Thursday, April 28, 2011

Essence of WHAT now?!

I was researching an article the other day and I discovered something that I just can't seem to get my head around. Apparently, there exists in this world a substance known as “essence of chicken.” I had no idea this existed. If I'm not mistaken, it's made by cooking down a whole chickens into liquid, filtering out the fats, and then bottling it. If you drink it, you get that Popeye-eatin'-spinach effect.

It seems to be an Asian thing, which explains why I've never heard of it, because I've never been to Asia. The English invented it as a royal health tonic. I have to admit, it does sound nutritious. Four times as nutritious as a bowl of chicken soup, they say. And we all know how nutritious chicken soup is.

Not as nutritious as cock soup. --  Anuj Kumar Pradhan

I'm still having trouble getting my mind around the "cooking down whole chickens" part. Whole freaking chickens, man. Into a liquid, man. How long must that take?

Forever, with the feathers. -- John Went
Then again, I do come across some crazy stuff in the course of research. For instance, the flatfish, or flounder, swims upright, like a normal fish, when it's young. As it matures, one of its eyes moves over to the other side of its head, and it begins swimming on its side.

Now that you mention it, they do look a little bit lopsided. --

But you probably already knew that.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Favorite Facebook Game

I'm not one of those people who sits on Facebook, playing mindless games for hour after hour. The Facebook game I like to play isn't an app. I made it up. I call it, “Who the Hell Are You Again?”

I could play this one for hours. You'll get some guy whose profile photo is a tree, or a cow, or something. Or possibly himself in a ridiculous clown suit. Who knows. The point is, Who the Hell is He Again?

I've been on Facebook for a long time, and done a lot of traveling, and met a lot of people. I never clear anyone off the list, because that would ruin the game, but also because I like collecting things, and Facebook Friends are very, very portable.

“Man, he looks sooo familiar. Is he that guy I met in Colorado Springs? No! I picked him up hitch-hiking in Oklahoma! No, wait, he's friends with a girl from my high school English class. How the hell would they have met? I don't think he was in the says he grew up in Albany, anyway...”

Most of these hippies I met when I was traveling went by unconventional names, anyway, like “Tea Biscuit,” “Bear Claw” or “Firefly Moonweb.” But when they find me on Facebook, they're using normal names like John Green, Carrie Johnson or Alistair Smith. Even so, I can usually figure it out, if they haven't cut their hair and gone to work for the Man yet.

And then, there's fun with old classmates. For some crazy reason, no one looks quite the same as they did when they were sixteen years old. Well, okay, some of them do, we're not that old yet. But most of them have put on weight, or lost weight, or changed their hair color, or had plastic surgery (those fish-lips have got to be collagen-inflated, right?)

“Hmmm...Jennifer...I did hang out a lot with a blonde girl named Jennifer when I was about thirteen...if I squint and sort of turn my head to one side it kind of looks like her...”

Some people are wearing glasses now, or they've ditched the glasses they used to wear. Some of the men have lost their hair, some have grown enormous beards. Some have lost their hair and grown enormous beards, which isn't the way to go, if you ask me. Some post photos of their kids instead of themselves, leaving me to break out the old third-grade class picture and play Who Do You Look Like?

Naturally, all the women are now married and have changed their names. This only adds to the fun. They let you fill in your maiden name for a reason, folks.

I can't start asking who's who because that would ruin the game, and it might also hurt some feelings. To be honest, I've got a couple of people on Facebook that I don't remember from Adam. I know, from our mutual connections, that I must have lived in the same town with, gone to school with, or traveled with these people. But I have no memory of them.

They, on the other hand, seem to remember me pretty well. Well enough to find me on Facebook, be stoked about it, and talk to me everyday. I don't want to let them down. That would be a cruel thing to do.

Besides, it's nice to think I can make an impression...apparently, without even trying.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What's the deal with my name, Part Two

Yeah, so, as it would happen, my weird friggin' name is so friggin' weird that one post just isn't enough to describe how friggin' weird it is. My name appears to be impossible for anyone not directly related to me, by blood, to pronounce. Emphasis should be placed on the first syllable of each word – MAR-jorie MAC-atee – but instead people place the emphasis on the second syllables – Mar-JOR-ie Mc-CAT-ee – which makes me wonder if I might not have an alter-ego, or something.

Ok, I'm willing to concede that my surname is spelled kinda weird and really does look like it ought to be pronounced that way. If it were spelled the way it's pronounced, it'd have an extra A in it, like this – MacAtee.

But “Marjorie” shouldn't be that difficult. I know it's not a common name, but it's not as if I've been spelling it in hieroglyphics. Nevertheless, people must be pretty creative, because they've come up with a lot of different ways to spell my name:

Margerie – Not bad, really. One letter off.

Margory – I think you mean, Mar-GORE-y.

Marjoreee – That's a bit like falling off a cliff... 

"Marjoreeeeeeeeeeeeeee..." -- divemasterking2000

I don't really care that much about the spelling, unless it's important, in which case, I'll spell it for you. It's the pronunciation thing that bothers me. People have been pronouncing my name wrong all my life. Actually, since I've grown up, I've found most people can manage to say “Marjorie” without making asses of themselves. But, while I was going through school, teachers and administrators always pronounced it Mar-JOR-ie Mc-CAT-ee. To be fair, my teachers generally only did it once, which is fair enough, cause as we've established, it's a weird name. This was the name I'd hear over the intercom whenever I was called to the main office, from the day I started school at the age of five to the day when I finally got sick of it and decided to just friggin' ignore them.

I was fifteen that day. I was in the middle of my angry, adolescent triple-mohawk stage. I'd recently had some success with refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance, on the grounds that it mentions God and could therefore be construed as prayer, so I decided to try my luck with the name thing, on the grounds that if they expect me to answer when my name is called, they can damn well take two seconds to learn how it's pronounced.
They called me several times – mispronouncing my name more emphatically each time – while I sat there carrying on with my business. Finally my teacher, who knew me well enough to tread lightly, said, “They're calling you to the office.”

“I'm fifteen years old,” I replied. “You'd think they'd have learned my name by now.”

My teacher shrugged, took a sip from her water bottle and went back to whatever it was she had been doing. Some of the other kids in the class giggled, quietly, and shot me approving looks.

“Mar-JOR-ie Mc-CAT-ee, to the OFFICE, PLEASE.” They were beginning to sound impatient. A few minutes later the assistant principal himself stormed into the classroom, in a red-faced cloud of angry obesity.

When are you going to come to the office?!” he shouted.

I replied, “I dunno, when are you going to learn to pronounce my name?”

COME WITH ME!!” he bellowed, and I'm sure he would have grabbed me by the arm and yanked me out of the chair if he could have gotten away with that.

I went and he took me into his office. “Sit down!” he commanded, pointing at a chair with one of his blunt little sausage fingers. I sat.

“I'm calling your mother!” he announced, as if I were supposed to be afraid of that, and then he picked up the phone and dialed.

When my mother answered, no doubt groggy from her mid-afternoon nap, Assistant Principal said, “I've been trying to call your daughter to the office for the past 20 minutes. She refused to respond when we called her name over the intercom and I had to go to the classroom to get her myself!” He puffed up as he said it, like a poison toad.

My mother must have asked to speak to me, because I was passed the phone.

“Why didn't you go to the office?” she asked. She was using her gruff, you'd-better-have-a-damn-good-reason-for-this-sh*t-kid voice.

“They're still pronouncing my name wrong,” I said, “and I'm sick of it. That's not my name, and I'm not going to answer to it.”

My mother went silent. “I'll speak to him,” she said. “Put him back on the phone.”

I recognized this tone of voice, too. It was all I could do not to crack up, as I passed back the phone and said, “She wants to speak to you.”

Assistant Principal put the phone to his ear. I fancied I heard thunder rumbling above. “Yes?” he said.

And I could hear my mother's voice, coming through the phone, loud as the voice of God Himself booming down from the Heavens – “Her name is MAR-jorie. MAC-atee. When ARE you going to learn how to pronounce it?!?”

The string of profanity she released does not bear repeating here. --  Cloned Milkmen

Love you, Momma.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Respectful Rebuttal to “Shut Up About the 2012 Predictions Already” ~ A guest post by Lynne Hawkinson

I have to admit, I'm pretty blasé about 2012. Whether the world ends or not, right now we still have Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, bills and colds and hangovers. I don't magically stop having allergies because the world is going to end, and I can still eat Butterfingers® and black-bean burritos whenever I want.

Granted, I have a very blasé attitude about mortality, thanks to my belief in reincarnation. Anyway, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes I can accept. There are tidy, believable scientific theories to explain them. Global warming. The butterfly effect of millions of miles of paved roads and city blocks. Sheer bloody cussed weather. But recently, birds fell from the sky. On several occasions. Worldwide. Birds fell from the sky! DEAD! Didn't anybody else see The Seventh Sign? Doesn't that means God's out of souls or toilet paper or something?

I Googled "apocalypse" and this is what I got. Seriously. -- Wonderlane

And there are scientific theories for this event, too – stress from fireworks, high-altitude lightning, power lines – which sound great when you're talking just a few thousand dead blackbirds in the American Deep South, but kind of fall apart when you apply it to Sweden and Italy. I mean, how many high-altitude lighting storms can there be?

Not to worry, kids, that's just a weather balloon. -- Per Johansson

And power lines? I've seen wind-driven birds bash their little heads against windows, but I've never seen them break a power line. I mean, birds sit on power lines. They seem to have a handle on that whole situation.

I'd be more willing to believe those dead birds flew into a giant pane of glass.

And then there are the fish kills in the Chesapeake Bay, off the coast of Brazil, and in New Zealand. We're talking hundreds of tons of belly-up fish. If any of them were hemorrhaging or otherwise turning the sea red, I am officially freaking right the fuck out.

Really, the only reason to even discuss the end of the world is to ask: Okay, so the world is ending – what would you do after you finished freaking right the fuck out? Which is the only question worth asking anyone, in my opinion. What would I do? First of all, I'd keep my opinion to myself, because if the world is ending, I don't want to spend my final days fighting for my life in a riot. And I was about to say I'd eat a lot of junk food and sleep with that one guy who has been hurting my ovaries for awhile now, but no, that would be a bad habit to get into, because the end of the world is coming and I really don't want to reincarnate as a blue-speckled blob of ectoplasm on some planet far, far away.

Regardless of whether these things herald the true End of Times, the only advice anyone can give you is: Get your spiritual shit in order, if you have spiritual shit to get in order, and try to be a good person in the meantime. And isn't that really just good advice for life anyway?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shut up about the 2012 predictions, already

I've been hearing a lot about this “end of the world 2012,” “mayan calendar prophecies” thing lately, mostly from hippies and drunks in the bar, and I'm getting really sick of it. The world is not going to end on December 21, 2012. If it does, it will most certainly not be because a defunct civilization's calendar was discontinued. Calm the f*ck down.

“But, but!” you say, “The sun is going to align with the center of the Milky Way and we're all going to be fried to death with a beam of cosmic energy! There will be a shift in consciousness! The Divine Masculine will become one with the Divine Feminine! A supermassive black hole is going to swallow the whole damn universe man! There will be a polar shift!! Satellites will fall out of the skies!! Lizard-people from the planet Nibiru will invade Earth and steal its gold!!!”

Tell me something – can you hear yourself? I hope there is a shift in consciousness, and that you get some common sense out of it. No, don't talk to me about “experts.” Your “experts” are full of sh*t. Unless, of course, they're experts in ancient Mayan culture. There are scholars in this world who have devoted their lives to the study of this lost civilization, and right now, they are rolling their eyes at you.

Has it occurred to you that maybe the calendar stopped because, um, you know, the civilization collapsed? I know that's a pretty big leap, but I think you can make it.

The Mayan Long Count calendar is an incredibly complex and ancient means of measuring time. You, on the other hand, are under-educated, drunk and possibly drug-addled. You are not qualified to offer an opinion on this matter.

The Mayans didn't even invent the Long Count calendar themselves – they borrowed it from other, pre-existing Mesoamerican civilizations. It wasn't the sort of calendar you'd use to see which day of the week your birthday will fall on this year. They had a different calendar – the Calendar Round – for things like that.

For about seven hundred years (circa 250 to 900 AD) the Mayans used the Long Count calendar as a means of measuring historical time (rather than, say, the seasons of the year or the years of your life). It divided history into Great Cycles of 5,125 years. December 21, 2012 marks the end of the third Great Cycle. So, according to the Long Count calendar – if I'm not mistaken – the world is about 15,000 years old.

Now, we know that isn't true, don't we?

The ancient Mayans enjoyed a rich culture and an advanced civilization, but this does not mean that they were smarter than us. It's actually kinda condescending, acting like they were privy to special knowledge, because they built a functioning society, independent of Europeans and their influence. “Wow! These people built a whole civilization! And they didn't even use wheels! They must have been a race of supermen!”

That really worked out for them in the long run, didn't it?

If I were you, I'd be more worried about this global warming thing. Just sayin.' -- Dave Pape

Update:  Recently, Boston University archaeologist William Saturno uncovered a "new" ancient Mayan calendar in a room in Xultun. The room, once home to a scribe, contained multiple calendars, including a 260-day ceremonial one, a 365-day calendar, a 780-day track of the orbit of Mars and 584-day track of the orbit of Venus. Dates on these calendars extend far beyond the year 2012, as far as the year 3500. So, there, we're all going to live. Now shut up about it already.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What can I say? I've got a f*cking foul mouth

A Mother Life

I do. My mother never saw the need to clean up her language around me, on the grounds that I knew which words I wasn't to say and that I feared her swift and brutal retribution enough not to say them. She was right, for the most part. But as I grew older – into my preteens and teens – I started using the bad words behind her back. Every kid does, I guess. Inevitably, I slipped up and cursed in front of my mother one day.

I was about twelve. We were standing at the register in a shop, completing our transaction. My mother was talking to the saleslady about the price of something we were buying – it was on special promotion. I chimed in with, “Yeah, that's a helluva good deal.”

As soon as I said it, I realized what I had said and went deathly silent. My mother cocked her eyebrow at me, but didn't say anything.

I looked at my feet and, probably, blushed.

The saleslady said, “Oh, everyone slips up sometimes.” She tipped me a wink.

My mother said, “Well, at least that one's in the Bible.” The saleslady laughed. Later, my mother informed me that I could use any words that I wanted, as long as they appeared in the Bible. Before long, I was more intimate with the Good Book than she was.

But I didn't stop cursing. As I grew older, it got worse, especially since my mother eventually dropped the Bible rule and decided that if I was old enough to drive a car and go to work, I was old enough to shout, “Sh*t f*cking wh*rec*nt!” when I stubbed my toe. My mother has a notoriously foul mouth, anyway, so we probably just started thriving on each other's profanity at some point.

From time to time, I get reprimanded for having a f*cking foul mouth. Once, when I was just gone 21 and living in Paris, one of the other American girls at my school pulled me aside and gave me a full-on lecture.

“Why do you think every other word out of your mouth has to be a curse word? My mother certainly didn't raise me that way.”

“Well, mine obviously did.” For some reason, when strangers criticize my behavior, they always try to drag my mother into it. People who know my mother would keep their freaking mouths shut, because they know how she'd react to such a thing.

Let me give you a hint. -- Cloned Milkmen

The girl frowned. She was one of those girls who wears makeup every single day and puts on high-heeled shoes with her blue jeans. Every single day.

“It doesn't make you sound tough, or cool, or smart,” she went on, obviously sticking to a script of some kind.

I shrugged. “I never really thought about it,” I said. “Everyone I know cusses a lot. You think I'm bad, you should hear my grandmother.”

The girl frowned even deeper and went on, “It's not funny or cute. It's just crude and disgusting.”

“What the f*ck is it to you, anyway?”

She didn't like that very much. She got up and stormed off in a huff, no doubt to tell the other girls all about it.

While I didn't appreciate her meddling, it did give me food for thought. Maybe I ought to tone it down a bit, I thought, if people are getting upset. So, I've tried to tone it down a bit.

But, it's hard to stop doing something you've been doing all your life. And I have been doing it literally all my life. My parents were progressive types. They insisted I call them by their first names and brought me up without Santa Claus. When I was a baby, they didn't think much of using foul language around me. Apparently, they thought that, since I was too young to understand, it wouldn't matter.

As a result, my very first words were “Oh, shit!”

I'm told I'd dropped my ice cream cone.

Pictured: A foul-mouthed baby, and the man responsible. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seriously, You Guys, What's the Deal with My Name?

I don't really like my name. No, that's not true. I like its components. “Marjorie” was a crap name growing up, because it made me different, and we all know how the other kids treat the different kid. I think I read somewhere that giving your kid an unusual name increases his or her risk of mental illness. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Now that I'm grown, I like being different. At some point in my life, everything turned around on me. I started liking my name, just like I started liking sleep. They say that's a sign of adulthood, when you like sleep.

This guy is very mature. --

For those of you who don't know, my middle name is “Marie.” Now, that's not so bad, as middle names go. It could be Bertha, Hortense, or Myrtle. It could be Prunella, for heaven's sake. I could be Marjorie Prunella McAtee.

But, if it were, I wouldn't have this going on with my initials: MMM. Mmm. Mmmm. Mmmmmm.

Mmmmmmmmmmm. -- JoChoo
Besides, say the whole thing out loud – Marjorie Marie McAtee. It's like one of those mouth-stretching exercises you do when your cheeks are sore from smiling too hard, or something.

Yeah, like this. -- inhisgrace

Now, say it ten times fast. 

My parents didn't put much thought into this name of mine. I asked my mother about it once. She told me that both she and my dad liked “Marie” as a middle name, but couldn't agree on a first name. I like to imagine the following conversation taking place in the delivery room, immediately following my birth:

My father: “How about Prunella?”

My mother: “No.”

“How about Mary? I've always liked the name Mary.”

My mother (probably) shook her head. “No, cause then she'd be Mary Marie, and that's just Mary Mary. Besides, I already have a sister Mary and an Aunt Mary.”


“God, no.”


“Are you feeling alright?”



“Enid? Minerva? Fanny?”

They must have continued in this vein for some time, until my frustrated mother finally turned to the attending nurse. “What's your name?” she asked.

“Marjorie,” the nurse replied.

And there you have it.