Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross


Posted on November 17, 2010

When we here at the Walter M. Kronenberg Microbial and Fungal Research Lab at MIT began using time-lapse photography in our study of fungi, we discovered surprising results. It certainly wasn't the expected outcome of the experiment.

Originally, we had simply hoped to examine non-quantitative growth trends of Basidiomycota mushrooms as it related to the near infrared (NIR) spectrum. Based on projections, we expected a ten percent decrease in growth angle as cloud cover reached three oktas. What we found instead was an unpredictably erotic quality to the photography.

It was subtle, but something about the time-lapse and its virtual speeding up of mushroom growth ... I mean, none of us are art critics by any means. Most are Ph.D.s with specialties in spore-bearing fungus. But, these films moved us on a very core, very visceral level. There was a palpable sexuality to them. It was … hypnotic.

Don’t get me wrong, none of us are mushroom fetishists. (At least none of us came into this as mushroom fetishists. I’ve heard that’s big amongst Japanese fugi researchers.) No, we’re just ordinary post-doc men and women who’ve had our eyes opened to the sensual orchestra that is time-lapse mushroom growth.

I don’t want to go into detail about the titillating aspects of high-speed mushroom growth films--the engorged stems, the delicate release of the gill latticework, the pulsating throb of non-photosynthetic spongiform development. This is, after all, a grant application to the National Science Foundation. But, what I will say is that my fellow researchers and I feel that this is important ongoing research in the field of mycology.

That is why we are asking for continued funding in the area of Basidiomycetes growth study with specific focus on buying some Barry White albums and having a few cocktails before we watch the next round of time-lapse videos.

Thank you for your consideration.


Dr. Emmet Brunchler, Ph.D.

P.S. I thought I'd attach a few YouTube videos I found of mushroom time-lapse photography. I mean, whatever. If you're into it, you're into it. If not, it's just fungi.


Pulling An Andy

Posted on November 16, 2010

Alright, guys, can we maybe think up a new meaning for the phrase "to pull an Andy?" Maybe something more positive?

I know "pulling an Andy" has a lot of meanings already. Like sometimes people say it to mean "I forgot to plug my headphones into my work computer, and I don't notice that everyone can hear me listening to Gwen Stefani."

Or, sometimes "pulling an Andy" means "getting drunk off two drinks and crashing my bicycle into a thorny rose bush and then screaming 'cause I think cats are attacking me."

Or, it could imply "getting so flustered by the unregulated, unkempt line at the movie theater that I throw a hissy fit and end up ruining the entire experience of going to see the newest Pixar movie."

It's a phrase that can mean many, many things. But, for whatever reason it usually means something embarrassing or off-putting. Why do you think that is? Weird coincidence, huh?

I was thinking "to pull an Andy" could start meaning "to say just the right cutting remark at exactly to right moment to somehow changes a racist's perception of their own racism."

Or, maybe "pulling an Andy" could mean "having a luxurious, Nordic god-like beard that gets you discovered as a high-end beard model and then getting flown all around Europe to model your beard."

This is just me spit-balling some ideas. I'm totally open to whatever you guys think "pulling an Andy" could mean. As long as it's not "burning the roof of your mouth on hot pizza and then sneezing out the pizza so that huge chunks of cheese fly onto your date's face and scarf."

I'd prefer it not mean that any longer.

So, yeah, whatever you guys come up with is fine. Just pass it by me before locking it down. I'm thinking something more "heroic/noble" and less "spazzy/bodily-functiony."

Thanks a bunch.



Posted on November 15, 2010

Honey, I know you're only three years old, so you might not understand this, but I need you to stop anthropomorphizing everything. It's making it very hard for me to throw things away.

Do you know what anthropomorphizing is, Bobby? Do you, sweetheart? It means when you make "friends" with things that aren't alive. Like Teddy--Teddy is a stuffed toy. He's not alive. It's okay to love Teddy and think he has feelings, because Teddy is special. But, a carton of orange juice is different.

When you make friends with a carton of orange juice, and you name the carton, and you tell Mommy what the carton wants to be when it grows up, it makes putting that carton in the trash very hard for Mommy. Mommy gets sad when I have to say goodbye to the orange juice carton. Which is unreasonable. Do you know what unreasonable means, Bobby?

It means you can't tell Mommy that baby mice miss their grandpas like you miss your grandpa. The baby mice don't miss their grandpas in that way. They’re not the same as you and me. Mommy has to believe that difference exists in order to be able to set the mousetraps. Humane traps don't work, Honey. I've tried. Believe me, I've tried.

Okay, you know how you love Mr. Printer? And, you say the noises he makes when he's printing are him singing? Well, Mr. Printer's scanner broke three months ago, and I don't have the heart to get a new Mr. Printer. We need a scanner, but Mommy can't stop picturing what will happen to the old Mr. Printer in the dump.

Please--I'm begging you--stop naming your t-shirts. Especially the ones with holes in them. And, don’t talk about pigeons like they’re waiting to be adopted. Because, I was this close to letting one come inside before I realized what I was doing. It had one foot, Bobby. One foot.

You have to stop anthropomorphizing things. Bobby, you have to do it for Mommy. I’m at the end of my ropes here.

Do you remember yesterday, when Mommy was crying during The Brave Little Toaster? That wasn’t because of the movie, Honey. It’s because I realized what my life has become.


Low Key – November 14, 2010

Posted on November 14, 2010

Chicken Co-Op


Thanksgiving Parade Float

Posted on November 12, 2010

I'm having the hardest time brainstorming my float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I wouldn't say I'm blocked per se, but for whatever reason, I can't come up with a concept. Turkeys? A cornucopia? What is this, amateur hour?

First, I thought I'd do a falling leaf motif. Maybe me and some Broadway celebrity friends gliding down from giant maple leaf parachutes. But, then I remembered that I did a parachute thing in 2004.

I had an idea for a float made out of fall berries--cranberries, juniper berries, lingonberries, mistletoe. That's a great motif, but what do you do with it? Make one giant berry out of other berries? Too meta.

Maybe a mobile ice skating rink? One sharp turn, though, and a triple lutz turns into a triple klutz. (Ha! At least I still have my sense of humor.)

It's nearly impossible to come up with something never done before. Let alone top my float from last year. How do you beat Bruno the Christmas Llama? The king head wears a heavy crown.

It's no help that the Macy's people are pressuring me for my technical specs. Can't they just trust that I'll have the best float again? I guess it makes sense after I did that 1:4 scale replica of the Chrysler Building. They had to widen 5th Avenue, but everyone agreed it was worth it.

Maybe a working rocket ship shaped like a sweet potato? How about a giant, smashed jack-o'-lantern? Is that too cynical? I don't want the television audience thinking I'm belittling Thanksgiving. I learned my lesson after my "Armchair Quarterback" float. One too many potato chip crumbs and suddenly it's a class statement.

I've got to come up with something soon. This isn't like the Rose Bowl Parade; I can't just slap a few mums onto chicken wire and call it "Splendor of Hope" or some bullshit.

Listen, I'm going to lock myself in my office, and I'm not coming out until I have an idea for my float. If I'm not out by lunchtime, please bring me some tomato soup and... Wait a minute! Tomato soup and a sandwich! It's so subtle, so comforting and universal. To the drafting board!


Fall Limericks

Posted on November 11, 2010


I've written some more limericks for yourselves in honor of autumn. Good lord, I'm good at this. Is there a career path for the naturally gifted, yet somewhat lazy limerick writer?

Young loves on a trip almost done
Tried a corn maze off Route Fifty-One.
When they reached a dead end,
She proceeded to bend
And they found it a-maize-ingly fun.

A squirrel getting ready for winter
Was hoarding three months' worth of dinner.
When a pretty squirreless
Talked of coming distress,
He agreed that he'd store his nuts in her.

There once was a hipster named Randy
Whose long scarf seemed pretty darn dandy.
But sooner than later
On the wrong escalator
The emergency button proved handy.

When Ted saw a fresh-raked leaf pile,
He decided to jump in with style.
A half gainer he dived,
And his spine broke in five
As he missed the leaf pile by a mile.

A stunning cheerleader named Claire
Had oddly bright red-fuschia hair.
We thought it was dyed,
But we couldn't decide
'Cause high kicks proved down there was Naired bare.

When Carl called work sick with the flu,
His boss thought him speaking untrue.
So he snuck to Carl's house,
Where he spied his own spouse
Get a “flu shot” from ol’ you-know-who.


Nothing in the Rulebook…

Posted on November 10, 2010

I hereby call to order this emergency meeting of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. We will be amending procedure in order to expedite this meeting.

It has come to this board's attention that there are serious gaps in the rulebooks covering organized sports at the collegiate level. Apparently, there is nothing in the rules that says a golden retriever can't play football.

This loophole has seriously undermined the integrity and sanctity of college sport. Not only are the opposing players made to look like fools as they bumble into each other chasing said golden retrievers, but our referees, too, can do nothing but throw their hands in the air, befuddled.

Therefore, as our first order of business, I call for a vote on an amendment of rule 12.113C calling for specific language banning golden retrievers or any breed of dog larger than 30 lbs. from membership on a football team. Further, no such dog shall be allowed to participate in competitive gameplay during any sanctioned pre-season or bowl games.

This ban covers the following positions: kicker, running back, tailback, lineman, wide receiver, quarterback. Mascot and waterboy positions are not covered under this ban. Thus, dogs can serve in these capacities. I would suggest using a St. Bernard, because that would be adorable.

Should this ban pass, it would apply retroactively to the beginning of the season. This would call into question Michigan State’s victory over Notre Dame on September 18th along with the Pitsburgh Panther’s win over Rutgers on October 23rd. Players “Rex” and “Buffy the Wonder Pooch” on their respective teams would be asked to step down pending review.

A vote has been called and seconded. All those in favor of the amendment to rule 12.113C, please say aye. Those opposed? The amendment passes.

Moving on to item two: The situation with orangutans playing hockey…


Wacky Ties

Posted on November 9, 2010

I collect wacky neckties. My father had wacky ties, his father had wacky ties, and his father before him. It's in my genes. Collecting wacky neckties is my birthright.

I can remember my very first wacky necktie. It was silk, with Bugs Bunny dressed up as an orchestra conductor. It was a gift for my trombone recital in 7th grade. That's how all wacky tie collections start. With a trombone recital.

Since then, I've collected hundreds, nay thousands of wacky ties on my own. Every time I pass a mall kiosk or go to Epcot or receive the Signals catalogue, I think, "It’s go time." It doesn't matter if it's got piano keys or it's shaped like a fish, if it's a tie and it's wacky, I'm buying it.

(I should be careful to point out that I only collect wacky ties—never kooky or whimsical neckties. Kooky ties are for assholes, and whimsical ties are for men afraid to commit. I only buy wacky ties. Period.)

To give you a sense of my collection, I went into my walk-in tie closet and grabbed a random sampling. It won't give you the full scale of my wacky tie collection, but I hope it gives you a sense of its breadth. Here goes:

– A tie shaped like an upside-down carton of McDonalds French fries. (Purchased at the Rock 'n Roll McDonalds, Chicago, 1993)

– A macramé tie with turquoise stone accents. (Santa Fe swap meet, 1992)

– A tie with the word "Jolly" in blinking LED lights. (Traded for during a 2004 white elephant party at the office. I can't believe somebody thought of that as a gag gift.)

– A clear plastic tie filled with water and a toy goldfish. (Ordered from the Lillian Vernon catalogue, 1997)

– A tie with a pocket for an iPod and mini speakers. (Times Square, New Years Eve, 2007/2008)

– A tie made out of recycled seatbelts. (eBay purchase of an Allstate Insurance promotional gift, 2005)

– A tie that changes color based on body heat. (Gift from junior high girlfriend, Kimberly-Anne Snuggins, 1994)

– A chainmail tie. (Medieval Times, 2010)

– A Chrysler Building tie. (The Chrysler Building, New Years Day, 2008)

– A black velvet tie with my face painted on it. (Self-made, 1999)

– A paisley tie. (Ridiculous. Bought in Holland, Michigan, 2001)

There are more ties here, but I don't want to ruin the wonder of seeing them for the first time. Especially the one I’m planning on wearing tomorrow. I want to see the look of surprise on your face.

Okay, I'll give you one hint: Larry, Moe, and blank. That's all I'm gonna say.

Also, golf. There's golf involved. But, that is it. Those are all the hints I'm giving out. You'll just have to wait 'til tomorrow to see my newest wacky tie.


MacArthur Genius Grant

Posted on November 8, 2010

Dear MacArthur Genius Grant Committee,

I hope this note finds you well. I realize you're busy handing out millions of dollars in no-strings-attached grants to those talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.

I just wanted to follow up on a note I sent you earlier that had my new Brooklyn address. I've had some hiccups with mail service lately, and I wanted to make sure you could reach me should you ever need to. You know, for whatever.

Did you get the links to my blog I sent you? No pressure to read it right away. Whenever you get a break in your schedule is fine. I just thought you'd enjoy a few of the pieces.

Specifically, this list of saints or this erotic cake contest monologue. I'm getting a lot of key word searches for this one about eating a bad peach, so that must have struck a chord.

It's hard to choose favorites, since I'm so proud of all my posts. I'm sure you feel the same way about choosing between so many genius scientists and artists. Giving away all that money each year must be kind of a burden. I bet you wish you could just give it all to one super genius. One super-funny super genius.

Did you happen to see this Montessori Silent Auction List, by the way? I don't know, I think it's pretty great. Not to toot my own horn.

So, yeah anyway, I moved to Brooklyn from the Upper West Side--classic yuppie migration. But, we love our new space, and you're invited over for movie night whenever you're in town. If you like Vietnamese sandwiches, we can order in.

Hope you are doing well. Good luck choosing genius grant recipients this year. Let me know if you have any questions or anything. I’m still at the same cell number.



Low Key – November 7, 2010

Posted on November 7, 2010

Mummy and Dada

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