I had a pet salamander when I was a kid. I found it behind the wood pile. It was black and had yellow spots. I think it died. I forget where I kept it. Maybe I kept it in an aquarium, though I don't remember having an aquarium. I wanted an aquarium. I do know that. Maybe I kept it in a fishbowl. I remember having a fishbowl, and I remember having fish. Gary Coleman had a fish on Diff'rent Strokes. I wanted to be like Gary Coleman. I think he had a black goldfish. Or some sort of black fish. And its name, I think, was Arnold. Or no wait. Arnold was Gary Coleman's name. The fish's name was Abraham.

I was very interested in animals as a child. In addition to fish and a salamander, I had two parakeets. Chipper and Snowflake. My parents got them for me because they didn't want to get me a dog. My dad is not an outright fan of dogs, but he will tolerate them. Chipper and Snowflake were incredibly loud and drove everyone in the house to the point of insanity. I think we wound up giving them to my barber. My barber---I forget his name---was in Grafton, Wisconsin, and he had pattern baldness and a beard and a mustache. He also had Playboy magazine in his barbershop, for customers. I wanted to look at it, but I was not allowed to look at it.

My friends and I got caught with a Hustler magazine in third grade. My friend, Ryan, got his hands on it somehow. I think he got it from the basement of another kid's house, this kid named Andy, whose dad was really into that stuff. Ryan brought the Hustler to school. I remember we leafed through it and thought it was amazing and disgusting and sort of scary. Then someone found out about it. I think it was Ryan's mom. She called the other parents. My mother was very upset when she found out what I'd been doing. My dad, too. I was given a stern talking-to. Then again, maybe they were sort of relieved. I think it's a pretty normal thing, kids wanting to leaf through Hustler magazine. Maybe third grade is a little young. I don't really know. I do remember feeling sort of guilty about it. A Catholic thing. I imagine that it was sexually unhealthy to feel guilty about it. If my parents had been hippies, they would have encouraged me to explore my freedom.

I had a rabbit, too. Peter. Froze to death. My parents made us keep him in a cage outside by the wood pile. No rabbits inside. Not even in the garage. It was negligence. I went outside early one January morning to feed my little bunny, and he was frozen solid. Dead. I could see his two little teeth. My dad took the morning off of work and we went out to this pond by our house and buried Peter at my insistence. I wanted a proper funeral. The pond was at this park called Woodland---I think that was the name of it---and I fell through the ice there twice as a child while playing hockey. I fell through frozen ice three times as a boy. The other time was on Cedar Creek. Actually, now I remember that I fell through frozen ice four times. There was another time, behind my buddy Aaron's house. Another creek. I was with his older brother, Shane. Shane laughed at me. Anyway, I fell through frozen ice a lot.

This is sort of a weird post. I'm sort of foggy. I'll try to leave you with a laugh. That's what they always say: Leave 'em with a laugh. If I leave you with a laugh, then maybe I will endear myself to you. You will come back tomorrow. You will buy my book maybe. You will tell your friends what a card I am. You will say: "That Brad Listi, he's such a card." You will think of me fondly whenever you happen to think of me, which will probably be when you think about things like salamanders and parakeets and Hustler magazine and frozen ice and dead rabbits.

So do you know how Internet advertising works? How these outfits like Google AdSense and Value Click send targeted advertisements to web pages? Keyword-based advertisements. It's how Myspace often does it. So for instance let's say I write a blog about dead salamanders, then all of a sudden there will be all of these advertisements for death and salamanders down at the bottom of the page, et cetera.

But sometimes this sort of advertising makes for uncomfortable juxtapositions. Tasteless, even. And often humorous.

Take a look at these examples, and notice the unseemly insertion of heartless advertisement:





Isn't 21st century commerce just hilarious?

I think so.


Uploaded 06/27/2008
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