Friday, July 16, 2010

Hmm Hmm Hmm Hmm

So the other morning I was able to attend a ceremony at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (Motto: Slavery? Internment camps? American Indians? Nope, sorry, never heard of that stuff!) where the museum was being presented with the original costumes of dummies Vince and Larry (as well as the original dummies themselves).

Remember them? The Crash Test Dummies? They used to have commercials where they would be horribly mutilated in these vicious car accidents, but they’d laugh it off, with a kind of “oh well!” attitude, then the narrator would say “You could learn a lot from a dummy.”

Those commercials were weird, because while they were cautioning people to wear seatbelts and not put on their make up while driving, or whatever, at the same time they were showing that the consequences weren’t that bad. Much like Looney Tunes cartoons, you could be burnt to a crisp one minute, walk off screen then back on, and you’d be fine, no worries.

Don’t even get me started on the Crash Test Dummies Saturday morning cartoon. Then again, if M.C. Hammer could have a cartoon where he put on a pair of magic shoes and became Hammerman, I suppose anything is possible these days.

The ceremony was very bland and dry. I would like to say that I never realized how boring talking about safety is, but…duh. Talking about safety is uber boring! Here you had a room full of suits, patting themselves on their collective back because they all thought that seatbelts and airbags are a great idea. I bet you never knew the innovations made in the world of steering columns, did you? And I bet you don’t care either. What person in their right mind would?

The actors who originally played Vince and Larry were in attendance, wearing their costumes. That was good, because when they took off the costumes later, to be available for interviews, nobody had the slightest idea who they were. It’d be like if Tim Allen’s neighbor, Wilson, suddenly showed up without a fence in front of his face. You’d be clueless!

My favorite part of the event is my favorite part of any event where I’m not just a participant: unfettered access to behind the scenes shit. I got to park in the museum staff parking lot and walk through the back hallways, (and no, I didn’t see Ben Stiller or any miniature Owen Wilsons). Everybody knows that I love museums, (what, you ain’t know?) especially Air & Space. I love the information they impart and they way they do it. What I don’t love are the little snot-nosed brats who run around and ruin my attempt at a quiet day of learned enjoyment. If I had it my way, all kids would be given duct tape to put over their mouths when they enter the building.

Once the ceremony was over, people had the opportunity to interview people they’ve never heard of before, like the guy who came up with the concept for Vince and Larry. I was thoroughly bored by this and instead checked out an exhibit about a dude trying to pull a Model T across a puddle, with his bare hands.

Ahh, the good old days. You just don’t see commitment like that anymore. Now we’ve got OnStar and AAA, and we can call them up and whine when something’s wrong with our vehicles. I mean, do people even carry winches around anymore? Not to mention how few of us have jumper cables. We’re so lazy. And now we’ve invented cars to make us even lazier. They beep when we’re backing up to something, because apparently turning one’s head just isn’t done anymore. They parallel park themselves, (though, to be honest, most women couldn’t do it anyway, so why not have the car do it for them?)

I guess eventually we’ll get those cars from Minority Report, the ones that drive themselves and allow you to turn your chair inward to talk to your passengers (because in the future everybody will be forced to carpool, even if you’re just going to the grocery store.) On the bright side, this will make drinking and driving a whole lot safer, (though a lot less fun.) And when that day comes and I try to get women drunk to have my way with them (the finest move in my arsenal of seduction) they can’t use the excuse, “but I have to drive home” because safety technology will have taken care of it. And for that we should all thank Vince and Larry.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How Green Was My Thumb

The dirt accumulating under your fingernails. The cuts and scratches on your hands, arms and legs. The pain in your lower back from constantly bending over. The sun beating down on your head and neck, baking the muscles and tendons beneath your flesh. The salty sweat that drips into your eyes and blinds you, but you can’t wipe it away because of all the damn dirt on your dirty, dirty hands.

And those are the good parts.

Gardening. What’s that all about? We live in the 21st century right? Shouldn’t we have robots to grow our produce for us by now? That’s partly why we Negroes got out of the whole slavery/picking cotton racket--we saw the future and we knew robots were the way to go. (That’s a lot of foresight on our behalf)

And yet…and yet…people seem to like the back-breaking labor involved in running a garden. Some people do it as a hobby, some people do it to be able to eat, some people do it because they’re prepping for the end of civilization, but everybody does it for the end result: the fruits (and/or veggies) of their labor*.

My friend John recently got me into gardening. Not as much as he’s into it of course, I’m more of a fair-weather gardener. John, on the other hand, is so into gardening that he’s about two steps away from buying a bunch of Birkenstocks, growing some white guy dreds and living out in a smelly, unwashed commune with like-minded “Sons of the Soil”**.

John has a nice bit of ground in a larger, communal garden here in the nation’s capital. He was kind enough to share a piece of his parcel with me. So I’ve got about a 6 x 2 area in which to practice my cultivation skills.

Wanna know what I’m growing? There are literally tens of options! Like: tubers, cantaloupes, hot dogs, breakfast cereals, orangutans, marijuana, butter, etc. Being the neophyte that I was, I decided to go with simple, easy things to grow that even a ‘tard like me couldn’t mess up. Things like sticks, pebbles, pieces of broken glass, dead vines and dirt. I’m kind of proud of my dirt crop. It’s coming in nicely! I’ll have enough dirt to last until next summer.

I’m also growing squash, carrots, broccoli, green peppers, cucumber and radishes. It’s only been about two months, but I’m lovin my veggies. There really is no feeling like when you harvest your own veggies that you planted and toiled over and lovingly watered with the cheapest beer money can buy, (that’s a lie, I just drank a lot of beers then peed on the plants. But it seemed to work!) I mean, I’ve heard that when your first child is born, that’s pretty special too. But who are they kidding, you can’t eat a baby! (at least, not without the right barbecue sauce.)

Besides the tips I’ve already given so far (and that would be…no tips) on how to be an expert gardener, I’ll leave you with one more. People tend to go with all types of fertilizers, both organic and man-made. They use different soils with varied amounts of nitrogen, calcium and unobtanium.

Me? I just use the dead bodies of those who have wronged me. I have found that bill collectors and people who cut me off in traffic bring just the right nutrients to the soil. Also…elementary school bullies. (I say that in jest, and yet, why do I get the sinking feeling that this is going to come back to haunt me in court one day?)

*People who only have flowers in their gardens confuse me. They’re about as useful as people who make and paint wax fruit.

**Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He will be very useful after the Robot Uprising, or the Zombie Apocalypse, or if those Tea-Partiers ever gain political office.