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Thursday, April 28, 2011

VOLUME XIII - The Cost of Entertainment and Other Tales

c. November 26, 2009 Anno Domini

It sounds like there is someone choking or asphyxiating in the trunk of my car, which is kind of a long story. Bella was Darth Vader for Halloween, and part of her costume was a device with a speaker which plays the sound of Darth Vader breathing whenever the user presses a button. The device ended up in Melanie's car, which got totaled, and Melanie and I emptied a lot of stuff (including the Darth Vader Device) from her car into my trunk. While driving to work tonight, I heard what sounded like someone tied up in my trunk attempting to gulp down one (or several) final breaths prior to expiring. After a bit of contemplation, I realized the contents of my trunk must have been sliding around and frequently pressing the button on the Darth Vader Device. The effect is particularly creepy at a stoplight when something lands in such a manner that it is holding the button down and it sounds like someone really struggling to breathe through a gag. I'm praying to all that is holy that I don't get pulled over because, especially on a foggy evening such as tonight, I can see the officer saying, "Sure its a Darth Vader Device from a Halloween costume in your trunk. Like I haven't heard that one before. Where were you going to dump the body?"

c. December 10, 2009 Anno Domini

On December 9, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell sent Dallas Cowboys lineman Flozell Adams to bed without supper for Adams' illegal hit against Justin Tuck after the whistle at the end of the first half of the Cowboys game against the New York Giants. Goodell, who previously fined Adams a total of $20,000 for kicking Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and the Carolina Panthers Julius Peppers warned future infractions may force him to result to more severe punishments, including grounding Adams, taking away Adams' Nintendo Wii and "putting him over [Goodell's] knee and giving him a whooping." Goodell said, "Obviously we haven't gotten to the point of suspending him yet, but fines aren't getting through to Flozell and we just have to keep trying other methods until the message gets through. You can't go around kicking opposing players and taking cheap shots after the whistle just because they're beating you on every play." Adams told reporters, "It's so unfair. I didn't do anything. That crybaby Tuck is such a tattletale. Everyone is always picking on me."

Oft-disciplined Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco advised Adams, "The thing you have to understand is that if Goodell says he's going to do something, he does it. You just have to get with the program and do what he says or decide the punishment is worth it and do what you're going to do. And if he disciplines you, you'll hear it from me first on OCNN." Goodell immediatley fined Ochocinco $50,000 for illegally celebrating the virtues of his new enterprise, the Ocho Cinco News Network.

c. December 18, 2009 Anno Domini

I ordered a Christmas gift for Melanie online and it is shipping from a merchant in Cerritos, California. The following is an actual excerpt from the package tracking.

December 4, 2009 12:35:55 AM US Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit
December 16, 2009 07:31:00 PM Cerritos CA US Shipment received by carrier

I can't imagine any plausible explanation for such a delay unless some employee of the merchant left the merchant's facility with the package, realized he didn't know how to get to the UPS store, went to Wal-Mart to buy a GPS unit to get directions, pulled a Brett Favre agonizing over which unit to purchase, read the user manual cover to cover and drove halfway to Reno before realizing the GPS unit was wack and gave him completely messed up directions. Then he went back to Wal-Mart, waited in line at customer service forever to return it, didn't have the receipt and had to run out to his car to get the receipt and wait in line again. Then, despondent over how much he sucked at delivering packages, he went to a tavern, got himself highly intoxicated, tried to resume the delivery process, totaled his car and suffered injuries resulting in a lengthy hospital visit. After getting out of the hospital, he filed an insurance claim on the vehicle but lost the check from the insurance company and had to request a replacement. He used the replacement check to purchase a ghetto DeLorean with no reverse gear and looked up directions to the UPS store the way we did when I was your age before Mapquest was invented, by using 28.8k dial-up tin can with a string connected to a Rand McNally atlas on the other end. Unfortunately, he accidentally skipped the DeLorean two days forward in time and couldn't go back due to the lack of a reverse gear. Our hero then gave up on the DeLorean, and wandered the Earth until randomly encountering a UPS drop-off box and dropped off the package only to discover he accidentally dropped it in the USPS drop-off box so he had to scrounge around the coin return on a bunch of Coke machines to get change to buy a sticky hand thing from a grocery store toy machine and then spent all day using the sticky hand to get the package back out of the USPS box and put it in the UPS box like he should have in the first place. Even if all that happened, that still leaves about two hours and thirteen seconds unaccounted for and the moral of the story is that I am boycotting Amazon.com until they include Pony Express as a shipping option because when I was your age the freaking Pony Express was always on time.

c. December 23, 2009 Anno Domini

Features I Demand On Next Year's Madden

1. The option to use performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in superstar mode to increase your player's ratings, along with a drug test mini-game. If you use PEDs and fail the mini-game you get busted, resulting in penalties such as suspensions, loss of influence and endorsements, negative ego points and a negative effect on your chances of being inducted into the hall of fame upon retirement.

2. A kick button, so you can pull off Flozell Adams moves. Obviously, imprudent usage of it would lead to penalties and fines, but it would increase your odds of injuring opposing players and probably wouldn't result in a suspension.

3. Belicek-esque cheats in franchise mode, such as filming the opposing team's defensive signals, jamming the opposing team's radio frequency so they can't get their play calls in to the QB, kicking the ball one or two yards up/downfield between plays and hoping the ref doesn't notice, and sending blankets infected with smallpox to upcoming opponents in the weeks leading up to a game.

4. Commissioner mode, in which you replace Roger Goodell and view replays of dirty on-field incidents, news reports of off-field violations of the league's conduct policy and players' tweets, then bring some sort of rationality to the NFL's disciplinary code by deciding what actions the league should take in response.

c. December 26, 2009 Anno Domini

At 2:30 a.m., on December 24, Santa Claus was robbed by two armed suspects on the roof of a home in St. Louis, Missouri. Both suspects were 3'6"-4'0" tall and were wearing ski masks. One suspect ordered Santa to toss sacks of presents over the edge of the roof into a Radio Flyer wagon while the other held a gun to Rudolph's head and said, "Do as he says or red-nose here gets it." As a result, millions of children did not receive the anticipated gifts they behaved well all year to earn. A North Pole spokeself released a statement early today indicating Santa will implement new security measures, including training elven security guards to accompany him on future trips. An anonymous source quoted Claus himself as saying, "All future deliveries will be escorted by elven snipers with Red Rider BB Guns, and if anyone tries a stunt like this again we'll put their eye out." Top elven engineers are also working around the clock on modifications to an armored courier vehicle, including replacing the wheels with sleigh runners and attaching a harness for Santa's reindeer. Between jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling classes and sniper training, the elves are working overtime to craft replacements for the stolen gifts and Santa expects to be ready for a make-up delivery in mid-March. Local law enforcement officials have not yet identified or apprehended the perpetrators, but Santa said, "Believe me, they will be on the naughty list for years to come."

c. January 1, 2010 Anno Domini

Earlier tonight on CNN there was a picture of a football player (wearing the number seven) lowering a shoulder toward a pile of unmarked, nonsequential bills with the title "Tackling the Economy." As anyone who knows anything about football knows, single digit numbers such as seven are reserved for quarterbacks and kickers, neither of whom are renowned for their tackling skills. The obvious implication is that our money is shredding our defense, running untouched out of our wallets and into the end zone of financial ruination while a horrified populace looks on, stockbrokers hurl themselves from the rafters and Chris Berman shouts "AND HE COULD. GO. ALL. THE. WAY!," and the only thing keeping us from a second Great Depression is a scrawny, 130 pound placekicker who probably hasn't made a tackle in his life, thanks to the financial equivalents of Jim Zorn and Daniel Snyder. I would feel a lot more confident in the security of my financial future if someone at CNN had called Mean Joe Greene to pose for a picture, or at least could have been bothered to find a stock photograph of some guy wearing a number in the fifties.

c. January 3, 2010 Anno Domini

I bought a pair of Swiss Army shoes yesterday. They even have the Swiss Army Knife logo, but I'm having the darndest time trying to figure out how to get all the knife blades and other utility implements out. So far I haven't found any of them, and the shoes didn't come with a user's guide. I should have rifled through all the other shoeboxes and ganked a user's guide from another pair, but I suppose I was doing the stereotypical male "I don't need no instructions. Now shut up, woman, and get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich and have me a baby and leave all the manly stuff like activating butt-kicking shoe knives to me" thing. I'm really regretting that now, because the whole appeal of Swiss army shoes (other than the fact that I always have to have red in my shoes and they were the only shoes at Target with any red in them) is activating butt-kicking shoes knives and kickstabbing would-be ninja assassins in back-alleys. Due to the lack of a fully-illustrated instruction manual, I don't even know what random utility implements my shoes have aside from the aforementioned butt-kicking knives, let alone how to activate them. The best I can do is make a list of the utility implements I would include if I were to design Swiss Army shoes myself, so with minimal ado here it is:

1. butt-kicking switchblade knives
2. a screwdriver
3. scissors
4. a glucometer
5. a towel
6. an American Express card
7. one hundred dollars in gold
8. one hundred dollars in rubles
9. one issue prophylactics
10. one miniature combination Bible and Russian phrasebook
11. a protocol droid
12. a pair of loaded dice
13. a cyanide pill
14. a 1-Up mushroom
15. one unit of type O positive plasma
16. Elven lembas bread
17. rope
18. a health potion
19. a mana potion
20. Felix Felicis
21. an invisibility cloak
22. Neville Longbottom
23. a hippopotamus
24. a Republican
25. a portable hole
26. a Wand of Magic Missiles
27. an Apparatus of Qwalish
28. a Vorpal Holy Avenger of Throwing +5
29. Munchkin
30. a phaser set to stun
31. a phaser set to kill
32. a phaser set to decapitate
33. a high-tech glass eye capable of fooling all but the most
sophisticated retina scanners
34. a USB flash drive containing nuclear launch codes
35. a beard trimmer
36.all the documentation necessary to establish a false identity, such as a fake passport, social security card, birth certificate, etc.
37. one of those disguises with glasses and a fake nose
38. a hanglider
39. the Necronomicon
40. a spare (dry) pair of socks
41. the bloody user's guide
42. the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything

c. January 29, 2010 Anno Domini

A Scholarly Cost Benefit Analysis of Forms of Entertainment Common Amongst 21-35 Year Old Males (With References!)

Visiting the Cinema

An average adult ticket to the cinema costs $10.00 USD1 and the average moviegoer spends $3.00 USD at the concession stand1. This results in an average cost of $13.00 USD to an individual moviegoer. Two hours is a generous estimate of the average length of a feature film1, therefore the average cost of entertainment to a gentleman visiting the cinema is $6.50 USD per hour if he goes stag, $13.00 USD per hour if he is a smooth ladies' man and $72.50 per hour for pimp daddies such as Eric Forsyth.

Attending a Professional Sporting Event

A ticket to see the Charlotte Bobcats play NBA basketball can be purchased for as little as $10.00 USD2 and a round-trip ticket on the LYNX Blue Line, which drops passengers off at the front door of Time Warner Cable Arena, is only $3.00 USD3. The prices of a large soda and a footlong hot dog are $6.00 USD and $5.00 USD, respectively4. The estimated cost for a gentleman to attend a game is $24.00 USD, and if the length of the game is 2.5 hours the cost of entertainment is $9.60 per hour.

An Evening at the Pub
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a typical drinking binge for an American male consists of five drinks consumed over the course of a two-hour period, resulting in a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or more5. Assuming an average alcohol metabolization rate of 0.015 per hour6, a gentleman engaging in such pursuits will return to a state of full sobriety (a BAC of 0.00) 5 hours and 20 minutes after consuming his final drink, for a total elapsed intoxication duration of 7 hours and 20 minutes. If the drinking binge occurs on $2 PBR night, and the gentleman resists the temptation to buy a drink for any resident ladies, he will incur a cost of entertainment of $1.36 per hour. The actual cost of entertainment may be significantly higher depending on the gentleman's drink of choice and desperation for female companionship. That being said, if the gentleman in question looks like Eric Forsyth the cost of entertainment may be negative because hordes of ladies fall over themselves to buy him drinks and proceed to stuff his drawers so full of C-notes that zombie John Dillinger7 comes back from beyond the grave with a tommy gun and demands he drop his trousers.

Blowing $#*! Up

The blue book value of a 1985 Honda Civic in fair condition with a manual transmission is $1,185.00 USD8, fifty pounds of dynamite could be purchased in New York City for $10.00 USD circa 1903 Anno Domini9 which is equal to $236.67 in 2008 Anno Domini dollars, and a reasonable estimate for the cost of medical care for a serious burn is $70,000.0011 so one can expect the total costs associated with blowing the &%@! out of a piece of junk car to be $71421.61 USD. Assuming the duration of the explosion to be two seconds, and disregarding the entertainment value of recovering from a burn injury, the cost of entertainment of blowing up a 1985 Honda Civic (and oneself in the process) is $1,285,590,069.00 per hour. Depending on the laws of your municipality, the actual cost may be higher.

Fornicating With Prostitutes
The Bunny Ranch in Carson City, Nevada claims to be unable to post prices on their web site due to local statutes, but in New York, the going rate for a high-class prostitute is $4,300.00 USD12. For seventy-five percent of all males, coitus fails to exceed two minutes in duration13. This results in a cost of entertainment of $129,000.00 USD per hour, which is more expensive than taking ten reputable ladies to the cinema even if you buy them all popcorn, lattes and Raisinettes.

Video Games
The price of a pre-ordered copy of Final Fantasy XIII for the Playstation 3 is $59.99 USD14. A player intent upon experiencing all that Final Fantasy XII has to offer could play through it in 100-150 hours15. If Final Fantasy XIII has as much content as Final Fantasy XII (which I believe to be a reasonable assumption), Final Fantasy XIII's cost of entertainment is between $0.40 and $0.59 USD per hour.

Conclusion

Entertaining oneself by playing video games, particularly the Final Fantasy series, is far more cost-effective than attending professional sporting events, frequenting the pub, the senseless destruction of motor vehicles and picking up hookers.

1 My nightmarish career in the employment of Regal Entertainment Group (REG)
2
NBA.com
3
CATS official web site
4 These prices are based entirely on my own admittedly imperfect recollections because neither Time Warner Cable Area nor Levy Restaurants posts their concession prices online. They have that in common with REG.
5
The CDC binge drinking page
6
Bill Ferrer of the Detroit Tigers Weblog
7 I'm sorely disappointed that Google image search doesn't have a picture of this anywhere in the first ten pages of search results.
8 Kelley Blue Book
9 Our source was the
New York Times.
10
The Inflation Calculator
11
Baumgartner Law Firm
12
NY Daily News
13
The Kinsey Institute
14
Best Buy
15
WikiAnswers: How long does it take to beat Final Fantasy 12?

c. February 4, 2010 Anno Domini

Ten Awesome Uses of Work ID Badges (and the Attached Clippy Things) Outside the Workplace

1. Sneak up behind a ninja and use the retractable string on the clippy thing as a garrote
2. File an edge of the ID badge until it is sharp and use it as a shiv
3. Use the string as a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding after you sharpen the card for use as a shiv and accidentally slice through your cartoid artery
4. Present it to a cashier at the Pro Image Sports at Carolina Place Mall in lieu of a driver's license to prove your identity when making a credit or debit card purchase because there is no way someone could steal your debit card and print out a homemade work ID badge with your name, their picture and a made-up company (I actually did this once)
5. Gain access to all sorts of restricted areas by acting confident, showing your badge to anyone who questions you and generally walking around like you own the place and have every God-given right to be there
6. Safely rappel down perilous three-foot drops during covert operations by clipping the clippy thing to your belt while a trusted accomplice holds onto the badge
7. Amuse yourself by pulling the badge as far out as it will go and watching it snap back
8. Impress the opposite sex by telling them you are on a secret mission for Starfleet Command and the employer listed on the card is just a cover story in case the Romulans want to know why you're always skulking around their twin homeworlds of Romulus and Remus. Double points if you explain away the unattractiveness of your photo by saying you disguise yourself as a Cardassian when going undercover.
9. Melt it down and re-mold the plastic in the shape of a dwarven battlerager for use as a D&D miniature
10. Write a "1" with a circle around it in the upper right corner, the words "Summon B-d-ss Hardcore Facemelting M-th-rf-ck-r" on the left side immediately below your picture and "250/250" in the lower right corner, then surreptitiously slip it into your Magic: the Gathering deck.

c. February 23, 2010 Anno Domini

Some jerk in a black Ford Mustang GT convertible with a license plate stating "5-PNT-O" cut me off on interstate 485 today as I was returning from a round of disc golf but, unlike Vanilla Ice, he did not have the ragtop down so his hair could blow. He got off at the same exit as I but unfortunately I did not get a chance to pull up next to him at a red light and insist he roll down his window so I could ask him, "Sir, I couldn't help but notice you are rollin' in your five point oh. Why is the ragtop not down so your hair can blow?" I was really hoping to do so. No word on whether or not the girlies were on standby waiting just to say hi or, if so, whether he stopped or just drove by.

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