Sweeping up…

It’s time to kill the old Friendster account that has sat there untouched for years… it’s cropping up with undesirable results when Googling my name.

Truth be told, the only reason I didn’t kill it a while ago is it contained some very nice “testimonials” from friends. Which were the precursors to Myspace “comments” and Facebook “wall posts.”

So that they won’t be lost for good… here are the testimonials I received. They are delightful! The first four in blue are my favorites…

From friend Allison on 2/8/04:

You dashing, magnetic, kinetic, wise and quick-witted lad. Must you always radiate  such an all-powerful tractor beam of charm… Yes, I think you must.

From old friend Steve on 10/6/03:

M is perhaps the only person I know to have successfully transformed a trailer on a remote island into a temporary discotheque with the use of a flashlight and bunch of empty beer cans tied to the ceiling. We are all mere students in M’s School of Rock!

From Humuhumu on 7/27/03:

Surely a modern-day answer to Elvis, the Sasquatch and Angelyne all in one freaky package, this sexy beast is destined to be famous for being famous. Reports of “M Sightings” will be shared in hushed tones. The people will marvel at how he never really aged, and great myths will rise up surrounding his mysterious origins. Long after he dies, M Impostors will revel in the gasps of shocked, unsuspecting fools as they offer brief glimpses of a long-lost legend. When I say “I knew him when…” my grandchildren will roll their eyes and refill my bourbon.


From Laura on 5/20/03:

a barrel of monkeys? HA! when it comes to fun, all you need is *one* gorilla–provided that gorilla just so happens to be ‘gorilla x, gorilla to the stars’ (aka ‘the liberace of gorillas’)…

but seriously: what else can i say about my dear friend, M? well, in addition to being one hell of a sharp dresser, he’s also *the* guy you want watching your back if you’re ever… oh, i dunno… say, the only straight people in the rowdiest gay bar on bourbon street, ’roundabout sunrise, when, say, a fistfight breaks out between two incredibly hot, drunk, and (of course) scantily clad SISTERS sitting next to you, and the 350-lb. tranny bouncer starts hasslin’ YOU.

i guess what i’m really trying to say is that that M is one hell of a stand-up guy, not to mention the coolest gorilla impersonator — EVER.

Continue reading

ND shows. The definitive list.

I’ve seen this band more times than any person who is not a member of their immediate inner circle (e.g. a roadie, family member, or significant other). Words cannot explain the depth of love… it’s not a “favorite band” kind of thing, it has to do with a friendship dating back to 1992. Collectively, they’re the single most influential thing of my life: it’s hard to explain how much this has colored my persona and influenced everything in the years since.

So here it is: my No Doubt show history. With notes and details. The numbers show 72 shows, but I could swear I was over 75, so I may have missed a few inbetween 2001-2005.

The most surreal, awesome, and eternally unforgettable “I can’t believe I was there for that” one: the ND/Sublime living room jam at Tony’s surprise birthday party (#10). Followed closely by gorilla’ing onstage with them (#60).

Other best ones: #1 (indescribable feeling where you feel like you found something that was made especially for you); #2 (met them); #5 and #6 (best shows + Angelo Moore guest appearance); #26 (Eric brought me onstage to sing his “secret” R-rated lyrics that only I knew); and #72 (emotionally walloped).

Continue on to the full list

Performing with No Doubt

In March of 2002, No Doubt was on tour and I caught several of their shows. I’ve known them since 1992, and often can find (or swindle) my way backstage. I was backstage after the Portland show, and told Tom (the guitar player) about how I’d been performing as a burlesque show gorilla lately. He asked if I wanted to perform onstage with them at the upcoming San Jose show. OH HELL YES.

He thusly hatched a plot: I was to come out and run around during their first encore song, “Spiderwebs.” It was to be a surprise to the rest of the band– the only people supposed to know about it were him and the tour’s head of security, John, who he would clue in ahead of time. I talked to John ahead of time too; he said that the way to do it would be for me to approach stage left a few minutes before, get his attention, and he would escort me backstage so that I could suit up. So the plan was set.

Unfortunately, the best laid plans of gorillas and men often go awry. I dutifully smuggled the costume into the show– being that it was on a college campus (San Jose State) they didn’t question a backpack. I anxiously and nervously waited throughout the show– friends there had palpable excitement along the lines of “is he really going to do it?!?” But when it came time for the encore, I went up to stage left and John was nowhere to be found.

Picture this from the perspective of the security guard on the side of the stage: here comes a guy with a backpack, frantically waving and gesturing, yelling something about how he is supposed to be backstage… not only are you skeptical of it, but you can’t even hear what he is saying over the band. I had to watch in horror as my big moment in the spotlight slipped away, note by note.

I finally was so overwhelmingly demanding, yelling “GET JOHN!” and pointing at John, far away, that the guard caved. John saw me and waved me backstage. I RAN back there– the song was halfway over– and threw the suit on in a flash. I didn’t have time to put on the gloves, and I don’t think I even had time to fasten the back. But I made it, and ran out there in time to finish the song.

Digital cameras were much worse back then, so the pictures are blurry and grainy, but they still capture one of the greatest moments of my gorilla career, and also of my life. Tony (the bass player) calmly kept asking me who I was (while he was playing). I have a picture of him giving me a high-five. And Gwen jumped on my back, piggyback style, and I ran back and forth a couple times before losing my balance, resulting in us landing in a crumpled heap on the ground… with her still singing and having not missed a single note. I remember looking out at the crowd of ~5000 people and just being stunned at what it felt like. And then it was over.

Two minutes later, they laughed their asses off when I was unmasked backstage, saying “Oh my god… it’s YOU?!?”

The next day, the emails came through: friends saying “Hey you guys, I was at that show and GUESS WHAT I SAW?” Even better, though, was when the newspaper review of the show came out the next day, I was very specifically mentioned in the write-up. The author said it “must have been an inside joke.” I emailed the author and gave him the whole backstory. That review was syndicated in several other Bay Area papers. I raided a lot of newsracks that night.

Better versions of the pics to come, but here are some for now:

High-five from Tony

High-five from Tony. I couldn't exactly see well. No gorilla gloves.

Piggybacking Gwen

Giving Gwen a piggyback ride, right after we fell and wiped out. She kept singing the entire time.


With the gang

Immediately afterward.

Background: the Cal Poly years

I lived in SLO for seven years. This was a golden era of adventures, experiences, and friendship of a type that could only occur with the following “perfect storm” of factors:

  1. A youthful, eager, and free-spirited age range (early 20’s)
  2. A great number of exceedingly bright people (the college was tech-focused and quite selective)
  3. A small, somewhat isolated town that forced social creativity because there really was not that much to do.

Honestly, people will ask me “you lived there for seven years. What did you do?” and although I can’t honestly think of direct answers to that question, we were never bored.

A brief snapshot of my life during this time:

  • Educationwise, I started off as an Environmental Engineering major. I became dissatisfied with it; partly because the engineering was very difficult, and partly because I was disappointed to find out that there really wasn’t much “environmental” in it. So I changed my major to Ecology, and soon afterward fell in love with taxonomic/research botany.
  • Socially and activitywise, I played in marching band for two years and briefly flirted with a whole host of other clubs and organizations before finding my place in WOW– the Week of Welcome program. WOW defined my college days more than anything else and has forever shaped who I am. Most of the stories from the college era relate to WOW, either directly (such as WOW activities) or indirectly (such as adventures undertaken with WOW friends).


Best IM conversation of the year…

…if not the last several years…

Between me and a friend of mine, whom I shall call “Numbnuts” to protect his identity.


Numbnuts (10:17:37 PM): Dude I had the gnarliest dream ever

Me (10:17:51 PM): (corpulent middle aged mutual male friend) vacuuming naked?

Numbnuts (10:17:53 PM): last night I dreamt that someone bet me $10k that I wouldn’t cut off my nipple

Numbnuts (10:17:58 PM): and for some reason, in the dream

Numbnuts (10:18:05 PM): I thought that it wouldn’t hurt or anything

Numbnuts (10:18:13 PM): so I had one of those little pruning shears

Numbnuts (10:18:25 PM): and I reached down and cut off my left nipple

Numbnuts (10:18:41 PM): and this gigantic lightning bolt shot out of it

Numbnuts (10:18:46 PM): and blew a hole in the wall

Numbnuts (10:18:57 PM): It freaked me out so much that I woke up and called my brother

Numbnuts (10:19:08 PM): and then went back to sleep and forgot about it

Me (10:19:16 PM): WOW

Numbnuts (10:19:22 PM): I just remembered it again just now because he called me telling me how fucked up I was

Numbnuts (10:19:33 PM): and I had to spend an hour talking to him convincing him I wasn’t using again

Me (10:19:39 PM): HAHA

Numbnuts (10:19:42 PM): Blue lightning bolt!


True story, circa 1996: The Rail Cart

So back in college, one of my group of friends’ pastimes was riding the rails. Hobo style. We had many crazy adventures… in fact, possibly the most miserable I’ve ever been IN MY ENTIRE LIFE was captured in this photograph after a particulary grueling 2-day ride:

(picture coming)

That story will have to wait for another time. This story is about something else.

We kept track of our miles– because tracks have definite starting/ending points, it’s easy to do this, unlike with freeways. By the time I stopped, I’d gone on 50+ rides, and had logged about 1500 rail miles. I finally quit riding the rails not because I didn’t want to, but because I graduated and moved, and our normal route (beautiful 11-mile loop through the hills) was therefore no longer available to me. I WILL do it again.

But here’s the meat of this blog: the RAIL CART.

During this era, my friends– creative guys that they were– built a homemade rail cart. Using bicycle wheels and iron pipes. It fit on the tracks perfectly and was gravity-powered. They’d bring it up the hill in a truck, and launch it down. It had two seats and a speedometer (the cart maxed out at 23mph), as well as a wire barbecue brush rigged to ride on the undercarriage and tell by the voltage across the tracks when a train was on the next block. (Did I mention we all went to a tech school in a small town and had few creative outlets?!?)

The main guy who built the cart put together a music video of rail cart footage, set to “Welcome to the Pleasuredome”– and although it wouldn’t be immediately obvious, the song lent itself perfectly. “We’re a long way from home…” Thanks to modern technology, this video– which I thought was lost– can be seen on YouTube.

Except for the video footage in the video below, we only rode it at night, with flashlights, because it was HIGHLY illegal. I was on the rail cart for its final ride. We ran over a possum (we rolled over it completely– high clearance, but boy was he scared). Shortly after, we derailed, and the wheel got bent sufficiently that we couldn’t ride it any more… we had to put it on the track and kick the thing uphill, then ditch it in the bushes until we could come back for it. Sadly, it perished in Meier’s garage fire soon after, along with my giant telescope.

So here’s the video. I’m not in it, but it’s still a hoot to watch– I’m so happy to see this video again! So enjoy. It’s 8:41 long; if you can’t sit through the whole thing, the best clear shots of the cart itself are at 4:30-4:45.


Nerd hilarity. -or- Why I love volunteering at the planetarium

Today I had my biweekly volunteer shift at Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. My days there are always an endless parade of people running the gamut from really annoying to really interesting.

I’m fairly knowledgeable about astronomical things, but I don’t even remotely pretend to be an expert… it’s humbling to be around some of the amazingly smart people there who put in far more hours than I do, and for no pay. Still, I’m pretty knowledgeable about the subject matter… but that seems to only guarantee that the proverbial socially-maladjusted geek will come along and try to one-up me (or one of the other volunteers).

Today, there was one who came and skulked around for a while, spouting off about various scientific topics to some of us volunteers and two even more geeky guys who appeared to be, essentially, his sidekicks. He talked and talked. He was easy to tune out, but I caught the tail end of what he was talking about because he delivered his final words with such conviction. Or more correctly, arrogance.

The end of (whatever point he was trying to make) was:  “I’m 45 years old. I plan to retire at 47. And in my career I’ve amassed enough personal wealth that I can.”

And as he said this, there was but one thought in my head, which I regret now that I did not verbally state, despite the beauty in its direct simplicity. And that one, single, bemused thought in my head was this:

“Dude, you are wearing a wizard costume.”

“Hello dude, your sausage is really small” …and other verbal emasculations

Part of my job is to answer customer emails… and we, of course, get tons of spam. Much of it gets filtered out, but not all of it does.

Because “viagra”, “cialis”, and other variants of those (like “c1 AL1s”) are commonly caught by spam filters, I guess spammers have had to employ a bit of cleverness to get around email defenses.

That, plus a blatant appeal to the combination of male pride/insecurity always helps.

With that, I present to you some of my favorite email spam subject lines that my company has received lately.  Yo comrade with small prick!

–Girls prefer real things, not toothpicks
–Fucking a man with a small dick is like fucking a rabbit.
–lol man, why your one-eyed monster is so small? ;))
–Small meat not big problem anymore!
–Take your Award – Mr. Smallest ramrod 2006 😉
–We can double your one-eyed monster size
–Where did you get so small sausage?
–Size of John Holmes in a few days
–+5 inches or money back
–Adding few more inches to your weenie
–Are you still with short member?  😉
–Yo comrade with small prick! 🙂
–Why your prick is so small?  🙂
–small ramrod not big problem anymore!
–Why so small weenie man?
–Don’t want no short sausage man
–Could you reply why your Johnson so short?
–I salute your smallest meat of the year
–Hello dude, your sausage is really small
–is your Dick not stand up? your girl doesn’t like it?
–With Penis Enlarge Patch all your underwear will be too tight for you.
–The ability to look at smaller meats