Ladies, listen up: there is something wrong with you.
And I don't mean that in the typical, tired, "men and women sure are different!" stand-up comedian way of saying it. I mean it in the way that a computer programmer would mean it. You have a bug in your programming that can be exploited by hackers to steal your identity, or turn your machine into a zombie. You have all been exploited. And that hacker's name is Stephanie Meyers.
I don't know how else to explain what has happened to the Suze. The Suze has previously shown signs of being compromised, but The Hills is mere adware compared to the identity theft that has taken place regarding the Twilight Saga. I do not understand what is happening to her.
My hate for these movies goes beyond the mere fact that I am not a 13-year-old girl. I find Kristin Stewart repulsive, and her acting is so bad that not only can I not enjoy it on an ironic level, I find myself compelled to leave the room while she tries to remember her lines. And when I'm not repelled, I'm bored. Is the fact that nothing happens in these movies some sort of meta-commentary on abstinence? Like, just like Edward and Bella must abstain from sex, the movie must abstain from entertaining the audience? These are the things that I ponder while the Suze is watching Twilight on HBO for the 7th time.
Here is an actual e-mail exchange between us.
Me: Eclipse is at 46% on the tomatometer. Compared to new moon (27%) and twilight (50%). Ebert gives it two stars, and at one point asks why Edward and Jacob don't just give in already and go brokeback.
What? No! Not awesome! Boring! And this is coming from somebody who not only records "This Old House" but also "Ask This Old House". I fucking KNOW from boring, okay?
And I haven't even MENTIONED the gender politics of these goddamned movies. Bella, the ineffectual heroine, who must constantly be protected by two supernatural beings, but cannot give in to her sexual desires or else she'll be either torn apart or turned into an undead monster. Also she can't remember her lines.
Do not try to defend yourselves, ladies. There would be no point. Your security has been compromised. You are all Twilight zombies.
Here is how I am responsible for the outbreak of tornadoes, including the multi-vortex monstrosity seen in the video above. I watched Twister* this weekend.
More specifically, I watched Twister while Suzi was in the room. MORE more specifically, the scene where Bill Pullman's pickup truck gets trapped inside a multi-vortex tornado. Incredulous, the Suze asked: "That's not a real thing, right? That doesn't actually happen?"
If you spend time around the Suze, you'll start to realize something strange. The universe has a way of answering her questions. At first, I thought it was just a coincidence. She asks alot of questions, after all, some of them were bound to be magically answered by the universe**. But at this point, I have accepted that this is a thing that happens. This is her super power. She asks a question, and the universe answers her.
So, sorry, Oklahoma. I watched Twister, Suzi saw the multi-vortex tornado, and asked the question. The rest was just a matter of time.
*By the way, one of the secretly greatest casts ever assembled: Helen Hunt, Bill Pullman, Cary Elwes, Philip Seymour-Hoffman (!!), Alan Ruck (Cameron from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"), the second guy from the "BOY! THAT'S A LOW PRICE!" commercial, and Daniel motherfucking Faraday.
**If you are wondering why there hasn't been an Answer the Suze in awhile, this is why. The universe answers her questions before I even get a chance to. Now that I bring it up, it almost seems like the universe is doing that on purpose, so I don't get a chance to answer them. Maybe the universe doesn't like my blog. Fuck.
Thanksgiving means two things: gorging on food, and an opportunity for pictures. I've taken more pictures over the year during Thanksgiving vacation than any other holiday. I think its the combination of family, and all the food that makes them too sleepy to chase me away with a stick. How else could I get great shots like this one of my dad?
The Suze is back with another delicious baking recipe. And this one is even more Hispanic than the last one! If you are into that sort of thing. We'll be making a Tres Leches cake, aka the Three Milks of Melquiades Estrada.
At least according to The County Line barbecue restaurant. This reminds me of the time I suggested that my fraternity hold it's spring formal at a steakhouse and call it "Fill Your Girl With Meat." Good times. Good, classy times.
Before we begin, I'd like to welcome you back home after your time
behind enemy lines at We Know Porno. Now, it is time to have a chat
with somebody who REALLY knows advertising: me.
There are lots
of reasons why somebody might watch the Super Bowl. Perhaps you enjoy
the athleticism, the brutality, the competition, the participation in a
culture-wide event, or maybe your husband forces you to. In any case,
I think its safe to assume that watching the Super Bowl is a respite
from the worries of every day life. At least, it is supposed to be.
Somebody forgot to tell the advertisers that.
Here is my rundown of ads which, to varying degrees, tapped into
the realities our particular economic climate (I believe the economic
thermostat right now is set to "scared shitless"):
calls a meeting to discuss ways in which they might cut costs. When an
intrepid employee suggests that they might save some green by not
purchasing Bud Light for every meeting, he is promptly thrown out of a
News of the bad economy has even reached our babies! They think we
should continue investing. This is why I don't take investment advice
from babies (unless, of course, they are Jewish).
Have you been dying to buy that new Hyundai, but you're afraid that you
might lose your job and not be able to make the payments? Well, Hyundai
has got you covered: if you lose your income in the next year, just
bring it back. Or keep it and live in it, whichev!
Apparently times are also bad in outer space - don't leave your moon
hires Carlos Boozer to show us how to go online and buy gaudy gold
jewelry for low low prices, which we can then turn around and sell on
Cash4Gold.com. This is the most confusing ad of the night: why is
Carlos Boozer showing children how to buy jewelry online? Where are
there parents? Why does he leave his Olympic gold medal lying around?
What is going on here??
There were a couple of ads that caught my eye that did not relate to the economy:
The mysterious meaning of G is finally revealed! (Or did you plan on blogging about this... somewhere else?!)
And, finally, this macho truck ad insists on repeated use of the
word "tranny". In an unrelated story, some words have two meanings.
So what of it, the Suze? Notice any trends? Or did any specific ads
do it for you (other than the Jason Statham one, obviously - he can
Transport me anytime, if you know what I mean*).
*I mean I'll have gay sex with him.
The Suze's take
This Super Bowl certainly brought us super bad commercial. And no,
I don't mean bad in a good way. I was less than unimpressed by 95% of
them. So I guess I'll be talking about the best of the worst here.
on the list was what I assumed to be a domestic violence commercial.
Can you guess which one I'm talking about? "Oh no. Look at the mug on
you. Diane you're a train wreck. That's why he only sent you a box of
flowers. Go home to your romance novel and your fat smelly cat...."
That's right gents and skirts, it was an ad for Teleflora.
Who the fuck cares if you get flowers from a box or in a vase? Really!?
I thought the the flower was going to take a god damn bat out and start
beating the poor woman to death, then apologize and tell her
"You make me do these things to you..." And as hilarious as we all think
domestic violence advertising is, this commerical just didn't make the
Second worst commercial of the night was Pepsi's MacGruber ad.
Guess what Pepsi? Not only does your new logo suck donkey balls, your inability to effectively market yourself makes you Coke's dirty
whore. (And I can only hope that Coke jizzes it's sweet carbonated
nectar all over your ugly face!) But seriously--use of a non-funny SNL
skit as the basis of your non-funny commerical and topping it off with the
aging Richard Dean Anderson equals BOMB!
Last on the list, I didn't LMAO with this NBC commercial.
Mainly because they listed 30 Rock as being funny. And, as we all
know... Well, I don't have to say it. Secondly, the intestinal and
bowel related problems associated with laughing one's ass off is pretty
disturbing to even think about. As least when they were done
reattaching the ass, they could wipe it with the
millions of dollars they used to buy that slot.
On that note, advertisers of the the Super Bowl, you get a wag of my finger.
That's right, the Suze has been blogging elsewhere. Now they are my enemies. It doesn't matter that We Know Promo happens to be run by the company the Suze works for and she actually gets paid for that blogging, or if its employees represent 80% of the people that I know in Houston, or 20% of the people who read this website. None of that matters, because we are enemies now.
If you clicked over to that website you may have noticed something interesting. The Suze was blogging about the mysterious, cryptic ad for "G". Didn't I already blog about the mysterious, cryptic ad for "G"? In fact, didn't my post even include a little pictogram too? That's right, We Know Promo. You got scooped. SCOOPED. You should change your blog name from We Know Promo to WE GOT SCOOPED. You got scooped like a Baskin Robbins next door to a Lane Bryant.
The Suze asks: There was a story on the news this morning about a boy who convinced his city council to remove an anti-hedgehog ordinance so that he would legally be allowed to keep one as a pet. Isn't this a terrible idea? Are there any such things as domesticated hedgehogs? Where do you even get one?
The boy in the story behind the Suze's question wanted to get a pet hedgehog after playing Sonic the Hedgehog. He successfully sued to have an anti-hedgehog ordinance in his town struck down. I can relate to this boy, as I had a similar experience in my youth when I was denied my request for a pet Metroid. But it turns out that, while they are exotic (and incredibly pointy), it is not as rare to keep hedgehogs as pets as we may have originally thought.
The International Hedgehog Association attempts to persuade you to join the world of hedgehog ownership with some of the following "fun" facts:
Hedgehogs do not give off any appreciable odor (as opposed to those smelly, smelly guinea pigs we used to have)
They can be easily litter trained
They can live from 4-7 years
No immunization shots
They are sometimes referred to as hedgies
There is no reference on the page to hedgehogs being particular fast runners, which I have no doubt will come as a disappointment to the boy in the news.
Hedgehogs can be purchased from breeders, or you could adopt one from a rescue organization. They are also sometimes found in pet stores. Maybe we can get one in time for the Milwaukee Hedgehog Rendezvous 2009! And yes, the result of my research is that I want a pet hedgehog. Look at his little face!!!
The Suze asks: Is there a difference between a nook and a cranny? And if not, then why do we use both words together?
A quick internet search reveals that there is no significant difference in the official definitions:
Nook: A small corner, alcove, or recess, especially one in a large room. Cranny: A small opening, as in a wall or rock face; a crevice.
The phrase "nook and cranny" originates, as does pretty much everything in modern English, with the Norman invasion of England in 1066. When the invadees and the invaders communicated with each other, they often would use both the French and English words for whatever they were trying to say. Nook and cranny both mean corner, but nook is from medievel English and cranny is from medieval French. Hence, "nook and cranny."
As for why this particular phrase has stuck around since then? I blame english muffins.
I asked Suzi what this recipe was called, and she didn't know. It is another recipe from Sandra, which means that much of the truth of this dish is lost in translation, including actual ingredients, amounts, and in this case, even the name. Credit Kevin with noticing the similarities between this dish and tiramisu. Layers of cookies, cream mixed with alcohol, and deliciousness. Bam! Tiramisuzi. I'll take it. And then I will shove it all in my mouth, because it is delicious.
This is the recipe moment you have all been waiting for. Oh, yes: table cream is back. And it brought a friend.
As you may have guessed, I'm typically a big fan of giving and receiving presents at Christmas. However, this year, Suzi and I are asking that you do not buy us anything. Please consider the following:
Suzi and I are spending a not insignificant amount of money on plane tickets to fly from Houston back to the Northeast to spend this Christmas with you. Therefore, we do not feel that we can take on the added expenditure of Christmas presents. So, if you buy us presents, we will have nothing for you. That will make us feel bad. Specifically, it will make the Suze feel terrible, and if the Suze feels terrible then we ALL feel terrible.
Houston is warm. Right now it is 70 degrees out. The Northeast is cold. Last I heard, it was actually a frozen hellscape of ice and snow and death. Therefore, we will be packing bulky sweaters, jackets, coats, hats, mittens, scarves, thermal underpants, boots, and possibly blankets. Also, we do not want to check our bags. Our bags will be completely full. There will be no room to pack the presents that you should not buy for me. I will have to leave them behind.
And, finally: the task of instructing all of you to not buy presents has been given to me by Suzi. If you buy us presents, it means that I have failed. Please do not make a failure out of me. The best present you can get me is to not get us presents.
The Suze asks: Hey, my kolaches just came out of the microwave, but one is hot while the other one is cold. What gives?
What gives is that The Kolache Factory doesn't have a rotating platter in their microwave ovens. Microwave ovens, as you might have guessed, heat food by emitting microwave radiation into the cooking chamber. Microwave radiation is defined as that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths from a millimeter to a meter in length. This places it, in terms of wavelength, in between infrared and radio waves.
Follow closely, as this shit is about to go science on you: the manner by which energy is absorbed from the microwave radiation into your food is called dialectric heating. Water is a dipole molecule. That means it has a positive charge at one end, and a negative charge at the other end, like the magnet on the right. When the microwave radiation passes through the water, the water molecule rotates like a magnet trying to align itself along the direction of the radiation. Because the microwave is pulsating, the direction of the alignment changes, causing the water molecule to rotate. This rotation generates heat, cooking your food.
Okay, so now we know how the microwave is working: but why did it only cook one kolache and not the other? Because the microwave energy is not distributed evenly throughout. Here comes the science again: microwaves are like waves in the ocean, with a crest (the top part of the wave) and a trough (the bottom). When microwaves cross each other, it creates interference. The interference can be destructive (when a crest meets a trough) or constructive (when two crests or troughs meet). Where it is destructive, there is less energy. Where it is constructive, there is more energy. This destructive and constructive interference within the microwave chamber creates, for lack of a better term, "hot spots".
That is why most microwaves these days have rotating trays. As the tray rotates, different parts of the food move through the hot spots, allowing the food to heat more uniformly. But at The Kolache Factory, their microwave had no rotating tray. So one kolache, sitting in a hot spot, was nice and warm. The other, which was not in a hot spot, remained cold. And you, the Suze, were left with one cold, cold kolache.
While watching the Panthers/Buccaneers Monday night game, the Suze asked: Why do the referees use hand signals to indicate penalties? Don't they have microphones?
The answer is not, as I originally stated, that the NFL has a larger-than-usual following among deaf people. Instead, the answer is a combination of utility and tradition.
Here's the utility: When football was started and microphones were not available, the hand signals were necessary as a way for the referees to signal to the press box and the coaches on the sideline what penalty had been called. The hand signals are still used in that capacity today - you may notice, the Suze, that the referee will signal the penalty to the sideline before announcing it over the PA system. This gives the coach the opportunity to indicate whether or not they want to accept the penalty (on procedural penalties where the coach will not ever decline, such as a false start, this step is skipped). The hand signals are also used exclusively in football games throughout the country at the high school level and below where microphones are not available to the refs.
However, you, the Suze, are not at a high school game, and you are not the coach on the sideline (although I would absolutely LOVE to see that). So why do you need to see the hand signals? Tradition, plain and simple.
The Suze asks: "Why do we call homeless people hobos? Where does that word come from?"
First, let's get one thing straight: most of the people we call hobos are not actually hobos. They are either tramps or bums. Yes, there is a difference. The guys we see sitting under the overpasses? Those are bums (or, in the parlance of Houston, "campers"). They are non-itinerant non-workers. A tramp is an itinerant non-worker. They travel, but they are not doing so to find work. A hobo is an itinerant worker. They have no home, so they travel from place to place looking for work. They are the most noble of all homeless people. Also? Bindles.
So you and I, the Suze, call those people hobos because we are using the word incorrectly. However, why are actual hobos called hobos? Nobody knows for sure, but there are lots of theories.
It could be a contraction of a two word phrase used to describe them. Some examples: Homeward bound. Houston and Bowery. Hoe-boy. Hopping boxcars. Homus bonus (latin for good man). Homeless body.
It could come from the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, which was a large railway hub in the late 19th century (note that much of hobo lore is centered on the railroad, as this was the preferred mode of travel of your average hobo).
The bo could be an adaptation of either boy or beau; thus, the word hobo would be a contraction of the greeting "Ho, boy!" or "Ho, beau!"
"[i]n the course of my study of the Japanese language for military purposes, I came upon the word hobo. In the Japanese, hobo is plural form of ho [which means]
'side'. In the plural it takes the meaning 'all sides' or 'everywhere'.
As the meaning seemed to fall in so closely with the current American
idea of hobo, I at once felt that here was the original form
of the word.... The word originated on the western coast of the United
States. This lends further color to the theory of its Japanese origin."
The Suze asks: Have you noticed since we moved to Houston that every fast food place uses styrofoam cups instead of those wax-coated paper ones? Whataburger, Sonic, and even the little Greek deli down the street uses them. What gives?
What gives is that it is hot as fuck down here most of the time. Styrofoam insulates better than paper. When you go to Whataburger, and you get a hamburger that is so enormous it takes you 45 minutes to eat it, you don't want your drink to be warm by then. So out with the biodegradable but poorly-insulating paper cups, and in with the well-insulated, last-until-the-end-of-time Styrofoam cups.
You and I both figured this was the answer when you asked the question, the Suze, but I decided to do a little research just to make sure. Instead I found this:
"This has nothing to do with the Hurricane. We had a
resident who had an outstanding balance for over a month and no one
could get ahold of her. The Bookkeeper went inside after so many tries
to leave a note and this is what we found.
The pictures do NO justice. There is suppose to be 2 cats living
here but we cant find them (we think they're dead somewhere inside the
apartment-we contacted the SPCA). The place REEKS to say the least, i
gagged non stop."
I am NOT going to put any pictures on my site. If you insist on taking a look at one, this is the least disgusting one. And for the love of God, make sure you didn't just go to lunch and eat a Whataburger Thick & Hearty burger before looking at any of these, because it will make you feel very badly in your tummy.
Watching the election last night, it became clear very early that things were going to go well for Barack Obama. The only holdout was the Suze. She refused to believe that it was possible that he would win. "Remember how we thought Kerry was going to win? Remember how that felt? REMEMBER?!?" she said at least half a dozen times. Each time a critical new state was called for Obama - Pennyslvania, Ohio, Michigan - Suzi would tell us not to count our chickens before they hatched. Actually, that's what she said the first couple of times. By the end of the night, she just stuck her finger out at me and Kevin and cried, "Chickens! CHICKENS!!"
After watching video and seeing pictures of some of the celebrations that took place after Obama's victory last night, I know exactly how she felt. He's been elected, yes. But that was the easy part. Now for the hard part: delivering on all the promise and hope that people have invested in him. And the only thing more historically significant than our election of the first black president is how historically fucked up our country is at this moment.
The election is only the first part. Obama and this country have a long way to go. Chickens! CHICKENS!!
The Suze and I are back in upstate New York this weekend for the celebration of the 60th anniversay of the founding of the RPI chapter of Alpha Chi Rho fraternity. We spent over six years living in New York's Capital Region, and during that time we each made our own mark.
Suzi's mark was a bit more permanent than mine: she spent a year as one of the stars of Albany's favorite public access television show, The Media Zone. On the occasion of our triumphant return to Albany, please to enjoy some footage of Media Zone: The Suzi Years.
[Uh... I guess if you actually want my advice, e-mail me here... ]
I'm an early twenty-something guy, and I've been with my girlfriend for 2 years now. On the surface, everything seems fine, only I find myself wondering whether this is really the relationship for me. I get the impression that you have a successful relationship with your wife Suzi, and I was wondering: how did you know that she was the "best" for you? And how do you make the differences in your personality work?
- Confused in California
Uh... so you actually want my advice? You've read my previous columns, right? I'm kind of a dick to everyone who I give advice to. Also lots of people I don't give advice to. You still want my advice? Very well!
I struggled with this question at first. I was thinking of how to address the question of how I knew Suzi was "best" for me, because I never really thought of it like that. I wanted to come up with a way to say that Suzi wasn't "best" without making it sound like I settled for her, because that isn't what I mean. What I mean is that I didn't approach my relationships by trying to maximize the girl potential, but rather find someone I could be happy with, blah blah fucking blah blah, right?
Suzi took a look at this question, thought for 5 seconds, and gave me the correct answer: "He's afraid of commitment."
Forehead slap, right? Of course that's the answer. 20-something guy, in a serious relationship, possibly for the first time, starts wondering if this is the "best" girl he can get... you are afraid of commitment! So now that you have your answer, see if that changes the way you think about your relationship.
[WARNING: The following article contains an artist's rendering of a penis.]
From elementary through middle school, I used to play an instrument. I was a trombone player - or, to use the technical term, a tromboner. I didn't realize how uncool it was to be a tromboner at the time. If my parents loved me, they would have taken little Jesse aside and said, "Hey there, little Jesse. It's great that you want to play an instrument. It will help your physical dexterity and mental acuity, and studies show you'll do better in math and science. But if you pick the right instrument, not only will you get those benefits, you'll get another one: pussy. More pussy than you can shake a stick at, and all the colors of the rainbow. But you don't get pussy with a trombone. Play the guitar, or the drums. Or if you like fat girls, the bass. But don't play the trombone."
But my parents didn't love me enough to give me this sage advice. And if the popularity of the Guitar Hero/Rockband franchises is any indicator, I'm not the only one. This whole playing-plastic-instruments-in-your-living-room thing is really taking off. I never got into Guitar Hero, mostly because I stink. I can play it on easy, with three fret buttons. As soon as that fourth fret button was introduced I fell apart faster than Alex Rodriguez in a playoff game.
But Rockband is different. Why? Because I can play the drums, motherfuckers!
And now it is on. We're getting the band together. Suzi on lead vocals, me on drums, and Kevin "The Slasher" Cavnar-Johnson on guitar. We're holding auditions for a bass player in the greater Houston area.
So there is one last question to answer: what to name our band?
There was an early frontrunner with the name "Fat Chick Sperm Bank." Unfortunately, this name was unable to power its awesomeness through the XBox Live content filters. This is additionally tragic because Suzi made us a couple of logos which completely shattered my Awesometer.
So, what should we do? Stick with FCSB? Try to push it through with some variation, like Fat Chick Sp3rm Bank, or Fat Chick Spernn Bank? Some other options are posted in the new poll on the right.
In the meantime... that's right ladies, I'm with the band. Want to see my dressing room?
The Suze and I move alot. Since we got our first apartment in 2003, we've lived in 5 different places in a little over 5 years. I know what your thinking. Well, you're thinking two things.
1) What the hell is your problem?
2) How do you decide where your next whim will take you?
Excellent questions, both of them. If only I could answer the first one. The second one is a little easier. See, we only have a couple of criteria when it comes to choosing a place to live (and when I say "we", I of course mean Suzi). The most important of these is, can Suzi walk places?
The Suze looooves walking around. Mmm, nothing finer than going out in the sun and walking for hours with no particular destination in mind! And yet, walking is not enough. Even though we usually end up just walking for the "fun" of it, the Suze requires that there be potential destinations should she decide that she suddenly wants to go into a store.
Anyplace we might live needed to be assessed by the Suze for walkability. This was done through an extensive process of driving around aimlessly, identifying areas that might be "cute", and making snap judgments on basically no information. It is one of the many things about moving that makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a staple remover rather than move again. Ever.
Thankfully, those days might be behind us, thanks to this website. You enter an address, and it rates the walkability of the surrounding areas on a score from 0-100. Some places of interest (well, to me, anyway):
My current residence in Houston: 72/100 (very walkable)
The lowest walking score we've ever had? 52/100 (somewhat walkable) in our first apartment out of college.
The highest score was when we lived in downtown Albany.
When we moved to Texas, we had a choice between Houston and College Station. The place we almost moved to in CS? Only a 38/100 (car-dependent). Blech.
And mom and dad, if you're wondering why we don't visit more? You guys got a 22. Although the bears don't seem to have a problem walking around. Just sayin.
[Scene: At the hotel pool of the downtown Atlanta Marriott. It is my niece Deja's 10th birthday. After pizza and cake, the adults sit around the tables while the kids play near the pool. At the party are Suzi's 4 sisters - Selma, Sueli, Sandra, and Sheila - Suzi's parents, Sandra and Sueli's husbands, and Sandra's son Junior, who is graduating from Georgia Tech the next day.]
Selma: So, who is everyone voting for? I'm voting for Hillary.
David, husband of Suzi's sister Sueli: Well, if she doesn't win, the Democrat's can always have one of Bill's girlfriends run. [David and Sueli are big Republican supporters]
Suzi: [indignantly] You know what? My president can get as many blowjobs as he wants as long as he doesn't fuck up the economy and the war. Okay?
[a few moments of stunned silence ensue]
Sandra: You know, when I first moved to this country, I thought a blowjob was what the guy who blows the leaves around was doing. I used to say, "That guy out front with the blowjob is so loud!"
Everywhere we go in New Jersey I see Boylan Soda. Is that made around here or something?
Yes, although the reason you probably notice it everywhere, the Suze, is that Boylan soda has an awesome looking retro-style label.
According to the company's website, Boylan is located in Moonachie, New Jersey, about an hour drive north from Red Bank. They have previously been headquartered in Haledon and Clifton, also in New Jersey. Their signature product is birch beer, developed over 100 years ago by William Boylan in Paterson, New Jersey. If their birch beer is sold in Paterson today, it is probably as a 40-ounce.
And what exactly is birch beer? Why is it called beer? Is it made out of birch trees?
Close. Birch beer is a soft drink distilled from the sap of birch trees. There are distinct flavors of the beer, depending on the specific species of birch tree that the sap is drawn from. The distillation process used to make birch beer (or root beer, or ginger ale) is similar to the process that beer is made from. In fact, these kinds of soft drinks even have alcohol in them. Just not very much. The length of distillation dictates the level of alcohol, and birch beers are less than one percent alcohol by volume (not even enough to get me drunk).
During my recent expedition to the Amazon, I discovered a new species of land beast. Its distinguishing characteristics are as follows:
- a bushy coat - a sassy temperament
If this creature becomes agitated, it can be placated with episodes of The Hills or America's Next Top Model. Agitation is noticeable by an inflation of the hair follicles. Click here for some of my nature photography capturing the Puffersuze in the wild.
The Suze asks: If Dikembe Mutombo is from Africa, how did he end up in the NBA?
For those that don't know, Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo is a 7 foot 2 inch tall NBA center who actually has the name I just wrote, I didn't make it up as a joke about how Africans have funny names. In addition to being one of the most dominant defensive players of all time and having a voice that sounds exactly like the Cookie Monster, Dikembe has one of the greatest track records for humanitarian work in all of professional sports.
His crowning achievement is the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, a $29 million, 300-bed hospital near his hometown of Kinshasa. Of the $29 million, $15 million was donated by Dikembe personally; the hospital is named in honor of his mother, who died of a stroke in 1997.
What does this have to do with Dikembe, a native of the Congo, showing up in the NBA? Well, he originally showed up on the basketball radar at Georgetown, where he was attending school with hopes of becoming a doctor on a USAID scholarship. As fate would have it, John Thompson, the basketball coach at the time, just assumed that a 7 foot tall black man would be a good basketball player. What a racist.
And what is the origin of the word eavesdropping?
Well, I don't exactly see what the two questions have to do with each other, but whatever. The original definition of eavesdrop is "place around a house where the rainwater drops off the roof" (from "eave", or roof overhang, and "drop", which is a, uh, drop). An eavesdropper would be someone who would stand at the walls or windows of a house to hear what's going on inside. This definition has since drifted away from someone standing at the walls to anyone who stands near a conversation to overhear what is being said.
[Scene: A windy night, driving home from tango class. We stop at a light, and the traffic light poles are swaying violently back and forth.]
Suzi: Wow...I don't think they are supposed to move that much.
Me: Actually, they are designed to give. If they didn't they'd be much more likely to fracture or collapse.
Me: Yeah, tall buildings are the same way. In an earthquake or a hurricane, the buildings are designed to sway back and forth without falling down.
Suzi: [surprised] Huh.
Me: Yeah. My high school physics teacher told me that the World Trade Center used to sway back and forth several feet because of the sun. In the morning, the sun would heat up the east side of the building and the metal would expand on that side, and the building would lean like this [hand motions indicating leaning to one side], and then in the afternoon, the other side would heat up, and it would lean the other way.
[A few seconds go by]
Suzi: Yeah...I guess they couldn't design for those planes, though.
[Scene: At my desk, 2:30 in the afternoon. My cell phone rings.]
Me: Hello? [Over the phone] Suzi: Hi, it's me, I have a question. Me: Okay... Suzi: Was Helen Keller blind and deaf? Me: Yes. Suzi: Really? Me: Yes...where are you? Suzi: I'm walking home, and I was just thinking to myself, Helen Keller wasn't blind and deaf, was she? Me: She was. Suzi: Wow...if I was blind and deaf, I'd want someone to kill me. Okay, see you later!
[Scene: In the car, on Rte. 35. It is dusk, and the Suze and I are going to dinner. She has just finished a conversation on her cell phone.]
Me: Who was that?
Suzi: Oh, that was my mother. She finally figured out how to get around my website.
Me: What did she think?
Suzi: She really liked it, although she had some comments about my resume.
Me: She was able to read your resume? [Suzi's mother was born in Brazil and still struggles with English]
Suzi: Yeah, I guess so. She laughed when she read the part about how I'm fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. [Suzi is often derided by other members of her family for not speaking Portuguese as well as they do.]
The Suze wants to know: "Why is Newark, New Jersey called the Renaissance City?"
Don't we all, the Suze.
Renaissance is a fancy-pantsed way of saying revival. So, Newark is the Revival City. Let's start by considering what Newark is reviving from.
Well, here's something: for 6 days in July of 1967, riots ripped through the city, leaving 26 people dead, 725 injured, and causing millions of dollars in property damage.
Newark was not alone in the summer of '67. The Newark riots were joined in July of '67 by civil unrest in Plainfield, NJ; Memphis, Tennessee; Durham, North Carolina; Cairo, Illinois; Cambridge, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Boy, it was must have been tits-hot in 1967.
Of course, LA burned for a month in the early 90s, and it seems to be doing just fine these days. So, it wasn't just the riots. In the early part of the century, Newark had a huge manufacturing base -Newark was once the "patent leather capital of the world". Iron, plastics, and all sorts of industrial goods were made there. Westinghouse and Edison both had operations there. So what happened?
Well, good news for you, the Suze: you can blame whitey. As urban centers grew through the 20th century, upper and middle class whites began moving out in a phenomenon historians call "white flight." No, I'm not making it up. Look it up, the Suze - just click here. Okay? It's real. Let's move on.
White flight resulted in a collapse of Newark's industrial base, which in turn left a poor population and an extremely high crime rate. This same pattern was seen in many former industrial cities; in addition to Newark, the cities of Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Cleveland all lost over half their white population at one point. It is not exaggeration to say that Newark was at one point, the worst city in America.
So, we've covered why Newark went in the toilet, but Renaissance also means that it is coming back. Where's the evidence of this?
Well... they built the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in 1997. And, uh, there's a baseball stadium. And some light rail. Whatever, Newark is still a shithole. But, hey, they went 47 days without a murder to begin this year. So let's all give Newark a clap on the back for that.
It has come to my attention that, occasionally, ObscureCraft.Net isn't enough, and people like to read other websites. Well, I figure, if I am not going to be the sole provider of your internet consumption, I can at least show you some content that I wish had been mine in the first place.
First and most importantly, the new suzidesigns.com: great website, or the greatest website?
Larry David fears that the rigors of campaigning might be too much for Hillary. Either that, or his recent marital problems have left him bitter and resentful towards women.
Lets take a break from bemoaning the impending end of "The Wire" (...bemoan...) this Sunday to hear the writing staff's plans for a War on the War on Drugs. Oh David Simon, what doesn't make you furious?
And finally, what do you get the Mac enthusiast that has it all? Its a trick question! Because that Mac enthusiast doesn't have it all until he or she has one of these:
Welcome back to Answer the Suze. This time, the Suze wasn't able to limit herself to just one question - no surprise there - so lets knock out some quick ones.
How is sherbet different from sorbet?
Actually, the Suze, there is no difference. Sorbet is just French for sherbet, and the words can be used interchangeably. However, instead of sorbet, I propose that we start calling it "freedom ice cream".
How did Magic Johnson get the AIDS?
There are 3 major ways to get AIDS (well, 4, if you think it can be transmitted through sweat and tears like Senator Dr. Bill Frist, R-Tennessee).
- Sharing needles with someone who has AIDS - Receiving a tainted blood transfusion (also known as the Ashe Method) - Sexual intercourse with an AIDS infected partner
Magic Johnson got it the last way, although its up to you whether or not you believe his story of a single extra-marital discretion with another woman. Sounds pretty unlikely. Pretty, pretty, pretty unlikely.
Why is it named the Tappan Zee Bridge? That's a stupid name.
Well, the Suze, I'm sorry to say, but that's because you are a racist. The name Tappan Zee is Dutch for, uh, Tappan Sea. The Tappans were a Native American sub-tribe of the Delaware/Lenni Lenape. At least they were, until they were wiped out, probably by other people who also thought they had a stupid name.
And for the record, its full name is the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. You can certainly see why they named a huge bridge after him - he was a highly influential governor whose tenure spread from 1973 all the way to...1974. Huh.
In deciding to write this column for my blog, I may have dug myself into a bit of a hole. Anyone who knows the Suze personally knows that she is a question-asking machine. Eventually, I may be tempted to abandon this space, leaving only a link to Wikipedia in its place. So far, though, the Suze has been stepping up to the plate with a couple of questions that are actually sort of interesting, so I'm not quitting yet.
Today the Suze wants to know: "I have this extra theater ticket that I'm not going to use. Can I stand out in front of the theater and sell it? What? Why is scalping illegal?!"
Let's start with a definition of scalping: to cut or tear the scalp from. Sorry, wrong one. Let's keep reading: To resell at a price higher than the established value. Hmm, so if you stand out in front of the theater, and sell the tickets at face value, is that still legally scalping? And you can sell tickets for higher than face value on some re-selling websites, so what gives? And why am I asking myself questions, isn't that the Suze's job?
The laws on ticket re-sale vary from state to state, and I am not willing to look up all the different ones - not even for you, the Suze - but if you are looking to tell that theater ticket in New Jersey, here are a couple of guidelines for you:
- You cannot sell the ticket for more than 20% of the face value (licensed brokers can go up to 50% above face value, but I know you aren't a licensed broker, the Suze, so don't try and trick me) - You cannot sell tickets at the venue unless there is an area specifically designated for that. And I doubt the local community theater has a scalping zone.
So you can't stand outside the theater selling tickets (and honestly, do you think people will be looking to buy tickets for Hamlet at the theater? What is this, Yankee Stadium?) but you can sell them online as long as you keep the premium below 20% - even if the eBay auction price exceeds 120% of the price, you cannot sell it.
The last part of your question, the Suze, is a little tougher. Not because its tough to explain why scalping is illegal, but I feel confident that any reason I provide you will be met with derisive scoffing. But anyway: why no scalping? I'll give you three quick reasons:
- Scalpers artificially increase the demand for an event. - Buying tickets through scalpers instead of the venue exposes buyers to fraud and counterfeit tickets. - People coming to the venue looking for tickets can create crowd control problems at the gate of an event.
Here is the real bottom line, and the question you should have been asking: who, exactly, do you think is coming to purchase your scalped theater tickets at 3pm on a Saturday? Honestly, the Suze, I don't know where you come up with these ideas sometimes...
Today is the first installment of Answer the Suze, where I spend a few minutes to answer a completely random question from the ever-inquisitive Suze.
Today the Suze asks: "Why do honey jars have a disclaimer that reads, 'Do not feed honey to infants under one year of age?'"
Thanks for asking, the Suze! The problem is botulinum endospores, which occur naturally in honey. While the acidic digestive juices of a more fully developed stomach are capable of destroying the spores, infants have not yet developed this acidity. Additionally, infants do not yet have sufficient numbers of micro-organisms in their intestines that would also normally destroy the spores. Thus, the spores are left with a warm, anaerobic environment in which to germinate.
The result of this germination inside the intestines is botulin, a very powerful toxin. The toxin blocks the release of acetylcholine from nerve endings, which is necessary for proper nerve function. The result: respiratory and muscular paralysis. Approximately 75 infants every year develop botulism, although very few are actually from ingestion of honey.
But be careful, the Suze, because it isn't just honey that can lead to infant botulism: any sweetener given to baby can be the cause. So just use this simple memory device:
Over one, sweeteners are fun! Under one, baby will get botulism and die.