Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The X-Man: Origins

This (and when I say "this," I mean this right here (you know, these words I'm writing right now (or, more accurately, these words I've already written but which you're reading right now (yeah, that's better)))) is my 100th post.

Since I ran a contest for The Wheel's one-year anniversary, this time I thought I'd offer up something more valuable than Amazon gift cards: information.1

So today, on this auspicious occasion, I will tell you why this blog is named Sometimes, the Wheel is on Fire. I'll give you a hint: It has absolutely nothing to do with Bob Dylan.

Let me start you off with this (anonymous) entry from my most recent contest:
A Conn College student late one night
Of Ixion did inquire
Turns to the footnote and there finds
Sometimes the wheel is on fire
Confused yet? Well, let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

You see that guy up at the top of my blog, the X-Man? That's Ixion. I know some of you are too lazy to look, so here he is again:

Anyway, a while back, two friends were reading about Ixion for a course on Greek mythology. A king of the Lapiths, Ixion murdered his father-in-law and later lusted after Hera, causing Zeus to expel him from Mount Olympus.

Now, this was one of those text books rife with footnotes. And not the kindly, sometimes humorous footnotes you find here. These were academic footnotes, meaning references to source material or long, boring passages providing further background.

As a result, neither of my friends had read a single footnote so far that chapter. Yet both friends — independent of each other, I might add — felt compelled to flip to the back of the book to see what more there was to say about Ixion's punishment.2 You see, as retribution for his actions, Ixion is bound to a spinning wheel for all eternity.

The footnote adds these six little words:   82 Sometimes the wheel is on fire.

So there you have it. Two friends stumble upon a bizarre and amusing phrase, and a decade later I commandeer it for my blog. Actually, they were happy to let me have it, especially after they saw the fiery Ixion logo I'd designed. And even more especially once they learned he isn't always engulfed in flames.3

Plus, I love that my blog — which practically runs on footnotes — gets its name from a footnote. I'd write a footnote about it, but I don't want to be too cliché.4

One hundred blog posts. Wow.

1 I never said it would be more valuable to you. It's more valuable to me, though, since I value my money.
2 Yes, since the notes are at the back of the book, they're technically endnotes, not footnotes, but no one cares. So shut your face and pay attention.
3 Refresh the page if you don't believe me. One out of five times, the Ixion in the top banner will be mercifully extinguished. The rest of the time, I'm not nearly as merciful.
4 Thus, I will instead write about yetis. Although this is the first I've mentioned yetis here, theirs is a cause near and dear to my heart. Much like Muslims, yetis are characterized as violent and hateful, when the vast majority are compassionate, peace-loving individuals. Don't persecute all yetis because of the actions of an abominable few. Please, in this time of need, pledge your support to I SAY, the International Society for the Advancement of Yetis. Tell 'em Nate sent you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where Memes Go to Die

A couple days ago, the wonderful Angela over at Jaded Love Junkie bestowed upon me The Versatile Blogger award. Thanks, Angela!

It's the first award I've received for my work at The Wheel, and to show my appreciation, I decided the first thing I'd do was demonstrate my versatility. Behold:

That's right, I gave it a Photoshop upgrade. TVB, you're welcome.

Anyway, the award also came with a set of rules to which I'm supposed to adhere. And that's where I stop playing along.

Rules. They're all well and good in some situations, but I pretty much ignore any rule contrived just to spread a meme. A few examples:

Meme Rule Reaction
Forwarded surveys Answer 21 questions about myself, then send to 21 friends I don't answer any question seriously, then only send it to those who sent it to me
Chain letters Send to 10 friends, or never find true love I send it out, but only after converting it into a Mad-Lib
Certain dances Do the exact same moves as everyone else at the exact same time, because we said so I avoid them like the plague avoids them1

The first couple rules were fine. Thank the person who gave you the award. Post the award. You know, that sort of thing. But then I got to rule #3:
Nominate 15 other bloggers to pass the luv.
First of all, if I'm going to pass along a misspelled word, it's going to be a misspelled word of my choosing, such as "sammich" or "Canadia." And secondly, it's too hard to pick which 15 bloggers to give this award. Instead, I'll fall back on my versatility once again:
Nominate 15 other bloggers to pass the luv Louvre.
Who am I nominating? You. That's right! If you're among the first 15 to read this, I've just nominated you for an all-expense paid trip to Paris!2 Just think about it: la Tour Eiffel (the Eiffel tower), la Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris (the Cathedral of Notre Dame), and l'Arc de Triomphe (the Lark of Triumph) are all now within your grasp.

I know what you're thinking, and: You're welcome.

Au revoir!

1 Okay, so I may have inadvertently been pulled into a conga line once or twice. And I've done the Hokey Pokey. But, in my defense, so has the plague.
2 All expenses paid by you, the aforementioned blogger.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Give me an Arrrrr

Yo ho, me hearties! 'Tis a wondrous day! Yet, I am overcome with sadness.

On the one hand, it is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is always a blast. But on the other hook, a year ago it coincided with Rosh Hashanah, which meant I got to explain how to talk like a Jewish pirate. In comparison, today kind of feels like a letdown.

It doesn't have to be, though. We can liven things up a bit by adding some variety to the proceedings. After all, there are many types of pirates out there.

Let me show you what I mean:

Type of Pirate Quote
Traditional: "Avast, ye scurvy dogs! Shape up, or I'll cast ye into the briny depths!"
Music: "If you don't burn me a copy of the new Skurvy Doggs album, I'll shove you back in Davy Jones' locker!"
Pittsburgh: "You dogs stunk it up out there tonight! Hit the showers, get outta my sight!"
Software: "Jeez, the quality's so bad you can barely tell the dog has scurvy! The picture's so washed out!"
Somali (translated): "Quit trying to kill us like dogs! Either pay the ransom, or we'll send more hostages to a watery grave!"
Radio: "This'll stop those scurvy dogs in their tracks! More music the establishment doesn't want you to hear. First up: Under the Sea."
Of the Caribbean: "That scurvy dog's in no shape to sail. I 'spect he's drownin' his sorrows in a bottle o' rum."
Of Penzance: "So what if you're the model of a modern Major-General?
Stop singing or I'll throw you from this very boat quite literal.
We'll tie you to an anchor and then boot you off the plank, we will.
And to the ocean floor you'll sink, where you'll be food for mackerel."

That's but a few examples, but I think you've got the idea. Just because everyone will be talking like a pirate today, it doesn't mean you all have to talk like the same one.

So, go. Set a course for awesomeness. And let's break away from the stereotype.

Although, feel free to imagine everyone with an eye patch, and a parrot on their shoulder.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm an Uncle!

Shortly after 4pm on Sunday, September 5, 2010, I became an uncle for the first time. Or, to put it another way, I got married.1

Thank you all for your congratulations and well wishes! The whole wedding weekend was wonderful. Both the game night and reception went off without a hitch, and the ceremony had just the one.

(And, now that I've gotten the obligatory bad pun out of the way...)

How We Met

I first met my ex-fiancée2 at a place called The Blue Turtle, where my friend Scott was celebrating his birthday. Of twenty or so invitees, only three showed that night, and the third was already married. (Plus, he wasn't my type.)

Denise let me beat her at air hockey, and the rest, as they say, is history.3

The Bride

The bouquet: red & yellow gerber daisies
The gown: from David's Bridal
The old: grandmother's pearls / grandfather's ring
The new: gown / shoes / floral hairpiece
The borrowed: aunt's handkerchief
The blue: toe nails
The penny: in her shoe (the right one)

The Groom

Wardrobe provided by Men's Wearhouse, JCPenney, and Macy's, adorned with — and I quote — a "Golden Imperial Hankie." Hair by MPA.4

Suave. Sophisticated.
And in an abandoned streetcar.

The Ceremony

We were married in North Collins, NY, under a willow tree on a small island in a small pond usually frequented by ducks and geese. In one direction you can see old train cars and tractors and a rocket. In another you can see totem poles, and anchors and bizarre sculptures. Across the pond sits the top of a silo, painted as a giant pumpkin head.

Denise is Catholic, and I'm Jewish-ish, so we had a non-religious ceremony. I did, however, keep the Jewish tradition of "the breaking of the glass," because I enjoy smashing things. Afterward, our closest family and friends pelted us with birdseed. One rogue kernel still resides within the lining of my jacket. I have no idea how it got in there.

The Music

We hand-picked all the songs played at the reception, with help from Scott, our Designated iPod Manager (or DiPM). The songs were grouped into playlists and then randomized, which meant we spent half the reception saying, "Hey, I love this song!"

We did, however, play a few songs at specific times:

Processional: In My Life, by The Beatles (played on violin)
Wedding song: Nathaniel & Denise's Wedding Song, written by my sister5
First dance: The Luckiest, by Ben Folds
Played in the background during our intro: from the Muppet Show... Mahna Mahna6

The Reception

Ilio DiPaolo's, in Blasdell, NY, provided magnificent service and their food was phenomenal. Many raved about their veal marsala, and I loved (loved!) both the Italian wedding soup and the rosemary red potatoes.

Oh yeah, and Table 5 won the sugar packet tower-building competition.

If you enjoy Italian food and ever find yourself south of Buffalo for some reason, stop in at Ilio's for a meal. You won't be disappointed.

The Photos

Kaz of Kaz Photography was an absolute pleasure to work with. Not only does he have a spectacular eye for composition and color, but in some of the shots, he even made me look handsome. You can see all 24 of the "teaser" photos here.

If you ever find yourself in Buffalo and in need of a photographer, Kaz is your man.

In Summary...

I was overwhelmed by how well everything went, and of course, Denise looked amazing. In fact, I don't believe the weekend could have turned out any better. And, if the first few hours and days of our marriage are any indication, my ex-fiancée and I are going to have a long, happy life together.

1 I inherited twin two-and-a-half year-old nephews. Although, I did have fun telling people last year I'd be an uncle this September. They'd start to congratulate me for my sister, then falter as they worked through the math and realized it was more than nine months away. (Earlier last year I also announced my upcoming nuptials by saying my girlfriend got engaged over the weekend. Eventually, people will start to figure out they shouldn't take anything I say at face value.)
2 She prefers "wife."
3 Then again, pretty much everything is history, no matter how mundane it is. So I wouldn't get too excited.
4 Male Pattern Awesomeness
5 The song contained the names of 39 vegetables, 37 Halloween costumes, and 36 types of cheese. And no, I'm not exaggerating. (Also, there was a kazoo solo.)
6 Do doo de-do-do.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


“Mawwiage is what bwings us togevah, today. That bwessed awwangement, that dweam wivvin a dweam…”
- The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride
That’s right, today’s the big day. And instead of getting ready, I’m here writing another blog post.

Everyone enjoyed themselves last night, when we replaced the traditional rehearsal dinner with a game night. Instead of a more formal affair, friends and family gathered for traditional Buffalo cuisine (wings, pizza, beef on weck) and a large variety of board and card games. We had glow sticks, kazoos, and a metric ton of pound cake.

We played poker and euchre and cribbage. We played games you’ve likely never heard of, like Pack & Stack and Slide 5 and Bohnanza. There was raucous singing and outrageous accents during Monty Python Fluxx. An endless game of Apples to Apples (which did, eventually, end). A photo finish in Ticket to Ride. Krusty the Clown unveiled as a murderer in Simpsons Clue. Many, many losers and few (if any) winners in We Didn't Playtest This At All.

And, during the charades portion of Time’s Up, I performed what my friends claimed to be the best ever impression of a Transformer. Sorry, dear readers, but there’s no video evidence to share. Though, maybe I’ll recreate it at the reception tonight. Or maybe even at the ceremony.1

Speaking of the ceremony, I should probably start getting ready. I’m hoping time will slow down and we’ll get to enjoy every single second of this wonderful day with our friends and family, but from what I’ve heard, it’s going to feel more like this bit from Spaceballs:
“And now the short, short version. Do you?”
“Do you?”
“Good! Kiss ‘er!”
Yeah. Either way, it’s going to be a great day.

1 Don’t tell Denise. It’ll be a surprise. Just like the chimpanzee break-dancing troupe I ordered.

And Ze Winners Are...

At long last, I’m ready to announce the winners of The Wheel’s one-year anniversary contest. I’ll do so in a moment, but first I want to give some recognition to a few of the other entries.

My dad (BCFN) submitted the shortest entry, coming in at a spry 13 words. I was impressed he fit all the words into a haiku, at least until I re-read it and realized the first two lines make absolutely no sense. I do like the last line, though: “Gift, come to papa!”

And I had to dock my sister (Naomi) a point for providing the perfect set-up for it, but not finishing with the line “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

The Alliterative Allomorph provided a wonderful little poem, and as for kmthelibrarian’s entry, I have no idea what game those two are playing, but I want in.

Everyone submitted such wonderful entries, which made my decision tough, but in the end I was able to settle on the two winners. You may not agree, but I am incredibly biased.

Winner the First

Courtesy of Scott:
Paul’s attempts to create a hybrid phoenix hamster routinely failed. Sometimes, he could even get the hamster to do several turns on the wheel before catching on fire and flying into the ceiling fan. One day, he thought, I’ll get air conditioning and this experiment will be a success.
Here’s wishing Paul the best of luck with his experiment. Or, better yet, here’s wishing he videotapes it and puts it up on YouTube.

Winner the Second

Courtesy of Angela M.:
Sometimes when life gives you lemons… Ah, horseshit. I’d done my best to accept rejection in my life. I was, after all, a writer. But the bastard had no right to fire me. When I came the next day to talk sense into him, I saw her—the one he’d chosen to replace me at the desk outside his office, in his bed even. I gripped the wheel hard enough to lose sensation just before the engine’s roar matched my own. Turns out it’s easier getting your job back when the replacement doesn’t show on the first day of work.

Congratulations, Scott and Angela! I shall send your shiny new $25 Amazon gift card via electronic mail. If you don’t receive it in the next day or two, please let me know.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! I enjoyed all your stories and poems, and I’m sorry I can’t give you all free stuff. Maybe next time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Extra Word

In the last line of this morning's post, I said I would announce the winners of The Wheel's anniversary contest later today. Yeah, I have no idea how the word "today" got in there. I certainly won't have time tonight to write a proper post handing out the accolades.

(Here's a tip: Never schedule your contest to end a day and a half before your wedding.)

So, for those of you who are sitting on pins and needles and itching to learn who's going to walk away with the two Amazon gift cards, first of all, get off the pins and needles. That's dangerous. And I might suggest talcum powder for that itch of yours.

Anyway, I'll try to announce the winners as soon as I can. Sorry for the delay.

Seventeen Syllables of Shame

Yesterday, I abused Stephanie Thornton’s Haiku Blogfest for my own purposes. I feel my actions were justified because I was not promoting myself so much as I was promoting a way for the other blogfest participants and readers to win some cold hard cash.1 Yet, while some people considered my entry witty or creative, others were less than amused.

It has been said that all great art is controversial. And now, thanks to my little stunt yesterday, I have proven that art that is mediocre at best can be controversial, too. (See? I did it for science!)

Anyway, to make up for my insolence, I shall share five more (5! more!) haiku today. Come, let us celebrate Day 2 of the Haiku Blogfest!

First, here’s one related to my novel:
What is that I hear?
Invisible monkeys? Crap!
This doesn’t bode well.
Second, a twist on traditional haiku imagery:
The bough sinks lower
Claws grip the cherry blossoms
Hang in there, kitty
Third, the one I performed at my sister’s wedding last year:
This is a haiku
For both Josh and Naomi
On their wedding day
Then, a short fairy tale:
Once upon a time,
In a land far, far away,
Stuff happened. The End.
And we’ll end with a true story:
Beneath the willow
A cool breeze, or winds of change?
Tomorrow I wed.
If you haven’t had enough yet, you can also check out all the ninja haiku (and the limerick!) submitted for my other contest earlier this year.

So, am I absolved?

(Note: I will announce the winners of the contest at the heart of this controversy later today.)

1 Which is neither cold, nor hard, nor cash. (Amazon gift cards in their digital form are more warm and fuzzy cash-equivalents, don’t you think?)

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Which I Blatantly Use a Blogfest to Promote My Own Contest

Amazon gift cards:
Enter my contest to win.
You know you want to.

This piece of blatant advertising has been brought to you by the letter Q and the number 13, and may get me kicked out of Stephanie Thornton’s Haiku Blogfest. Luckily, it’s a two-day affair; I shall do what I can to redeem myself tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No to Chicken, Yes to Safety

Reminder: There are only two days left to enter my blog’s one-year anniversary contest. Enter now for a chance at one of two Amazon gift cards!

The wedding is fast approaching — I estimate at somewhere around Mach 5 — and Denise and I are doing our best to tie up all the remaining loose ends.1 There’s much more to do than either of us originally thought, but we’re slowly chipping away at the list. I am, however, proud to announce that, as I stated last September, there will be no bouquet or garter thrown at our wedding. There will be no groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girls, or ring bearers. There will be no pews, no priest, no Pachelbel’s Canon. No DJ, no band, no videographer. No Macarena, no Electric Slide. Thankfully, no rain.2

We’re not having a minimalist wedding, though. We’ll have a five-course Italian meal. We’ll have kids throw birdseed at us. We’ll have a song written just for the occasion. There will be ducks, glow sticks, noise makers, totem poles, the Goose Patrol, and, for reasons beyond my understanding, a giant metal pumpkin head. Also, a bear on a unicycle.3

Instead of the Chicken Dance, we’ll have the Safety Dance.

Instead of a rehearsal dinner, we’ll have a game night.

And instead of the same old wedding with the same old traditions, we’ll have a day that’s unique to us. A day that’s truly ours.

I can’t wait.

1 We’re mostly using slip knots.
2 According to both the local meteorologist and Blind Melon.
3 Don’t tell Denise. She doesn’t know about this one yet.