Saturday, December 30, 2006

Don't Go Breaking My Ice

The Christmas Party was a smashing good time, I say. I was generally unimpressed with the gifts that I got for my siblings and nieces and nephews, as my shopping had to occur almost primarily in Meijer and Wal-Mart since they are the only places open after I get off of work at 11. However, it appears that through the crappy selection, I did manage to find some winners. The most popular gift that I purchased was a Don't Break the Ice game for my nephew Oscar. Oscar is two, and thus below the recommended age for the game, but I figured he would like it because he enjoys hitting things with hammers.

As it turns out, there are two schools of thought for Don't Break the Ice. First, Oscar wanted to play it. Oscar plays it by singing songs about Don't Break the Ice that he extemporaneously composes while the ice is being loaded in to the stand, and then smashing the ice through the stand as quickly and violently as possible, ripping the ice skater off of his special block, and then spreading the cubes to the four corners of the room before the process gets repeated. It is quite cute and not at all irritating for the adult who is charged with loading the ice stand, I assure you. Oscar's favorite song is Elton John's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", so I'm thinking the tunes he was singing were derivatives of it but about ice instead of hearts. It was impressive and endearing at any rate. Ivy is also a fan of this school, but while Oscar likes to hit the ice with the hammer, Ivy is a fan of prying them up from below.

Later, after Oscar had been successfully distracted from the game and thus saving everyone else from having to spend the entire afternoon reloading the stand, Phoebe, my two year old niece who did indeed enjoy the makeshift gift I threw together for her, decided to play. I managed to successfully explain the rules to her, and she was out to win. I can safely say that Phoebe is a burgeoning Don't Break the Ice Grandmaster. She has a feathery touch that allows her to oh so slowly tap the block she's aiming for out without knocking out any others, an impressive grasp of the strategy for a two year old, and the competitive streak of Ricky Bobby. First place, I was told, gets a trophy. Second place gets a stinky sock.

I'll admit it, the first time I played her, I was outclassed. I was using a quick strike, in an attempt to get the block out cleanly with minimal contact on the others, but it was no match for Phoebe's water torture style. The game ended when she hit a block that was certain to cause the poor skater to go tumbling to the ground, only it didn't, and that left absolutely no targets for me, and I sent the guy to a watery grave. The second game ended much the same way, with a "how is that possible?" move from Phoebe and me knocking the guy under. Then she played Lacey, a 6 year old stepniece, and invoked a new strategy of mirroring all of Lacye's moves, and beat her three straight times. Then she beat me again before I finally got a win. I managed to refrain from letting out my dad's Derogatory Victory Yell of Triumphant Loudness that can be heard for three blocks that he always inflicted on us when we lost at a game.

I also received a board game of my own, Cranium, and as soon as I can find 3 friends to play with, I think it'll be a fun one. My main problem is that I seem to share Strong Sad's attitude toward board games and people.

The Year Andy Didn't Save Christmas

While attempting to wrap Christmas presents tonight, I realized I forgot two crucial things when I went shopping:

1. Wrapping paper. Luckily I have a plethora of plastic shopping bags.

2. Phoebe's present. This is much less forgivable, because I'm easily Phoebe's favorite uncle. How did I forget hers? A cursory glance around my apartment revealed the following items that a 2 year old girl might enjoy (and behold my bulleted list inside a bulleted list. I'm upping the blogging ante):

1. A green stuffed fish. Good for tossing around, and quite cuddly. Problem is, it was a gift from way back in the day, and regifting never sits well with me.
2. A dreidel. I have no clue where it came from, and I'm equally clueless about how to play. Does it have something to do with gambling? Would it be sacrilege to give a dreidel for Christmas?
3. A They Might Be Giants CD. Can you think of someone who wouldn't enjoy one of these? I cannot, but I'm not sure I'm willing to part with mine or how much she'd enjoy it.
4. Mardi Gras beads. I'm equally unsure of where these came from. I think the cafeteria at Wabash gave them out one year on Ash Wednesday, probably because they were hopelessly inept. Giving Mardi Gras beads to a very small child seems inherently wrong, though.
5. The Muppets Take Manhattan? When did I get this? And why is it still in its shrink wrap? I think we have a winner. I'll throw in the Mardi Gras beads and none will be the wiser.

Except that I'm admitting the whole thing on the internets, of course.


A couple of quotes from coworkers. I wasn't there for the first one, but I did hear the second.

Alicia: He has a fucker face.
Jerry: What'd you say?
Alicia: His face is like plastic, no expression. You know, like the card game.
Jerry: A poker face?
Alicia: In the Phillippines, it sounds like 'fucker'.
Erica: Alicia, you should never play poker with anyone.
Jerry: Wait, so how do you say 'fucker'?
Alicia: 'Fucker.'
Jerry: Oh.

And the second:

Claudia: I want to see the new movie with that black guy.
Christy: The one with Will Smith?
Claudia: No, not that black guy.
Christy: Oh, I heard 'movie with that black guy' and thought of Will Smith.
Claudia: This black guy isn't black. He's white.
Christy: What?
Andy: Oh wait, you mean Jack Black?
Claudia: Yeah, that's him.
Erica: I've heard that's a pretty good one, actually.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Behind the Circles

Now that I'm done blogging about my blog, I suppose it's time to put some actual content up for your perusal.

In my first post, I wondered who the Venn behind the Venn Diagram was. As my curiosity was piqued, I had no choice but to do some exhaustive research at Wikipedia. My findings have proven to be quite controversial.

John Venn was an English philosopher and mathematician who currently is the subject of a not very interesting Wikipedia stub. His most famous contribution is the Venn Diagram, which consists of upwards of three overlapping circles, and his impact has been felt in many diverse fields, such as computer science, probability, and education in the form of simple worksheets for lazy teachers.

The controversy comes in at the end of the stub, when they reveal that Venn has been voted the third most important modern mathematician by the BBC, narrowly losing to Isaac Newton and Leonhard Euler. Newton is the father of modern physics. Euler's collected contributions to math fill 60 to 80 volumes. Venn wrote three books on logic and probably doodled a couple of circles on a piece of paper while he was bored at work one day and called it a diagram. John Venn is probably the most overrated mathematician of all time, unfit to sharpen pencils for Newton and Euler. I know overlapping circles can't be that powerful because David Copperfield rips them apart at least four times in every show he does. I think Venn should rank somewhere closer to Ian Malcolm than Isaac Newton.

Also, Wikipedia's homepage mistranslates "The Free Encyclopedia" into Spanish. It should be "La enciclopedia gratis" instead of "La enciclopedia libre", which suggests "The Liberated Encyclopedia" as opposed to "The Encyclopedia You Don't Have To Pay For." I'm just going to assume that the same holds true for French, Italian, and Portuguese. You'd think that a project that looks to one day contain all the knowledge in the world would at least get Page 1 correct.

Hand-wringing Accomplished

After 20 minutes of soul-searching and screwing around with the Blogger Dashboard, I have found out that while ballpointbanana is taken, theballpointbanana is not. So, in the name of image consistency, and because I feel that one cannot go wrong when referencing Adam West, I'm just going to change the web address right now to This will prevent me from having to refer to this blog as "The Ballpoint Banana at Online Somewhere," which might be the worst name since "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim."

So all three of you who might have checked this page so far, update the bookmarks that you probably haven't made yet anyway.

On Titles

My original plan was to call this blog "The Ballpoint Banana." This is a reference to Batman: The Movie.

Batman: What has yellow skin and writes?
Robin: A ballpoint banana!
Batman: What people are always in a hurry?
Robin: Rushing people... Russians!
Batman: So this means...
Robin: Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck.
Batman: Precisely, Robin. The only possible explanation.

"The only possible explanation" sums up the attitude many blog writers have toward their blogs, and a ballpoint banana is nonsensical and goofy enough to adequately describe my writing, so I figured it fit well. Then I noticed it was taken, so I changed to a weak plan B and called in Online Somewhere, because I routinely forget where I read things online and just tell people I "read it online somewhere" as if that explains things.

Now I've discovered that I can have Online Somewhere be the web address and The Ballpoint Banana be the Blog Title. However, if I choose to use both, as I sort of am at the moment, I can't very well have a green color scheme. I currently have the most image-lacking blog on the internets.

In short, much hand-wringing will be done over this in the next few days. Starting a new blog is hard work.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fresh Start

I used to write in an online journal at, but then I ran into a few problems:

1. My life got very repetitive, which made for very boring writing.

2. I felt the need to write about other things, like music, sports, literature, and animation.

3. Since I really have no useful knowledge about at least two of those topics, I felt the need to be able to get comments on these things so that when I make uninformed moral judgments about them, people who know better can call me on it. Diaryland insisted that I pay them for a service that everyone else provides freely, and so I must relocate.

4. I tend to get a bit wordy, so I felt that the occasional illustration might help me out. Also, I can just link to things instead of quoting them.

5. My sister has one of these, and has a lot of imaginary internet friends as a result. Since I'm not going to be writing in detail about parenting, pregnancy, women's health, midwives and homebirth, vegetarianism, or Linda Hirshman, I'm guessing the Venn Diagram formed by our imaginary internet friend circles will not have a large middle section, so my plan is to find my own circle of blog friends and get them to follow my lead in posting snide comments on Casey's blog. A good time will be had by all. And who was this Venn character?

And so begins my new online home, which I have decided to call "Online Somewhere." I am marginally happy with this choice. I am very bad at thinking up titles.

Holy crap. My first entry is a bulleted list. I really am a blogger.