Monday, September 28, 2009

By the skin of my teeth OR The tooth and nothing but the tooth, so help me

I don't mean to brag, but when I went in to the dentist for my 6 month cleaning the hygienist fairly swooned over how good my brushing and flossing were. She complimented me on my enamel, which I thought was kind of forward but I was flattered nonetheless.

When the dentist came in and started poking around in my mouth and announced – way too cheerfully – that I had a cavity, I was super annoyed.

“What about my nice enamel?” I asked the dentist, a tad angrily.

“What about it?” she replied.

First of all let me say that dental insurance doesn't do anything for you and getting a filling was still wicked expensive. I need to quit my job and get involved in health and dental insurance. It seems like a pretty lucrative scam, plus it's more legal than selling crack and only slightly less ethical.

After they take your money the first thing they do is stick a needle in your gums. This hurts, almost as much as when they take your money. When they first stabbed me with it my eyes started to water. The assistant was pretty attractive (or at least the parts of her that weren't covered by a mask were attractive) so I was a little embarrassed. Then I remembered that they had a needle poking into my gums! I had every right to have a watery eye or two!

I was really curious about what was going on in my mouth, with it costing so much and all. They better be filling my cavity with pure gold. The dentist was wearing a face shield and I could see my mouth reflected in it. I was watching intently for a while but then I realized that me watching my reflection bore a creepy resemblance to me staring longingly into the dentist's eyes, so I quit. I didn't want to distract her while she had both of her hands in my mouth.

And speaking of hands in my mouth, I counted and during the procedure there were no less than 8 objects in my mouth at any given time. Four hands (the dentists and the assistants) plus the spit sucker, water sprayer, drill and mirror. The dentist would tell me to do stuff like, “Bite down,” or “Turn your head slightly,” but she had spit sucker, water sprayer and drill all going at the same time which amounted to quite a dental racket. I couldn't understand a word she was saying. At first she would just talk louder and louder but I still had no idea, and, even worse, I had no way to express that I had no idea. Eventually she just started pantomiming things to me, like dental Charades, which I will be playing at the next party I throw.

At one point the assistant fired up something that sounded like an outboard motor. I couldn't see it, so all I could do was be terrified. For most of the time the room also smelled like high school metal shop and all the while I was trying to keep my mind off of the fact that they were drilling into my teeth, which is easier said than done.

The cherry on top was as they were drilling Avril Lavigne came on the radio, the one where she's like, “Hey Hey You You, I can be your girlfriend.” It's a good thing I wasn't a spy with a bunch of secrets or I would have spilled them all just to make it stop.

Honestly I think I had a cavity because of my unhealthy relationship with sugar, so after this I've sworn off sugar forever. I'm a changed man.

No Snickers bar is worth that pain and agony.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Burn, baby, burn OR 50 foot trolls are people too!

I found out this weekend that there is a little pyromaniac in everyone that wants to get out, even in full-grown adults. People really like to see stuff burn.

Here's how I figured it out: This past weekend my friends and I went to Fiestas de Santa Fe, which is an annual celebration that takes place in the New Mexico capital city of Santa Fe.

In and of itself Fiestas is not that interesting. It began in 1712 to celebrate an expedition by Capitan General y Gobernador Don Diego de Vargas Zapata y Luján Ponce de León y Contreras el Marquez de la Nava de Barcinas. Don Diego's big feat was “reconquering” the territory of New Mexico in 1692. This was a big deal because during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 the Spaniards had been beaten like a drum, booted out of New Mexico and otherwise embarrassed by the native Pueblo indians/Native Americans/First Nations/politically correct term of your choice.

The Pueblo people revolted because the Spanish “conquistadors” were trying to eradicate their culture and religion. De Vargas also enforced his “peace treaty” by killing hundreds of people, so was the return of the Spaniards really a good thing? Should it be celebrated? Like a lot of other historical events, let's just gloss over the bad stuff and make an excuse to drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

The event that kicks off Fiestas is the burning of a 50-foot tall puppet named "Zozobra." A lot of people think it's some cool religious or cultural ceremony, or some pagan ritual but no. It was really just the idea of some old white guy. The good people of Santa Fe had been celebrating Fiestas for a good 212 years when Philadelphia artist Will Shuster came to New Mexico because he had tuberculosis and the climate was good for his recovery. Shuster started the Zozobra idea and people loved it. Go figure.

As you can see, Fiestas is a delightfully twisted celebration.

We were among the 23,000 people who turned out to see Zozobra burn for the 85th time. Zozobra is supposed to represent all of your problems. There is a “gloom” box at the front that you can go put your “troubles” into, and they load all the contents into Zozobra right before they burn him, so when Zozobra goes up smoke so do all your troubles. You could write something that is bothering you on a piece of paper, or throw in divorces decrees, pictures of exes, etc. I threw in the bills for my student loans, my credit cards and some speeding tickets.

The actual burning of Zozobra takes about 30 seconds, so they have to stretch it out a little bit. This means the celebration is about 1% awesome and about 99% filler. First there are about a hundred local bands of varying (and I mean VARYING) skill levels. Then somebody comes out dressed in a hooded robe and reads Zozobra’s death sentence, which is kind of morbid if you think about it. It includes all the charges against Zozobra. One of the charges is “Being a 50 foot bogeyman,” which kind of sounds like discrimination to me.

After the death sentence they have “fire dancers,” which are kids dressed up in ghost outfits who dance around with fiery sticks, a ridiculously dangerous activity. I should also mention that Zozobra growls the whole time. That is to say, some dude backstage growls into a microphone, and 45 minutes is a long time to go “Rawr! Rawr!” His growls sort of tapered off after a while, and once I think I heard Zozobra growl, “Rawr! Somebody get me a glass of water! Rawr!” Then the guy got his second wind and resumed growling with gusto.

Let me just say: puppet growling + fire dancers + 45 minutes = TEDIOUS! The people around us were clearly getting bored and were saying things like:

“Just burn him already!”

“Man, this would be so much cooler if we had some ‘shrooms!”

“Leave Zozobra alone! He’s just a giant troll! Can’t we all just get along?”

Then the moment we’d all been waiting for: they shot a bottlerocket into Zozobra’s head and he caught fire and in 30 seconds the crowd of 23,000 immediately began trampling one another to death to get out of the park. And did I mention there is ONE BRIDGE into the park? This means that all 23,000 people were bottle-necked in one spot, and there was pushing and shoving like you wouldn't believe! It was kind of like being caught in the current of a cursing, yelling river of B.O.

¡Viva la Fiesta!

The whole evening is condensed here:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Waking up is hard to do OR Snooze Button Blues

The snooze button is the worst invention ever. What purpose does it serve? What does an extra nine minutes of sleep really do for you? It's not like those nine minutes are nine minutes of sound, quality sleep. The snooze button really just makes you late for work and drives everyone else in the house crazy.

I thought I was the only one who wondered about the inventor of the snooze button, but a lot of people have written and raged about him/her/it. I say him/her/it because no one really knows who invented it. A chinchilla could've come up with the idea for all I know. One day it just came out of its little burrow and patented the idea, sold it to a few clock companies and is living very comfortably now in a much larger and more extravagant burrow.

Some people give snooze button inventor status to Lew Wallace, the guy who wrote Ben Hur, but that seems kind of random that a guy who writes movies would also invent alarm clock accessories. Plus, there are differing stories that put all sorts of different people as the Sultan of Snooze. It is likely that a lot of these snooze theories and legends are rubbish, as I limited my search to things I could find on the internet. Everyone knows that roughly 99 percent of information found on the internet is rubbish, present blog excluded of course.

What was the enigmatic snooze button inventor thinking when he made his brilliant discovery that would change the way the world sleeps? What were the thoughts that were going through this great mind? I expect something along the lines of, “I'll give the world more sleep, nine minutes at a time.”

They have all sorts of clocks designed to combat the “snooze effect.” There are alarms on wheels that start going off and then roll off your nightstand across your room so that you have to find them, which supposedly “guarantees” that you'll be wide awake. For me the only thing that chasing an annoying clock robot across my room in the early hours of the morning guarantees is that I will be super angry and said robot clock will likely get destroyed his first morning on the job.

Then they have a “sonic boom” alarm clock, which has an alarm that is 113 decibels. I looked it up and that is the same volume as a thunderclap, a jackhammer or being in the front row at a rock concert. This particular model is good if you like to wake up scared to death. “Holy crap! World War III is starting! Or worse, I'm in the front row at a Daughtry concert! Oh wait. Nope. It's just time for work.” I don't think cardiac arrest is a good way to start the day.

There are other crappy ways to wake up, too. A couple mornings ago I was dreaming that I was a serial murderer who had been convicted for all of my murders and I was getting executed in a gas chamber. I woke up in a cold sweat and quickly deduced what had happened (I'm good at deducing, and you could say I'm very "deductive," or "deductible" even). It turns out my neighbor was warming up his ancient car right by my open window and, consequently, my room was filling with noxious exhaust. What a way to start the day.

It was a Monday, too.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Maybe, baby OR Hit me baby one more time

Happy Labor Day, everyone! And speaking of labor, my sister Miranda just had her baby and he is a bundle of joy. And poop. And throw up.

My mom and dad went to “help” her have the baby. This means moral support in the delivery room, more or less, since everyone knows that the mom does all the work. All the doctor really does is catch and clean up, and the grandparents and husband just kind of cheer and give the mother positive affirmations.

Anyway, I guess Miranda’s labor was really rough and actually kind of scary. My dad (a seasoned delivery room cheer squad veteran of seven births) tried to explain it to me. There was something about “tearing” and “hemorrhaging” and that’s all I remember because when he got to “stitching” I passed out cold. Not really, but I sure thought about it.

My brother-in-law Rafa managed, to my surprise. I always make fun of Rafa and say he’s a wiener and I thought for sure he’d be passed out on the floor first thing. I give Rafa a hard time because when he and Miranda were dating she was also dating another guy, and I was rooting for the other guy. Well, Rafa won and I’m a sore loser so I always talk a lot of trash on Rafa. But in this case he surprised me.

Anyway, I also learned that baby-having involves a lot of colors. The baby is starting to turn a normal color now, but he didn’t start out that way. When my mom first e-mailed me some pictures he was a dark purplish-red and was kind of smooshy in texture (I am told this has something to do with him getting squeezed out of a birth canal a couple minutes before the picture was taken). He looked like a screaming beet with hair.

On the other hand, Miranda looked pale and white in the pictures. I’d put some of them up but she threatened me with a switchblade and a really nasty-smelling dirty diaper.

“But you have a motherly glow,” I said.

“I’ll glow you,” she said, angrily brandishing the putrid abomination of a baby diaper.

So you’ll have to take my word that she looked pretty sick. The baby is less purple now, and has more of a reddish tint, kind of like a crying, pooping watermelon’s insides.

They named him Kaleo, which is a pretty good compromise in my opinion. It’s unique, but not half as obnoxious as some of the other names they were tossing around.

Rafa is kind of controlling when it comes to what the baby will be named. Miranda has some ideas for a middle name, but Rafa keeps shooting them down. He keeps asserting that he is the boss, which makes sense because he contributed a whopping 23 chromosomes to the whole process. Oh wait. That doesn't make sense. My issues with this are:

1. It’s 2009.
2. If I remember correctly, Miranda was the one who squirted the thing out, lost a bunch of blood and got stitched back together, right?

But somehow Rafa thinks he gets to have the last say in what they name it. I guess someone made him the new baby-naming sheriff in town. Not only does that seem a little unfair, but I know my sister (not to mention my mother) and I think Rafa is taking his life in his hands. But he won’t listen to my warnings, oh no!

“These women are going to kill you, man,” I say with urgency in my voice.

“I’m the man and I get to name the baby,” he says, resolute in his stupidity.

Sounds like famous last words to me. Or a nice epitaph.

PS - Having a nephew is awesome because I can hold him until he cries or poops and then hand him straight back to his mom, like, "Here, my interest in your baby has expired." It's all the perks of having a a baby with no actual work or responsibility.