Category Archives: Ramblings

Why Is That Funny?

Disclaimer: This post is undoubtedly condescending. I apologize for that.

I continue to find myself completely out of touch with pop culture.  It’s not something I really feel bad about, but in my own judgmental way, I wonder what is wrong with people.  Nowhere does this happen more than with movies.

I recently went to see The Hangover, and while I expected not to love it, I thought it would be good for a couple laughs.  After all, the populace in general seems to love it, and it was done by the same director who did Old School, which I found to be quite funny (well, the first and last acts, at least. The second act drags).  More importantly, though, is that the critics tended to like it, as it scores a 73 on metacritic.com.

However, watching this movie baffled me.  I wasn’t exactly baffled that people found it funny, what I found baffling is why people found it funny.  The movie was made up of old jokes from a bunch of other movies of the same genre.  If you’ve seen the joke before, especially if you’ve seen it hundreds of times before, how is it still funny?  But there are other things that I just don’t understand why people think is funny:

  • A man wears a jock strap instead of underwear.  Why is that funny?
  • A wedding band sings inappropriate things, a joke done in a bunch of other films, but also in Old School!  Why is that funny?
  • An old man gets a check up.  We see his ass.  Why is that funny?
  • People get hit, kicked, slapped, punched, and tasered over and over again.  Nothing more to the “joke” than that.  Why is that funny?
  • While transporting a drugged tiger, the tiger wakes up behind them and destroys classic car.  In Tommy Boy, same thing except it was a supposedly dead dear.  It wakes up and destroys a classic car.  So they repeated the same joke.  Why is that funny?
  • Mike Tyson shows up to recover his tiger, and… and… well, there wasn’t any joke there other than Mike Tyson showed up.  Why is that funny?

Of course, to some extent, I do understand why people find some of these things funny.  Male nudity is apparently this generation’s man-in-a-dress.  So whatever the context, people will for whatever reason find it funny.  But why?  That’s where they lose me.

People also like to watch things that they’re familiar with.  So watching a joke play out that they’ve seen before makes it fairly easy for people to comprehend and find amusing.  After all, there was an audience for Wild Hogs.

And always, from well before vaudeville, people find it amusing when characters are physically hurt.

Put all these together and you have the explanation for why people find these things funny, and why people love The Hangover.  The unfortunate problem is that every one of these explanations begs the question.  Why are these things funny?

Cheers,
Charlie

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Steal From Your Employer, Get Put in Charge of Payroll

Sun Country worker who took $200,000 pleads guilty

Woman pleads guilty to Theft by Swindle from her employer, Sun Country.  Woman was previously convicted of Theft by Swindle from her previous employer in 1996.  Woman was hired by Sun Country in 1998, and was put in Payroll Management and Accounts Payable.

A simple records check, people!

Cheers,
Charlie

I Finally Get Myself to Go Jogging Again… Again

And finally, I get myself to go jogging for the second time since I reinstituted my jogging regimen.  Okay, okay, it’s not so much a regiment since it’s only twice, and it’s not so much a regiment when each time has been less than a half hour, and it’s not so much a regiment since my first time was two weeks ago, but I’ve been sick, darn it.  And it didn’t fit into my schedule.  And I just ate.  Or something like that.

Anyway, it’s silly to make excuses for why I haven’t been jogging more often (although, I really was sick), since I’m only justifying it to myself… and the random member of the jogging-stapo who can run 56 miles while drinking their morning coffee (which they of course got at Caribou or Starbucks) and came across this post because I happened to add a “jogging” tag to the end.  To that person, I will never satisfy.  To the jogging-stapo (“jogstapo”?), well, they’ve moved on already anyway since I haven’t started talking about Trader Joe’s yet.

But yes, I finally got myself to go again, and surprisingly, even after it being two weeks, and with me still not feeling 100 percent, I did better than last time.  Of course, doing better than last time means little more than not feeling like vomiting after two minutes of jogging, but I take my victories as I can get them.  The jogging I did today will at least have burned-off half of the half malt I had at the Convention Grill yesterday (oy, have I been craving one today).

It really wasn’t that bad this time, but I’m absolutely nowhere near where I was when I jogged in my college days.  Back then, 20 minutes wasn’t a problem, and once I got into a routine after a few times, I was able to go 45-60 without too much difficulty.  In law school, well, I was much worse, but could still go 25-30 without the difficulty.  I don’t plan on being the hyper-mega-jogger (as is obvious since I’m distancing myself from them, making them sound all crazy, the jogstapo that they are), nor do I really plan on being a person who exercises for at least an hour every other day.  I simply just plan on jogging fairly often, where it’s no longer a rare thing.  If I only do 30 minutes at a time, no big deal.  In fact, that’s my goal.

Anyway, it’s now two times I’ve gotten myself to go jogging.  Maybe, just maybe I can get myself to go a third… in about two more weeks

And now that I’ve exercised, time for beer.

Cheers,
Charlie

The Best of Comrus: God Flooded the Bathroom

This post originally appeared on December 19th, 2006 at http://weblog.xanga.com/ComRus/557173220/item.html.

I had to call maintenance yet again today.  It started a few days ago, when I walked into the bathroom to find a puddle next to the toilet.  This couldn’t be, I yelled to the heavens, we just had the toilet fixed.  So I flushed the toilet (any good weblog entry contains “so I flushed the toilet,” you know), and nothing came out.  I mopped up, in that I grabbed some paper towels (like I’m going to go to the effort to pull out a mop?), picked up the rug near the toilet so as to eliminate a later possible need to wash it, and left it at that.  For the day, the floor was dry.

The next day came, and at one point in the afternoon, the floor near the toilet was wet again.  So I continued to fiddle with the toilet, and eventually determined that if I leaned on the left side of the tank (or right side, if we’re talking from the toilet’s point of view), Niagara Falls came to my bathroom.  This time I mopped up and left a few paper towels near where the falls hit the floor.

Did I call maintenance?  Of course not.  Sure, the toilet has proven itself to leave small puddles by the toilet when left unattended, but it’s not like it happened all the time.  We could live with a few leaks.  I mean, the alternative would be to actually call maintenance.  That would be awful.

As we all know, I hate doing that: gratuitous link to my post where I discussed that I dislike calling maintenance (which gratuitously links to another post on the same topic.  Both posts, incidentally, make up almost exactly what this post is).

The next morning, very early, I went into the bathroom and found Noah constructing something using what he called a cubit-stick, and complaining that the bathroom wasn’t big enough to fit something 300 cubits long.  Seeing as how I really don’t know what a cubit was, I accepted his expert opinion.  However, I had to draw the line when he wanted me to mail out some sort of cruise invitation to people like Mr. Camel and guest.

I then finished the annoying Ark-based joke, and continued on with the weblog.

So the bathroom was nearly flooded.  Luckily, it mostly pooled in the corner by the tub, so that most of the bathroom was spared.  I then spent the next 15 minutes cleaning up the mess, and sighing that I actually had to call maintenance.

I finally did so today, after the necessary minor cleaning, and they came and fixed it without too many issues.  But that’s not to say I now like Maintenance.

Anyway, after they left I noticed a large metal object next to the toilet.  They were in such a hurry to leave and check out of work for the day that they left a screwdriver the size of a katana blade.  And by comparing it to a katana blade, I do mean to reference the fact that the screwdriver was very much weapon-like.  It felt uncomfortable to even hold such an object, as its heft and length could only be used for evil.  As such, I became the screwdriver bearer, and had to bring it back to Nextdor to the Mt. Apartment Office to unmake it (yeah, I have been watching The Lord of the Rings series again.  I downloaded Rifftrax for the Fellowship of the Rings and got semi-hooked.  I just wish they had a Two Towers Rifftrax, as I missed watching the film without the commentary.  And to completely digress, I just started reading The Hobbit again for the first time since Junior High.  I never realized just how much it was written for the young.  Too bad, it used to be a legend of a book in my mind).

Bringing the screwdriver down to the office, however, posed a few problems.  The first of which was that I was headed out to run an errand, and I had to determine whether or not to drive the block to the apartment office.  I figured I might as well, but because of my experience in criminal defense, I knew that if I was pulled over, given its immense size, the officer could only interpret the screwdriver as a “burglary tool.”  Possession of such an object is a felony (of course, also in my experience, something as dumb as a pair of scissors has been called a burglary tool with enough prosecutor imagination).

I decided to drive it to the office anyway, and luckily wasn’t pulled over.  I then had to bring this gigantic weapon-like object into the office.  Do I walk in with it, scaring the hell out of the office workers?  Do I hide it in my jacket pocket, pull it out, and risk one of them diving to the back to call 911?  I decided to hold the “blade” of the screwdriver in my hand, with the handle rather clearly showing.  I have to say, it still looked like an instrument of attack.

And given the office-worker’s face, she interpreted it very similarly too.  I’m already a pretty large man, but I walked in and made the unfortunate mistake to tell her in a deep booming voice that maintenance was just in our apartment (in a very not a calming way) while walking straight up to her wielding a large heavy-looking object.  I raised my hand to give it to her, and I think she might have squeaked.

She was startled, and only after I started to walk out did she say “thank you.”  And then, as I was exiting, she confirmed my suspicion about the screwdriver.  She looked at the woman who entered behind me (who apparently worked there), lifted the screwdriver to her, and said, “be careful, I’m armed.”

Yup.  I’ll probably be brought up on charges tomorrow.

Cheers,
Charlie 

I Finally Get Myself to Go Jogging Again

For the first time in years, I finally have gotten myself to start jogging again.  Admittedly, it’s a little optimistic to say that I’ve gotten myself to “start” jogging, but rather I have gotten myself to go jogging.  One day.  One day does not a jogging regiment make, as I do sit here on the second day since I went, not planning on doing it today.  I have an excuse today: shin splints.  However, I had better get myself to continue jogging or else… or else… well, I’m not likely to get fat any time soon, but I certainly could keep my weight and heart in check.

The last time I jogged routinely was back in the first year or so of law school, where, while I didn’t have much free time, I was able to move around my studying so that I wasn’t exhausted when it was time to do so.  That’s the main problem now.  However, it’s not like I haven’t exercised at all since then.  While studying for the Bar, my wife and I would make routine visits to the apartment gym where I would use the elliptical machine. 

The elliptical machine is really what stopped me from even considering jogging for the next few years even though those “routine” visits became “periodic” and then “rare.”  However, it was while exercising on the elliptical machine I realized just how worthless jogging was.  I could spend 30 minutes on the treadmill, and in that time the machine would tell me that I burned. 7.42 calories.  The same 30 minutes on the elliptical machine, however, as the machine informed me, would burn approximately 52,173,221,513 calories.  So, naturally, even though I knew the machine wasn’t telling me the whole truth, I stuck with the elliptical.

Since then, and since my wife and I have gained employment, the only times we could go to the gym would be directly after work, which is when everyone else on the planet would go.  There are two elliptical machines at our apartment gym, and they would inevitably be in use.  As such, all of our exercising had died out with the exception of some random trips to the pool.

But now, now I finally have gotten myself to go out.  And oy vey, am I out of shape.  I ran for a good 30 minutes, looked at my watch, and realized that it had actually only been seven minutes.  My plan was to put in at least 20 just to get myself started, and I was dying by seven.  Worse yet, I had that pre-work-out mentality where one thinks he can run a marathon without too much difficulty, so that I headed off in a direction that didn’t allow me to return home without covering a lot more ground than reasonably feasible.

After a couple very short walking breaks, I was able to make the jog back and lasted about 25 minutes.  Not too awful since I haven’t exercised in a long time.  But, of course, my body wasn’t too happy the next day.  As I previously Twittered (which I’m starting to think is usurping even the tiny bit of motivation I have left for non-political blogging): “My legs today: ‘After years of sitting around on the couch, you decide to start jogging again? I will punish you.'”

And so, after legs being sore all day yesterday and part of today, I am left with shin splints.  I really would have gone jogging today if not for them.  Yes, I would have.  No really, I would have.  I swear.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  Or Friday.

One quick thing.  When I was jogging I passed a kid on his bike.  As he was riding, the kid was talking on a cell phone.  So very disconcerting.  Oy.

Cheers,
Charlie

New post on this topic: “I Finally Get Myself to Go Jogging Again… Again”

Goodbye Grandma’s Saloon and Grill

Since I apparently don’t update this weblog at all anymore, especially with anything more than a link or two, I feel it necessary to at least do a quick summary of the two events I’ve been meaning to write about, but for which I will apparently not get to long posts.  I’m not one for the descriptive writing, so bear with me.  The first event I speak of is the shame of the closing of Grandma’s Saloon and Grill in Minneapolis.

In my law school days I would routine the restaurant far more often than I’d ever want to admit.  Their burgers were the best in Minnesota, hands down.  They had a great amount of greasy/juiciness, with just the right amount of bite from the grill.  Complete with tomato, pickles, mayo, and caramelized onions, they were unbeatable (and I’ve tried a number of the “best burger” places in the Twin Cities, and there is no comparison.  Matt’s Bar or The Nook?  Please, those are second-rate rather tasteless hunks of meat with cheese in the middle).

In addition to the best burgers, Grandma’s also had wonderful mozzarella sticks.  You haven’t had mozzarella sticks until you’ve had Grandma’s.  The stick is far larger than your average stick, and is always full of melted, stringy mozzarella, with no cavities like most sticks.

See, I like food, and while I’m generally not into the more gourmet-fare, I am an aficionado of the medium-brow food.  So much so that I am completely convinced that the best medium-brow food can beat the best high-brow food any day.  Give me a slice of Ginelli’s pizza, and I’ll show you the gateway to heaven.  Give me a filet mignon, and I’ll, well, eat it and enjoy it, but I won’t absolutely love it.

Because of this, I am very unhappy that the Grandma’s in the Twin Cities closed on May 22nd.  My wife and I made sure to make three trips within a two week period to get as much as possible before it closed, and even though it was a bit too much grease in too short a period, I now find myself desiring one of their burgers.

As I said, we’ve tried other burger places, and are now on a quest to find a replacement.  I was quite surprised to find that the burgers at Fuddruckers were pretty good.  It reaches nowhere near the level of Grandma’s, but still better than your average restaurant, where what passes for a good burger is a non-spiced pre-made patty topped with “special” items.  No people, a good burger is not solely about what it’s topped with, it’s about the juiciness and flavor of the burger itself.  Most places don’t understand this, including many of the “best burger” places in the Twin Cities.

As for Fuddruckers, like I said, the burger was good, not great, but the main problem is that it’s just not what could ever become “my place”.  It’s too generic, and too family oriented.  In addition to the great food, Grandma’s was a fun bar and grill atmosphere.  It was near a few professional schools at the University of Minnesota as well as fairly near the Metrodome, giving it a decent clientele.  Almost all fixtures and booths were made of wood, there was plenty of silly kitsch on the walls, and the windows were accented with stained-glass.


Please forgive the bad cellphone pictures.

The three-story building itself is quite a fixture of Minneapolis, and I’m afraid that it will probably be torn down to build a smaller version of what’s across the street; a monstrosity of yuppie-ville apartment living.  It’s obnoxious modern apartment architecture that will inevitably look as bad as 70s design looks to us now.

This would lead me into my second topic, but I’ve written far longer on Grandma’s than I ever expected.  As such, medium-brow food tour of Iowa City, complete with more rants about yuppie-ville architecture encroachment, will have to wait until later.

For now, I just want to say goodbye to Grandma’s.  There are still a couple near Duluth, and that will probably finally give me the final motivation to actually make a trip there, but I’ll very much miss having Grandma’s as our go-to restaurant here.  Oh, the burgers.  I want one now.

Cheers,
Charlie

July 24, 2008 Update:
It appears that Grandma’s is now an Applebee’s.  This could hardly be more of a kick in the teeth.

August 4, 2008 Update:
Correction, Grandma’s is not now an Applebee’s.  It’s currently empty.  I don’t know what my friend was thinking.