Archive for August, 2016

Cheeps and Chirps for Aug. 27, 2016

August 27, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 27, 2016

Some Twitter for you!

• Comedy!

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Keeping cool, summer 2016 edition

August 26, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 26, 2016

If last summer’s personal theme was dental problems, a new familial theme has emerged in 2016: Cooling challenges.

In July, my Parental Unit had to call the heating and air conditioning maintenance company when an issue developed with the AC there. While personnel were present, part of the ceiling in P.U.’s master bedroom collapsed, leading to an expensive, extensive set of repairs that (fortunately) was mainly covered by homeowners’ insurance. The upstairs floor was rendered temporarily uninhabitable as a combination of heaters and blowers were used to dry everything out.

Late on Tuesday of last week, I arrived home to find that the interior of my house was hotter than the exterior. Since it was probably in the upper 80s outside, and this was the middle of the night, the temperature difference was not unimpressive. My air conditioner was running, but nothing was getting cooled.

I considered getting a hotel room for the night, so concerned was I about the possibility of experiencing heat stroke if I attempted to sleep at home for the rest of the evening. But instead, I decided to be thrifty.

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Small car, small victory

August 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 24, 2016

On Wednesday afternoon, I was walking to my car when I spotted a Mini Cooper that I thought belonged to my friend D—.

On a whim, I circled around the automobile, looking for D—’s distinctive license plate. (He’s fond of a particular Scrabble word, naturally.)

The car wasn’t his; instead, the license plate said, “FLUDCOOP.”

Hmm, I thought to myself. Flood Coop? I wondered if the car had been submerged, or if might be a replacement for a vehicle that had once been flooded.

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Why needing ID to buy alcohol is not like needing ID to vote

August 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 23, 2016

Over a two-week stretch in late July, six courts handed down decisions suspending parts of restrictive voting rules in five states. After a three-judge federal appeals court panel blocked a North Carolina election law that it found was enacted with discriminatory intent, I posted the following tweet:

A Trump-backing Twitter user with the amusing handle TimeToupee responded, “So then the Courts should rule we don’t need an ID to fly, buy liquor, or drive.”

I answered that they would do that (perhaps it would have been more temperate to say they might do that) “if Republican law-makers kept passing travel/liquor ID laws that narrowly targeted minorities.”

My new Trump-loving friend was not persuaded. “Minorities are not targeted by voter ID laws. That is a liberal myth,” he wrote.

He was, of course, wrong, and I said so: “[T]hat they target minorities is a major reason these laws keep on getting stopped by courts.”

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Phantom gunshots, real terror: Notes on two recent incidents in the land of the free, home of the armed (and fearful)

August 18, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 18, 2016

In Tuesday’s edition of Cheeps and Chirps, I included a tweet from Saturday that shared a breaking news alert:

This was one of the lead news stories in the Triangle on Saturday, but what I didn’t realize when I was preparing the blog post was that police have yet to find any evidence that a gun was actually fired at the mall that afternoon. I deleted it from the post once I understood that there had evidently not been any kind of shooting whatsoever. Authorities are continuing to investigate the reason why shoppers thought that a firearm had been discharged, a misperception that provoked a stampede that left several people injured.

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Cheeps and Chirps for Aug. 16, 2016

August 16, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 16, 2016

There will be Twitter!

• Comedy!

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Roadside mechanic: One man’s heroic battle to open and prop up car hoods and refill his radiator

August 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 15, 2016

A few weeks ago, I took a long drive that got interrupted by something pretty annoying. The interruption was then in turn disrupted by something rather amusing.

This was one of those really hot days that we’ve having this summer. Roughly two-thirds of the way into my trip, I noticed that the air conditioning in my car was no longer working. This was annoying, but it wasn’t an interruption.

That came about an hour later, when the check-engine indicator lit up on my dashboard. I was only an hour or so from my destination, so I briefly contemplated driving the rest of the way and bringing the car to a repair shop the next day. However, I quickly reconsidered after I happened to glance at the engine-temperature indicator and saw that it was redlining.

That would not do. Fortunately, there was a rest stop coming up. I babied the car for a mile or so until I could get off the highway and pull over on a stretch of gravel along an access road by a gas station.

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Cheeps and Chirps — belated July 2016 Democratic National Convention edition!

August 12, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 12, 2016

Yep — have some more Twitter!

• Comedy!

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Cheeps and Chirps — belated July 2016 Republican National Convention edition!

August 11, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 11, 2016

Twitter feed, represent!

Sadly, this could be an evergreen tweet


• Reminder: The U.S. is still at war


• Comedy!

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The essays in Eddie Sarfaty’s ‘Mental: Funny in the Head’ are also funny on the page

August 10, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 10, 2016

Mental: Funny in the Head is an engaging collection of personal essays by comedian Eddie Sarfaty. The book, published in 2009, conveys a variety of moments from across the Long Island native’s adulthood, starting with the story of his coming out to his nonagenarian Orthodox Jewish grandmother (a tale that was previously published in the 2005 anthology When I Knew).

The book’s topics range from the amusing to the morose. Both of the opening essays, “Second-Guessing Grandma” and “Lactose Intolerant,” about a milk run gone awry, belong to the former category; among the latter are “Cheapskate,” about a soul-crushingly thrifty boyfriend, and “My Tale of Two Cities,” in which Sarfaty and his mother take his father, who suffers from dementia, on a second honeymoon tour of Paris and France. But even in his darker moments, the author manages to wring some humor out of the situation — a trait he may have inherited from his father, who once told a Jehovah’s Witness, “I’m sorry, but my covenant is with Lucifer.”

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‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ launches an unlikely protagonist onto a heroic journey

August 9, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 9, 2016

Last month, my Sibling-in-Law’s family was once again kind enough my parental unit and I to join them for part of their annual summer visit to Ocean City, Md. This year, fortunately, I wasn’t suffering from dental pain, and no violence to books was inflicted during the trip.

Despite — or more likely because of — the lack of suffering and drama, I managed to zip through a novel during my time on the beach. I very much enjoyed consuming The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the 2003 bestseller by the British author, illustrator and poet Mark Haddon.

The narrator of The Curious Incident introduces himself this way on the second page of the book:

My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.

Eight years ago, when I first met Siobhan, she showed me this picture

Sad face

and I knew it meant “sad,” which is what I felt when I found the dead dog.

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One more favorite podcast, plus a list of other interesting ’casts

August 5, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 5, 2016

Moments after publishing Thursday’s post about my favorite podcasts, I realized that I’d accidentally forgotten to include the newest addition to my podcasting stable, Retail Nightmares. I also realized that I’d neglected to include two honorable mention podcasts. I hereby present an appreciation of Retail Nightmares and a complete list of honorable mentions.

Retail Nightmares, co-ghosted by Alicia Tobin and Jessica Delisle. Each week, these two Vancouver comedians and “co-ghosts” talk to a comic or otherwise creative/artistic guest about unpleasant (but often amusing) experiences they’ve had either working in or patronizing a restaurant or retail shop. Tobin is one of my favorite guests on the Vancouver-based show Stop Podcasting Yourself, discussed yesterday, and I’m very glad I decided to begin listening to her podcast, which launched in July 2015. At the moment, Retail Nightmares has two recurring segments in which each person in the studio discusses her “Worst Present Ever from a Family Member” (straightforward enough) and her “Puppo of the Week” (also straightforward, except the puppo can be any person or animal that the hosts and/or guest finds adorable). It can be a bit challenging to distinguish Tobin’s voice from Delisle’s at first, but stick with it — the duo has a delightful rapport with each other and with their guests.

Honorable Mention — here are podcasts to which I used to listen regularly. 

Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. This is the excellent nationally syndicated National Public Radio interview show. It’s great stuff, but the show demands a lot more attention than my typical comedy or even sports podcast fare, and I found having five new episodes to listen to each week a bit daunting. This is the only podcast I’ve ever listened to regularly that was repurposed — that is, its material appears on the radio before then being repackaged into a podcast feed.

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My favorite podcasts!

August 4, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 4, 2016

Author’s note: I shared one more favorite podcast and a list of honorable mentions (most of which originally appeared in this post before I made a change) in this post on Friday, Aug. 5MEM

Recently, my Sibling-in-Law asked me which podcasts I enjoy listening to. Here’s a belated reply:

Funemployment Radio, hosted by Greg Nibler and Sarah X. Dylan. This long-running Portland, Ore.–based show, recently voted Willamette Week’s best local podcast, features two refugees from what insiders call “terrestrial radio.” Shortly after they were fired seven years ago, the duo — now in their 30s — launched a five-day-a-week show in which they talk about their misadventures, personal foibles, crazy news stories, local happenings and whatever else catches their attention. This was one of the first podcasts I began listening to regularly. Comedians, friends of the hosts and various Portland personalities often turn up as guests on the show.

The Solid Verbal, hosted by Ty Hildenbrandt and Dan Rubenstein. Stanford entered the 2009 college football season with an unenviable recent history, having suffered seven consecutive losing seasons. But third-year coach Jim Harbaugh was about to turn things around, thanks in part to a talented freshman quarterback named Andrew Luck. The mainstay of the team’s offense that year was a senior running back named Toby Gerhart. The 6-foot-1-inch, 235-pound Norco, Calif., native helped lead the squad to an 8-5 record and racked up new team records for season rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. In the midst of this historic campaign, I had a seemingly insatiable thirst for college football information, prompting me to discover this podcast, which comes out twice a week in season and more or less weekly during the off-season. The hosts are serious about the sport but leaven the show with plenty of humor; there are also copious life tips for recent college graduates and passionate discussions of food, and off-season episodes frequently contain trivia contests. This show won’t appeal to non-sports fans, but it should be catnip to anyone who loves college football.

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