Dead Caterpillar

The universe is a vast cosmic conspiracy ...

Not the brightest kid

Tuesday, Dec 20th, 2011

When I was a kid my grandmother offered, in one hand, a five-dollar bill, and three singles in the other. I took the three singles, and grandma thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. She corrected me and explained how a five-dollar bill was worth more than three one dollar bills, even though the three one dollar bills looked like more because they were separate bills. A few weeks later Troll Grandma offered me the same thing: A five-dollar bill in one hand and three singles in the other. I took the singles.

Bling bling, baby.

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Sudden realizations

Sunday, Dec 18th, 2011


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I give you Whit Hertford

Saturday, Dec 17th, 2011

The fat kid from Jurassic park. You know the one…

“More like a six foot turkey!”

Yesterday I spent about three hours obsessively cyber-stalking him. It turns out he’s a writer now and does some acting on the side. He recently stared in this short film called “Elliot.” I furrowed my eyebrows through the entire thing. He has a very strange face! Okay here’s a link to the very cheesy and weird short film, which I found strangely mesmerizing on account of its cheesiness and weirdness.

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The life and times of Penny McGenny

Sunday, Oct 23rd, 2011

You don’t know what you got till it’s smushed. My cat Penny met a gruesome end Monday trying to cross the street. Poor, poor Penny, run down just inches away from reaching the curb. I loved that cat like I would have loved a dog. Now he’s in the backyard buried beneath the willow tree, which, I know, sounds very picturesque. I didn’t have time to think and process it all when it happened, Monday morning. Pretty much poker-faced my way through the rest of the day. It was my first day at a new job and you always want to make a good impression on the first day. You want to smile and shake hands, not moan about your dead cat. But I think the timing of his death couldn’t have been better. If Penny absolutely HAD to die, the timing was right. I’m too distracted with everything to be entirely caught up in it.

So it was exactly two Octobers ago when my then-roomate, Prasanna, and I were kidding about getting kittens, in lieu of girlfriends. It started as a joke but we toyed with the idea for a while and eventually figured “ah what the heck.” We found a free kittens listing on Craigslist and made the trip the next day. I think there were four kittens in the litter and each had some sort of growth on the face, except one. Naturally I chose the one without a growth that being Penny. Destiny, of course, but also common sense.

I took a surprising number of pictures and videos of Penny with my cellphone. I’ve decided to upload some for posterity. Sorry the video quality is poor and there is no sound. Here Penny is playing with my feet on his first day in a new home. My two feet were Penny’s mortal enemies during kittenhood. 1:44 will eat your heart out.

Penny chilling on the carpet, like a boss.

Hungry little bastard.

Penny’s first meal.

One of those pictures that hurts your neck.

A video of Penny playing with a pen.

Penny, a little older, playing hide and seek. I usually initiated our hide and seek games by throwing something (a pill container in this case) at him. Then running away. I’m glad there’s no sound because I was giggling like a little girl.

Penny as an adolescent.

Classic Penny look.

I came home from work one day to this scene. One of my housemates had left his window open to the roof.

This picture was taken in the middle of the night with flash on. Penny would sometimes sit on one of the couch arms next to my bed and stare at me while I slept. I would wake up and see his silhouette hovering over me. It freaked me out. Creeper.

After weeks of futility, Penny finally did catch that mouse.

Unfortunately he had no idea what to do with it. We ended up letting it go outside.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you a photo compilation of Penny’s (often hilarious) sleeping positions.

This one’s called “Roadkill.” It was funny at the time..

I like the lighting in these pictures.

Penny staring out the window and contemplating the mysteries of the universe through his feeble, kitten mind. Never cracked open the textbook by the way.

Penny guarding the door to my room.

Penny falling asleep, guarding the door to my room.

Penny’s first encounter with the opposite sex.

Penny’s first rejection from the opposite sex (it happens to the best of us).

This little lady has been camped out on my back porch since the time of Penny’s death, six days ago. I had seen her before together with Penny. She doesn’t want to come inside, she doesn’t want to be held, she shows no interest in food. She just stares and walks around in circles on the back porch. I take her inside and she looks around aimlessly, then returns to standing by the porch door. My guess is that Penny had a girlfriend.

This is oddly my favorite picture of Penny. I remember my exact thoughts before taking this picture. “I know I will probably have a lot of stupid bushes, a lot of grills, and a lot of cats in my lifetime. But I won’t always have this stupid bush and this grill and this cat.” So I took this picture.

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Rant: hot dogs, condiments, pickle jars

Sunday, Sep 11th, 2011

It is a sick game the hot dog bun people play with the hot dog people, conspiring together to always make the bun slightly longer than the dog, or the dog slightly shorter than the bun. We’ve all been there, holding that small stub of bread, wondering what do with it. Do I eat it.. throw it out? Major WTF moment. And then Oscar Mayer has the nerve, the sheer audacity to sell “bun length” dogs, as if “bun length” is some new, novel concept.

A sick, sick game.

What’s worse is the asshole mustard people. Man has mastered the skies and ventured space, defeated polio and small pox, scaled Everest and K2. Millions of years of evolution.[1] Untold bounds in science and medicine, especially in the last century. Yet we’re still squirting 3 ounces of warm yellow water – the condiment equivalent of diarrhea — on our franks. Somehow no one has figured it out. Not even the geniuses over at Oscar Mayer, responsible for the innovative ‘frank that actually fits your bun’. I for one blame the mustard people but the ketchup people are by no means innocent. You’d be lucky to get a squirt of diluted diarrhea-ketchup out of a half-finished glass bottle of Heinz, after your hand goes numb from smacking the bottle. Someone was being real cute at the Heinz bottling factory. And fuck pickle jars! I’d have better luck opening a cockpit door on a mid-flight 747.

After 9/11.

That’s why every man knows to never ever (ever!) attempt to open a pickle jar when a girl is watching. Four minutes in and you’re the girl. And should a girl ask you to open a pickle jar, you can pretty much kiss your masculinity goodbye. It’s not going to open. Not even if you happened to carry around a crow bar. Not with three sticks of dynamite. Then come the usual can’t-open cliches …

“Hmm … can’t seem to get a grip on this thing …”

“My hands are wet!”

“Hmph … I think the lid on this pickle jar might be defective!”

Message to pickle people: Let me in. I’m not a terrorist. And fuck you.

Fuck you and your pickles.

  1. [1] I find Darwin’s theory laughable and therefore see fit to allude to it in the facetious tone. Men evolved from apes … how absurd! It is far more reasonable, though a tad misanthropic, to assume apes evolved from men.

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It’s 9/11 again

Sunday, Sep 11th, 2011

Honestly I’m not sure if I should have moral indignation for the people still whining about 9/11 or the people whining about people still whining about 9/11. I’m confused as to what position to take on this very important sociopolitical issue… It was suggested by an esteemed internet friend that I instead focus my energy on doing things more practical and worthwhile, like baking.

Souffle anyone?

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Photoshop Tutorial: How to Re-produce the Clock Tower Scene from the famous Hill Valley Lightning storm of Nov. 12th 1955

Friday, Sep 9th, 2011

What you will need:


  1. When the mechanic at the box factory you work at asks you to “fork em’ up” to the external part of the high rise building to replace a lightbulb, promptly do so.
  2. When you have raised the mechanic up to the highest level, engage the emergency break and step out of the forklift. Make sure that the emergency break is secure and that the forklift is not in gear. If you forget this step, your mechanic may die. And then you are out of a job my friend.
  3. Walk several steps away from the forklift.
  4. Whistle.
  5. At this point your mechanic will turn around at the top and see you down below, not operating the forklift. Curiosity will slowly manifest itself on the mechanic’s face. Then astonishment. Bewilderment. And finally: fear. This is the Doc-Brown-on-top-of-a-bell-tower-hanging-from-a-cable-in-the-middle-of-a-lightening-storm look. Quickly! Now is your chance. Flip out your camera phone and snap a picture!
  6. The rest is easy. In GIMP I used the Free Select Tool to cut out the mechanic’s face, then pasted it in a new transparent layer above the original Doc Brown image. I used the Rotate Tool to align the neck and touched up the surrounding areas with the brush and clone stamp tool.
  7. (Optional, Recommended) The next day, on lunch break at work, check your peanut butter and jelly sandwich for axel grease before biting into it. Personal experience has led me to believe that mechanics, such as the one featured in the picture, are capable of being extremely vindictive.

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A weekend update

Sunday, Aug 14th, 2011

Every once in a while you just need to lapse. I mean really lapse.

You come home from work on Friday night and get totally drunk with your best friend Jim Beam. Then when you’re super drunk you pig out on cheese doodles dipped in ranch dressing while watching straight through the entire first season of Mad Men in your boxers. You ignore everyone and everything. You periodically doze off and wake up in drunken stupors throughout the weekend. Sure you check the time every once in a while, but only to make sure it’s not Monday yet. You don’t do anything adultish like taking out the trash or washing the dishes or feeding the cat.

You just sit there, lie there, and lapse … the entire weekend. And you enjoy every god damn minute of it.

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Darn you all to heck!

Sunday, Aug 7th, 2011

I watched Planet of the Apes (the 2001 Mark Wahlberg one) today on FX, in between packing and moving stuff into my new house. I find the whole Planet of the Apes saga difficult to take seriously, simply because apes have such funny connotation. When I think of apes, I think of tree swinging, of ew-ew ah-ah sounds, butt scratching and bananas. Just stuff I can’t take seriously. So no matter how much an ape looks and acts human, there is always that underlying funny connotation there.. and that’s going to directly undermine their good or evil, heroic or villainous, dramatic portrayals in Planet of the Apes.

Anyway, I noticed the voice of Charleston Heston in Thade’s father this time around.

Thade's father (left), played by Charleston Heston and Thade (right), played by Tim Roth.

In the above scene, Ape-Heston is on his death bed consoling Thade (the evil chimp villain on the right) to exterminate the humans or something like that. His last words are “Damn them … damn them all to Hell!”

Love it! Golden!

Anyone who is familiar with the original 1968 Planet of the Apes knows that Charleston Heston (playing as a man, not an ape) utters that very same line during the famous beach scene, just after he finds the Statue of Liberty in ruins and discovers that the humans destroyed themselves. I used to re-enact the scene as a kid, on the beach during family vacations, much to my mother’s amusement.

Ahhhhhh!! I love it so much! Heston says it so emphatically, with so much umph. And with his hands in the sand like that … the waves! A truly magic movie moment. I’m pretty sure I re-enacted that scene every time my family went to the beach.

There is a delicious parody of the scene in the animated adventure comedy Madagascar. I watched Madagascar for the first time a few summers ago at a camp I was working at in Maryland. It was movie night and the room was full of kids. None of them understood the reference.

Of course the lion (Ben Stiller) omits “God” and uses the euphemisms darn and heck in place of damn and hell. I guess that’s to be expected in a kid’s movie, but it really only adds to the humor.

I’m not too anxious to see the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie. I feel the overly-exhausted end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it theme has lost its novelty (with 2012, Battle: LA, I am Legend, Daybreakers, Priest, The Book of Eli, The Road, etc) and, besides, as stated, apes don’t do much for me in any sort of dramatic context. I’ll probably see it when it comes out in the dollar theater.

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I could not decide which was more entertaining

Saturday, Jul 16th, 2011

Watching my favorite sitcom or watching my cat trapped in the television cabinet …

cat trapped

So I did both! At the same time!

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The vampire hunter

Thursday, Jul 14th, 2011

In Lynchburg, Rivermont Avenue. Thursday, July 14th at 7:55 am.

Blade, vampire hunter. Yes.

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Charles Dickens is plain boring

Thursday, Jul 14th, 2011

Dickens ought to be dug up at Westminister Abbey and burned for his literary crimes against humanity.

Like so many of our cherished Victorian-era authors, Dickens was more prolific than God, having written more words than the combined sixty six authors of the Bible. The Bible of course, is that book which contains God’s entire revelation to mankind, including the life and works of Christ (in four accounts), the Pentateuch, the Psalms, the Epistles, not to mention an entire history of the earth. Regardless of whether you believe in him or not, you gotta hand it to God for brevity.

Now in his defense, Dickens was no deity, but there’s a proverb which rings especially true in the literary world: there is great folly in the abundance of words. I have so much disdain for prolific authors.

And don’t give me that hoopla about Dickens writing at a different time, where people thought and talked differently. Longfellow, I like. Hawthorne, Irving and Poe, I love. And they all wrote English in the same era as Dickens. Charles Dickens is the Dan Brown of the Victorian era.

I have Great Expectations at the beginning of a Charles Dickens sentence but, by the end of it, I am asleep.

Christopher Nolan got his inspiration for “Inception” from Charles Dickens. Paragraphs written by Charles Dickens are books within books. Sentences are books within books within books.

The writing of Charles Dickens is so well nuanced, the meaning in it cannot be perceived.

Here is one question you will never hear me asking “Should I take a nap or read a Charles Dickens novel?”

I have discovered a cure for insomnia: Charles Dickens.

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If my cat and dog could talk

Monday, Jul 11th, 2011







“Home already? Alright, well … did you check my food bowl on the way in? My water bowl seemed a bit low … Might want to get on that. It’s very concerning. Also, the next time you are out shopping, make sure to buy the fine grain rather than the large grain litter. I find the fine grain softer on the paws. And do pick up a few cans of Fancy Feast Gourmet while you’re out, not the kind with shrimp but the kind with the savory little tuna bits. I’d like that. No big deal if you’re not going out anytime soon, whenever you get around to it of course, but preferably now. Alright, well, see you around. Nice chat we just had here. Good talk. And don’t forget fine grain not large grain litter. The large grain is rough on the skin and gets stuck between my claws. It vexes me. Thanks.”

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And here we find our young protagonist …

Wednesday, Jun 29th, 2011

Eternally alone, as always, but not lonely and not gloomy, strangely happy, in fact, hopeful and …

I always know beforehand if the day is going to be good or bad. In the morning, if I get the milk to cereal ratio right, I know it’s going to be a good day. Overall I’d say the good days outweigh the bad. I’m considerably happy.

I really ought to leave my comfort zone, that much is certain. But as I absolutely refuse to leave my computer chair, the only way I see that happening is if someone places a decapitated baby chimp on my lap.

What of my ambition, you ask?

I still have my ambition. It’s on the back burner, along with shaving, flossing and getting up before noon. Just kidding really. I have work, which forces me up early. I WORK, which proves — almost irrefutably — that I am an industrious, upstanding and virtuous citizen, even excused — on occasion — to indulge in lavish spending sprees and excessive weekend debaucheries. I WORK, it’s okay everyone. Five days a week, at a real job, that pays real money …

And everyone knows that I am a day dreamer there, at work. Say something to me and I “put it in the mental queue.” What you said will register, eventually. My mind will process it, after I process the thoughts at the front of my mental queue. In some cultures and societies, they call that being slow. I prefer the term deeply contemplative. I can’t help it! There is so much to think about, my queue is overflowing. There is just so much to think about!

Airplanes, for starters. Horses, bombs, trees, Elvis Presley, God, pens, the fundamental nature of reality, dinosaurs—I love to think about the dinosaurs. I’m a day dreamer! I record my thoughts on paper, even while working. I take notes on life. I observe things. Odd I never could bring myself to take notes in the classroom, yet I impulsively take notes outside the classroom. I take notes on life.

“It’s a writer thing,” I tell my co-workers, and they look at me queer. (Bluecollars! Cretins, all of them!)

“Chris, your problem is you don’t think,” a most venerable friend once told me, years ago, after discovering I had left a cigar burning on his kitchen countertop for hours.

That sort of struck me when he said that, in regard to something purely trivial, but it was clearly not a trivial remark, judging from the tone he used. I thought for a long time that was plausible, that I didn’t think as much as other people did. Contemplating that in the years since, meditating on it, ruminating, I had an epiphany one day.

“My problem isn’t that I don’t think, my problem is that I think too much!”

It explains why I can stare at a wall for hours and be perfectly content, absorbed in pure conscience. But if you asked me later what color the wall was, I’d be darned!

I’m mentally distracted, oblivious to my immediate physical surroundings, always elsewhere. When I’m here, I’m there and when I’m there, I’m back here. But I’m at least somewhere. I’m always somewhere.

Not slow, deeply contemplative.

Everyone acts like they’ve lived before, but I haven’t. It’s all new to me. That’s it! I’m not over the novelty of life yet. I need time to think and soak it all in. It’s all very interesting.

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Are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Smaller? An Investigative Journalism Piece

Saturday, Jun 18th, 2011

I have long suspected that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups have gotten smaller. As a wee-lad, it took as much as three whole bites to finish a cup. Now one bite feels all too natural, and I really have to go out of my way to experience a Reese’s Cup in two bites. To be fair I got bigger and that might account for their getting smaller.

Still I’ve never been suspicious of other popular chocolate brands like Snickers or Hershey’s, only Reese’s. It’s really been a longstanding mystery. One I contemplate every time I finish a pack of peanut butter cups. Somehow I always feel there should be more in there.

Last night, I decided to investigate the matter of the mysteriously shrinking peanut butter cups. Like anyone with a degree in journalism would do, I Googled it. What I found was both horrifying and shocking. In a word … horri-shocking.

Turns out the nefarious Hershey Foods Corporation [1] has been duping consumers for years. The cup size has changed, yet we’re paying the same price.

The Evidence

Exhibit A.

The above image is of a Reese’s wrapper purchased in 2003. Note the old Reese’s tagline, “There’s No Wrong Way To Eat A Reese’s.” Also note, utilizing my advanced image manipulation skills, I’ve circled the net weight in ounces and grams.

Exhibit B.

smaller reese's peanut butter cup

The above image is of a Reese’s wrapper purchased more recently, featuring the new orange swirl design and the current tagline “Get Lost In A Reese’s.”

If you compare the net weight with the wrapper from 03, you’ll see that there’s a three gram difference. Less carbs, less fat and less protein. 20 calories less.

So now you know, the peanut butter cups are smaller. As if Mini Reese’s and Reese’s Pieces weren’t insulting enough. Soon the same wisecrack that came up with the “fun” size will have the idea of selling powdered Reese’s. But we’re Americans I say, not Chinamen. Sell us bigger things, diametrically proportionate to our waistlines.

In case I win a Pulitzer for this groundbreaking investigative piece, I’d like to cover all my ground here and attribute the images. I found the images via Google on the website of a candy enthusiast who, for whatever reason, has scanned in the wrappers of every candy he has eaten in the last ten years. He also has a blog about candy wrappers. Not about candy, exclusively candy wrappers. I wonder where that puts him on the autism spectrum.

1/27/12 Update – It looks like I spoke to soon.


  1. [1] In recent years, the Hershey Foods Corporation was renamed to The Hershey Company which some clever lawyers and brand marketers deemed less nefarious-sounding.

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