Friday Free-for-All #68: Worst name, peanut butter, unlimited house, decades past

Friday Free for All

Here’s the next in an ongoing series in which I answer random questions generated by a website. Here are this week’s questions. Feel free to give your own answers or ask your own questions in the comments.

What would be the absolute worst name you could give your child?

There are some obvious ones to avoid, like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Donald. But you probably also wouldn’t want to name your kid Antrax, Scrotum, Chlamydia, Syphillis, or Hemorrhoid.

Less blatantly bad but awful in their own way are all the names that Puritans used to be so fond of doling out, like Thanks, What-God-Will, Experience, Anger, and Continent. (As opposed to Incontinent?) And no — I did not make any of these up.

If you decide you want your kid to know that you hate them from day one, try names like Adopted, Failed Abortion, Daddy Cheated, Condom Broke, or Republican.

Or just Chad. Fuckin’ Chad, man! (I kid, of course. I know several Chads and they are all perfectly wonderful, lovely people.)

If peanut butter weren’t called peanut butter, what would it be called?

Simple. Mouthgasm in a Jar.

At any given time, I always have the three-pound jumbo jar of creamy peanut butter in the cupboard, where it will stay nice and soft, and I am known to just dig in there with a tablespoon and eat it right from the container — never more than three spoonsful, though, but usually only two.

It’s a great snack, a great source of energy and protein, and don’t you dare tell me that it’s only for little kids. Nuh-uh. Go tell that to George Washington Carver and see what he says. Oh, he didn’t invent peanut butter, but he did popularize the legume in America.

The actual inventor of peanut butter? None other than John Harvey Kellogg of Kellogg’s cereal fame — and well-known total nut job. For a fictionalized version of his life, see the film The Road to Wellville.

By the way, he did not intend peanut butter for kids. Rather, it was supposed to be a good source of protein for people who couldn’t chew solid foods — i.e. the elderly.

If you had unlimited funds to build a house that you would live in for the rest of your life, what would the finished house be like?

Since I always have to get into the technicalities of things — I’ll just assume that “unlimited funds” means just that, so after the house is built, there’s still endless money for all the stuff that goes into it, all of the necessary property taxes, repairs, and upgrades, and the staff — gardener, pool keeper, housekeeper, etc. — necessary to maintain the place while I don’t have to deal with it.

If that were the case, then, I wouldn’t go too flashy, but would definitely make it a destination for artists and other creatives. I’ve always been torn between Mid-Century Modern and Spanish Mediterranean/Southwestern, so I’d have an architect come up with some plausible blending of both styles.

I’d probably want to stay out of areas with too much brush and trees, both to avoid fires and be away from coyotes, rattlesnakes, and the like. An ideal location would probably be less than a mile up one of the local canyons that gets good airflow in the summer and lovely fog in the spring.

I’d need a few acres — not because I’m greedy, but because I’m looking for multiple purposes and some “share the wealth” opportunities. So there’d be a main building that’s not my house, but which would serve to host small creative studios and offices, rehearsal and meeting spaces and the like, all available to friends of mine at no charge on request.

This would be the front-facing part of the property, and would also serve as a neighborhood hub for various activities — I’m seeing it as the place with the best Halloween display and/or walk-through haunted house, Christmas/Hannukah décor, and free live summer concerts.

These are how the artists using the space would “pay rent,” actually.

There would also be a guest house with a number of individual units but, again, it’s not for rent to anyone. Rather, it’s artist housing, but not one of those hideous “eight people to a single 100 square foot room” coliving spaces that have become far too common. No — these would essentially be individual one and two bedroom apartments, but used as exactly what I called it — a guest house.

The guest house would have its own outdoor amenities, including a pool, hot tub, grills, and the like, It would be physically separated from the front studios and the main house, meaning mine, which is at the back of the property.

I don’t need that many bedrooms — one for me, and maybe two or three with their own bathrooms for out-of-town visitors. But what I would have would be office space, studio space, a library, a huge kitchen, walk-in freezer and separate pantry, a laundry room, a home theatre (media and live), and a secluded backyard with all the same amenities as the guest house.

All of the appliances would be the most energy efficient possible, and the entire place would have solar power out the wazoo with the goal being to actually give back to the grid. Likewise, all of the water would be solar heated, and all of the gray-water would go back into the grounds, although the only place I’d see a lawn being necessary would be for a dog-run.

Because of course there would be dogs. A house is not a home without them.

What do you miss about life 10 or 20 years ago?

So we’re talking either summer of 2011 or 2001. For 2011, what I miss most is having Barack Obama as President. It really seemed like America had finally gotten its shit together and was moving forward, but we all saw how that turned out as the GOP did everything they possibly could to block anything he tried to get through Congress.

We’re seeing that same shit now, and we have to fight like hell to stop it.

What I also miss about 2011 is still having both of my dogs, although I really can’t say that I quite miss my job at the time, because this was just before I moved from Manager of Operations to Senior Editor and Chief Content Creator — or, in other words, a truly lateral shift from a job that I was good at to a job that I actually wanted. That didn’t happen until 2012.

Jumping back to 2001… I really miss it being pre-9/11, back when we hadn’t become a paranoid nation of people afraid of the wrong things and a government declaring war on the wrong country. Seriously, if we did go after the right people, a certain Middle Eastern kingdom would look a lot different now and wouldn’t be slicing up journalists for fun.

Meanwhile, we wouldn’t have bombed the hell out of Iraq because they had the oil, and we wouldn’t be withdrawing from Afghanistan now and leaving chaos because we could have focused and taken care of it back then.

It was also before the Patriot Act and rampant stupidity; before innocent Sikhs were attacked by racists because they, Sikhs also wore turbans and had beards — but this is about as big a screw-up as mistaking an Orthodox Jew for an Amish father.

“But he had a black hat on!” Nu?

I was unemployed in the summer of 2001, but that was okay because it came in the wake of my short but lucrative career in TV, so thanks to writing scripts, I had a ton of money in the bank. It was also just shy of two months after I’d adopted my dog Shadow, eleven days after my previous dog, Dazé, passed away.

So I had nothing to do all day but hang out with her and write stuff. That really sounds a lot like my 2020, except that Sheeba only made it to May 1st, and Shadow had said her good-byes back in September 2014.

Around about late August of 2001, I decided, “Okay, let’s go find a new job.” And then 9/11 happened, everybody shat themselves, and the job hunt got put on hold until the next spring. Why? Everyone was too scared to even interview people — even big-ass white people like me.

Although given what we’ve learned since 2016, I think that it’s really the big-ass white people we do need to fear the most. Which was the case in 2001 and 2011. We just missed it then.

Oh… and here, “big-ass” means “stupidly tall,” and not “having a big ass,” okay?

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