Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zen

To some people the concept of Zen is to experience total peace.  To others it seems to be a method of browbeating one's reason into complete submission with exchanges such as this:

The Student:  Master, this apple is as irrelevant as a moose in a thunderstorm.

The Master:  Yet the apple makes better sauce.

As far as I can tell, they're both right.

Zen seems to be all about understanding the true self.  This seems to be an important idea throughout humanity.  The Greeks said "Know Thyself."  Shakespeare wrote "To thine own self be true." It seems like a pretty good idea, and lots of people agree.  So why is there this whole big thing?

Because it's entirely unnatural.  We don't experience ourselves.  We experience ourselves in relation to other things.  All of our senses only work because the world around us is affecting us.

It's kinda like this:  You know that one couple you know?  Let's call them Jim and Eva.  They spend so much time with each other, doing everything together, that they've ceased to be "Jim" and "Eva," and now they're "JimandEva."  They have lost sense of self, and only know themselves in how they relate to the other.  In a way, this happens with everything we see and do.

So how do we avoid this?

It ain't easy.  That's why there's this whole big thing.

Remember Nature v. Nurture?  It seems to me like zen is all about deconstructing your entire nurtured side, so that only your nature remains... and then deconstructing your nature to reveal that you were the Buddha the whole time.

It's kinda like Scooby-Doo.  The mystery is life, the The Black Knight is you, and Old Man Wickles is the Buddha.  
Metaphorical Buddha

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for You

Yes, dear readers, you.

Each end every single one of you.  From Melissa in New Zealand, to that One Guy in South Korea, to the Bloggess, to whoever is tumbling past here because of the A-Z Challenge.  Every single one of you has made this experience more worthwhile.

You've given me feedback, and criticism, but most importantly, praise.  Sidney from My My Mother-In-Law is Still Sitting Between Us... gave me the stylish blogger award.  It is now the second blogging award that I've gotten.  Why?

Because you people have excellent taste.  You can recognize greatness when you see it, and that is a valuable trait.  You should be proud of yourselves.

Time Magazine caught a lot of flack when they announced that their 2006 person of the year was "you."  But you know what?  They knew what was up.

They knew that consumers have all the power.  They knew that without you, we are all meaningless.

So thank you.

Thank you for loving me.  I know it isn't always easy.  Sometimes I get boring, or brief, or long-winded, or just a little too schmaltzy, but underneath it all, I'm still amazing, and you can see that.

Which means that all of you are just as awesome as I am.*

*Which is considerably.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for Xenomorph

I can't help but notice that as this month (and thus this blogging challenge) draws to a close, I've been talking a lot about things that are terrifying.  Whether this is a manifestation of my frustrations visited upon my readers, or it just so happens that the letters fit, remains to be seen.  Either way, today is about xenomorphs, the most bad-ass monster to have ever hit the big screen.  Well, any screen really.

They're fast, stealthy, vicious, and need you to be dead.  They're kind of like space-velociraptors that way.  Except that these things have armored skin, acid blood, and a life cycle based entirely on sexual assault.  But honestly, what do you expect when you're designed be a Swiss surrealist who looks like this. (do not click if you ever want to sleep again)

Man, I really wish I could write more about this, but I am exhausted.  Writing a blog post nearly every day takes a lot more out of you than I originally anticipated.  I have no less desire or intention of maintaining this blog regularly than I did at the start, but now I have a much better understanding of what that is going to take.  You know what?  I'll cover all of this in a wrap-up post next Monday.  For now, please accept my apologies for this very brief snippet on my favorite creature who's tongue also has a mouth.

My second favorite was this guy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for White Meat

A long time ago, maybe '01 or so, I became acquainted with a web-comic called Red Meat.  I fell in love with instantly.  I just while writing this found out that it's still going, and apparently has been since 1996.  Wow.  Anyway, I did the only thing I could have done.  I ripped it off.  I used pictures of my Larping friends and had a grand old time.

White Meat 1

White Meat 2

White Meat 3

White Meat 4

White Meat 5

White Meat 6

Then back in '08 I decided to try my hand at a few more.

White Meat 7

White Meat 8

White Meat 9

White Meat 10

White Meat 11

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Velociraptor

Dinosaurs are cool.  That's a fact, there's no debating it.  The coolest dinosaurs?  Velociraptors.

Once upon a time the coolest dinosaurs were T-Rexes.  They were huge, vicious killing machines.  They were like the Great White Sharks of the Cretaceous Period.  But... they had those tiny little girl arms.  It was... hard to get past those.  And everyone said they were dumb as rocks.

Then Jurassic Park came out, and it changed the dinosaur world forever.  It was the first time I, or anyone I knew, had ever heard of velociraptors.  They were like man-sized T-Rexes, but with useful arms, giant talons, and able to outwit a Kenyan big game hunter.  They were perfect.  They were like dino-ninjas.

These things gained such a reputation for their smarts, they even spawned a meme.  Well, their smarts and compatibility for a clever rhyming pun.

The Philosoraptor.

Then at some point they tried telling us that 'raptors had feathers.

I was against this.

But I'm better with this.

In short: Everyone loves a soulless killing machine.  That's why we even felt the need to upgrade:

Sweet dreams!

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Undead

There are no greater villains than the undead.
In one way or another, they embody everything we fear about ourselves, and what may become of us.

Many of us already feel that we only partially exist in our own lives.  Mindless, repetitive, obsessed, that's what it is to be relegated to haunting.  To be a ghost is to have lived a life that was so miserable, it is impossible to rest; even in death.

We've all had desires that have harmed us;  needs that we wanted met so badly that we hurt someone in the process.  Most of us feel bad about it.  We fear being the kind of thing that shamelessly pursues its own wants with complete disregard to all else.  That is what it is to be a ghoul.  You have a hunger, or greed so strong that you will enslave yourself, and kill anyone or anything to satisfy it.  But it never stops.  The hunger never goes away.

Your life is over.  You're not blessed with the ignorance of the mindless undead.  You remember what happened.  You remember in full, vivid detail the terrible, violent events that led to your untimely death.  You relive it constantly.  You cannot rest until you have revenge.  Maybe then you can rest.

More than any of the others, vampires are the most human.  They can look and act the part, but they are monsters.  They are cold-blooded predators in the bodies of someone else' victim.  We love to humanize them, to make them feel.  That makes them less terrifying, even sympathetic, but it's a lie.  Vampires are what we fear about sociopaths.  Someone that looks and acts just like us, but neither understands, nor cares about us.  They have their own agenda, and it is directly in contrast to our well-being.  There is no reasoning, or talking it into a better, more peaceful life.  You are its food.

This is the ultimate representation of the fear of decay.  Death comes for us all.  It makes our loved one's rot away.  That unnerves us because we know that one day it'll be us putrefying, so we bury it.  We get to forget for a little while longer the terrible fate in store for us.  Only zombies won't let us forget.  They creep after us, making us see what the future holds.  They want to make us like them, and they will never, ever stop.

But nothing will ever beat dancing skeletons.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for Time Lord

My phone is about to die. I have spent all day away from my computer. Believe me when I say that there has been no time.

Believe me that T is for Time Lord. I'm missing the season premiere of Doctor Who right now.

That's how important what I'm doing is.

I'll expound tomorrow.

Far away, in the constellation of Kasterborous, there is a planet called Gallifrey.  It is home to the ancient and powerful Time Lords.  In the end, their entire civilization fell to war and anger, but they produced one of the greatest beings to ever exist; The Doctor.

All right.  So I'm a fan boy.  I'm not ashamed.  This is an amazing series.

I remember being young and sneaking into my living room late at night to watch Doctor Who.  I remember hiding behind my couch from the Daleks, and peeking over the edge to see how The Doctor was going to save us all from them.

I was cautiously optimistic when I heard the show was coming back in 2005.  They had tried to reboot it back in 1996 with a made-for-TV movie, but it was dreadful.  But from the first episode, Christopher Eccleston showed us that everything was going to be okay.

There are many heroes out there, both in fiction and reality, but there aren't many quite like this one.  He's not dripping with machismo, and he's not going to shoot all the terrorists.  He's smart.  He's got some amazing toys, and he's very, very smart.  He's a pacifist, has a thing for sweets, doesn't know how to talk to ladies, and is a complete bad-ass.  He's elusive, aloof, and rarely shows up when you want him too.  However, he's always there when you need him.  And honestly, sometimes, you just can't get rid of him.

Do you have any "fictional" heroes?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S is for Sacrifice

From the very beginning we are taught that in order to get, we must give.  There are countless expressions in numerous languages that express this belief.  It's part of our basic human philosophy, and it's probably for the best.  Society couldn't last for very long otherwise.

We feel good when we make a square deal.  It's balanced.  We like balanced.  We like fair.  But life doesn't recognize fair the way that we do.  Many times it's harder to quantify the price that we pay.

We need to get to work on time, so we go without breakfast.
We need to get a project done, so we give up an hour of sleep.
We need to let a loved one make their own mistake, so we lose some piece of mind.
We need to not go to jail, so we don't stab that guy, even though he really deserves it.
We need to not lose that friend, so we don't tell them that thing that's killing us not to say.

There comes a point where you can't even track what you're sacrificing versus what you're getting in return.  It makes it hard to tell if you're getting a square deal anymore.

You know, though, don't you?  Somewhere inside you know if your life is worth what you're giving up to live it. There are many who live with a vague guilt and paranoia because they don't feel like they deserve the great things that they've gotten.  There are many who feel hollow and unappreciated because they feel like they get next to nothing for all of their hard work.

We need that balance.  We need to sacrifice, and we need to feel that we're getting what we deserve in return.

If you're feeling imbalanced, there are ways to fix it.

Help People
There's no greater way of sacrificing your time and energy than to aid a person that needs it.

A lot of times, we place emphasis on all the wrong things.  Some things aren't nearly as important as we think they are.  Some things are far more precious than we realized.  If you take time and honestly reevaluate the things in your life, you may find that things are more balanced than you thought.

Calm Down
I have anxiety issues.  I know a lot of you do, too.  Even if you don't, the more your life spirals out of control, the easier it is to freak out about it.  Calm down.  It isn't doing anyone any good being so worked up.  Don't feel guilty if you need to take an hour to catch your breath.  The world will still be there, and you'll be able to handle it better with a clear head.

Ultimately, it's about learning to sacrifice the right things.  Sacrifice an hour of being lazy, pay a workout up front, and watch the self esteem roll it.  Get rid of the anger, the fear, the hurt... you're getting nothing for them.  If you have to, give up trying to make the world respect you, so you can respect yourself.

Are your sacrifices worth it?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Ramen

If meatloaf is my favorite food, then ramen is my favorite quasi-food.  Ramen, in the form that most Americans know it, is food in the way that cheese-food is cheese, Muzak is music, or Louie Anderson is a comedian.

Despite this fact, it has attained a near cult-like following.  Due to it's strong flavor, high caloric content, and highly inexpensive nature, it is a staple food of the poor.  Trailer trash, starving artists, and college students can all bond over their love for and utter dependence on this abomination.

If I love it so much, why call it an abomination?  Simple.

Real Ramen
What the rest of us are eating.

You see why I'm upset?  I was in my mid-twenties before I even knew ramen could be that way.

Still, there's an art to eating poor, and it's fascinating how many variations can be done with such a simple food.  My favorite?  I'm glad you asked.

Adam's Special Ramen
- Makes one vat.

4 packs of oriental flavored ramen.
1 cup of spaghetti sauce.
1/3 cup of sour cream.
1 potato.
1 sweet onion.
1 green bell pepper.

Mix the the spices from the ramen in a bowl with the spaghetti sauce and sour cream.

Chunk the potato and boil it in a pot.  Chop the onion and put it in with the potato.  Chop the pepper and add it last.  The pepper takes the least time to cook, and you don't want to overdo it.  Once it's all done, mix it with the sauce.

Cook the noodles separately, then add the sauce to taste.

You're welcome.



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for "Less QQ More Pew Pew"

Okay, let me admit right off the bat that I feel slightly cheap with today's meaning.  But look, there are two Qs right next to each other.  It's got to count.

QQ - Though not its original meaning, it has come to be pictograph, or emoticon representing two crying eyes.

Pew Pew - The sound of one firing one's laser.

So together, the sentiment roughly translates as "Stop crying and fight." 

This is an important sentiment that has been echoed throughout the ages with such phrases as "buck up," "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps," and "stop being such a whiny little bitch and do something about it."  However, nothing gets across the visceral transition from weakness to strength than this phrase.

Thank you Courage Wolf, for delivering today's message.

Do you have an example of when you were just phoning it it and hoping that no one was really going to care?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Pornography Puns (contains no actual porn)

This A-Z challenge has been a lot of fun for me.  There are some letters that I can’t think of a single interesting thing to discuss, and there are some that I just can’t narrow down.  I sat there wondering whether to discuss pornography or puns.  They are two of my favorite topics, and I just couldn’t choose.  That’s when a friend suggested that perhaps I didn’t have to.

I mentioned some time ago that I worked for a couple of years in a porn shop.  Overall, it was a fantastic experience which afforded me many great stories.  This is one of my favorites.

My friend Timy (pronounced “Timmy”) was working the counter one night.  A midget walked in and began to look around.

Before we go any further, I’ll let you know that I refuse to call midgets “Little People.”  I know that’s the Politically Correct term, but I don’t care.  To me, it’s like saying that they’re like people, just less.  It feels offensive, and I won’t do it.

So eventually the midget walked empty-handed to the counter and got Timy’s attention.  He said “Excuse me, do you have any midget porn?”

Now, we typically carried quite a lot of midget porn.  It was one of our top sellers.  It’s just fantastic.  Until you see it for yourself, you just can’t understand.  The problem is, because it’s so popular, it was difficult to keep in stock.  So Timy tried to tell him that we were currently out.  Instead, without thinking, he looked down and told the man “I’m sorry sir, we’re a little short.”

It is uncanny, the human ability to say just the wrong thing at just the wrong time.

What’s an example of a moment where you shoved your foot in your mouth?

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Outdone with Owls

I believe that if a person only spends time with people who reflect their opinions, they will quickly develop a very insular and narrow world view.  For that, and many other reasons, I think it's important to forge friendships outside of your race, religion, and culture.

For instance: One of my oldest and most interesting friendships is with a woman named Jenny.  She is a Conservative Right-Wing Christian Republican Mother.  I am none of those things.  It often surprises me how much we can relate on so many things, given the considerable difference in our outlooks.  That's why I say such friendships are so important; They remind us that the really important things about people often aren't what we thought they were.

So, a long time ago Jenny found out that I like owls.  I do.  I don't like them fanatically, but they're my second favorite birds, and by far the cutest.  Well, for years after that I got nothing but owl themed gifts from her for birthdays and Christmases. She is responsible for 95% of my owl related property.  Which is awesome.

So last January I found this owl.  I loved him so much I eventually did an little photo-series based on me rebelling against his "For Decorative Purpose Only" sticker.

This morning I wake up ready to post about my love of the poem Ozymandias, when I see that my friend Jenny had found her own owl, and was intent on joining the fun.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Communication Purposes

Transportation Purposes

Medicinal Purposes

I'll warn you, her blog is very family friendly and scarcely inappropriate or offensive at all.  However, if you're still interested in seeing the rest of these pictures, you can find them at The Modest Peacock.

You want to join in the fun?  Get your own owl and show us what kind of mischief it can get itself into.  Or just submit an idea.  If I have the free time I'll take Professor Featherbottom to live out the suggestion.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Nevermind

I'm going to let you know right now that I'm tired as all hell today.  If I weren't restricted to topics in alphabetical order, I'd tell you all about the crazy shit that's going on right now.  But as it is, let me talk to you about Nintendo.

I cannot remember a time in my life when there was no Nintendo.  I still remember that Christmas when I was five.  I remember all the Tetris, and the Super Mario Brothers., and the Duck Hunt, and that fucking dog.  Since then, they've always been there for me.

How many hours of my life have I wasted spent collecting coins, and pieces of Triforce?  God, you know what?  I'm already tired of this subject.  How about this...

There are very few shows that are as prolific and compelling as Naruto.  They carefully construct a rich lore and complex list of characters, but never lose the fast-paced action that keep you waiting for more...

Nah, eff that, too.

There may never be another internet sensation as robust as the Numa Numa Guy.

Ohh, I really liked the NeverEnding Story!

No, wait, I was just talking about that... I already talk about New Zealand a lot, and I have an entirely different post planned for Newfoundland...  Ninja was mentioned in the Japan post...  Maybe I can do something with napkins?

You know what's bad-ass?  Napkins.

All the time I'm all like "Yo, this party is fly, but you know what we need up in this piece?  Napkins, muthafucka."
No.  Just, no.


I'll see you guys Monday.