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Casual Sunday. Casual everyday.

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I am not one of those people who enjoys dressing up. I do not fault them for it, and wish them all the best, but I am not one of them. Sure, it can be fun for a wedding or fancy dinner, but generally speaking I am at my happiest in a t-shirt and jeans. Or better yet a tank top and jeans, because I like my arms to be as free as possible. There are particular brands of clothing that I like, but not because they are expensive– because they have a track record of producing durable clothes with nice textures. I rarely wear skirts and almost never wear heels, though again I don’t have a hard and fast rule against them. I just like to be comfortable. I spent the final two years in college barefoot about 80% of the time.

I would like to dispense with the notion that dressing formally conveys respect. Sure, you wear a nice black dress to a funeral. But I don’t think that occasions in which it is mandatory to dress up out of sheer tradition should be necessarily treated that way. For example, I’d love to have a president who never wears suits. If female, I’d love to have a president who doesn’t even wear dresses (but of course we’d have to get one first). I would love to see Congress convene casually, clad in attire that might have come from Target or even a thrift store. Hell, I’d like to see actors and actresses show up to the Oscars that way! Can you imagine? That might be the downfall of the fashion industry, but it would be a beautiful downfall indeed.

One good thing about dressing casually is that t-shirts and jeans don’t really go out of style. So you don’t have to buy a lot of them, though you could. Yes, trends in different styles of jeans come and go, but you can wear the same basic pair of Levis in 2012 that you wore in 1998, provided they still fit. Trying to be always on-trend and fashionable is a good way to spend a lot of money and acquire a lot of clothes that you won’t wear again after this year. Clothes that you have to look in the mirror while wearing, and think “Wow, I don’t look especially good in this…but at least I’m trendy!”

Lastly, dressing formally does not make you more virtuous, knowledgeable, or trustworthy. Unfortunately everywhere you look this myth is reiterated, and I would love to see it banished completely. Let’s have experts interviewed on the news while clad in shorts. Heck, news anchors clad in shorts…or I guess tank tops, since you don’t generally see their legs. Talking heads of all sorts being casual from the neck down. That would actually force us to consider what they’re saying by its content, rather than instinctively conclude without explicitly saying it to ourselves “This person looks nice; he/she must know what he/she is talking about and generally be a trustworthy person.”

That would be nice. But I’m not holding my breath– not for that to happen, and not to get my jeans on.

Operation: tweezin’ for a reason

So my nieces are going to visit my parents soon, and my mother was thinking of games for them to play. She brought up the game Operation, which was in the basement. “Operation?” I said. “Yes, I got it for you and your brothers when you were kids, and I was keeping it in the basement but forgot where it was, so I ended up getting another one.” So the first one stayed in the basement, for about twenty seven years, unopened.

Einstein-looking doctor’s floof of white hair is obscured by the price tag:
$8.99 from TG&Y, a five and dime store that doesn’t exist anymore

You might be able to guess my response– I said “Don’t open it!” and went online to do some research. I am certainly no expert on collectibles, but if there was any sort of chance that the game might be one, I needed to investigate.

In addition to being unopened, the most interesting and “collectible” (as in, weird and different) thing about this edition is the fact that the image on the box includes a doctor who is smoking. And not just smoking, but smoking a cigarette in a long holder, the end of which is actually ashing down onto the face of the patient he’s operating on.

Clearly from a different time– but I guess if he has a literal
Adam’s apple, a little ash in the face is the least of his problems

If you look for Operation on eBay, you will see a number of copies of the game that market themselves as “smoking doctor” editions. At least one of these claims to also be a first edition, supposedly 47 years old– the game first came out in 1965. However, according to this guide that particular copy isn’t as old as that, and neither is my mom’s:

The first Operation game was designed by John Spinello for Milton Bradley and released in 1965. In this first release there is a smoking doctor on the box. BUT WAIT! Think that if the cover has a smoking doctor it’s an original? WRONG!! The original has a slanted key through the Milton Bradley Logo. It also says 1965 on both the box and the game board.  Also, on the original, the instructions are printed on the inside cover of the box, not in a paper pamphlet.  Another major characteristic of the original is that it says in green lettering; Electric Game where you are the doctor. The games that are not originals say in bold black lettering; Skill Game where you are the doctor.

Bummer. I’m not going to open it up and see if there’s a 1965 on the game board or where the instructions are, because it already fails the slanted key and the green “Electric Game” tests. And I know my mother didn’t buy the game before 1980.

Here’s something else you might not know about Operation– the game has been re-made for so many different things! Here are the ones of I’m (now) aware:

According to Wikipedia,

A Doctor Who version of the game was released in Great Britain, where players get to “operate” on a Dalek in order to (from the product description) “make it strong enough to take over the world. But be careful… if you damage it’ll quickly tell you with one of its terrifying phrases! Whether it’s the Targeting Sensor that you need to operate on, or the Manipulator Arm, you’ll need a steady hand and nerves of steel!”

Who knew? I knew it was a widespread game, but I didn’t know that kids would be encouraged to perform mock surgery on every popular character they’d see in movies and on TV.

No, it was never actually a favorite of mine…I was okay at it, but never properly appreciated the thrill of risking a battery-powered sudden vibration and loud buzzing noises if I failed to tweeze a plastic bit of something out of a hole just right, without touching any of the edges. I did however learn to be adept at tweezing, which is a skill anyone can benefit from. The game is still going strong, though it’s now sold by Hasbro rather than Milton Bradley. So if you’d like to get your tweeze on, there are many options available for you.

My new favorite GIF

The Film Sack podcast discussed Dazed and Confused this week, so I watched it again…for something like the 20th time. And this GIF was the result:

So many potential uses. 
(What’s the Film Sack podcast, you ask? What, have you been living under a rock? Go here, and enjoy.)

More letter to the editor fun

All from the Wichita Eagle:

April 7th:

April 10th:

April 12th:


I’ll be interested to see how long this goes on– also whether any letters will be published from men unhappy about being portrayed as tricking women into using birth control so they can get the milk for free. “They” meaning the men, of course. Women don’t like milk.

Timesucker: Drawception

“Batman changing his pants”

Other people are currently obsessed with Draw Something, but I have neither iPhone nor iPad so I’m immune to the contagion. What has caught my interest lately (and time, and energy, but not money) is Drawception. It’s a free browser-based game that combines drawing with Telephone. Their description:

1) A player begins a game with a short phrase – for example, “A cow jumping over the moon”
2) A randomly chosen player then draws that phrase
3) Another random player describes the new drawing
4) Yet another player draws the new description
5) Steps 3 and 4 repeat until 12 unique players have participated
When completed, the participating players can view the often unexpected and hilarious results!

They are indeed hilarious, and the two things that make this possible are a) the fact that it’s random, and the only thing you will see when you click “play” is the drawing or interpretation of the person before you (or a box into which you type a phrase, if you’re starting a new game) and b) it’s timed, so each player only has ten minutes to finish his or her turn. This makes the game proceed relatively quickly. It is possible to skip a turn and not participate in the game that has been handed to you, but most people don’t seem to do this. And most people by far are not skilled artists (though some are astonishingly so), so there’s no need to get caught up in how pathetic your mouse-drawn sketches are. You just read things, draw things, and have fun. Here’s a sample game in which I participated under the name Rillion. The game is still in its early beta, but has been getting all sorts of attention and new features are being added daily– your profile now includes a list of games you’ve participated in, drawings you’ve done, favorite games you’ve seen, people you’re following, and people who are following you.

Oh, and people who insist on drawing nothing but penises and poop, regardless of what the clue was? They get banned, quick-like. In addition to being able to upvote or downvote someone’s drawing/interpretation, you can report them outright for screwing up the game. It’s so much more fun to see people actually doing their best to figure out how on earth they’re supposed to depict the bizarre phrases they were given, or figure out what the hell the drawing they’re looking at is supposed to be.

Fun with word clouds

Upon discovering, I decided to make a couple of word clouds. First, for my CV and dissertation (both of which which can be viewed by clicking the tab above, or here). And then another for this blog, which apparently only captured words from this front page. Very fun.

Shopping at Penney’s has not made me a lesbian

Sure, this is anecdotal evidence, but take it for what it’s worth.

I like to buy jeans at J.C. Penney. They have a decent variety of Levis, usually at a good price. Now, granted, I was never persuaded to shop for jeans there by a spokesperson of any kind. But I also have not seen any sign that my Levis give a damn what kind of family I’m in. Nor has my sexuality changed, so far as I can tell, as a result of my wearing them. There has not been the slightest uptick in my attraction to girls, and no increase in incidences of my having been mistaken for a lesbian. I have neither been ejected from my “traditional family” as daughter for wearing them, nor been refused admission to a “traditional family” as wife. In fact, if my ass looks sufficiently good in those jeans, they might actually aid in the latter endeavor.

So I’m sorry, Penney’s. If having Ellen DeGeneres as your spokesperson has all been some kind of nefarious plot to create gays, repel non-gays, convert non-gays into gays, and/or destroy traditional families, it doesn’t seem to be working. At least on me. Please don’t listen to the “One Million” Moms. They literally don’t know what they’re afraid of.

On bumper stickers and “bumper stickers”

From The Washington Post: Looking to Avoid Aggressive Drivers? Check Those Bumpers:

Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.
That’s the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other “territorial markers” not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage — by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.
It does not seem to matter whether the messages on the stickers are about peace and love — “Visualize World Peace,” “My Kid Is an Honor Student” — or angry and in your face — “Don’t Mess With Texas,” “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student.”
Hey, you clown! This ain’t funny! Aggressive driving might be responsible for up to two-thirds of all U.S. traffic accidents that involve injuries.
Szlemko and his colleagues at Fort Collins found that people who personalize their cars acknowledge that they are aggressive drivers, but usually do not realize that they are reporting much higher levels of aggression than people whose cars do not have visible markers on their vehicles.
Drivers who do not personalize their cars get angry, too, Szlemko and his colleagues concluded in a paper they recently published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, but they don’t act out their anger. They fume, mentally call the other driver a jerk, and move on.
“The more markers a car has, the more aggressively the person tends to drive when provoked,” Szlemko said. “Just the presence of territory markers predicts the tendency to be an aggressive driver.”

From The Spectrum, independent student publication of the University of Buffalo: Why Put a Bumper Sticker on a Ferrari?:

Ladies, I know you’re at least at the legal age of making your own decisions, but before you decide to get a tattoo, allow me to let you in on a little secret. A secret you may have not fully realized yet thus far in your life. What you must understand is, as women, we are – naturally – beautiful creatures.
Seriously, though. Your body literally has the ability to turn heads. Guys drool over us. We hold some serious power in our hands, because – as corny as this sounds – we hold the world’s beauty.
But something girls seem to forget nowadays, or maybe have not been taught, is that women hold the world’s class and elegance in their hands, as well. So what’s more attractive than a girl with a nice body? I’ll tell you what: a girl with class. Looks may not last, but class does. And so do tattoos.
An elegant woman does not vandalize the temple she has been blessed with as her body. She appreciates it. She flaunts it. She’s not happy with it? She goes to the gym. She dresses it up in lavish, fun, trendy clothes, enjoying trips to the mall with her girlfriends. She accentuates her legs with high heels. She gets her nails done. She enjoys the finer things in life, all with the body she was blessed with.
But marking it up with ink? That’s just not necessary.

I have both bumper stickers and tattoos. Draw your own conclusions.

(Hat tip to Dr. X)

You make the music go back; you hear Satan speakin’

Pareidolia ( /pærɪˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para– – “beside”, “with”, or “alongside”—meaning, in this context, something faulty or wrong (as in paraphasia, disordered speech) and eidōlon – “image”; the diminutive of eidos – “image”, “form”, “shape”. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.

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