Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   Chinese food humour
Thursday, March 5 1998

ersistent problems with my mother's Macintosh after the installation of OS 8 brought me back to Staunton today. I drove the Dodge Dart and Jessika came along for the ride.

It was a cool sunny day, and for awhile we sat outside with Fred, my childhood home's overweight funky-smelling Australian Shepherd dog. He doesn't get many opportunities to socialize, so he was smiling, his tongue was hanging out and his tail was hitting everybody up'side the head.


t took a little while to reinstall System 7.5.X.Y.Z back on my mother's Macintosh. These things never go as smoothly as you'd expect, and most of the settings, Netscape's bookmarks, and other precious things were lost in the process. I'm a Macintosh expert of sorts, and it's difficult to make the computer run calmly enough for my aging old mother to use without histrionics. Things were orders of magnitude less problematic with my old Mac IIsi. I wonder if perhaps the Macintosh has outgrown its logical basis. My Windows 95 machine is much more reliable, though I have much less idea what is going on in the nuts and bolts of its operating system.


or dinner, my Dad had originally planned to cook some fish, but somehow I managed to twist the situation into a run for Chinese food. My parents were happy to see me, endeared by Jessika, and since almost all their income is disposable, my old man sprung for Chinese take away. This was accompanied by a barrage of impromptu Chinese jokes, which are based on a number of premises:

  • "Haff hour later, hungry again!"
  • In China, anything that moves is considered valuable protein.
  • There are a lot of people in China.
  • Translation of American concepts into Chinese is frequently a difficult process. For example "In China, rots of people have rife insurance, but effybody die anyhow!"
  • Facts in China are usually related as ancient wisdom.
  • Almost any English name can be transformed into a "very common" Chinese name. Examples (from among the presidents of the United States):
    • Wa Shing Ton (Washington)
    • Rin Kun (Lincoln)
    • Tru Man (Truman)
    • I Tsing How Wah (Eisenhower)
    • Krin Ton (Clinton)

Note that I have made no attempt here to finesse what is essentially racist humour, humour that depends a great deal on blanket generalizations and stereotypes. If you're anything like some of my overwrought college classmates and think this entry amounts to a holocaust against the Chinese, perhaps you need to explain why there are 1.2 billion of them busy cranking out fashionable tennis shoes.

A typical Chinese joke is related as an ancient saying, such as:

"In China, chirdren carry big runchboxes to skoor, 'cause effy half hour, hungry again!"

I've been telling these Chinese jokes for as long as Jessika has known me, and she just assumed it was one of the weird unprecedented things that I did. But hearing my Dad telling these jokes in exactly the same manner with exactly the same faux-Chinese accent was something of a revelation. Suddenly she could see a genetic component to some of my wacky behaviour. And it's true; my Dad and I have a very similar sense of humour, which is completely different from (even alien to), say, my mother's sense of humour.

Jessika and I, in the Dart of course, were the ones who set out to pick up the Chinese take away. Jessika take forever to make decisions, especially with unfamiliar Chinese dishes, but eventually she'd made up her mind and we'd placed out $37 order. "It wir be ready in about twenty minutes," the Chinese cashier told us. "She didn't say 'haff hour'!" said Jessika when we were outside.

To kill time, we walked around back to look in the dumpsters. We were tempted by an open door in the back of a rental store, but we found pretty big treasure on the pavement outside, a JVC video cassette recorder [I later tested it and found that it worked!].

In the Kroger to get beer, we killed more time by flipping through a small display of discount CDs and seeing what they had to offer in the cold and cough section. I bought a six pack of Becks Dark (my mother's inflexibly favourite beer, a preference fixed well before the microbrew revolution) and a six of Hempen Ale, a new beer brewed (somehow legally) with marijuana seeds. I'd been avoiding it for a long time, thinking it was a gimmick to score hippie beer dollars or that it might taste like bong water, but I tried it in Malvern and it's really good.

Back at my childhood home, we dove into the loot and ate until we were stuffed. The Kitten, the official name of the black cat that lives there, was pacing the floor hoping to get a little bit of the loot. She was so well-behaved and pleasant about it that I gave her some Szechuan Chicken. I felt like a visiting grandmother bribing a grandchild into loving me.

My Dad has, like most people, a few annoying quirks, and one of these I will call "spice machismo." He delights in dismissing the food that other people eat as being too insipid. He grows his own hot peppers in his garden, and freezes boxes of them for year-round use. He likes to show off his peppers and belittle those who will not eat them with their food. He eats them with everything. As usual tonight, he offered me one, but my food was fine without his infernal peppers, and as usual, I turned him down. But Jessika is never to be outdone by anyone, and she took a pepper. This was a bit of an unscripted surprise for my Dad, since he assumes for the most part that women will only eat bland food, since that's the only kind of food my New England-born mother will eat. Well, after that little bit of theatre, Jessika kind of forgot about her pepper, and it sat there as a bright red ornament throughout her meal. When she was done, she hadn't eaten the pepper, and my Dad, perhaps gloating slightly, was quick to point this out. Jessika had somehow completely forgotten about it. But she has Taurus Rising and this was a challenge as well; she wasn't going to let it go to waste. So she chewed it up and swallowed it. Her cheeks turned bright red and her eyes watered a lot, and she had to swig lots of Hempen Ale, but she'd met my Dad's ludicrous challenge. By the way, this wasn't the first time that Jessika played around with extreme pepper heat. Some years ago she and her friends experimented with "Dave's Insanity Sauce" (an extremely hot capsicum distillate). They each put a little on their septums (between their nostrils) in hopes of drug-like reverie. (More recently, in a bit of sociopathic mischief, we put Dave's Insanity Sauce on the buttons of an ATM machine!)

Morgan Anarchy in New Orleans Jessika and I returned to Charlottesville through the Appalachian darkness, talking about the characteristics of some of our dreams.


t Kappa Mutha Fucka, we found a little party happening. Monster Boy was there with his erstwhile girlfriend, Kirstin the Eco-radical, and Morgan Anarchy was there with the boy Jesse, drinking whiskey and beer and smoking a little pot. Of course, Deya was there as well.

The music started out as the usual Morgan Anarchy punk rock stuff, but he likes other things too, so he played Guns 'n' Roses and Black Sabbath from my stacks of vinyl. Later, Deya turned on the radio and we listened to the Pavement show, a part of WTJU's ongoing Rock Marathon, an effort to raise money for the commercial-free radio station.

Morgan had a tattered clipping of a nearly year-old New Orleans newspaper article that had been in his pocket for much of that time. It was entitled "Rotting Mansion is home to dogs, young squatters" and it was about an incident in which the SPCA came to check up on a dog (Butt Noodles) that was living with Morgan and the other squatters in an ancient mansion. I scanned a part of the clipping containing a picture of Morgan, which you see to the right.

I drank some vodkatea and most of my socializing revolved around a conversation with Deya about our respective early childhoods.

one year ago

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