Saturday, January 31, 2009

Unlikely Events PSA

Like most people, there are things in life that I try to avoid out of dislike; traffic, my mother-in-law, eating soup with someone with a lateral lisp, circus folk, et cetera, and then there are things that I try to avoid out of fear; sharks, (which just makes sense!,) and heights, (or rather, falling from heights, or rather landing after falling from heights, or rather crushing multiple bones during landing after falling from heights. This also, just makes sense.)
These "fears," are, to me, anyways, just wise choices of things to avoid. I see nothing irrational about them and don't care to try to overcome them. My life is not inconvenienced by choosing to steer clear of being bitten by a huge, unseen mouth full of razor-sharp teeth or dropping to the ground and having my spine shatter upon impact. I'm good.

However, recently I became aware of some unsettling concerns involving
very unlikely circumstances that, so far, I have no reason to believe will take place, yet find myself holding my breath nonetheless. These concerns are irrational and make most phobias seem like passing thoughts. See what I mean...

- When I am taking a leak, (urinating, for the vernacularly limited,) I have lately found myself worried that I was actually still asleep, and dreaming that I was peeing, and in dreaming this, wetting the bed!

- When changing my clothes, I have developed the concern that if it is warm and there are no sounds or smells, if I close my eyes and jump off of the ground, I will have absolutely no sensory input, and will, in that brief instant, cease to exist. Vanish. Gone. I always keep at least one foot on the floor when naked.

- Not exactly a fear, but often, I worry about telepaths. Someone with the ability to read minds. To play it safe, when I am entering a password on my computer, I spell in my head a different word entirely. Same with numbers. I do one thing and force myself to think something unrelated and different. This does lead to mistakes and doing things over quite a bit, but so far, no psychics have stolen my identity or information!

- Breathing through my mouth. Again, not exactly a "phobia" or even a fear. More of an awareness of the worst-case scenario. When there is a really bad smell in the air, say, something unavoidable, like being stuck in traffic behind a garbage truck in August, people tell you to breathe through your mouth so that you won't smell it. But smells are carried on little, tiny molecules through the air. If you breathe through your mouth, those molecules are getting in you through there! At least in the nose you have nose hairs the catch and filter out molecules like this! Call this irrational, I don't care.
I refuse to eat stink molecules!

So, perhaps I am alone in these, uh, 'concerns,' and perhaps these concerns aren't rational or founded in any sense of probability, possibility or reality, but if just one person reads this, sees the wisdom in some of my precautions, and adopts these practices himself, maybe that person will be able to avoid being on the losing end if the "unrealistic" does happen, and, if so, I am thusly vindicated.

Good luck and stay safe.

Technophobe's Illustrated #4

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sidewalk Ninja

"It's a chopper, baby."

Chris on his "hog," New York City, 1990

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dublin Paul's Claim

A coupla years ago, back when the missus and I still lived in beautiful downtown Lynn, Massachusetts, (read with sarcasm for proper effect,) I found myself on the stir-crazy side of bored one Saturday night. Cheryl had already retired for the evening, and I decided to go out for a drink or two. I figured I’d head down to the only "real" Irish pub in Lynn, a city renowned for its multi-cultural citizenry. It was about 11:ish, the joint was kinda crowded, and there was a guy with a mullet doing Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” on karaoke, (but in fairness, he wasn't that bad...) Not my preferred scene but 'twas better'n nothing.

Yeah, that's what passes for an Irish pub in Lynn at 11:PM on a Saturday night.

In any case, at the bar I met a man from Dublin who said he hadn't had a drink in about three years. I offered to buy a round as he MUST'VE been parched, right? He said he quit drinking Guinness because ever since Ireland put a ban on smoking in the pubs, there was nothing to mask the smell of, and I'm quoting, mind you, "Guinness farts."

As this was a new term to me, my teacher's mind sought clarification.

Apparently, people go home from work in Ireland, get a bite to eat and head down the pub nightly, as it is the social epicenter of any community. In the pubs, the patrons would imbibe in their typical evening refreshment; a pint or two of the black. Not long into the evening, the Guinness would, uh, accentuate the fragrance of the earlier evening's meal's odorous by-product in that confined space. It was only not too long ago, that the cigarette smoke would overpower that bouquet and all would be fine. Nowadays, however, with the ban on smoking, there is no longer a convincing, convenient, and accepted atmospheric shroud to hide the telltale evidence of the prior repast. This resulting aroma was the reason Paul from Dublin claims he chose to quit the pubs and drinking altogether.

But the question remains: Does Dublin Paul’s claim hold water? With the smoking ban in Ireland, did the pubs become suddenly noticeably, and possibly intolerably stinky? And is Guinness to blame? Or was this tea-totaling barfly, “Paul” simply full o'shit?

I often wonder.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Real Life" #4

Originally published in my semi-monthly comic strip, "Real Life," for the Salem State Log, November 1991.

Briefly considered as a surprise contender in The Great Dyspepsia Challenge, (see bottom of the page,) but omitted due to a legal loophole regarding contest rule infringements.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sleep: The Taxes of Life

Part of this blog was created as a solution to a problem. A problem that I have created for myself, and have had to deal with for many years. Many of the entries on this blog are born of this problem. 

It is my aversion to sleep.

I hate sleep. Absolutely hate it. Sleep is the taxes of life.

Lemme ‘splain...

Just as the government takes about a third of my income before I see nickel one, so sleep takes a third of my life. Doing NOTHING!!! We each have only a limited amount of time on this planet, (And certain lifestyles have predetermined that amount to be considerably shorter than others!) But, regardless of one’s health, diet, or fitness regimes, (or lack thereof,) all of us have that finite amount of time to make the most of what we have; career, family, hobbies, love, whatever. However, right off the top of this, you surrender a third of your life! If you live to be sixty, you’ve been asleep for twenty friggin’ years!

What’s worse, sleep makes the next day come more quickly. And I have so very few positive early morning experiences that this is not an attraction for me. Another day at work vs. more time at home doing whatever I choose to do? Hmmm, decisions, decision.

For a brief spell, not long back, the wife was into meditation. I was my usual supportive self, (no, seriously!), but when she asked what I thought about it, all my pent-up truths, uh, opinions, came flooding out! "IT'S FRIGGIN' RIDICULOUS!!!" I explained, supportively. Naps, meditating, sensory deprivation, these are all over and above the ‘nothing’ factor! Its like tipping the FDIC! Or “investing” in the IRS! Stupid. Does it make you live longer? Bullshit! Prove it! And what percentage of this alleged longer life do you have to spend sleeping! The here and now is here! And its now, too, (almost forgot that part!) Because if your life tanks like the market did, there’s no recouping the loss. Rest in Peace, my ass!

If I didn’t have to sleep at night, every night of my life I could accomplish so much: I could learn a foreign language, practice on a musical instrument, write a new CD review, watch a movie, clean up around the house, (okay, maybe THAT is a bit of a stretch,) or just spend some quality time with the missus or some other family member/loved one. Heck! I could even work a part-time job or go to school for a further degree or something different like a trade. 

Or do nothing but make the morning come faster. 

Racing forward to greet each new day is not only the way people get old and die more quickly, but the way the “right now” ends... To go do ‘nothing’ for eight hours.

I am reminded of a couple of appropriate quotes on the subject. Edgar Allen Poe once described sleep as “those little slices of death. How I loath them.” And although I agree with his sentiment, I do so for reasons that are better encapsulated by the words of that more modern philosopher, Benny Hill: “Live every day as if it were your last, because sooner or later, you’ll be right.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Technophobe's Illustrated #3

Another entry from the T.I.D.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

There's Always Room For... WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!?!

Cleaning out my mother's house recently I came across a recipe book that kinda blew my mind. Words alone can't do these recipes justice so I included a few pictures. Here now, in glorious color, (75% of it anyways,) is The Joys of Jell-O Recipe Book. 

Just look at that. Fruity and refreshing looking. Surely Jell-O gelatin must be good for a shitload of tasty treats and sides.
Oh, but there is a dark side. 
In an effort to expand upon the available variety of Jell-O-based dishes, the makers of the Jell-O recipe book reached a bit too high. The result was nothing less than an abomination of science. And, luckily, I have the photos to prove it!

This first one is my favorite photos in the book. Yep, those are olives and chunks of celery and cucumber slices. And, of course, big ol' hunks of tuna all in a delicious quivering mass of lime Jell-O. Imagine the reception you'd receive at bringing this baby to a luncheon!

Next, need a fun, wiggly way to get the kiddies to eat their veggies? Then fer crissakes, Jell it! 

New for 1963, Jell-O has introduced "Salad Gelatins;" Celery or Mixed Vegetable flavors. These make for the foundation of The Vegetable Trio, with shredded carrot, cabbage, and spinach with chives. 


(Like that garnish is making it any more appetizing....)

WARNING: The following is not for the squeamish!

Lastly, and apologies for the lack of color on this photo, but it is probably for the better, is what I think is the the Jewel in the Joys of Jell-O crown, "The DeLuxe Tuna Salad!"

YES! That caption reads, "Mayonnaise makes the salad creamy!!!"
I mean, for the love of God! This thing has peas, and olives, and canned fish in it! Does it really 
need creaminess?!? 

God, the sixties were a fucked-up time.

This book has become a treasured addition to my library. Some of its other offerings, (and there are hundreds,) include Party Potato Salad, Herb-Glazed Open-Faced Sandwiches, Molded Chef's Salad, Barbecue Cubes, to "accent a tossed salad," Ham Mousse, and something called Continental Cheese Mold, which is apparently to be served with crackers.

This is a real book. I swear I am not making this up, (nor do I think I could make this shit up.) 

However, since someone out there is probably looking for that perfect food contribution to bring to a family gathering, (probably with in-laws,) feel free to write me for a recipe, and soon you, too, will know... 

The Joys Of Jell-O.

Originally written and posted by me, Chris Toler, back in February, 2008.

"Real Life" #2

Another "Real LIfe" comic recycled from my college days...

Technophobe's Illustrated, #2

Another excerpt from The Technophobe's Illustrated Dictionary...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Technophobe's Illustrated, #1

An excerpt from The Technophobe's Illustrated Dictionary...

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Real Life," #1

From my old "Real Life" comic strip back at Salem State College.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Day in County Cork...

A couple of years ago, the Mrs. and I were visiting my family in Ireland. My family comes from a very rural neck of the country out among the peninsulas in the southwest of County Cork, with lots of rolling hills, green pastures and wide open spaces.

Well, one day, we were on a long drive deep in the countryside, when I spied him out of the corner of my eye: a real-life leprechaun. Folk-tales and myths no longer, I witnessed one of the Emerald Isle's elusive "Little People" with my very own peepers!

Now everyone knows the stories of Leprechauns and pots of gold, and I was no different. I, too, had grown up with these tales, so I decided to set about catching him for his gold.

I sprinted from the car after the diminutive character with the charge of a human-formed rhinoceros, with little to no stealth among my, let's face it, generous frame. The clever folkloric icon must've realized what I was after from the steely glint of determination in my eyes, and decided to bolt. As I watched him begin his evasive maneuvers, I was sure these techniques must have been the same ones that eluded many the greedy, gold-focused mortals of centuries past. Surprisingly, I was able to overtake him fairly early in the chase, my height and leg length obviously compensating for my lack of familiarity with actual running. My stride proved too great a challenge for his stubby, little leprechaun legs.

After capturing the elfin quasi-human, I got straight to my demands; No chatter or how-do-you-dos. That was probably the undoing of a less single-minded fortune hunter or two in the past. He was very reluctant to surrender his gold to me after I caught him, but after a few well-placed belts in his little Gaelic breadbasket, he wised up and got the message. He paid up toot-sweet then, I can tell you, but his "gold" only amounted to about 24 Euro. A bit disappointing, true, but better than nothing, right? And I had earned it. How many people can say that they actually encountered an allegedly mythical entity and bested it at its own game? My victory was pretty complete.

My wife, Cheryl, tells me that I had actually mugged a midget with red hair that day, but what does she know? She's not even Irish…

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "Original White Meat" calendar

So, every year, for Christmas, the missus gets a new calendar. It is usually the same one, the newest edition of "Piggies on Parade," or some such, with pictures of little pigs in costumes and captioned with a pun like "Days of Swine and Roses", "Pignocchio," or "Sows Pacific." 
Real highbrow stuff, but she finds it cute. She also does not eat pork.

This got me thinking if there was a connection. I asked her, "If there was a chicken calendar, would you swear off chicken?" She said no, but the wheels were already turning.

I decided to Photoshop together a few chickens into a calendar for her, and, unlike those lazy-ass pig people, I thought a nice theme would tie it all together even better.

Here now is my "Chick" Flicks calendar, 2009.












This , then, is what comes from a vacation, an aversion to sleep, a Photoshop program, and poor impulse control. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happy New Year


New year, resolutions, ideas, yakketa-yakketa...

I have been considering doing a blog for some time now, not necessarily to write out my passing thoughts, (because, frankly, my passing thoughts aren't all fit for the consumption of others!), but as a place to store some of the things I have done, (writings, artwork, comic strips, etc.,) that I am not quite ready to completely chuck out. 

It was with this mentality that I chose my blog's name, a place to store crap that is not immediately important, a "virtual" crawlspace for things electronic or otherwise that I may either discard or refer to sometime in the future, but not yet. 

So, to anyone who may happen upon this, welcome to my attic. Feel free to look around and voice any opinions, comments, disagreements, suggestions, death threats, love-letters, etc.

Happy New Year,

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