Sunday, February 10, 2008

In-The-Field Manual 1: Emails

And Now, a Simon FitzKit In-The-Field Manual...

E-Mail Addresses:
Several Varieties That Just Do NetWork For Me

In the olden days of radio, television and Commodore 64 computers, there were only two modes of personal communication: telephones and letters.

This is not to say that talking face to face, HAM operating, Morse code, smoke signals, flashlight-blinking, drawing The Dancing Men, using Navajos in wartime, and body language were not around, per's just that for purposes of simplicity, this reporter will not be counting them as 'modes' of communication, but rather as 'medians'. A fine distinction that all lovers of mathematics are sure to appreciate. Tangent complete.

Both telephonics and epistulature allowed for decent-sized messages to be delivered from sender to recipient in a fairly timely manner, and this was due to one thing and one thing only:


When you found yourself wanting to contact a business associate of personal acquaintance via telephone, you simply rotary-spun their seven uniquely-stringed digits and added three more if they lived in some distant mecca like Chatanooga or Newport News.

And when you put your feet up on the desk and dictated to Miss Maxwell a four-page editorial that the Post never printed --much to the paper and the general public's loss-- you made sure she typed out an envelope with FIRST LINE: Name, SECOND LINE: Street, and THIRD LINE: City, State and Zip Code...possibly adding a fourth line if the letter was to be Attention of a particular individual.

However, today, the youths use "E-Mail."

Short for "Electronic Mailing System Using Computers Instead Of A Postal Service," E-Mails were created to make communication speedier and more readily available for perusal. However, somewhere along the way, people... got Stupid.

Take a look at these examples:

Obviously, 'unicornwomyn' and 'unicornwomon' had already been taken. And while it may be more genderally acceptable to spell 'womyn' with a 'y' instead of an 'a', there can be little argument that horses with a horn in their foreheads don't normally try to buck patriarchal oppression. People aren't going to easily understand your wacky alternative spelling any more than they do your wacky alternative lifestyle, so if your first choice was taken, change words, not letters.

Same thing to you, sir, with an added warning. Deleting letters is as confusing as changing them, and your choice of words makes contacting you that much more difficult. "Yes, please do E-Mail me, prospective employer. My E-Mail address is shit-kicker...only leave out all the netscape dot com. What's your E-Ma... oh I shouldn't E-Mail you, you'll E-Mail me? Oh. Oh, right then. Good afternoon."

Now, this young man went with the usually valid and admirable tack of making his E-Mail his name. However, he got a little carried away with himself... as it were. 'henrymarchester' would have been fine. So too would have been 'henry.marchester' or 'henry_marchester' or if that hyphenated last name is so important, go with just 'forrest-marchester'...but the full-on johnjacobjingleheimerschmidt treatment is a trifle too much. Just think of the poor PTA member who compiles the school's E-Mail list into a handy booklet. Think of how hard she has to work to format those columns to fit on one page-width. Think of how it takes more time to write your E-Mail than it takes most people to write the alphabet. Think on that, Henry Richard Forrest-Marchester...Think.

Too long. No clever phrase is worth the annoyance of typing it out over and over every time you have other things to talk about. Save that kind of witty one-liner for use as the case-sensitive password to your first apartment's Wi-Fi connection. Or, alternatively, learn embroidery and make yourself another be-sentenced pillow for your drawing room.

Hey! Brighteyes! Learn to spell. Meanwhile, your doppleganger over at '' has been spamfiltering all your party E-Vites...or has she been...accepting them? Om-in-ous-Chord!

Trust me on this, it's not worth it to only be the 494th person at to want to be contacted via 'bulbasaur.' Regardless of how kicking and radical his vine-whip attack may be, your friends aren't going to remember what number ticket you pulled in the E-Mail queue. If you've got so little fear of public humiliation, why not 'iambulbasaur' or 'hugabulbasaur' or 'bulbabulba'... or even 'istillwatchpokemon'. All equally pathetic but infinitely easier to recall.

No. You're not Angelina Jolie, and you're not going to trick me again. NEXT.

Now, this wasn't young AR's fault. It's the school's idiocy. "Want to email your classmates? All you need to know are their first and last initials...and a random 6-digit sequence." Plans are probably in the works to make these emails more readily available and more easily attributable to their owners, but that road, unfortunately, leads to bar-code tattoo parlors.

This reporter sees what you did there. "Scrambled 'EGGS' in 'BACON'"...scrambled eggs and bacon. Very clever. It's short, sweet, and at This reporter is all for it...except for the anagramming of EGGS into gobblety-gook. For you see, you can't tell people what your E-Mail address is. "It's scrambled EGGS 'n BACON at gmail dot com"? No. That gives away your joke, and your doppleganger over at will steal all your friends. "Anagram EGGS and put it inside BACON"? Too vague. "Anagram EGGS and put it after the 'a' in BACON"? We still don't know what gibberish anagram of EGGS to use. "Bahs-gehg-cohn"? That's the most promising route, but try saying it aloud and imagine having to transcribe it.

Oh, prattle. Now this reporter's just needlessly nitpicking; is possible the most bully E-Mail considered to date. Way to go, Basgegcon, you've won my admiration, and the official Simon FitzKit Piranha Trophy!

Until next time, this is Simon FitzKit...IN THE FIELD!

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Found via Sketch:

A Hobson's choice is a free choice in which only one option is offered, and one may refuse to take that option. The choice is therefore between taking the option or not taking it. The phrase is said to originate from Thomas Hobson (1544–1630), a livery stable owner at Cambridge, England who, in order to rotate the use of his horses, offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door—or taking none at all. It is analogous to the expression "my way or the highway".
In the 1980s there existed a restaurant popular with students in Cambridge (England). Its name was Hobson's Choice. The menu was... Dish of the Day.


Well, if they could get away with one restaurant so blatantly based on an obscure-reference gimmick, obviously, I can get away with far more than that.

Fine Dining For The Well-Informed

Come on down to MORTON'S FORK, the cozy little country cafe that's just off the beltway! Wikipedia says, "Morton's Fork is an expression that describes a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives." And here at MORTON'S FORK, our chef serves up all sorts of equally unpleasant menu options! Scrambled eggs drenched in vinegar! Peanut butter and banana soup! A goblet of menstrual blood! So many things on the menu, you'll have a hard time deciding. Because they're just that nasty.
PS: That logo is from the actual MORTON'S FORK restaurant. Yeah, Britain actually creates these things that I want to make fun of. God bless you, United Kingdom.

Or try THE STRANGE LOOP for some slightly different Italian cuisine. Wikipedia says, "A strange loop arises when, by moving up or down through a hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started." Yes, stop on by THE STRANGE LOOP, the home of the bottomless Spaghetti Bowl!

Or what about THE GOLDEN HAMMER, that fancy Chinese place right around the corner from wherever you live? Wikipedia says, "A golden hammer is any tool, technology, paradigm, snake oil, buzzword or similar whose proponents enthusiastically sing its praises. They predict that it will solve multiple problems, including some for which it is obviously not suitable." Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Bad dancer? Looking for love? Trying to better your backhand? Need to purchase some silver polish but only believe in the barter system and only have Odyssey of the Mind pins to trade? Then order the mu shu pork. We so good it hurt.

And for dessert, stop on by HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO, where it's always Buy-One-Get-One-Free Day at the bakery!

...Actually, that last one would probably be pretty damn popular.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


27th post in this new journal, on 2/7, my birthday.

Way to not even plan that, Simon.

Weird how my sidebar says this is post 25, but my dashboard says it's 27. (shrug)

I've been sick for the past 3 days, with a fever of --at times-- 104, and more congestion in my throat than on 1-85 every time I drive to Atlanta.

So it was not the 26th B-Day extravaganza I'd envisioned. In fact, at one point our neighborhood's owner came to the door and suggested I move my car just in case the water main "exploded on it." That's not my idea of a party. Although, I suppose it would technically qualify as a surprise shower.

I've been dreaming about 2 things:
1) Alias. I'm halfway through the 3rd season, and it's so addictive that if I stop in the middle of an episode to nap, my mind tries to create new plot lines to tie up all the loose ends.
2) Some kind of process that reduces things/people/experiences to cigarette-length Dr-Mario-style pills. And this is the disturbing one because it confuses me so profoundly --both in and out of dream state-- that I still don't understand the who or what or why of it all. All I know is that at one point, the only way I could solve the current problem was by letting my fingers act as a tiny person and climb a ladder built out of these condensed essence pills. I...just don't know.

In any case, this past year has been really great. I'm doing what I love to do, I'm getting paid to do it, and people like me again. It's nice having a lot of friends. I believe in psychological circles, this is known as the Norm Complex: the driving desire for people to call out your name in unison as you walk into the room. I'm on good terms with my sister, my parents are calming down quite a bit, the two-man improv group I'm half of got into DSIF, I've visited Atlanta several times and felt the love, comic books are pretty cool, and I own Rock Band, which makes me the most popular kid at all the parties.

...Here's hoping I don't die in my sleep tonight or something similarly O-Henry-ishly stupid.

Also, new entry up at Trouble in Parodies:
"The Fandom Menace"

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Red-Envelope Diaries: Parts 2 & 1

Before I start, I'd like to plug the newest parodies I've written over at Trouble In Parodies:
Parody of Bl├╝mchen's "Heut' Ist Mein Tag"
Parody of Gren Day's "Minority"

And now...

The Red-Envelope Diaries - WEEK 20:

As with most diaries I've owned in my life, The Red-Envelope Diaries (my disc-by-disc coverage of my NetFlix subscription) has fallen by the wayside. I felt the latest movie in my queue deserved a moment's reflection, and so I'll quickly catch up the list:
Children of Men: Good lord, this movie was amazing. It had the tone you'd assume the "Y: The Last Man" movie will have to have, and Clive Owen, as always, equals awesome.

Ocean's Eleven: Didn't watch it. I got it in the mail, opened the envelope, shrugged it off, and returned it the next morning. It just wasn't the right moment, I guess. It's discs like this that make me kind of wish I had a two-or-more disc plan. Enh.

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History: Got this to show friends who hadn't take high-school Biology locally. Had a rousing good time. Oh, Australians. Oh, pseudo-documentaries. Oh, psychedelic amphibian nodules. Also came with a short about a boring 70-year-old radio DJ who almost gets in a 60-year-old female listener's pants, but she falls asleep before he can play her record...oh, and he manages to blow up the lower floors of the radio station and fall in the sewer, but those are just asides.

Film Crew: Giant of Marathon: MST3K's cast mocks more movies. Not much to say on this, actually. I really don't understand why Mike Nelson isn't president or somesuch.

Blacula: A blaxploitation classic. For some reason, Blacula tried to save his love by putting her in the coffin where the attackers were sure to stake her instead of him. Way to be chivalrous, Dick-ula.

The Departed: Supposedly great. I wouldn't know because the disc sat on my shelf for 2 weeks before the Special Edition went on sale at Best Buy, and I just bought it outright and returned the NetFlix one unseen.

The Fountain: The Fountain of Youth + Hugh Jackman + Rachel Weisz = Awesome, right? I managed to get five minutes into it before deciding the music had set the most depressing tone I'd ever heard...and I turned it off. Then the disc sat on the shelf for a good month before I finally said, "I'm never going to watch this," and returned it.

Time Changer: Time travel + The Bible = a hilarious first-season MadTV sketch...or this movie: the most irritatingly hypocritical flip-flopping Christian tripe I've ever seen. And I watched "If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?" I did have fun mocking it at every turn though, especially when it talked about how all movies are the Devil's handiwork. Good to know, movie. Good to...heeeeeey,waibamimmip!

And that brings us to this week's acquisition: "Oldboy." The NetFlix description, for your benefit:
"With no clue how he came to be imprisoned, drugged and tortured for 15 years -- and no one to hold accountable for his suffering -- a desperate businessman seeks revenge on his captors, relying on assistance from a friendly waitress. Korean director Chan Wook Park -- a former philosophy student and Hitchcock devotee -- uses his influences to create a mesmerizing psychological drama with a resolution that will leave you speechless."

It sure did. It's the kind of movie where you read the summary and say, "Hmph. Seems like everybody and his uncle is a 'Hitchcock devotee' these days. We'll see if he actually uses any Hitchcock at all." And then you watch the movie, and you sit there and say, "The director of this movie must have 1) been a Psychology student and 2) really, really liked Hitchcock." So...uh... expectations met, I guess.

Or exceeded. Because the movie, as it turns out, is about
revenge-cest, which is --as you might or might not guess-- getting revenge via incest. I was not expecting that going into a movie about a man being kidnapped for 15 years, but then it's Korean, so how was I to even know if it would deliver on anything but the 'leaving me speechless' part?


The following is a reposting of Part 1 of The Red-Envelope Diaries, from another journal, another time, another corner of the interblag. If you've already read it, it's still the same as it was the first time.


Having signed up for a 1-disc-at-a-time NETFLIX subscription (to get a free laptop, cross-fingers-cross-fingers), I believe it is time we knew exactly what horrors and wonders lurk in the depths of the world's foremost rent-by-mail service (well, except for WeeklyRussianBridalPost, but they're a niche market)

Having entered all of my preferences and created a relatively short 40-disc list last Monday, I received Zardoz in the mail last Tuesday.

ZARDOZ (1974): In this cult favorite from John Boorman (Beyond Rangoon), 23rd century society is split into two castes -- the overly civilized Eternals and the barely civilized Brutals -- one of which is constantly controlling the other. The Brutals worship a huge stone figure known as Zardoz. When Zed (Sean Connery) begins to question the authenticity of this god, the film is able to offer some pointed commentary on class structure and religion.

I have heard (from reliable sources) that Zardoz is one of the Worst sci-fi movies ever made. Thus, I must watch it. (Actually, it probably means I must buy it, but for some reason, I've gone all thrifty in this instance.)

Regardless, it's a must-see, if only because Sean Connery apparently rushes at a Burt-Reynolds-lookalike frat some time during the movie.

Oh, hazing. Is there anything you can't demean?

Back to NETFLIX however. The disc arrived on Tuesday alright, but it didn't arrive "all right." In fact, the DVD wasn't just scratched or grimy, it was broken. There was an enormous crack that went all the way through the disc. I immediately filled out the online Damaged Disc form and mailed it back Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, they let me know they'd received it and that the Raleigh NETFLIX hub didn't have a second copy to send me for Friday (I'd actually have been more disappointed in them if they did own two copies of Zardoz locally).

My new disc arrived from Cleveland today. It is in good condition and at least the Main Menu plays well. I await other souls than myself to join in the fun.

Doesn't it sound like a sleep aid?