Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The case of Man vs. Clown: Cracked!

Thanks to Jay Pinkerton and company, I've found a new home at Just in time, too; Blogger just added word verification to posts. Nuts to that, I say.

There's still some tweaking to do, but effective immediately, you can point your computers at

Update: It's not quite ready for prime time after all. In the meantime, I'm going to keep this notice at the top (which is why this entry is apparently written in the future), but keep updating this site too.

Further update: Okay, I'm totally all moved in at Cracked now. What are you even doing here? Go there. If you're wondering where the archives disappeared to, never fear; they're over there now. Apologies for any dead links. If you head over there, you'll be able to find whatever you're looking for. Go on over now.

Even further update: I should have mentioned this a long time ago: I moved away from Cracked and, instead of returning to Blogger, I changed over to Wordpress. This is my new site.

A PM with his head cut off

The big news this morning is that a suspect arrested in the recent busting-up of a Canadian terrorist cell allegedly plotted to kidnap and behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Wouldn't the terrorists have been surprised when sparks shot out of the neck, and the head just kept on talking?

This is Stephen Harper.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is Stephen Harper with his head cut off.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally), check out this screenshot of the ad I saw while looking up the lyrics to the Magnetic Fields' "A Chicken with Its Head Cut Off" at just now:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That's so gay

Whenever someone calls something "gay" in a pejorative way, I think of my old schoolmate and co-worker Ryan O'Keefe. Ol' Keefer was the all-time king of calling bad things "gay". You might say he was a real gaylord. Everything he didn't like was "gay", and sometimes it seemed he didn't like anything except the word "gay", which he loved.

This habit was bound to eventually get him in trouble with Miss Stamp, his English teacher, who was one of the many things he didn't seem to like and who, as it happened, was widely reputed to be a lesbian. Sure enough, the way I heard it, the inevitable happened. Miss Stamp said something Ryan didn't like—gave a hard assignment or something like that. Ryan winced and said, "Aw, that's so gay! Why do you have to be so gay?"

Then, as he realized what he'd just said and to whom, his eyes widened in horror, and with an "Oh, shiiiit!", he ran out of the classroom in panic.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A chance to take a swing at Alex Trebek

I usually skip the "Keeping in Touch" notes that my alma mater mails out, because, honestly, who wants to keep in touch with anyone from their alma mater (or even anyone who uses the phrase "alma mater", for that matter)? Nevertheless, I opened an e-mail yesterday to find out that my old pal Bruce Lin (who is Chinese and thus no relation, though I did make him an honorary cousin) is going to be on Jeopardy! on July 14 (or, as any trivia buff has already shouted out, Bastille Day).

I met Bruce back in my last year of high school at the Reach for the Top provincial finals at the University of Western Ontario in London. Reach for the Top—or as my old Golden Words colleague Adrienne Hurst, whom I also met at the aforementioned provincial finals, used to call it, Geeks for the Top—is a Canadian quiz show played by teams of high school students. In fact, it used to be hosted by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who's a bit of a dick.

Back when my friend Tim went to Carleton University (aka "Last Chance U", thanks to its low admission standards), he told me he was once watching Jeopardy! in a common room with some other students, and Trebek was interviewing the contestants, one of whom turned out to be a recent university grad from Ottawa. "You didn't go to Carleton, did you?" Trebek (an alumnus of the University of Ottawa, Carleton's crosstown rival) asked in mock dismay.

"Oh, God no!" said the contestant.

"Whew! Good!" said Trebek.

"Hey!" said every Carleton student watching in the common room.

Anyway, getting back to the story, my team bonded immediately with Bruce's, and he might have even been with my teammate Barry when the latter pulled a fire alarm and forced the dormitory where the players were staying to be evacuated that night, just as I was becoming the first player in Reach for the Top history to actually score with a girl.* (I did okay in the actual games as well. Exactly as we'd done when I was in grade 9, my team cleaned up on the opening day, only to get slaughtered in the first game of the televised round the next morning and end up with a fifth-place finish. We weren't morning people.)

It was only a couple of months until I saw Bruce again. He spotted my name in the program during our commencement ceremonies at Queen's University and came over to say hello. Not long afterward, he rounded up me and John Colterman, whom we'd also met back at the provincial finals, to form the Queen's College Bowl club. To be precise, we resurrected the defunct Queen's College Bowl club. To be even more precise, they resurrected the defunct Queen's College Bowl club, while I did sweet fuck all. (Having recently discovered girls, I was pursuing that avenue of interest.)

I fell out of touch with those guys long ago, but I do know that John has actually already done Jeopardy!, becoming half of the first pair of victims to fall to 19-time champion David Madden last July. So now that Bruce is doing it too, I guess it's probably my turn next year. But until then, good luck, Cousin Bruce. Unless the show has already taped, of course, in which case any Jeopardy!-specific good-luck wishes are kind of pointless. In that case, good luck in life and whatever.

* This was, to be clear, not Adrienne, who is very pretty but also very wrathful. I don't want to besmirch her reputation. The last thing you want to do is piss off a Hurst. Her older brother Steve once literally scared the shit out of someone, which is a story in itself.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How I would have wrapped up most episodes of Star Trek

Uhura: Captain, the terrorist leader has said that if their demands are not met, they will begin executing colonists every five minutes.

Kirk: Set phasers on stun, wide radius, and fire. Beam all life signs to the brig. Take a security team, separate all colonists from the terrorists, and beam them back to the surface. Set course for the nearest starbase and inform them we have prisoners in custody. I'll be in my quarters.

After a while, he could have abbreviated this to "Execute order Kirk One."

Friday, June 02, 2006

I should start numbering each edition of things I shouldn't have said

  • "Who's this manatee in the 'before' picture?"

  • "Lavalife is a sad catalog of human jetsam. Yes, I know you're on it."

  • "Your mum's back's still bothering her? Say the word, and I'll come by with some scented candles and flavored oils."

I am Peter Lynn

I got an e-mail very much like this one this morning:
06/02/2006 09:20 AM
Subject: see link


What he's telling me is that there's a guy in New Zealand with the same name as me who makes kites. This is the equivalent of telling Jay Pinkerton that he shares a name with the co-holder of the record for the youngest prisoner ever executed in the state of Texas. (Texans looking to break the record, take note: if you're older than 24, you're shit out of luck.) I know. He knows. We're the kind of dudes who Google themselves.

In fact, if you Google "Peter Lynn" right now without subtracting all kinds of terms such as "kites", "boards", and "buggies", you have to wade through five pages of kite-related nonsense before you find a hit related to me. There's an article titled "Peter Lynn is Furious", which really sounds like it might be about me, but isn't. (It's about the kite dude being pissed at the Guinness Book of Records for taking away one of his records and giving it to the Chinese, who incidentally achieved the first human flight on record when emperor Kao Yang forced prisoners to fly in giant kites; the first surviving pilot, Yuan Huang-T'ou, was rewarded by having his sentence commuted to death by starvation. There's one for you, Texas.) Anyway, believe me, I know about the kite dude.

There was a time when I didn't know. My first inkling that I might not be the only Peter Lynn in the whole world came back in university when some lady e-mailed my old Hotmail account asking for instructions on how to put her kite together. Why she was asking me, I didn't know, but I just made up some instructions and sent them back. (Take it from me: You never go wrong with "insert Tab A in Slot B". That goes for kite construction, sex education, and any number of other things.)

I didn't see an actual Peter Lynn kite in person for another few years, when I was playing frisbee down at the waterfront with Scott, and some guy was kiteboarding. There, in the sky, PETER LYNN was emblazoned across the fabric in huge black letters. That just didn't feel right to me. Unless you're receiving a marriage proposal via skywriting or a big banner being dragged by an airplane, it's an odd, violating experience to see your name written in the sky if you didn't put it there. If I'd had any ID on me at the time to prove I was Peter Lynn, I'd probably have tried to confiscate it. After all, my name was written on it. Last I checked, that's a rock-solid claim to ownership.

The point is: I know about the Peter Lynn kite guy. He's all over the web. Google loves him way more than it loves me. So he's basically my sworn enemy.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A brutalist's dictionary

"Peter, should this be 'inhumane' with an 'e' here, or should it be 'inhuman' without the 'e'?"

"'Inhuman', without the 'e'."

"What's the difference?"

"Well, 'inhumane' means 'not humane'—cruel or monstrous in a moral way. 'Inhuman' means 'not human'—animal-like or monstrous like an actual monster. If I were to stab you in the gut with my pen right now, I would be inhumane. But if I were to turn into a werewolf and eat you, I would be inhuman."

"I see. Thank you." [slinks off]

Can You Say ... Hero?

This has been making the rounds lately, but if you haven't seen it, here it is: A YouTube video of Mr. Rogers testifying before the US Senate.

One of the few work-safe things on describes the situation thus:

In the late 1960s, the U.S. Senate was considering cutting in half an important twenty million dollar grant for so-called "public broadcasting". Fred, not yet famous with adults, was invited to speak and submit a paper at the hearing. He would plead his case -- what makes public television different, why his program differs from cartoons and violence elsewhere on the dial -- and he would do so before the notoriously gruff and impatient Senator John O. Pastore [D] from Rhode Island. Pastore was the first Italian American elected to the United States Senate in 1950.

Senator Pastore: All right Rogers, you got the floor.

Fred Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement [motioning to a text copy of the essay he'd submitted] and would take about ten minutes to read, so I'll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust, and I trust what you've said, that you'll read this. It's very important to me, I care deeply about children, my first--

Senator Pastore: [interrupting] Will it make you happy if you read it?

Fred Rogers: I'd -- just like to talk about it, if it's all right --

Senator Pastore: [interrupting] Fine.

Fred Rogers: This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, "you've made this day a special day by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are." I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service.

Senator Pastore: [After a long pause] I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy. This is the first time I've had goose bumps in the last two days.

Fred Rogers: Well I'm grateful. Not only for your goose bumps, but for your interest in our kind of communication.

Fred spoke for about six minutes total, taking the time to recite lyrics from one of his songs.

Fred Rogers: Know that there's something deep inside, that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man.

Senator Pastore: [visibly misty and touched] I think it's wonderful. That is just so wonderful. Looks like you just won the twenty million dollars.

Spontaneous applause thundered throughout the courtroom. By that time, National Educational Television (the precursor to PBS) had already started broadcasting Fred's programs nationwide in black and white. MisteRogers made its debut on February 19, 1968. Eventually the show would be in color, Mister Rogers would be split into two words, and the set and furniture would be updated -- but only by small degrees to prevent emotionally sensitive children from becoming confused. Senator Pastore died in 1994.
As a chaser, here's one of my favorite pieces ever to appear in Esquire, Tom Junod's profile of Fred Rogers. It's called "Can You Say ... Hero?"

I can. Mr. Rogers was my childhood hero. Something about him really unnerved my mom back then, as though the soft-spoken manner was just a facade, and someday he'd reach his hand right out of the TV screen and molest me. But by all other accounts, he really was as good and decent and gentle as he appeared—a true rarity. More than one person called me mean yesterday. One even called me "a brutalist", and in fact, recent testing indicates that I'm 85% brutal. But I'll bet some of that other 15% of non-brutality came from something Mr. Rogers said that sunk in. He's still my childhood hero.

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