Out Of The Mouths Of Tweens

6/9/14

Cleanliness is near to godliness here at camp Mowgli

Cleanliness is near to godliness here at camp Mowgli

Out Of The Mouths Of Tweens

 

Dear Mom and Dad,

        I am here at camp where you sent me.  The counselors said we had to write to you or else we would have to go back into the hole.  Thank you for the cookies that you sent me.  Mr. Munchick said they were delicious.  I have learned a lot since I have been here at camp where you sent me.  Did you know that mole hide is easier to stitch than cowhide? Skyler K. said he saw Skyler B’s booby.  Ms. Helmooth said we are going on a hike tomorrow and said not to play with the balloons cause that’s what they were for tomorrow on our hike. When I get home can we have a lizard? There is a lizard here and he likes to bite us but when we put him in a jar he stopped biting us and then he went to sleep and Mr. Olemacher said to put holes in the lid. We play a lot of games during smoke breaks. Skyler N. is the best at face ball but doesn’t like it anymore when he gets bleeding. They taught me to swim this year and said because alligators don’t eat good swimmers.  Mr. Gimble said it’s important to keep a good routine and so he gave us a list of chores for each day here at our camp. On Monday me and Skyler S. have to be responsible for humping the bolts up the hill from where Mr. Lefty drops it off and then Mr. Gimble says to hump it up the hill. The rest of the week we play in building C but eat lunch in building C too.  Next week we are going on a nature hike to the hooch cabin. Ms. Benoif says the corn is not for lunch. I like when we got to roast marshmallows but Skyler T. says she is sad because all her clothes were in the cabin when it was set on fire. When we got here to camp they said we could pick which activity that would be good whatever we wanted. I started to do the bow and arrow until I shot the horse. Skyler F. signed up for fencing but stopped because he got splinters. Is my room still there? Next time I’m going to write in my journal but not the part about taking Mr. Stall’s bag of baking soda that I found in the foot locker when Mr. Stall was making me clean his room and then I gave it to the soda machine guy because he said he’d trade me for a soda but then Mr. Stall found out and got mad and sweaty. How is Scraps? Is he still making in mom’s shoes? I think it’s because he doesn’t like the newspaper because it’s a trashy left wing rag my counselor says. I miss my own bed because the bed here is crunchy and sometimes I pee in it and then it gets crunchier. Ms. Larson says to stop drinking milk before bed but she cries when she drinks her drink and I think it’s because she doesn’t have milk and her husband left. When I get home I would like some ice cream but Skiilär H-N says it has to be organic or else the earth will die because whales don’t have enough polar bears to eat so we need to get some organic ice cream and eat it before it melts OK? The doctor said that my arm will probably heal weird but then he gave me a lollipop. Did you know that poison oak is itchy? I tried it and it is. They have a dance again tonight but when I dance with Skyler A. she does it wrong and says that I am a twerk. I get sad sometimes because you aren’t here to give me time outs and my counselor says time outs aren’t as good as paddles but when he says he’ll give me the paddle he just hits me with it. Mr. Richards didn’t get a time out either because Skyler W. says he saw Ms. Kingston giving him the paddle after curfew when he went to the bathroom but it’s OK to go to the bathroom with a buddy after curfew but Mr. Richards didn’t get a time out from Ms. Kingston. Sometimes the other kids here get mauled by bears. Did you know ticks get bigger as they eat just like Uncle Herbert? When I was making my lanyard Mr. Lusk said I was doing it wrong when I was making it but he didn’t know that I was making a noose because that was what Ms. Larson asked me to make. Mr. Pillsbury is really good at frisbee because he can catch the frisbee every time but sometimes he drops it and then he says the words that make dad get in trouble at church. When we go out at night we have to take a flashlight because it is dark at night when we go out and we can’t see without the flashlight and also we smash snakes with them. I like mom’s bologna sandwiches better than the ones here because they aren’t as fuzzy that mom makes. I came in third in the canoe race and some of the other kids paddled at the waterfall and didn’t get a snow cone and aren’t here now. I hope when I get home you will remember me even though my clothes are too big now and Mr. Wurst says tape worms aren’t dangerous. I have to go now because it’s my turn to cut out the swooshes. See you in 3 weeks if we can meet our quota. Tell Tristan not to play with my legos.

Love, Skyler N.

Posted on June 9, 2014 and filed under General Waste of Time.

Citizen Tania

In an effort to build anticipation for my upcoming City Guide, “I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANCISCO AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY RASH” I thought I’d publish a short excerpt from the 1st chapter which details my early memories of the city. This week tells the story of Patty Hearst. 

So without any further ado (Since ado is fat soluble and one could overdose) I give you:

 

Citizen Tania

 

I remember my first crush being Patty Hearst.  I think it might have been the beret.  They’ve always done something for me.  Faye Dunaway sure was cute in Bonnie & Clyde; I had a little thing for Monica Lewinski; and wasn’t Che dreamy?  I’ve since learned that Patty and I have the same birthday.  It’s possible that this fact is the source of my affinity for the young lady however one of those Daryl guys from “Newhart” shares our birthday and I feel nothing.

Born Patricia Campbell Hearst (Which could have been a problem had her parents gone by the name Needleman), Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of Orson Wells’ ingénue/publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, great granddaughter of mining magnate George Hearst and great great granddaughter of post-mortem transportation magnate William “Hoke” Hearse (His son George would later win the letter “T” in a poker game and decided it would look “rather smart” at the end of his name).         

Patty was born in San Francisco and grew up on the Peninsula, which is what we call the mass of land that connects San Francisco with San Jose – from the Latin, “Peninsula” meaning, peninsula.  She went to boarding school in Monterey, California but returned home to attend High School in Hillsborough to troll for older men.  She struck gold in one Mr. Steven Weed. 

A math teacher at Crystal Springs School for Girls Weed was 7 years Patty’s senior and he had a smooth rap with the sophomores.  He was a tall and slender pervert with long blonde hair and a mustache that had been surgically transplanted from a baleen whale.  By the time Steven secured a teaching fellowship at UC Berkeley he had already been tutoring (As the kids called it) Patty for 3 years. He eventually talked her into moving in with him after instructing his affluent pupil about his version of sine and co-sign. 

According to Weed’s book, “My Search for Patty Hearst – How yelling ‘Marco!’ Didn’t Work”, the couple lived a quiet and contented life just a few blocks south of the Cal campus.  “…pleasantly routinized (Quoted from a teacher mind you) with our studies, movies on weekends, laundromat and grocery runs . . . we were just two people… in love and planning to be married.”  But this domestic bliss would be shattered on the evening of February 4th, 1974:  The two had just finished dinner and were now enjoying an eerily prophetic episode of the Magician (You remember the one where Bill Bixby is performing on-board the Queen Mary when masked robbers interrupt his act and his friend, William Shatner, is blamed for the robbery and the Hulk sets out to prove his innocence) when Steven answered a knock at the door.  The stranger was Nancy Ling Perry a San Francisco native and topless blackjack dealer (Which seems about right).  She was flanked by Donald DeFreeze and Willie Wolfe.  The three were members of the Symbianese Liberation Army or NAMBLA.  They forced their way into the apartment and beat Steven with a wine bottle, claiming it was an intervention.  Patty was in her bathrobe and slippers and protested the kidnapping asserting that she looked “simply dreadful” but to no avail.  She was tied up and thrown into the trunk of a stolen 1964 Impala convertible. (Remember that.  It’ll be on the test)

Patty was taken to an apartment at 1827 Golden Gate Ave. (Now a Starbucks) in the Anza Vista neighborhood near Alamo Square.  The original plan was to trade Patty for two SLA members who had been arrested for the fatal shooting of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster.  This was rebuffed by, then governor, Ronald Reagan in his famous “No dice” speech.  The group then took a populist tact and demanded that Patty’s father donate $70.00 worth of groceries to every person in California that was on government assistance.  Patty’s father responded that it would be impossible to feed everyone at the DMV and Caltrans.  Instead they decided to throw turkeys from the backs of trucks and the peasants rejoiced by beating each other up.  After three stabs at this charade all parties gave up and retired to their respective hovels and mansions.

Patty Hearst and Steven Weed in happier times.

Patty Hearst and Steven Weed in happier times.

After 59 days of the ordeal, Patty emerged from the world’s smallest studio having been abused mentally, verbally, sexually, physically, emotionally (Parenthetically).  In an audio tape she stated that she was now known as Tonia and would be joining the SLA.  The assigning of aliases was apparently step number one during initiation.  Donald DeFreeze began the tradition by taking on the moniker, “Cinque” – a misspelling of the name Herbert.  Co-founding member, Patricia Soltysik took the name Mizmoon after converting to Korean.  Another of Patty’s abductors (And soon to be inamorato), Willie Wolfe assumed the handle Cujo with the dream of one day fronting his own band:  Cujo and the Rabies. (Incidentally, Stephen King named his book after Willie Wolfe’s pseudonym and his magnum opus, THE STAND, was inspired by Donald DeFreeze.  Has anyone ever checked this guy’s basement?)  The couple that Patty had spent most of her time with, William and Emily Harris went by the names Teko and Yolanda because, let’s face it, Teko and Consuela would have just sounded silly.  The tape was accompanied by a photograph of Patty standing in front of a flag with a seven-headed spermatozoa while holding a home-made machine gun and doing her best Russell Ziskey impression a la GUTS Magazine.

     

Patty’s new career path was met with skepticism by most until the infamous video footage from the Hibernia Bank robbery on April 15th, 1974.  That afternoon the Hibernia branch at 1450 Noriega St. (Now a Starbucks) in the Sunset District was robbed by five SLA members, one of which was Patty.  Now she was on the lamb along with her captors.  The group relocated to Los Angeles where most were killed in a fire fight with the police followed immediately by a fire fight with fire.  The remaining SLA members, William and Emily Harris and Patty decided to summer in Pennsylvania fugitive country.  While holed up in a farm house North of Scranton the three began to wear out their welcome with their benefactors, sports something-or-other Jack Scott and his wife Micki (Micki too had slipped past the authorities when it was discovered that she was under FBI surveillance for suspected possession of fineness with intent to blow someone’s mind).  It was decided that a new group of Symbianese back in San Francisco should take care of their own so they returned to the Bay Area along with newly introduced sympathizer Wendy Yoshimura.

The new line-up consisted of the Harrises, Patty and Wendy, Kathleen Soliah as well as her brother Steven and boyfriend Jim Kilgore.  Michael Bortin rounded out the group on bass and backing vocals.  The new army moved from safe house to safe house.  One location was at 288 Precita Ave. (Now a Starbucks) in the Bernal Heights District where William and Emily were arrested. And then at 625 Morse St. (Now a Hibernia Bank branch) in the Crocker-Amazon District where, just two hours after the Harris’ arrest, police found Patty and Wendy hosting a Tupperware party.

Randolph Hearst hired famed attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend his daughter but since she hadn’t murdered her ex-wife and a waiter his courtroom magic failed him.  Believing that she had been brain washed the defense contended that Patty’s actions were a text book example and direct manifestation of Stockholm syndrome.  This condition, where hostages develop positive feelings for their captors, was first noted after the Norrmalmstorg (What? Are vowels mined over there?) Bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden in August of 1973.  In that case several bank employees were held hostage in the depository vault from August 23rd to 28th.  During the standoff, the victims became emotionally attached to their captors.  So much so that they rejected assistance from government officials, defended their captors after they were freed and retired to the South of France when each received a windfall inheritance from a long lost uncle.  Unfortunately for the defense it was noted during the trial that Patty Hearst was not Swedish but rather of Scottish descent.  It was therefore determined that, if she had suffered from any disorder, at worst it would have been a Glasgow head butt.  She was not only found guilty of armed robbery but also of being a filthy porridge wog.  She was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to tip at least 15%.

After serving just 22 months Patty’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter under the condition that she halt all oil imports to the US.  He then said, “Oh wait a minute” and hung up.  And in 2001, just before leaving office, President Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon betting on the off chance they might meet at one of John Waters’ Oscar parties.

I eventually outgrew my crush on Patty Hearst.  It might have been because of all the drama surrounding her life.  It might have been because I eventually matured and realized that it was just infatuation.  Or it might have been Valerie Bertinelli.  I wonder how she’d look in a beret.

 

 

Fun with Optimization #2

Fun with Optimization

Once upon time SK Morton wrote funny things.  Made website. Wanted people see funny website first. Did research. Said don't make read like sentence. Guess talk like Cookie Monster. SK Morton like walking too. SK Morton walk and talk and charge money.  Call it Lousy Tour.  Find hard to be funny without pronouns. Maybe put something in cookies. Make everything funny. Put in pronouns maybe make something funny - anything.  Me give up. Prefer cake.

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under Fun with Optimization.

There's No Right Way To Unwrap A Reese's

5/19/14

I believe it was Plato who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention, and we are lousy with orphans”.  There’s no doubt, orphanry can be fun, but when the gruel runs dry and the cardboard suitcase get wet it’s time to start thinking about the choices we’ve made.  Was it really a good idea to kill my parents? 

Protect Wildlife - Remove the inside flange from Yoplait containers.

Protect Wildlife - Remove the inside flange from Yoplait containers.

As in our day, Plato – the ancient academic who was raised by well-to-do politically active parents (Did Cal Berkeley have an annex in Athens?) – lived in a time when technology was making great strides.  However these advances were not without their downside.  The Greeks gave us such fundamental tools as gears, screws, rotary mills and screw presses but these designs would eventually be supplanted in importance by the less useful yet more consumer esteemed SPIROGRAPH.  Hero of Alexandria invented the first vending machine, which dispensed holy water. Eventually certain citizens pressured members of the Delian League to replace the holy water with organic gluten free coconut juice - Soon after, Hero went out of business.  And in 1900 sponge divers working for Scotch-Brite discovered an ancient shipwreck along the coast of Antikythera.  Among its cargo was a 2000 year-old Greek analogue computer designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses.  It also had Apps for a lunar calendar, spotting constellations and a game called Angry Griffons.  The excesses of Greek culture and its throw-away merchandising is what prompted Plato to write in his Socratic Dialogue, “Leeches Major”:

Socrates-               “The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live.”

Herpes-               “You can add Gaul Fries a and drink for just a stater more”

Socrates-             “OK, and can I get some extra Hemlock?”

Vitas Gerulaitis-  “We’ll take it to go.”

History has shown that once a people achieve a certain amount of affluence their concerns tend to turn to the inane.  The struggle for life’s basic necessities are replaced with an effort to exist in a consequence free pleasure zone where “cool” ranks higher than “useful” at the word exchange. Where creating things in the real world with your own hands is the title of a coffee table book. Where clearly communicated information takes a back seat to umlauts.  And where the designer’s credo is, “Form follows fads” 

For me it started with the button over the dial in car radios.  My first car made a lot of strange noises.  Not strange Léon Theremin noises, strange mechanical noises. After checking the oil (For bedbugs I supposed), the only thing I knew to do was buy a new stereo. Noises gone!  I loved that stereo.  It was a 24 watt, auto reverse, front/rear fader with seek tuning locks, metal-CrO/Normal tape selector (The metal-CrO was better because the tapes were see-through), pyramid phase equalizer (Which I think meant you could see the music?), LCD display, 12 presets and automatic key-off tape release – perfect for crankin’ some “Man eater”.  But all of that would have been for naught (From the Old English meaning about 30% off) if it weren’t for the dials.  Patented by IBM in 1949 the first dial took up 1200 square feet and weighed 4 tons.  With the discovery of smallness in the late 1950s, dials became the preferred method for washing machine operation, volume control and acquiring dollars.  That is until the button made a comeback in the early-90s.  Practically overnight, the button began to replace the dial in everything from radios to home appliances to personal computers (Which had also benefitted from the smallness discovery). Especially in the car stereo was this a problem.  Instead of a quick twist of the wrist to adjust volume or find a new station, we were now loath to identify the specially designed indistinct button and hold our finger on it, through all types of terrain, for as long as it would take for the stereo to acknowledge our endeavor and then proceed – slowly at first, then at the speed of light – to the desired result (More or less).  This, of course, resulted in inadvertent treble variations, discovery of not a few Spanish speaking stations, accidental radio face ejections and a couple of moon roof breaches in the rain.  Perfect for crankin’ some “Gangsta’s Paradise”.

Nowadays buttons and dials seem to have assimilated ergonomically and have found an equitable place for each.  But what generally refuses to assimilate into human culture is packaging. The ketchup packet is one of many types of wrappers found in the Genus: Sticky; Family: Single use; Order: Open with teeth.  Originally people complained about these packets but over time the public has learned the proper steps to get a dab on three fries and two sleeves and, somehow, the bottom edge of the table.

Another much maligned packaging system is the plastic clam-shell. Originally developed for use in birth control, the plastic clam-shell has since been utilized in multiple consumer applications, commercial air manufacturing for “black box” construction and, due to its virtual indestructibility and razor-sharp edges, has recently caught the attention of the defense industry.  While companies site a fear of litigation should a consumer become injured by the object inside the packaging, very little attention is paid to the dangers during product liberation.  Opponents argue that most of these manufacturers lobby heavily for the right to use the system but are adamant about restricting rogue countries like Iran and North Korea from access to the technology.

Of, course no rant about poor packaging design (Is that what this is?) would be complete without discussing child proofing. So let’s just consider this abbreviated.

Through all the clutter of chewing gum “Freshness rings” and two foot long CD boxes the greatest example of design apathy comes from our dear friends at Yoplait.  Contrary to popular belief, Yoplait is a French made yogurt.  It was developed in the late 1930s as a dessert substitute during the war owing to ice cream shortages and the fact that many Germans were lactose intolerant.  The container design was, likely, an act of defiance by the resistance.  Designed by the Marquis de Sade, the cup’s beauty is in its brutal simplicity.  The conical shape, which tapers at the top, provides for a good portion of material to be transported while very little of it can be consumed as few spoons are narrow enough to penetrate the opening and those that are possess very modest portion potential.  This feature combined with the concave bottom, which serves to trap a good 21% of the product, work in concert to render the attempted eater highly unsatisfied. Should, in desperation, the target make an effort to scrape under the lip of the opening with ones spoon the small, strategically located, fins frustrate the attempt leaving no choice but to attempt an oral offensive which invariably results in a bloodied tongue. Vive La France!

As one will quickly come to know with frequent visits to this blog, I think the problem is that there are simply too many people.  Too many consumers that just accept what they’re presented, too many job descriptions that include the words “designer” and/or “creative” and too many accredited art schools. I know Billy Joel says the old days weren’t always good but he’s talking about the 1960s.  The real good old days were the 1860s. Back when the phrase “form follows function” meant long johns with cut-out seats. When people texted only because the phone wasn’t an option. When men were men (Or at least 3/5ths men in the progressive states). When people didn’t waste money on customizing their Victorolla and they were satisfied with their piano. Perfect for crankin’ some “Ol’ Suzanna”.

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under General Waste of Time.

Fun with Optimization #1

In an effort to get more people to view my new website I have been told that I must optimize. (I just learned how to Zumba and now I have to optimize?) Victoria Edwards who has been working in social media for 8 years and currently works for a not-for profit health solutions company says that Carolyn Shelby, an SEO director explained that one should think of their website like a cake.  She said a lot more than that but, as has been my want since childhood, she had me at cake.  So here goes our first installment of:

Fun with Optimization

I like cake.  I especially like cake with humor blog all over it.  When I bite into a cake with little pieces of walking tours, I think to myself, “Self, You should write a book about San Francisco cake.  The kind of San Francisco cake that walks around and points out interesting facts about the city in a humorous way.” I Think I’ll do just that.  In the meantime I’ll be sure to be funny, excellent and radiant.  I’ll be some cake.

 

Next week:  A story about content, Performance, Authority and user experience and how they relate to cake.

Posted on May 12, 2014 and filed under Fun with Optimization.

Sisyphusing Around. My New Vocation.

5/12/14  

As I sit here this beautiful spring day (You can tell its spring because the homeless have begun to bloom as robins go through their pockets looking for grubs and stale lozenges.) I contemplate all of my poor choices in life and how they have conspired to bring me here to the outset of a new career – I’m going to be a blogger! (He says with the halted enthusiasm of Taylor Swift’s latest boyfriend getting a tattoo of his new boo).

St. Peter don't ya call me cause I can't go.  I owe my scroll to the blogger next door.

St. Peter don't ya call me cause I can't go.  I owe my scroll to the blogger next door.

At first glance, it seems to be a suitable fit.  I’ll finally be able to enjoy a beautiful day from the comfort of an air-conditioned office, I can indulge my penchant for froth ranting (Similar to the Kerouacian stream of consciousness but with more spittle) and there’s no heavy lifting.  The down side is that there are well over 91 billion bloggers active today.  And that’s just counting the paleo-cleanse blogs.  Incidentally, a quick Google search brought up almost 540,000 blogs about how to write your first blog.  I’ve decided to go with English and the hunt and peck technique.

The magnitude of my problem became clear as I sat down to write this very post.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said?  Maybe, “You know who'd sound great on this?...Bob Dylan“, or “Welcome back to the oxygen bar” or “Hold the bacon”? (That last one you may have heard if you’ve ever been an accomplice during a butcher shop heist).  The fact is there’s nothing new under the sun and given that fact I feel it’s warranted to plagiarize.

It’s not like I’d be the first to borrow somebody else’s ideas.  I believe it was Harold Stravinsky who said, “All the best ideas are stolen.” To which his brother Igor promptly took the credit.  With all due respect to Taro Gomi everybody also steals.  Think of Elvis, Marconi and Steve Jobs.  And do you really think Hitler came up with the plan to invade Poland on his own?  He totally got the idea from Shirley Temple.

Think about it.  If there were ever a haven for bootlegging it would be the world of blogs.  Links and likes. Re-tweets and re-posts.  There are blogs that are nothing but other people’s pictures.  And can we just concede that every attempt at humor by posting a list is just a hackneyed theft of Letterman?  Frankly, I’m a little concerned about posting any novel content.  Not just that it might be stolen but that my original expressions might get me blacklisted from the Huffington Post.

The real problem here is that, like many morbidly unoriginal men, I’ve carefully crafted the art of stealing jokes.  In high school a good joke was the only chance I had with girls once I realized that they don’t care for our breasts they way we do theirs.  Ripping off Eddy Murphy and Billy Crystal is how I got my first girlfriend.  Sadly, by the end of my freshman year I was empty.  Every joke, funny story and witty observation I had ever heard from actual amusing people had been used up in just a few precious months.  Soon her understanding demeanor over my repeating myself evolved into semi-polite toleration, then overt eye rolling, then open hostility and finally violence.  It seems that my delightful and amusing stories had run their course, as did my delightful and amusing jokes and my delightful and amusing observations.  Clearly she had seen all of the same episodes of MASH that I had.  It was the last time I made reference to “meatball surgery” that got me shivved.

Now, according to Mack Collier – yes that Mack Collier – wait, who? As I write my first blog I’m supposed to:  1. Make sure readers understand who I am and what my intentions are  (I’m SK and I’m here to make your daughter hate me).  2. Explain why I am blogging (To justify paying rent on an office outside of my home).  3. Explain what I will be blogging about (This is where it kind of gets a little fuzzy).  4. Let the reader know how they can leave feedback (Frankly, if I wanted to read other people’s stuff I’d understand DUNE references).  That’s all a little daunting and I’m going to need a swig of some literary courage to put out new material every week.  So with all of that being understood there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be lifting a joke or two. But don’t worry.  They’ll be obscure enough that you probably won’t even notice.

It all started when my friend, Who Sanchez, got called up from triple A to play first base for the Mets…

Posted on May 12, 2014 and filed under General Waste of Time.