Dec 27, 2011

Illness of the Greatest Master

November of every year is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge with hundreds of thousands of participants, in which your goal is to write a novel containing at least 50,000 words over the course of November. You win if you complete your novel; your prize is the book that you just wrote. I've never considered myself to be much of a writer, particularly not for something of such a grand scale, but this year I had a few friends who were planning to participate, so I figured I might as well try it out.

At 10:00 PM on October 31, two hours before NaNoWriMo would officially begin, I had no plans for my novel. I was scrambling to try to figure out even the vaguest semblance of a plot, or even a genre or general style. I ultimately decided to take my efforts to the realm of the unknown: I would stitch together my title one word at a time, via a random word generator, and figure out my plot from there. After finding a generator that allowed me to choose the part of speech, I tried out a few different templates: "the <noun>'s <adjective> <noun>," for example, and "the <adjective> <noun> <verb>s." After creating a dozen-odd titles, I finally found the one: Illness of the Greatest Master.

At my friend Evan's suggestion, illness was to refer not to a disease, but rather to the more colloquial ill; e.g., "yo, that be so ill." Obviously, I was going to be writing a street novel, complete with all the hip lingo.

I don't know who this is, but my November was
expected to be filled with good folks like him.
Next part of the title: the Greatest Master. It should be noted that there wasn't just one master; we were talking about the greatest master. There was more than one. But where do you draw the line? What defines who is a "master"? Logically, there had to be some sort of a ranking system.

So, to put two and two together: my novel was going to be about a society of rappers, and your position in this society was determined by your rapping ability. Poor rappers would be but measly peons, while the finest lyricists would be the aristocrats. And the finest lyricist of them all was, of course, the Greatest Master.

Specifically, my novel would be a rags-to-riches story. It would start with this poor white kid without a penny to his name, who accidentally stumbles upon this society and learns how to rap. He starts out at the bottom, but slowly learns his lessons, out-rapping the others one-by-one until he would eventually become the Greatest Master, and essentially run the world.

The second the clock struck midnight, I hit the ground running, not stopping until I was at 2000 words. After day 3, I was just over 5,000 words in, leaving my novel slightly ahead of schedule. My main character had just found the local meeting place of this rapper society, and was observing the way things run. I realized that it was that time, that inevitable moment, when I would have to write my first rap.
I don't know who this person is either, but it was starting to look
like my November would more realistically be filled with a lot of this guy.
After putting off the rap for a fair while, I finally sat down muscled through. I tried to think about things that the rapper type like. The individual performing this rap was named Diesel (referred to as DZ, more often pronounced "Deez"). I figured that was probably the name of a guy who liked cars a lot. Due to the conversation that he had just had before performing, it was evident that he also enjoyed to recreationally smoke cannabis. So logically, I had to write a rap about cars and weed.

Oh good. The two topics I knew the least about, in a language that I had no idea how to write.

I managed to power through, writing a rhythmically passable ode to marijuana, sprinkled liberally with your choice of colorful language. By that point, I was at 5,562 words. I never got around to continuing. That rap was the last thing I wrote.

Due to a tragic hard drive crash, I no longer possess my novel, which is quite a shame, because there were some parts of which I was rather proud. But I have, forever engraved in my past, the fact that I have written a rap about cars and weed.

Dec 23, 2011

Greg Edelston, Age 9: Internet Connoisseur

So when I was 9, I spent a fair amount of time on GameFAQs. For those unaware, GameFAQs is a game discussion website, with walkthroughs, cheats, general game info, and message boards. 9-year-old Greg loved the message boards for the game Golden Sun. He would spend a fair amount of time each day reading the fora, contributing to discussion, answering questions, playing forum games, and just generally having a raucous good time.

After a hefty amount of time on these boards, some higher-up saw it fit to make me into a moderator. Obviously, my 9-year-old contributions were profound enough to mark me as one of the community's top contributors. At least, enough so that the administrators and whatever other powers that may be decided to make me a moderator.

As it happens, it's actually a pretty big honor to get modded. Not just anyone can become a mod. But I didn't know that at the time, and thus didn't go about bragging.

By virtue of being a mod, I was endowed with some powers. My favorite modly activity was to review recent punishments. I could see what an offending post was, and decide whether it was "too lenient," "far too lenient," "too strict," "far too strict," or "just right." Problem was, I didn't really know what the word "lenient" meant.

But I was a smart cookie. I knew what "strict" meant, and could extrapolate. Problem: solved. ...Sort of. Unfortunately, despite being able to work past my first roadblock, I was somehow unable to figure out the grander scheme of the process. My 9-year-old brain registered "too lenient" as "should be more lenient," and "too strict" as "should be more strict." Also, sometimes I would just get bored, not want to read the entire post, and just choose whichever option I hadn't chosen in a fairly long while. So, uh, I apologize to the several dozen people who received grossly unfair punishments as a result of my actions.

But alas, soon would my day come. One fateful day, there was a thread created by some 20-something-year-old, asking whether he was too old to be playing video games. In flooded the adults: 25-, 30-, and 40- year olds, all professing the pleasure they find in video games and taking recourse in the fact that they weren't the only ones. For whatever reason, I thought it was appropriate to chip in my two cents: "I'm only 9, but I don't think there's anything wrong with playing video games at any age."

Turns out, you're required to be at least 13 years old in order to have an account.

And from that day forward, the moderator account i_like_cheese was no longer present on GameFAQs.

Dec 21, 2011


It was about a month into my first semester of college. So we're talking a fair ways back. The night of October 3rd, specifically. I was approached by the rather-silly Charley Goddard at a little after 2:00 in the morning: "Greg, you seem like the kind of man who would be interested in eating things at silly hours. Might I interest you in a 5-5-5?" Goddard could not have been more correct; 2 AM was the prime time for some eating.

I asked for a little more detail, unfamiliar to the whole 5-5-5 concept. I had never ordered pizza on my own before. Apparently, Dominos is open into the wee hours of the morning, and they have this sweet deal where you can order three medium pizzas for $5 apiece. Pretty sweet deal. I asked if I could get toppings on my $5 pizza; Goddard said of course.

What he said: I would get a $5 pizza, and if I wanted to, I could buy toppings for it.

What I heard: I would pay $5, and receive a pizza with however many toppings I wanted.

To me, this didn't sound like much of a question at all. If I'm paying a flat fee of $5, I may as well get my money's worth and order as many toppings as I possibly can, right? So I navigated over to the Dominos website and started planning.

After a significant amount of thought, here was the pizza that I had planned:

  • Sliced Italian sausage
  • Philly steak (light, left)
  • Ham (light, left)
  • Feta cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan Asiago
  • Shredded provolone
  • Garlic (light, right)
  • Mushrooms (light, right)
  • Pineapple (extra)
  • Onions
  • Roasted peppers (right)
  • Diced tomatoes (light, left)
This was going to be the ideal pizza. It was like two meals in one. Like, I could have a 2 AM pizza dinner, and also I could have a 2AM meat-and-other-fix-ins feast, and also I could do both of those things at the same time. What could possibly go wrong?

Goddard placed the order: three medium pizzas. The first pizza would have light sausage. The second would have no sauce; just dough and cheese. The third would have sausage, steak, ham, feta cheese, Parmesan, provolone, garlic, mushrooms, pineapple, onions, peppers, and diced tomatoes.

My $5 pizza cost $16.

As in, my pizza alone cost more than a typical 5-5-5.

Turns out, they charge for toppings.

The guy actually called us back a minute later to make sure that we were sure we ordered what we wanted. Apparently, it's a little funny to order a pizza without sauce. My pizza was totally fine and normal; one of the others just seemed a little quirky.

Time passed; the pizzas arrived. I could finally taste the glory that was twelve different toppings. $16 totally well spent.

I sold two of the slices to friends at $2 apiece to make myself feel better about wasting $16. Overall, delicious, but not worth $16.

Maybe if they didn't forget the pineapple it would have been better.

Sep 18, 2011

Greg Edelston, Wanted Arsonist

Last night at around 3:30 AM, I decided that I wanted some ramen noodles. I had been hanging out on the second floor with four others; the kitchen was on the first floor. I went downstairs and put some water on the stove. I briefly considered whether it would be dangerous to leave the stove unattended. I had, of course, been taught to never leave a stove alone; but it was just a pot of water. It wasn't like the kitchen was going to catch on fire. So I left.

Obviously, the kitchen caught on fire.

I returned ten minutes later, Cup Noodles in hand. I opened the door and took two steps in, at which point I realized that the entire pot was engulfed in flames. I put down my noodles on the sink counter next to me, and my 3:40 AM brain started turning its gears. My first thought was: There's a fire. It's caused by the stove. I should turn the stove off. Fortunately, I soon realized that that was a TERRIBLE idea, and that I would likely burn my arm off trying to reach the dial. Instead, I fled for help.

I realized that I needed a fire extinguisher. I ran back upstairs to ask my friends where I might find one; however, they were highly likely to think that I was making a joke of some sort. Thus, I had to clarify and reiterate that I was not making a joke. After a few rounds of "I need a fire extinguisher. Where are they? I am not joking." "What?" "The stove is on fire. Like, for actual. Where's a fire extinguisher?" etc., they finally followed me downstairs.

Apparently when I said that the stove was on fire, they were imagining a flame the size of perhaps a birthday candle. When I showed them through the window of the door that the flames went twice as high as the pot itself, it was go-time.

At that point, this lumbering intimidating Russian fellow by the name of Nikolay went into action mode. He ran off into another hall and quickly returned with a fire extinguisher, and then removed his jacket ("I like thees jacket too much."), took a deep breath, and ran in.

It was impossible to see into the kitchen through all the smoke, but you could vaguely see Nick's silhouette extinguishing the fire like a boss, opening a window, and returning back from the abyss. The literal problem was solved.

In the meantime, I was calling the R2-on-call (the phone that gets passed around the resident resources in case there's ever a problem). Unfortunately, it was about 3:45 AM, so the conversation went roughly as follows:

R2: Hey, this is the R2-on-call phone. This is Kate. What's up?
Me: Um. Hello. This is Greg. Uh, Edelston. So, I'm just totally lit the stove on fire.
R2: What? 
Me: In the West Hall 1st-floor kitchen, there is a pot of water on the stove, and it is on fire. Well, it just was. Nick just got the fire extinguisher and put it out. So I guess the actual danger is gone, but the room is still full of smoke. But like, we opened a window, so I dunno, it just seemed like it would be a good idea to call you and let you know?
R2: Oh, yeah. Well, uh, if the fire's out, then I guess the best I can tell you is to try not to light it on fire again.
Me: Okay. I wasn't planning on it. Thanks, and sorry for waking you up.
R2: No, no. It's okay. Thanks for telling me. Good night.

She told me the next morning that she was still in 3:45-AM-mode, and thus the words "fire extinguisher" didn't click for her; she assumed it was just a little burner fire or something. I could probably have communicated that a little better, in retrospect.

We wanted to go inspect the damage and figure out how the hell I managed to catch a pot of water on fire, but the room was still too smokey, so we couldn't walk in. We instead waited around for half an hour for the smoke to clear up, with me kvetching the entire time about how I left my noodles in there.

Finally, the smoke cleared up enough for us to inspect the damage. It was disgusting. Everything was coated in soot from the smoke. Everything. You could run your finger along any surface and watch it turn ten shades darker before your eyes. You would tread footprints wherever you walked. Worse yet, there were three large trays of what had been chocolate truffles-to-be sitting out on the table, now completely covered in a yellow dust, with a sign that read "DO NOT TOUCH. There will be consequences. I will destroy like 25% of the things that you hold dear." The truffles were supposed to take two days to make. They were no more.

Apparently, the pot that I decided to use had a rubber bottom. Why anyone though it was a good idea to put rubber on the bottom of a metal pot is beyond me, but I'm guessing it has some use beyond starting fires. Either way, the rubber caught on fire and started melting, which completely ruined one of the burners. I am still impressed by my own ability to light a pot of water on fire.

But don't worry. I wound up eating noodles that night.

UPDATE: I now know why the pot had rubber on the bottom. It was actually my friend's electric kettle. I'm just stupid.

Aug 30, 2011

The Snake-Woman

So, night #3 of college. My class is ridiculously small (87 students), and we've gotten to the point by now that most of us are pretty good friends. Only the freshman class has arrived so far, other than the R2s (Resident Resources). The 87 of us plus most of the ten R2s all live in one building.

Anyway. Night #3. It was probably 11:30 or so. Many of us had finished watching Tangled not too long ago, and a few of us were left sitting around in the antelounge. (Like a lounge but less comfortable. The lounge on our floor had been used to play Mafia, and we didn't want to get up.)

Six-ish of us remained antelounging: five gents and a lady. Myself, Brooks, Evan, Kevin, Chaz, and Diana. One way or another, we gents, excepting only Chaz, wound up sitting on a bench, arm in arm, with an obscenely comfortable body pillow behind us and a blanket atop. We were the Bro Bench, or the Brench, for short. We were excitedly planning for future plans of the Brench's 11 AM meals (the Brench Brunch), and in particular the meal of the bro next to me (Brooks' Brench Brunch). Chaz and Diana were sitting off-sides.

Unexpectedly, Diana announced that she was going to test whether I was ticklish, and proceeded to test. I withstood it for a while, but in due time I succumbed, broke from the Brench, and launched a counterattack. Entirely unfazed, Diana, without missing a beat, stood up, grabbed our body pillow, and dashed out of the room.

The chase was on. The Brench reorganized itself, and we hobbled off into the actual lounge. The game of Mafia had long ended, and there were now only a few loungers remaining. Diana was nowhere to be seen, and the loungers evidently were on Diana's side. Somehow, she had used her feminine wiles to win them onto her side in the fifteen second advantage she held. This wasn't just a chase: it was a war.

We broke off and all ran in different directions. I ran down a hallway on the same floor in attempt to find the elusive Diana, only to find that I was followed by three of Diana's cronies. They grabbed me and took me to the ground. One took my blanket and ran; the other two tried to keep me in place. After a fair while I dashed back off to resume the chase.

After several minutes of stair-climbing, hall-running exercise, I returned to the lounge to see if any of her goonies would spill Diana's or the pillow's whereabouts. As it happened, one was a mole: I was advised to check the stairwell at the end of the hall.

I ran in and clambered up the stairs to find the rest of the Brench, detaining the fiend. Evidently, they were collectively catching their breath, but the Brench was clearly in control. I assisted in holding her down, but just as we began to interrogate her, she somehow slipped through our fingers and escaped. The Snake-Woman was off once more.

Running and stair-climbing abound. We were all working up a sweat by this point. Several minutes later, we got her at the back of another hallway, but this time, she was cornered. She was literally at the end of a hallway with a third-story window behind her and a wall to her side; on her other two sides, Brench Bros. The nearest stairwell was guarded by another Bro: she had no escape. The pillow was to be ours.

Suddenly, the Snake jumped up once more and continued her run. We chased her, only to find another goonie at the end of the hall, blocking our path. We overpowered him relatively quickly, and saw our prey climbing down the stairs back into the lounge whence we came. She stopped running and extended her olive branch: if we legitimately wanted the pillow back, it was ours. Evan, the pillow's owner, submitted, thus ending the chase. She showed us the pillow, which was in a little nook beside the hall past which I had run at least three times. (My blanket's captor was nowhere to be found, although he later returned to me my prize.) Even from that very night, legends were told of the elusive Snake-Woman who could escape from even the tightest hold.

Aug 25, 2011

Delicious Odors

I don't really sweat much at all. I usually stay inside, where the climate is controlled and I don't have to undergo physical activity. Therefore antiperspirant is not generally on the top of my considerations. It's just an occasional "oh yeah that" thing. Therefore, when I was packing for summer camp in June, the thought of deodorant did not even cross my mind.

Suddenly, summer happened: the weather was hot, and I was undergoing slightly more physical activity than usual. For obvious reasons, my roommates complained. When they went into the city one day to see a concert, they promised me that they would bring back some deodorant for me. And sure enough, they did. They got me Dove Revive Pomegranate and Lemon Verbena scented deodorant.

They also took it upon themselves to buy me a cologne.

They had purchased the cologne for $5 at a deli in Brewster. It was a Mexican cologne called Florida Water. It featured a naked woman on the front of the bottle, and was described as "an exquisite blend of cinnamon, orange, and spices." The ingredients were listed at the bottom of the label: water, "fragrances," alcohol, and dye. The label also described the cologne as "20% more free," the meaning of which eludes me to this day, because it was printed right on the bottle's label, so it clearly wasn't on sale, which leaves me to wonder what it was more free than. The cologne itself smelled like a vile mix between cinnamon and marijuana, and was simply generally unappealing.

So I started using the Pomegranate & Lemon Verbena deodorant, because it was better than nothing. The general consensus seemed to be that I smelled good, but like a lady. Regardless, I would rather smell like a lady than like sweat.

One day, my roommates went out again. They texted me from Walmart, asking me if I wanted anything. I asked them for some real deodorant, like maybe Axe or something. Soon enough, they returned:

Hollywood Playboy Body Spray. They paid a whopping $4 for this at Walmart. I opened it to see how it smelled, and it was shockingly delicious. It smelled like neither a lady nor cinnamon marijuana. It was like a seductive cologne. I guess when a company is that lucrative, they can afford to make good products. My new body spray smelled so good, in fact, that everyone in my room used it every day for the remainder of the summer. And it worked.

I deliberately left the cologne at camp for others to find next year, and accidentally left the lady-deodorant there as well, but I was quite sure to bring my body spray home. Currently my supply is low, but still present. I went to Target the other day, and they regrettably did not have any in stock, so I suppose I'll be checking Walmart in a little while. I strongly suggest that you, reader, make an investment in your future by purchasing this body spray. It is worth every one of those four dollars.

Jun 18, 2011

My Best Friend Regis

Regis Philbin lives locally. In fact, a fair number of people do: Terry Crews and Judge Judy, for example. I was bound to run into one eventually. So I was eating at a diner yesterday with about a dozen others, and sure enough, in walks Regis with three friends, and they sit at a table at the far corner of the diner.

Instantly, he became the topic of conversation at our table. One group of girls went to the bathroom just to get a closer look at him (after discussing for several minutes their plans to do so). My seat, I discovered, was the perfect vantage point for viewing him, so I stood up next to my seat and watched him for about twenty seconds. As soon as we made eye contact, I sat down hunched over my burger and and pretended I had never been standing.

Eventually, we all left. Everyone else drove home, but I don't have a license, so I was stuck sitting outside waiting for my mother to come pick me up. While I was waiting around, Regis walked out of the diner with two of his three friends. Moreover, he didn't leave - he was standing about four feet in front of me, checking out some newspapers.

Immediately, I started gesticulating at my friends across the street who were walking to their cars. After getting their attention, I pointed wildly at Regis, hoping  I was out of the line of sight of him and his friends. (I think one saw me, but if she did, she didn't say anything.)

After a minute, Regis's last friend came outside. Worrying that they were about to leave, I approached Regis and asked, "Um, excuse me, I know you must get this all the time, but may I have a picture?" This must have been pretty routine for him, because said sure somewhat offhandedly and lined himself up on the sidewalk. One of his friends who was crossing the street asked what his holdup was, and he said he was waiting for a picture.

So I tried to get my phone to turn on its camera. I pushed the camera button and walked toward his other friend, asking if he could please take our picture for me. His friend said, "Well, I don't even know who you are!" I apologized, introduced myself, and extended my hand for a shake, which he disregarded and tried to take my phone. I couldn't quite give it to him, though, because it wasn't in camera mode yet. He asked why I wasn't giving it to him; I explained that I was trying to turn on its camera. I took a step back and tried to fiddle around with it as I apologized profusely for holding Regis up, and if he had somewhere to go, then please, by all means, don't let me make him late; meanwhile, Regis's friends were asking what was taking so long. After at least a minute of this, Regis asked, "Son, have you ever taken a picture with this before?" I said, "Well, no, but I-" at which point Regis said, "All right, nevermind," and walked briskly on his way with his friends.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered that you had to hold down the camera button.


Jun 15, 2011

Making Deadlines 101

Last night I began doing the dishes at 11:20 PM. I often like to set "target times" for myself to make a game out of them; sorta like "if I finish this essay by 2:00 then I can play Sporcle," but more mundane and with no prize other than a sense of accomplishment. At first, I decided that I should be done with the dishes by 11:30; I reconsidered and decided that that was more time that I needed. However, because I intended to go straight to bed after doing the dishes, I could encourage myself not to dawdle online by challenging myself to be in bed at 11:30.

11:28, the dishes were done. I quickly removed my gloves and dashed upstairs to brush my teeth. I came to the executive decision that 11:30 would count as long as it was before 11:31 (going by my watch's time, of course); that is to say, it was valid right up until 11:30.59.

11:30.35, I finished brushing my teeth. I spat into the sink and quickly rinsed out , which for whatever reason took longer than usual. I threw away my paper cup, and glanced at my watch. 11:30.48. I had as good as lost.

I ran into my room and turned the light on. I realized that my parameter was if I was in bed at 11:30, not if I was lying down and ready to sleep at 11:30; therefore if I got into my bed in time and got into pajamas without setting foot out of the bed, I was still in the clear. I leapt and bounded into my bed, and checked my watch. 11:30.56. I was safe, but I hadn't won yet.

Fortunately, changing into pajamas was quick and painless. I threw my dirty clothes across the room into the hamper, thinking I was about to taste sweet victory, until I made a horrible realization: the lights were on.

So, to recap:

  • I was sitting in my bed
  • I had to get across the room and back
  • I was not permitted to touch the floor.
That's right.

The floor was lava.

Now, allow me to provide you with a diagram of my room:

After a minute of planning, my route was decided, and I set out on my journey. I made my way over to the foot of my bed and leaned over to pull out the bottom drawer of the dresser nearest me. I then crouched on my bed and, holding onto the bedpost, reached my foot over into the drawer. I transferred over, and was somewhat stably across the first gap.

The second transfer was easier: I pulled my hamper a little closer to me, and set foot atop my clothes. My foot sank as the air space between my clothes was crushed, but I was ultimately standing in my last week's worth of filth.

The third "move" wasn't so much of a move as it was a maneuver. I turned around so I was facing the wall, and grabbed onto the bookshelf portion of the next dresser. (It's like a combo thing, where there are drawers on bottom and a bookshelf on top. You know.) I shifted my weight over, putting one foot into my pants drawer in the dresser, and reached over to turn the lights off. I climbed back into my hamper, across the first dresser, bridged the gap, and lay in my bed, victorious.

I am 17 years old and entering college in nine weeks, where I am expected to be a mature adult.

Have at me, world.

May 19, 2011

The Cheerful Charlies

So yesterday, I was picked up from school by my buddychum Henry's stepmom Jennie. We were going to Friendly's for his nine-year-old stepbrother Sam's birthday. We picked Sam up from his school and went on our way.

Shortly after picking Sam up, Jennie asked, "Would this technically qualify as a meeting of the Cheerful Charlies?" Henry and Sam were both unsure. I asked what a Cheerful Charlie was; Jennie told me to hold on for a minute while she got on the phone with the Grand Poobah.

We called the Grand Poobah (using a hands-free wireless device) and put him on speaker. He turned out to be Jennie's father. Jennie asked whether this would count as a meeting of the Cheerful Charlies even though it's not a Friday, and if so, could Greg be initiated, and if so, would you like to come by and initiate him, and if not, can you talk to him and give him a brief explanation of what this is all about. Thus came the Grand Poobah's response:

"Now, the Cheerful Charlies typically only meet on Fridays. That is in the bylaws. However, a Lodge Meeting may be held if there is some sort of special occasion, and as today is Sam's birthday, there is reason enough to hold a Lodge Meeting. The Grand Poobah of a Lodge is not needed for initiation, so you as the senior member would be in charge of initiating him, but really, anyone can. Now, put me on with him." (Clearly not recognizing that he was on speakerphone.)

After a brief introduction, the Grand Poobah continued: "The Cheerful Charlies are a society dedicated to the consumption of Friendly's ice cream. We are a non-denominational, multi-generational, multi... multi-everything group. The Greenwich Lodge is very small, but there is a Lodge over in Boston that's relatively active. Lodge Meetings only occur on Fridays or particularly special occasions. There is no limit to how much ice cream you eat, so long as you enjoy it. This is a very low-commitment group, and I wish you the best of luck with it."

We chatted a little, and he wished Sam a happy birthday and promised to sing to him later (much to Sam's dismay, as the Grand Poobah apparently sings a somewhat morbid rendition of the birthday song). One breath-holding contest later, we found ourselves at Friendly's.

Since it was still early in the day, we made the executive decision that we would be having lunch in addition to our ice cream. Upon sitting down and beginning an inevitable game of crayon-placemat-hangman, I was told that it was time to begin my initiation.

Jennie held up one of those tiny containers of half-and-half you get with your coffee, and told me that in order to be initiated, I had to create butter simply by turning my tiny half-and-half container over and back in my hand.

I worked steadily through my soft-pretzel bacon-burger (in related news don't attend Friendly's if you are at risk of heart disease), churning my milk all the while. I had it explained to me that active non-members of the Cheerful Charlies are called Grumpy Gretas - that is to say, those who are offered initiation but choose not to join. At one point, Sam, who had been bouncing around next to me throughout the entire meal (literally bouncing, because that would push my side of the booth upward and send me flying a little) bit into another half-and-half that he just wanted to drink, sending milk flying all over my face and jacket. I received official word from the standing senior Lodge member Jennie that this was the first time that that had ever happened during initiation.

By the end of the meal, I was coming to question whether this milk was actually churnable, or whether the entire initiation was but a playful ruse. I didn't want to open my container yet because it still sounded very liquidy, but Jennie gave it a shake, and officially decreed that I was making good progress and that I had the special situation of being milked upon, and that therefore my initiation was complete: I was a Cheerful Charlie.

I later returned to their house for some gaming, and discovered that my churning was ultimately successful. I had a healthy wad of half-and-half butter sitting in my tiny milk container.

Now, the year is just about over, and Friendly's is a bit of a hike from my house, but I just so happen to be going to college about fifteen miles from Boston, where there is reputedly an active Lodge of Cheerful Charlies. I plan on finding their Grand Poobah and requesting membership; moreover, I encourage all those reading this post to seek out a local Lodge, or if none exists, to create one , and thus be your own local Grand Poobah.

May 16, 2011

Brol Tenwyl, Sexy General

CAVEAT: The below is strikingly nerdy - more so than the rest of my blog. I have endeavored to keep it reader-friendly by not delving too far into detail and by explaining anything that's absolutely crucial, so you shouldn't feel left out of the party. END CAVEAT

I enjoy playing tabletop RPGs. That means Dungeons and Dragons and other games of that ilk. I haven't actually played D&D in the last several years; I instead run a campaign, as the Dungeon Master. (Occasionally. Rarely. Well, it's a nice thought.) More recently, however, I was a player in a similar tabletop game called Exalted.

The very very general gist of Exalted is that everyone is a superpowered superhuman with superpowerful superpowers. It's more based on creating a manly fancy cinematic story than it is on winning, so everyone needs to have a really cool character. And lo, I came up with Brol Tenwyl.

Brol was originally the general of a rather large city. He was amazingly buff, and AMAZINGLY good-looking. (The character sheet had an "Appearances" attribute, and a 5/5 equates to being the most attractive, desirable person anyone has ever met. You would have done the same.) He was rather stupid, but that was okay; he was buff enough and charming enough to do what needed to get done, and knew how to react to wartime situations.

One day, the princess of the city decided to marry Brol. Brol was ecstatic about this royal wedding - the incoming queen, married to the general? What could be better? Unfortunately for Gen. Tenwyl, he soon discovered that the princess had only wed him as a publicity stunt - favor from her constituents was down, and she knew that by marrying the handsomest general in the world, she would gain favor once more. In a fit of blind rage, Brol smashed the princess's head against a wall, killing her.

Brol fled town and was soon imbued with his Exalted powers. (Previously he was just really strong; this is where he became larger-than-life strong.) He was wanted for murder, and thus could never return. (Yes, he could probably have destroyed the city if he wanted to, but he was a nice guy - he just lacks in temperament, and killed the princess during a moment of weakness. (He reached his Limit Break of Berserk Anger, for the Exalted-literate among you.)) Some of the townfolk were still enamored by his awesome hot buffpants, and in fact made a cult of several hundred people worships him daily, allowing him to restore extra Essence (basically magic-power).

Oh and also, I dedicated a fair amount of my character to being able to use the Husband-Seducing Demon Dance. The name alone should be a tip-off that this is the bossest ability in the world, but basically, here's what happens. Everyone who can see Brol's dance has to roll a die and add some fancy numbers from their character sheets. If they roll too low, they instantly fall in love with Brol, regardless of gender or sexual preference.

And it's a pretty hard roll not to fail.

So our group only actually met for gameplay once, but so basically. After some ridiculous shenanigans with capturing some evil woman (on whom the Demon Dance did not in fact work), we were met by two desert-lions, one purple and one green. More accurately, they may have been Scorpiores or Manticores or something, but they looked sorta lionesque. They could also talk. When we began, our sorcerer tried to exert a powerful influence upon the lions. One of them was rapt with attention by his persuasive speech; the other couldn't care less.

So I whipped out the Demon Dance.

It worked splendidly, and both lions were totally enamored with Brol. They tried to lead us into a trap that meant certain death, but couldn't bring themselves to harm or even inconvenience such a beautiful stud of a man. Trap: avoided. Awe yeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

And to top it all off, apparently when I first created this character nearly a year ago, I wrote on the line marked "Concept" (supposed to be Explorer, Vendor, etc): Sexy General.

Apr 27, 2011

The Y

Every Wednesday, I and my comrade-in-arms Jeff go to the YMCA, and he teaches me how to swim. We have a good thing going: right when school ends, we walk to his car, and drive to the Y, listening to the soothing ukulele music of Israel Kamikawiwo'ole along the way. Upon arriving, I make this pretty dumb joke about forgetting my goggles in the car, and then we swim from 3 to 4. We then relax in the sauna or the steam room for a while, at which point we depart and head over to the convenience store, where we get gummies, and he buys a $1 scratch card, and if he wins anything, he uses it to buy more $1 scratch cards. Finally, we head next door to meet his girlfriend at Starbucks, where we each get a panini, I get a tall hot chocolate, and he gets a venti iced skinny caramel macchiatto, and then he drives me home. Same deal every week. It's really cute.

The most noteworthy part of the trip, however, is in the locker room at the Y. Some people are concerned about the locker room in that they're uncomfortable with their body image or whatever. That's not my problem. My problem is the elderly gentlemen who are a bit too comfortable with their body image.

It's important to note that there are no teenagers, young adults, or even middle-aged gentlemen strutting around the locker room without a towel on. It's specifically the old men. I don't know what it is about old age that makes you think everyone wants to see what you have to show off, nor what the cutoff age is for wearing clothes in public places, but there's clearly some definite age at which you just stop caring altogether. My theory is that this was the standard seduction technique in the 1950s, and that these gentlemen never realized that times have changed, nor that there are no females in the men's locker room, nor that they're old. Whatever the reason, it's just a thing that happens.

Now, a gentleman walking from the shower to his locker is almost borderline understandable. He has a reason to be naked. There are, however, some men who seem to stand around solely to scar the poor children who wish to go for a swim. Today, however, I encountered the father of all inappropriate uses of no towels at all: a gentleman was shaving in the nude.

Now, I would like to inspect this man's thought process for a minute. First, he had to explicitly decide to bring his razor to the Y. For whatever reason, shaving at home was not an option. It had to be done here. His hair was completely dry, meaning that he hadn't yet gone swimming; in other words, he selected his locker, removed his pants, and before donning his swimming apparel, removed his razor and shaving cream from his pants pocket (or man-purse, or other peripheral carrying device), and moseyed over to the sink to shave.

I have no problem with men shaving at the Y. I have no problem with men shaving in the nude. I would do neither of those things, but hey, whatever floats old mens' boats. To do both at once, however, is outright objectionable.

To add onto this masterpiece of a shaving ritual, we proceeded to see this very same gentleman no more than half an hour later at Starbucks. Hair: dry. He didn't swim at all. He just went to the Y, got naked, shaved, and got dressed again.

I'm never growing old.


Apr 24, 2011

Bumper Cars

So a few weeks ago, my school's orchestra went on a trip to Virginia Beach. One day was spent at the Busch Gardens, an amusement park in the area. It was swell overall, but specifically, bumper cars were extra-swell. I and nine others pulled into the line at perhaps 6:00 in the evening, if not a hair later, and began waiting in line.

The queue took the form of an elongated S shape, such that you would pass by everyone twice in your wait. Logical solution when passing a few dozen strangers in relatively close quarters? High five them all.

So I did.

Most people were caught off-guard, and some refused to take their high fives, even when they clearly had several seconds of warning. Many people were quite happy to high five a stranger, though, and often smiled. I punctuated most high fives with a "YEAH!", and usually built up to it with some encouraging "Aww yeah, is this happening? I think so - whuh - whuh-oh - YEAH!" The rest of the group quickly caught on, and soon it was a high five train. Some others from outside of my group even joined in, and every time a family came through and was responsive to the high fiving, we all applauded them loudly.

Upon reaching the front of the line and high fiving the ride operator, we filed into our cars, and the ten of us just started driving an an oval. No traffic. No collisions. Just polite driving, obeying the rules of the road and signalling where appropriate. Others noticed and caught on, and joined in our train. There was a phenomenal sense of camaraderie.

After our three minutes of safe, controlled driving, the ride ended and we got back in line. Reinitiate the high five brigade. When we got near the front of the line, we began discussing our plan for next time. One suggestion was to create a barrier in the middle of the middle of the arena, dividing it in half, but we instead came up with a better idea. We walked past the attendant, high fived him, and loaded into our cars. He in fact started high fiving everyone else after us, which was pretty cool. And thus began our shenanigan.

The ride began. The first few seconds were totally natural. Then, this terrifying-looking guy from our group with piercings and tattoos abound lifted up his sunglasses and pointed at this one guy and said, "YOU!" The target was a 16-or-so-year-old with cheetah facepaint who was with several of his friends. They were basketball bros, and were going to do our driving-slowly thing. Well, not if we could help it.

After Cheetahface was singled out, we all rushed him. Everyone steered their cars straight in his direction, and we pushed him into a corner. And we just sat there. And that's it. That was the ride. We just sat and watched him.

Cheetahface was incredibly flustered, and didn't really know how to respond. He seemed resigned and disappointed by his immobilization as he realized he was powerless. When the ride ended, we all tried to shake his hand and thanked him for being such a good sport, but his hand was limp and he sort of awkwardly mad contact with our hands, and then walked on looking at the ground. We ran off into the night, proud of the greatest bumper cars ever.

Mar 30, 2011

Why Urinals Need Walls

So I sauntered into the bathroom, fully prepared to have the pee of my life. As it happened, there were two classy gentlemen of the highest degree already occupying the bathroom: one peeing at the urinal, the other just finishing up. Both men were racial - African-American, specifically - and spoke in slurs.

I had entered the bathroom in medias res. As I approached my urinal, the gentleman peeing said something to his departing friend. It was utterly unintelligible due to his lack of desire to fully close his mouth when pronouncing consonants; however, his companion seemed to take delight in his epigram, and responded in a similar fashion as he left us.

I'm was comfortable with this. I was not efforting to communicate with these peers (pun intended) of mine, and thus has no need to comprehend their conversation. I began to find my comrade's mannerisms a touch strange, however, when he continued to speak to his associate well after the door had been closed.

Allow me to at this point roughly describe the sequence of events as a timeline. Within a few seconds of my walking in, the chap at the urinal spoke for the first time. His friend responded immediately and closed the door as he did so. It was at least a full second or two past there before my comrade-in-urination threw back what I can only assume to have been a witticism. Then, about five to seven seconds later, he began to freestyle.

Yes, freestyling, in the bathroom, while peeing, alone, with me. He didn't look at me. Granted, he didn't keep his head straight pointed at the wall, either; he had more swagger than that, and had it in him to slouch as he peed and rapped. I don't believe his rap was from a published album, but I can't be entirely sure, as I couldn't understand a word he said, save for the occasional "fuhhin'" and "niiuh."

I kept my eyes forward, of course, but I saw through my peripheral vision that he was getting somewhat into his rap. As he finished up his excretory depletion, he zipped up (fruitlessly, if you ask me, judging by how low his pants were), and swaggered out of the bathroom, still rapping as he went.

And he didn't even wash his hands.

Feb 18, 2011

Utility Pockets: Update 2/18/11

So I've been outside all week. Specifically, I've been helping to build an outdoor classroom for a preschool, which has involved digging large holes, and cementing benches into them. That means that not only am I exceedingly dirty as I type this post, but also that my jacket is simply filthy. Before I put it in the wash, though, I've got to empty my pockets. And so, I present to you the contents of my Utility Pockets:

  • One headlamp
  • Two pairs of 3D glasses
  • One bag of Apple-Cinnamon Cheerios (1/3 full)
  • One bag of Honey-Nut Cheerios (nearly empty)
    • UPDATE: empty
  • One pair of clip-on sunglasses
  • Two pencils
  • One fountain pen
  • That Zebra pen that I raved about last time I presented the status of the Utility Pockets
  • One blue Staples pen
  • Five physics problems on small slips of paper
  • One pair of very cheap earbuds (used only once, for a test I was randomly selected for)
  • One nasal cannula (basically, a breathing device that can be attached to a supplemental oxygen take for basic life support)
  • Three chocolate wrappers
  • One small clump of dirt
  • One business card for Ken Salaz, a magician
    • The back says "You will think of Lois and choose the word voices," which was relevant to one of his tricks
  • My learner's permit
  • Half of a ticket to my school's production of The Crucible
  • One business card for my school's Assistant Headmaster (signed)
  • One Dingoo Digital A320 gaming device
Just, you know. FYI.

Feb 10, 2011

King of Shikaku

I subscribe to GAMES Magazine, edited by Will Shortz. It's a fantastic magazine featuring all those pencil-and-paper puzzles, like cryptic crosswords and logic puzzles and whatnot. There's one thing in there called Paint-By-Numbers, which are like giant grids that you have to color in according to certain rules in order to reveal a picture.

Like so.
So when on Facebook one day, I discovered that a friend of mine was playing on some application called Nonograms. I inspected a little and discovered that this Nonograms thing was actually Paint-By-Numbers, except that its pictures weren't pretty. I at first thought this was a little silly. Then I realized that there was a score counter. I had to be the best at this. There were no other options.

Unfortunately for my productivity, Nonograms wasn't alone, I soon discovered - the same developer had created about eight applications total. Sudoku, Lightup, Nurikabe, Slitherlink - there were a whole bunch of neat little puzzles. Each application had only a few hundred users - they were still really small and new. But I'll be damned if they weren't all the most fun things in the world.

This one nifty puzzle called Shikaku was particularly fun for me. I won't bore you with the rules, but if you're interested in playing, you can just click here. Sure enough, my hours, days, weeks of hard work paid off: I was officially the best Shikaku player.

Yes, I was the best. #1. The head honcho. The king. It was I who first broke a million points, who first solved the largest size puzzle twenty times consecutively. I was unmatched. All knelt before. For a while.

As it turned out, there was one gentleman by the name of Karel Essers from Overpelt, Belgium who was better than I was. He ultimately gained far more points than I had - I was left in the dust. Unacceptable. We went back and forth for a little while, but he eventually emerged as the victor. In a huff, I stormed off to play other puzzles - only to find that in Dominosa, the least-played of all the puzzle applications, he was #1. He held the #1 position in the majority of these games.

Karel Essers was officially my rival.

I had to tell Mr. Essers of our enmity, just in case he wasn't aware of my mental turmoil. I sent him a Facebook message:

Dear Mr. Essers -

You may have seen my name before, or more likely, my profile picture. I am the gentleman with whom you have been "sparring," so to speak, over the position of the King of Shikaku. I was quick to ascend to this position, as the first player to achieve a million points; Mr. Er Bollo de Hueva of Spain was quick to surpass me, and I soon dropped to third. There has since been much turmoil; however, you quickly emerged as the de facto ruler. I would like to inform you that your current lead of 1,428,022 points cannot be assumed to be permanent; we are still foes and I am still fighting. You are my rival to the bitter end. From Shikaku to Dominosa, I shall fight valiantly to earn your respect and to usurp your position on the throne.

-G. Edelston.

A day later, he responded:

Hi Mr. Edelston 
It's clear that you are not only a good writer, but also good in logic games. I must apologize for my inadequate knowledge of English. Using a translater gets me quite far though ;-). I'm pleased to have an opponent to compete for the first place in both Shikaku and Dominosa. I started right away with giving you an extra challenge in Shikaku, making the gap between us bigger. In Dominosa, I never tried anything else but the smallest size, but I'm willing to trie the bigger sizes as soon as you pass me ;-).
I wish you the best of luck and I hope that the new year gives you many inspiration. 
Kind regards,  
K. Essers 
That jerk. I didn't wind up responding to him again, and he still holds the lead, but he still to this day holds a special place in my heart: a place of hatred and rancor unmatched by any other. Someday, you shall succumb to my superiority, Karel Essers.

Jan 20, 2011

How To Avoid Making A Scene

So last year, I was at an orchestra rehearsal. These rehearsals last a full two and a half hours; I sat as the second chair cellist last year, placing me on the inside ring of players. I was happily playing along about twenty minutes from the end of the rehearsal, when all of a sudden, right in the middle of a symphony, I noticed a strange sensation:

My Pokéwalker had become unclipped from my pants. (For those unaware, this is what a Pokéwalker is.)

That's okay. It hadn't fallen out of my pants yet. No problem, right? As long as I don't lean too far forward or make any sudden movements, I can probably grab it out at the end of the piece. Granted, I'm a pretty emphatic player - not necessarily in a good way, just in an I-move-around-a-lot way.

But no. The consequences were dire. I didn't want the whole rehearsal to come to a stop so that we could have a two-minute banter of my explaining what a Pokéwalker is or does. It would be difficult, but I had to muscle through. Every action I took, every move I made, had to be deliberate. The integrity of the rehearsal rested in my pelvic control.

We ultimately finished the piece, but I couldn't find any nonchalant manner in which to slip my hand under my shirt right around my belt line and grab something. I couldn't go off to the bathroom or anything to get it, either - it would drop as soon as I stood up. At this point, though, rehearsal was so close to done, I decided staunchly that I'd be able to make it. There was no other choice.

I made it a fair way through. I even managed to reach over to the stand once to get out a new piece of music. But then, the tragic moment came: in the middle of a piece, I dropped the Pokéwalker with five minutes to go.

The classic foot-catch: a staple of any longtime scene-avoider.
Crisis: averted.

NOTE: Crisis not actually averted. Everyone saw my foot-catch. Everyone knew what happened. All I did was avoid interrupting the rehearsal. Which is good, I guess.

Jan 19, 2011

The Emptying of the Utility Pockets

Some of you may recall the existence of Utility Pockets, which are essentially neverending black holes of stuff. I stopped wearing the UP-bearing jacket about a month or two ago, because it just got terribly dirty. You may be wondering why I didn't just put it in the wash, then; to this, I respond with a friendly reminder of how involved that process is, simply because of the sheer number of things I would need to put away. Well, this morning I finally took it upon myself to empty the pockets so I could wash my jacket. Here's the inventory of what I removed:

  • 1 half-eaten bag of Cheerios (Apple-Cinnamon)
  • Two pairs of 3D "Real-D" glasses - one from Coraline, one from Megamind
  • A bulleted list of reasons that I am not a hipster
  • Pens
  • One green pencil, in very poor shape
  • Three green Hershey's Kiss wrappers
  • One bulleted list of all the camping trips I've been on in the last four years
  • Five physics problems, each written on a separate 1.5"x3" sheet of paper
  • The phone numbers of two people in the Boy Scouts
  • A sheet of notes that my guidance counselor took about my college hunt
  • $10
  • The phone number of Gunn, the coolest taxi driver (in Pittsburgh)
    • Actually, he deserves an entire post dedicated to him.
  • And, of course, the headlight.
Expect this to be a recurring thing. Except not that often. Because I don't really empty my pockets often. Ever.

Jan 13, 2011

These Goddamn Forks

I would like to express a grievance.

My school has, for as long as I've been around, been consistent with its plasticware. The same forks, knives, and spoons have been served since my days as a freshman. No one has ever once complained that this plasticware was inadequate. The reason for this is, of course, that it's not inadequate. I've learned to know and love the plasticware that we have. But this week, a travesty occurred:

They changed the forks.

This is unacceptable.
Left: Acceptable.
Right: Downright unacceptable.
It's not just that I'm resistant to change. I'm a perfectly accepting guy. I'm willing to listen to outside views and maybe undergo a lifestyle change if necessary. This, though, was just uncalled for. Look at that fork. I have a number of objections to it.

1. It's simply too thin. You can't do any fancy maneuvering with this kind of fork. You need a nice, broad base that you can use to turn the fork between your fingers if you so choose. If you need to change your grip, placing another finger on top, raising your elbow, etc., you don't have time to worry about the fork falling out of your hand.

2. It's so goddamn long. This aids in the aforementioned lack of maneuverability, causing the fork to potentially hit the awkward skin flap between your thumb and index finger; but not only that, it's just cost-inefficient. More length means more plastic. More plastic means more materials. More materials means higher cost of production. Higher cost of production means higher consumer-end cost. The consumer, of course, is the school. These forks are actually raising your taxes.

3. Strange curvature. I don't know what they were going for with this. I think the intent was to make them such that they would rest easily against your hand, which is a great idea if you have small hands. I, however, wear XL gloves. Instead, all that this curvature does is inconvenience my middle finger.

4. HUGE tines. Like, to the point of absurdity. You are NOT eating an 8-oz steak sideways in the student center; I promise you, you do NOT need  three goddamn inches of tines. They're extra-wide, too, and blunter, meaning that it's harder to impale small foods such as peas and blueberries. The dip of the fork is so far back, too, that if you want to use your fork as some sort of a sharp spoon, you'd better have a HUGE mouth, and be prepared to impale yourself in the throat anyway. The point can be, and has been, raised that the larger head of the fork increases its sturdiness. To that, I say that if you have ever accidentally bitten down and broken your fork while eating your school lunch, then you clearly have bigger problems.

There really is no good side to these new forks. They're just abominations. I've half a mind to start bringing my own plasticware to school. For all I know, there could be some compelling reason for these forks to exist, but until anyone finds that reason, I strongly encourage you not to use these forks, should you ever come across them.

Jan 8, 2011

The Classiest Joke I've Ever Made

Opus 1: Solo Concerto in B Minor
by G. Edelston

UPDATE: Not intentional, but B minor. Bm. Bowel movement. Heh.

Jan 1, 2011


Last month on Facebook, my compatriot Mari declared December to be "drawing epic Pokémon" month. Another friend posted a pretty good drawing of Mewtwo that he had clearly spent a while on. I whipped up a Lickitung, and once I started I just kept going. And lo, my beauteous depictions of the gen1 Pokémon were born. If anyone wants to create a ROM that uses these for sprites, I will be eternally grateful.

Comment below with your favorites! c: