Thursday, February 28, 2008

Checking In

I have nothing of note to say other than "Hi," and please bus your own table because I am too busy to do it. Seriously.

I have been on a deadline for another project that has completely baffled me. How can I take something as fundamentally humorous as being attacked by a street clown on the Champs-Elysees and write something so horribly flat? I don't know. I am either a much better or much worse write than I first supposed. And pardon the lack of acute accents, but I really don't feel like looking up a bunch of ASCII characters right now.

Well, back to it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

An Analysis of the Literary Merit of Reviews of the Panasonic ER421KC Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer

MP’s nose hair trimmer died last month in a spectacular death of crystallized battery guts. I suppose he could have scraped the contacts with dental tools and tried to salvage it, but MP just isn’t that kind of guy. He requested I put an order in for a new nose hair trimmer, because MP isn’t that kind of a guy, either. “I don’t need one with a giant LED,” he told me. “RPMs. I want RPMs.” (That’s the kind of guy MP is.)

Now, what did I say in the neti pot post? Nobody is interested in me talking about pouring saline solution in one nostril and out the other. So it doesn’t take a great mental leap to conclude that nobody is particularly interested in talking about nose hairs or how to trim them, either.

Except that I have definitive proof that people are interested in talking about nose hairs and how to trim them, and I absolutely must share this fascinating topic with you, because this is why I opened Café Tor in the first place.

I stumbled across the proof in this way: Having received MP's mandate to “go for RPMs,” I realized I needed information to make an informed consumer decision. For a fact, some of these gizmos have LEDs like Christmas tree lights, and vacuums so that your delicate fingers never touch the nose hair clippings. Are they really worth $30 or $40? I went to some sites and read the reviews, and that is how I discovered this untapped source of literary wealth.

Here’s a review of the Panasonic ER421KC Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer, Wet/Dry, Lighted nose-hair trimmer from Leonard in Arizona: “Whatcan I say... it trimmed my nose hair. Inly challenge is that you need a battery. Works well though.” (Direct quote, his typing).

I love this. No shilly-shallying. Brief. Manly.

Here’s one on Amazon from Richard in Oakland, CA: “Had this about 4 weeks and no problems so far. I haven't dropped it/run over it with a car/fished it out of the toilet, so I can't vouch for its durability. The light is completely useless, unless you need an emergency trim during a blackout. The cheaper Panasonic is probably just as good. Final word to potential purchasers - nose hair stubble is a completely new experience.”

My friends, I am not being sarcastic when I say that I am in awe of these men’s writings. They have taken a customer review form, a tiny RTF block typically associated with dry clipped sentences, and turned it into a literary genre filled with humor and sparkling prose. On there were 164 reviews for the Panasonic ER421KC Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer alone – that’s 17 pages! What is even more fascinating/terrifying is that Amazon allows the user to post a review video, although no one has done this for this particular trimmer (so far).

And there was controversy! The little light, described by one use as having a corona “the size of a freckle” was the make or break feature of the product’s overall review:

“First, the light actually is useful...just not when you've got it stuck in your nose cutting hair. Its use is when you periodically need to examine inside to see how you're doing. So spend the big bucks for the lighted model, otherwise you'll have to keep a flashlight around.”

“Perhaps my nostrils are abnormal, but I found the light useless.”

Most of these reviews are signed with screen names or first names, but my absolute favorite was signed with a real name that I was able to track down to an email address. I sent him (well actually, I had to send it to his wife, because that was the contact info from his blog profile) an email requesting permission to post his review on this blog. (Fred the Editor is looking at me, as he often does, like I have lost my mind. Well Fred, I was acting in the spirit of journalistic integrity, and sometimes you just gotta put yourself on the line.)

Mr. Gene Twilley’s 350 word review was not only hysterically funny, but was also actually useful in describing and rating the product. For example, his usage tips:

“I've found that this trimmer works best when you cut as if you’re trimming bushes, not as if you were cutting grass. What I mean is that it would be best if you refrain from just cramming it up your nose. Granted, if you're purchasing this device, you're probably used to just yanking hairs anyways (hence, you're also used to the associated pain). Trust me, if you take it a little at a time, the pain is greatly diminished and the effectiveness of the trimmer is enhanced.”

His review, in its entirety, can be found here on Amazon. I would point out that Mr. Twilley is in the “Use the Light” camp. (I also recommend searching his other product/literary/movie reviews. While perhaps not as amusing his nose hair trimmer review [what could be?], they are all useful and insightful. For even more of the Mind of Mr. Twilley,

This is the link to the Amazon page for the Panasonic ER421KC Nose and Ear Hair Trimmer, with the reviews at the bottom. I urge you to flip all the way back, as some of the best ones are buried, and decide for yourselves whether or not the product review is the up and coming literary genre of the new millennium. As for me, the reviews were too much to resist – this is what I purchased for MP.

Now I’m inspired to go write my own review of the product. Of course, that would mean using MP’s nose hair trimmer…

Huh. This could take our relationship to a whole new level.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Putting Pants on Your Truck

While running some errand this weekend with MP, we pulled up at a stoplight behind a large Ford truck. Something appeared to be swinging from somewhere behind the trailer hitch.

A scrotum. With testicles.

I said, “MP, am I really seeing this?”

“Classy…” he confirmed.

“Where do you buy something like that?”

“Trust me, you don’t want that catalog.”

But I did. Because I am curious. Because someone needs to explore these weird cultural topics without prejudice or vulgarity. But mostly because I cannot fathom why you would put testes on your truck.

It didn’t take me long to find a website that sold – nay, was proud to bring me “America’s favorite novelty testicles.” (My God – what was the ranking system?) Apparently, I need to get out more, because these have been popular for some time. They come in a variety of colors (blue is a favorite) and materials, including chrome, steel, and brass (how, um… “Clever”). Some of the models could even be lit up, because everything is way cooler with an LED in it. This site – which I am not going to link to because I want in no way to be karmically entwined with it – has quite a number of videos on it featuring David, who is happy to demonstrate all the colors available as well as how to affix your purchase to the vehicle of your choice - because yes, you can put these on your motorcycle, too.

I will spare you the reviews and customer “teste-monials.” One involved an unfortunate incident with an armadillo late at night that I am still trying to scrub from my brain. I find it sufficient to say that people who wish to exercise their freedom of speech by hanging novelty testicles from the back of their motor vehicles probably need to get out more.

But here’s the thing – There’s at least one Virginia lawmaker who also needs to get out more. He’s introduced a bill in the state legislature to get automotive novelty testicles banned, or declared a misdemeanor with fines up to $250. His reasoning is that he would not know how to explain them to his 5 year old granddaughter, and he would not want her to be embarrassed.

Why do adults fall apart when children ask questions about reproductive biology? It’s really easy people. Watch:

Child: What’s hanging on that truck?
Possible replies (choose one, depending on age of child: It’s somebody’s idea of a joke that really isn’t that funny.
It’s a grown up being silly.
It’s somebody making their truck look like a boy cow (yes I know, but let’s not give them too much to handle at once, okay?)
Child: Why would somebody do that?
Parent: Because they’re silly.

Watching David crow ecstatically that he is able to offer novelty testicles in such a bright array of colors, I think he would be the first one to agree: My God, yes – we are silly! And any kid old enough to know that they’re seeing injection-molded male private parts is going to be more embarrassed for the truck’s owner than for themselves.

Once upon a long ago, far away time, I worked in corporate America on the web team of a Fortune 500 company. One day an employee called, furious. Who did we think we were publishing such vulgar pictures on our website, and with children in them? We were supposed to stand for family values (which was news to me), so how could we put these picture up in front of the world?

I got him calmed down enough to send me a link so I could see what he looking at. He wasn’t even on the web. He was looking at a page on our intranet (which was not my department, but at that time nobody could talk or spell or knew the difference between the Internet and a company’s private intranet) from the recent family day at a farm. A group of maybe ten kids were standing in front of a huge draft horse while a woman talked about the horse and held his head. Other pictures showed the kids reaching out to pat the horse’s nose or shoulder.

It took me a while to realize he objected to the horse’s penis.

“I’m sorry, are you objecting to the horse’s penis?” I asked. (When dealing with customer service and complaints, one needs a clear understanding of the problem before a solution can be found.)

But I guess that was the wrong thing to say, because I never did get him calmed down after that, even when I promised to remove the pictures. I hung up on him while he was still muttering about “moral turpitude.”

Horses don’t wear pants. Neither do trucks – though I guess whether or not they should is up for debate in Virginia – but these facts aside, the truth is that one of these days, at a farm, a zoo, an art museum, you or your child will see a naked testicle. It is assured.

So take a deep breath, relax, and remember: everybody knows that naked women are beautiful, while naked men are hysterically funny.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reality Check -- Down the Rabbit-Hole

Before we move ahead, I’d like to get a few things perfectly straight:

Marianne Richardson is a pen name.

Most of the people and things I write about here are true. Some of the things I write here that are not true are actually true, but for reasons of privacy and good manners, I change just enough. Some of the true and not true things – entries as well as comments – are all tangled up together because they make a more interesting story that way. This is what happens when you become a novelist – people pay you to lie truthfully. I suspect the number of links in any entry may be directly proportional to the “truthiness” of that entry, but don’t quote me on that…

So… If this isn’t reality blogging, why bother?

Because my best days involve falling down the rabbit hole and eating tiny cookies with cryptic instructions on them. Because chronic boredom is a horrible disease and needs its own telethon. Because my therapist threw me out. Because there is more Truth in a well-crafted fiction than there is in most people’s Reality. Because if I can create the mindset of a small café where Strange and Wonderful Things Happen, if you come here and read something that makes you laugh or think a thought you never had before, I will consider my cosmic purpose fulfilled.

And I am telling you these things now because when I am at last published and Oprah has me on her show to do the Book Club Thing, I don’t want anyone getting upset or feeling Lied To when they find out that my editor friend, Fred, is not actually a human being, but a cleverly articulated sock-puppet.

You have been warned.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Back to... Normal?

I have taken pity on everyone and removed the Valentine's decorations. I thought they were lovely, but Fred kept putting his finger down his throat and making noises, so...

I had a lovely Valentine's Day, but I'm not going to tell about it. It would be cruel. So to those of you who also had a lovely holiday, I say, "Wasn't it fun?" And to those who didn't have a lovely holiday, I say, "I am sorry. At least you have 364 days before you have to deal with it again."

So now we return to regular café decor. Sort of.

This background image is sponsored by

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Worst Valentine

To be fair, I can’t be all Sap and no Substance. Grim Valentiners, I feel your pain. Dad sending a card every year was sweet, but there were one ore two holidays where chocolate could not mitigate the sheer… “ass-holeyness” (is that too far a stretch to create a noun?) of my then-current boyfriend.

Blissfully, most of those memories have dimmed, but Allen… ah, Allen was Special. Out of some sense of ethics I am changing his name, but I do believe that, if I had written about him at the time, revealing his identity would have been a public service. This was man who needed a warning label.

“Valentine’s Day is just a Hallmark holiday to sell us crap” was Allen’s attitude. I didn’t share the sentiment, but I was grateful for his honesty - it allowed me to set my expectations appropriately low. So knowing his views made it particularly thrilling to find him in his room a few days before Valentine’s wrapping foil-covered chocolate hearts, a small white teddy bear, and other tokens of love into a box.

Overjoyed by his change of heart, I told him I felt bad about spoiling the surprise.

“Huh? Oh. This isn’t for you. It’s for Becky, overseas. Yeah, if she were here right now, we’d probably be dating.”

It’s difficult to say which particular thing should have made me kill him: his Grinchly attitude toward the holiday, the care package to another girl while giving me not so much as a sticky-note, or the statement that I was merely second-string filler, a place holder. I’d like to write about how I said something cuttingly witty and left, never to see the rat again – except that’s not what happened. I stayed with him, to “work things out,” and while I was doing that, Allen slept with another girl, dumped her, took back up with her and added a third. And I stuck around. For another year (which proved to be the nadir of my romantic possibilities).

And right now you seriously need to be thinking, “Uh, Marianne? How could you be so dumb?”

Actually, I was an absolute idiot until I was 23 – the dead end relationship to end them all – but hey! I can’t complain; I got a 475 page novel out of that summer. Therapy, self-analysis, childhood experiences, trauma recovery, blah blah blah. I get it now. At the time, I didn’t.

So if you really hate Valentine’s Day… Maybe you should use the day as an opportunity to “get it.” Give yourself a Valentine before you waste time waiting for someone else; you’re worth the chocolate - and the self-respect.

Monday, February 11, 2008

First Valentine

This week the café is verily festooned with the symbols of Love. It’s a trifle garish, but I like Valentine’s Day. However, recognizing that the festivities this week might present both pleasure and peril in equal measure, I have provided a few links that might help get you over some of the rough spots:

For the geek in you, learn the basics at How to Love. If you have a someone in mind, then The Love Notes Workshop teaches you how to write to that special someone – and possibly a few other things, judging by some of the pictures. I guess I’d believe their romantic intentions a whole lot more if that woman weren’t at the top of the page clutching her bosoms and looking… eager. I concur with the advice, but I’d call the site NSFW. The Love Calculator is the most romantic use of Perl I’ve ever seen – find out the odds of success with your Snugglebunny based on your names.

However… If Love is not in the cards this week, do not despair. How to Get Over a Broken Heart and The 6 Stages of a Broken Heart offer some down to earth advice on acknowledging your feelings and moving on. And then re-read last week’s post and remember the Power of Cacao.

Of course, if you’re not in the Valentine’s Mood, then you probably don’t want to be here. If the roses and cute crap on the letterhead didn’t convince you to leave, then let me give you one last warning – this post will be sappy. It’s my blog and I’ll ooze if I want to.

DESPITE having some really bad Valentine’s Days and some really moronic boyfriends, I actually like Valentine’s Day. Anything focused on chocolate, or increasing the volume of chocolate available, or advocating the consumption of chocolate, is not a bad thing. But the reason I like Valentine’s Day is not so much because of the chocolate, but my Dad – my first Valentine.

I don’t remember when he started doing this (since he’s done it as long as I can remember, he must have started at the right time), but every year on Valentine’s Day my Dad left on the dining room table a card and a little something for my sisters and I to discover when we woke up. It wasn’t much – a box of cinnamon red hots, a little necklace or t-shirt with something cute on it – but it was just the coolest thing to me as a little girl that my Daddy did this.

It was the only time he said or wrote the words “I love you.”

When I got older and my Man du Jour was on his soapbox ranting that he “did not believe in Valentine’s Day” because it was an attempt of corporations to dictate his emotions (I wish they could have just admitted that they were either cheap or not really into me, but trying to justify themselves with intellectual twaddle just made the whole thing that much crappier), but at the same time swearing that he loved me, it was my father who actually wrote little poems and bad puns to let me know he was thinking of me.

My father is not a saint. I couldn’t have racked up that many therapy hours without some help (on the other hand, our relationship is some of my best material). Psychologists like to call my father’s reluctance to express his feelings “emotional detachment,” but I kind of prefer “emotionally unavailable.” Makes it sound like a 404 server error of the heart – and believe me, depression puts you Off Line.

As I get older and have become the ages my father was when I was young, I realize that he didn’t have any more of a clue about things then than I do now. None of us do. And as I step back in that writerly fashion and try to observe what shaped all the characters that are my family, I see that, if my father was emotionally detached, then his father was emotionally constipated. And I understand now just why my father was so emotionally detached, and how much of a gift of himself his Valentines really were.

But one Valentine’s Day, as my father handed me a card and a small box of Godiva chocolates, he turned to MP and said, “This is the last time I’m going to do this. It’s your responsibility now.” It was followed by a pause that clearly stated, “And I better not hear you screwed this up.”

MP replied, “Yes sir.”

I, however, freaked.

“You mean you’re not even gonna send me a card anyone? Ever?!?”

“No,” said my father, staring at me levelly over his glasses, “I meant the chocolates.”

As I reread this, it occurs to me how psychologists of a particular feminist slant could fault me for depending on men to fulfill my happiness. Perhaps I used to, but I can buy my own chocolates these days, thank you, and I've done it. It’s just nice to know that there’s someone out there who wants chocolates for you, too.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Café at the Bijou

If you were ever a Matinee at the Bijou fan or just love old movies, check out The Bijou Blog today. They’ve done a repost of my Before There Was Prozac musing, complete with wonderful photos. I heartily concur with the medical advice in the first photo!

Watching Matinee at the Bijou with my dad was indeed one of those neat childhood memories I have, but it also began my love of old movies and fascination with popular culture. What sets MATB apart from current Classic Hollywood cable stations (Turner Classic Movies, AMC) is the format of the show. MATB presented the movies in a context – the cartoon with the newsreel and a short subject or serial and the feature film – that recreated the moviegoing experience from the first part of the 20th century.

Experiencing films within their context demonstrates as no history book can the importance of movies to Americans during the Great Depression. In 1933, the cost of a movie was ten to fifteen cents for a matinee, but perhaps as much as a quarter for the evening show. Consider that a loaf of white bread was a nickel, and eggs went for twenty-one cents a dozen, and you see how going to the movies represented a serious choice for some people. And they chose movies over bread whenever they could.

MATB gave viewers a glimpse of a time when America’s dreams and reality were far apart. There was both history and truth packed into that catchy theme song – “But at the bijou bitter gall/became as sweet as brandy”. People didn’t go to these movies looking for a reflection of their daily experiences, but rather, something to transcend them. All movie lovers – my father, Bijou Bob, and those who saved their nickels and dimes – understood that movies were a medicine to alleviate the Depression – the Great ones of a nation, and the smaller ones of its citizens, both then and now.

For this reason, and because any blog celebrating a giant Gila monster is just too cool to miss, we at the café heartily support The Bijou Blog, and we look forward to the return of the Matinee at the Bijou series on PBS.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Food Snobs

Yesterday I tried a flax bread recipe that was truly awful. At 2 cups flax meal to 5 eggs, it was a toss-up between an overpoweringly flax challah or a really gritty omelet.

The sad part is, it didn’t have to be that bad. It could easily be done with only two eggs (enough to bind and replace the gluten) 2 teaspoons of baking powder (stop trying to thicken it using the first action of the baking powder and just use fewer eggs!) and some added herbs (Italian blend, herbes de Provence, or even an apple pie spice blend for something sweeter).

The whole experience was enough to make me think, “Did this woman even taste this before she published it?” Or maybe she did, and thought it was “good enough.”

But I don’t want “good enough” food. I want good food. And it’s all MP’s fault.

(What a strange pairing of words. It just occurred to me that it should be pronounced either “güd füd” or “gōōd fōōd,” but not the strange combination we have.)

MP cooks. I bake. I can read a recipe and know if it will work. MP can read a recipe and know when it needs to be changed. But MP has one up on me in that the spices in the cabinet talk to him. Yes, people think he’s nuts. And then they eat his food, and they shut up about it.

(For the record, I knew the flax recipe was not right when I started, but I wanted to know what the author’s original vision was. Apparently, she was hallucinating.)

Last year MP read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life and is now focused on fresh and local. (This is the only thing that could possibly have gotten him interested in my gardening, because there are spiders out there, dammit.) It really does make a flavor difference to go down to the farmer’s market and eat what was grown in your county or state. But I think more than that, MP wants to meet these people. He wants to see the face behind the squash and meet the people who feed the chicken he’s making into soup. He’s the only guy I ever heard of who goes to the butcher to “hang out.”

Some people, particularly family members, say that MP is a “food snob.” And though he wouldn’t say it outright, I think it hurts and offends him that people don’t understand.

Last week the New York Times published an article describing the necessity of guanciale -- cured, unsmoked pig jowl -- for creating a true pasta all'amatriciana. The butcher told MP that this article resulted in a spike of customers coming in to find this rare in the US product (she was proud to say that she not only carried it, but made her own).

MP asked me, “How can somebody read something in the Times and then decide they have to have this?”

“Because it’s fashionable," I replied, “It’s one-upmanship. In some circles it’s like your jewelry or car – just another way to show your status.”

MP snorted. I will not be getting a Prada handbag anytime soon. (But if I ask nicely I might get a duck confit…)

And this is what I think irritates MP about being called a food snob: to him, a food snob eats what someone else says is fashionable or worthy, then asserts his superiority over others who don’t eat the same. In short, a food snob expresses bad manners through culinary subjects. (Worst case scenario: buying expensive appliances/knives/pans to decorate the kitchen and then not knowing how to use or care for them.)

To MP, it’s very simple: Does it taste good? And “good” is many things – fresh, simply prepared, or well-composed play between flavors and textures. But it can also mean “fitting” – because miles from home there is nothing better than a beer and a cheeseburger in a dive bar for comfort, and a barbecue joint off a two-lane read that smokes pork-butt in the parking lot using hickory logs and their own Carolina sauce, but only has a “B” license, is worth a look-see.

I have sat on the floor in Grand Central Station eating street gyros with the man – he’s no snob (though I confess, the reason we were there was because the night before we’d eaten at Le Cirque, and after Berkshire pork in three cuts (cheek, belly, and tenderloin) with apple-rhubarb ravioli and a port wine reduction, plus a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, we needed something soothing to ground us in reality). Oh, he’s definitely exacting, demanding of himself when he’s trying to express one of his food visions, but he does recognize that the key ingredient of any good food is passion – the love that went into the creation of it.

Shoot. Now I’m hungry.

(And just as I set out to publish this, MP sent me an email titled “OMG it’s a Spice Weasel.” Not a Snob, but such a Geek…)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Chocolate Love

I think this pretty much says it all.

It’s February. Around here, some people refer to the month as “Suckuary.” Actually, I’m rather fond of the month. For starters, I like snow, and I also like Valentine’s Day -- despite having some really, truly crappy Valentine’s Days.

But when you get right down to it, I like seeing pictures of chocolate plastered on everything, because there’s not a whole lot that chocolate can’t make a little better.

A few days ago I had my spinal guru crack my neck. I hate having that done. It scares the crap out of me, that explosion just under my brain, and it’s never nice putting your head in someone’s hands to have your neck potentially broken. But the real reason I think I hate having my neck cracked is the emotional release. I sob uncontrollably every single time, and I have no idea why. I’m not the only one who does this when having her neck cracked, but I nevertheless feel a profound sense of embarrassment.

The therapist and his assistant, however, have seen it all before. When I came out, snorting into a tissue, Toni (the assistant) just sort of looked up at me under her eyebrows.

“I guess he got it, huh? Are you crying from physical pain, or emotional pain?”

“Oh, emotional (sniff). Definitely.”

“Well, that’s good then,” she said matter of factly. “Would you like some chocolate?”

And it suddenly occurred to me that yes, I most definitely wanted some chocolate. Very much. It was an odd, Harry Potter sort of moment, receiving dark chocolate to alleviate my emotional trauma, but it was the perfect thing. Chocolate is like that.

Sometimes just looking at chocolate is soothing. In the midst of diagnosing some food allergies (yeah, I know; some days I’m surprised I can even walk) one of MP’s cooking magazines arrived in the mail. I opened it to a piece entitled “Chocolate Desserts on Demand,” and then… Nothing. Absolutely nothing happened or disturbed my universe until realized I’d been staring at a photo of flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze for ten minutes without blinking. I found that magazine again, and, even now, staring at that fudgy wedge of confection on a smooth white plate…

… Huh? So, um, yeah… It may be Suckuary and darn cold where you are, but there’s no reason to be miserable. Close your eyes. Have a small square of dark chocolate. If that’s not possible for one reason or another, then indulge in some chocolate “porn” and drool over these treats: a beautifully frosted cake, delectable bon-bons, or incredibly cute chocolate shoes. Check out the confectioners’ links under Café Tor’s “You might also like…” selection for some amazing chocolate possibilities.

February is only 28 days -- enjoy it while it's here.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hamtaro pwned by The Man; Ham-Hams fight back!

After I threw the creepy people out of the café, but before I tinkered with the il Pavoni to find out if it was still alive, I needed something soothing and safe to occupy my time. So I replayed Hamtaro: Ham-Hams Unite! on the GBA.

Or tried to.

My game wouldn’t save. I’d be playing along, find Bijou at Acorn shrine, learn some hamchat and score a few acorns, and then I’d have to get back to my real life (curse MP and his dirty socks!). A few hours later, I’d flip the GBA on and… Nothing. Have to start of from scratch.

It was then that MP informed me of something so shocking that I rate it on par with finding out that pro-wrestling is fake: game cartridges contain small watch batteries that allow you to save your game. When those batteries die, usually in 5-7 years, you can no longer save your game.

I said, "Excuse me?”

“Your battery is dead. Change it.”

I flipped the cartridge over and saw a six-sided screw that looked like a flower. I didn’t have the tools for this.

“How am I supposed to open this?”

“You’re not. They don’t want you to.”

“But you said the battery was dead!”

“They don’t want you to open it. You’re supposed to buy a new game.”

“Let me get this straight: I bought this game for thirty bucks, but it turns out I was really only renting it for five years?”

MP thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, actually, that’s a good way of putting it.”

At which point I used a few “hamchat” words not found in an E rated game and went online to Google some search terms.

I have to admire these guys’ skillz and ingenuity even as I cringe at their grammar and non-politically correct similes (“risky like a cheap-a** hooker” is vulgar, but vivid). Racketboy was clear, detailed, and correct (although I did have a different battery type, as he was looking at SNES cartridges, while I had a GBA). I purchased a 3.8mm security bit, soldering iron, X-Acto knife, and duct tape, and in an hour was playing tack-Q bowling, trying to get the shogun wig for Cappy. Never underestimate the power of duct tape.

Somewhere in the middle of sliding a molten-hot X-Acto knife between the circuit board and tabs in an attempt to break the soldering joints on the battery, MP stopped by to see what I was up to. He stared at me for a minute or two, then said without a hint of sarcasm, “You are really sexy.”

So ladies, be proud of your soldering skills, because you just never know what makes a geek schmubby-wubby.

Of course by the time I bought all the stuff I needed, I'd spent as much as if I’d bought another copy of the game -- but that it entirely beside the point. I am posting Racketboy’s directions for how to change a cartridge battery because I think we must show the Man that we are blash-T about being taken advantage of, and we nopookie being treated like mindless idiots. We see through their scams and we will not chukchuk our rights as consumers, but will cramcram until we find ways to subvert their pooie design flaws. We can hamteam or hamspar – the choice is up to them.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go collect enough seeds to buy the bunny costume. Bye-Q!