Wednesday, May 28th 2003

Chinchilla jokes
posted @ 9:01 pm in [ - ]
So okay, I promise I will get back to the Foucaultian Book of Job, but first, I feel the need to break the tension with some chinchilla jokes. A friend of mine has just moved into a fabulous apartment in central London, which he shares with a lawyer and her chinchilla. If you ask me, the chinchilla is the least offensive of the two, but this friend is kind of not an animal person. For example, the constant flow of crap pellets really seem to get to him. He reported, however, that it was the only way to be sure the chinchilla existed. Despite my proposal that perhaps the chinchilla was participating in some sort of metaphysical experiment–such as Aquinas’ assertion that the universe proved a God like a watch proves a watchmaker, or I Crap Therefore I Am–he doesn’t seem to be warming up to it too much. Also, the chinchilla in question has no name, and I thought it would be entertaining to order a tiny poncho, had, gunbelt, and possibly cigar for it so it could play a rodent version of Clint Eastwood’s character. No dice.

So to cheer him up, I decided to write some chinchilla jokes. I figured, rodents are a comedy goldmine, how hard can it be? As I started doing research, I found a number of really funny things about chinchillas, like the fact that females can aim urine when threatened. Now, that’s only good for a sight gag: Hey baby, come here oft– OWWWW! Also, they apparently really like raisins, take dust baths and are nocturnal. Despite all that, writing jokes about them was harder than it looked. My friend contributed a couple of cute jokes to the process:

What’s a chinchilla’s favorite tipple? Whiskey.
( I think it’s because they’re whiskery.)

What’s a chinchilla’s favorite rock band? The Psychadelic Furs.

Anyway, the below jokes have been tested on bicycle mechanics, using rapid-fire Borscht-belt-style delivery.

What do you call a chinchilla that’s not leaving crap pellets all over the place?
A coat.

Two chinchillas are sitting at a bar (martinis, two raisins) and the female says to the male, “I can’t help but notice you’re nibbling on my ear, and I hardly know you.” The male says, “I’m sorry, it’s just that I find you fascinating and my teeth never stop growing.”

What’s the difference between a chinchilla and a bowling ball?
Bowling balls make lousy coats.

So this guy chinchilla picks up a lady chinchilla in a bar and takes her home. While they’re gettin’ busy, he notices she’s rather unresponsive, and he says to her, “What are you, a friggin’ COAT?!”

What’s the difference between George Will and a chinchilla?
George Will probably won’t be made into a coat.

So two chinchillas are on the bus, and one says to the other, “I met this really nice girl, and I liked her a lot, but I don’t think I’m going to see her again.” “Why not?” asks his friend. “She’s a coat.”


Friday, May 23rd 2003

I avoid getting shot… today
posted @ 9:01 pm in [ ]
We interrupt this news of personal trials to report on a completely over-the-top incident that I am not making up: a couple of hours ago, I was very close to being in the line of road rage/gang related gunfire.

So I’m in the bike shop where I work, minding my own business, setting up some ill-conceived Shimano disc brakes (for those of you familiar with the bike industry, this term is probably redundant. I’d never seen it before today, but that sh*t’s held together with a cotter pin smaller than what I would use to keep my hair out of my eyes. Yeah, for brakes–the thing that’s supposed to stop you and 20+ pounds of bike at whatever speed you happen to be hurtling along), with three of my co-workers. My workbench is in the back corner of the shop, against the wall of the building that faces the street. Jim was working next to me, in the corner of the building that looks out on both the street and the alley. Greg (Sally) and Jimmy were at the next two benches, kind of in the middle of the shop.

Evans Avenue, the street outside, is one of the main drags in southeast Denver, so it’s very busy, and we frequently hear near-accidents and the occasional full-on accident. Today, about half an hour before quitting time (and during rush hour), we hear some serious high-speed tire squealing and an impact. I look out Jim’s window and there’s a car, doing a 360 and bouncing off the curb in the oncoming lane, narrowly avoiding an accident, and an SUV tearing along the other oncoming lane and screeching around the corner. Both cars speed off in opposite directions. The car that hit the curb comes within maybe a few feet of hitting the corner of the building as it speeds off. Jim and Greg both think the impact we heard was a tire blowout, and they roll up the garage door and go outside to check it out. Jimmy says to me, “That wasn’t a tire blowout, it was a gunshot.” Of all the people I know, Jimmy is the person I would trust most to know the difference, so I go outside and look on the ground where we saw the car bounce off the curb. Sure enough, there’s a 9mm shell casing right on the sidewalk (what can I say? I’m a researcher: have hypothesis, seek evidence). I pick it up on the end of the Allen wrench that’s still in my hand and take it inside. Jimmy confirms it’s a 9mm and that it probably came from a crappy gun because the powder burns blow backward. The casing looks a little like a tiny, brassy, fouled sparkplug where the mixture’s too rich.

Needless to say, the last half an hour of the day was not all that productive–we mostly debriefed each other. We ultimately decided not to call the cops because everyone involved was so very, very long gone and we didn’t get any license plate numbers or see any of the people or anything. We wouldn’t have had anything solid to tell them, and Jimmy thought all they would do would be to give me a hard time for moving the casing. The cops didn’t show up called by anyone else–probably nobody who heard the impact realized it wasn’t a tire blowout. We wouldn’t have if Jimmy hadn’t known the difference. Our boss, the shop manager, brought us all ice cream sandwiches, which was nice. A chilly treat was definitely in order.

So that makes you think, you know? If that shot had been fired a few degrees before where it was in the 360, it would have come right through the window behind me. I would have been whacked by a stray bullet while setting up ill-conceived brakes, and that is not how I want to go.

I thought I’d hang onto the casing for a little while in case there is some kind of investigation and somebody wants it. If they don’t, maybe I’ll hang onto it as a reminder of how fleeting life is and how close we live to accidental death all the time. It’s extra good to pet my cats tonight, and it’ll be extra good to hug my husband when he gets home.

Saturday, May 17th 2003

Protected: Foucaultian Book of Job
posted @ 9:27 pm in [ ]

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Wednesday, May 7th 2003

Containers and stationery supplies
posted @ 11:20 am in [ ]
You may or may not know that I’m queer for containers and stationery supplies. I have more pens than anyone I know, probably more than many retail establishments that sell pens. There’s something about a really well-balanced pen that writes smoothly that I just can’t resist. I like nice paper, too. I still write actual letters, in part to justify my obsession, and I occasionally make greeting cards for people. I love to play with the stuff. I’ve branched into multimedia with the cards. Most recently, I sent a friend a card with cloth frogs I decoupaged onto some vellum-like paper. The glue made the paper all wavy and left the frogs smooth, creating a very satisfying watery effect.

I think it was my father who first realized I was queer for stationery supplies. He probably observed my early magic marker hoarding and interest in using every color whenever possible. I confess I still color from time to time because I find it relaxing. Fortunately, I have some very high-quality erudite coloring books from my childhood in Cambridge in the shadow of M.I.T. and Harvard, so they’ve really stood the test of time for me. I also find it sort of entertaining to review my design style over the last 30 years in a single book. So in addition to the thousands of pens, I have crayons and markers and colored pencils, too. My favorite set of colored pencils is actually mechanical, with erasers. It came from my favorite pimp, Levenger. Levenger (motto: serious tools for serious readers) has a vast array of stationery and art supplies and even some furniture. Anyone who is ever stuck for a gift for me should just send me a gift certificate. I think Lisa turned me on to them initially. They’re at if you want to take a look for yourself. They also put out a catalog, which frequently becomes covered with drool at my house.

While my obsession with stationery supplies is probably somewhat related to my being tactile, my obsession with containers is clearly linked to my spatial-ness. My friend Amy routinely gives me beautiful empty boxes as gifts, and I get really excited, which she finds highly entertaining (and perhaps slightly Buddhist). Sometimes I put things in the containers, other times, I just sort of collect them without really meaning to have a collection. Boxes, pouches, luggage-like items, it doesn’t matter. I love them all, both for their container-ness and their containing abilities. I just know I’m going to be one of those old ladies with a closet full of thousands of tiny boxes that some unlucky heir will have to go through when I die. Personally, I like rediscovering found containers I’ve forgotten about. Sometimes I left something in them, other times, they’re just the right size for something else.

So now you know.