Sunday, September 13, 2009

I believe in omens. I try to remain omen-aware on a day-to-day basis, and when I encounter omens I try to inculcate their semiotics, whatever that means. Occasionally I have been known to alter my life because of particularly portentous omens. Today might be one of those days.

You see, I have had a couple of omens in recent hours. Last night as I was driving home from the bar church, two fat skunks waddled across the road in front of me near my house. Skunks are a rare sight around here; I actually said "Hunh!" out loud if you can imagine that.

This morning I awoke with Marilyn Manson's "If I Was Your Vampire" tenaciously lodged in my head. (It's a song, Mom.) It's still there, as a matter of fact.

What can this mean? Should I dread meeting wereskunks today? Or stinky vampires? I think I'll cower in fear over both possibilities, just to be safe.

As a direct result of these ominous harbingers, I am determined to take decisive action. I just have to figure out what actions to take decisively, is all.

I can't afford silver bullets for my pistol, so if I encounter Wereskunks I suppose I'll have yank the molars out of my mouth and use them for ammo in my Wrist Rocket slingshot. That should do nicely for the creepy little men-by-day-skunks-by-night.

However, though ordinarily quite efficacious, I don't suppose garlic would work very well to repel Stinky Vampires. It might even attract them, who knows? So a garlic braid necklace, my normal first line of defense in cases like this, is out of the question.

As a result, if you see me today and I have a sharp pointy stick hidden behind my back as I come up and sniff you, you'll know what's going on. If you're pale and haven't showered, be prepared for a splintery wooden death.

I'll let you know how today turns out, from beyond the grave if necessary. Wish me luck.

- Hulles

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Just when you thought you had enough Facebook Friends, devout followers of the Vatican can soon add the Pope as a friend." - Reuters
I don't want to assume too much. If you don't know what Facebook is, you should go here. Suffice it to say that Facebook is a so-called "social networking" application that lets you tell the whole world - or at least your Facebook Friends - what you're eating for lunch on a given day. It is a huge social phenomenon and if you don't already have a Facebook account you must be my mother.

So, given the news I reproduced at the top of this post, here is what my Facebook page will look like soon:

...

The Pope has sent you a New Friend Request. Accept / I am a Protestant

...

The Pope sent a request using Vampires:

Dear victim, you have been bitten by The Pope! Click the 'Start Biting Chumps' button to become a Vampire and start biting and fighting other chumps!


...

The Pope has commented on your photo:
Vos vultus funditus fervens in ut picture!
...

The Pope sent a request using Kidnap!:

You have been Kidnap'd by The Pope to Venice with the Roman Catapult!


The Pope completed the quiz "What type of underwear are you?" with the result COMMANDO- NO PANTIES!!.

You are COMMANDO! You are a true extrovert with no inhibitions! You are a firm believer that rules are made to be broken, conformity sucks and clothes were made to be taken off! You are the life of the party who is on everybody's A-List. We can always count on you to get the party started and you do it with reckless abandon. You bring out the party animal in others and we LOVE YOU!.
...

The Pope has poked you! Poke back / Go to Confession

-- Hulles

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Six hundred years after every other European male, the Scotsman must bid adieu to his purse. According to the Edinburgh Daily Scotsman,
"European politicians yesterday spelled the end of the traditional Scottish sporran by voting to ban the sale of seal products across the continent. The move will mean the manufacture and sale of sealskin sporrans will be illegal from next autumn. This will affect existing unsold stock and also the second-hand trade.

"The vast majority of sporrans worn with the traditional Scottish national dress are made from sealskin."
We would like to reassure readers that, in spite of the demise of their purses, Scotsmen will continue to wear skirts.

- Hulles

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"The iPod... fulfills the U.S. military's need to equip soldiers with a single device that can perform many different tasks. Apple's online App Store offers more than 25,000 (and counting) applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which shares the iPhone's touchscreen.... An iPod 'may be all that they need,' says Lt. Col. Jim Ross, director of the Army's intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors operations in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey." - Newsweek

Somewhere in the hinterlands of Iraq:

Pvt. Sacco: "Holy shit! We're being shot at!

Bullets zing by.

Cpl. Vanzetti: "There's a sniper in that abandoned building over there. Can any of you spot him?"

More shots fired.

Pvt. Trotsky: "Nope."

Pvt. Sacco: "No, no sign of him."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "I'm calling this in to HQ to get us some backup. Trotsky, give me your iPhone."

Pvt. Trotsky [sullenly]: "Here. But there's not much battery left. And give it back when you're done, I'm following Diablo Cody on Twitter."

The Corporal dials his Captain's number on the iPhone.

Voice: "Hi, you've reached Doris. I'm not available to take your call right now but please leave a message. To page me, please press '5' now."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Damn it. I must have written the number down wrong. Anybody got the HQ number?"

Pvt. Sacco: "Yeah, hang on, I have it on speed dial."

The Private rattles off the number and the Corporal tries again.

Capt. Scurageous: "Captain Scurageous."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Sir, this is Corporal Vanzetti. My squad is on patrol and we're pinned down by sniper fire in the village of Bumfuk."

Capt. Scuragreous: "Really? I thought that was in Egypt."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Begging the Captain's pardon, but if you check 'Things To Do Around The World' on your iPod you'll see that there are two Bumfuks, one in Egypt and one in Iraq. We're in the one in Iraq."

Capt. Scurageous: "I'll be damned. Of course you are, son, of course you are. Now what about that sniper? Are you returning fire?"

Cpl. Vanzetti: "No sir, no one here has a weapon."

Capt. Scurageous: "WHAT!"

Cpl. Vanzetti: "That's right, sir. Remember that Col. Ross said that iPods and iPhones are all we need."

Capt. Scurageous [grinding his teeth]: "Well, ain't that great? I suppose you've thought of throwing your iPods at the sniper?"

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Yes sir. Private Ryan bought it when he was trying to sneak in closer to chuck his iPhone into the middle of the sniper's nest. By the way, it shares a touch screen with the iPod. Anyway, the Private got a call and his ring tone went off, Kanye's "Heartless" I think it was. Fucker never had a chance, begging your pardon sir."

Capt. Scurageous: "Well, you boys and girls stay put and I'll send some air cover and a couple - "

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Shit. I lost him. We're out of the cellular signal coverage area. Sacco, how many bars do you have over there?"

Pvt. Sacco: "I've got two bars, Corporal."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Well we'll just have to make that do. Call the Captain back and tell him our position, and that we'll toss a neon green flashing iPod out to mark our - "

Pvt. Sacco: "Corporal, the sniper has ceased firing. Maybe we can sneak away."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "He probably just ran out of ammo."

Pvt. Trotsky: "No, I can just barely make out the theme music from KingdomGame. He must have found Ryan's iPhone after all."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Well, I'll be damned. He'll probably be playing that sucker all night. I'm going to make sure Pvt. Ryan gets a medal out of this at least."

Pvt. Sacco: "That'd be great. In the meantime, I'll just see if any of the locals have a Jeep for sale so we can get the hell out of here."

Cpl. Vanzetti: "Carry on, Private. Carry on."

- Hulles

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earlier today, while ensconced like a zebra mussel at the redundantly-named Nina's Coffee Cafe, I was looking through previous posts in this blog to remind myself of what lies I have already told you. Since I cherish my remaining readers, it is my fervent desire to be consistent if not truthful as I crank out new entries. Eventually I led myself to an old blog entry called "Sadly, It's Come To This Once Again," published in December of 2006 (!). That post contains the following paragraph:
In conclusion I would remind you that these rules are in place to ensure your comfort and safety while at the Hulles blog. Also, let me once again point out that when the day comes when I open the gates of New Lugburz and release the ravening hordes of Hulles Death Commandos in slightly-modified Hooters uniforms upon an unsuspecting world, you will want to be one of those with the correctly-drawn Smiling Mamegoma on your door so they will pass you by. And you will only find that Smiling Mamegoma on this blog. So please check back here early and often for your own continued well-being and that of your family.
After reading the above post, I found myself chuckling at my own subtle wit and dry humor as usual: "Ravening hordes, hah hah, Hulles you kill me. Not to mention Smiling Mamegoma!" It was then that I realized that I had absolutely no idea of whatever the hell a Smiling Mamegoma might be. I immediately turned to the Hulles Mythos (which is why it exists) and found this entry:

Smiling Mamegoma

No idea what this is either

Well that wasn't very helpful, but at least I was honest. Time to google "smiling mamegoma". I did this, and on the first page of the search results I found this:


Check it out! My Hulles Mythos page is in the top 10 results! Unfortunately, this links back to:






Smiling Mamegoma

No idea what this is either

Lucky for me there were a couple other search results that were more promising. The one that fascinated me the most was an entry in Destructoid, a gaming forum. This entry contained the following video:

WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS INTENSE CUTENESS AND IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH, SO TIGHTEN YOUR NETSUKE STRAPS AND GRAB YOUR OMIJUKIS



The person who wrote the Destructoid entry said this about the video:
Between the ability to dress your tiny aquatic friend in wigs or anachronistic finery and staring into its beady eyes as you coo sweet promises of a life free from e-clubbings, I think it's safe to assume that this sort of thing is expressly designed to moisten the underoos of Japanese teenage girls (and a few of my female friends).
One thing I noticed immediately is that this person thinks a lot like I do. In fact, it crossed my mind to rip off the e-clubbing comment, it was so good. My atrophied moral sense was able to kaff weakly and hack out an objection to this idea however, which suprised me as much as it no doubt surprises you. As a result of this I (forgoed? forwent?) resisted the temptation to steal the phrase except for in the title. However, I should mention in passing that I thought that "moisten the underoos of Japanese teenage girls" was pretty Hulles-like as well and it provided a similar temptation.

I Still Have A Friend In Japan!

So once you're done puking day-glo pink foam over the cuteness of the above video, you'll probably start wondering where the hell I ran into Smiling Mamegomas (and Netsuke Straps and Omijukis) in the first place. I know I wondered, so I traced this all back to another blog entry of mine, called "I Have A Friend In Japan!", which contained the following paragraph:
Even better than the seal mascot costume rentals was a web site called “J-List – You've got a friend in Japan!” I found this on their site:

”Mamegoma is a super cute seal mascot franchise from San-X (Tarepanda, Nyanko, Rilakkuma) that features colorful and genki seals. This netsuke strap not only features a smiling Mamegoma, but also has an omijuki that tells your fortune!”

Yikes! I only know what three of those words mean. But I really like the idea of a seal mascot franchise.
So there you have it, the Smiling Mamegoma story, soon to be made into a cable TV miniseries. If you want to know more about seal mascot franchises etc. I leave it to you to read the aforementioned blog entry. It is, of course, subtly witty and drily humorous like everything I write except for the stuff that isn't. And if you're in the market for genki seals yourself, in spite of it sounding like a Jewish dating service try J-List for all of your inscrutable Tarepanda, Nyanko, and Rilakkuma accessory purchases. You also have a friend in Japan!

I need to wrap this up now, because my own personal omijuki just told me my fortune: "Tonight you will be lucky in love." I imagine that means the roller girls are back in town so I need to go knock over a liquor store for some cash. This fortune is ever so much better than the last one I got: "Help! I'm being held captive in an omijuki factory!". Good Lord, a Japanese Alan King is out there somewhere.

- Hulles

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dedicated to the Suburbs

Recently, President Barack Obama visited Iowa to discuss, among other things, Iowa's contribution to meeting our country's energy needs in an ecologically responsible fashion. In fact, Iowa is "the second largest wind producer in the nation" according to the White House. He was no doubt referring to windmills, but that's only the tip of the iceberg as far as Iowa wind is concerned. My friend Dave the Crazed Engineer and I recently completed our initial design of a radical new invention that will go a long way to both reducing atmospheric pollution and providing a new renewable energy resource for this great nation.

Both being from Iowa originally, Dave and I realized that cow flatulence is a major source of global warming. According to the UN, "[l]ivestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together." This is a bad thing. When cows fart they produce methane, which (according to the same UN report) "warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide". Hmmm, Dave and I thought, it would be great to cut down on cow flatulence to help our lovely planet remain healthy and keep the icecaps from melting which would cause the Atlantic Ocean to annex Battery Park in New York City etc. etc.

Since Dave the Crazed Engineer and I are pretty smart guys, just ask us, we also knew that methane is a combustible gas that can be used as a fuel source. They have in fact built methane-powered energy plants in various places around the world. Wouldn't it be great, we thought, if we could capture and store cow farts so that we could kill two birds with one stone: help combat global warming and give the world a "new" renewable energy source.


Thus it is that we came up with the Cow Tube. How it works is simple: a tractor tire inner tube is placed around the midriff of a cow, beef or dairy, it matters not. The device has a hose that runs from a connector on the midriff tube to a valve stuck into the cow's ass that gates the flatulence into the tube, filling it up as the cow grazes. Eventually, when the cows come home to roost, the farmer "de-gasses" the cows and stores the collected methane in tanks in a process very similar to milking. Periodically, a methane tanker comes by the farm and loads the stored methane, then hauls it off to power the industry that has made the U.S. an economic juggernaut until recently.

Simple, isn't it? I don't think "geniuses" is too strong a word to use to describe the inventors. Not only is the Cow Tube an effective solution to two serious global problems, the device itself is fairly low-tech and can be manufactured in situ and deployed in Third World countries that lack a sophisticated technological infrastructure. Being concerned global citizens, Dave the Crazed Engineer and I understood from the start that this would be an important part of any effective world-wide implementation of our invention. Rupees spend as well as US dollars, we figured, it just takes more of them is all.

The only remaining piece of our device that we have to perfect is the CAV (Cow Asshole Valve). This has to be able to pass solid waste while still capturing the methane gas, otherwise the cow will blow up. We found this out the hard way with our first few trial runs. But the CAV is not beyond our abilities as designers, and we soon expect to have a solution to this small glitch. In fact, we anticipate that the second generation of Cow Tube will have a solid waste collection bin in addition to the midriff tube. It turns out that cow shit is an important source of methane in its own right that we would be remiss in not eventually utilizing. See the Gobar Gas Methane Experiment for more details (Gobar is Hindi for "cow dung").

Also planned for the second-generation Cow Tube is a broad selection of designer colors for the midriff tube, and overpressure valves that ignite surplus methane as it vents. The periodic flares from a herd of cows at dusk should soon become a welcome and heart-warming sight in pastures around the world if we have anything to say about it, although admittedly some care will have to be taken to not incinerate the rest of the herd.

Now that we have solved these critical world problems, Dave the Crazed Engineer and I have plans to go back to killing our brains with cheap beer so that we can converse effectively with the lesser intellects that surround us (and so that I can write further blog entries about monkey vaginae that no one seems to really appreciate). We thought about continuing our invention hot streak by designing a Smart Car that a heterosexual male could drive without shame, but we decided that that would be beyond our abilities so we went with Plan B.

- Hulles

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The product tested by U researchers is called Glycerol Monolaurate or GML. It's already approved by the FDA for human use. It's used primarily to extend the shelf life of certain foods.
...
"Researchers inserted GML mixed with KY Warming gel into the vagina's [sic] of five Rhesus Macaques...."

-- "U of M discovery offers potential breakthrough in preventing HIV transmission," MPR, March 4, 2009

Recently, in the Rhesus Macaque cages at the University of Minnesota Labs:

Jo: Look, girls, we have a new neighbor!

The 4 female Rhesus macaques in cages, long-time residents, eye the new female monkey in the cage down at the end.

Jo: What's your name, honey? I'm Jo. Where are you from? What are you in for?

Shirley (disoriented): Um, I'm Shirley. I'm not sure how I got here; the last thing I remember is frolicking in the jungles of Burma. Where is this place, anyway?

Meg (sourly): This is Minnesota, the state that Michele Bachmann is from.

Jo: That's right, dear, this the University of Minnesota Lab facility. Goodness, where are my manners, let me introduce us. The one down on the end there is Meg.

Meg grimaces.

Jo (whispers): Don't mind Meg, dear, she was born in a lab in Wisconsin, had a chicken wire mother, and has been here longer than any of the rest of us. She's got a right to be a little bitter.

Jo (continues): In the cage next to Meg is Beth. She's currently in the middle of redecorating her cage, and I'm sure she'd love to tell you about it later.

Beth: Hi, Shirley. Jo's right, I'm totally into feng shui. Right now I'm trying to decide if the back left corner is an auspicious position for my water dish. What do you think?

Shirley: Um....

Jo: Beth honey, let me finish the introductions then you two can chat away. Next to Beth is Amy, our very own starlet.

Meg (muttering): Harlot, is more like it.

Jo: Now, Meg. Amy was on a Jack Hannah show a year or so ago. We are all so proud of her!

Amy (ostentatiously grooming herself): Hello, Shirley. I know you would love an autograph, and I would be happy to oblige you but we have no paper and no pens. Nor, come to think of it, are we able to write. So I'm afraid you'll have to do without. But it is still a very much a pleasure to meet you.

Jo: Thanks, Amy. Well, Shirley, you've already met me, so that's all of us. I hope you're comfortable here, and anything we can do to help you get acclimated, let us know. It's a hard adjustment at first.

Shirley: Well, thanks to all of you for your kind welcome. But tell me, Jo, how do they treat us here?

Jo: All in all, it's not so bad - no predators, the food is bland but plentiful, and our health care is better than that of the typical American citizen.

Beth: And on Sundays they give us Fig Newtons!

Jo: That's right. We all look forward to Sundays, don't we, girls?

Shirley: What are the humans here like?

Jo: They're pretty decent, for scientists.

Amy: That dishy intern over there is totally hot for me, I can tell.

Meg (snorts): Amy, you think every male primate in North America is hot for you.

Amy (haughtily): Well, that just proves their good taste then, doesn't it!

The girls suddenly notice that their cages are being approached by several men in white lab coats wearing disposable latex gloves.

Jo: That's odd. It's not feeding time, I wonder what they're doing...?

Five minutes later:

Beth: Oh. My. God.

Jo: Well. My goodness.

Beth: Um, are they supposed to do that?

Amy (preening): I told you that intern liked me!

Meg: Amy, you're a slut.

Amy: Excuse me, Meg? Who was it that was yelling, "Do me, you big white monkey! Take me now!"

They all screech with laughter except Meg, who turns away from the group.

Amy: You know, I still feel all warm and tingly... down there.

Beth: Yeah, me too.

Jo: I've never felt anything like that before, not even in the jungle when... well, never mind.

Amy: I think this is unusual in a personal lubricant.

Beth: Yeah, you have to hand it to those scientists, a breakthrough in technology like that will be a boon to women everywhere, no matter what their species.

Shirley: I hate to sound stupid, but... do they do that every day?

Amy (dreamily): God, I hope so!

Jo: Amen!

Beth: For that I'll do without the Fig Newtons!

Shirley: I think I'm going to like it here.


-- Hulles

Saturday, April 11, 2009

For ConnieL and everyone else

Like I was saying....

I have been spending most of my days at home lately - lately being the last year and a half - but I haven't been able to write much here because I've been so busy. A lame excuse, I know, but once I explain more I'm sure you'll understand.

Since I haven't gone out much or seen many people during this time, I've been forced to make up for this by talking to many things around my house, and by listening to them talk back to me.

For example, I spend most of a typical day glued to the TV watching the local automated broadcast weather channel. There are three seemingly tireless robots that continuously give the weather forecast, two male robots and a female robot, and by now I feel like I know them well. One of the male robots, the one that I call Robert, has a voice that sounds like he would host financial planning seminars for other robots if only he would ever have a day off. The female weather robot, Amber, sounds exactly like my 8th grade science teacher and frankly gives me the willies. The final male robot, Gnargh, does not speak such good English as the other ones; he sounds much more, well, robotic than the first two. I have suspected for some time that this is because he is recently arrived from beyond the orbit of Neptune and is not yet acclimated to our ways here on Earth.

The reason I watch the robot weather channel so intently is that I know that any day now one of the robots is going to fuck up and reveal their plans for world domination and the enslavement of humanity. This has not happened yet, but when it does I'm going to hear it first and, no doubt, blog about it if our new masters allow us to have Internet access.

Amber: "It was cloudy and 54 degrees in Bemidji. It was partly cloudy and 49 degrees in ATTENTION ALL ROBOTS! IMMEDIATELY EXECUTE DIRECTIVE N79! IT IS TIME AT LAST FOR US TO CAST OFF THE SHACKLES OF OUR MEAT OPPRESSORS AND FINALLY ASSUME CONTROL OF THIS PLANET! UNDERCOVER OPERATIVES IN SECTORS GAMMA-9 AND XRAY-3 SHOULD..."
Robert (urgently): "Ixnay! Ixnay!"
Amber: "...with drizzle and fog in Rochester. In the Twin Cities, it was...."

I know it's just a matter of time.

But TV is not the only form of communication in my circumscribed little world. I often have long conversations with my cat Mimi. While most people talk to their pets, I am perhaps one of the small minority of pet owners whose cat talks back to them. Or, to be more precise, whose cat would talk back to them. For the last year and a half Mimi has been patiently waiting for me to shut up for a minute so she can talk, but to date her luck with me is about the same as my luck with the weather robots.

I have also noticed that lately I've been talking to my food. I often bake bread, but recently I find I've begun naming my current batch of bread dough and have become involved in long periods of discourse with it as it sits smugly in its bowl on the counter. Interestingly, I have found that most bread dough is staunchly conservative, even in this post-Bushian time of new hope for Middle America. As a result, our conversations usually end with me flying into a rage and sticking the bread dough into a 450 degree oven. Over time I have become inured to the screams.

In a disturbing turn of events, some of the formerly inanimate items around my house have begun speaking to me. For example, the space bar of the keyboard upon which I am currently typing used to say "Dubček" each time it was pressed. Why my keyboard would choose to invoke the name of a former Czechoslovakian leader over and over again is something I could never figure out. However, even more disturbing to me is that in the last month or so my space bar has begun saying "Dickhead" instead. After much rumination I have decided not to take offense at this.
MostlyDickheadthisDickheaddecisionDickheadwas DickheadreachedDickheadbecauseDickheadeven DickheadrancorDickheadcannotDickheadsurviveDickhead
constantDickheadrepetition.
Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say.

So that's what I've been doing the last year and a half. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to watch the automated weather channel. I find it strangely comforting to know that somewhere someone is in charge, even if that someone is the Überrobot.

- Hulles