He came from space to save mankind with the power of rock n' roll

Foamcore. If you're an art major, you've probably encountered this mysterious and malignant substance at least once or twice in your day, and if you aren't, maybe you've at least heard its name whispered in a dark alley someplace, or from behind a cupped hand at a murder trial, or floating from the lips of the dark creature that hides under your bed at night.

Foamcore is basically two sheets of paper that sandwich a thin, flexible layer of foam. I don't really know what its true purpose is, or if it only exists to fulfill a number of smaller, less direct purposes, but either way, foamcore sucks. It's horrible. It's messy, it takes three cuts from your X-acto knife to get through it (and I've had way too many bad X-acto experiences to go using three cuts on something that should only logically require one), and it's ugly as crap 90% of the time, no matter how well you rubber cement it to whatever you were rubber cementing it to. It just gets in the way and really shouldn't be required.

But foamcore still somehow maintains a special place in my heart because of my theory behind it. My roommate and I, before we were even roommates, were wondering about the point of foamcore and who the idiot was that initially gave it the go-ahead when we realized that if ever there should be yet another musical offshoot from techno, it should be known as foamcore. It has all the earmarks of the next great genre name--it contains both a silly, nonsensical adjective and the word "core." It couldn't fail! So Jon set out to actually produce the first ever foamcore song while I sat around wondering how David Bowie could have failed to come to this conclusion before we did. He's a fine artist too, after all.

Eventually, after spending about twenty minutes staring blankly into the eyes of the photo I have at the top of this article, I realized that Bowie surely did create formcore. In fact, Wikipedia confirmed that foamcore already exists as a genre and is described as
"[...]a subgenre of House music that originated in foam dance parties and is differentiated by its conspicuously slow and heavy drum track in relation to the rest of the music.[citation needed]"
And although I was saddened by the realization that we hadn't coined this musical term, I was lifted by the fact that Bowie did. I mean, sure, it doesn't expressly say right on the page that it was Bowie, but who else could it have been? Only someone as brilliantly insane as Ziggy Stardust himself could have come up with the mysterious and seemingly pointless substance known as foamcore, not to mention the plainly unnecessary musical genre. Who else descended from the heavens to save Earth with his guitar? Who else claimed to sleep in a coffin standing up, or that he found all his clothes in garbage cans? How many other "trisexuals" do you know? Who else could non-ironically dress as a Martian, a marionette, a pirate, and a goblin king, among others, while still maintaining an air of impeccable style? Of course Bowie invented foamcore, both the music and the actual stuff. Of course he did.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway, in order to not commit suicide at the thought of spending all of today and probably close to $30 on foamcore supplies to make a scale model of a tradeshow exhibit for signage and exhibition class. Thy will be done, David Bowie. Thy will be done.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: could it really happen?

This might seem really crazy, but I got to thinking today as I walked to class in the frigid, arctic chill of yet another Monday in February: what would I do if vampires jumped out of that manhole over there, off the roof of Harvey Hall, and shimmied down out of the trees? Would I be prepared?

I think not, and that bothers me. See, lately my roomie and I have been watching the first season of Buffy on DVD (hey, don't judge). Suddenly I'm seeing vampires all over the place. I find myself secretly wondering if everyone seated ahead of me in my lecture classes with their hoods drawn up are hiding reptilian vampire faces. And people drinking V8 juice? My god, could it be more obvious?

I'm thinking about either bringing a stake with me wherever I go, or renting Season 2. I think either option would clock in at around $3, so it's not a monetary issue. I'm not sure Season 2 would hold the answer to "what you should do if all this shit turns out to be real," but I'm equally unsure about my ability to drive a stake into a demonic chest with enough gusto to shatter the breastplate, especially since, by most accounts, I'm not as hot as Buffy. On my best day I might approach Xander territory, but even that's iffy.

Maybe I just need to start getting to bed earlier. This vampire-related jumpiness does seem somewhat similar to a few weeks ago, when I was reading The Stand, and everyone around me was starting to get colds. Every time I heard a sneeze, I'd freeze and try not to inhale for as long as possible so I wouldn't catch Captain Trips.

Eh, you know what, screw it. I'm making a stake. I always wanted one anyway.


Count your lucky stars

It has come to my attention today that a lot of bad things are always sitting on the horizon, just waiting to happen, but are not happening yet. For this, each and every one of us is lucky. I'd like it if you'd read this list of various bad things that could happen to you right now, right this very instant as you sit hunched over in front of your computer dicking around on the internet instead of working, but have thus far chosen to remain at bay. Thank you.

1. Steve Buscemi could bust in your door and just stare at you. He would put one hand on his hip and the other on the door frame and just shake his head in utter, all-encompassing disappointment at your actions. It would not matter what you'd done--Steve would simply stay in the doorway, staring and shaking his head at you, giving you a look that suggests he can't freaking believe that you did this to him. Can't freaking believe it.

2. You could fall off a roller coaster and land on a trampoline. It wouldn't kill you, since it's a trampoline, but you'd probably bounce off and land on something that might. At the very least, you'd now have a lifelong fear of both roller coasters and trampolines, two things which, up until now, had clocked in pretty high on your list of awesome stuff.

3. Your right arm could be ripped off the first and only time you choose to disreguard the classic schoolbus warning of keeping all arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

4. You could answer the phone only to find out that the person calling wanted to speak with someone else.

5. You could find your grandmother's personal on Craigslist.

6. You and Billy Crystal could be the only survivors of the apocalypse. Perhaps you were in the process of taking out the AA batteries in the remote control for the never-used TV in your bomb shelter when you come back up the stairs, look out, and discover a brick red sky and skeletons all over the place. Or perhaps you live on a remote island that didn't get any radioactive fallout. Either way, you're stuck with Billy Crystal for the rest of your life.

7. The internet could go out of business, leaving you without access to YouTube or any of the other sites that are virtually necessary to make it through the work day.

8. The steering wheel could come off in your hands when you're driving to K-mart.

9. It could turn out that you're evil, and by the time you realize it, you're already in jail for robbing a hospital.

10. You could ironically die of exposure after your friends finally manage to talk you into competing in the Iditarod dog mushing race.

11. You could accidentally hand in the unflattering doodle you did of your teacher instead of your term paper.

12. You could discover, on your death bed of course, that Stephen King always hated you and that both The Stand and Salem's Lot were actually just elaborate metaphors for how you're a jerk.

13. You could fall down the stairs while going to the basement to retrieve your laundry.

14. You could suffer second degree burns when the remains of a high powered firework lit off in the park on 4th of July unfortunately land in your lap.

15. The raccoon you've been feeding for the past three weeks could turn out to be rabid.

16. The last thing you ever say could be, "No, check this out. Spraying a beehive with the hose is a good way to kill them because it makes their wings wet, and then they can't fly."


Day Once Again Saved By Raptors

I just got back home from a surprisingly unfun collegiate field trip, and I feel the need to share this amazing book that I discovered along the way with you all.

For my signage and exhibition class, we drove out to a creepy history museum that was connected to a rundown one-room schoolhouse that I'm about 90% sure was either haunted or taken over by spiders. The point was to look at how exhibits are set up, note how large writing on the walls is, and to gather other miscellaneous information that might help with trade show design. What I didn't count on, however, was the dinosaur factor.

I had just blocked the world's biggest yawn and rocked boredly back and forth on the balls of my feet for the millionth time, and I didn't have much energy left. Things looked bad--my first thought was to try to sneak away from the tour guide and his rambling, incoherent story about how the founder of my college was somehow involved with history, but I knew that would never work because there was absolutely nothing interesting to busy myself with in the museum. It was arranged like a maze of lame artifacts, boring photographs of things from the past, and a bunch of stupid junky mannequins dressed in Little House On the Prairie getup. The only room that might offer salvation was the one we'd entered through--the gift shop.

I quietly backed up from the crowd of students and ducked behind a corner. From there I moved from room to room through the horrifying labyrinth of boredom, and finally emerged in front of--you guessed it--a stack of dinosaur chapter books.

Amazed, I picked one up called Raptor's Revenge. I opened to the first page and read aloud, "A mysterious man was crouching in the bushes and watching the front of the museum and was, focused on a boy tying his shoes." Undeterred by the blatant typo that a quick once-over by any half-blind editor would've filtered out, I read on. The story was apparently about some guy named PaleoJoe (yes, Joe was capitalized mid-name) who was trying to do battle with a raptor or something. I didn't think it was worth the $6 asking price to finish the story, but I can say with near perfect certainty that I already know what would have happened at the end anyway: PaleoJoe and a raptor are in a showdown in a kitchen, and Joe has to hide inside something and use reflections on the shiny metal door across from him to trick the raptor into headbutting an oven. That's the only known way to beat them, after all.

Long story short, I almost had to declare this my first uncool field trip of all time, but thankfully, raptors saved the day once again. Seriously, is there anything they can't do?


One of the most awesome things I have ever seen in my entire life

Let me begin with a little back-story.

My dad, who was one of the most subtly hilarious people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, once discovered an old kung fu movie on TV late at night called Master of the Flying Guillotine. The story was about a kind-hearted kung fu master with only one arm (even though the other arm was clearly visible underneath his shirt in nearly ever scene) who trained his students day in and day out to someday be as great as he. However, in the prequel to Master of the Flying Guillotine, he had apparently smoked a couple of this crazy blind dude's cronies. Unfortunately for the One-Armed Boxer, that crazy blind dude happened to be the Master of the Flying Guillotine, and, as his named suggests, he was really good at flinging this bladed hat thing on a chain that decapitates anything it gets thrown at.

Long story short, there was a scene involving a kung fu tournament, and one of the fighters was a man wearing a bizarre BDSM getup who somehow resembled an Asian version of Hitler. However, since his nipples were exposed by his hilarious costume, he became known to my friends and I as, yes, you guessed it: Titler. Eventually we started using this name to order pizzas.

The other day, my friend was checking his mail where he goes to college in South Dakota, and he came across what is quite possibly the most awesome thing that I have ever seen. He must have snuck one past the International Pizza Database at some point in his collegiate career, because this was sitting in his mailbox, addressed to his apartment:

I very nearly wept with joy.

Also, this officially opens the floodgates for everyone on Earth using Tyban as the universal fake pizza ordering name! Anyone who reads this now has my permission to use my old alias as their own. Happy ordering, dudes and dudettes!


Let me tell you about my moral compass

Each time I dodge a party I said I'd be at or blow off class to sit around and read or listen to music, I get to thinking. Is this something Falkor would have done? I believe in many cases, yes, it is. Falkor always seemed like an unapologetic lone wolf to me. Not that Falkor didn't like people; he did (just not fuh lunch!). Falkor was also clever, generous, street smart, and very good looking. Actually, I believe he's as good a role model as any 22-year-old could aspire to have.

Every time I see someone hanging over a balcony with a red cup held loosely in hand, yelling enthusiastically at someone across the street, I shake my head and think, A luck dragon would never do that. I can't even picture Falkor swerving around on an old bicycle in just his boxers and a football helmet, now that I think about it. As much as I love college life and being around the people I know, there are a great many things that go on in this town that I don't think Falkor or even Atreyu would sanction.

I have similar thoughts about going to some of my classes. Every so often, usually towards the end of the week, I'll be lying down for bed and about to set my alarm when I'll suddenly think, Dude, Falkor would not care about going to his biology lecture tomorrow. I imagine that most of Falkor's formal education, if he even had one, consisted of back-to-back field trips with breaks for art class and kickball. I really doubt that he ever spent much time studying for finals, making sure his sources were properly cited, or dropboxing things on D2L in a timely fashion. In fact, Falkor probably didn't even have a broadband connection when he was growing up. We as a people have drifted so horribly, shamefully far from the magestic ways of the luck dragon.

Sorry about flaking out on all the things I flaked out on this week, but seriously, if Falkor wouldn't bother reading Section 3.1 and preparing a series of questions for the guest speaker, I don't see why I should have to.


Truth in advertising

I wish more products would present themselves exactly as they really are. Commercials for hamburgers should show smushed buns. Commercials for Band-Aids should show kids crying. Commercials for herpes medicine should not show people riding bikes on the beach.

Emails that get sent to me from Campus Life Today should not have "Important!!!!" in the subject line. This is probably one of the only things I don't like about college; it's not enough that the art department spams me daily with stupid sketchy contests, dumb study abroad things that normal people can't afford, and endless requests to come to annoying meetings and things in the big lecture halls that I try to avoid on my days off from class. The campus itself has to chime in each morning around 10am, which is the time that I'm generally most bored and therefore most crushed when my hopes are raised to heaven by "Inbox(1)" and then sent plummeting to hell when I realize that shiny new email I got is actually just junk. The worst part is that they sometimes hide a tiny bit of legitimately important information in those emails, like stuff about registering for next semester's classes, so I actually have to scan them before deleting them.

Movie posters should cite unfavorable reviews. Rottentomatoes is awesome and a great thing to browse in lectures for a daily dose of truth, but I can't even convey with words how incredibly amped I would be if I walked past a poster for a new "high octane thrill ride" that featured a phrase like "IDIOTIC!" or "UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS!" in a sleek, metallic, speedy looking font as a prominent design element.

In stores, jars and boxes of off-brand food should be in a clearly labeled "Bad But Cheap" aisle. I don't necessarily dislike the things that should go in this aisle (I swear by those giant bags of breakfast cereal from Malt-o-meal or whatever it is), but it can be kind of lame buying one of these products by accident. Especially when you were aiming for the real stuff.

I realize these might be "high-class worries," but you can't tell me that starving kids in Africa don't hate Vin Diesel movies just as much as I do.


Happy creepy Valentine's Day, Zooey Deschanel

Dear Zooey Deschanel,

Hi. You rock and I think you're really great. Like really really great. Like, if we were Facebook friends, I would comment incessantly on all your pictures and poke you back way too fast after you poked me. Like creepy stalker fast. Do you want to see the pictures I made of us on Morphthing.com? Our hypothetical kids will be very attractive!

I saw your concert in Minneapolis. Some guy up closer to the stage handed you a rose and I was like, "Man. That jerk." He totally stole the idea that I thought of as he was stealing it. So lame. You played a kickass tambourine, though. I can play that instrument too! We should jam sometime. Cover some Beatles or something. I dunno. Just let me know when you're free, alright?

Oh, I also saw you in The Happening. You did a bang-up job in that movie. Seriously, very stellar. I can't believe that jerk Mark Wahlberg didn't commit suicide, though. That almost wrecked the film for me. He was so annoying. He totally didn't deserve your film love. He probably wouldn't even set up his cell phone to get Facebook alerts so he could return your pokes as quickly as possible. One question, though: could trees really do that? I'm very scared to go outside these days and would appreciate a speedy response.

In conclusion, you are awesome, and we should hang out and play some PS2 with my roomie on Saturday. I hope you like Mortal Kombat Deception!

Your most muscular fan,


Walmart: where awkward moments blossom into awkward days

When I was little, the biggest reward imaginable was for my brother and I to both be allowed to go to food shopping with my mom at the same time. Usually we were either brought individually or not at all, because when we joined forces, we always had way more success than my mom would have liked at finding things to laugh at, thinking up loud noises to make, and choosing interesting cans of who knows what to sneak into the cart while she wasn't looking. Neither one of us was much of an annoyance alone, but together we were unstoppable.

Not too much has changed since those days. At 22, I will still occasionally convince myself that I need a can of off-brand tomatoes because of the hilarious drawing of some stupid guy on the wrapper, or that I can't go without some headache-inducing Lisa Frank folder to store the assignments from one of my less favored classes in. I think I get it from my dad. One time he and my mom were taking turns riding a shopping cart in a parking lot, trying to set the world distance record, and he ended up losing control and accidentally smashing out one of her car's tail lights.

A few days ago, I sneezed twice in my first class. I never sneeze unless I'm coming down with something, so I decided I'd preemptively hit up Walmart for some Nyquil and Advil before a sore throat could get its foot in the door. Nobody likes shopping for medicine once you're already sick; it completely takes the fun out of it. Not that buying Advil is all that exciting in the first place, but there's nothing worse than being sick and getting stuck behind some old lady that's taking ages in line because she has to explain to the cashier about how her cat doesn't like the better cat food so she's buying the cheap cat food and not the better cat food, because her cat won't eat that better stuff, he knows better than to spoil his palette before his birthday on March 14th, so I need to get this cheap cat food because my cat is so smart, et cetera to infinity.

So I searched around the store for approximately forever, browsing their crappy Walmart CDs and being amazed at the wide variety of different types of printer ink that can be bought for outrageous prices, before I finally realized that Nyquil would probably be in the pharmacy aisle. I grabbed a bottle of the regular flavored stuff, a pack of Advil, and headed to express checkout.

The checker was a somewhat strange looking youngish woman with cracked lips and wild eyes. She looked like the type that, if not employed at Walmart, might be seen loitering outside of a Dennys or something, flicking cigarettes at birds. I put my cold medicine on the conveyer belt, put my hands in my back pockets, and stepped up to the register.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi," she replied coldly, eyeing the Nyquil. She glanced up at me, back to the Nyquil, back to me, and then slid it slowly across the barcode scanner.

"Date of birth," she stated flatly.

"...Huh?" I asked, caught slightly off guard. I hadn't remembered that Nyquil can be used to make meth or whatever it is that creepy people who flick cigarettes at birds make with it.

"Date of birth," she said again.

"Eleventwentyfoureightysix," I mumbled. She stared at me, chewed the inside of her lower lip for a second, narrowed her eyes and glanced back to the bottle of Nyquil, and then back at me, like she was on the verge of figuring out the exact mathematical reason why I must not be telling the truth.

"I think I'm getting a cold," I offered as I slid my card in the machine.

She didn't say anything as she finally put the Nyquil in a bag with the Advil and then handed me my my recipt. She didn't ask to see my driver's license; apparently to buy Nyquil, you only have to claim to be a certain age and be willing to engage in a staring contest.

I never did end up getting sick. But before I got back in my car, I took a shopping cart from the return lane, located a slightly downhill part of the parking lot, got a running-jumping start, and rode about twenty feet before crashing on some ice.


I wish pizza guys wouldn't take pizza so seriously

I'm going to go ahead and assume that I'm not the only person in the world who thinks ordering pizzas is way more fun when you use a funky alias. For as long as I can remember, I've used the name Tyban to order all my pizzas. There's a long and involved story about how this name was invented, but the basic idea is that a pizza guy on the other end of the phone heard what I said wrong and the box had "Tyban" written on it when I went to pick it up. I've never had any huge problems ordering as Tyban, although I have been asked a few times what culture the name comes from and/or how I got it ("Nordic" and "born with it" have been my respective answers). In fact, the name is apparently so convincing that nobody even seems to mind when I pay with a credit card that clearly lists my first name as "Jack."

However, I guess for every ten pizza guys that are cool, there has to be that one killjoy who just doesn't understand how much better pizza tastes if nobody involved in the making of it knows your real name. A few weeks ago, I was ordering pizza, and they must have already had my phone number in their database or something because when I gave the guy my cell, he asked, "Uh, Doctor Tyban?"

I had to crack up because I didn't remember that I'd gotten my PhD in pizzaology. "Yeah, that's me," I said, still laughing a little.

"So what's your real name?" the jerk asked flatly, as if there was no chance a Nordic Doctor of pizzaology could possibly be in the mood for pizza right now.

"...Jack," I finally admitted. I could hear keys clacking on the other end of the phone, and I could just picture the douche bag's sadistic grin as he entered my real name into the international pizza database, which I guess could have a life-threatening pepperoni meltdown if it fails to retain a completely accurate listing of all customers' given Christian names.

"What can I get you, Jack?"

I wanted to yell, Your pizza license number, asshole!

"Uhh, medium sausage. Oh, and I have a coupon for a free two-liter soda."

I didn't really have that coupon. Screw you, pizza guy.

I guess I can understand not wanting people to order with all kinds of crazy fake names that could be allusions to drugs, gangs, violence, rock n' roll, pornography, and other such riff raff, but seriously--Tyban is perfectly okay, but adding the title of Doctor pushes it over the edge? I'd never before been asked if Tyban was fake. Oh well. I guess I was the only one that didn't know that once you get your Doctorate, you stop liking pizza. Damn. Guess that's what I get for not bothering to look that up on Wikipedia.


Global warming is dominant

How can anyone not be excited about global warming? It's so totally win/win that I can't understand how environmentalists could possibly be against it. Maybe it's just because I live in a frozen hellscape six months out of the year, but I always have to groan whenever I hear some annoying white guy with dreadlocks going on about how I should stop driving because it increases my carbon footprint or whatever. If you don't like spring and fall temperatures, than screw you, because they're awesome.

Today I walked outside in the morning onto my balcony, looked out over the beautiful skeleton forest of early sunlight and glistening streams, singing birds, and newly sprouting leaves, and I breathed in the sweet, sweet reward I earned for all my efforts to warm the globe. And hey, suppose it does actually come to the worst case scenario, and global temperature shift actually does cause life on planet earth to end. What would be so bad about being able to say, "I died in the freaking APOCALYPSE"? Honestly, I'd rather die from something totally amazing like the end of the world than of something stupid, like oldness or the flu or hypothermia.

Someone should give Al Gore a Razzie for his movie about how I'm not right. That movie was super boring before we hooked the TV up to Jon's electric guitar amp and cranked the distortion on Al's voice up to 11.


Finally, a kids movie that isn't afraid to scare the shit out of kids

In case you don't follow movies very closely, Coraline is a new PG-rated stop motion film about a terrifying, skeletal, praying mantis woman who lives inside the wall and tears out the eyes of children so that she can lock their souls in a dark room for the rest of eternity.

Hells yes.

I can't even remember the last time there was a good "scary as shit" kids movie. These days, all we get is Ice Age, Cars, and other formulaic CGI bore-fests that all look identical and cast tons of B-list celebrities for no apparent reason. None of them have bite and nobody will remember them 15 years from now when they're blogging on the mindnet (or whatever the future holds for written communication). But me, I remember all the kids movies I saw when I was a kid. And do you know why I remember? Because they were damn terrifying, that's why! I remember the awesome scene from the otherwise terrible movie The Phantom (rated PG, by the way) where the bad guy tricked this other bad guy into looking into a microscope that had blades hidden in the eye scopes that shot up when he turned the knobs and blinded the crap out of him. That was awesome as a ten year old. That opened up a whole new world of terror that I'd never even realized could exist before. And Nickelodeon did a whole day of programming dedicated to promoting that movie when it came out, because old school Nickelodeon knew where it was at: MIND-SHATTERING FEAR.

Which is why it's good that Coraline has come along to scare today's children. Even though it was pretty predictable, a little gimmicky with the 3D, and pretty obviously trying to milk the fact that it had Nightmare Before Christmas' director behind the wheel, Coraline was pretty freakin' scary in a kiddish sort of way. If I had seen this when I was ten, you know what I would have been having nightmares about for the next week and a half? This. And this. And I would have gained a new fear of sewing needles that would probably persist into my early 30s. Because that's what a good kids movie is all about.



Higher education needs a boost

I've been noticing recently that something is pretty obviously askew in the college degree system. Some people who really know their stuff beyond what should be required for a degree don't have one, and some guy who ended up growing a soul patch, painting himself silver, and bellowing things like "we are only five years away from the 21st century" in a disorienting, vaguely offensive advertisement for the shamefully bad Sega Saturn probably had his doctorate in sociology or something. For this reason, I think it's high time the academic community thought about doing a revamp of the educational titles.

For instance, who really wants to be a "Bachelor of Fine Arts"? I don't. I want to be a "Guardian of Arcane Knowledge" or a "Tireless Champion of the Unseeing Eye" or something else that sounds way more kick ass and important than a "bachelor." Graduating from college shouldn't conjure images of a scruffy guy in a bad tie and a graduation cap; it should conjure images of a tyrannosaurus uppercutting a demon. Anything less awesome than that should not be imagery associated with higher learning.

Also, I think some people should have to have asterisks next to their titles. For instance, if you have a PhD in something that the average ten-year-old would not aspire to study, you should have to have an asterisk after it that leads to a footnote reading, "Lame." However, if you actually did become an astronaut or a wild animal vet or a rock musician, your asterisk could be something like, "Danny Baker, the asshole that made fun of me in 3rd grade for the time I threw up during recess, can suck it."

Also, I think that Sam Neill, Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips, and Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters should be given automatic PhD's in the field of dominance.


Magnificent inventions from the future

(And a few other things I thought sounded like really cool ideas when Jon or I first thought of them.)

5. Condiment ray gun
How many times have you wanted to put mustard on something but you didn't have an awesome enough way to do it? Well put your hands together for the condiment ray gun. Nothing can impress a blind date the way a concealed weapon can, and it's a two-birds-with-one-stone type situation if that gun shoots condiments. Your E-Harmony meet ups will still be awkward and kind of creepy, but at least your hot dogs won't be bland.

4. Clothes made out of blankets
Straight from the mind of Mitch Hedberg comes this gem among gems--clothes that were also blankets, so you could just sleep where you stand! Imagine the possibilities. Boring lecture? Pow, dreamland. Cold? Not with a nice set of blanklothes. It's like the next natural step up from pajamas. It was recently brought to my attention that this has actually been made into a real product.

3. Mortal Kombat coloring book
Now your children age 4-8 can relive the heartwarming adventures of Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Baraka, and Sonya Blade whenever they want, in full color! 1995 may have come and gone, but the feel-good antics of everybody's favorite Outworld Kombatants are here to stay. Krimson Red Krayon included.

2. Disposable computers
Everyone knows the best way to fix a slow computer is to hit it, but what happens when things get out of hand? Hey, we've all been there. Cracked screens, bloody keyboards, and speakers with forks stuck in them are common sights in any bachelor pad. But now there's a better option: disposable computers. Punch and kick all you like, you've got a box full of these things! Your internet shuts off during a lengthy download? POW! Professor calls you on using Wikipedia as a source? ZIFF! Don't forget to check out edible ethernet cords, too.

1. Game Boy Shuffle
Imagine a Game Boy that had no screen. The buttons would all work... maybe. You wouldn't know if you were winning or losing because there would be no screen and it would be small enough to clip to your lapel. But while it was up there you could voice chat with people on wi-fi by talking into your lapel like an awesome secret agent or something. You wouldn't know if anybody was online, though, until you synced it up to your iTunes and found out if you had won or lost to them at a game that you didn't even choose to play because it was selected from your playlist by a random number generator. Headphones not included.


Good times with power tools

"Do you have blue training?" the guy at the front desk of the wood shop lab asked.

"Yeah," I said, "but it was like two semesters ago and I'm sort of rusty."

"You want a quick refresher?"


And that's how I met the table saw. I mean, became reacquainted with the table saw--as I said, I had been trained to use it once, but that was months and months and months ago. All I really knew about it was that it was large, dangerous looking, covered in strange levers and Plexiglas finger guards, and that it would probably try to kill me if I got too close.

Jon and I had come to the processes lab, the indigenous home of the table saw and various other implements of destruction, so that we could cut some panels for painting class. See, for Painting 2, paper isn't good enough as a painting surface; that shit has to be wood. But, like all art students, the processes lab freaks us out super bad and we try to spend as little time in there as possible. We just wanted to get in, cut, and get out, and since I was the only one of us that had the blue training that would let me use the table saw, the responsibility to cut that wood fell squarely upon my shoulders. And since I cared more about getting out of there quickly than about equally sharing cutting duty, I agreed to do it.

"You move the blade up so it's above the thing you want to cut," the guy said as he showed me how to arrange the plank we were about to cut. "Then you slide it through, pushing from both sides, with these wood pusher stick things. See?"

"Got it," I said, and turned on the blade.

"Be sure you push it all the way through, even once it's past the blade," the guy told me. "If the blade catches the corner as you push it through, it can shoot back out at you like a missile."

I made the first two cuts easily and without issue, and I was feeling pretty good. A girl in our class had come in to cut her own wood, the guy who had showed me how to use the table saw was now browsing the internet from his laptop, and everything seemed casual and safe.


On the next cut, I suddenly saw the smaller piece of wood begin to turn beneath the blade. I watched it rotating in slow motion; it turned, stopped, and then the blade caught it. There was a loud, shrieking noise, like a velociraptor descending on a dilophasaurus, as the 7x7' plank of wood shot out of the table saw backwards and slammed me in the pelvis. For a moment I was stunned as I slowly realized that although I had just taken the full force of a flying inch-thick sheet of oak right in the waist, I had not been sliced in half. I heard the wood clattering on the ground, bouncing out the door of the lab, and hitting the far wall of the hallway. The counter guy was running over to me, people outside were peeking in, and I was staring open-mouthed down at the giant rectangle of sawdust on my shirt.

"Are you alright, dude?!"

"I'm fine," I said, shocked. "I think. I think I'm fine. I--"

"Nobody's ever been hurt on my watch before!"

"I'm fine," I stammered again.

And I was fine. Mostly. I'll probably have a wicked sweet bruise tomorrow which will be a barrel of fun, but at least I got my painting surfaces all cut and ready, and I didn't get disemboweled. I just got shot. By a flying square of wood. At point blank range.

"You see, my philosophy is simple. In a world where there are literally ten million ways to mutilate yourself on a normal day, why go messing around with tools?"

Amen, Pete. Amen.