Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I had a long post all set to go about Scrippsin' It '09 and the bets I have placed with my brother (over/unders for prepubescent moustache notwithstanding, I'm pretty confident in my pick for champion) but can we talk about something real fast? The semifinalists were just announced.

Alex Wells????? Serena Laine-Lobsinger?????

Way to go cool kids. Way to show up and co-opt what the nerds like and ruin things, as usual.

I'm going with number 3

Where did he just deliver that last speech?
  1. Tron
  2. The Matrix
  3. The Holodeck

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm a stripper and a poet; my name is Sidell but they call me Ecstasy

Via Hopper: How much do I love public access TV?

Also, please note the ripoff of "Around the Way Girl." He needs a plus size around the clock. I'll break it down to you on the physical aspect. Daaaaaamn.

For those of you who aren't reg'lar tinylukcygenius readers, let this be all the motivation you need. Do RSS!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This site’s content basically comes down to two things. First, posts directed at one specific person, usually my wife or her husband. Second, posts about things that no one gives a shit about. This is one falls under the latter.

I recently came into possession of this incredibly awesome phone.

It’s a Swisstel, 9 inch, yellow wonder speckled with blue confetti. It has a flash button for call waiting, a redial button for calling back the Ghostbusters, and hold button that doesn’t actually put anyone on hold since you have to keep it pressed to maintain the muting function. In an effort to boost voice clarity, the bottom 3 inches impressively curl toward the mouth like an armadillo shell.

It’s a marvel of plastic and science.

However, I don’t know anything else about it. I casually mentioned that it was a Swisstel phone like that was supposed to mean anything to anybody. But a google of Swisstel produces absolutely zilch. So what can we learn of this phone? To the library! With our library cards of learning!

According to a 1988 press release, this phone was Switzerland’s first foray into the vast market of America’s Debbie Gibson-inspired Electric Youth youth.
Swisstel (US) hopes to achieve US telephone market penetration of 3-4% by end-1989. The company is a unit of Ascom Hldg, Switzerland's largest and the world's 11th largest telecommunications concern. Swisstel's 1st product, a lightweight, futuristic phone offered in 10 colors is currently being marketed in the US, which the company plans to use as a base for worldwide market expansion.
But sales didn’t take off like the Swiss had hoped. And it didn’t help that the initial price for this fantastic piece of junk was $70. A second press release the next year reveals that they may have over-estimated the phone’s appeal. According to the Swisstel president,

"The result of those earlier miscalculations was that while we met our fiscal goals, we didn't achieve our sales expectations."

It went on,
Taking a corrective course, Swisstel has made a $ 30 price cut on its unique line of slim-line phones effective in September. The retail price has gone from $ 59.95 to $ 29.95, while actual retail selling prices could be as low as $ 19.95.
By 1990, there were no more mentions of Swisstel selling phones anywhere. In fact, I don’t think they even existed anymore. A $50 phone made from $3 worth of plastic was too much for even the likes of that handsome rich kid Steve Sanders. The Swiss tucked their tails between their legs and limped back to the Land of Chocolate to make army knives and Papal bodyguards.

But that’s not where this story ends. The point of this post wasn’t to brag about my awesome new phone that no one else in the world has. This post is intended to draw attention to the fact that Carnegie Mellon University maintains one of the largest collections of Swiss graphic design and poster art in North America, as far as I can tell. Perhaps the world? But by browsing their extensive assemblage I came across a second confirmed image of this phone. Then even more.

I don’t understand how these things, even at their ridiculous prices, didn’t achieve 50% market penetration. But I’m guessing it has something to do with the fact it looks like a giant wang when you turn it over.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Set Phasers to Fail

(Let me preface this by saying that I once lived in an apartment addressed 1357 Lois Lane.)

In the case Star Wars v Star Trek, I have traditionally found in favor of Lucas. Star wars was always inescapable. But my only real exposure to the world of Roddenberry was through the terrifying reruns of the Star Trek cartoon on Nickelodeon. The color palate they used on the show featured a lot of harsh reds, oranges, and yellows and I was always a little uncomfortable watching it, for some reason. Seeking out the real show was not a high priority. And Star Trek didn’t feature action figures with easily swallowed tiny, plastic blasters.

I did get into TNG. So I do know a little something something about dilithium crystals and can hold my own with The G’s Trekkie coworkers. So when I passed this street sign in very rural Virginia a few days ago, I thought to myself “NERDS!”

Isn’t trillium from Star Trek? Isn’t it some mineral like dilithium or something? Maybe not, I can’t remember. It’s no glitterstim.

But the very next street sign was this.

Clearly, a family of geeks has settled in SW Virginia and named the streets after Star Trek. This has to be documented, the world must know.

But I dug around and couldn’t find anything. No references on the internet, no newspaper articles, no message board missives. What’s going on? Shouldn’t Trekkies be all over this shit? This would be a perfect setting for a Star Trek/Civil War re-enactment. Unless…

Doubt started to trickle in. This couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? There couldn’t be two Star Trek related street 30 yards apart in the middle of the boonies, could there? This had to be planned. By nerds, no less. I recognize their work.

Alas, the nerd was me. Trillium is in fact an obscure Star Trek mineral. But a quick wiki search show it’s also a beautiful flower. And Tribbles? They plagued Kirk in the classically campy episode 44 in “The Trouble With Tribbles." But according to a quick search of Montgomery County, VA public records, the Tribble family has also been living on Tribble Road for 30+ years.

So there isn’t some nerd paradise outside of Christiansburg full of contraction-less androids and rubber-suited aliens. It’s just full of chickens.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sports Authoritarianism

Of all my grandfathers’s grandchildren I am the only boy. That makes me his favorite grandson. And it means that when attention is doled out, I always receive something different. For instance, a few years back all the granddaughters received sizable cash gifts. I got his 1986 Jeep Cherokee with wooden side panels and a sticker on the back that alerted police officers that he was a member of their law enforcement fraternity. (Although pulled over several times, I never received a ticket driving that car.)

At some point in the mid-80’s he traveled to Asia and brought back gifts. The girls got fancy umbrellas or something. I got an olive green, brimmed cap with a plastic red star on the front. I loved that hat and wore every moment outside of school. I wore it as bike helmet. It was sweat stained. The cheap stitching rotted until the lining fell out. It was a gloriously ridiculous hat for a 12-year-old to wear.

One summer day, I was wearing it at the local comic book shop when one of the older CBGs who liked to harass the young kids grilled me about the hat’s meaning. It was clear I had no idea. And it was also clear that even after he explained to me what it represented, I still had no idea. What does a pre-teen know of communism and the Vietnam War? (Except it’s where Frank Castle learned his trade. And Iron Man a little bit too. ) But I did know that this guy had a problem with my hat.

Since this guy got off on hassling kids and I didn’t want to be a target, I stopped wearing it to the comic book store. Eventually, I stopped wearing it altogether. And then mom got a hold of the thing and threw it away. So long novelty Chairman Mao Tze Tung Revolution Communist Red Army Cap: size 58cm.

For me, Communism died that day.


Last weekend I went shopping for a new pair of running shoes. This routine outing quickly became a chore since I seemingly have the most common shoe size in the region and all my option were hideous or out of stock. Eventually, I made my way to the Sports Authority on Jeff Davis Highway where I again struck out in the shoe the department. But in the hat department I found this:

Strictly from a marketing point of view, this seems an odd product for Adidas to sell. I get that Soviet nostalgia will manifest itself in a variety of ways. And I get that most people walking by this aisle won’t take a second look. But it can be argued that several million people died under the image on this cap. (To drive the point home, CCCP was printed on the back) The hammer and sickle still represents something powerful to a lot of people so I can see it being used to deliver some artistic message. But from Adidas? At Sports Authority? I’m not seeing how that works.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

i feel like one word could describe this whole post

Remember when I went to see the Jonas Brothers that one time? It wasn’t because I wanted to see the Jonas Brothers; it was because I was a chaperone for the daughter of a friend. The Verizon Center can be a dangerous place for an impressionable young woman and I also wanted to see the Jonas Brothers.

Anyway, I’ve become some kind of sounding board about all things middle school for this girl’s mother. The latest being her use of the word “fail” to describe anything that she doesn’t like. Since, it took me nearly 45 minutes to explain to my father what a LOLCat was, I decided to just cut to the chase and say it was new, harmless slang. The mother seemed satisfied.

The girl was also recently allowed to have a cell phone with the condition that it was to undergo random spot checks to make sure all photo and texting was “sext”-free. Apparently, kids like sex these days. My friend can demand the phone at any time and conduct a detailed inspection. Unfortunately, her daughter had taken to locking the phone when it was not in her immediate possession in an effort to stymie scrutiny after she had goes to bed.

But what four letter word could a 12 year old possibly use a password? Perhaps one that she had been recently using to describe everything she disliked. I don’t know, something like FAIL?

Oh yeah. It was FAIL.

Do seventh graders get irony?


On a related note, the students from our local private boarding school have taken to doing their drugs on Sunday afternoons in the alley behind our post office. Being the weekend, no one’s back there except pot smokers and this guy walking his dog.

I want to call the police. Not because I’m uncool or a narc or want them to get in trouble. In fact, I hope they don’t get caught. I just want to watch them run. Being chased by the cops is an important part of growing up. And I want to be part of that, for them.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Remove the hat, son

I went to a lily-white-assed high school in the suburbs. Before arriving freshman year, we warned that there was a new principal and that’d we better be watch out. Rumor had it he used to teach at an inner city school and didn’t take any crap. It was the kind of school that Morgan Freeman would the principal at. People got shot for their Starter jackets. And he was suspended by the city superintendent for refusing to allow an accused rapist to return to class before his trial. He also was supposed to walk with a limp because he hassled some gang members so they threw him out of a window for revenge.

Surprisingly, all the rumors turned out to be true. He was a hard-assed principal from a bad-assed high school. Fortunately for him, though, he faced none of those issues when he arrived in the suburbs. Besides the normal frustrations presented to any high school principal, the only ongoing issue he dealt with resulted from his No Hat regulation. We were told this was a residual policy relating to his views on gang colors but it meant that any hat worn in the hallways was to be confiscated. Naturally, it became a game.

By the time senior year rolled around we’d become each other’s foils. Let’s just say he did not stand for sthe leniencies that I was afforded by some of the teachers and coaches. But the levels of animosity never reached the levels of his old school. The most abuse he received has a few bad impersonations. Also, I published an underground newspaper mocking his policies that resulted in the senior class thinking school was canceled for the day.

He left the year after I graduated and took a job at a school in Maryland. The company line was that he wanted to be closer to his family. I think he missed me and wanted a new challenge.

It seems he got one. According to the police, two students at his new school were a day away from breaching a gas main, throwing a bomb into his office and blowing up the building.

Fucking amateurs.

this is what we talk about when we talk about love

The N: The word "orgy" is overused as a descriptive. I don't think you should be allowed to use that word unless you actually PARTICIPATED in an orgy. Or in, you know, an orgy of blood.

The G: What?

The N: You know. Like either been in an orgy-orgy, or been involved in some kind of serious mass-murdering in a small confined space. Like an elevator. A violence orgy! You can only use the word "orgy" if you have ever participated in one of those two situations. Those are the only times the term "orgy" would be okay.

The G: You know, your life rules get weirder as you get older. Also, you're picturing elevator doors opening and blood streaming out right now, aren't you?

The N: Yes.

This conversation later devolved into what it would be like to have Tony Shaloub star in a remake of "The Shining", but by that point I was laughing too hard to really remember how that came up.