Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fun Things You Can Spell with the Letters in “Herndon, Virginia”

or, "Side Effects of Early Eggnog at the Freret House"

    Hinder a Vino Grin

    In a Horned Virgin

    Arriving in den ho (Dietrich is showing up in the male prostitute?)

    Virgin Don Hernia (misfortunate surname could explain the derth of paramours)

    Herd a Virgin On In

    Ring in a Driven Ho

    End a Virgin Rhino
    (A Virgin Rhino End)

    Riding a Vein Horn (yuck)

    A Driving Inner Ho (but she’s well behaved)

    “… nor a virgin hen id.” (“Neither a promiscuous rooster ego…”)

    Hovering in a Rind

    Heaving Iron Rind (good band name)

    Ranger Hid In Vino

    No Hernia Driving

    Hi! A nerd virgin? NO!

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Monday, November 20, 2006

Untitled Story, Part I

I received the following in Saturday’s email. I am reproducing it here verbatim, for your consideration.

***

Dear B.F.,

     I wrote the enclosed story years ago. It has been hidden in a drawer since the day it was completed, probably for the better.

     A few days ago, someone forwarded me a link to one of your articles. I read it. I loved it. (I’ve since read everything, and love most of it.)

     Something I read reminded me of this abandoned story, and prompted me to dig it out and dust it off.

     It may not be as horrible as I remembered.

     So attached is the first of three parts of my story. (It never had a title.) If you like the first part, my hope is that you would publish it to your web site. If I see it there, I will forward the second part. If I don’t, then back into the drawer it goes.

     A Reader,
     S.D.

***

4:42 a.m.

I’m three quarters of the way through this book tour, and I don’t know where I am.

I don’t mean this hotel looks just like the last dozen, I mean literally (literally literally, not slang literally) – I don’t know what city this is. Not that it would make much difference. Today will be just like yesterday. Yesterday was just like the day before.

The car will get here in a few minutes and take me to some radio station. I don’t know the station. Or the personalit(y) (ies). (I hope it's just one. One is easier for me than two. With two, it doesn’t matter how nice they are, I always leave feeling like I’ve been ganged up on at recess.) I don’t know the format. Doesn’t matter, most radio talent attended the same school of smarmy-over-animated-feigned-interest anyway. I don’t fault them, or even dislike them. They’re successful in radio for good reason, and I like listening to the radio in the morning as much as anybody else. But even the few who read and make an effort don’t usually have enough advance notice to get all the way through my book anyway. So the questions are always identically superficial.

(If I ever meet the person who decided that authors pimping books should do morning radio, I’m kicking his/her ass.)

That’s okay, the answers are identically superficial, too. Doesn’t matter. When the car gets here, I’ll just get in and go. Moo.

After the station, I’ll fall asleep in the car for a few minutes on the way to spend some face time with corporate types the publisher wants me to schmooze. I won’t know who they are, I won’t remember their names. They could be the same people from yesterday, and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Maybe they follow me from city to city, someone’s idea of a joke to see how long it takes me to notice. Maybe they’re even on the same flights, up in first class where I can’t see them.

More likely, though, they won’t know who I am, either. And will share my passion for the encounter.

After the suits, I’ll go back to sleep in the car on my way to whatever civic service club luncheon I’m attending.

If this is a good luncheon day, I’ll be the guest at a Rotary club meeting (or Kiwanis, or Lions, or ___________), and my only obligation will be to stand and smile and wave when announced. Then I can sit back down and suffer through a rubbery version of what once might have been chicken. With rice, always rice. Required by law, I think.

After, only the two or three people who have a genuine interest in the book will come over to my table and talk to me, the rest will simply file out the doors, back to their jobs as doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs.

These two or three will likely constitute the universe of sincere face to face human interaction I get for the day.

Maybe one or two more will confuse me for someone else and tell me how much their [friend/nephew/neighbor] enjoyed the book(s) I didn’t write. I will politely thank them. I will not correct their mistake. I usually like the author they think I am anyway.

If this is not a good luncheon day, same organizations (or, if this is a really bad day, a chamber of commerce), only I’ll have to speak at the luncheon, and I will not have time to eat my rubbery chicken and rice. Instead, I’ll have to stand at the podium before a room of professionals who raise money for things like global polio eradication during their lunch hours. God bless them, and their efforts, but there isn’t a lot of polio vaccination in this book.

I don’t feel insecure speaking to these groups so much as inappropriate. Clancy can save face at a conference of security contractors. Grisham can address bar associations with (some) credibility. When I have to speak to civic service associations, I always feel like the mistress being introduced to the wife.

I’ll doze off again on the way to the book store. I don’t know which of the homogeneous book conglomerates (Walden-Borders & Noble a Million) will have me chained to a desk all afternoon wishing for a cardboard mask-on-a-stick to hold in front of my face, bearing a smiling likeness of me.

[I thought up the mask-on-a-stick during my very first meet and greet, which happened to be day one of this tour, after the third person came up to the table and asked “[d]id you really make all this stuff up?” I checked to see if someone at the back of the line was putting them up to it. I prayed that it was some kind of prank. Publisher’s hazing, or initiation, or something.

It was not.

So I figure that having a life sized picture of my smiling face on a stick would enable me to endure those questions without having to visibly suppress the gag reflex.]

Honestly, sooner or later, I will vomit on a stranger. (The people asking the boneheaded questions never hear the answers anyway. I could say, “Oh, goodness, I didn’t make any of it up. Copied it from other stuff. Phonebook, mostly,” and they would just thrust their new copy in front of me to sign without missing a beat. I’m thinking that if my response came in the form of spewing rubbery chicken bits, that they would notice.)

The publisher’s publicist Patti (say that after a couple of Stolis, neat) hasn’t come right out and said as much, but I’m reasonably certain that blowing chunks on the admiring public (at least, the book buying, book signing attending members) would not boost sales.

(Oddly enough, it probably wouldn’t hurt, either. One or two isolated instances, anyway.)

After Walden-Borders & Noble a Million, I’ll probably go to the airport. Maybe dinner somewhere first, with some municipal officials only marginally less interested in who I am than vice versa (after all, I can't vote here, wherever here is). If the flight is on time, maybe I’ll be in the next hotel room by 1:00 a.m.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Am I complaining? Oh my god, how funny. This is exactly what complaining would look like, if I were complaining, isn’t it?

Be careful what you wish for. I wanted the book to do well – dreamt that it would. And it is doing business. (Secretly, I knew it would. I don't think out of hubris, I’ve just read enough to have some idea what works and what doesn’t.)

I know that all of this is part of the deal. I enjoy the travel and the people, I do. I’m just… tired. The first two weeks were a total blast, the dream come true. Then the lack of rest and the repetition caught up to me. The adrenaline (and abject terror) wore off. Dulled. Became routine. This doesn’t feel like the attention that I’d craved. Everything since has been blurry, and not the exciting kind.

I’m three quarters of the way through this tour, and I don’t know where I am. It doesn’t really matter. Today will be just like the last dozen, and all I have to do is show up and go through the motions. At least I have all the answers.


    “Sir? Your car…”

    He looked past the voice and saw the dark Lincoln at the curb. It was raining harder now. The driver held a large open umbrella in one hand, the other rested on the rear door handle, cocked and ready.

    “Thank you,” he said, closing the laptop as he stood. Without taking his eyes off the car, he slipped the computer into his bag, reached up with his other hand to clench his coat collar, and walked out the door.

***

Thank you, S.D. – I am intrigued, and though I have done nothing to merit your confidence, I will endeavor to uphold your expectations.

I am excited to find out what happens next. Something tells me that if it is as hum-drum as your protagonist expects, then you wouldn’t have bothered to tell the story.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret 

Friday, November 17, 2006

Excerpts from a Hypothetical Site Review

Excerpts from a made up review of this web site, by PhD candidate Juan Martinez (a real person), were he to actually read it.  And write a review.

    “… [B]ears some indicia of being penned by a great literary mind… absent any original thought... or writing ability… [c]onceivable that this is the work of a bipedal hominid.”

    ***

    Adventures might be a prank perpetrated by students at a large university, say, Texas A&M, involving lab animals with computer keyboards lining their cage(s).  Gerbils, maybe.  Or capybaras.  Doesn't matter, really, my point is that Messers Strunk and White would be appalled.”


Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Toddler Characteristics or Indicators of Adult Intoxication

    Poor motor control.
    Slurred Speech.
    High tolerance for DoodleBops.
    Loud nonspecific outbursts.
    Inability to control bodily functions.
    Fascination with telephones.
    NASCAR.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What She Probably Meant

I find it extraordinary that today’s young people are not only historically conscious, but are able to make wry socio-political commentary in ways that appear controversial unless subjected to deeper examination.

Case in point: I saw a young woman yesterday (twelve, perhaps thirteen years old) wearing a t-shirt bearing the Confederate Battle Flag and the slogan “It’s not a flag – it’s a way of life.”

At first blush, this might seem merely the ignorant drivel of white trash too lacking in intellectual honesty and intestinal fortitude to simply wear clothing that proclaims, “I HATE EVERYONE THAT ISN’T LIKE ME.”  But without pausing to appreciate the deeper meaning, one would miss the intended point entirely.

At face value, her shirt implies that she, the wearer, is dedicated to a way of life analogous to that which her 1861 counterparts endured.

Some examples would include:

“My 1861 way of life means that I’m getting married when I’m 14.”

“My 1861 way of life means I’ve had little or no formal education, and I learned to read just enough to be able to get through short passages of the Bible during Sunday meeting.”

“My 1861 way of life means that I work from well before the sun comes up, to well after it goes down, for my family to survive.”

“My 1861 way of life includes having the barber pull my rotten teeth out with unclean pliers, and no anesthesia.  Or worse: having to pull them out myself.”

“My 1861 way of life includes pampering myself with the occasional bath (using lye soap), and wearing a homemade menstrual belt every month (when not pregnant, of course).”

“My 1861 way of life means that I cannot vote, regardless of my age.”

“My 1861 way of life includes giving birth to four children in a one room dirt floor cabin, without a doctor, before dying during the delivery my fifth child – all before I turn 20.”


However, this young woman was obviously enjoying the accoutrements of a way of life far superior in all aspects to that she would have faced had she been born in the middle of the nineteenth century.

And therein lies the brilliance of her underlying commentary: her way of life is itself testimony to the vast superiority of living conditions in the United States today,* even for someone of her social status.  The shirt implies, “I hate everyone who is different,” but what it really means is, “let us leave our hate in the past, embrace one another, continue to grow as human beings, and enjoy the ample rewards mankind has wrought the past one hundred and forty plus years.”

So, young woman, although it is too late for me to tell this to you in person, I salute you, and I applaud the people who provide whatever passes for parental supervision in your home!

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

* (In fact, about the only aspect of life today that has not drastically evolved since the American Civil War are the bigots.  They never seem to change.)
 

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

CNN.com or The Onion? Redux

Headlines from CNN.com or The Onion?

Answers below.

November 12, 2006:

    1. Rare stamp may be sealed in Florida ballot box
    2. Woman shot six times in head lives
    3. Deer breaks free of plastic jack-o'-lantern
    4. Soldiers' Ramadi rap video an instant success
    5. Germans prepare Rumsfeld lawsuit
    6. Gol-LY! Andy Griffith sues Andy Griffith

November 13, 2006:

    1. Cop punching man's head hits YouTube
    2. Roadkill collector has weird animal encounter
    3. Eat more chocolate, save the planet
    4. Speeders' excuse: The dead guy did it
    5. Matchmaking for Egypt's teen brides
    6. Canada profs win right to smoke pot
    7. Elton John: 'I would ban religion'

"The only thing I can suggest, and I love it the way it is, but I would like to see us return to a little more international coverage on the domestic feed and a little more environmental coverage, and maybe a little less pervert of the day.  I mean, there's a lot of perversion around, I know that, but is it really news?  I mean, some of it is.  I guess you've got to cover Michael Jackson, but not three stories about perversion at the lead of every half-hour."

Ted Turner, June 2, 2005
From Turner reflects on CNN at 25


[Answers:  These are all headines from CNN.com.]

We miss you, Mr. Turner.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Galactica Amateur Dinner Theater Presents:


The Galactica Amateur Dinner Theater Presents Monster’s Ball, by Milo Addica and Will Rokos.  Featuring President Laura Roslin as LETICIA and Admiral William Adama as HANK.


LETICIA
I want... you know what I want?
I want you to make me feel better.

I want you to make me feel better.
I want you to make me feel better.

I want you to make me feel good.
Just make me feel good.

I want you to make me feel good.
Can you make me feel good?

Can you make me feel good?
Can you make me feel good?

You make me feel good!

Make me feel good!


HANK
I don't know what about.


LETICIA
Just make me feel good!


[Man’s voice from offstage]
Admiral! CIC reports multiple DRADIS contacts… wait one… Cylon base ships, Sir!


HANK
I have to go.

***



Found this scribbled on a note, stuck under my door this morning.  Don't know what it means, or what to make of it, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Your obediant servant,
B. Freret

Monday, November 13, 2006

If You are a Real Person, Please Stop Reading This

Okay.  I know that I should not say anything in my current state of mind, but I cannot risk wasting another minute, lest it happen again, so I’m just going to get right to the point.

It has come to my attention that a one of these entries has been read by a real person.  A real person that I do not even know.  I’m not going to name any names, but the friend who suggested I start this whole thing (who is a real person, and is decent enough to never actually read anything said here) even told me that Adventures has been added to something called the Boski Corp Network of Bad Ass Blogs of Doom, whatever that is.  (I’m too afraid to click and find out.)

So if you are a real person (and if you are, you probably know it) please stop reading this.  This sentence.  This paragraph.  I mean it, right now.  I said “please,” so STOP.  GO AWAY.  Do not come back. P.R. and I have never done anything to you, so please go.

Good Lord, look at you – still reading.  Have you no shame?  No dignity?  No self respect whatsoever?  Have you no cereal boxes about the house to read?  No TV Guide?  No mattress labels?  No McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern?

Fine, then.  You’ll get bored soon enough.  Until then, you assume the risk, and would do well to keep in mind Mr. Puzo’s statement that “[i]f I had known that anyone would read it, I would have written a better book.”  [Except this isn’t a book.  And you aren’t so much “anyone” as you are the only one reading this.  And the most obvious distinction: I’m much taller than Mario Puzo.]

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret 

Inappropriate Uses of Outtakes From SciFi’s Ghost Hunters


Inappropriate Uses of Outtakes From SciFi’s Ghost Hunters, as if the Outtakes were Catchphrases Adopted Into the Vernacular and Spoken as Responses to Serious Questions (Even Though Two are Not Really Questions)

I recently presented from memory some outtakes from the SciFi channel’s original series Ghost Hunters that I’d seen on a bloopers show.  P.R. commented that he was going to add some of these statements to his list of things he’d like to say sometime in a professional environment.

Having carefully considered this idea, I have decided that that no good would come from it, and I advise against doing so.  I think I have effectively illustrated why in the following hypothetical examples:

Q: “Mr. Boski, how do you explain your failure to log your entry into the pharmacology locker into the Log Book?”
A: “Dude, if you don’t stop singing Ghost Busters, I’m going to kick your ass.”

Q: “Boski, your sales last month were down eighteen percent from the month prior.  What are you going to do differently this month, to catch up?”
A: “I’d like to ‘Root Donna, if you know what I mean.”

Q: “Yes, Mr. Boski, how can we help you?”
A: “You’d better find that damn cable, or I’ll take care of you like I did Eckstrom.”

Q: “Mr. Boski, what part of ‘your application for Extreme Makeover has been rejected’ are you having difficulty understanding?”
A: “Sure, we’ve had our differences before, Brian, but be honest: do you think I have too many tattoos?”

Q: “So what is it about Middle Fork Seminary and Theological Academy that makes you want to study with us?”
A: “I’m Grant from Taps, we’re here to rock.”

Q: “You may feel some slight discomfort, Mr. Boski."
A: “Uh, Jason, you’re the boss – but exactly how are you going to check me for hot spots without the thermal?”

Q: “Ladies and gentlemen I am happy to present, for the first time as husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Boski!”
A: “Is it just me, or does our soundtrack remind you of Doom 3?”

Q: “Mr. Boski, do you appreciate that if you do not stop talking THIS INSTANT, I will find you in contempt, and you will spend the next twenty four hours in the Sherriff’s custody?”
A: “I’m not saying ‘Full Body Apparition’ is the perfect name for your band, just that I think it is a great name for a band.”


Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Friday, November 10, 2006

An Open Letter to Dave Eggers

An Open Letter (More Like Bullet Points, Really) to Dave Eggers Containing a Handful of Thoughtful Suggestions on How to Reinvent McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and in so doing, Lift it Out of the Rut of Irrelevance and Return it to its Rightful Place at the Bleeding Edge of Literature Just Like During the Glory Days (May 6, 2001 – May 8, 2001), or in the Alternative, to at Least Make it Commercially Viable, Presented in No Particular Order:

Drop the top ten lists, and move on to something original.  For example, consider combining Reviews of New Food and Lists into a new hybrid of the two, “Ingredients Written on Packages of Consumables, Recited Verbatim.”

Have your publicist find some design professionals.  Like graphic artists.  The human eye is capable of not only distinguishing between text and images, but possesses the ability to perceive color as well.  Black and white text is simply too verbose.  Monochromaticism is all well and good for mimeographed grade school newsletters and permission slips, but for the love of god, even the cave walls at Lascaux were painted with more than one color.  Maybe start small, and pick up a copy of USA Today, and go through it a few times to get a better feel for what makes it so great.

Speaking of USA Today, have more fake news.  Educated people love fake news, can’t get enough of it.  It doesn’t all even have to be made up, just crib some real news and mix it in with the occasional fictional piece.  Hell, most real news looks fake anyway (see also, CNN.com or The Onion? and CNN.com or The Onion Redux), and everybody knows that English speaking people are, for the most part, herd animals who gave up thinking for themselves years ago.

Use the words “irony” and “ironic” more often, regardless of applicability.  “Edgy,” too.

More violence and horror and sex and fart jokes and courtrooms.  Better still, more of all five at once.

More ads.  People often judge the quality of a site’s contents by the number and size of its advertisements, and rightly so.  Would Microsoft, or Wal-Mart, or General Motors run ads on a site that sucks?  I think not.

Less “suck.”

Your humble and obedient servant,
B. Freret

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Professor Hawking Left Me Voice Mail!


Upon arriving home for lunch today, I was greeted by the happy majesty of a flashing number “1” on my answering machine - the harbinger of someone, somewhere reaching out to metaphorically touch me.

The message was from Professor Hawking himself.  I still cannot believe it!  Apparently he called in response to Chuck Norris Facts More Applicable to Professor Stephen Hawking.



Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Outtakes from a Recently Broadcast Episode of SciFi’s “Ghost Hunters”

I happened to catch the end of a 'bloopers' show last night as I was falling asleep. I wish that I had been awake enough to record it, but I wasn't, so I didn't. I can't seem to find any rebroadcasts in the Media Center Guide, and in fact, I can't even find any evidence that it was broadcast last night.

Regardless, here are some that I remember, as best as I recall:

***

“I’m Grant from Taps, we’re here to rock.”

“Sure, we’ve had our differences before, Brian, but be honest: do you think I have too many tattoos?”

“I’m not saying ‘Full Body Apparition’ is the perfect name for your band, I'm just saying that I think it is a great name for a band.”

“Uh, Jason, you’re the boss – but exactly how are you going to check me for hot spots without the thermal?”

“Is it just me, or does our soundtrack remind you of Doom 3?”

“You’d better find that damn cable, or I’ll take care of you like I did Eckstrom.”

“I’d like to ‘Root Donna, if you know what I mean.”

“Dude, if you don’t stop singing Ghost Busters, I’m going to kick your ass.”

***

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Chuck Norris Facts More Applicable to Professor Stephen Hawking


I'm not sure how you knew that I dabble in theoretical physics, but I needed to giggle, so thank you, P.R., for sending me these Chuck Norris Facts as applied to Professor Hawking.

***

1.  There is no theory of evolution.  Just a list of creatures Professor Stephen Hawking has allowed to live.

2.  Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Professor Stephen Hawking.

3.  Nothing can escape the gravity of a black hole, except for Professor Stephen Hawking.  Professor Stephen Hawking eats black holes.  They taste like chicken.

4.  Professor Stephen Hawking counted to infinity - twice.

5.  There is no such thing as global warming. Professor Stephen Hawking was cold, so he turned the sun up.

6.  Professor Stephen Hawking doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.

7.  It is scientifically impossible for Professor Stephen Hawking to have had a mortal father.  The most popular theory is that he went back in time and fathered himself.

8.  Professor Stephen Hawking can divide by zero.

9.  Professor Stephen Hawking has 12 moons.  One of those moons is the Earth.

10.  Professor Stephen Hawking invented black.  In fact, he invented the entire spectrum of visible light.  Except pink.  Tom Cruise invented pink.

11.  When taking the SAT, write "Professor Stephen Hawking" for every answer.  You will score over 8000.

12.  It takes Professor Stephen Hawking 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.

***

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Friday, November 03, 2006

Memorial to Little Dude Freret

Thank you, P.R., for providing this touching memorial to Little Dude Freret:



I have no words.  Thank you.

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

CNN.com or The Onion?

CNN.com headlines for Wednesday, November 01, 2006, or headlines from The Onion?  Answers below.

    1. Iran offers cash for U.S. tourists
    2. Fake eyeball joke gets White House staffer
    3. Police: Duct tape no substitute for babysitter
    4. Mom gives birth not knowing she was pregnant
    5. Donald Trump cited for 80-foot flag pole

Your obedient servant,
B. Freret

[ANSWERS: 1. CNN.com; 2. CNN.com,  3. CNN.com, 4. CNN.com, 5. CNN.com]

Beavis & Butt-Head, CPAs?

I sometimes loan books to my neighbor the accountant.  Recently, he returned a book with a handwritten note tucked inside.  Upon showing it to him, he claimed to have never seen it before, which seemed odd,  but he is such a dry, withdrawn fellow, that I am inclined to believe him.

Accounting Jargon that Sounds Dirty:

Advances
Asset
Double Entry
GAAP
Hedged Position
Kicker
Maturity Date
Naked Position
Nonpassive Activity
Opportunity Cost
Performance Bond
Personal Articles Floater
Spread
Straddle
Vertical Integration
Winding Up
Wraparound
Yield to Maturity


Your obedient servant,
B. Freret