Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Birthday To You

While most at Baylor Law will be celebrating the momentous occasion of the birth of fellow law student blogger W.K. this evening (myself included), there's another birthday that slipped past the radar largely unnoticed. Today, December 17, 2009, marks the 20th anniversary of the very first full broadcast of The Simpsons television show. Since then, they've produced 449 episodes and a full-length feature film. I've seen every one of them numerous times. I can't tell you what a monumental occasion this is for t.v. history. The Simpsons has been a part of my life since I was 7 years old, and I truly can't remember a time when new episodes were not being produced. Because I fear that this will be the last season of The Simpsons, I feel that it's necessary to pay tribute to the family that has brought me and millions of others so much joy and comfort throughout the years. So over the next few days (or whenever I get around to it), I'll be posting some of my favorite Simpsons moments, trivia, and clips for all to revisit and enjoy. Take a moment today to say Happy Birthday to W.K. and to the Simpson family as well. May their shenanigans live on as an indispensible part of American culture forever.

Thank you, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Marge, Santa's Little Helper, Snowball II, and especially Homer. Happy 20th Anniversary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hottest Gifts of 2009

As the holidays draw ever closer, I thought I would take some time to help relieve the stress of buying gifts by giving you an idea of what the hottest gifts are this year. Here's what my friends and family will be getting from me:

Video Games- video games are more popular than ever, and here are some of 2009's hottest titles to look for in stores this season.
  • Grand Theft Auto(erotic asphyxiation)
  • Call of Duty 2: Jury Duty
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Congressional Subcommittee Hearing
  • Assassin's Creed 2: Assassinate Creed 
  • Wikipedia Edit Challenge 2009: Citation Needed
  • Rock Band: The Captain and Tenille Edition
Gift Cards- Sometimes, the best gift you can give someone is the gift they give themselves using money or electronic credit that you gave them. Here are some of the most popular gift cards this year.
  • Waco Taxidermy- free raccoon pelt with purchase of full body raccoon mount
  • Ace Hardware- $15 'bucket 'o drywall screws'
  • Chili's Bar and Grill- 50% off any appetizer with purchase of Chili's franchise
  • Hasting's Books, Music and Video: Buy any Jennifer Lopez movie, get a Matthew McConaughey movie free (not valid for any movie that grossed more than $10m at the box office)
  • Praco Gun & Pawn: Free rifle cleaning with purchase of gutting knife
Toys- What Christmas or Hanukkah celebration would be complete without seeing the eyes of your children light up when they see the toys that Santa has brought them? The following are some of the year's most sought-after toys for the kids.
  • My First Meth Lab- your child will be fascinated for hours while learning about chemistry, engineering, business, psychiatry, and basic legal procedure! Includes lab coat, test tubes, bunsen burners, and coffee filters. Batteries not included (but battery acid is essential if you want to use the kit properly)
  • Li'l Busboy- teach your child the value of hard work with this fun roleplaying game! Your child can't wait to put on the white t-shirt, black apron, and hair net. Bonus points for skimming tips!
  • Twilight: The Movie action figures. Characters include 2nd Assistant Gaffer, Best Boy Grip, and Assistant to the Caterer! Have fun reenacting all your favorite scenes from the behind-the-scenes footage from the movie!
  • Professor Bates Action Figure: teach Contracts and Secured Transactions with this action-packed toy that's guaranteed to be a hit with buyers and sellers alike! Contracts II exam included, BMW and Unidentified Woman sold separately.
These are just a few ideas to get you started with your holiday shopping. They're guaranteed to be a hit, and when you see the look of joy on your loved ones' faces, you can think of me.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Published Author!

Well, not really. But this morning while I was Googling myself (not a euphemism), I happened to notice that the Waco Herald-Tribune, the local fish wrapper, published one of my letters recently. I never noticed because they never contacted me to verify that I had sent it, something that other newspapers who have decided to line their pages with my jeremiads in the past have done. Anyway, not only did they publish my letter, but someone actually responded to it, which they also published. I have reproduced the original letter below, along with the response, to save you from having to sift through the Trib's less-than-friendly website.

Original Letter (that I submitted, not the Trib's edited version), dated 12/14/09:
    Diane Schrader’s Nov. 7 letter asks “when are we going to stop letting people from the Middle East into our wonderful country?” This kind of ignorant attitude is typical of people who cannot separate their own personal prejudices from an isolated incident of violence. The atrocities committed by Major Hasan were not the actions of an ideology or of any ethnic group, but of one mentally disturbed and severely misguided individual. Attributing this type of incident to anything more than the violent hatred of one person is unfair to Middle Easterners and goes against the fundamental idea that persons should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. It troubles me greatly to imagine that something like this could happen here, but it troubles me almost as much to know that some will use a horrific event like this as an excuse to fan the flames of their misplaced hatred of Muslim-Americans. To Schrader’s query about when we’ll stop letting Middle Easterners into our country, I have my own question: When will people like her start leaving?
Justin Tapp, Waco
 And the response:
    The term “terrorist” has become rather narrowly defined. It is now used to describe only those who work directly for Osama bin Laden. Others who perform unspeakable acts of mass murder in the name of Allah are described as deranged. Isn’t that a bit like requiring an athlete to be on the Yankees roster before he can be called a baseball player? Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on Nov. 12 was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in relation to the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shootings. Screaming “Allah Akbar,” he allegedly began shooting defenseless people. But, according to Justin Tapp’s Nov. 15 letter in the Sunday Focus, Hasan is not a terrorist. The poor fellow simply became unhinged. And we wonder how Hasan was allowed to slip through the cracks. Why doesn’t the Muslim community rise up in righteous indignation when one of their own becomes “deranged?”
Joe Walker, Lorena
My only contention is that I never actually said that this was not an act of terrorism or that Maj. Hasan was not a terrorist, only that the actions were not representative of any particular group or ideology, least of all the entire population of Muslims in our country. Maybe Joe Walker didn't pick up on that part, but my guess is that this argument would fall on deaf ears, as it seems like he's already made up his mind. At any rate, it's a good idea to Google yourself every so often, as you never know what you'll find.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Tis the season to be terrified..

America is the greatest country on the planet. We are a veritable melting pot of people, taking the best and coolest traditions from around the world and assembling them into a badass Voltron of culture (see generally, e.g., IHOP, Arnold Schwartzenegger, St. Patrick's Day, Mario Bros., Epcot Center, Chinese buffets, et al.).  Recently, however, I've become a little disappointed with the way we're shaping up. Americans as a whole seem to have an unwarranted sense of entitlement, and this is especially evident at Christmastime, where our awesome culture descends into a messy jumble of consumerism and self-indulgence, couched in the "spirit of giving." Fortunately, I've become aware of a European tradition that could hold the answer to our country's dilemma of desire, and that is the Krampus. According to Wikipedia, Krampus is described as follows:

Krampus is a mythical creature who accompanies Saint Nicholas in various regions of the world during the Christmas season. . . . While Saint Nicholas gives gifts to good children, the Krampus warns and punishes bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December . . . and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.

I think this could really catch on in America.  I've always been of the opinion that sticks ultimately work better than carrots, and I think American children are on a dangerous path of being spoiled even more than my generation was (and believe me, we were spoiled). Imagine the terror a young child would feel if you told them that Krampus would eat them if they didn't behave. Forget getting a new Wii; I guarantee you your kids will behave if you convince them that this horrible monstrosity will descend upon them if they are naughty. The next generation has very few things to fear, other than abstract concepts like Al-Qaeda and juvenile diabetes, so I think that now would be a good time to bring back some good old-fashioned terror into the Christmas season. Let's all remember the reason for the season: acting good out of fear that a Germanic demon from Hell will devour you in your sleep. God bless us, every one.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My First Book

As part of my ongoing series of self-effacing humor, I thought I would bring you some more of my work from when I was a young child (because I know you're all dying to see shitty drawings that I did in first grade). Most of you probably don't know that in first grade, I was an aspiring novelist. I wrote a short book, an existentialist self-examination into the workaday habits that drive the human spirit. I now present it to you in its entirety, with annotated commentary to help you understand the inner workings of the boy who would become Justin T. It's called "What I Do Every Day," or as I like to refer to it, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." (nobody steal that title btw) Enjoy:

Despite my publisher's admonitions, I felt that the mohawk giraffe-dragon with a guitar was a fitting piece for the back cover of my magnum opus. Let's begin..

Like most young children, I started the day by brushing my teeth. I also drew pictures, presumably while looking directly down at the desk with a spotlight in my ear.

I also enjoyed watching television, which in our house was actually a coin-operated laundry machine, as you can see from my drawing. Also apparently I didn't become an ace at spelling until 3rd grade. Shcool? Really? Embarrassing.

Like many of the great literary minds of our time, I read a book every day, apparently in a room with a fan. Also, you're probably wondering why "Christmas" is misspelled. It's not. We actually celebrated Chistmas, which is a completely different holiday where you decorate your tree like Pablo Picasso.

"Shaking the presnts [sic]" is not a euphemism for anything, though my ambiguous pseudo-knees and inappropriately wide smile might suggest otherwise. I honestly have no idea what's going on in the next page. Apparently I said "55," and there's inexplicably a man, a tornado and a car at the bottom of the page. Also it appears that I am talking to a light fixture, or am about to get curb-stomped by a giant foot. Childhood was a weird time for me.

Fearing my skin wasn't as bronze as it could be, I was forced to sleep in a tanning bed at night. Also, I ate alone in a diner every day at lunch, contemplating the meaning of life. I told you this was some existential shit, folks.

 Flouting conventional manners, I ate my supper with a hat on. Take that, social grace! Also, it's a little known fact that I turn into Jack Skellington the Pumpkin King when placed in a bubble bath.

Even in the 1980s, I was gaming before gaming was cool, and apparently playing World 2-1 of the original Super Mario Bros. game for NES. I also thought that a little abstract art wouldn't hurt the book, and that my age should be written in Chinese.

In first grade, I didn't yet know how to write in cursive, but I knew there were some connectors so I just decided to improvise. (Side note: this is still how I write in cursive to this day.)

As you can see (hopefully), my writing has improved drastically since my early work, but it's clear that even as a child I showed prodigious promise as an author. The autographed first edition hard copy is available for sale; inquire for price.

Monday, December 7, 2009

For Your Amusement

While visiting my parents over Thanksgiving, they turned me on to this little gem from my childhood: my 3rd grade report card. I don't think it needs much explanation, other than the 5 absences I had during the spring semester- I had surgery and apparently didn't turn in all my makeup work (still got an A, suckers!). Also, apparently I was a badass at spelling and having necessary materials when needed.

"Needs improvement" my ass.