Awesome Living Creature Thing for May 31, 2009: Cordyceps

I just discovered this. And, technically it’s not an animal. So sue me.

Cordyceps is a fungus that likes nothing more than to be ingested by animals. It’s kind of like a prank. One day, while Mr. Ant is walking around, minding his own business, all of a sudden WHAM he’ll feel a force not unlike what one would feel if a live prairie dog crawled through your intestines and decided to go through your whole body, eventually tunneling through your head (or other bodily part). And then long tubular fungus shoots out of Mr. Ant, having eaten away all his innards. Technically he will be dead by this time.

And thus does the cycle of nature continue…

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America Online, Part I: WinAMP

America Online and I have had a difficult relationship. No matter what I do, it just keeps on trying to shut me out. I never know what AOL is going to do next. One day, I think we’re all square up, and our relationship is going along fine, and then the very next day AOL decides to hide the keys to the house so I can’t get in. And then if I call the police to try to get into my own damn house AOL kills the police officers.

Recently I got a new program from AOL, called “WinAMP“, a music player like Windows Media Player or Apple’s iTunes, for a radio station I’ll build this summer. (I do realize most normal people do not actively attempt to make their own radio stations, but as you may have noticed by now, I am a highly unique individual, and I’d like to note for the record that my radio station, Radio Headroom, is totally legal, because it will have a broadcast radius of about ten feet.) WinAMP’s best feature is, of course, its mascot, which happens to be a llama. This is by far the best part of WinAMP from my perspective, anyway. Its other features aren’t so good. For example, when we’re playing a card game I happen to enjoy, called “Play Random Music”, and it tries to shuffle, it ends up making… well, a llama of itself.

(Just as an aside, the Max Headroom Incident is where “Radio Headroom” gets its name.)

Let me explain someting. When a normal, well adjusted human being or music player “shuffles”, he or she or it makes everything random. More importantly, though, you wouldn’t just shuffle a deck of cards once and be done with it. Every time you’d play a new game, you’d shuffle the cards again. My last music player, iTunes, did this. I would say, “Let’s play Random Music”, and it would shuffle the deck and play a random piece of music. It would not make a new list of music where it changed all the songs’ places on the list and then just play that for me over and over again. iTunes was normal like that.

Whereas when I play Random Music with WinAMP, it either doesn’t work or does exactly what I just described. (I should also note that neither of the linked forum threads are ones I posted in, just ones that somewhat describe the problems I had.) I’ll tell it, “Hey, why don’t we play some random music?” and it will make a new playlist instead and just play that over and over again. It’s as if you’re playing a game of blackjack and the dealer just shuffled the cards once and left them like that, for every game he played the rest of the day. Really, it’s enough to make me want to take tea with the Mad Hatter, but not really because the guy didn’t have anything by the Eagles.

So I decided that I did not like WinAMP, in spite of the fact that it had a llama as its mascot. While I knew I’d have to dig deep to find a music player mascot as cool as a llama, I decided to try to find a program whose features would work… on first install.

I looked around the Internet, and finally found Media Monkey. Now, most zoologists would classify Media Monkey’s mascot as a “monkey“. (I have linked to Wikipedia for those who do not know what a monkey is. I know, most of the people that come to this site are Americans and have never actually seen a monkey. My advice is to go to a zoo.) While I have to go through the hassle of feeding my media player a banana three times a day, it is quite good at shuffling music. It even uses its feet.

It also found old songs from all of the video games on my computer. You cannot understand the elation I felt when I heard, for the first time in several years, the theme song from the Sims. It was positively bizarre. I told my cousin of this development.

“Come here! You have to hear this! It’s the old Sims neighborhood theme 2!” I yelled from my room.

“Not now, I’m too busy watching Inuyasha,” I believe that was his response.

Part II continues here.

America Online, Part II: Autoblog

On the subject of AOL-owned stuff, I have much the same problem with Autoblog as I had with WinAMP. Autoblog is a blog that talks about cars. Every day it has a new story on the automotive industry; how Ford no longer is the absolute most abhorrent automaker in the United States, having been replaced by the other two American auto companies, which will of course allow it to wait an extra two weeks before taking money from the government; how a Japanese automaker just released another one of those cars shaped like a packing crate that nobody likes except for old people with weird taste in everything;¬† and how President Barack “Limbaugh’s Archnemesis” Obama is planning on having the American automakers build cars that run on unicorn burps and fairy dust.

On Autoblog, I was one of the top commenters, until Autoblog apparently hid my password from me. I keep on typing it in, and Autoblog keeps on telling me that it is an “invalid password”, which I take to mean it’s depressed at me for some strange reason:

Me: Can I come in, honey?

Autoblog: INVALID PASSWORD AND EMAIL ADDRESS COMBINATION.

Me: Um, do you want flowers, sweetie?

Given my skills in wooing women, it’s no wonder Autoblog no longer allows me in. It could also have something to do with how I talked around Autoblog. My commentary was typical for Autoblog. Here’s a sample:

“Actually, JapaneseCarLover25000, I would argue that the Honda Civic is among the most craptacular pieces of crap that has ever existed on planet Earth, and would be the lowest if it weren’t for Autoblog’s authors, who are even more retarded than you. Can’t you morons make a comment system and news post that isn’t riddled with errors from here to the damn moon? Seriously. This site sucks so much ass.”

Well, all right, that’s actually a bit of an exaggeration, but still. This represents 99.9% of Autoblog posts, and actually around 99.9% of WinAMP posts as well, because from what I saw from the WinAMP forums most of the commentary revolved around how WinAMP’s shuffle system sucked and how the latest version didn’t work properly if equipped with Bento skin, plugins of any kind or if its owner was a Missouri synod Lutheran. However, it must be mentioned that WinAMP’s users all agreed that WinAMP was far better than iTunes. Their llama spits on iTunes, as is usually the case with dromedaries.

Nevermind. I’ll move to Jalopnik, and Media Monkey’s working well, and of course with both I won’t have to deal with AOL users. So you know what? I’m good. To hell with this post. I’m going to go play some Super Smash Brothers now. At least I don’t have to listen to Nintendo users.

I’ll be playing as Star Wolf. As if you couldn’t figure that out.

The Water God’s Balloon Tree of Destiny

In terms of the arts, I am what you would call an ultra-sophisticated hardcore latte-sipping Apple-using artiste. Of course, that’s only if you don’t count the artiste, Apple-using, latte-sipping, hardcore and ultra-sophisticated parts. But still, I’m one ultra-artistic individual. Or at least, now that I’m in college.

All right, all right. Realistically, I am the spawn of rednecks whose concept of awesome art boils down to posters of wolves and mountains all over the house. At my house, we have numerous rooms, named primarily by the type of art we have in them. For example, one room is named the “Wolf Room”, where I keep my wolf memorabilia. We have our “Living Room”, named for the pictures of buffalo we have on the wall facing the big-screen TV. In addition, we also have real life in our living room, in the form of various types of mold floating about in the air from the remains of childrens’ forgotten peanut butter sandwiches. We have a “Lego Room”, where I keep my urbane and sophisticated Lego bricks; and our “Utility Room”, where we keep our fine wines and soda pop.

And yes, we have Pepsi Throwback. And sardines. That is the kind of sophistication my family has.

Anyway, my artistic background goes along these lines. And so for me, building my Water God costume was the highlight of the art I have created so far. The Water God is a noble concept, one which I pondered for quite a long time before I finally got around to actually building it. I built it in the hopes that I can get into architecture school and design buildings for a living, because, let’s be honest here, Legos can only go so far, and whenever I have ambitions of building a working radio station out of Lego bricks my ambitions have gone where Legos can carry me no further.

The Water God, or Water Pope, consists of a rain slick and a large cone-shaped hat made of cardboard and duct tape. Out of the top sticks a sprinkler head, which shoots water up five feet in the air. I wear gloves with water hoses duct-taped to them. When somebody turns on the garden hose, water shoots out of my wrists, out the top of my hat, and out a water spigot attached to my nose, because I also attached a garden hose there.

Don’t laugh! I really did build this contraption! I can’t show pictures of it yet, but the basic gist of the concept is that I was required to build something that would enable me to do something I otherwise could not do. My decision was that, although touching both ends of a room with your fingertips would be cool, it was nothing like being able to shoot water from your head, nose and wrists at the same time.

Out at the back of the art building at my school I was standing, in this dark raincoat and black cone-shaped hat, with blue tape attached to make it look like¬† a tribal mask, and when the water came out, the feeling was electric. I was the Water God. I could shoot water from my head, nose and wrists at the same time! It was a powerful feeling. And, best of all, I didn’t get wet, except for my shoes.

My latest project, the Balloon Tree of Destiny, is set to be wayyyyy cooler than even the Water God. It only requires standard household balloons, duct tape, fifty feet of water hose, at least a dozen water bottles, a Home Depot “Homer Bucket”, several packets of yeast, sugar, water, aluminum foil, and probably at least one Anglican priest. In the end, however, it transforms into something beautiful: A giant thing made of balloons, hose and duct tape that kind of looks like a tree if you squint really hard.

This is going to be a powerful statement regarding trees, generally. Trees are important to me. They are green, and green is my favorite color, and sometimes trees have squirrels in them, which are adorable furry woodland creatures that you can hug and get mauled by.

The Balloon Tree of Destiny is a dissection of Man’s respect and reverence of trees. It represents themes as complex as the ancient caveman, who liked to pretend that trees had evil spirits in them, which they don’t; everybody knows that trees are inanimate objects, they have as much life as a pencil sharpener or a rock. My project represents Johnny Appleseed, who, as with my project, proved that a man with far too much time on his hands can do incredible things that nobody with half a brain would ever do, such as plant apple trees all over New England, or build a pretend tree out of garden hose and inflatable balloons. My project represents emos, via the very famous tree in California that you can drive through, because that tree had a hole in it that no emo’s ear piercing can ever match.

And, frankly, my tree represents God. Much more so, in fact, than a Water God ever could. Water Gods may come and go, but a tree will always serve as a natural lightning rod, and that’s something a Water God could probably do if he felt like it. So there.

Yes, This Is Seriously the Easter Post for 2009.

(Yes, I’ve Seen All Good People. I nominate this song for Official Easter Song.)

P.S. Happy Easter. Praise Jesus and may he not strike me dead in the coming year.

The Machinations of the Manifestation of My Giant Nintendo Game

As far as building things goes, I have never built anything quite like the giant squid. Frankly, I have never actually built a giant squid, so that goes without saying. Squids are dangerous, squishy, and gross, and they have giant eyeballs that follow you around, eyeing you suspiciously, lest you attempt to steal their giant treasure or reservoirs of ink. They know you. They know you have a huge report coming up, and you’ll be needing ink for your pen, and you’d like nothing more than to get your ink from a giant squid, so that you can stroll right up to the front of your class, in your flip-flops and Hawaiian shirt, and tell your teacher, “Here is my report, I got the ink from a giant squid”, and everybody will ooh and aah and marvel at Giant Squid Dude. And then you’ll get to date the head cheerleader.

So to Hell with the squid. It’s a bastard that won’t give up its ink. What I did build was a giant Nintendo game. I did not build it well, as far as general Nintendo game construction is concerned. But I did build it. I built it out of cardboard, and hot glue, and love, and blood, and sweat, and tears, and screaming and burning and cursing and smashing in walls with my fists in rage because the cardboard wouldn’t stay the hell together, but dammit, when you are asked to build a giant Nintendo game, by gum, you build it, and you smile, even when somebody else brings in a giant butane lighter that makes your Nintendo game look like last week’s solid waste products by comparison. And then you go home, and cry in your pillow.

This giant butane lighter put my Game Boy to shame.

As you might expect, I built this for my art studio class. There are very few other situations where it pays off to build a giant cardboard Nintendo game that you can’t play. There are very few job interviews, for example, where this is a plus:

Interviewer: Good morning, Mr. Jenkins, I see that you have all your paperwork with you, but something’s missing, I just can’t…

Jenkins: (pulls out a giant Nintendo game made out of cardboard.)

Interviewer: My God, that is BRILLIANT!

Jenkins: So does that mean I’m hired?

Interviewer: You can also have my daughter’s hand in marriage.

But of course, in an art studio class, as well as possibly applying to work at a cardboard box factory, cardboard construction–meaning “true high art, in corrugated form”–is extremely important. My teacher made sure to stress how important it is to know how to build objects out of only cardboard and hot glue. It’s apparently especially important in my chosen major, which happens to be architecture, a trade rivaled only by engineering in its pretentiousness. In architecture circles, I could build a pair of binoculars in front of a building and they would be considered fine art. Normal people, of course, would consider me to be mildly retarded. Many would stare.

But I am a pretentious asshole, and I view everyone else as being mildly retarded, so it all works out in the end, and everybody ends up equally right. My Nintendo game, however, is quite important to me. As a cardboard structure, it speaks to the power of weakness in large quantities, as my construction of the thing was weak, and the cardboard itself was weak, but if you combine them together, you get something that will still fall apart before I can get it home. It also speaks to love, as a child to his Nintendo game; and sadness, as when the screen of the game burns out, as it appears to have in my cardboard game.

Most importantly, though, my Nintendo game speaks to the human condition, which all too often manifests itself in the form of tiny objects with electrical parts in them. The Nintendo game is the most important manifestation of this manifestation. The creation of the Nintendo game is important in that it is a connection with the manifestation of life, which in itself is stationed in the direction of machinations with the imagination of the human condition, made real by the manifestation of more life created by the manifestation of the old life, which is now dead. This is very important to understanding my work. All of that last sentence? You need to understand all of it, in some fundamental way, to appreciate the unique directions I took in making a giant box out of cardboard.

Giant Game Boy battery cover.

So anyway, next time you’re playing a Game Boy, and you’re daydreaming, and thinking to yourself, and a flash comes to your mind, and you wonder what it would be like if they built one twenty-five times larger than the one currently in your hand, and you think this because you’ve been smoking marijuana, think of me and this work. Because art is nothing if it is not thought of. It’s a creation. And it requires manifestation. Naturally.

Slowly Killing Oneself in the Quest For Health

You will know it when you see it.

You will know it when you see it.

Have you ever been to a Chinese food restaurant? Yes, I am asking you. Have you, the person currently reading this pointless article, ever been to a Chinese food restaurant?

If you are a normal, God-fearing American, the answer to this is probably “yes”. (If it is not, meaning that you are not a normal, God-fearing American, you should become one, either via marriage ceremony or genetic engineering.) Anyhow, of course you’ve eaten Chinese food, it is awesome. You have probably figured out by now, looking at how long this article is, that this is not my only question to you. Because there are many different types of Chinese food restaurants. There are Schechuan Chinese food restaurants, and Cantonese, and some aren’t even Chinese, they’re like a weird mixture of all kinds of crazy crap that the chef decided appeared vaguely Asian, and so he decided to open up a restaurant¬† and call the food “Chinese” because China is the only Asian country he can find on a map.

By now you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at. My point is, if the answer to the first question is “yes” and the answer to the second is not “Four-Joys Chinese Restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few blocks south of The Fruit Basket, which sells fruit, and just a little south of Moses Health Foods Store, which sold the acidophilus milk that cured the Governor of the Luigiian Republic of near-terminal rotavirus when he was six months old”, then you sir (or ma’am) are an idiot. You also have terrible taste in food.

It's great, seriously. No, this is not a joke. YOU NEED TO EAT AT THIS PLACE SOMETIME DAMMIT

There is but one “Four Joys Chinese Restaurant.” You will know it right away, because it emanates awesome right at the front door, in the form of two enormous wooden dragons on either side of the front door. Inside there is a small river, with small Chinese fishes, and small Chinese waitresses, although it must be mentioned that the waitresses are not inside the river, as this would get their feet wet. The waitresses are instead near the tables inside the restaurant, which is dark. God alone knows what the walls look like in this place, that is how dark the walls are.

I went to Four-Joys yesterday, and it was great. It was an incredibly powerful, moving experience, especially bathroom-wise, but also because it tasted good. But, of course, whenever you consume that much MSG and salt and grease and rice and spicy mustard and General Tso’s Chicken in one sitting, you know that there is going to be hell to pay. And that hell is fiery, watery and generally comes out of all of your major orifices at once.

But that hell is definitely, totally worth it.

Walking a tightrope is a great way to become fit. Headaches? Youd better hope you dont fall.

Walking a tightrope is a great way to become fit. Headaches? You'd better hope you don't fall.

The only cure for Chinese Food Hell, of course, is Wii Fit. It is the cure because it is a healthy game that involves such healthy activities as twisting your body into knots, walking tightropes extended hundreds of feet above the ground, and of course yoga, which no healthy activity would be without. Yoga, like it’s namesake, yogurt, is very healthy, because it teaches exercises like how to breathe so much air into your bodily cavities that your stomach starts bulging out, which I tried to do but failed at because my sides hurt after attempting the Half-Moon pose.

And that is just on my first day. I am sure that after several days of this, my whole body will ache as if I have run the Boston Marathon several times in a row. That’s how I’ll know that I’m getting healthier. Because I’ll be in excruciating pain.

Science agrees with me on this. As I write this, scientists around the world are coming up with new ways to try to force humans all around the globe to seriously injure themselves. In special scientific studies, they continually find that people that put in more sweat and more difficult activities lose more weight and become healthier. They do not state whether most of those respondents are sadomasochists, or whether they’re also vegetarians, but I’m guessing that they are. Only sadomasochists and vegetarians could get off on making themselves feel like they’re ninety years old after an hour of twisting their bodies into various unnatural poses. If you enjoy exercise, chances are you’re one of them.

If you go looking for the rest of this horrible image, you will never, ever forgive yourself. It is ithat/i bad.

If you go looking for the rest of this horrible image, you will never, ever forgive yourself. It is that bad.

And in spite of this pain, I may still end up using Wii Fit. Am I a sadomasochist? Am I a vegetarian? I do not know. I know I am probably not a vegetarian, because I believe strongly that if an animal was not murdered to produce whatever food I am eating, that it is only a snack and therefore completely useless for my nutrition. I may be a sadomasochist but at this point I have been exposed, via the Internet, to so many odd perversions and fetishes and deviancies and various other evils (such as being on the same planet as Doug Winger) that being able to find a single one in the dark depraved confines that constitute my mind would be a luxury comparable to raising the Titanic and bringing all of its passengers back from the dead. So in that regard there is no way in HELL I am going to try to answer that question. Forget you even HEARD it.

And don’t, under any circumstances, look up Doug Winger. Just trust me on this one.