Questioning Gumby

The factorial of ipsolateral Gumby. Of all the questions I'm expected to answer during the course of my daily self-interrogation, "what does that mean in English?" is my favorite, especially when the question is couched in Latin. This gives me the opportunity to stretch out a bit before I answer, because if there's one thing a couch is good for, it's stretching.

As I get longer, I try to imagine what it must have been like for Gumby. How was his Latin? Did he grasp, ipso facto, the concept of stretching for its own sake, or did he entirely miss the marks? When company arrived, did he woo his guests with the occasional ipso factoid, or did he prefer the more intellectual tack?

How were his Latin math skills? Did he spend his free time calculating the ipso factorial, or was he more inclined toward the spatial computations required for analyzing ipsolateral triangles and their ilk?

All ilking aside, I don't think Gumby knew anything about French.


Absurdist Marketing

Many things seem absurd to a dinosaur. At first glance, my recent fascination with Groupon may seem rooted in the groundswell of coupon-based savings, a concept your father took to the bank on odd Thursdays when you were small. As you grew and developed, your mother became the driving force as she struggled to maintain the family's financial equilibrium in a world gone mad, especially during rush hour. While the hand signals she used to indicate lane changes hardly resemble the hyperventilated expressions of rage you and I have come to recognize as omens of small-arms fire, your mother's ideas about coupons remain fundamentally similar to her own, and those of your father's banker.

At second glance, my recent fascination with Groupon's irrational Guide is rooted in the groundswell of delirium that now seems poised to seep out among the fissures and cracks of a marketing strategy gone terribly rogue. Where once the words of our fathers drove us toward the clouded horizons of habituated advertising, this brave new wordplay carries the odor of a more promising tomorrow. Where have all the flowers gone? To the suburbs, maybe, and therein lies the rubber torn from the treads of your mother's smoldering tires.

I am proud—so very swollen—to have been alive to witness this renaissance. I said it once and I'll write it again: Invoking the evocative may be 98.6° of the battle, but sometimes you just have to glue multicolored mirrors on Carl Sandburg's hobnail boots.



The lunatic moon. If your work schedule forces you to sleep during daylight hours, the idea of sunscreen may seem, at first, to be little more than lumpy humbug. At second glance the preposterous concept shrivels even more, leaving a pile of desiccated ointment that, judiciously applied, is virtually guaranteed to leave your skin exposed to the harmful rays of the moon.

Unlike solar flares, the sonic tendrils issuing from the moon's internal organs can be heard, but not seen. For this reason, the value of subsonic filtering cannot be understated, overstated, or indeed stated from any angle that isn't divisible by zero. As any organist will tell you, the devil is in the last octave.

Though lunar flares are suspected in a variety of hearing disorders, suspicion isn't proof, and proof isn't always in the pudding we rely on to maintain youthful-looking skin. In a similar way, avoiding ear contact with the aural borealis is still the best defense against moon-induced tympanic attack.


Interdimensional Lawn Ornaments

My God . . . it's full of stars . . . no . . . wait . . . With the summertime barbeque season rapidly approaching from the west, it's a good time to prepare for the unwelcome guests who pop their heads over the fence just as your steak is bursting into flame.

For those slavering, howdy-spouting visitors, nothing says "oh really?" like an interdimensional lawn portal strategically located near your backyard grill. Pesky scroungers are immediately transported to a distant galaxy, where juice from sneaker laces is the preferred alternative to steak sauce.

More than mere ornament, an interdimensional lawn portal is equally useful during the winter months. By simply entering the coordinates of our own sun, you and your loved ones will be instantly conveyed to its warm embrace, even as your neighbors languish in February's frosty grip.


Underwater Breathing

No gills required. Summer is all about immersing yourself in liquid, which makes it difficult to breathe. Fortunately, there's an alternative to the unsightly gills your surgeon wants to install, and at a fraction of the cost.

1. Remove all perishable items from your refrigerator.

2. Unplug the power cord.

3. Roll your refrigerator to the edge of the pool while rapidly opening and closing the door to build an adequate supply of oxygen.

4. Push your refrigerator into the pool.

5. Dive in.

When you feel the need for oxygen, simply open the refrigerator door and help yourself to a bubbly load of clean, healthful air.


Channeling Wi-Fi's Hungry Spirit

Crowding in the network neighborhood

If you distrust five of your senses and the sixth isn't returning your calls, it may be that your environment has become sodden with microwaves. Too airy and hectic to be detected using old-school sensory apparatus, the microwaves that transport your digital diet through the walls and hallways of your neighbor's house are the same energy puffs your neighbor uses to meet his own daily requirements, which is just a fancy way of saying that the hood's available bandwidth is inversely proportional to its appetite. This is why your wireless router is such a reliable source of madness.

While many have approached this problem from the two-pronged vantage point afforded by inSSIDer and Nmap, diplomacy shouldn't be entirely ruled out. If your neighbor is a reasonable man, he will immediately understand how delusional he is to believe that there are eleven Wi-Fi channels in the 2.4 GHz band; if your neighbor is a reasonable woman, she will immediately see that there is room for only three. On the other hand, if both stream terabytes at 300 Mbps and laugh when you demand they use the 5 GHz band instead, it may be time to go home and rethink your stubborn refusal to give up your Tomatoed 54GL.

History bites its own tail, and technology never does. Radio silence will come again, but how many senses will you have by then?


The Best Christmas Ever

Adios, Santa. Same time next year? Like a drink of shallow water, the tardy gift that trickles in long after holiday spirits have gone to Bermuda only twists the knife, adding injury to injury and insult to the colored lights that so floated my boat only last month, when Santa was still a five-letter word. Little more than caustic reminders of Christmas passedon the shoulder with airbags deployedthey must now be disassembled in grudging anticipation of next year's display, if that even jives with the cost of oldfangled incandescent joules in an LED world.

Was it something I said, Santa, that kept your delivery at bay? Port 2120 was open, but no holiday packets arrived by land, by sea, or by way of any of the other 65,535 possible routes you might have explored on your traditional nighttime voyage, had you been able to see through your beard.

So westward ho, Santa, and the same to your mules and your deer as their compasses spin wildly in the ruined magnetosphere of the Triangle. Far from the cat's meow, travelling with an expired passport only begs the question-and-answer session that must follow when careful x-ray scrutiny of the private sector fails to illuminate its hidden agenda.

Having now broached the subject of mules, I could hardly be excused for neglecting the original point of this diatribe, namely, breeding down. While I'm certain the concept has been entertained by many, putting it into practice requires a special sort of personby which I mean someone whose head routinely grazes ceilings while remaining shrouded in mist, even on the sunniest dayin concert with another, much shorter but similarly special person whose head remains well below sea level. This combination, when it procreates, is generally believed to result in a Category Three Child-Unit, which is to say, a human being whose height is neither above nor below that recommended by the American Standards Society. Happily, this methodology is likely to be equally successful during subsequent breeding cycles, thus increasing the viability of the tribe by reducing its dependence on knee-walking, or step ladders.

For our part, we wish the Double A well as they embark on their great mountain adventure, even as we struggle to pronounce our new titles with so much spittle in the way. Nevertheless, Faux Pas and Faux Mas certainly suggest the quiet, dignified authority we have come to associate with our quiet, dignified personalities, and we will persevere.


"The person who doesn't scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs."

    Hunter S. Thompson