Summer Fruit Power Rankings

Summer is my favorite season in part because fruit grows here like I imagine it did in Eden. You can just eat these things right off trees (or bushes or whatever). So here are the common fruits, ranked by order of deliciousness. I dare you to disagree.

How Not to Talk about the Minimum Wage

For a story that doesn't affect me in any direct way, the Mcdonalds strike and the reasons behind it interest me. I worked at a Subway ages ago, and I currently work in retail while working on my Masters to help pay for luxuries like rent and food. But since my wife and I both work, and we currently don't have additional mouths to feed, we're doing okay. But I can see how that might not be the case for many, and that's why I feel the need to weigh in on this conversation. First, it needs to happen, and I hope it does. But if the topic of the minimum wage comes up, here are some traps to avoid.

1. Forgetting who you are talking about. Most people still have no idea who is flipping burgers behind the counter. I work in a large retail store in a college town. Many students work there, but a lot of the age and marital spectrum is covered, making a living wage more than just a talking point. And as someone who used to live in New York State, I can vouch for its high cost of living. We are not talking about greedy teenagers here. The $7 an hour gig may still be a stepping stone for a handful, but for many more it has evolved into a dead end. Our economy has changed the picture on us, and we need to keep that in mind as we discuss what should happen next.

2. Lecturing the workers. I have no idea if Mcdonalds employees have to endure rants by customers on how evil their employer is, but this happens in retail. Let's just assume the fair trade shops aren't hiring, and try not to put employees in awkward situations. If you have a job offer, that's different. Offer away.

3. Pretending starving people out is our only option. I've heard the arguments against raising the minimum wage: inflation may rise, employers will have no choice but to let people go. These are challenges, not locked doors. Let's talk about solutions, and if you doubt we need them, please review number 1.


A List for Those Hoping to Ruin Thanksgiving Dinner

Wikipedia recently released their list of the top ten most controversial topics on their site, and there were some surprises. Shoot, Jesus and Christianity barely made the cut. Take notes so you can lob one of these topical grenades onto an otherwise peaceful holiday meal.Who knows, you might bring the festivities to close so you can catch the second-half  of that football game.

1. "W"
That's right. The single most polarizing topic on Wikipedia is the legacy of George W. Bush. To pull the pin on this topic simply open with "George W. Bush is the single worst president in history" or wonder aloud if there is room on Mount Rushmore for his bust. One opening is as effective as the other.

2. Anarchism: 
Really? Anarchism. Apparently the modern anarchist has forsaken the time tested molotov cocktail in exchange for the validation only a wiki can provide.

3. Muhammed.
South Park's Parker and Stone can shed light here.


"Evil Friends" Is My Favorite Album of the Year So Far, and It Is Only Slightly Evil

Portugal. The Man's Evil Friends is dark. It may be one of the darkest albums I've ever heard, if simply because it is about choosing to believe God does not exist. The lyrics are angrily howled and whispered in soft falsetto, and they are almost uniformly pessimistic, a sort of weary punk malaise. I mean, it's called Evil Friends, and have you looked at that demon guy on the cover?

But it is also the most enjoyable album I've heard in years. It is gorgeous and schizophrenic, a collection more akin to Abbey Road than four decades of Beatles imitators. I think you will love it.


Writing for Relevant Magazine Is Not a "Donation"

Relevant magazine -- a publication many of us appreciate for the voice it has occasionally given to post-Evangelicals and other Evangelical types of a certain age, and indeed a publication I consider to have been groundbreaking in the Evangelical media world for its coverage of "secular" music, movies, and other cultural products -- has had the following sentence in their writers' guidelines for years:
Submissions to the website are on a donation basis (byline and bio are compensation).


Meanwhile, Back at Abu Graib

I hear tales there's a new heir to the throne in England. And while I'm not personally connecting with the
hubbub emotionally, I've lived long enough to know that it's a real thing. Not real in the sense that it matters. The monarchy isn't "real", at least not in the sense that it's governing a British Empire, or even its host island. But it's real in the sense that it's a state-sponsored fairy tale, like if the U.S. government sponsored the Tea Cup ride at Disneyworld.


bits of life; Wind Chimes


Like a stream of arched golden liquid, the morning sunshine "urinated" all over the sewer dweller’s face.


I’d like to be in the belly of a ship singing chantey songs because you could poop your pants right then and there and laugh uproariously. And later on you could hum the songs and pee your pants.


Here's Your Summer Soundtrack

Lorde is the nom de guerre of Ella Yelich-O'Connor, a singer-songwriter from New Zealand. She's been owning the NZ charts since March on the back of The Love Club EP, a startlingly self-assured collection of four excellent songs and one that's just pretty good. If there is any justice in the world, "Royals" will be the alternative summer jam of the summer (and George Zimmerman would've been convicted for at least manslaughter).


Jack Handey; The Stench of Honolulu

Jack Handey has a new book coming out this week, his first novel, The Stench of Honolulu.   Handey’s comedy has been such a tremendous influence not only on my own writing and sense of humor, but many people my age who were just developing their comedic sensibility in the early 90’s when his Deep Thoughts and sketches were on SNL.    I’ve had long discussions with friends, also in their mid thirties, about the impact of early 90s SNL, (along with Seinfeld), had on how we look at the world.
Here is a great interview from The New Yorker this week.  I particularly enjoyed the conversation on pure comedy, something I believe Jack Handey has harnessed more than any other writer.   He creates pure jokes that take you to a silly place deep inside and invite you to relax there in an overstuffed leather chair.   No serious matters on your mind, just laughter. 

Howling Fantoids: Infinite Jest is Kicking My Butt

A Character Map of Infinite Jest 
I'm late to the DFW party. However, I'm late to all things literarily and musically fashionable, which is why I'm not allowed to purchase any property in Portland..I'm the opposite of whatever a hipster is. But Infinite Jest... why didn't those of you in the know warn me? DFW set the hook with thirty immaculate opening pages and then piled chapter after chapter of new characters: Tennis players, drug addicts, and drug addicted tennis players. And P.G.O.A.T.


The Pop Cycle - P!nk, Selena Gomez, and Robin Thicke

Oh, hello there! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've just been working my balls off this week. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice to say: dolla billz, y'all.

I haven't done one of these Pop Cycle things in a while, so let's go that route. This week: Selena Gomez, P!?n,k%%%%, and the other white male celebrity with the last name "Thicke".


An Open Letter to Christian Comics

A while back I wrote a piece for Relevant Magazine called "Why Aren't Christians Funny: On Evangelicalism's Long Struggle with Humor." The piece was a quick look at what I believe are some sociological reasons the Evangelical community struggles to produce much (and/or) good art in the humor genre.The piece generated some decent conversation and I ended up on co-blogger Jordan Green's podcast.


bits of life; Evil Twin

Some Amish children asked me not to take their photo because it would steal their souls. But I was confident I could blackmail a plow out of this deal. 


After weeks of preliminary testing I told my friend Jake I could not, in fact, implant his brain into the chicken's body, as I secretly feared he might overtake our cock fighting organization from the inside.   Note to self: Jake is not to be trusted. Tomorrow ask him to put my brain in a chicken's head.


bits of life - 4th of July Edition


It's amazing how by merely throwing feces at the Queen, you can make a statement of some kind.   That's called the American Spirit, baby.


Forget DOMA. This Case Means Everything

This could soon read "I exist in the state of being the walrus".

I know people on both sides of the ideological fence are pretty riled up about DOMA and Democratic senator Wendy Davis' Texas filibuster, but let's not get so distracted we let other important decisions fall through the cracks. Some judge will soon bear the weight on his or her (but probably his) shoulders of deciding who owns the phrase I am. Yes, people are suing for ownership of pronouns and helping verbs now. Your average citizen and schoolteacher could be required to pay royalties for licensed use of the common phrase in the near future.  And more than that, there's something about owning that particular combination of words that sounds kind of powerful.

But maybe it's not too bad. After all, I considered as a joke intentionally avoiding using the phrase in writing this post, but it turns out there was no need. So maybe we'll be okay. "Be" will still be safe to use, right?

Boy Scouts, Gay Pride, and the Very Best Fourth of July Parade Ever

Tomorrow morning I will get up early and march with my youngest son in our local 4th of July Parade. It's  smallish local parade. No giant Underdog or Bullwinkle balloon will be spotted. Just miles of Shriners wearing Fez, high school marching bands, clowns, mimes, scouts, and, yes, a smattering of transvestites.

I can verify the presence of  the transvestites because a handful of years ago in the parade I marched for two miles behind a six-foot-something trannie in fabulous heels and sheer purple dress that revealed the shadows of a black thong.

That's two miles of scouts asking "Why are they dressed like that? Why are they doing that?"

A few gratuitous, "Dude looks like a lay-dee"'s were tossed in as well.


On Raising Comic Book Nerds

How to keep a nerd occupied for hours.
The moment I realized I failed my children was Friday afternoon at 4:53 PM. We were all piled in the minivan, headed to Michigan to visit family. Conversation, somehow, turned to politics and the current economic malaise. My college student was trying to explain the nuances of his position to his ten-year-old brother and listed Wakanda and Lavaria among the nations particularly impacted by the global economy.

In a single sentence he wore his influences on his sleeve: Politics by Jon Stewart; Geography by Stan Lee.