St. Louis (our version of Central Park). The park really wasn't on the way to either WC or the Loop, but we were young and full of energy, and our parents still paid for our gas, so we went with it.

We led them on a merry chase through the park, and lost them at the circle in the middle of the park, which we proceeded to go around and around and around, a la European Vacation. I believe they broke off after the fifth rotation, while we continued on for a good six or seven more times around. We were now separated in a large, dark city park, so natuarlly we drove around looking for our compatriots. We got lost and nearly ran into the remodling of the Art Museum, while apparently our friends nearly got carjacked by a strange man who started following their vehicle on foot. We met back up after about 20-25 minutes, exchanged our brief stories, and promised to lead them straight on to the Loop, which we did.

Well, kinda. I believe the route we took was generally straight, although we did nearly frighten them to death by turning left from the far right lane, across their nose, determined to maintain our lead position. I believe we were trying to force them into following us to Whitey's by not turning, but when they didn't take the bait, we cut them off to prove our dominance. We arrived at the Loop, but since this is St. Louis, all the coffee shops were closed, except Starbucks, which we (sadly) went to, thus negating the entire point of going to the Loop in the first place. Practically crowing our superiority, Nurseman and I put in another bid for Castles, and they grudgingly acquiesced.

The particular White Castle we were headed for was back entirely the way we had come, right near Kolya's house, so it was a bit of a drive. During that portion of the trip, we concluded that Dr. H needed to be in our car, not theirs, so at a stop sign Nurseman and I jumped out of our car, mobbed Preacher's, and started slamming on the windshield to get the Dr. to join us. Naturally, he was confused by our antics, but determined to stay loyal to his (far lamer) car. As we were in a semi-dangerous part of town at this point, and two very conspicuously white gentlemen, we returned to our car and continued our trek. Along the way, I believe we did two Chinese fire drills, much to the consternation of our followers. After that, we proceeded to ride the "fun lane," which is what Kolya calls riding in the far right lane of a major thoroughfare at about 70 mph (speed limit 35). Since it's a heavily traveled road, the right lane, adjacent to the curb, is full of bumps, dips, and other bits of uneven road, so we bounce and jounce and generally destroy the shocks of his car. Again, our followers were less than amused.

We arrived at White Castle and demolished our respective portions of sliders, fries, and chicken rings. Gloriously sated by our descent into carnivorality, we decided then to go back the way we had come, to the Anheisur-Busch Brewery, to look at their Christmas Light display. As we were leaving, we saw two cop cars pull into the drive-thru, which led to Nurseman's now mythic statement "I didn't know pigs ate Castles! I thought they only ate doughnuts!" We, of course, burst out laughing, until we realized that our windows were down, and the aforementioned pigs were looking right at us. Oops. We quickly exited before they received their food, and proceeded to the Brewery to partake in some holiday cheer.

Exiting the display, our trailing car decided to take the lead and repay us for our own earlier behavior. Only they didn't have a roundabout drive to circle, so they found the next best thing: Busch Stadium. It's one big circle smack dab in the middle of downtown, and we circled it three or four times before they realized they couldn't shake us. We somehow forced our way back into the lead position, and, since it was late by this point, headed back South, to drop off Dr. H and the girl. Heading down I-55, we decided to finally pull the gloves off and really mess with the trailing car. So Kolya starts motoring, blasting down the highway at around 95 mph, leaving Preacher in our wake. We got fairly far ahead, pulled off the highway, did an inverse U-turn (on a fairly heavily-trafficked street), waited a few minutes, and got back on the highway, hoping to catch up with the other (now leading) car. This we did, right at the interchange onto highway 270, which is a left turn on ramp that calls for a roughly 45 mph speed and which we took at about 70, passing our friends on the inside and waving to them frantically (nearly scaring them off the road, or so we were told later).

We followed them back to the girl's house, where they tried to lead us on a chase through the maze-like subdivision. Unbeknownst to them, however, was that this bit of suburbia was well-knownst to me, as my aunt and uncle once lived there, and we visited often to use their community pool. So we foreswore their childish game and left them, heading back to Dr. H's house. Beating them by a good 5-10 minutes, we parked the car out of sight, ran back and hid behind the house (no fence, God bless it). I took one side, Kolya took the other, while Nurseman waited until their car arrived and utilized his stealthiness to circle behind their car. They sat in the car talking for a moment, and on signal, we three dashed madly from our respective hiding places, screaming and slamming our hands onto their windows, frightening them nearly to death.

That pretty much concluded our trip. Kolya took me back to my car, at his house, which was the last bit of irony, considering Dr. H's house was about 5 minutes away from my own. But like I said, we didn't pay for the gas, so we didn't care. That is, without a doubt, the most epic White Castle night I've ever been a part of, and hopefully helps to explain my deep love and nostalgia for the place. (And Kolya, Nurseman, Preacher, or Dr. H, if any of you are reading this and wish to add, please feel free. I'm sure I've forgotten something.)

Next time: Another White Castle incident, involving Skinny and his compatriot, the jug of gin, and our attempt to barter one of our female friends for said jug of gin.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Awesome and Not Awesome

Awesome: Two nights in a row of drinking.
Not Awesome: The decision to eat Taco Bell for dinner and get pizza at 2am on Thursday.

Awesome: Veronica Mars. I highly recommend it.
Not Awesome: The Robert Duncan selection on my prelims list. He may or may not be a good poet. I can't tell, because all his famous poetry is not on my list. (Unless every anthology and website is wrong. Hillbilly, feel free to correct my ignorance if you wish.)

Awesome: Tomorrow's White Castle/Slurpee run. Two hours there, two hours back. No prisoners, no mercy.
Not Awesome: White Castle conquers all unawesomeness. No entry here.

Look for a full chronicle of our tale in the near future. And if we don't come back, avenge our deaths.