Monday, May 30, 2011

In Which I Make a Formula

I was listening to music on Pandora this past weekend, enjoying the mix of metal and rock music they selected based upon my musical preferences. I like to rate the music I listen to with Pandora, that way it better hones in on the music I like, and avoids the stuff I don't. After giving my thumbs up or thumbs down to a couple of songs, I noticed something.

Do all (or most) metal bands follow a certain formula or basic concept when designing their logo?

As proof, I offer these ten album covers from some well-known and some not-so-well-known metal bands:

See what I'm getting at? It's like there is some unspoken code among metal band musicians that their logos must contain the same central elements. Sharp, angular shapes at the beginning and end, almost mirror-symmetry... If you were to look up metal band logos further on Google, you'd see even more examples. 

I tried to make my own metal band logo, but I found it to be above the skills I have with graphic design currently. Too bad, because the name I had picked (Mnemonic Digression) would have been awesome.

Happy Monday, folks. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

In Which I Sense Laziness

Today, I present you with this:

I found this near the sink by the coffee makers at work, and thought that the name of this generic soap was incredibly lazy. I mean, the people behind marketing this product didn't even try to come up with a name for it. Sure, a lot of the good names have already been used, like Dawn, Joy, Palmolive, Ajax, Ultra, Cascade, Gain, Electrasol... the list goes on. But to let the type of product you're selling also double as the "brand name" for it? That's just lazy.

Also, what's this about the "original scent"? Original, as compared to what? And what exactly does original smell like? Slimy, wet dishes that have been soaking in the sink for a week?

Anyone else seen any crazy generic brand names, or other oddly named products lately?

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Which I'm Not Sure I Got It Right

This is another one of the Simple Something suggestions, this time from a reader and fellow Maine-r named Amanda. She challenged me to write a story called "Devastating Circumstances". Here are the other details about the suggestion:

Name: Caramia
Location: Rockland, Maine
Emotion: Surprise
Object: Letter Opener

I'm not sure if I got this right at all, not having been through this personally, but with Memorial Day just around the corner, this theme stuck with me. For those of you who have gone through this, please forgive me if I got anything wrong.


The mail delivery truck trundled away from the Gagnon home, pulling behind it a cloud of dust. Caramia waited on the screen porch that lined the front of the going-to-shambles house, and watched the mail truck bounce its way around the corner and out of sight. Unable to contain her excitement any longer, she jumped up and burst through the screen door, letting it slam closed behind her. She ran barefoot to the end of the driveway where the mailbox stood.

Being only seven years old, she had to stand on the tips of her toes to be able to pull the lid down and reach its contents. The mailman, having covered this rural part of Rockland, Maine longer than anyone could remember, knew of young Caramia's excitement over letters received in the mail. He left the lid slightly open and the mail resting just on the inside to make it easier for Caramia to grasp. In the summer sun, the metal box was hot to the touch, and the handful of envelopes inside were warm, comforting. She held them to her chest and ran back up to the house.

Her mother was now standing in the doorway, wiping her hands on an apron that was tied smartly around her waist. She held the door open for her daughter as she bounded up the steps, and cupped a hand around the back of her head lovingly when she passed through the doorway.

“What came in the mail today, Caramia?” she asked, ushering her daughter inside. The front door led on to the kitchen, its cool wooden floor a welcome respite for Caramia's bare feet from the hot, baked earth of the driveway.

“I hadn't looked yet, Momma,” she replied, climbing onto a high backed chair at the kitchen table. “I'm hoping for a letter from Daddy.”

“Me, too,” her mother agreed. She went now to the icebox and pulled out a pitcher of lemonade. After pouring a splash into two glasses, she joined her daughter at the table. “Let's have a look, shall we?”

Susan Gagnon slid the pile of mail between them on the table, and allowed Caramia to announce who the letters were from. Most of them were bills, and Susan pulled them from the stack to hold aside for later. Her husband always keep their finances straight, but she was managing alright while he was overseas. She was about to collect the stack and put them altogether when a slender envelope caught her eye.

The smooth texture of the paper told her the letter wasn't from around here. Her eyes drifted to the stark black ink that was embossed in the upper left corner of the envelope.

“'War Department',” Caramia read aloud. “What's that, Mommy?”

Her mother remained silent, the color draining from her cheeks. She reached for a letter opener and slit open the top flap. With her heart pounding inside her chest, she was almost too afraid to pull out the single sheet of typewritten paper that lay inside. Was it what she had been dreading for several long months?

“'Dear Mrs Gagnon',” Caramia read over her mother's shoulders. “'It is with deep regret that I am writing to you...'”

“Mia, no!” her mother cried, pulling the paper away from her daughter's field of vision. “Go in the other room!”

Surprised by her mother's tone and by the sudden tears that were quickly pooling in her eyes, Caramia slid down from the chair and quickly went into the living room. She climbed into her father's easy chair and lay back, turning her head so she could both see her mother and smell the scent of her father's cigarettes and aftershave on the quilt that lay draped over the back of the chair.

Her mother held the letter up and read from it for a moment before she broke down completely, sobbing with great heaving breaths. Caramia became scared, for she had never seen her mother cry like that before. She cringed when her mother's crying intensified, her wails making Mia think of a wounded animal.

Obviously the letter made her mother sad, that much Mia could piece together. She wondered if it had anything to do with her father. She turned her gaze from her mother to the mantle over the fireplace, where a picture of her father stood, dressed in his army uniform. Her mother always talked about how handsome he was, and how she wished the war would just be over already so he could come home. Caramia always agreed.

When her mother's crying subsided a little, Mia made her way back into the kitchen. Even though she was confused over why her mother was sad, she did what she could to offer comfort and wrapped her arms around her mother. Her mother jumped at first and started to push her away, but then saw the surprise and confusion in her daughter's eyes. She grabbed hold of her daughter and held her tight.

In that moment, that was all that either of them could do.


Monday, May 23, 2011

In Which I'd Be Pissed, Too

There is palpable tension in the conference room as those sitting around the long rectangular table wait for the meeting to begin. There are seven men in the room, each one keeping their eyes to themselves, their hands folded neatly together in front of them. The men in the room remain silent, not uttering a word for several minutes, before the question that all of them are thinking of asking becomes too difficult for one of them not to ask.

"Does anyone know why we are here?" blurted out the man sitting on the end of one side of the table. He unfolded his hands and nervously fiddles with his collar. He looks around and catches the eye of the others sitting around him, but there is no response. "Come on," he pleads. "Someone has got to know something."

"All I know is that it's been a long time since we were all called to a meeting like this," the man sitting next to him says. "What has it been, sixteen, seventeen years?"

"Yeah, and we all remember what happened that time," a third man chimed in. 

Murmurs of agreement went around the room. The men sitting around the table now looked up at each other and shared expressions of painful remembrance.

"Do you think it has anything to do with-" the first man began.

"Yes," a loud voice said, interjecting. All eyes went to the broad shouldered man sitting at the head of the table. "I mean, it has to. Has no one been following the news?"

Apparently they all had. All but the man at the head of the table turned their eyes back to their folded hands in shame, their faces turning red. Silence settled heavily over the room again, but only for a moment.

"Do you think he-"

"Yes," the man at the head of the table said, his voice weary but patient. "What else would that be there for?" He gestured to the middle of the table, where a sleek white conference telephone sat. "He should be calling any minute now."

"He always phones in these meetings," the first man said, his voice reaching a nasal quality. "If these are so important, how come he never shows up?"

"I think he's got better things to do, Gabriel." 

Just as he spoke those words, the phone rang. The man sitting closest to it reached forward and hit the Accept Call button.

"HELLO," a massive voice boomed, at a volume that the small speakers on the phone couldn't possibly. produce. "ARE WE ALL HERE?"

"Yes, Sir, we are all here. I'll start the roll call. Michael."

The other men went down the line, stating their names. 








"I think that is a safe thing to say, Father," Michael said for the group. "We were just discussing the last time we met-"


Beads of sweat popped out on every brow, and every man intently studied his hands as if they were the most fascinating thing in the world.


Thick silence fell heavily upon the room. No one dared to move even the slightest bit, or even to breathe.


Gabriel broke down in tears, unable to stand up to the pressure in the room. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed unabashedly. 


"I'm sorry, Father," Michael began, clearly shaken by the angry outburst. "I'm not entirely sure how this happened. Security was tight as always, but clearly something was leaked. Maybe the IT people can see if our firewall was hacked."

"NO," the voice boomed with finality. "THERE WILL BE NO INVESTIGATION."

"Come on, Father, give us a few days to track down the leak," Raphael said, speaking for the first time. "I'm sure we can-"


"Consider it done, my Father," Raphael said at once. "He's almost into his ninth decade. He's had enough time."


"What shall the rest of us do, Father?" Uriel asked.


To prove His point, a bolt of lightning slices through the air and scorches a shallow crater in the table. Terrified silence again fills the room.


The archangels break out into forced laughter, during which the call disconnects and a dial tone sounds. Michael stands up and hits the End Call button.

"I think we got away with that one by the skin of our teeth, my brothers," he said with a sigh. "Now, let us go forth and do His bidding."

The conference room empties out in a rush of flowing robes and wings.


We all apparently survived the end of the world this past weekend. It was all kind of foolish, if you ask me. The whole thing behind the Rapture was that no one is supposed to know when it was going to happen. Let's just say, hypothetically, that the Rapture was supposed to happen this past Saturday. Don't you think God would have to reschedule it because everyone knew about it?

Oh, well. Give it another week and we'll have something else to obsess about.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In Which I Am Skeptical

I've written a few times about certain products I've come across in stores, and the questionable names selected for them. I enjoy marveling at how certain things manage to slip by the censors and PR executives. Silly me, I thought I had seen just about all there was to see for crazy product names, but then I came across this at my local Walmart:

Squizz. Or, if you'd like, "Snot Gorilla Gel". 

For the record, I did do a little bit of searching prior to writing this post, and I am aware that the word "squizz" can be used (in certain regions of the world) as a colloquialism for "look". Thus, Squizz = Look (meaning style or appearance). I can accept that, but in my part of the United States, the word squizz means just about nothing.

That said (and looking past the obvious similarities between the product name and a certain male discharge altogether), let me just focus on what the makers of this product hope to achieve: That people will purchase and use their hair gel product that is marketed with a picture of a gorilla with an obviously severe nasal congestion issue on the front. 

Maybe I'm too conservative, but if I were in need of hair gel, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to use something touting itself as gorilla snot to hold my 'do in place, especially if the color of one's snot is indicative of an infection. That gorilla needs to see his primary care physician immediately, and introduce himself to a box of Kleenex. I just can't see anyone using this product without accepting the fact that they're going to get some odd reactions whenever someone asks them what product they use for their hair. That's probably why Walmart had four shelves of the stuff up for grabs.

But hey, if the end of the world does come upon us tomorrow, at least those of us remaining will have plenty of stuff to keep our stylishly spiky hair in place.

Have a good weekend, everyone. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In Which I Benefit

With all that happened earlier this week with The Boss and her hospital visit (she did need to have surgery, but all went well), I wasn't sure I had it in me to write anything for today's post. Then, while driving to look at a daycare facility with The Boss yesterday, we saw an obviously inebriated man fall down not just once, but twice.

I started laughing before I cut it short, realizing it was probably in bad taste to laugh at someone who may have gotten hurt. I mean, if I was completely tanked and walking down the road to get home, put on some sweatpants, and crash in my recliner, and the ground was moving in every direction and gravity seemed to be having some technical issues thus making it very hard to walk, and I ended up falling face first on somebody's lawn, and then once I staggered to my feet I fell again but backwards on my ass, I wouldn't want people to laugh at me. 

Traffic had stopped just as the drunk guy had fallen the second time. He didn't move for a few moments, and then he started rolling to one side. A passing motorist pulled over to see if he was okay, and just as she was helping him to his feet, traffic started up again and we got a good look at the guy. He looked awful, and was grimacing in pain. Another person stopped to help, and as we drove past the guy was rubbing the back of his head.

"Wow," I said.

"I know!" The Boss agreed, bending down to look in the side mirror at the people surrounding the drunk guy. "Feel kind of bad for laughing at him?"

"Maybe a little bit. I mean, it's still hilarious, but I do feel bad that he got hurt, y'know?"


There was silence for a moment, save for the sound of the turn signal.

"Blog post?" The Boss asked.

"Oh, fuck yeah," I replied immediately. "I'm not gonna pass that one up."

Drunk Guy, if you're reading this, I'm sorry for benefiting from your misfortune, and I hope that other than the bruise to your pride and dignity that you weren't seriously hurt. 

Oh, and next time, call a cab.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In Which I Am Genuinely Puzzled

We made an unexpected trip to the Emergency Room yesterday. The Boss was feeling like she was getting another kidney stone attack, so we figured we'd hit up the ER for some IV fluids and some pain medication until she could see her normal doctor during the week. After being triaged and sent to a room and drugged up, The Boss found that the pain wasn't centered where it normally is for kidney stones.

The doctor came in and poked and prodded, localized the pain, and started talking about her gall bladder. Apparently postpartum women can be prone to issues with the gall bladder, with symptoms ranging from back spasms to sharp pains that radiate throughout the right flank. The Boss has been complaining about back pain ever since we came home from the hospital a little over a month ago now, so that made good sense. With no one available to do an ultrasound, the doctor decided to admit her overnight so they could monitor her pain levels and keep her hydrated.

Oh, and did I mention we were visiting my parents when the back pain started, so the hospital she was admitted to is an hour away from home?

Depending upon what the ultrasound shows, a couple of things could happen. If there aren't any stones, I'm sure they'll cut her loose with an RX for pain medication and we'll be on our way. If there are stones, they'll need to decide if she can pass them on her own (since you can't break up gall stones), or if they'd require surgery to remove. Kind of a wide range of possibilities, if you ask me. 

My parents stepped in to watch Baby Badass while we were at the ER and while I went home to get some overnight things for The Boss. They even watched her overnight so I could get some sleep and be rested for what is sure to be a tumultuous Monday, with the threat of surgery to remove gall stones looming over us.

Needless to say, yesterday was a long and tiring day. I did find something to laugh at, though. While flipping through a dated edition of Newsweek, I came across this:

A cutout of Pee Wee Herman's head taped onto the nose of Brian Brown (of NOM fame). I'm sure this is ripe with comedic possibilities, but I am just stumped. Genuinely puzzled. I've... I've got nothing.

If you can spare a moment today, please send good thoughts had healthy vibes towards The Boss today. We're obviously hoping she doesn't have gall stones that require surgery, but we're going to roll with the punches the best we can.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, May 13, 2011

In Which I Wonder About the Family Dynamic

After a visit to the local Salvation Army recently, The Boss came home with a slightly battered book copy of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast." She's been picking up children's books at thrift shops for months now, and as result Baby Badass almost has a library that rivals my own. I usually don't bother to flip through the books that The Boss has bought so far, but something drew me to look through this particular one. Maybe I'm carrying a lingering flame for Belle from my formative years. Who knows. Either way, I picked it up, and saw this on the back inside cover:

Are these the doodlings of an innocent child, or is this a cry for help?

One sketch shows the image of a seemingly happy 10-year-old girl. She's surrounded by the images of some very deformed faces. Long sloping noses, protruding lips, massive, lid-less eyes, and in one particular case, fangs on the nose where the nostrils would be. Between two of these malformed faces is a drawing of a girl, allegedly eight years of age, with a raging case of giraffe neck. Next to Nostril Fang is what can be assumed to be a relative of Giraffe Neck Girl, with a similar elongated neck that tragically appears to be broken at a 90-degree angle, and has one malformed spike-leg.

These are probably just the aimless scratchings of a bored child who shouldn't have been trusted with a marker or pencil, but I'm choosing to think that this kid was drawing the branches of her family tree (that more accurately resembles a telephone pole). Or maybe she was trying to draw Bart Simpson. We may never know.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Which I've Learned By Now

I wasn't very smart when I was a kid.

Sure, I may have figured out sex on my own, but I was the kid that thought for a long time that the lady at the bank drive-thru always sounded like she was a robot (instead of it just being a poor intercom system), and that the fleshy sac between my legs was a reservoir for urine (instead of for another bodily fluid). I've learned a lot in the passing years and have long since wrote most of that stuff off, but there are some times when a memory surfaces and I shake my head in disbelief. Let's just say that it lends credence to those pictures my parents have of me at various ages with bruises and cuts on my head.

I must have been around five years old when my dad taught me how to properly use my underwear.

According to my parents, I was a little bit behind in being successfully potty trained, and I finally kicked the diaper habit when I was five. I graduated to briefs, ones that had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spider-man on them. I have a vague memory of being excited to wear them, my budding geek mind thinking that they might give me super powers of my own. They never did lend to me any special abilities, but that's probably because I didn't use them properly at first. 

Whenever I had to go to the bathroom, I'd walk up to the toilet, lift the seat, tuck my shirt up under my chin, and drop my pants. I'd then pull my underwear completely down, joining my pants piled around my ankles. There I'd stand, bare-assed and assuming the position, ready to urinate freely. Towards the end, to make sure I didn't dribble on my clothes, I'd lean forward with my groin so that the toilet bowl caught the last few drops. A few perfunctory shakes, and then up with the underwear and pants. 

I'm not sure how long this went on before my dad pulled me aside. I had just finished peeing and washing my hands, and my dad knocked on the bathroom door.

"Can I come in?"

"Yeah, Dad," I said.

He opened the door and came into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He sat on the edge of the tub and placed a hand on my shoulder. 

"Want to know something neat?" he said. I nodded my head, always eager to learn from my father. "There's something really cool about underwear."

"Underwear?" I asked, confused. I couldn't think of one neat thing about underwear.

"Yeah. On the front of your underwear, there's this little cloth flap. You know what I'm talking about?" he asked, speaking slowly.

I nodded. I had always wondered what it was there for.

"Well, instead of pulling your underwear completely down when you have to pee, you can pull the flaps apart and... pull out Mini Mike. That way you don't have to be just about naked to pee."

"Oh," I said, and looked down at my feet. I suddenly felt a little silly for not picking up on that on my own. It made a whole lot more sense than what I had been doing.

"Hey, there," my Dad said encouragingly. I looked up at him, and he squeezed my shoulder. "It's alright. My dad had to tell me about that, too."



"Okay, Dad." 

Aaaand scene. 

Few life lessons have been that easy to learn, but I'm glad I learned it, and I'm sure the general public is glad, too. These days, people would get the wrong idea about a guy standing bare-assed at a public urinal. I mean, just look at what happened to George Michael

Monday, May 9, 2011

In Which They're Getting Smarter

Even though I am a geek, it sometimes concerns me when certain pieces of technology get smarter. Computers and cell phones and web browsers I don't mind so much, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere. Personally, I think that line should be drawn just before vending machines.

I wrote a few months back about a vending machine at work that seemed to suggest specific snacks for me every time I walked by. It still does it from time to time, but I noticed something different about it recently. In addition to accepting coins and dollar bills, the vending machine was fitted with a debit/credit card reader. 

It's not the fact that the machine accepts credit cards that got me. It's what the LCD screen said:

I wouldn't think it to be necessary to specify that the card used to make a purchase be valid. I mean, if one used an invalid card, wouldn't the machine simply reject it and move on? No, apparently it feels the need to require valid cards only.

Seems like a case for, if you ask me.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, May 6, 2011

In Which I Finally Understand

I realize I mentioned this last week, but due to a stomach bug that has left the Badass Geek household in a state of gastrointestinal distress, I'm going to post the piece I wrote about becoming a father that was originally published on DadsGood. I still can't figure out how I managed to quantify the emotions I had when Baby Badass was born, but somehow I did. 


I’m a father.

I’m still getting used to saying that. Over the course of my life I’ve called myself many things. Musician, writer, photographer, fanboy, husband and human being. But father? Never that. At least, not until recently.

My wife put up with my misgivings about having a baby for a number of years. It took a lot of soul-searching and self-analysis to find a way to tell her why I wasn’t ready to have a child in a way she would understand and accept. I was afraid of losing my independence and self-sufficiency. I was afraid of losing control of my life as I knew it and losing the relationship with my wife. I liked things the way they were, and as the saying goes, having a baby changes everything.

She begrudgingly accepted my reasoning, but I could still hear her biological clock ticking away with maternal desire. Time passed by as it always does, and as our marriage developed I found myself realizing the only thing missing in our marriage was a child. We set about to make that happen, and were fortunate enough to become pregnant after just a couple of tries.

The pregnancy was a whirlwind of hormones and emotions. I have a feeling the term “emotional roller coaster” was coined by the responsible male half of the pregnancy equation. We made it through those 10 long months, and wound up in an operating room to have a c-section after 48 hours of labor with no real progression.

Sitting there in the OR next to my wife, decked out in disposable scrubs, I couldn’t help but feel like the hourglass of my pre-fatherhood life was dwindling down to the last few grains of sand. I looked into my wife’s eyes, trying to grasp the reality of what was about to happen.

The doctor asked for a scalpel. For a few moments, it was just my wife and I in the room. The noise of the equipment and the murmur of the doctors and nurses around us faded away to the background. There was an excited gasp, and then my daughter cried out for the first time.

I closed my eyes and squeezed my wife’s shoulders, unable to stop the tears because I finally understood.

When you become a father it’s not about what you lose. It’s how everything you have changes. All my fears disappeared the instant I heard her cry, because I knew from that moment forward I was responsible for this child. Worry changes into determination. Fear morphs into love. Apprehension into perseverance. Self-doubt gives way to instinct.

After the doctors cleaned my daughter, I got up from my seat next to my wife and went to see her. They handed her to me and I carried her over to my wife, holding her up so she could see her daughter while still on the operating table. I felt the world change around me. As it turns out, I’m not so adverse to change as I thought.

I’m a father. I think I can get used to saying that.




Have a good weekend, everyone. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In Which I Wonder About Its Owner

I was driving to work on Monday this week, and found myself behind this beautiful automobile:

One thing that the owner of this vehicle and I can agree on is that it's a truck. A Toyota Tacoma, to be exact. If we are to believe the other claims this truck is making, this slightly beat-up little number is also a:

  • Toyota 4Runner LE
  • Volvo S70
  • Chrysler Town and Country 
  • Mercedes E320 4Matic
  • Ford Mustang
  • Jeep 4X4
Further more, we are to believe that the duct-taped beauty not only has a 5.7 liter V8 Hemi, but also the SRS model V6 engine, too. I'd have to do some research, but I'm pretty sure that'd be the first time in automotive history that one vehicle had two different sized engines operating at the same time, on the same transmission. I could be wrong, though. 

Oh, and I almost forgot. It's an L.L.Bean edition, too.

If this truck has that many personalities, what about its driver?

Monday, May 2, 2011

In Which I Am Searched

I get a big kick out of seeing what people search for that bring them by way of my blog. While a good majority of my search engine traffic is from people looking for "badass" things, I do happen to get some good search hits every now and then. 

Take a look at these gems:
  • "Are guys grossed out by stained panties"
  • "Looks like pumice stone but too heavy"
  • "Tattoo prevents possession"
  • ""
  • "Things that depend upon the manatee"
  • "I expose my pubic hair"
What is the weirdest search string that brought someone by your site or blog?

Happy Monday, folks.