Weekly Shocks' Blog


Bacon Heartbreak

Devastating news from RiffTrax HQ:

Another hero has succumbed to the temptations of half-finished greatness. I expect Mike Nelson’s steroid trial will begin shortly and he’ll be serving a long, long jail sentence. Also, I made a bet with a friend of mine back in Boston that Mike would, in fact, complete his  task, and I have clearly and shamefully lost that bet. Dark and horrible things await me when I return home. This hurts.

On another note, happy birthday, mom. Sorry Mike Nelson RUINED it with his epic bacon failure. (I kid, of course, and this video was one of the funniest damn things I’ve seen in ages. I’ll think of it fondly when I’m serving the terms of my lost wager and crying. And I will be crying.)

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The Craigslist Time-Suck

By the time I finish my third year at Oxford, I will possess two masters’ degrees, each dearly beloved, each with its own unique brand of complete and total uselessness. I will also possess tens of thousands of dollars of debt, not nearly as beloved, but mine nonetheless. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t pay as much attention to the news as I probably should, but something about the current state of the economy suggests that the above combination is something of a hindrance for me because of my selfish yet definitive desires not to live in a trashcan and occasionally eat once in a while. I also have failed in all attempts to secure a sugar daddy/rich, ennobled husband, something that annoys my mother to no end. My only options left now are either winning the lottery or (horror) finding a job.

Job searching isn’t fun for anyone, I know, and I promise I’m not going into too much whining about how fruitless my own quests have been. I’m here to make you laugh (or yawn/groan/gag/vomit depending on how unfunny you find me), not elicit sympathy. Besides, none of my job searches lasts very long, because, as I said, I’m a graduate student with two useless masters’ degrees and massive amounts of debt, and I’m really not qualified to be anything but a graduate student collecting useless masters’ degrees and massive amounts of debt. Why bother looking for a job at all? I might as well start signing up for welfare benefits now. But I persist most days by visiting a wide range of online job-search sites, mostly because it means I don’t have to work on my thesis. Never underestimate how lazy I am or how creative my procrastination techniques.

Regardless. Craigslist is by far my favorite job-search site. It is quickly becoming my favorite site in the whole world. There is absolutely no legitimacy to anything on Craigslist, and I’m fairly convinced that every post on it is written by one of twelve individuals, half of whom are clinically insane, five of whom are constantly strung out on drugs, and one token trained chimp. It is bizarre and wonderful and I hope whoever runs it makes a zillion dollars a day. I admit that most of the posts are fairly sophomoric in nature and include the usual rants about the bitches and hos who won’t condescend to sample a slice of the poster’s sweet meat. The inherent humor in that dries out fairly quickly, sure. There are, however, occasional flashes of sheer brilliance on Craigslist (drug-induced, I know, but still), and my good friend Matt sent me one a couple of days ago. I share it now with you:

Date: 2007-08-30, 2:03PM EDT

Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I hold M&M duels.

Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure, squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That is the “loser,” and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner gets to go another round.

I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with a 3×5 card reading, “Please use this M&M for breeding purposes.”

This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free 1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this “grant money.” I have set aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we will discover the True Champion.

There can be only one.

I think I am in love with whoever wrote this. If it happens to be you, drop me a line. I promise not to be creepy and/or stalker-like: I only want to fawn over your wry, engaging wittiness and perhaps bear you a child or two. I also promise to buy you a beer. Deal?


A Cat and The Rat

A cat first:

garfield1

Indeed. I think I’d kill a man with my bare hands for a Brigham’s hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream and lots and lots of jimmies on it right about now. And some good sushi, too, actually. And pizza without corn on it. And bacon, real bacon, not the English stuff, which is just thinly sliced ham masquerading as bacon. And salad. And clam chowder.

Maybe I should eat lunch instead of drooling. Hmmm.

On to The Rat. My niece turns eight today. I affectionately nicknamed her The Rat four or five years ago for reasons I no longer recall. (You may not find a nickname like The Rat affectionate at all, but in my family, it is the pinnacle of warmth and love to give one another nonsensical and/or mildly disturbing pet names that are hugely embarrassing when revealed to non-family members. And they are revealed, as often as possible.  My dad, for example, called me Tin Can until I was 13 when I begged him to stop because friends of mine were convinced that was my actual name.) I only have one niece and in my family she’s also the only grandchild, so, perhaps predictably, she’s spoiled rotten and a complete and total ham. I love that kid: she never fails to make me laugh. I also feel hugely guilty about being away from her on birthdays, which always, always occurs. Even when she was born, I wasn’t really there. Not totally, anyway. Three days before her birth, I had half of my thyroid unceremoniously ripped out of my throat (my doctor prefers the PC phrase “surgically removed,” but I know what that man did to me) and replaced with a tube that drained all kinds of liquid nastiness into a little plastic bag I wore around my neck. There were also many, many industrial staples involved. And lots of painkillers, too. God bless painkillers. They didn’t work in the sense that I no longer felt any pain, but rather morphed my sense of reality into concluding that pain wasn’t necessarily a bad thing in the first place. Why worry about the mild ache I feel in my throat, for example, when the walls are bleeding and no one sees it but me? Also, pain isn’t all that big a deal when the internist assigned to removing your staples has a third arm growing out of her chest and is easily ten feet tall with a voice like Darth Vader.

I didn’t do well on heavy-duty painkillers.

Anyway, when my niece was born, I hobbled in to see her and my sister and, perhaps due to the aforementioned hallucinations, I wasn’t at my most polite, or even my most coherent. My niece was born with a full, gigantic head of hair and I remember feeling profoundly disturbed by this. “Why does she have so much hair? Is that normal? What the hell is wrong with this kid?!” Probably not the best things to say to my older sister who had just experienced child birth for the first time and wasn’t especially impressed with my ‘on too many painkillers’ excuse. Regardless. My niece is, of course, an adorable child, but I will always be haunted by the fact that my first impression of her was that she was a massively hairy runt of a thing, a baby werewolf, perhaps, or a Wookiee. I’ll be paying for that guilt the rest of my life, believe me.

Happy birthday, Rat, I love you lots! Your check for seventy million dollars is on its way! If it bounces, please don’t call the mob like you did last time: the bruises have yet to heal!


Puggle Mystery: Still Unsolved

Well, then! After my last post about Internet search engines, puggles, and blogging, I’m still no closer to unmasking my puggle-loving reader, who remains coy yet determined: today, the word ‘puggle’ was entered five times in search engines leading to this blog. A bit odd, yes, slightly worrying, sure: but I am not complaining. After all, puggles sure do bring in the blog hits – The Things You Learn While Blogging was far and away the most popular blog post I’ve ever made, smashing my second-highest rated entry by more than fifty viewings. Keep that in mind if you’re trying to boost traffic to your own blog, folks. PUGGLES. Puggles are the answer.

And special thanks to Jennifer for introducing me to the magic of Google Alerts and whose own puggle-based blog should satisfy all of your adorable hybrid-dog viewing needs.

On a non-puggle related note (sincere apologies to those of you who are here strictly for the puggles – feel free to leave now), this week begins The Annual Birthday Hell in Weekly Shocks’ World. It seems as if every blood relative I have, not to mention a fair few friends as well, have decided to get together and plot against me in the most intensive, wallet-destroying conspiracy imaginable by having all of their birthdays between now and the end of this month. I’m still suffering from post-Christmas detox, my darling loved ones! Have mercy! But they don’t care. Not at all. Seriously, what the hell is it about February and birthdays? There are far better months for celebrating one’s arrival into the world, I believe. I’m personally partial to March, but, really, anything has to be better than this miserable, cold, gray and dreary month of interminable mud. Really, it’s so lame, it doesn’t even get a minimum of 30 days, like every other normal month in the calendar. Honestly, February, have you no self-respect, no decency? You’re pathetic, February, a mutant freak and unworthy of notice. Go away.

Branch out and have your children in different seasons, people. You’ll feel better, I promise. I know I will.


The Things You Learn While Blogging

I’ve been at this blogging thing for just under two months now. In the process, I’ve discovered you can learn some pretty odd things about people’s Internet behavior. WordPress has a nifty little tool that tells you the phrases or words people enter into search engines that somehow lead them to your blog. I love this feature. Since starting Weekly Shocks, people have found my little home on the intrawebs by searching for “The Popemobile,” crazy people [in] Oxford,  tapeworms, “New England and bitching,” and – my personal favorite – “drunk while marking.” You folks are strange and wonderful and I love you for all your odd, Internet-abusing ways.

More recently, though, I’ve come across a bit of a search engine mystery. In the past day, someone has found this blog seven times by searching for the word ‘puggle.’ (I assume it’s one person who, for whatever reason, is fixated on the strange but adorable creatures.) Bemused and mildly paranoid that the one photo of a puggle I had on the site belonged to an enraged and overly-protective owner who now had my home address and lots of firearms, I got rid of the picture, and replaced it with an equally charming photo of a beagle. However, this doesn’t seem to be deterring the mysterious and dedicated Internet user, as another two ‘puggle’ hits were recorded on my blog today. Huh. Completely flummoxed, I googled the word ‘puggle’ myself, and went through, literally, twelve pages of hits before giving up, never once finding a reference to my blog. How in the hell is this person finding me? If you care to reveal yourself, dear reader, I promise many photos of puggles for your enjoyment, so long as you show me whatever magic trick you’re employing in landing here. I sense you have mighty powers. JOIN ME!


The Midway Point of Tasty Bacon

Hey, remember that post I made a couple of weeks ago about Michael J. Nelson, the guy who was on a mission to eat nothing but bacon for a month? Apparently what started as a goofy bet at his job has ballooned into a gigantic media sensation (I may be exaggerating the “gigantic” part), and it has attracted all kinds of weird attention, both good and bad. Want to see how he’s doing? No? Oh. My apologies. If, however, you have nothing else going on in your life, check out this quick news report on his stunt. I’m thoroughly impressed.


The Trolls in My Skull and the NHS

Late last night, in a desperate attempt to avoid doing any work at all, my brain snuck out on me and ran off to enjoy an extended holiday in California. Usually, I’m OK with this: Brain has escaped before, but he always returns much more relaxed and cheerful, a little brown around the edges and usually with some good stories about his adventures on the beach. Lucky bastard. This time, however, Brain has sublet the space between my ears to a pack of miniature trolls who work in construction and they are currently trying to renovate my skull by drilling holes into it. I have, in short, the worst headache of my life. It’s so bad, I’m seriously considering urgent, insane remedies such as auto-decapitation or going to see a doctor.

The NHS frightens me. Part of this, I admit, is due to sheer, stubborn American snobbery. Nationalized health care is a strange, bizarre world to someone who grew up in the Newt Gingrich Nineties and believed that the biggest threats to American national security were welfare moms and that stain on Monica Lewinsky’s dress. I’m getting better at overcoming this, but the jackknife spirit of those times tore a gaping hole into my fragile, young psyche, so bear with me.

Beyond my skittish fear of the specter of socialism, however, lies a genuine concern: the NHS employs lots and lots of insane people. I live in Oxford, so I’m used to insane people by now, but I’d really prefer not to have them poised above me with needles or prescribing me suspicious drugs, ointments, and unnecessary procedures. A couple of years ago, for example, I badly broke a toe that wasn’t healing properly and was developing a nasty, painful infection. In my very measured, calmly rational way, I decided I had developed gangrene, so I stumbled off to my local health center to see if they couldn’t just lob the thing off and nip the problem in the bud before bits of me started falling off in lectures and seminars. Actually, I wanted to see if the toe would need to be re-broken in order for it to heal properly. It didn’t, but the good doctor who attended me sure tried to convince me otherwise. Our conversation went something like this:

Insane Doctor: “Well, I guess you don’t need it re-broken, but maybe I should do it anyway.”

Me: “Why?” (I thought this was a reasonable question at the time, but keep in mind, I was in a lot of pain, so all kinds of things seemed reasonable. That’s how I ended up under the NHS’ care in the first place.)

Insane Doctor: “Well, I’ve never done one before, and it would be good practice.”

Me: “…”

I actually considered it for a moment just so I wouldn’t appear rude and/or disagreeable. Living in England does strange things to your sense of propriety. Luckily, the remaining voice of sanity in my head whispered that letting this man break my toe “for good practice” probably wasn’t the brightest thing I could be doing, so I eventually declined, but it was touch and go there for a while.

Isolated incident, you say? Au contraire, my friend. I stumbled across this blog post made by a poor woman who apparently tried to get simple antibiotics for strep throat before the infection had run its course! The nerve. And apparently, tens of thousands of surgeries had to be postponed last year due to inane reasons like disappearing surgeons, or – and this is my favorite – a lack of razors to shave patients with before the procedure. Brilliant.

So, perhaps now you understand my reluctance to visit an NHS doctor and have him interfere with the Skull Trolls’ reconstruction plans. Besides, these hardworking new tenants of mine can keep me company until Brain gets back from sunny Cali. I’m really going to have to have a word with that lazy, sneaky, sun-tanning bastard, though. He owes me big time.


Slow Day

Today’s weather was really rather nice, so, as a result, I spent most of the day inside, with the curtains drawn, avoiding the sun and human interaction. You know, the usual. I’m also way behind on my thesis, a fact that is starting to make me even more shrilly neurotic than usual, therefore extracurricular activities are being somewhat curtailed. My supervisor is an absolutely wonderful man who puts up with way too much shoddy writing from me as is, so I really need to channel more of my sub par talent into my academic work than into my wildly popular piddly blog. But thanks a bunch to those of you who are reading Weekly Shocks. I’m not really sure why you’re reading the damn thing, but it’s lots of fun for me to write it, and hopefully you don’t need to run for a toilet after your viewings.

Speaking of toilet, check out this site. It’s insidiously brilliant. Most of the photos in it are horrible and disgusting and you can actually feel your arteries clog just by looking at them. But then you run across something like this –

NOM NOM NOM NOM

DEEP FRIED S'MORE ON A STICK, NOM NOM NOM NOM

…and the drool pools off your chin and your stomach demands to be filled now and you remember that Satan works in subtle and mysterious ways. Damn that fiery bastard and his chocolatey, deep fried goodness.


Loving Sir Plum

*swoon*

*swoon*

So, today is Valentine’s Day, and across the world, people are celebrating in their own special ways: snuggling up with a significant other, or plunging into a two-gallon carton of Fudgie Nutty Tub o’ Lard, or getting dolled up and sobbing into overpriced martinis, or punching out car doors and bellowing the names of former lovers, and so on. You get the point. I frankly adore this holiday because of how much frenetic attention it receives, both good and bad. The bipolar nature of the whole thing is charmingly hysterical.

But Valentine’s Day is also a bit wistful in Weekly Shocks’ World, because February 14th marks the anniversary of the passing of the great PG Wodehouse. Wodehouse was, in my humble opinion, quite simply the finest, most wonderfully engaging comedic writer ever to live: there is really almost nothing more enjoyable than slipping into his idyllic world of Blandings unless it’s spending an afternoon with that incorrigible fop Bertram Wooster and his personal gentleman and protector, the unflappable Jeeves. I speak with reverence and sincere affection for good old PG, and, admittedly, a touch of jealousy too: in his lifetime, he wrote nearly a hundred books, proving himself not only a brilliant writer but a prolific one as well. I’d give an eyeball to write half as well as he does.

Lots of folks my age don’t seem to read Wodehouse anymore; many have never even heard of the man, which I find awfully sad. Vulgar, raunchy humor seems to be the norm these days, and while I personally see nothing wrong with a well-timed, disgusting or emphatically un-PC joke, it’s a shame that the comparatively wholesome, yet carefully constructed humor of Wodehouse is not only rarely made these days but not much enjoyed either. I fully understand that his somewhat circumscribed, rarefied world isn’t for everyone (though if you don’t like Wodehouse, I’ll think more of the gum on the bottom of my shoe than I do of you, you witless, drooling hick), but I do think a healthy swing in the direction of Wodehousian writing would do the world some profound good.

So, here’s my advice to you today, folks: disentangle yourself from the saliva of your loved one, put down your Tub O’ Lard, wipe up your mascara, bandage your bleeding hand (and stop punching my car, damn it! It’s over!). Go out, and find a book by PG Wodehouse. Any book will do, really. Just read the man. Enjoy the prose of a simpler, non-existent world, marvel at how wonderful it is, and let the ensuing happiness wash over you like a summer wave. He really is that good. Stephen Fry (another writer I like very much) once said of him, “What can one say about Wodehouse? He exhausts superlatives.” True, but it’s still fun to try.

RIP, Sir Plum. You were one of the greats and are sorely missed.


The 25 Plague: A Brief Apology

Yes, yes, I admit my guilt: I wrote one of those ubiquitous, crushingly uninteresting “25 Random Things About Me” notes on Facebook. I really am very sorry. I can only plead profound ignorance at how widespread this plague would become and I was momentarily seduced by the note’s dizzying promise of fame. Who wouldn’t weaken at the opportunity of finally being able to tell several hundred of your closest friends about that time in 8th grade when you broke your finger playing kickball?! It was a heady moment, but again, I do apologize. I am deeply ashamed of myself. I promise never to indulge in anything so pathetically self-absorbed and tedious again (this blog being the obvious exception, of course).

My shame over writing the stupid thing began immediately after I hit the “Publish” button, but it absolutely skyrocketed when I started stumbling across stories of the Facebook phenomenon in respectable news sources, like The Times, The Globe, and MSNBC. (OK, mostly respectable news sources.) I still view my Facebook life as largely disconnected from reality, so to find out that some goofy little Internet event I participated in was attracting mainstream attention felt dirty and wrong. Most of these news reports sarcastically criticized the monstrously egotistical nature of these notes – and rightly so – although I couldn’t help but wonder if they realized that, by publicizing it, they were most likely exacerbating the condition. I mean, frankly, it’s kind of absurd how many newspapers and magazines are reporting on what is really a non-event.

Hang on! There are probably more newspaper reports on this damn note than Facebook users actually participating in it! So, really, it’s the mainstream media’s fault! Again! As always! Those mercenary bastards, preying on the vulnerabilities of an attention-starved generation of sensitive, tender-hearted children. THEY should be the ones who are ashamed, damn it, not me! I’m not sorry at all! I am PROUD of my note! My friends NEEDED to know those vital, engaging, fascinating facts about me! Hell, THE WHOLE WORLD needs to know! I’m turning the note into a book! It’ll be a bestseller! A Pulitzer-Prize winner! A BOOK FOR THE AGES!!!! SCREW THE MEDIA!

(Perhaps I should retitle this blog post “The 25 Plague: A Brief Apology Immediately Followed by Bitter and Nonsensical Recriminations And Criminally Insane Narcissism”)


Dear Oxford,

Hiya, buddy. Oxford, old pal! It’s been a while since we chatted formally. I’m sorry: it’s probably my fault. I’ve had this rubbish called “work” to do, and you’ve probably been distracted with your own stuff too, like all those millennium-old traditions to uphold and then there was that snow thing last week you weren’t really prepared for. We all get busy. It happens.

So, how are you? You’re looking well. The collection of gargoyles across your various colleges is especially attractive and interesting. Not really frightening, but I guess they might have been when they were first chiseled out of stone all those centuries ago. Who knows. Anyway. As I said, you’re looking well. I especially like this whole City-in-Winter deal you’ve got going right now: there are fewer swarms of camera-clutching, eardrum-shattering tourists, and that’s always a bonus. You should perhaps consider extending that look into the spring and summer seasons, maybe. Just a suggestion.

Oxford, I’ve been meaning to talk to you seriously for some time now. Please, sit down: this is an important conversation, and I want your full attention. It’s about all the crazies you’ve got in your city. I’m not talking about the eccentric folk, like that guy who dresses as (and may very well be) an African chief and wanders the city barefoot all winter with a very impressive staff to help beat back the dirty masses. My beef’s not with him: that guy’s cool. Eccentricity is cool and completely expected, too. I mean: you’re Oxford! I can’t even sit down to dinner with you without putting on a Harry Potter robe and bowing my head over a Latin grace each evening! And I love that, don’t get me wrong. Hell, at my last place of academic study, I’d often go to dinner in pajamas and bow my head to avoid seeing the five inches of hairy buttcrack on display from the hungover guy in the Patriot’s jersey and upsettingly stained and ill-fitting jeans sitting in front of me. Trust me, Oxford, I love your oddness. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.

But I’m sincerely worried about your crazies, your in-your-face, aggressive, scary crazies who seem to populate your city by the thousands. People like the raggedy-haired adolescent I passed by today and made the colossal mistake of making eye-contact with. That was apparently the exact wrong thing to do because he responded by screaming in my face, “F*CK OFF, YEAH?! F*CK RIGHT OFF!” Then there was that Big Issue-selling guy a couple of years ago who, after I refused to buy a magazine from him, asked instead if I’d touch his bum. Repeatedly. And of course, there’s this lovely specimen who makes me question the very existence of God:

Why, God? Why?

Why, God? Why?

Seriously, Oxford, it’s just worrying. It’s as if there’s a lunatic asylum very nearby with extraordinarily lax security standards. Are you aware of that? It’s damaging your Wodehousian reputation of serenity and untouched splendor in an otherwise chaotic world. Also, these crazy people invariably smell like putrid rat carcasses dipped in Marmite. Honestly, Oxford, I’m saying this as a friend: get rid of the scary, crazy people. They’re doing you a grave disservice, and I know for a fact they’re using your fetching red phone booths as public toilets, something I don’t think your tourist hordes much appreciate when they’re posing in them for their obligatory “I’ve-been-to-England-and-aren’t-I-so-original-and-clever?!” photos.

Oh, Oxford, one more thing before I go, ‘kay? When I came here three years ago, I had a bland, yet perfectly serviceable North American accent that suited me rather well, I believe, and I liked it very much. At some point you “borrowed” that accent and replaced it with some sort of pseudo-posh, fakey Madonna-like hybrid voice, probably as a joke, probably assuming I wouldn’t notice. Well, it’s a brilliant joke, but I have noticed, and although your new, replacement accent gives hours of amusement to my friends and family, it’s also starting to cause me severe, existential angst and deep, personal humiliation. So, if you’re not using it, could I possibly have my old accent back? Please? If you’re not busy or anything. I’d be awfully grateful. Thanks in advance.

Good chat, Oxford, lovely as always to see you! Best of luck with the upcoming exams period and the trashing chaos that will follow and all. Speak soon!

XXX


Losing your lizard poop and other hazards of being a grad student

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the absolutely devastating news about the brilliant young researcher up in Leeds who had his seven-year collection of lizard poop callously tossed away by the university’s cleaning staff. The fools at Leeds offered him the paltry sum of £500 to compensate for their malicious, criminally insane actions, which sent the young fellow into a rage. He killed them all by smothering them in his 15-year collection of rabbit turds. If his jury consists of fellow PhD candidates, I suspect that he’ll not only be set free, but he’ll also be awarded a sweet-ass Junior Research Fellowship at the Oxford College of his choice AND his very own undergrad/slave to carry out all his peon fact-checking work for the rest of his life. I wish him luck.

I kid of course, but in many ways, I sympathize with this poor guy. Clearly, he had been working for years to collect data for his research – and I can’t imagine collecting lizard dung is an especially enjoyable task, but hey, being in graduate school makes people do insane, stupid things – and now it’s simply gone. I couldn’t help but wonder what the value of my own academic work  is and how much I could sue for if cleaners at Oxford somehow tossed it out in the trash. Then I realized they pretty much already had. Oxford isn’t especially keen on giving any of its students feedback, so they (allegedly) burn all exam papers once marks have been assigned, thereby making it damn near impossible to ascertain how your markers arrived at your grade. There is a story here no one can disprove that examiners get rip-roaring drunk while marking, then take the whole bunch of exam sheets and throw them down a flight of stairs. Each stair has a mark designation attached to it, and whatever stair your paper lands on is the grade you receive. This might sound somewhat disheartening, but luckily, in my first year here, I had a brilliant supervisor who prepared me for disappointment and failure by telling me, at our first meeting, that I was a waste of his time and almost certainly going to bomb the entire course, and that was after he yelled at me for sitting in his chair. I think of him fondly from time to time when I’m feeling too pleased about my academic abilities and need a quick shot of self-loathing and insecurity.

On a much more cheerful subject, not only was today Truck Day at Fenway Park, but it also turns out that that cheating, poncy bastard A-Fraud Rodriguez will be joining the Steroid-User of the Month Club for alleged injection fun back in his overrated MVP year in 2003. As if anyone is surprised. God, I love baseball.


A Cactus in the Hudson

I just listened to the tape recording of that plane that ended up in the Hudson River a couple of weeks ago. I did this because I am a terrible, nervous flyer and I apparently hate myself. Listening to flight tapes of plane crashes, even ones like this with no casualties, sends my blood pressure and heart rate through the roof. It’s a touch of excitement in an otherwise dull existence, I suppose. Still, it’s very cool to have a national hero again, and I wonder how soon it will be before Mr Sullenberger runs for political office. After all, Barack Obama has been President for more than two whole weeks now and the country’s still pretty messed up. Impeach! Impeach!

Sully For President!

Sully For President!


Odds and Ends

First, a very happy birthday to my younger sister. February 4th begins the awkward annual six-week period during which time she and I are technically the same age. I still find the pragmatics of this situation and all that it implies about my parents’ amorous relationship deeply disturbing, so I try not to think about it too much. Nevertheless, I love my sister very much and she shouldn’t have her birthday ignored simply because our parents were dirty-minded animals. Happy Birthday, Laur. (Love you too, Mom: I was just kidding about the ‘dirty-minded animals’ bit. Don’t hit!)

Second, I updated my ‘About Me’ page because I had some emails from very confused people wanting to know, quite reasonably,  just who the hell did I think I was writing this damn blog. Apologies: hopefully the page clears up everything. Unless, of course, you actually know me in real life, in which case you probably still have questions about just who the hell I think I am, questions that no cheesy blog post can ever answer. I can provide no further elucidation on that topic, so, you’re kind of screwed. Sorry. I usually find that looking at pictures of beagle puppies makes me feel better when I’m confused, so please enjoy the following:

Awwww! Life makes sense again.

Awwww! Life makes sense again.

Finally, one of my childhood heroes, Michael J. Nelson, the mastermind behind RiffTrax as well as the former head writer and star of Mystery Science Theater 3000, has undertaken what some say is a bottomlessly stupid challenge to eat nothing but bacon for the entire month of February. Naysayers be damned: I think it is a noble homage to the often overlooked wholesomeness and glory of bacon, or, at the very least, a very amusing publicity stunt, so I support him in his quest. Like I said, the guy’s one of my childhood heroes. Anyway, follow his antics at The RiffTrax Blog.


Sending up smoke signals

"Send help! We're trapped in here!"

The signs read: "Send help! We're trapped in here!"

MESSAGE TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY BACK IN STATES STOP AM STILL ALIVE THOUGH ONLY JUST STOP SNOW PILES IMMENSE SOME UPWARDS OF TWO INCHES STOP PLEASE SEND FOOD SUPPLIES DWINDLING STOP EATING ONLY RAW DEER MEAT STOP CASUALTIES HIGH STOP WHEN WILL THEY LEARN DAMN IT WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN STOP

If you’re a regular reader of Weekly Shocks (and if you’re not, I’m deeply offended) you might have come across a post I made many years ago (well, Friday, actually) in which I made a passing reference to the UK’s pathetic inability to handle snow of any kind. Because everything I write here will inevitably come to pass, yesterday, a massive winter storm paralyzed the entire country: there were almost two whole inches of snow right here in Oxford! The snow rendered the country’s inhabitants prisoners in their own homes and sent the media into a panicked, yet sarcastic, frenzy. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the reports of the “storm” in both national and international newspapers and thought I’d share a few choice cuts here.

(By the way, we’re totally going to ignore the completely gratuitous, criminally narcissistic claim on my part that my pathetic little blog is somehow the next coming of Nostradamus. Forgive me: I was dropped on my head as a child.)

From the lovely and charming BBC, an entire series on the storm melodramatically entitled “UK’s Snow Chaos”.

From the erudite and elegant New York Times, a great article on the frustrations in London. My favorite bit is the miseries experienced by a Tube employee “who asked that his name not be used so that he would not get into trouble.”

And from the Twin Cities, an AP article cheekily entitled “London, the city that survived the Blitz, crumbles under a little show.” The photo caption rubs further salt into the wound by stating “the eight inches of snow, referred to as a blizzard by Londoners, challenged those famous stiff (now frozen) upper lips.”

My own countrymen are making fun of me. I am sad.


A Collection of Some Highly Upsetting Products

It’s somehow extremely comforting to know that even in our tanking economy, there still seems to be a pretty solid market for stupid, disgusting, offensive, overpriced crap. Because I spend roughly 23.5 hours/day on the internet, I get exposed to nearly all of it. Here’s a small sample of junk products produced in varying degrees of horror that I’ve come across recently. I hope their creators are serving long prison sentences, but most likely, they’re rolling in wads of cash and laughing at all of us. Knobs.

An actual fart bag. Genius!

An actual fart bag. Genius!

Oh my. Oh my, oh my! Oh YAY! Now you don’t have to worry about your minor case of lactose intolerance! You don’t even have to skip Aunt Gertrude’s tasty three bean salad! The Subtle Butt Disposable Gas Neutralizer will absolve you of all offensive odors!  It’s actually billed as a fart protector, and I do believe that if the federal government got a hold of it, they could probably enhance the product into some kind of weapons defense system. Maybe someday in the future. Anyway. Beware, however! An actual review at drugstore. com warns that this elegantly named device “didnt work at all, even when I tried using multiple patches at once to cover a larger area. Its a good idea, but it doesnt work.” Let’s try not to envision the ‘larger area’ this dissatisfied customer was referring to, shall we? No. No, no. Moving right along.

Fake Baby. No, really, that's its name.

Fake Baby. No, really, that's its name.

Good Lord. I’m sympathetic to couples who can’t conceive and I understand that the desire to have children can often overwhelm people into doing incredibly stupid things, like kidnapping other people’s babies or owning poodles. Still, how creepy is this?! Right here in the UK, a very nice, not-at-all insane lady operates a website called Reborn Baby (reborn from what?!) and for a very reasonable £280 will bake you an actual baby doll to love and cherish and manipulate into some horrifying reality of simulated life. A recent interview in the London Times confirms that she is, in fact, a sound-minded, socially sensitive businesswoman, and not some twisted fruit whose actions are eerily reminiscent of SS operations in Auschwitz: ‘“I’ve cried when I’ve let a few of them go,” she admitted, [and] we watched her put a baking tray of rubber baby parts in the oven.’ Check it out: http://www.reborn-baby.com.

Russia's Finest

Russia's Finest

It’s February now, so if you’re like me, most of your New Year’s Resolutions are sitting in piles of rotting, putrid failure all around your home, the stench of your ineptitude wafting up like a charming mixture of rancid bacon, BO, and a sumo wrestler’s jockstrap. You loser. And speaking of sumo wrestlers, if you’re like most of America, one of your resolutions was to lose a little weight, especially after all of those holiday pig-out fests you indulged in, cramming your meaty face with your chestnuts roasted on an open fire and your visions of sugar plums and your figgy pudding and then washing it all down in gallons and gallons of syrupy wassail.  You big, fat loser. You disgust me.

Regardless! Losing all that extra blubber is a cinch now with the latest brilliant product to come out of Russia. Why engage in the all the hassle and expense of diet and exercise, especially when – given your track record – you’ll just emerge from the whole ordeal an even bigger, fatter loser than before?  Simply ingest a tapeworm egg or three and all of your obesity problems will disappear!  At the aptly named tapewormeggs.com, you can buy fresh eggs from one of the finest ‘Soviet prison camps‘ (I thought the Soviet Union didn’t exist anymore, but, hell, what do I know) and rest assured in the knowledge that the eggs were raised in ‘one liter slurry of human excrement.‘ As excited about this product and as eager as I am to have a 10 meter tapeworm living in my stomach, I must admit to being very slightly wary to take the plunge, because its producers state very abruptly NO RETURNS. That’s not very good customer service, is it? Hmmm. Still, I’ll give it a think over before I make a final decision.

Sleep well, tubby.

Sleep well, tubby.

If your supply of Russian tapeworms gets stopped at customs or somehow turns up dead on arrival (remember: NO RETURNS!) or you’re not a complete moron in the first place BUT you have rock-bottom self esteem and a boyfriend who affectionately nicknames you Lard Ass, then slab some FatGirlSleep all over yourself each night and dream away your crushing depression and dimpled cottage cheese thighs! Its product description on Amazon.com effusively declares that “FatGirlSleep not only helps you fight the good fight against cellulite overnight, but its also infused with a lavender scent, which has been shown to have a relaxing, aromatherapeutic effect.” The description finishes up with the unintentionally hilarious “Sweet Creams!” which I think would make a great porn name, although I’m willing to bet some quick-thinking, brilliant-minded adult entertainer has already snapped it up. Bugger. I was a little upset to read the one review for this product on Amazon which warned potential buyers that FatGirlSleep is ‘NOT a miracle worker! It smoothes the skin, doesn’t do crunches for you.’ Another hope crushed.

These products only scratch the gritty surface of the joyous items available for you to waste your money on, and I promise to continue adding to this little series of charming, consumer crap. I do so love capitalism.