Monday, July 2, 2012

The Burning House

Through the wonders of facebook I have been introduced to the greatest humour site on the internet. It is called The Burning House:

On this site, people are supposed to list what they would take with them if their house were on fire. I suppose this is supposed to be an exercise in what really matters to you as a person, but there is one little wrinkle a lot of these people ignored: YOUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE!

Based on that sole criteria, this is the funniest concoction of mistaken priorities I have ever seen. Maybe it's just because Erika and I have been robbed so many times but good lord - two people said they'd take their lip balm! Lip balm? You're grabbing lip balm? Do you have any idea how hot a house fire burns? 800 degrees! Do you know what the heat is where your skin will explode into a showery rain of bone chips and bacon fat? Here's a tip: It's not 800 degrees! No wonder you need lip balm.

Let's walk through some lists and see if we can't help pare them down a little. Remember: These are things that you're prepared to pause and look for while burning timbers are crashing around you and flames are licking at your Birkenstocks (out of respect for the people who've posted I have changed their names):

Contestant #1

Name: Emma Packrat
Age: 22
Location: Herefordshire

  • Olympus OM10, it’s light and I could get the images developed anywhere without assistance from a computer.
    • Well that didn't take long. Folks, back up your stuff off-site. FYI, plenty of places to do it for free; Microsoft Skydrive and Amazon Cloud Drive spring to mind. Not exactly fly-by-night companies. "But I don't like Big Corporations" you say. Really? More than you dislike your flesh burning? That's a hell of a vendetta.
  • Ipod
    • mm'kay. I'm thinking Apple has made more than one of these things.
  • Phone
    • Pretty sure the neighbors are calling 911 already, but if it's by the door I'll give you a pass.
  • Purse
    • I've seen women's purses - this is the equivalent of me saying I'd grab "my stuff". How big is your purse? What's in it? Good lord, for all I know you've got a pup tent in that thing.
  • Car Keys
    • Meh... once again, if they're on the way out. Besides, if you can't find them they're probably in your purse.
  • My journal of current
    • Hmm... not conventional English. Tough to make a call here.
  • A Wreck this journal
    • Wait, you're going to wreck the journal you just grabbed? Why? The fire would have done that for you! This woman must be a spy, it's the only reason you would grab something from a fire for the express reason of making sure it was destroyed.
  • 3 notes books which hold ideas for my current book
    • Is your book titled "20 Ways to Waste Time in a Burning House"?
    • I'll cut her some slack here, it would suck to lose those if a lot of work went into them. Of course, I wouldn't bump into this problem because a) I do everything digitally since I type 970x faster than I write, and b) There is no b.
  • A Buddha - Just to keep me grounded
    • I don't know how enlightened this choice is.
  • A writing book folder that holds all letters from Salma, along with writing pad,pens(selection of colours, envelopes and stamps. There is also a black notebook.
    • I don't know who Salma is so I'll assume she meant Santa. I hate to break it to you honey, but there is no Santa. Ouch... at 22 that's gotta hurt. Not as much as hell's devilish flames though.
  • Book -  The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • Sorry, could you say that again?
  • Book -  The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson
    • That's what I thought you said. Look, I know how awesome it looks to have this on your list, but I could have Alfred Lord Tennyson himself in my house and I wouldn't grab him.
  • Hardrive
    • Sigh... just back-up offsite ok? If not can you at least put this by the door?
  • Selection of family photos.
    • You may want to select them beforehand. Just sayin'.
  • I would have included a pet in this but I couldn’t decide between the 7 dogs our family has accumulated over the last 10 years.
    • Let me get this straight. Your phone, purse, car keys, camera, photos, books... dear god, all of it ranks ahead of living breathing animals? For crying out loud, are you telling me that you're saving photos of animals you left behind to burn? Good lord. The least you could do is keep a Yorkie in your purse at all times, just in case.
  • Now I would have said  my macbook, digital pentax camera and various other things but I feel that they way me down and I always have insurance- this list of things as something that could not be replaced with the memories and ideas they hold.
    • Here's a tip: The only things that actually hold a memory in the literal sense is the dogs, and their last memory is going to be of you condemning them to a flaming demise.

Contestant #2

Name: Amanda Huginkiss
Age: 23
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Occupation: Artist

  • My boyfriend Guy. (not pictured.) - For living love.
    • First person on the website to include another human being. That might mean something. At any rate, no complaints with this one. And you didn't need to specify that it was a guy, we're non-judgmental over here at Complete Tangent.
  • A Prism- See artwork (above).
    • Yeaaahhh... not so sure including it in the picture is gonna change my opinion here.
  • A picture of my mother from pre-Islamic revolution Iran, before they made her wear a headscarf.  -She is a Leo, and has a head of prize-worthy hair.
    • That's totally fine, although the astrological comment seems a bit random.
  • A Yemenese bedouin necklace found in Egypt. - To touch the hands of other lands.
    • You found it because someone lost it. They got over it, so will you.
  • 6 copies of the Theosophist from 1919. - To keep it mystical.
    • Hmm... maybe the astrological stuff wan't such an aberration. Look, I'm gonna drop some knowledge for this girl. When the building is burning, you don't need six copies of anything, let alone a magazine about theosophy. And I don't even know what that is. 
  • Passport/Wallet/Car Keys - To keep on the move.
    • Ok, you get a pass. But only because they keep you on the move.
  • Thoth tarot deck from the year I was born, given to me by my friend’s mother. - For divination.
    • You're into fortune telling? Let me try: "You're going to burn to death".
  • My Yashica t4 with a waist level viewfinder and Canon AE-1 with a telephoto lens.  - For spying and secrets.
    • What is it with spies on this website? Also, maybe consider house insurance?
  • Undeveloped film - Must have just been shot because I never let it sit for long.  Well, because I never sit for long.
    • Yes... let's salvage things when YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY ARE!
  • My external hard drive with copies of all the artwork I’ve ever made. - To prove I have existed, do exist and will keep existing.
    • All together everyone: "OFF-SITE BACKUP!"
  • My All-Saints leather motorcycle jacket. - It’s probably already on my person.
    • Motorcycle jackets are meant to protect you in the event of an accident. I'm gonna say that dying in a fire because you were looking for one is pretty ironic.
  • Watercolor set. - Because painting is meditation.
    • Absolutely. How would one ever go about replacing a watercolour set?
  • A hand carved bamboo flute given to me by my lover Guy from a rasta man at the farmer’s market.
    • I honestly can't improve on that joke.
  • A mini sized copy of The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. - For the reminder of universal truths.
    • Here's another universal truth: You can buy everything on Amazon. $2.00 used, I looked it up.
  • My vintage Zeiss Ikon and Kodak Retinette - Because I like my images exposed improperly, blurry and dreamy.
    • I think you might be getting smoke inhalation already.
  • My Moleskine notebook - For the mark of man is the mark of culture.
    • Amazon, $9.60.
  • An original copy of In Search of The Miraculous - Because I too, am a student of Gurdjieff.
    • Pretty much par for the course at this point.
  • A Turquoise, Coral, and Lapis Lazuli necklace handmade for me by a Sikh in Rishikesh, India. To balance my creative energies.
    • You better get really creative about ways to get out of your house at this point.
  • My Macbook Pro Laptop, iPhone & iPod- Because this is the temporary contemporary human condition.
    • Well this one's a stunner. You're telling me that someone who saves prisms from burning fires, paints watercolours, and is into philosophy, photography, and fortune-telling; is also a Mac person? I never would have thought! I mean, what else says artsy and counterculture like buying electronics for 25% above competitor prices from the world's largest tech company who pays their store staff crap wages, has factories in China where there are fences on the roof so people will stop killing themselves at work, and who's entire business model is based on planned obsolescence of goods so that you're throwing stuff in the garbage at the fastest possible rate, not to mention forcing any companies who build apps for their platforms to give them 30% of their profits. But hey, at least you're counterculture because your laptop is white and has a cool logo on it JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE'S AT THE STARBUCKS!
    • Sorry... I've needed to get that off my chest for a while.
  • A hand-paintedtaxidermied seahorse in a glass bottle. - I made two of these, it’s counterpart is with a very special person.
    • Why would you paint a taxidermied seahorse?
  • Wild Rose Spray - Because I don’t want to smell like smoke after the escape.
    • I hate to break it to you honey - you're not escaping.

Contestant #3

Name: Rafael Naganamakitoutalive
Age: 22
Location: Guaiba, RS - BR
Occupation: quality inspector (ed - sweet, sweet irony)

  • Dani Löble’s drumstick, Helloween drummer
    • No, gone. Off the team.
  • Photo of the class 302, PREMEM 2006
    • You'll always have the memories Rafa, but only if you leave it behind
  • Necktie of 15 years Mariah’s party in Campinas
    • Only if you're wearing it.
  • Aline Lima correspondence of RJ
    • This must be code... damn spies. I shall respond in kind: Uptight the stickbug, peru, Peru.
  • Mug of aluminum FESTIVAL of CHOPP, FELIZ 2007
    • A mug? Why the hell would you want a mug?
  • Cup of coffee
    • Oh, I see. To hold your coffee. I don't think you understand the rate at which fire burns.
  • Screwdrivers, Phillips screwdriver and wire cutter
    • Where do you live? Are you getting out of your house or escaping from a prison camp?
  • Tennis football
    • I don't know what this is, but it better be made out of one large diamond.
  • GRÊMIO t-shirt
    • I'm beginning to question the quality of the things you inspect.
  • A bottle of tequila Jose Cuervo
    • I notice that the bottle in the picture is half-empty. I can only assume you drank the other half while making this list. For future reference though, if you're going to save tequila from a fire at least make sure it's not the worst tequila on the planet. This is the equivalent of me racing back into my burning home so I can grab that six-pack of Old Milwaukee sitting behind the milk.
  • Boxing gloves
    • Do you have any idea what can and can't be purchased in stores?
  • Bag with a digital camera
    • I'm close to giving up on this guy.
  • Tennis bull terrier
    • I don't know if that's a dog, but I'm going to assume it is just so I can give this guy one in the "win" column.
  • Targus Backpack
    • Sigh...
  • HP12C Calculator
    • "Let's see... 394,200,000 breaths remaining in my life, minus 394,199,996..."
  • Muay thai t-shirt
    • It better help you kick your way through the burning timbers.
  • ticket of Helloween & Stratovarius show
    • Dude really likes Helloween.
  • Bracelet mezzanine of the show’s Helloween & Stratovarius
    • Ok, you need to chill on the Helloween.
  • Pencil and eraser
    • WTF?
  • Helloween album, Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I
    • Shouldn't you also be saving the membership list for your Helloween fan club?
  • Avantasia album, The Scarecrow
    • I'm not familiar with Helloween's work, but The Scarecrow sure sounds like it could be one of their albums.
  • Mobile Sansumg with headphones
    • For the record, if you ever buy a phone that says it was made by "Sansumg" it may not be a knock-off, it's just that this guy was handling quality inspection.

Finally, let's finish with one guy who gets it right. I'm even using his real name:

Our Winner

Name: Max Piantoni
Age: 23
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Occupation: Artist
  • Escape Plan (very important).
  • My life’s work (on a hard drive).
  • A Dodo I made (for a series of pictures).

I'll even give him a pass on the dodo. It's pretty sweet.

For the record, here's my list of things I would grab in the event of a fire:

  • Erika
  • My meds

That's the end of the list. Even the meds are negotiable if they aren't easily accessible. Granted, I may end up having my martinis Bond-style for a couple of weeks*, but that's a hell of a lot better than going up like a roman candle. You can't eff-around with open flames when you're as hairy as I am.

*Note that not everyone will get that joke. I'm pretty sure Craig will though.


  1. I've really behind on keeping up with your blogs. This one is absolutely hilarious. Mind you, I'm also now starting to question whether I should back everything up-off site...

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