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Give your brain something to chew on...

The Language of my Youth: Tubolard

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Recently, I've been hearing people use a lot of words I haven't heard since I was a kid - you know, kid-speak.

Now that I'm all grow'd up, it means something completely different.  There's a different context - without the blind naivete of youth keeping my consideration of the social and interpersonal consequences of that language at bay. 

That is to say:  We used to say some silly, stupid and awful shit to people when we were kids, and when I hear it now, it makes me cringe.

I'm going to take the next few weeks and write about some of the language of my youth - to try to capture the horror and nuance of the things my friends and I used to say.  It's not like we were bigots or Nazis or Fox News screaming heads... even the worst of us weren't that bad.  But it was thoughtless, and weird and funny and cruel and layered.

Today's word is:


Tubolard n. Someone who is overweight. The word is a concatination of "Tub of lard." 

It's not just an insult that speaks to size, it also implies, in nearly equal parts, a lack of athletic ability and social awkwardness.  For example, there was this guy I grew up with who was big - fat.  When he was a kid, he was a tubolard.  In high school, however, even though it didn't appear that his BMI had significantly changed, he DID join the wrestling team - where he could bring his considerable girth to bear.  He often won his heavyweight matches simply because he was difficult to move, and even harder to move OFF of you once he toppled.  At this point, as part of a team, having found some athletic success, no one referred to him as a tubolard.  He was just "big."

The term wouldn't mean a lot to many kids today, I think - maybe not even to kids who grew up in the city.

We were a farming community, and most of us raised livestock.  Part of our diet consisted of by-products from having our livestock processed at the local slaughterhouse.  My family raised hogs (as did many others), and we always had the following in the freezer:  Pork chops, pork roast, ham, bacon, sausage (links, and ground), and a tub of lard. Yes, it's a miracle that my heart didn't simply explode at the age of nine.

Lard came in a one-gallon white plastic tub.  Lard is simply white rendered fat - like butter without the flavor, and made from animal fat rather than milk fat.  Everyone I grew up with knew what a tub of lard was, so the concatination seemed natural, and the first applications of it to people - on the playground during a game of Smear the Queer (the subject of a future entry...) - helped define its other nuance.  The kids who weren't fast enough to avoid being "smeared" were generally those who were, due to girth and / or lack of coordination (many times co-occurring), the slowest to get up. Imagine, then, laughing, pointing and taunts of "Look at that tubolard!"

If a kid was socially ostracized because of his size and physical make-up, which was often the case, the playground was the crucible within which his fitness to climb the social ladder was tested:  we accepted a certain amount of awkwardness if a kid could kick some ass at something... football, tetherball (for the girls), baseball, running, or sheer physical domination over others.  Smear the queer was the mechanism for that, and the football usually got tossed to the slowest, fattest, most awkward kid on the field - a kid who was there trying to fit in.  How long that kid could fend off the mob - through quickness, speed, strength or simply size - determined if he was fit.  If he got "smeared" quickly - and especially if he didn't get up quickly and shake it off - he was probably a tubolard.

But as we got older, the word no longer served, and as kids grow and social groups change and athletics draw in even the tubolards, we adjusted.  Another friend was, in his youth, a tubolard - short, overweight, flabby, awkward (even down to the stereotypically poor eyesight and taped-up coke-bottle glasses).  In high school, he joined the football team where his relative short stature and mass created a low center of gravity that made him a formidable offensive guard.  His propensity to wear a blue sweatshirt and sweats to practice helped to transform "tubolard" into the affectionate term "Big Blue Tub of Goo."

It doesn't seem any better, but here's the way this particular social dynamic worked for us.  He wore that name with pride because it was unique - no one else was THE Big Blue Tub of Goo.  Even though it still carried all the physical denotation of tubolard, he was separated from the masses of other tubolards and was a PART of the football team - he was OUR Big Blue Tub of Goo.  And the uniqueness of it was our way of justifying having a former tubolard on the team:  He's different from you all.  He has use on the team.  He's part of the group, and even though he's a tubolard, we can't call him that anymore (or risk a paradox wherein the social matrix collapses as groups merge). 

He still had that name through graduation, and I never heard him complain about it.  He always wore a smile - even kept wearing the blue sweat suit.  I never wondered if it bothered him, or made him feel bad to have his name dismissed for a tubolard variant - it even took me a minute when sitting down to write this to remember he was called Bruce.  A quarter century later, when I was talking to my brother about the house down the street from him with the foreclosure sign, he said "That's Tub o' Goo's place.  I guess he lost his job a couple months back, so he couldn't make the payments.  Why?  You interested in buying it?"  Somehow it didn't seem appropriate, though I didn't let him know that.

As I sit here in the coffeeshop writing this - my spreading waistline hiding the athleticism of my youth, and my doctor requiring quarterly visits to monitor my blood sugar, my liver (from medication for...), my arthritis... I wonder if my girth and flab, lack of physical coordination and social awkwardness (I actually prefer sitting alone in a coffe shop writing to most types of social interaction), and the fact that I'm now a high school teacher might earn me a spot in the vast array of tubolards from my youth, or if someone would have an equally pejorative but unique pet name for me.

Last Updated on Sunday, 25 October 2015 12:50

God does not play dice...

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... but I do.  Only in Blender, though.  This is an update to the dice render - added cards and poker chips on a whim.  I'll probably do this without the dice for my brother's game room.Cards with dice

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 22:11

More Blendering

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More Blender renders.  I'm still in the dark ages with the program - using 2.49b because I'm used to it.  I'm seeing some great stuff from 2.65 (and beyond), and I've dabbled with the post 2.5 releases, but haven't made the conversion yet.  Maybe this summer.

Oh, yeah... there's a complete site redesign coming up this summer, and a shift in the focus of the site to more of my art and writing.  I'll be posting more Blender work, as well as older (and new) short stories and possibly some chapters from the novel(s) I'm working on.

In the mean time, here are some renders of a work in progress.  I call him Brainey, and I'm intending him to be a part of the new logo for this site. 

Brainey is gonna cut ya!

Toon render

Last Updated on Saturday, 02 March 2013 20:03

Snake eyes!

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Yet another new Blender rendering.  I've been working on the switchover to 2.6 (I know... about four years late...), and getting used to how much more responsive and complete the materials system is.

This one (as most of my materials are) is completely procedural, and uses the Blender internal textures (cloud, in this case, for the felt) and the internal renderer (not Cycles).

More irrelevant renders to come.

(Click the pic for hi-res - it's a bit lighter and easier to see at full resolution)

Snake eyes!

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 22:22

Some New Blender Tomfoolery...

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I've been playing around in Blender some more.  Here are two of my latest renders.  The eyeballs were the result of an EXCELLENT tutorial on wikibooks (  The Green Guy (for those of you who are unenlightened) is from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book covers.  That one is a result of asking "I wonder if I can..."

Green Guy from H2G2


Pixar Eyes

Summer 2011 Update:  And my latest render... which is nothing more than a revision of the old greenguy from a different angle...

Greenguy Take 2

Now in Tattoo form!

Don't Panic Tattoo


Last Updated on Sunday, 16 October 2011 18:32