Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Stirring Post

'Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a—HEY!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Carols for the Zombie Apocalypse

Just in time for the holidays — and the imminent zombie threat — we have a brand new album for you, from Flaming Wheel Records.

Complete with 48 of the world's most popular apocalyptic seasonal hits, this 4-CD box set has updated versions of all your old favorites, including...

Oh, the devils outside are frightful,
But on fire, they're so delightful.
And since we've no place to go,
Let 'em groan! Let 'em groan! Let 'em groan!
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Chester roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping off your nose.
You'll find Carol being sucked by Claire,
And folks in pies of Eskimo.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Silent night, holy Christ!
Here they come! This ain't right!
Round yon corner, mother and child
Shamble toward us bloody and wild.
Death would be a relief.
Death would be a relief.
(listen to mp3 preview)

Of course no doomsday collection would be complete without these beloved numbers:

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Blast the head off that damn thing!"
Please unearth us some more food.
God! us sinners are all screwed.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I'm dreaming of a red Christmas,
Unlike the ones we used to know.
Where bodies glisten,
And we all listen,
For sounds of movement down below.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Have yourself a very brittle Christmas
As your limbs decay.
From now on,
Your arms will both be miles away.
(listen to mp3 preview)

And who can forget these timeless classics?

Come and hold me, pa rum pa pum pum.
An awful thing to see, pa rum pa pum pum.
Our finest are dying, pa rum pa pum pum.
Then re-animating, pa rum pa pum pum,
Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum.
(listen to mp3 preview)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Five cold dead things!
Four mauling hordes,
Three strange men,
Two useless guns,
And a car for which I have no key.
(listen to mp3 preview)

And many more!

Face down the zombie hordes with a song! For only 24 monthly installments of $9.99,* you can own A Zombie Christmas, the greatest compilation of zombie carols ever made.

Place your order in the next fifteen minutes, and we'll throw in the album Purim of the Vampires, a $42 value, absolutely free!

Order yours today! Operators are standing by.


* Plus $19.95 for shivving and man-handling.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Too Much Water, Too Little Time

Important Information for All Cat Owners:
If your cat starts drinking much more water than usual, this is not standard quirky cat behavior. Take your cat to the vet. Increased thirst could portend such maladies as kidney failure, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. Trust me on this.

Today, with seemingly little warning, my cat Marcelle passed away, a victim of kidney failure.


I got Marcelle when she was two years old. Born in Uzbekistan and raised in France, she was shy yet talkative, the complete opposite of Marcel Marceau. She was easily frightened and uninterested in toys — and sometimes, easily frightened by toys — and she looked like a miniature Maine coon, with a tiny bend at the end of her tail where it must've been caught in a door when she was a kitten.

She'd greet me when I got home. She'd have conversations with us by meowing in response to whatever we said. Like most cats, she had a knack for interposing herself between reader and book, or writer and computer. When I first got her, she hid under the floorboards and meowed me awake every morning at 4:30. She'd then rub her face against my chin.

She was the sweetest cat I've ever known.

About two months ago, Marcelle started begging for water every morning. We'd fill the upstairs sink for her, or a small bowl, and she'd lap away at it as if she hadn't had a drink in weeks. It was odd behavior, but she was a cat of many quirks, and everything else seemed normal so we thought nothing of it. We figured our dog, Sonya, had been drinking her water downstairs (she did that sometimes), or chasing her back upstairs (she did that often). Besides, the air in the house did get dry in late autumn.

A few weeks ago, Marcelle began hiding in one of our box springs, and vomited up bile a few times in a matter of days. She'd done both things before (there was a hole in the box spring, and cats vomit), so again we weren't worried. Character quirks, that's all. Just a phase. She visited with us less often, but when she did come out, she was as affectionate (or as likely to run from the Sonya) as she'd always been.

We only realized something was wrong in the past few days. As a small cat, she'd always had slightly bony hips, but now we could feel her ribs and spine. And though Sonya sometimes ate her food, we now realized Marcelle was barely eating, barely drinking. She'd lost two pounds, or more than ¼ of her total weight. Yet, apart from this, she was still acting like herself.

The vet did all he could, but it turned out she was already in Stage IV of chronic renal failure, and the end came much quicker than any of us expected. By this afternoon, at the tender age of nine, our dear Marcelle was gone. We never even got the chance to say goodbye.

And it was all my fault.

You may think I'm being too hard on myself, but I should have sensed something was wrong when Marcelle kept begging for water. She had many quirks, but she always repeated them. Never had she consumed water at such a pace before. Never had she kept herself hidden from me for so much of the day.

Kidney failure can be managed if it's caught early enough. All I had to do was Google "cat drinking a lot of water," and I'd have understood. I could have saved her. I could have given her many more happy years of meowed conversations and frightening toys.

I'm so sorry, Marcelle. So so sorry. I didn't know.

But at least now, others will.


Marcelle
2001-2010

Goodbye, Marcelle. We miss you dearly.
 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two New Overdue Reviews

In one book, a twelve-year-old genius is suspicious of the new kid in town. In the other, an amnesiac who can't feel pain wrestles with, first, a lion, and then his new-found fame. One is for a middle grade audience. The other is most certainly not.

So, what do these two novels have in common? I won them both on the internets.

Archvillain
by Barry Lyga

In late September, I won a signed copy of Archvillain on author Barry Lyga's blog by announcing I wanted the power to hurl a yak into space using only my mind. True story.

Speaking of stories...

Everyone else in town loves "Mighty" Mike, but sixth grader Kyle Camden doesn't trust him. In a twist on the old Superman origin story, Mike appears in town after a meteor shower1 and starts doing superheroey things. Kyle, with new superpowers of his own (and a pet rabbit), concocts increasingly complicated plans to unmask Mike as an alien and a fake.

Archvillain is an entertaining story on its own, but what I enjoyed most was how Lyga took various modern conventions and turned them on their head. The protagonists in most middle grade fiction start out as shy, bullied losers with no real talent, yet Kyle is the smartest and most popular kid in his school. And, though Kyle is constantly rebuffed in his efforts to convince the town the truth about Mighty Mike — after all, no one ever believes kids in kids' books — the further you read, the more you begin to realize this may not be the kind of tale where the plucky protagonist saves the day.

But then again, as the back cover states, "Sometimes it's good to be bad."


Rating:

1 Which Kyle explains was neither meteors nor a shower. Discuss.


Numb
by Sean Ferrell

In late October, I won a copy of Numb from David Hebblethwaite over at Follow the Thread by being completely random.2

Numb, at its core, is about a man who is numb at his core. Not only is he immune to pain, but he's sometimes frozen in his decision-making and insensitive to how his actions might harm others. It's almost as if he's in a daze for most of the book, letting others manipulate and use him rather than finding his own way. Yet, for someone who sounds so dull, he's quite the complex character.

And he's surrounded by a cast that is equally as complex, often acting or reacting in ways that only make sense later on. I tend to prefer fiction driven by plot rather than character, but the depth Ferrell gives his characters, especially Mal (the friend), Hiko (the girlfriend), and Emilia (the lover), kept me riveted.3

By the way, there's one thing I noticed which others may have missed. On page 3, the main character explains how he first stumbled into a Texas circus, bloody and with no memory of who he is. He concludes with:
When some of the carnies came up to me, I said, "I'm numb."
This became my name.
Yet, as best I can remember, not one person in the entire novel refers to him by name. That Sean Ferrell sure is a clever one.

Numb is the story of a man searching for an identity, while also doing his best to traverse the ins and outs of friendships, relationships, and the kind of celebrity you get by driving nails through your skin.

Plus, carnies.


Rating:

2 Of course, you probably thought the space yak bit that won me the other book was completely random, but this is a completely different "completely random." In this case I mean I was selected to win randomly.
3 This is a special service Ferrell offers. For $100 (plus travel costs and a signed liability waiver), he will come to your home, pump you full of painkillers, and rivet you to a copy of his book. How better to connect with the main character and his plight?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Time for a Little Jew & A

Hello, goys and girls. In my last post, I offered to answer any question you might have about Judaism, and you responded with some great ones. I received a total of 11 questions, which is fitting, since it's the same number of Commandments Moses brought down from the mountain top. (What? Like we're going to let you Gentiles know the last one? Please.)

To the questions!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

My first question comes courtesy of Chris Phillips:
What is the general teaching/belief on the Messiah and what he will look like or when he will come?

Tradition says the Messiah, the future Jewish king descended from David, will usher in a period of peace and freedom for all mankind. Since the word messiah literally means "the anointed one," he will undoubtedly be smeared in holy oil. So be on the lookout for anyone with a greasy complexion whose dad's name is Dave. He could be here any day now.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Todd says:
Hi Nate, What's Nu?

Oh, not much.

I mean that literally. Nu is a sort of general purpose word, the Yiddish equivalent of anything from "well?" or "so?" to "wassup?" So yeah, it's not much.1
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

My Aunt-in-Law Sharon asks:
I know very little so how can I ask if I don't know?

Third base.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Sharon also asks:
But we can start with what Chris Phillips asked???

Um, we already did that three questions ago. But just in case you missed it, I'll answer it again. Your personal messiah will be 6'1" with blue eyes, long brown hair and beard, olive skin, and circular scars on both hands and feet. He is the son of a carpenter and believes above all else that people are innately good. His name is Steve.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Jeffrey Beesler asks:
What makes you think you've got a big nose?


_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Chris Phillips counters with:
What makes Jeffrey think you don't have a big nose?


_ _ _ _ _ _ _

My sister Naomi (mother of a brand-spankin' new baby (whom I suspect was spanked by a hand and not a brand)) asks:
If a Jew cheats on their Kosher diet, do they lose their Jewish superpowers immediately, or is there some kind of grace period allowing for atonement?

How greatly a Jew's superpowers are affected depends on the magnitude of the transgression. For instance, binging on a store-brand snack food could drop your haggling abilities to about 75%. Mixing meat and dairy might leave you only able to inflict guilt at 1/3 your original level. And eating the meat of any non-kosher animal (or any kosher animal not prepared in a kosher manner) will likely sap you of all your telekinetic power. For reference, it usually takes about a month of prayer and contrition to recharge to full strength.

A special dispensation is made for bacon. All your superpowers will remain intact as long as you repent directly afterward. You don't even have to mean it.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Chris Phillips comes back for even more Jew-learnin':
A huge part of reconciling yourself to God was in offering. Now that there is no temple or high priests to do all of that neatness how do you reconcile yourselves?

As you know, Jews are great with money. So what we do is this: At the end of every month, we sit down with God and compare our spiritual checkbooks. If we've fallen behind, we offer up penance. If God is in arrears, He adds another day to the end of Hanukkah. (It's happened seven times already.)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

One more from Chris, and perhaps the most important of the bunch:
Let's say you are an Eskimo convert to Judaism who herds seals. When you give your offering is it technically kosher in that instance to club a baby seal?

It is only considered kosher if the act is witnessed by a Rabbi who confirms the seal died without pain, and that at no point did you let the offering touch your tongue.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Alex J. Cavanaugh asks the question on everyone's mind:
What's with the little hats?

Those little hats are called fezzes, and are only worn by Jews who also happen to be Shriners. Traditionally, fezzes were worn to keep balding Jews' souls from escaping through the top of their heads in cold weather. However, in these soulless times, they have a far more important function: ammunition for the weekly no-holds-barred post-temple fez fights.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

I'll take The Final Question for $200, Alex:
And have you played spin the bottle? Not really Jewish related, but now I'm curious.

Sorry, Alex, I don't kiss and tell. Of course, you may think my saying this gives away my answer, since now you know I have kissed. But you can't be sure about what I spun to get kissed. It could have been the bottle, yes, or I may have spun the dreidel, a menorah, my fez, a good yarn, the globe, the Wheel, doctors, or right round like a record baby.

And you'll never know which one.2
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Well, that wraps up my first ever Jew & A session. Thanks again to everyone who submitted questions, and I do hope I was able to teach you shiksas and shoksim3 out there a thing or two about Jews.

And now, I shall go light the candles in my menorah for the last night of Hanukkah... with my MIND!

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!


1 But that's only if you're Yiddish. Otherwise it could be a letter, a kana, an ethnic group, a river, a physics ratio, the male form of an Egyptian goddess, a programming language, a university, an electric company, a type of fusion music, a prime minister, a Canadian territory, or even a fictional species from a Super Nintendo game released in 1995.
2 Bwahahahaha!
3 Goy girls and boy goys.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Crazy Guy Explains Eight Crazy Nights

I have a brittle ladle. I made it out of clay.
And if it's dry and ready, I'll serve you soup today.
Oh ladle, ladle, ladle, it's so much fun to say.
And whether borscht or lentil, I'll serve you soup today.


Happy Chanukah Hanukkah, everybody!

Of course, I suspect many of you goyim know very little about Chanukka Hannukah Hanukkah.1 Lucky for you, I have just the thing:


Don't worry whether I'm actually your uncle. Just click the link. You'll learn the origins of many of Hanuka Khanika Chechnya Hanukkah's long-standing traditions, such as:
  • What's the real reason the menorah holds eight candles?
  • What were latkes called before they were called latkes?
  • Is spinning the dreidel anything like spinning the bottle?
It's all in there. Check it out.

But wait: There's more!

Since I'm feeling extra generous this holiday season, along with Uncle Nate's Absurdly Awesome Hanukkah Primer, I'll also provide you with an even more valuable service.

I will answer any question you have about Judaism.

Any question at all. Maybe there's something else you want to know about Hannukkah Kamchatka Hakuna Matata Hanukkah. Maybe you're curious about Jewish culture, history, or faith. Or maybe you just want to talk about cheap misers with big noses. Whatever it is, ask away. Just leave your questions in the comment section, and I'll answer them all. I might even dedicate an entire post to it if I get enough questions.

So, what do you want to know?


1 Or what the gehenna a goyim is.